Complete guide: affiliate marketing for dummies 34

affiliate marketing for dummiesAs you have stumbled across this post called ‘affiliate marketing for dummies’ you may be wondering?

  • What is affiliate marketing?
  • Am I a dummy for clicking on this affiliate marketing for dummies guide?
  • And more importantly, why should I care about it?

In this post, I will answer those questions and show you how affiliate marketing can make a great difference to you and your life.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a great way to generate passive income. Visitors to your website can head over to your site, read a review about a product and then click on a link to buy it from an online store. If you have joined the affiliate program of that online store, you have had placed your own affiliate link in your website post, then you will be credited by the online store when your website visitor makes a sale.

You are being rewarded for spreading awareness of that product and linking to a particular online store.

You may already have taken part in something similar when you referred a friend to your gym, Airbnb or Uber. This is called a referral program and is sort of the little brother version of affiliate marketing, which you can earn a living from and, even, get rich if you are very successful, as opposed to getting a few vouchers or saving some cash off your next bill from a referral.

affiliate marketing for dummies

This works well for both the affiliate marketer and the advertiser, working on behalf of the online store. The advertiser only pays when they make a sale and the affiliate marketer gets paid but doesn’t have to deal with a product.

To recap,

  • The advertiser has a product and would like that product to be talked about to an audience.
  • You are the affiliate marketer, who talks about a product to your audience.
  • The customer is someone in your audience, who decides to buy the product based on your review.

With affiliate marketing, you don’t need to come up with your own product

This has some great advantages. You don’t have to have your own product. You don’t have to sell the product itself, you don’t have to source, store and fulfill it. There aren’t any returns or customer service to deal with. Whilst this is easier if you are selling information products, like ebooks and Kindle books, but a lot of those activities still apply. Affiliate marketing removes all of those.

Affiliate marketing is great for people who want to get involved in marketing a great product, but do not have a great product to market.

The disadvantages are you are quite a small part of this process. Your cut for the sale is likely to be pretty small, about 5%, you’re not likely to have much of a relationship with the customer and you certainly don’t have any say over the product.

If you do reach the status of being a ‘super affiliate’, where you are producing so much business for your advertiser, then your relationship may change to the point where you will have input into the service or product that is on offer.

How much money can you make from affiliate marketing?

You can make a little bit of extra money as I do now, but really the sky is the limit. Pat Flynn, for one, of earns at least $100 000 a month. I would definitely check out Pat’s website and his podcast as they provide a ton of great information and he comes across very genuine as well. I would definitely describe Pat as a super affiliate and he talks about some of the great mutually beneficial relationships he has built up with some companies through being an affiliate.

Many people are able to use affiliate marketing as a side hustle or even as a full-time income. Paying the bills with money you have earnt through affiliate marketing and not your average day job means you can do this anywhere you want, including the comfort of your own home.

You can also work the hours you want, as the transaction of the website visitor buying a product via your affiliate link, doesn’t require your input and is completely automated. This is an example of a passive income.

Does it cost anything to start affiliate marketing?


Definitely not. If you find a product or service that you would like to talk about or promote and the advertiser says you need to pay an ‘administration fee’, a ‘premium’ or a ‘sign up fee’, then I would head for the hills. There are plenty of genuine, quality affiliate programs out there that do you not require any money from you.

I can remember receiving direct messages on Twitter from a company claiming to sell fitness clothing and inviting me to join their affiliate network and that I would have to pay around $50. At first, I was flattered and did consider – flattery gets you everywhere with me :). But after a think about it sounded weird and I didn’t have any real information on the company, so decided to ignore it.

You are already essentially helping out the advertiser by providing their products with an audience and helping them to make more sales and, of course, money. If some advertisers are not happy with that as a deal, then I wouldn’t want to deal with them.

What do you need to start affiliate marketing?

