What Is Affiliate Marketing And How To Make It Work? [Ultimate Guide]

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This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through these links I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I personally hand-test everything that I promote, and I only link to services and products that I like.
affiliate marketing guide

It might be weird for you reading this title right now, especially if you’ve seen my latest post: Why Affiliate Marketing Does Not Work but nevertheless if you don’t have your own product or service, then affiliate marketing is the next best way to make money online.

Sure, it’s not always the perfect solution for monetizing a website or app, but when you’re a beginner just starting out online, without having your own products and services to promote, becoming an affiliate might be the next best thing for you. So I’ve put together this guide to make it easier for you to become an affiliate marketer.

Yes, this is a long read, but I really didn’t want to miss on anything, because it might honestly help you out. Look, the truth is that I really wished someone would’ve put together a guide like this that was available freely on the internet, years ago when I started out, it would’ve saved me thousands of dollars wasted on advertising, and also many many hours of my life.

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So if you are a beginner this is perfect for you, if you’re a more advanced marketer or even a super affiliate, well you could skip this post, but you could also stick around and maybe drop a comment with some of your tips too ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, here we go:

What is Affiliate Marketing and How Does it Work

Affiliate Marketing Definition

Affiliate marketing is basically an agreement, usually between two parties, an online retailer or vendor who wants to increase the sales of their products/services and a blogger or website owner who wants to promote that said product or service in exchange for a commission.

what is affiliate marketing

The online retailer will pay a commission (usually percentage-based: 10%-30% of the product sale price) every time the website owner sends them someone that buys or subscribes to their product or program. So in simple terms, an affiliate marketer is someone that promotes someone’s else product or service in exchange for a commission every time the transaction takes place using the affiliate’s unique link.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work

To expand on the things from above, the affiliate marketer will get a unique link from the vendor’s website, that they can use in order to promote their products. The affiliate can then use that special link on their blog, website, social media pages, media buying campaigns, PPC ads, etc.

Every time a user clicks on your affiliate link they will get redirected to the product’s website, where they have the option to buy whatever it was advertised and when they complete the transaction, you will get credited with an affiliate commission for that sale because someone bought the product through your referral link. The unique affiliate link essentially acts as a tracker, this is how the product owner knows what affiliate brought them the sale, and this is how they know who gets paid a commission.

affiliate sales are tracked

Let’s look at an example if you go to my Hustler Resources & Tools page, you will see that I recommend a few products, that an internet marketer can use to make their life easier online. Services such as BlueHost (web hosting), GetResponse, (email marketing), SemRush (SEO & PPC Research Tool), etc.

Every time someone clicks on these links and they purchase a product or a service through my affiliate link, I get a commission.

Sometimes the commission is percentage-based like 10% – 20%, sometimes it’s a flat fee like $30. Almost always, the user who buys through these links won’t have to pay extra for the product just because they bought through an affiliate link, in fact, most of the time the user will get a special discount, that’s only available if they buy through an affiliate link, so that’s a win-win.

Two Types of Affiliate Commissions

There are two types of commissions. One is a sale commission, meaning that you will get paid when someone buys something through your link, the other is a lead commission, where you will earn money just by referring other people to complete a form for example or enter their e-mail address.

Sale vs Lead commission

You will get a sales commission when someone buys something through your affiliate link, and you will get paid a lead commission when someone signs-up for something for free. so working with lead commissions might be easier for beginners since you won’t have to make someone buy a product in order for you to make money.

The easiest lead offer you can promote is an e-mail submit CPA (cost per action) offer, where you send someone through your affiliate link to a website where all they have to do is to enter their e-mail address or ZIP code, and you will get paid a flat lead commission ranging from $1 to $3 depending on the offer and the affiliate network you’re working with.

There are also more advanced lead offers, where you will get paid a higher commission (anywhere from $4 to $100), but the user will have to enter more details and information about themselves, which for most web users isn’t something so easy to do, especially if they are afraid of identity theft and entering their details like social security number and address into a “random website”.

That’s why these types of leads pay more, the user still doesn’t have to buy anything, but they will be required to enter more details about themselves. Here’s an image from some of the payday loan offers from Peerfly:

Peerfly Payday Loan Offers

As you can see, these types of offers are paying a lot of money for a genuine quality lead, the catch is that they will have to be approved first by the vendor, and also the user will have to complete many fields in order to qualify for the loan.

