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How to become an affiliate marketer

Andrej Csizmadia

June 16, 2020
Last modified on June 17, 2022 at 1:40 pm

Affiliate marketing is not just another hot, new buzzword. It has been practiced ever for as long as blogs and digital marketing have been around. Even though the most digitally-savvy individuals have heard this term hundreds of times, many of them still don’t fully understand the whole idea behind this marketing concept.

What’s more, lots of marketers and enthusiasts try to get into affiliate marketing, but they don’t know how to tackle this topic and get the most out of it. Instead, they invest their time and the only thing they get out of it is losses.

But affiliate marketing is not an infamous or even a suspicious initiative. If done the right way it can actually be pretty easy and fulfilling, and it can positively influence your bottom line. 

Today, we’re going to go through a brief guide on how to become an affiliate marketer. We’ll talk about the benefits of doing so and some things to recognize before you dive deep into it. After all, you don’t just want to be an affiliate marketer – you want to be a successful one, right? Read on!

Who is an affiliate marketer?

Let’s start with the basics of affiliate marketing. What is affiliate marketing? Who is an affiliate marketer? What is their primary focus? What’s with the buzz about affiliate marketing?

To dig deeper into this topic, we can first briefly explain each term.

Affiliate marketing is a way for a company to sell its products by signing up individuals or companies (“affiliates”) who market the company’s products for a commission. (Entrepreneur)

In this relation, an affiliate is simply an online publisher aka: a salesperson, representative. An affiliate’s job is to promote the paymaster’s offering (their products/services) in return for having a share in the profits. Income is usually based on their success rate and on previously agreed performance measures, typically in the form of sales, clicks, registrations, or a hybrid model. 

To make tracking the results easier, affiliates are usually provided with their own unique links that they are supposed to share with their audience to generate sales.

Now we know a simple yet concise definition of affiliate marketing. For completeness, let’s just quote a definition of an affiliate marketer too.

An affiliate marketer is a representative of a company who promotes and/or sells the business’s offering and gets financial benefits from the results they deliver. The affiliate’s source of distribution usually comes in the form of Web site traffic or email list subscribers, but it may differ from a company to a company. (Marketing Terms)

Sounds a bit too complicated? Have a look at this simple graphic that illustrates an affiliate marketing model:

How does commission work

Don’t worry if affiliate marketing still seems a little hard to fully comprehend. We’re about to discuss the most vital, must-have skills for any budding affiliate marketer that will help you decide if this aspect of marketing is something you could do.

Keep reading to find a list of initial steps that you need to take in order to kick start your first affiliate marketing business. We’ve also prepared some more advanced tips about how to become a top-notch affiliate!

Why is affiliate marketing worth the effort

You may doubt that affiliate marketing is worth investing your time and money (because time is money, right?) in. Many people incorrectly assume that affiliate marketing is some kind of hoax or suspicious activity that has no business value.

However, the truth is totally opposite, and there are some serious stats to back up this claim. So, if you are questioning whether affiliate marketing is a genuine thing or not, these numbers should dispel your doubts enough to give it a try.

  • Approximately 15% of the digital media industry’s revenue now comes from affiliate marketing. (Business insider)

As Business Insider claims, affiliate marketing covers almost 15% of total digital media revenue, and what’s more, this number is continuously growing. That’s why it’s a perfect time to become an affiliate, keep growing with the market, and take advantage of emerging trends.

  • 81% of advertisers (brands) run an affiliate program, and 84% of publishers (incl. bloggers) create content for affiliate marketing. (Rakuten Marketing)

Affiliate Marketing is also a popular way of building and establishing relationships between brands and publishers. The list of products or services that you can promote as an affiliate is virtually never ending. This means that it’s relatively easy to find a niche in which you can become an expert and add your knowledge or experience.

  • In a single year, one influencer earned $7 million from affiliate marketing. (Millionaire Mentor)

Jason Stone is walking proof that you can earn real profit from affiliate marketing. Thanks to a creative campaign that he ran, he was able to earn around $7.000.000 in one year. Jason first built his social media network, and then he promoted several affiliate programs to multiply his profit! It’s a magnificent example of how slick one individual can become at earning money. 