You do not need a great deal to start affiliate marketing and to start to generate an income from it. The only things you definitely need are;
  • A way to drive website visitors to a relevant offer
  • A bit of hard work and persistence
  • That’s basically it!
With access to a computer and a half decent Internet connection, you can provide some sort of value, build an audience and then show them some sort of product offer and see if they like it or not. You don’t even need a website, although it is probably the most common platform for affiliate marketers. I use websites to earn through affiliate programs, as, for one, they tend to build up more trust than other ways.
affiliate marketing

Social media influencers

There are plenty of people who seem to make a good living out of leveraging their social media accounts. These people are referred to as ‘influencers’ and I am certainly not one of them 🙂 If you want to be a social media influencer and make any real money out of this, then you need to have tens of thousands of followers, at the very least, and probably actually at least 100 000 followers. This depends on what you would like to promote on your account and also what your followers are interested in.
Social media influencers will send messages and posts talking about a product from an advertiser they are working with. You might see some influencers and celebrities with Instagram posts about clothes they got from a certain designer or about their great new iPad. The best influencers make their promotions by having some fun with it and coming up with a post or video that is different and entertaining.
Examples of some great social media influencers are Jake Paul on Instagram and Furious Pete, a body builder on YouTube.
Jake Paul and Furious Pete, I’ll let you work out which is which… 🙂

Here’s Furious Pete eating a massive pizza.

What are affiliate marketing networks?

Affiliate marketing networks are companies that host and run affiliate programs for a number of different businesses and advertisers. This makes sense as a lot of businesses are going to want to focus on their core activities and it would suit them for someone else to run their affiliate program for them. Affiliate marketing networks work great for affiliate marketers too because you have access to lots of different affiliate programs. This gives you the flexibility to showcase a wide range of products to different audiences, not just for one niche, but many.
A few examples of some affiliate networks are;
  • Amazon
  • ClickBank
  • Commission Junction
  • eBay
  • Warrior Plus

affiliate networks

There are loads more to choose from, so don’t feel restrained by that list.

How do I know I am going to find affiliate programs for my niche?

There are affiliate programs for pretty much just every niche. A really easy way to find affiliate programs for your niche is just to do a Google search for ‘your niche + affiliate‘. You will be pleasantly surprised to see how many options are available to you.

You can also just have a look at the bottom of the page on a website you are on and a lot of them will have an affiliate section. Give this a go if you’re really keen to talk and blog about something that you enjoy and have a passion for. Just have a look at the bottom of your favourite sites and as long as they are selling a product or service, they will probably have an affiliate program.
To prove my point, I searched for ‘affiliate network manure’ and this is what I found,
affiliate network manure
So, there you have it you can even be an affiliate for actual shit being sold…

What makes an affiliate program good for a beginner?

Affiliate programs vary massively on what they offer their affiliates and what you have to do to earn money with them. Take Amazon for an example. Amazon only pays around 5% commission and only credits you for purchases within a 24-hour window, but does offer such a huge range of products.

Good affiliate programs not only offer a good deal in terms how they pay you, but they also provide support and how best to talk about their products. This can also include material for you to use for your website.

There are some affiliate networks that are scams or maybe not just very good at paying out, so you should make sure to partner with someone reputable. This is essentially a business relationship, so you should be aware of who you are dealing with.

What are good products for an affiliate marketer as a beginner?

I would suggest you look for products that are highly regarded and sell well. This obviously lets you know that these products sell and that they have a good reputation. The last thing you want, especially if you are just starting out is to link to a product that hardly sells or performs really badly and doesn’t work very well. Do yourself a favour and pick something decent to talk about! Remember your reputation is on the line!

Your reputation is very important, especially online, where people are unlikely to have the opportunity to meet you and decide for themselves if you are a good, trustworthy person who knows what they are talking about. So, if they are unhappy with a product you have promoted, they may well come to the conclusion that you don’t know what you are talking about or you only mentioned that product because you wanted to make some money out if it.

What’s in it for affiliate networks and affiliate programs?

Affiliate marketers provide a valuable service for advertisers by getting the word out about their product and telling people online about them. They can focus more on the product itself and other activities. Also, the word of someone who has tried the product themselves and is giving an honest review about them. This is likely to come across as more authentic than the advertiser talking about the product themselves.

This is especially important with products and brands that are not very well known. Or they are in competitive markets and are constantly looking to keep the attention of their audience.

