What Is Affiliate Marketing: How to Start in 4 Easy Steps

In the digital world, everyone has access to a variety of information and can provide it for free. This abundance of online content means that even those who are not technologically savvy or skilled in SEO tactics have been able to find success through affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is a type of marketing where businesses partner up with other companies to sell their products. It can be done by websites, blogs, and social media accounts. This article will show you how to start in 4 easy steps. Read more in detail here: how to start affiliate marketing for beginners in 2021.

You undoubtedly use affiliate marketing-monetized websites all the time, sometimes without realizing it, and there’s a reason for that: it’s one of the most popular methods for bloggers and webmasters to monetize their digital assets. The sector is now worth an estimated $12 billion and is expected to increase by at least 10% in the next years. It’s a fantastic method to make money online without having to create your own stuff. It’s no wonder, therefore, that many SEOs use their abilities to drive visitors to affiliate websites where they may earn a commission.

However, in order to be successful with affiliate marketing, you must first grasp what it is, how to get started, and how to profit from it. The good news is that affiliate marketing allows anybody with an internet presence and the capacity to generate traffic to make money by advertising other people’s items. 

This article will walk you through the basics of affiliate marketing, focusing on:

What exactly does ‘affiliate marketing’ imply?

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based advertising approach in which companies pay an affiliate a commission on conversions. In a nutshell, an affiliate makes money by advertising and selling other people’s items without having to keep any inventory, handle orders, or deal with customer care. Affiliate links are used to monitor sales and generate compensation. 

It should be simple to determine if affiliate marketing is the best monetization channel for you.

Are you a knowledgeable businessperson seeking for a new source of income? Maybe you’re a freelancer wanting to step up your game and make more money? Perhaps you have one or more websites that get a lot of traffic and you’re searching for a means to monetize them. Many marketers choose affiliate marketing for a variety of reasons, and it’s easy to understand why:

  • Affiliate marketing allows you to make money from anywhere. You may be working on a beach or in your bedroom while traveling. You can manage an affiliate company from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection and a computer. If you can make affiliate marketing a full-time income, you may also work your own hours.
  • It’s a fantastic method to make money while you sleep. Even when you aren’t working, there are actual potential to generate sales and earn commissions.
  • If you have access to a steady stream of prospective consumers or are prepared to develop a successful marketing plan, affiliate marketing may make you a lot of money.
  • You won’t have to deal with customer service since you’ll simply be referring other companies, introducing your audience, and promoting a transaction.
  • There are relatively few obstacles to overcome when it comes to getting started. In addition, the fees of starting an affiliate company are modest. In reality, time is much more valuable than money when it comes to the commitment required.
  • If you’re an expert SEO who can rank a website for competitive phrases, the profits from affiliate marketing might augment or even totally replace client work in certain cases.

Affiliate marketing is a partnership between a merchant and his or her affiliates.

But, in case there’s any ambiguity in this context, here’s what you should know:

Affiliate = the affiliate promotes the firm’s content to their audience to drive consumers and is paid a commission upon a successful sale. Merchant = the business that is selling the product or service and to whom the buyer gives the money (or sometimes for a lead)

Affiliate marketing is one of the marketing channels used by businesses. It enables them to profit (in terms of revenue and leads) from the marketing strategy and audience of someone else (the affiliate).

Businesses that use this channel range from those selling physical things via an eCommerce site to those providing financial services (insurance, credit cards, and so on) and SaaS software tools to those selling virtual products (think eBooks and virtual training classes). There aren’t many firms that can’t benefit from affiliate marketing. So long as the correct affiliates are promoting the items and services. 

When a retailer works with an affiliate, they’ll typically provide tracking links (to compute commissions) and advertising materials, as well as sometimes special incentives (to entice customers) like discount coupons.

In many cases, retailers may hire an affiliate network to administer their affiliate program on their behalf, alleviating a lot of the administrative burden. Larger brands, on the other hand, may handle this internally. We’ll go over this in more detail later, but for any merchants considering using this channel for the first time, it’s important to know that a lot of the work can be done by a specialist who will set everything up and manage the program on your behalf, including onboarding affiliates and paying out commissions. 

In most situations, retailers pay affiliates a commission on each sale based on a pre-determined proportion. This may also (or instead of) be given on a per-lead basis in specific cases and industries, where a payment is paid every time a lead is created, regardless of whether it converts. Because this strategy is more risky for the merchant, the payoff is likely to be smaller.

Check out this article on how to locate affiliates using SEMrush if you’re a merchant trying to start an affiliate program.

In many circumstances, an affiliate must rely on their own network to market goods and services in a manner that benefits them.

