What Is Affiliate Marketing And How To Get Started

Affiliate marketing is a way to earn commission for every visitor, subscriber or customer that you send to a merchant’s website.

Most internet merchants (e.g. Amazon, eBay, Yahoo) have an affiliate program that you can join and earn commission for referring people to their website.

In a way, it’s a partnership between you and the merchant. The merchant will handle the product development, fulfillment, customer support and payment collection. All you have to do is refer people to the merchant’s website.

It’s very easy to get started. Here’s a somewhat oversimplification of the process:

Step 1: You join a merchant’s affiliate program.

It’s usually free to join. You just submit your contact information and you’re in.

There are affiliate programs that require you to buy a product from the merchant first before you can join but these programs are quite rare.

Step 2: You obtain your unique affiliate link from the merchant.

Upon joining, you’ll be given a link that is unique only to you. This link helps the merchant track your referrals.

Step 3: You send people to the merchant’s website by getting them to click on your affiliate link.

Here is where the “marketing” aspect comes in. To get people to click on your affiliate link, you’ll have to promote the link. Here are a few common ways affiliates promote their link:

  • Advertise on Google, Yahoo and MSN.
  • Build a website and optimize it for search engine traffic.
  • Distribute a viral ebook that contains their affiliate link.
  • Post on forums with their affiliate link displayed in their signatures.

Step 4: Your referrals buy something or register at the merchant’s website.

When your referral buys a product or registers at the merchant’s website, you’ll be credited for the sale or registration. Your account at the merchant’s affiliate program will display the sale or registration so that you can keep track of your earnings.

Step 5: The merchant pays you a commission for every sale or registration.

Once your earnings reach the merchant’s payment threshold (usually $50 or $100), the merchant will pay you with a check, a wire transfer or PayPal.

And that’s affiliate marketing in a nutshell.


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