Not all advertisers need affiliates. I have heard stories of affiliate programs being pulled because the advertiser decided they no longer needed the help of affiliates to sell their products.

How can I become more successful at affiliate marketing?

There are a lot of people offering their skills and advice because there are a lot of people interested in affiliate marketing. It offers the potential for a lifestyle that a lot of people would like to have. But many people find this easier said than done.

I like to read a few other blogs about affiliate marketing and have learnt a lot so far. Here is just a very brief list of affiliate marketing bloggers to have a look at;

  • Neil Patel has a website called, which is mainly about ranking better on Google and being further up the search rankings. Neil also talks about affiliate marketing and other subjects as well.
  • Raelyn Tan talks about blogging, affiliate marketing and social media, amongst other things on her site.
  • Chantel Arnett is someone I have just started following and has loads of great free resources.
  • Kyle Loudoun of Wealthy Affiliate, where I am a fully paid up premium member.

I have learnt a lot about Wealthy Affiliate so far, where there is loads of great training materials and a huge community of other affiliate marketers of all experiences. You can ask questions and interact with the other members, which is great. They have all the tools you need to become a successful affiliate marketer. You can try it for free here.

Conclusion of affiliate marketing for dummies

Affiliate marketing offers you a great way to make money online that can be very, very scalable. There are people who are millionaires from affiliate marketing. There are people who are making a nice living from this or even just a side hustle, which is what we’re all about here.

On the flip side, there are some people who find this a struggle. There is competition out there and this does take some hard work and persistence. It is certainly not a ‘get rich quick scheme’.

If you are after help to get over these struggles and make the most of your hard work, then I would recommend Wealthy Affiliate, which is an affiliate marketing program that I’m a paid member of.

As you can make money online with affiliate marketing you can work anywhere you want. That could be your favourite coffee shop, your own sofa before you get dressed or even the beach. As long as there is WIFI 🙂

Let me know what you think of this post guys. Tell me about your experiences with affiliate marketing or if you have anything you would like to know.


    1. Sean Dean ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi William, thanks for getting in touch! Glad you enjoyed and would love to hear what you think about those blogs I mentioned! Thanks Sean

  1. Darren says:

    Hi Sean

    This post is so easy to read and is explained so simply and perfectly, well done, I will check out Pat Flynn’s website.

    As you explain this business is what you make of it and it can be life changing!

    If ever I have to explain affiliate marketing to my children I would just use this article ! superb my friend!

  2. Neil says:

    It seems I’m definitely at the right place, being a complete affiliate marketing newbie. I guess we all need the right knowledge and guidance when it comes to starting up an online business from home, especially since there are a number of scams waiting to con people out there too.

    I always assumed it was only network marketers who could generate “residual” income, so it’s awesome to know that affiliates can also generate a passive income as well. I’m liking the idea of affiliate marketing already. 🙂 And from your diagram, the process of making money as an affiliate looks like a really simple one. With MLM, I’ve noticed that commission structures are always complicated, there can be too many levels and a heap of Terms & Conditions to go with them for qualifying for incentives.

    I really like how being an affiliate is a lot more straightforward. Simplicity is one of the keys to success.

    The other cool things I like the sound of are the fact that affiliate marketing really costs nothing to start up and there are multiple channels for building a business. It just comes across as one of the most lucrative and smartest ways of earning an income. So I’m definitely looking into your Wealthy Affiliate recommendation and getting a new business started for myself.


    1. Sean Dean ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Neil, thanks for getting in touch! It’s great to hear from someone who has been bitten by the affiliate marketing bug and yeah it is a great opportunity and certainly more straightforward than MLM! Thanks Sean

  3. Hi Sean Wow now that’s what I call comprehensive. I loved this piece and your natural style. You really know what your talking about, you kept my attention and although I have read many sites around the topic still learned a load of stuff here from you. You have inspired me to make a career of this even though it may take some time. Keep up the good work and i recommend anyone wanting to ‘dip their toe’ into affiliate marketing to read your pages first. Thank again really helpful, Positively Keith

  4. Rashed jaman says:

    Hey Sean Dean,
    Your article about affiliate marketing really helpful for them who wants to start affiliate marketing as like me. I am trying to develop a quit smoking aid site and want to promote it by amazon affiliate products.