Don't know how to get started making money online? One of the best ways is to start a blog. You can easily do that with Bluehost.

Most people will not be happy with sharing their private info so easily, so the conversion rate won’t be that high,  but the good part is that you will get paid at least $50 or more if the person then gets approved for a loan.

payday loan offer example
There are many fields a person needs to complete in order to qualify for some of these payday loan offers.

Most advanced affiliate marketers are promoting these types of CPA offers, simply because they earn more money, and the user doesn’t have to pull out their credit card and purchase something.

But there are risks involved, and the affiliate marketer will have to know what they are doing and be a wizard in tracking and optimizing their campaigns especially if they do PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, and buy traffic from Google Ads and Bing Ads, where the CPC (cost-per-click) can easily be over $1-$2 in some of these niches.

Learn more about CPA affiliate marketing specifically.

How Do You Start in Affiliate Marketing?

It’s relatively easy to become an affiliate marketer but it also depends on what type of product or service you want to promote. With some networks you can just sign-up, and start promoting their offers, with others you will have to be approved first, and some of them even require a skype or phone call interview.

There are different types of affiliate programs and networks, depending on what you want to promote on your website. You can promote physical products (electronics, toys, clothes, etc…), digital products (eBooks, Software, Online Services), or CPA lead offers (Insurance, Loans & Payday, Surveys, e-mail submits, etc..).

This is why affiliate marketing is awesome, you get to choose what to promote and when. Plus you can do affiliate marketing on a budget and start with less than $100.

To make it a bit easier for you, I’ve put together a list of the most popular platforms where you can find all kinds of products and services to promote, whether they are physical products or digital (informational products or software) or leads.

Affiliate Marketing Networks

The Most Popular Affiliate Networks for Physical Products

  • Amazon Associates
  • Commission Junction
  • ShareAsale
  • Rakuten
  • eBay
  • SkimLinks and VigLinks
  • eBay
  • Walmart

These are the most known and used platforms by affiliates who promote physical products, such as laptops, clothes, dog toys, baby strollers, etc… so if you plan on promoting something similar, these are good networks that you should apply to.

The Most Popular Affiliate Networks for Digital Products

Clickbank Products

Yes, not that many, but these should keep you busy for a while, ClickBank, in particular, has thousands of informational products in every niche, from Health to Business to Entertainment, so you can easily promote a “Learn How To Play Piano”  ebook or “How To Lose Abdominal Fat” video series.

In addition to that, you can also promote digital and informational products from Amazon or ShareASale, after all, Amazon started out with selling eBooks back in 1999, and they still have over 5 million ebooks on their site that you can promote, with new ones added every day.

The Best CPA Affiliate Networksmaxbounty

  • Maxbounty
  • Peerfly
  • Clickbooth.com
  • NeverBlue.com
  • AdWorkMedia.com
  • CPALead.com
  • W4.com
  • ClickDealer.com
  • GlobalWideMedia.com
  • Matomy.com

On these networks, you will mostly find CPA offers such as email address submit, dating websites signups (you get paid if someone registers on a dating website), personal loans, payday loans, auto, and life insurance, etc… Like I said previously, with CPA offers you will get paid whenever you send a legitimate lead, where a person completes some information about themselves, and then you will get paid.

A Note: most CPA offers will have strict promotion rules, you will find offers that won’t let you advertise on Search Engines, or on Social Media profiles, etc.. so you must follow those rules carefully otherwise the advertiser might choose to simply not pay you for the leads that you sent. Check out this image to see some examples of what kind of restrictions some offers might have:

peerfly offer rules

Also keep in mind that when applying to these CPA networks, almost all of them will have to approve you first, and so you won’t have instant access, some of them will even want to talk with you over Skype or on the phone, to get an idea about your promotional methods, the websites you have, your experience, etc.

How To Get Your Affiliate Application Approved

Not all affiliate networks will grant you instant access, most of them will require you to submit an application. In that application, you will have to explain to them what methods you will use to promote their products and offers, what websites you have, what is your advertising budget (if you have any, and if you plan on doing paid advertising), what is your experience in online marketing, etc.

