Affiliate Marketing for Dummies - Keeping it Simple

Affiliate marketing is a great way of earning a full-time wage online, but it can seem really complicated when you are looking online and seeing all these different ways of learning it.  I wanted to create a guide that keeps it really simple and ensure anyone can understand what affiliate marketing is, how you earn money through it and how you can get started for free. That way anyone can know the benefits of it and actually, how simple the premise is.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Let’s start with the word affiliate, if you are affiliated with someone it means you have a relationship, so in the case of affiliate marketing you have a relationship with someone who is selling something (Amazon, for example) and receive a commission if you introduce someone to a product that person is selling. Rather than you having a product to sell, you sell someone else’s product or service and get a reward if someone buys it via you. Check the image below to see the cycle before we delve into it a bit more.

How Affiliate Marketing Works?It Starts With Helping People

One of the first things you need to understand about making affiliate marketing work is it starts with helping people, NOT selling to people. There are 3.75 billion active people online and a number will already know what they want to buy and will go straight to the retailer and buy it.

But actually, there are a high percentage who are looking for help on subjects, and then want to understand a product before they buy it. With better deals online, more and more people are shopping online – but as they cannot see the product first hand, they rely on reading up on reviews, what other people think about the best product for their particular needs – that is where you offer that help and in return earn from ‘referring’ them to that product via a marketplace, such as Amazon.

I must stress, you are there to help them. Take the example of Digital Photography (One of my hobbies). I need to help them with any questions they have on that topic and build trust with the readers, before they decide to trust one of my reviews on a great starter DSLR camera. They will not just buy it because I say it is good, if they just see it as a sales technique and not helping them get the best deal, best features, etc.

You will be surprised at how beneficial it is to take this route – Think about it, if someone is too salesy in a shop, you are inclined to walk away and possibly shop elsewhere. It is easier to walk away online as you are not in a verbal conversation.

The next stage is…

Building a Niche Website

There are ways of doing affiliate marketing through social media channels, but it is a more difficult route than creating your own website where you channel the traffic from your social media channels and through content creation.

Building your own website allows you build your own brand. Affiliate Marketing is a great way of earning a full-time income, but you will restrict your earnings without a website where you can create your own business identity. That is key, This is a business model and an effective one.

Let’s talk about why a niche. If I targeting the general category of digital photography, I would not get very far as a new website as I would be trying to compete with all of the established authority sites – which in short would not be as successful as if I targetting a specific sub category from digital photography. I targetted DSLR Cameras. I am more likely to get my foot in the door with targetting a specific niche. Starting out this ways allows you to build trust with the search engines, such as google and allows you to start building up an authority on that specific niche. Later on, you could always expand into the world of (in my example) digital photography.

You will also find that you will require a domain to register with some of the affiliate programs out there.

Once you have your website up and running, the first stage is creating content. Relevant Content to that niche. Help people understand topics in that niche, how to guides, news in that niche. You need to build up an audience and have regular traffic before you join an affiliate program. Learn how to target the right keywords for your niche here.

Becoming an Affiliate or Associate

Once you have regular traffic, you can then register with an affiliate program. Many retailers have an affiliate program, but the one that you are probably going to recognise is Amazon.

It is the world’s biggest marketplace and they reward you for introducing a customer to their products.

But there are many affiliate programs out there – Companies understand that more and more people are buying online, but they want to research the products or services prior to buying it. So they allow small website owners to register with their program to become affilates or associates.

Once registered, they give you an affiliate link to use when promoting a product or service. This affiliate link tells amazon you were the one that introduced this customer. It is like a digital signature. Amazon sees this digital signature and pays you.

Using Your Affiliate Link

Once accepted into the Amazon Associates program, you will notice that when you are browsing amazon you get a SiteStripe at the top of your browser window, like in the image above. This makes it really easy to get an affiliate link to add to your website.

Browse for the product you want an affiliate link for – I did Nikon D7200 in my example.

Once you are on that page, use the sitestripe to get your affiliate link.

