Almost everyone dreams of making bundles of cash with minimal effort and investment. Affiliate marketing isn’t for the faint of heart, or for those who think they’ll get rich overnight. This is a career that take smarts, market savvy, and either a thriving online property with great traffic and/or a great starting budget to market products to customers on paid advertising platforms like Google Ads.

The great thing about being an affiliate is it’s less expensive to start than most traditional product and service businesses, as you don’t need to buy or manufacture inventory, or hire service staff or technicians for pre and after-sales service. Keep reading to learn more about the links in the chain of affiliate marketers and a few tips to get into this profitable area of the online sales industry.

Affiliate marketing guide

Seller

The seller is the person who makes the product or provides the end service, then pays a 2 to 70%  commission to the affiliate when the customer is directed to their sales site via an affiliate link placed online. While it would seem more rational for the seller to do all the sales themselves, there’s a lot more money in paying someone else to sell your product.

Much like Walmart is such a big chain giant because they sell merchandise made by thousands of manufacturers and resellers. The seller can also be a reseller, who buys products at a bargain rate and pays the affiliate to market and sell to the end consumer.

Affiliate

The affiliate, with the sellers permission, is given a special link that identifies them as the source of a potential customer or lead’s visit to their site. Affiliates generate traffic for sellers using several online channels including personal blogs, email lists, social media ads, vlogs, paid advertising on search engines, and by buying banner ads on popular websites or ad server networks.

Affiliates often start off using an affiliate network because they have lower limits on who they’ll do business with based on traffic numbers. When working directly with most sellers, it’s not uncommon for them to expect proof of the kind of targeted traffic you can generate, whereas affiliate networks will usually work with almost anyone, but pay less commission to those just starting out until they prove their worth.

Customer or buyer

These are obviously the people buying the products. It’s important to disclose that you’re an affiliate when serving links and ad copy, so as not to get into trouble with the FCC and other compliance agencies around the world.

Affiliate networks

As mentioned, affiliates often get their start with ad networks and affiliate networks. These are a great option at the start, as they provide a variety of products and services to start selling right away. However, they act as middle men between you and the actual seller, and thus pay out lower commissions as they need to take a cut of their own. They’re a great option to get your feet wet, but you’ll want to start moving on to making direct relationships with the original seller as soon as you can prove you’re capable of generating converting traffic.

How to become an affiliate

To become an affiliate, all that’s needed is an idea of a product you’d like to sell and the ability to determine who your ideal customer is. Once you know who your customer is, you can build a website, social account, or sign up for a paid advertising account on Google Adwords. This is a profession or hobby that requires you to learn as you go, in addition to watching lots of videos and reading tons of content, such as that found on MOZ and here on Noobpreneur.