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Here are my top hustler tips that will give you a higher chance o get approved:

  • Have a LIVE Website that has a good amount of quality content
  • Describe to them the methods you will use to promote your website and their offers. (For example SEO, PPC, email marketing, etc.)
  • Tell them about your experience, and don’t lie about it, if you are a newbie just say you are a newbie but you have a great website ready to promote, etc.
  • Call them first, or send them an email just after you submit your application, don’t wait for them to contact you. Tell them that you are eager to start working and promoting their offers and how you plan to do it etc… this will show them that you are serious about it, and possibly approve your account faster.

Please keep in mind though, that these tips are not guaranteed to get your account approved, especially not with the top CPA networks like Maxbounty, Neverblue, W4, etc. It would be better for you if you try and sign up with easier CPA companies at first like AdWorkMedia and CPALead if you want a better chance to get approved.

You should still apply to multiple CPA networks and never rely on just 1 of them, most of them have different offers and different payout rates, etc. So just try and apply to as many as you can, be honest with them, and let them know what your plans are, and you might get approved for a few of them.

How To Make Affiliate Marketing Work

Look, like I’ve said in my previous post, affiliate marketing can sometimes suck. This happens when a new beginner affiliate doesn’t yet understand that this whole process should be treated like a real business.

They are sold lies in crappy little ebooks on some internet marketing forums or they watch some hyped up videos on youtube for a course that they should buy, and they start to believe the lies that they will start earning thousands a day in just 1 month, with a “push-button” system and everything automated.

Or better yet, by using a “secret loophole” that helps you rank higher in Google’s search rankings.

internet marketing scams

Complete bullsh*t.

The real truth is that affiliate marketing is hard, but no one will admit that, because otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to sell you their stuff ๐Ÿ™‚ sorry to disappoint you.

You must be able to dedicate your time or your money (it’s usually both), and you should be willing to learn from your mistakes and keep on pushing forward if you want to be rewarded with the “glamorous” affiliate lifestyle. Check out the top 16 affiliate marketing mistakes that you should avoid.

affiliate marketing is hard

I work at least 8-10 hours a day, managing and writing content on all my websites & blogs, optimizing ad campaigns in order to keep everything on track and get the highest ROI possible, talking with VA’s giving them different tasks, etc..

I know super affiliates that are working at least 12-14 a day, every day.. some even push 16 hours.

Now I’m not saying you should not sleep or eat or neglect your body, I’m just trying to paint a picture. A picture that tells you that most successful affiliate marketers, in fact, work hard every day, and it’s not something that is “push button” or completely automated.

Sure you can automate some things, and hire VA’s (virtual assistants), but at the end of the day, you will have to hustle hard and be able to manage everything yourself in order to stay on the right track and not waste your time or even worse your money.

Yes, you might get a bit of luck every now and then and strike gold with a CPA offer for example that does insanely good on Bing Ads, but that offer will eventually die out, and you will have to constantly optimize it or start testing new campaigns.

Me personally, I run or test at least 10-15 CPA campaigns daily via a number of advertising networks, and let me tell you it’s no easy task, having to constantly block bad keywords, or bot traffic, testing out new ad titles, images, different landing pages/copywriting, etc.

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And I know that the majority of successful affiliates who are earning thousands a day are running 50 to 100 or more offers a day.

This is not to say that you need to start immediately testing out 10 offers and spend money on paid advertising, no… don’t do that, at least not yet… you will burn through your money quicker than you can say “Your Ads have been disapproved because they don’t meet our content guidelines” (yes that can happen, and you might even get banned from Adwords or other ad networks if you repeatedly brake their rules).

Ok…ok..enough with the bad things, here are my tips on how to become a good affiliate:

The Free Method (You only invest your time)

free affiliate marketing method

Ok, it’s not completely free, (since time is money) but you will only need a little bit of money in order to set up everything, for example, a domain name from NameCheap only costs about $10 a year with free whois included, and web hosting can be about $2.95 per month if you go with BlueHost, or another web hosting company.

These days hosting a website is pretty cheap, so you don’t need to worry about that too much. Anyway, this is the bare minimum that you would need to spend in order to get started with affiliate marketing.

Read more: How to start a blog guide step-by-step guide

Niche Research for Affiliate Marketing

So the first thing you should start with is research. This is, in my opinion, one of the most important parts of affiliate marketing.  You need to at least get an idea if a certain niche is profitable, how fierce is the competition, and if it’s even worth it to start out in that niche.