After all, the more sales an affiliate generates, the more money both parties profit from. 

Many marketers and entrepreneurs may identify a niche and design a comprehensive marketing plan to generate traffic and promote a certain industry, and in this situation, it’s similar to establishing a firm from scratch, but with great profit margins. Bloggers and influencers, on the other hand, may utilize affiliate marketing to monetize a channel or audience that they’ve already created.

In each of these cases, the method is quite identical.

Affiliates may employ a variety of marketing methods to bring people to an affiliate (either directly or through their own site or platform) and, presumably, produce a sale or enquiry after they’ve signed up for an affiliate scheme (or, ideally, many).

The following are some of the most popular affiliate marketing channels:

  • SEO
  • PPC (However, examine affiliate agreements carefully to determine whether bidding on a merchant’s ‘brand’ conditions is permitted.)
  • The Internet and Social Media (especially popular with influencers)
  • Marketing with Content

However, if an affiliate has a reliable source of high-quality traffic, the earning potential is the same. 

To improve their performance and revenue, smart affiliates will stack many channels together.

Affiliates are compensated in a variety of methods, as mentioned above. This is frequently determined by the value of the goods or service being sold.

Affiliates are paid in a variety of ways, including:

Pay Per Sale (Set Fee): When an affiliate makes a sale, a fixed fee commission is given to them regardless of the order amount.

Pay Per Sale (Percentage): The commission is calculated as a percentage of the sale or order value.

Pay Per Lead or Enquiry: When a qualifying lead or inquiry is generated, a set price is charged.

Pay Per Click: When an affiliate sends a click to the merchant’s site, the affiliate gets paid a (small) set fee.

Individual merchants and the niche in which they operate determine which payment structure is employed. Affiliates may be offered a variety of payment systems to select from and will be compensated appropriately in certain situations.

Let’s have a look at some prominent websites that you may currently use but didn’t know were affiliate sites before we get into how to get started with affiliate marketing. We’ll also look at how they monetize themselves.


There’s a strong possibility you’ve visited RetailMeNot to look for discount coupons to save money while shopping online in the past, but did you know it’s an affiliate site?

They get paid an affiliate fee when you use a voucher or an offer that is advertised on the site. Using the Doman Overview view, we can see that they get about 23.7 million organic hits every month.



NerdWallet is possibly one of the greatest affiliate sites out there. The website’s staff provides a superb user experience and content strategy that assists consumers in finding the correct financial products and making the best selections.

The site makes money by comparing brokers, credit cards, and other financial goods and sends people to them through affiliate links.


We can also observe that they get over 14 million organic hits each month.



If you’re a regular traveler, you’ve almost certainly heard of The Points Guy. A fantastic content-rich website that assists you in collecting and using points and miles, as well as finding the ideal holiday experience.

This site is also an excellent example of affiliate marketing. It suggests using cards like Amex to entice people to join up.


We can observe from the site’s organic exposure that it receives an estimated 3.3 million monthly visits from search engines. While this isn’t as much traffic as other affiliate marketing sites, it’s still a significant quantity of traffic that’s aimed at a certain demographic. 


But enough with the explanations of what affiliate marketing is and how it is used by others. By this point, you’re definitely ready to establish your own affiliate marketing plan and begin monetizing your current assets or creating an affiliate site from the ground up.

Let’s have a look at how you may begin your journey to become a great affiliate marketer. 

The first step is to choose a specialty for your business.

If you already have an audience that you want to monetize, your affiliate marketing campaign is off to a solid start. However, if you’re just getting started, you’ll need to choose a niche that can pay off as an affiliate partner.

Because of the potential, we’re typically lured to high-competition niches. When you consider the amount of competition out there, it’s frequently wiser to aim for something a bit more particular. 

In this article on discovering lucrative niches, Vahe Arabian suggests:

Finding a lucrative niche is important because specialized consumers are loyal. Rather of scurrying off to discover what’s bright and new on the next site, they stay with you for the long haul.

— Arabian Vahe

But how do you go about finding a niche with an audience you can tap into?

That’s how: keyword research.

You may utilize the SEMrush Keyword Overview tool to uncover prospective keywords that might generate traffic, operating on the assumption that 2,000 searches per month is the very least you should be considering.


Check out Authority Hackers’ page for more suggested reading on how to find a successful niche.

You’ll need to discover one or more affiliate networks or schemes after you’ve determined your specialization. 

There are a lot of networks that serve as a middle ground between affiliates and merchants, but the best way to locate them is to start looking for merchants you want to promote and see how to join up for their programs.

