What is Affiliate Marketing? complete guide

Affiliate marketing is a type of advertising in which a firm pays third-party publishers to create traffic or leads to its products and services. Third-party publishers are affiliates, and the commission fee encourages them to promote the company.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is an excellent technique to increase sales and create substantial internet cash. The increasing trend toward less traditional marketing strategies has clearly paid off for both businesses and affiliate marketers.

Indeed, affiliate marketing expenditure in the United States climbed from $5.4 billion in 2017 to $8.2 billion in 2022, indicating that there is still plenty of potential for those hoping to snag a piece of the pie.

This step-by-step beginner’s tutorial will show you how to get started with affiliate marketing and what rewards you can expect.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Affiliate marketing harnesses the expertise of a variety of persons for a more successful marketing plan while giving contributors with a portion of the profit since it works by dividing the responsibility of product promotion and creation between parties. Three separate parties must be involved for this to work:

  • Seller and product creators.
  • The affiliate or advertiser.
  • The consumer.

Let’s look at the complicated relationship these three parties have to ensure the success of affiliate marketing:

Seller and product creators.

The seller, whether a sole proprietor or a huge corporation, is a vendor, merchant, product maker, or retailer who has a product to sell. A product can be a physical item, such as household products, or a service, such as cosmetic lessons.

The seller, often known as the brand, does not have to be actively participating in marketing, but they may also be the advertiser and earn from the revenue sharing associated with affiliate marketing.

The seller could, for example, be an ecommerce merchant who began a dropshipping business and wants to reach a new audience by paying affiliate sites to market their products. Alternatively, the vendor could be a SaaS company that uses affiliates to help sell marketing tools.

The affiliate or publisher.

The affiliate, also known as a publisher, can be either an individual or a company who markets the seller’s product to potential customers in an enticing manner. In other words, the affiliate advertises the product in order to persuade consumers that it is worthwhile or advantageous to them and persuade them to buy it. If the consumer purchases the product, the affiliate earns a share of the income.

Affiliates frequently market to a highly narrow target, generally adhering to that audience’s interests. This helps the affiliate attract consumers who are most likely to act on the advertising by creating a defined niche or personal brand.

The consumer.

Of course, sales are required for the affiliate system to function, and the consumer or customer is the one who makes them happen.

The affiliate will market the product/service to customers via the appropriate channel(s), such as social media, a blog, or a YouTube video, and if the consumer finds the product valuable or advantageous, they can follow the affiliate link and checkout on the merchant’s website. If the customer purchases the item, the affiliate receives a percentage of the sale.

Keep in mind, however, that the consumer must be aware that you, the affiliate, will be paid a commission on the sale of the goods.

Types of Affiliate Marketing

It’s often unclear if an affiliate marketer has truly utilised the product they’re pushing or whether they’re just in it for the money – sometimes it doesn’t matter to the buyer one way or the other.

However, in some cases, such as with diet services or skincare items, the buyer may not trust an affiliate unless they know that he or she has evaluated and approved the product themselves.

In 2009, prominent affiliate marketer Pat Flynn classified affiliate marketing into three types: unattached, linked, and involved, to help distinguish between affiliate marketers who are strongly tied to a product and those who are not.


The affiliate marketer has no relationship to the product or service they are pushing in the unattached business model. They have no experience or authority in the product’s specialty, therefore they cannot make claims about its application.

An unaffiliated affiliate will typically execute PPC (pay-per-click) marketing campaigns with an affiliate link in the hopes that shoppers will click it and make a purchase on their own.

While unattached affiliate marketing may be appealing because to its lack of commitment, it is typically for individuals who wish to produce cash without participating in the product or client relationship.


A happy medium between detached and engaged, related affiliate marketing is for individuals who do not necessarily use the product or service but are somehow related to the specialised demographic. These affiliates frequently have some form of influence in the niche and a large following, and can thus provide some authority.

For example, suppose you’re marketing a clothing brand you’ve never tried before, but you have a large following thanks to a fashion blog or YouTube channel. In this situation, you’d be classified as a linked affiliate marketer.

The advantage of this sort of affiliate marketing is that the affiliate has the ability to drive traffic; yet, they may risk suggesting a substandard product or service if they’ve never utilised it before, perhaps costing them their audience’s confidence.