You don’t want to start up a blog on “How To make money online” (just like I did now with NetHustler), and then be surprised that… oh, there are about 10 million other blogs talking about this already (not really, but there really is a high number of websites and blogs in this niche, only health-related websites are higher in number).

If you have a hobby or you are passionate about something, you should start from there, and do some research with SemRush & Moz Explorer, to get an idea of how hard it would be for you to start in that niche. You should also take a look at some programs and products / offers that you can promote on ClickBank, Amazon, etc… and see if there are any good products that are hot and where affiliates are making money already.

niche research

Sure most internet marketers and bloggers will tell you to go ahead and write about your passions and bloggers, and don’t get me wrong that’s all good, and you should do that, but sometimes, you don’t make money by following your passions.

How many Arts degree holders work at Starbucks or McDonald’s? (I don’t have anything against the people who chose to do that, but I’m just trying to give a good example here).  Anyway, they all followed their dreams and went for an art degree when instead they should’ve gone into STEM or Medical fields that are in high demand and pay really well.

So that’s exactly my point when it comes to research and finding your niche,  you shouldn’t always do what you love if you won’t be able to make money out of it.

So in conclusion, do your research and find the perfect niche in order to go ahead and start with building a website and promoting products related to it.

semrush keyword research

Use these tools to check out the competition and see how certain niches perform, just add a few keywords and check the results: SemRush, Moz Explore, Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest, Google Keyword Tool (better to use the first 3 ones though, since Google made too many changes to its tool that it’s basically useless now). Also keep in mind to search for products that pay well on Amazon, Clickbank, and CJ or a CPA network if you get approved.

Check out a more detailed guide that I’ve made on How To Find Your Niche.

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Create a website for your affiliate marketing strategy

Yes, you can be an affiliate marketer and promote products without having a website but, you will have more chances to succeed with a website plus it will be a lot easier to get accepted into a network when you have a live website with good content on it.

affiliate marketing website

So if you don’t know how to create a website, here’s the simplified version:

  1. Go To Namecheap and Register your domain name (My Guide: How To Choose a Domain Name)
  2. Go To Bluehost (or any other web hosting company) and sign up for a hosting plan, note: if you choose Bluehost as your web hosting service, you won’t have to register a domain with Namecheap anymore, since Bluehost will offer you a domain name for free when you sign up for their service.
  3. Install WordPress using the 1 click tool from inside the hosting control panel
  4. Setup WordPress with a free good looking theme from the themes gallery
  5. Install some good plugins (check out: Best WordPress Plugins for Affiliate Marketing)

And that’s about it, you can do that in under 15 minutes, and if you want to see a step by step tutorial with more detailed information plus a video of me creating a website from scratch, check out my tutorial: How To Create A Website In Under 15 Minutes

Create Good Content for Affiliate Marketing

Content is King. Ever heard of that saying? Let’s be honest you probably did, but anyway, yes content is very important for an internet marketer.

Sure you could make millions online without having to write a single blog post in your life, but in order to do that, you would need to be an expert in paid advertising and have a healthy amount of funds to start out.

write good content

But since this is an affiliate marketing guide for beginners, I’ll just assume you don’t have hundreds (or even thousands to be honest) to waste on paid advertising, especially since you are new to the game, but I’ll talk more about that later in this article.

Anyway back to the point. In order to have a chance of becoming a successful marketer, you will need to have great content on your blog, content that is related to the products that you will promote. So ideally if you did your niche research right, you know what things you need to write about.

There are many types of content that you can create for your website:

  • General Articles
  • Reviews about the products you are promoting
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • eBooks
  • Case Studies
  • Quizzes / Polls

All you need to do is create engaging content that is of high quality and unique, and preferably (if you are writing articles and reviews) at least 500-700 words each.

I personally aim for about 1500-2500 words, for each article, on every blog and website that I own, sure some of them are outsourced, but in my opinion, a longer piece of content that explains all the pros and cons about a specific issue will always outperform a shorter one. This makes it easier for the user to do take an action such as to purchase something or to subscribe to a newsletter.

Good content is also beneficial for SEO. So let’s jump on that and see what the heck SEO is.