Let’s imagine you own a popular travel blog and want to market vehicle rental services as an affiliate. You know Avis is one of the best car rental firms.

Let’s look for their plan.

A brief search on their website yields the page for their affiliate program.


When you enroll, this will take you to this page.

They seem to be utilizing the Partnerize network. Usually, connections to a retailer’s affiliate program may be found in their footer, but if not, a fast Google search for “[merchant] + affiliate program” should provide results.

Scoping out merchants is a good place to start, but after you’ve joined a network, you’ll be able to join their other merchants, where applicable, to promote and profit from their offers.

Affiliate networks that are popular include:

You don’t have to deal with a merchant via an affiliate network all of the time.

In fact, Harsh Agrawal mentions in our 5 Hours of SEO webinar:

When you have a high amount of sales, you may negotiate with any company to work directly with you, skipping the affiliate network entirely. You earn a higher commission and may typically ask for extra rewards like a branded landing page or a branded discount.

Craig Campbell then went on to say:

When you can go straight to a brand instead of going via Amazon or another affiliate network, you may earn a lot more money.

It’s all about forming a relationship, which Geno Prussakov discusses in further depth here.

After you’ve joined one or more affiliate programs, you’ll need to decide which goods to advertise. The goods you advertise should be in line with your overall content strategy.

You’ve previously conducted keyword research to identify a viable affiliate specialty. This is, however, a terrific approach to develop a good content strategy that corresponds with items that may be marketed by your selected merchants. Along with search volumes and affiliate compensation, consider how difficult it is to rank and your ability to attract traffic from other sources. 

Rather than battling to rank and acquire attention in higher-volume marketplaces, you can achieve better profits by focusing on specialized themes and earning a huge proportion of a tiny pool. It’s also a good idea to talk to the merchants or network to see what you should be advertising and when.

You must begin driving traffic to the merchants after you’ve determined what you’ll be marketing.

Affiliates employ a variety of ways to deliver traffic to their merchant partners, as we indicated before. Your approach will be determined by your objectives and vision.

Do you wish to start one (or more) niche-specific affiliate sites that operate as a funnel for merchants that pay you commissions? Do you want to establish a brand?

With the right plan in place, SEO is a no-brainer, given the traffic that’s out there without you having to pay per click. PPC, on the other hand, can work for some niches but not for others; you’ll need to make sure you’re carefully considering the click costs and your conversion rate into a sale for the merchant. Otherwise, you might find there’s not enough margin to make a return. Social and Marketing with Content usually sit alongside a solid SEO strategy, and email can be a great way to drive repeat sales from previous users if you’re able to build up a process for generating sign-ups. If you’re looking to gain more insights into how you can make money with affiliate marketing, take a look at this recap of a recent #SEMrushchat for more ideas and inspiration.

You’ll notice that a lot of companies offer affiliate programs.

After all, it’s a terrific method to reach out to new customers who may not have heard of your product or service before.


We also have our own affiliate program, BeRush, at SEMrush.

BeRush will help you start your affiliate marketing journey even if you don’t have a significant number of marketers and company owners to advertise to. Take a look at how we’ve put it up, the commission tiers that are available, and how affiliates may become involved.

Now is the time to register.

if you’d want to create a BeRush account

ADS illustration

Affiliate marketing is a profitable channel for both merchants and affiliates, and it’s just becoming bigger. 

Whether you’re wanting to launch a side hustle and earn a little extra income each month or launch a fast-growth platform that takes a sector by storm, it’s a channel you can’t ignore and one that sits at the heart of different channels, from SEO and Marketing with Content to PPC.

Affiliate marketing is a relatively new way to make money online. It can be confusing and overwhelming at the same time, but in this post I will break down how affiliate marketing works and what you need to know before getting started. Reference: what is affiliate marketing and how does it work.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I start affiliate marketing as a beginner?

A: The best way to get started with affiliate marketing as a beginner is by joining an affiliate network. Affiliate networks allow beginners and experienced marketers alike to promote products at no cost and have access to the kind of tools that are necessary for building a successful business.

How does affiliate marketing works step by step?

What is affiliate marketing in simple way?

A: Affiliate marketing is when a website or company pays you to promote their product. For example, if someone clicks on your YouTube video and goes to Amazon
to buy the same product thats being promoted in the video link, Amazon will pay you a commission for the sale of their products. However, with affiliate marketing there are no guarantees of success — even though it can be quite lucrative!

Related Tags

  • how to start affiliate marketing with no money
  • affiliate marketing for beginners pdf
  • how to start affiliate marketing with amazon
  • affiliate marketing amazon
  • affiliate marketing examples

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.