As the term implies, involved affiliate marketing refers to those who are inextricably linked to the product or service they are promoting. The affiliate has used the product, believes it will deliver a pleasant experience, and is authorised to make claims regarding its use.

Customers can trust involved affiliate marketers as dependable sources of information rather than relying on pay per click.

Of course, this sort of affiliate marketing needs more legwork and time to establish trust, but it is likely to yield bigger rewards in the long run.

How Do Affiliate Marketers Get Paid?

Affiliate marketing is an evident allure for people trying to improve their income online because it is a quick and inexpensive way to make money without the inconvenience of actually selling a product. But how does an affiliate get compensated after introducing a vendor to a customer?

The solution can become difficult.

The consumer does not always have to purchase the product for the affiliate to receive a commission. The affiliate’s contribution to the seller’s sales will be calculated differently depending on the programme.

The affiliate may be compensated in a variety of ways:

Pay per sale.

This is the typical affiliate marketing framework. The merchant pays the affiliate a percentage of the product’s sale price once the consumer purchases the product as a consequence of affiliate marketing methods in this programme. In other words, before the affiliate is reimbursed, the investor must invest in the affiliate product.

Pay per lead.

Pay per lead affiliate marketing programmes have a more complicated mechanism that pays the affiliate based on the leads that are converted. The affiliate’s job is to urge the customer to go to the merchant’s website and carry out the requested action, which could include submitting a form, signing up for a product trial, subscribing to a newsletter, or downloading files or software.

Pay per click.

The main goal of affiliate marketing is to drive traffic to websites and entice users to click and take action. So it should come as no surprise that affiliate marketing myths revolve around SEO (search engine optimization).

Although organic traffic is free, SEO can’t support affiliate marketers in such a crowded industry; for this reason, some affiliate marketers turn to PPC.

The main goal of PPC (pay per click) schemes is to motivate the affiliate to lead customers away from their marketing platform and toward the merchant’s website. This means that the affiliate must actively engage the user so that they visit the merchant’s website instead of the affiliate’s. Based on the growth in web traffic, the affiliate is compensated.

In PPC, there are two fundamental ideas:

  1. When a customer clicks on an affiliate link to visit a merchant’s online store and completes an action, like joining an email list or filling out a “Contact Us” form, the seller or retailer is said to have acquired a lead, and the affiliate is paid each time. This model is known as CPA (cost-per-acquisition).
  2. EPC (earnings-per-click): The average earnings for every 100 clicks made by all affiliates in a retailer’s affiliate programme are calculated using this metric.

Pay per install.

According to this method of payment, the affiliate is compensated each time a customer is sent to the merchant’s website and instals a product—typically a mobile app or piece of software.

Therefore, if a campaign generates 1,000 instals and a retailer spends $0.10 for each install brought about by an affiliate programme, the retailer will be required to pay ($0.10 x 1,000) = $100.

Why Be an Affiliate Marketer?

Passive income.

While any “normal” employment requires you to be present at work in order to earn money, affiliate marketing allows you to earn money while you sleep. When you invest an initial amount of effort in a campaign, you will see consistent returns as customers purchase the goods over the next several days and weeks. You are paid for your labour long after you have completed it. Even when you’re not in front of a computer, your marketing talents will provide you with a consistent stream of cash.

No customer support.

Individual sellers and businesses selling goods or services must interact with their customers to guarantee they are satisfied with their purchases.

You’ll never have to worry about client support or happiness thanks to the affiliate marketing framework. The affiliate marketer’s sole responsibility is to connect the seller with the consumer. After you receive your commission from the sale, the seller handles any consumer complaints.

Work from home.

If you despise going to work, affiliate marketing is the ideal solution for you. You’ll be able to develop campaigns and earn cash from the things that merchants make while working from home. You can do this work without ever changing out of your pyjamas.


Most businesses require both upfront launch expenses and a cash flow to finance the products they sell. However, affiliate marketing may be done at a cheap cost, allowing you to get started quickly and easily. There are no hidden fees to worry about, and there is no need to manufacture a product. Starting out in this line of employment is relatively simple.

Convenient and flexible.

Because you are effectively becoming a freelancer, you have complete autonomy in creating your own goals, diverting your course when you feel so inclined, selecting the items that interest you, and even determining your own hours. Because of this convenience, you can vary your portfolio or focus entirely on simple and straightforward ads. You will also be free of company constraints and regulations, as well as underperforming teams.