SEO & Traffic Generation

Well, this is what makes or brakes an affiliate. Without traffic, you won’t make any sales and so you won’t get any commissions. Even if you have your website filled with great content, it’s still not enough.

seo traffic

If you build it they won’t come… (or at least that’s what I think…)

Like I’ve said above, good content is not only beneficial for your users, it’s also very important for SEO (search engine optimization). In order to have a chance in ranking on the first pages of Google and Bing, your content must be of high quality, engaging & unique.

There are many methods that Google uses in order to rank a website higher in their search results, some say that there are at least 200 factors that impact your SEO rank. The most important of them all, of course, is content, On-page SEO, and Off-page SEO.

Don't want to spend too much money on SEO tools such as Semrush but still want something to track your SEO data? Try Mangools.

A few short notes on on-page and off-page SEO

If you followed my guide on how to create a website, you know that you had to install an SEO plugin. That SEO plugin mainly helps you with the On-Page SEO part, meaning that it helps you optimize your website as best as you can in order for Google to better understand what your website is about and to give you a better rank as a result.

search engine optimization

Off-Page SEO also called Backlinking is basically when you have your website link, appear on other people’s websites, for example in one of their articles or comments. These backlinks need to be of good quality, and never to be spammed.  A few years back, people spammed the hell out of their website links, and they would rank higher in Google as a result.

A website that had their links appear on 10000 or so websites, would almost always dominate the search results. But like I said, this was way, waaaaay back… things have changed now, and Google quickly caught up with this and they released new algorithms to punish people abusing and spamming their website links.

So if you try and do that sh*t now, you will more than likely get penalized/banned by Google. This means that your website will get deindexed and thrown out of Google’s search results, and all the work that you’ve done by building your website and creating good content was for nothing.

If you want to build backlinks properly without spamming,  you should publish quality content that other users and website owners will gladly link to and share.

You could also write guest posts on other people’s blogs. A guest post is basically that, you create an amazing piece of content and then you send a few emails to other website owners in your niche, and ask them nicely if they are interested in publishing your awesome post on their website, and if they accept to do it, you will more then likely be able to add a link back to your website at the end of the article.

write good guest blog posts

This not only helps with SEO, but it will directly increase the traffic of your website, as people will start reading the article and click on your link just to check out more info about you or about the things you wrote about.

Another way to use your website link is by using it when you comment on a website that’s also related to your niche.

Sure they are nofollow links (which means Google shouldn’t really care about them) but it’s good to have a healthy mix of dofollow links (Google loves these) and nofollow ones.

Also aside from that, if you write a good comment, people will directly click on your name and visit your site, so again free visits, without waiting for SEO to happen.

So I will repeat again because it’s really important: Never, EVER…Spam your website link. 

**(WOW, the first time you see the red color is used in this post, you know something is super important if RED is involved haha, but seriously don’t spam)**

You can find more info on how to do SEO properly in one of my other guides, it’s honestly too much to talk about this subject and it will make this article too long to read.

 So to keep this simple, this is how you optimize your website for search engines:

Other than the articles on this blog, I rarely write my own content. Why? It's simple: I hate it. That's why I outsource it from places such as Fiverr.
  • Have a website that is easy to navigate and responsive
  • Have proper ON-page SEO done (do internal linking, add a robots.txt file, sitemap.xml file, optimize your posts for long-tail keywords related to what you blog is about)
  • Make sure the website loading speed is fast and if possible have HTTPS enabled on the domain (yes these also count for ranking)
  • Publish great and engaging content that’s also unique and has a decent length (at least 500-700 words)
  • Get good quality backlinks
  • Create social media profiles for your website with a link pointing back to it (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Medium, etc)

Aside from SEO, other ways to get free traffic:

  • Be active and post Social Media, also join groups related to your niche
  • Post on forums related to your niche (with a link back to your website in your forum signature)
  • Create and publish videos on youtube
  • Create an email list, check out a more in-depth guide on How to start an email list.
  • Do a giveaway, people love giveaways, even something small like an ebook or a software license can increase your traffic and email list
social media traffic

There are more free traffic methods, but I’ll write about that in another article. These are the main ones for now, and they are enough to keep you busy for a while and you should see some good results if you implement all of them right.