Over 65% of affiliate marketers connect with their customers on social media

You could argue that influencers already have a big audience, so it’s easier for them to promote any offer. That’s true, but you can also become a thought leader in a chosen field.

Affiliate marketing can be treated as a full-time job or just a source of extra income. Leveraging your knowledge and contact network, you can promote products that you already know and use. 

If you are a beginner, picking a popular product would be a good starting point. This will help you to understand the advantages of affiliate marketing and quickly learn how to pitch any product to others. 

Affiliate marketing – the first steps

How to become an affiliate marketer

To start your adventure in affiliate marketing, you should first register with one or more affiliate programs, and simply start promoting its offering by sharing an affiliate link and recommending products or services.

As simple as it may sound, these two simple steps already make you an affiliate marketer, and allow you to start gaining an additional (somewhat smaller) source of income. 

You could simply set up a page with a nice list of partners’ products and wait for a small but steady (and there’s nothing wrong with that) stream of income to trickle in. However, you will need to do much more, and be a bit more proactive, in order to become an affiliate master.

This article is not just aiming to give you a two-step manual of joining any affiliate program. We want to show you how to become a superstar in affiliate marketing!

Before we get to the details, let us stress one thing: you need to be a trustworthy and easy-going person to succeed at affiliate marketing. If you genuinely believe in the products you are about to recommend, your network values your opinion, and everything you do seems legit, then you have every chance of becoming a successful affiliate. 

Principles of affiliate marketing

You also need to remember about the principles of affiliate marketing and value these three fundamental elements:

  • network,
  • authority,
  • product.

You have to treat these three elements as the core and centralize all your activities around them. 


Gather people who will respect your opinion, and they will perceive it as reliable and helpful. To maintain positive relationships, do your best to solve people’s problems and gain even more of their trust. Try to expand your network and grow your authority both online and offline. And don’t get us wrong – you don’t need to be a top influencer. Rakuten Marketing claims that more than 72% of publishers have an audience smaller than 5,000 followers! Anyone can achieve this kind of goal rather quickly.

How to become an affiliate marketer


Build authority in a specific field; don’t try to be a jack of all trades as this will lead you nowhere. Instead, decide what niche you want to fill, do some research, and start building authority in that particular area. When building authority, always keep your network and audience in mind. Ask yourself what content they would appreciate, what problems they are trying to solve, and what keeps them up at night, etc.


Last but not least, the product. Choose one that will suit you most, and which will make you appear to be a reliable expert. No one is likely to trust a bodybuilder speaking about the cryptocurrency market threshold. However, if a fitness coach shares knowledge about supplements for weight loss, few people will argue with them. 

The importance of a niche in affiliate marketing 

Successful affiliates know how to use their attributes, experience, and network to achieve a substantial return on investment. 

You need to be aware of the competition in specific categories – an overcrowded affiliate program will be too challenging if you are still a newbie. Find a niche with a problem that you can solve, then present your solutions.

Two primary ways of categorizing influencers

Why is it so important? Well, as mentioned before, the competition is higher in top-rated affiliate programs. It’s easier to take baby steps in markets that are not overcrowded, where it doesn’t take that much to stand out from the crowd and earn your first profits.

If you want to know how to dominate any niche, check out this guide: How To Dominate Any Affiliate Niche In 12 Months.

How to be successful at affiliate marketing

There are certain steps that you need to follow to let the world know about your affiliate offer. Don’t worry, one of the biggest advantages of being an affiliate and working by recommending other people’s products is that there are many possibilities of how to spread the word on the Internet.

However, you must understand that to be successful as an affiliate, you must first start by working on building a personal brand and making yourself known so that people will trust you and buy the products that you recommend. We’ve already mentioned this, but we also wanted to really emphasize its importance. 