Performance-based rewards.

In other jobs, you may work an 80-hour week and still make the same amount of money. The advantage of affiliate marketing is that it is entirely based on your results. You will get what you put into it. Improving your review abilities and creating appealing campaigns will result in direct revenue increases. You’ll finally be compensated for your excellent effort!

Common Types of Affiliate Marketing Channels

Most affiliates follow similar procedures to ensure that their target audience is interested and willing to buy offered products. However, not all affiliates promote the products in the same way. In fact, they have a variety of marketing platforms to choose from.


An influencer is a content developer with the ability to influence the buying decision of a big portion of the population.

This individual is well-positioned to benefit from affiliate marketing. They already have a large following, so directing customers to the seller’s products via social media posts, blogs, and other engagements with their fans is simple. The influencers are then paid a portion of the income generated.

Influencer marketing initiatives are especially popular on Instagram and TikTok, where brands build alliances with influencers who are seen as experts or experts in their respective fields. A campaign could include a series of product evaluations with images, account takeovers, or live broadcasts, depending on the deal.

While an influencer may have their own branding and aesthetic, it is critical to incorporate components that are associated with your business to ensure brand recall and recognition. This can be accomplished by using tools like as Instasize, which allows you to instantly change and customise your campaign’s creatives with a single tap.


Bloggers excel at improving a seller’s conversions through content marketing since they can rank organically in search engine queries. The blogger tests the product or service and then publishes an in-depth review that promotes the brand in a compelling way, directing visitors back to the seller’s website.

The blogger is recognised for his or her influence in spreading the word about the worth of the product, so assisting the seller in increasing sales.

Paid search-focused microsites.

Creating and monetizing microsites can potentially result in significant affiliate revenues. These sites are promoted on a partner site or in a search engine’s sponsored listings. They are distinct and distinct from the main site of the organisation. Microsites enhance conversions by providing more targeted, relevant material to a specific audience, thanks to their short and straightforward call to action.

Email lists.

Email marketing, despite its older beginnings, remains a valid source of affiliate marketing income. Many affiliates possess email lists from which they can advertise the seller’s products. Others may use email newsletters with product hyperlinks to earn a commission once the customer purchases the product.

Another option is for the affiliate to gradually create an email list. They use their numerous campaigns to acquire a large number of emails and then send out messages about the things they are pushing.

Large media websites.

These sites are designed to generate a high volume of traffic at all times, with the goal of reaching millions of people.

These websites use banner ads and context – specific affiliate links to advertise products to their large audience. This strategy increases exposure and conversion rates, resulting in top-tier revenue both from the seller and the affiliate.

Amazon Associates, one of the most well-known affiliate programmes, has the biggest market share of affiliate networks (46.15 percent ).

Other well-known affiliate marketing programmes are:

  1. AvantLink.
  2. LinkConnector.
  3. CJ Affiliate.
  4. Affiliate Future.

Alternatively, you can contact retailers directly to see if they have an affiliate programme. If not, they may still be prepared to provide you with an unique coupon or discount code to publish with your audience in order to increase traffic to their online store.

Benefits To Joining the BigCommerce Affiliate Program

Industry-leading commissions.

BigCommerce affiliates receive a 200 percent bonus per recommendation and $1,500 every Enterprise referral, with no commission cap.

Furthermore, the more referrals you send our way, the higher your commission tier will rise.

In addition, there are no responsibilities or minimum commitments to participate in the programme.

Strategic growth.

BigCommerce offers unique tactics to help you expand, boost the visibility of your website, and drive more purchases. By linking to WordPress blogs, webinars, and other excellent material generated by BigCommerce for your audience, you will be able to save time and money on content generation.

Powerful tracking.

Our affiliate dashboard provides a detailed breakdown of your clicks, trials, sales, and commissions. You can see your profits, track metrics and performance, and be paid on the same day each month.

A dedicated account manager.

You will have direct access to an affiliate manager who is familiar with your company and its objectives. BigCommerce will collaborate with your team and conversion rate experts to increase your commissions and earnings per click.

Promotion made easy.

You will have quick access to our pre-made text links, banners, and content from your dashboard. Simply install our affiliate buttons on your sites to promote BigCommerce anywhere on your site.

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