And that’s about it…

We just finished with how to be an affiliate marketer for free (sort of). You thought the article was over? Nah… far from it… now comes the second part. Good luck finishing this article in time for dinner ๐Ÿ™‚

The Paid Method (say bye-bye to your savings)

affiliate money paid traffic

No, but really, I will start this off, by saying you shouldn’t really venture into paying for advertising for affiliate marketing if you are not comfortable with losing money.

Even if you can get started with $50 (which many people think it’s enough… hint: it’s really not), you would still more than likely lose out your money in the beginning, without gaining anything back.

So why the hell would you pay for traffic in order to promote an affiliate product, if there is a chance to lose money?

Well, if you don’t have the time to do it for free (with the methods described above)… and also for scaling things up and having the chance to earn more money per day/month by running multiple successful campaigns at the same time.

Comparing this with the free method, where you would have to write a lot of quality content, and do SEO and more importantly wait for SEO to take effect and hope for good rankings….you can clearly see why some people prefer to pay for traffic.

affiliate marketer success

You Find The Offer

I’m assuming that you are already approved in an affiliate network by now.

Go ahead and search for a good offer that you would like to promote.

Chose one that’s hot right now, that other affiliates are promoting, and talk to your affiliate manager (if you have one) and ask them what kind of offers they recommend for you to promote.

You use tools like Odigger, OfferVault, Affplus, cbengine in order to get more information on good products, and offers you could promote.

Affiliate marketing is all about research, tracking, stats, and data. So doing research is very important before you begin spending money on paid ads.

To Direct Link or Not

landing page for affiliate marketing

Direct linking is when you basically get your affiliate URL for a product or an offer, and you send paid traffic directly to the offer without the need for having your own website or landing page.

Don't know how to get started making money online? One of the best ways is to start a blog. You can easily do that with Bluehost.

It’s recommended however to use a landing page (a page designed specifically for paid traffic to convert) on your website, in order to have a better conversion rate.

Not to mention that most affiliate programs will not let you advertise their offers without sending the users through your website first.

Ah, almost forgot, also depending on the paid traffic source you would use, some of them might also not allow you to run traffic to a direct affiliate offer without redirecting the user through your landing page first (Google Adwords, BingAds, Facebook).

So in reality, having a landing page where you put your affiliate links in, along with great content, is always better than doing direct linking.

P.S: Yes there are cases where direct linking works better than sending people through your website, but it’s not that common.

Check out how to do affiliate marketing without a website – 10 Effective Methods for 2022.

Advertising Networks


There are so many, no seriously… there are over 300+ advertising platforms out there.. and this requires a separate post all on its own (in the near future).

But from the hundreds of ad networks, I will only tell you about the most popular here:

Pay per click traffic sources:

Mobile Traffic Sources:

Push Traffic:

Pay Per View (these usually require a larger deposit to join like $500-$1000):

Native Advertising:

Media Buying (buying banners directly on other websites that you chose):

Depending on the offers you would like to promote, some of these networks are better than others. It’s really a lot to talk about these networks and I will try and write reviews for each and one of them soon, and also a big guide on how to do paid advertising properly.

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These are just to get you started, so if you want to know more about them you should check out some tutorials on youtube on how to sign-up and set up a campaign with them. Or you can even comment here and ask me specifically if you need help with something ๐Ÿ™‚

All I can tell you is that you should not try and promote affiliate marketing with Google Ads if you don’t have a good quality website with plenty of pages and you promote a product that is not against their guidelines. You might get banned otherwise.

Bing Ads are more lenient, and they will allow you to run affiliate offers, but again they have some strict rules too. In general much cheaper than Adwords, but still a bit pricey.

affiliate marketing bing

Facebook, is something else… some people have success with it, others fail miserably. Want my honest truth? I never use it, and I think there are way better advertising networks out there that are a lot cheaper and convert better.

Facebook is a social platform, first of all, people are on Facebook daily, looking at cute cats and baby pictures… they are not in the mood to buy anything, so that’s why conversions are lower there than on Adwords for example… and the costs? Depends on what you’re promoting and the countries… but it’s certainly not $0.05 per click cheap.. expect to pay at least $0.2-0.5 for US, CA, AU traffic.

Go with a mobile traffic network if you plan on running mobile CPA offers for example if you want to promote an app or something.