Here’s a list of assets you need to create and actions you need to undertake in order to make sure your affiliate marketing efforts have the best possible chance of being successful.

Build a website 

You can start by creating your own website. This may require some investment (of time and/or money, as usual), but it is definitely worth it. It is proven that conversions are higher when recommendations come from your own pages.

Besides, it is advisable to constantly work on producing quality content for your site, blog, or social network profiles. This is what guarantees, that little by little, you can become an expert in a given field, provide quality content, and grow an audience that trusts you.

Create a blog

Running a blog is also a good way to become a thought leader in a certain topic and work as an affiliate. You should share useful and well-written content on your blog to attract the audience you are looking for. Don’t forget about optimizing your content for SEROS to drive organic traffic and build a qualified audience who are truly interested in acquiring the products you promote.

If you want to learn more about promoting your affiliate program through content, read this article on Crafting a Content Marketing Strategy for Affiliate Marketing.

Leverage social media

Social networks like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are also great platforms on which to advertise products and share your affiliate links, as they allow you to attract an audience through interesting, attractive, and innovative content. Think about using the power of Facebook groups or being active on Quora. 

Which social media platform does you company use

Create a YouTube channel

Being a Youtuber is another great way to become an authority in a certain niche and become influential within a certain community. That’s why we can say that it is also a good strategy to promote an article as an affiliate on this video hosting platform.

For example, let’s say you have a channel on which you give advice to women who want to improve their self-esteem and wellbeing in general. You can use your videos to promote digital products that interest your subscribers, such as an e-book with tips on how to be more satisfied with your life, or with techniques used to increase motivation.

Use email marketing

To spread the word about your products, you need to create well-organized and segmented mailing lists as part of your email marketing strategy. Then, get creative and start promoting your affiliate links among your database by sending outstanding messages. It is important to align your email marketing strategy with a solid content strategy that generates benefits for your subscribers.

Participate in offline and online events to make yourself known

Offline activities can also be an excellent strategy to publicize your affiliate links. You can participate in events of interest to your audience in order to make yourself well known. Create a list of events you could attend and check if there’s a possibility to hand out cards, brochures, or place posters in strategic locations to invite attendees to visit your blog and follow your social media profiles. 

Don’t forget about online events such as networking sessions, meet-ups, or conferences where you can approach other users and build relationships.

Use paid advertising

Paid advertising can also be a good option for those who want to promote affiliate links. You could use Google Adwords, for example, to create ad campaigns targeted to the audience you want to attract. If you have some money to invest in PPC, then it is a very good idea to do so!

Measure the effectiveness of your activities and act accordingly

How to become an affiliate marketer

Last but not least, the most critical step on the roadmap to success is controlling the results. Monitor all the activities around your affiliate program, make some conclusions, and find areas of improvement.

If you plan on becoming a successful affiliate, then there is no place for misguided moves or wasted opportunities.

When promoting several products, some of them may be less popular than others. This is normal. But if you notice a complete lack of interest in one product while others are well performing well, then it’s worth replacing the dusty item immediately. You can also direct your efforts and resources to a different affiliate program that is already established, and which brings results. Sometimes less is more!

You need to constantly analyze the results you are getting and quickly act upon the shifting variables.

Affiliate Marketing success checklist

We have to admit it – affiliate marketing is not rocket science, and you don’t actually need much to become an affiliate. But if you want to become a successful affiliate, then you do need to invest a bit of effort – especially if you are new to this World. Get ready for many facing many challenges and having many doubts, but go step-by-step through this checklist to be guided towards a brighter future!

A checklist of a successful affiliate marketer:

Find a niche in which you will start promotion.✔️
Pick up to 10 products that you will promote.✔️
Choose affiliate programs that fit your attributes.✔️
Create affiliate links and track them.✔️
Create your website and a blog.✔️
Post high quality product-related content✔️
Be active on social media and/or YouTube.✔️
Leverage email marketing✔️
Attend both online and offline events.✔️
Use PPC for promotion.✔️
Control your result and act accordingly.✔️

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