    Thanks for your post about the affiliate program.

    1. Sean Dean ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Rashed, thanks for getting in touch! Glad to hear you are starting on affiliate marketing and putting your efforts into helping people to quit smoking! I hope it goes well and you are successful! Thanks Sean

  5. Minhaj Ahmed says:

    Hi Sean

    Nice intro to affiliate marketing, it’s definitely one of the most cost effective ways to start an online business. I think Pat Flynn is someone anyone should look up if they want to start an affiliate marketing business. He is very open about everything and doesn’t bombard you with get rich quick schemes every day. I follow Neil Patel as well, one marketer I really enjoy reading is Brian Dean, his tips on SEO are brilliant.
    All the best

    1. Sean Dean ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Minhaj, thanks for getting in touch! Great to hear you are already following great guys like Pat and Neil. I hear that Brian doesn’t even write new posts for his website, he just keeps updating them to keep them relevant! Thanks Sean

    1. Sean Dean ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Shayla, good to hear from you and I am glad you are thinking about taking up affiliate marketing! Let me know if you have any questions about affiliate marketing, thanks Sean

  6. Norman says:

    Rock solid Sean! I thought I knew a little about affiliate marketing, but I’ve learned some new things that I’m taking into perspective as we speak. I took some notes while reading this very helpful post. Me being new at this is an awesome adventure because I’m open to anything, but attached to nothing. So by reading other blogs and posts (as you suggested) from top affiliate marketers, makes this seem like I’m on the right path. I’m very grateful to have read this! I wish the best for you in your business endeavors. Much blessings!

    1. Sean Dean ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Norman, thanks for getting in touch and glad you got some useful knowledge from this post. Learning from others who are experts in your field is a great way to improve and add to your skills, thanks Sean

    1. Sean Dean ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Rhonda, thanks for getting in touch! Glad to see you got something out of this, let me know if there is anything else you would like to read about, thanks Sean

  7. I like the valuable info you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again here regularly. I am quite sure I will learn lots of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

  8. Kristie says:

    Loved the flavor of your personality in this post! Great way to share such a boring topic! I love affiliate marketing. Such a great way to make money online without having to create anything!

    1. englishriviera85 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Kristie, great to hear from you 🙂 haha it can be a bit dull but the opportunities it opens are amazing. Look forward to checking out your latest posts 🙂 Sean

    1. Sean Dean ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Shlomo, thank you, that’s very nice of you to say. I will look out for your thoughts on affiliate marketing yourself. It would be good to see your approach to it. Thanks Sean

  9. Wayne says:

    Very impressive site. Makes mine look like a cartoon.

    Found your site very informative, especially for any newbies looking to start up online marketing.

    I also had a look at Pat Flynn’s website… very interesting and encouraging.

    Excellent job on the site…


    1. Sean Dean ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Wayne,

      Haha that’s nice of you to say and I’m sure that’s not true 🙂 Glad you got something out of this and Pat Flynn is great, I really like his podcasts.



  10. Hello and and thanks for sharing, this is a great review of wealthy affiliate that you have written and man that person that you mention in your article sure to make a lot of money, one hundred thousand dollars a month. I think that a story like this should encourage those to consider this kind of business. Now I know for sure that the rewards are there as well as all that needed work that goes into building a success online business but it can be done. Thanks for sharing a awesome post.

    1. Sean Dean ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Norman, thank you, that’s nice of you to say. The scalability of affiliate marketing has great potential. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s definitely possible and you don’t need a big startup fund to get going. Thanks Sean

  11. Jackie says:

    Hello Sean
    I really enjoyed this post.
    I have heard of Pat Flynn and have followed him for a while but was unaware of Raelyn Tan. I’ve started following her now.
    Thanks for this comprehensive information

    1. Sean Dean ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Jackie, thanks for that, that’s nice of you to say. I really love listening to Pat’s podcast and Raelyn is someone I’ve been following over the last few months. Thanks Sean

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