Go with Native Ad networks if you want access to a large inventory of websites (think about sites like CNN.com, Times, NYtimes, etc..) your ads will appear on those sites…and your website will be flooded with traffic almost instantly. They are cheaper than Adwords & Bing, but it’s way harder to master. Simply because there is a lot of bot/fake traffic involved, and also you cannot target the users very well like you could do on Adwords, Bing or Facebook Ads.

So read some reviews about the ones you’re interested in, or look up some videos on youtube if you’re not already familiar with how they work, and go to the next step:

Tracking is The Name of the Game

If you’re not tracking your paid campaigns, you’re losing money. BIG TIME. Tracking is essential, and every smart and successful internet marketer knows this.

What is tracking?

Basically, you put your affiliate URL into another piece of software or plugin, that generates another unique link… so instead of using the first affiliate URL that you get from your affiliate network, you will now use the link generated by your tracking software, in all of the paid advertising campaigns that you will launch.

affiliate marketing tracking

This allows you to get extra data about people visiting your website. Without this data, you will simply waste money on paid advertising, because you will never know what things bring you money and what things don’t.

For example, by using a tracking software you could get insight into your paid traffic such as:

  • Where the user is visiting from (City, State, Count, Country…)
  • Their IP
  • The device they are browsing from (Mobile, Tablet, Desktop)
  • The keyword they searched to find your ad
  • The particular ad that they clicked on
  • The time they entered your website
  • And many many more good things like this, that will help you improve and optimize your campaigns better.

So by getting all that data about your visitors, you will easily see what was the keyword used by someone who bought a product from your affiliate link, what device converts better..etc. You simply remove all the things that didn’t convert (for example you could block certain countries, IPs, KeyWords, Devices, etc) and you will then start to see a more positive ROI.

Here are some of the best tracking solutions for affiliates that I recommend:

Don't want to spend too much money on SEO tools such as Semrush but still want something to track your SEO data? Try Mangools.
  • ClickMagic
  • RedTrack
  • FunnelFlux
  • ThriveTracker
  • Voluum

You could sign up with every one of them, they all do pretty much the same thing, they only differ in price and some features. Redtrack though is a bit cheaper and easier to use. Check out their guides or youtube videos on how to use them.

Test and Scale Things Up

After a while, you will be more comfortable with paid traffic, and hopefully, after you get your first campaign to bring you money, you should start thinking about testing other variations of the same offer, for example changing the ads, targeting other locations, etc.

This is the beauty of affiliate marketing, once you find something that’s successful you can replicate it and scale it up to earn even more.

scaling things up

But more importantly, you should try and scale things up, and you could do this by testing more offers and see what works and what doesn’t.

Essentially the goal is to have as many positive ROI campaigns running at the same time, this is how the big boys do it. You can’t make $3000 a day from running 1 single campaign. I mean…you probably can… but most marketers can’t, and it’s highly unlikely.

Sometimes if you run ads on a single network, the ad network will have a limited number of clicks or visits they can allow for your campaign, and because of that having multiple ones is very good.

So the easiest way to do it (not really but still easier than trying to make have 1 campaign that brings you $3000 a day lol), is by creating and testing more offers and more campaigns and see what works and what doesn’t. And just work and optimize all of them, until you reach your goals.

Yes, this is easier said than done, but as I said previously,  affiliate marketing can be hard, especially if you want to make big bucks daily.

You should only think about scaling up when you have a pretty good understanding of things, and you are comfortable with spending more of your hard-earned money, in order to possibly make even more.

In reality, it’s just a numbers game really, the more money you have to invest, the more campaigns you can set up, and the more chance you have to get positive and good results.

Pro Hustler Tip: Always try to master just one traffic source first, before switching to others. Instead of wasting money testing different ad networks, stick to just one, all of them are good if you know how to work with them and how to optimize your campaigns.

How Much Money Can You Make as An Affiliate Marketer?

earn money affiliate marketing

First of all, affiliate marketing is a numbers game.

Secondly, these numbers vary a lot. It all depends on what kind of niche you’re in, what products you’re promoting, if you do free or paid advertising if you have good copywriting skills, how much traffic you can bring to your website daily, etc…

You could make $1 a month (or sometimes even lose money) up to $100,000+ a month, there are a few super affiliates that can pull 6 figures a month, but they have the experience and they work hard every day or invest a lot of money into advertising.

Just keep this in mind: If you break even, it’s good, for example, If you invest $10 and you make $10 back, be happy. Now you have some data that you could work with, and you can build on that to increase your revenue.

Other than the articles on this blog, I rarely write my own content. Why? It's simple: I hate it. That's why I outsource it from places such as Fiverr.

This is what affiliate marketing is all about, at least when you pay for traffic.

If you do it with the free method then yeah, you can be happy if you literally cover your hosting expenses every month and everything you get extra is amazing.

The End

Wow, you’d think this article would go on forever at this point… well sorry to disappoint you but it ends here.

Did you want more? Haha, maybe another time.

I really hope this affiliate marketing guide helps you out in your quest to become a successful affiliate marketer, just have to work hard for it.

Please leave me a comment and tell me what you think, or what have I  missed. I really appreciate your feedback, even if you’re a veteran of the game ????

If you just start doing affiliate marketing now, it can be a bit tougher since there are a lot more people doing it and some rules have become even tougher, (talking about the policies of the ad networks).

But don’t worry though, everybody can get their share of the pie with affiliate marketing if done correctly.



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  1. thx for the article, very helpful , but u didnt mention how to deal with refunds? unlike dropshipping , most products you can promote with affiliate marketing have 2 months refund period, thats alot…

    1. Hey there, simple answer: don’t promote crap with high refunds rate ๐Ÿ™‚ Or go for Nutra CPA offers, once the sale is done, even if there are refunds usually won’t come out of your own pocket, at least on the networks I’ve been on.

      1. Thank you for all the information you provided on your blog’s. Very informative and helpful in finding out how affiliate marketing really works and sucks and also where can I find the like button on all your blog post.

  2. Thanks Stephen for a stellar article. Appreciate the fact that you are sharing your experience with others who want to follow.


  3. Hello Stephen,
    An amazing article, as usual, I really enjoyed reading it.
    So affiliate marketing is pretty much like AdSense Arbitrage but instead of promoting services or products you bring people to click on your ads on the website?
    I have heard that AdSense Arbitrage is way hard than affiliate marketing, what’s your take on that?
    Is there any course or tutorial you would recommend to learn more about AdSense Arbitrage?

    1. Hi Ahmad,

      Yeah, Arbitrage is a bit similar to affiliate marketing and in some ways it is much harder, meaning that you have lower margins for profit if you don’t know what you’re doing and not monitoring everything perfectly.

      The niche is also important, and not to mention you have the risk of Google suspending your AdSense account if you break any rules, this will immediately put an end to your money flow, but with affiliate marketing if for some reason you get banned by an affiliate network or some offers are closed, you can always switch to another offer or network and still make the same amount of money.

      There are no courses that I can recommend right now, pretty much all of them talk the same stuff that I talked in this free post guide here, but I do have in mind to create maybe a paid video course with live examples etc, but I don’t know if people will be interested in that though.


      1. Hello Stephen,
        Thank you so much for your answer man. So you are saying that affiliate marketing is way easier than AdSense Arbitrage? But I think affiliate marketing does have some learning curves and it needs more money than what you would need to start Adsense Arbitrage. Is that correct? How long would it take, based on your experience, for someone to let’s say start making some money in each one of them?

        1. Hi Ahmad,

          I don’t know if it’s way way easier, but it can be. Simply because there are too many things involved with arbitrage and also if Google adsense suspends your account, you’re done. With affiliate marketing, you don’t care about that, because you have way more affiliate networks and offers that you can just pick up anytime you run into some problems. Also, adsense arbitrage is a bit trickier to get to make a profit, and it usually requires a larger investment such as $300-$500 until you test out the traffic, create bad lists, test what niche articles pays the best in AdSense, test different ad positions, etc…

          And no, affiliate marketing does not require any money what so ever, you can do it with free traffic, or you can do it with “bad but cheap” traffic such as popups that google hates, so you can invest little and get your money back sooner than with Adsense, of course it depends on what you will be doing and how.

          You can also make money with adsense without paying for traffic, but it won’t be called “arbitrage” anymore, just “How to make money with AdSense“. In my opinion, arbitrage is harder, so you should probably give affiliate marketing a try first.

          Good luck,

  4. Great article. This info helped me a lot. I was not able to understand what is affiliate marketing but now I do after reading this. thanks.

  5. Thanks for sharing the marvelous info. It is an excellent article which helps me a lot. I expect we will get this type of informative article more and more.

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