By clicking the text option, it gives you a short link to that product that includes your (digital signature) affiliate link. Copy and paste this into website post about that product.

You Earn Commission

SO, you have a niche website that helps people with that subject, has relevant content and also includes prudent reviews of products in that niche.

You gain traffic and visitors to your website meaning that you can now take the opportunity to monetize your website.

You register with an affiliate program, such as Amazon.

Visitors to your website likes the look of your review and decides to click on your link to Amazon.

That customer goes through to Amazon and decides to buy the product.

You just earned commission!!

In a nutshell that is the premise of affiliate marketing.

Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing

It can seem quite daunting, as there is a lot to do and I will be honest, you will not see the rewards straight away. But the feeling you get when you receive your first commission and then it becomes a regular occurence and the you are earning a real wage out of it is an awesome feeling. The way I got started was by joining Wealthy Affiliate. They offer the 3 key things you need to get started and all the strategies you need to turn it into an income.

Those 3 things are: Education, Websites & Expert Support. When you first get started, there all the worries of how do I set up a website and all the worries that come with it. Not with Wealthy Affiliate – They hold your hand all the way through. Not sure about something, ask and they will help you. Their training is perfect for newbies and someone isnt too sure around a computer can still benefit from their training. I will also offer my full support in getting you started and answering any questions you have throughout your journey.

Affiliate Marketing is simple, if you have the right support network around you. See how I got started, read my Wealthy Affiliate Review. If you want to see what the training is like, they offer a Starter Membership that requires no credit card, no cost at all. Experience 10 lessons that will take you through the stages of getting started in Affiliate Marketing. Try the 10 lessons, if you feel it isn’t for you after that time, no hard feelings – but i guarantee you will want to progress further and watch the money come in.

Hopefully, now you understand what affiliate marketing is, how you can utilise it to earn an income from a passion or interest you have and also the best way to learn and earn from affiliate marketing. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below and good luck in your affiliate marketing journey.

Thanks for reading, John

  1. Thanks for the very simple explanation of affiliate marketing. I have read lots about it but it all seemed quite complicated. I have a website but now want to start earning money from it.
    Where is the best place for me to find affiliate programs I can join? My website is about dogs.

    • Hi Karen, thanks for the question. the best way would be to do a search in google for affiliate programs.

      SO you could try dogs + affiliate programs, dog products + affiliate programs, dog services + affiliate programs. There are many smaller retailers that do affiliate programs besides Amazon. I did a search for dog affiliate programs and there are ones for dog training, dog products, dog services.

      It may also give you ideas for content for your website too. a different dog food, etc. One I saw was for which offer an affiliate program and offer all kinds of pet products. ideas for reviews and earning commission too. Hope that helps. If you have any further questions – get in touch.

      Thanks John

  2. Nice sharing john,

    I am new and want to launch new website and I have a question there are a lot of tools available in the market like and used to setup affiliate websites, how we can chose right for us if? I am new and want to launch new website.

    • Hi Alex,

      If you are new to affiliate marketing and want to learn the correct way of doing it and earning money from it, Wealthy Affiliate would be the better option, let me explain why.
      When I looked at Revglue, this looked like a great set of tools – but you need to add it to a website you already have. So you would need to get a website and learn how to build that website and probably have to pay hosting fees.
      Wealthy Affiliate’s Starter Membership is free, offers you 2 free websites, has training to get you started with your own website and how affiliate marketing works. Then once you have this website up and running, you could always join revglue as an addition to your free website but revglue only has a 30 day trial. A lot of the money making from revglue will rely on traffic to your website. If your website is brand new, you are very unlikely to have enough traffic to earn any money from this – meaning when you get to day 31, you have to pay for a subscription when you are unlikely to be earning enough to cover it.
      For me, personally when I started out in affiliate marketing I didn’t know how to build a website, get traffic to it, be able to write content, build up my social media presence – so revglue would not have been a great partner to start with. Wealthy Affiliate taught me all of these techniques and then when you start earning money regularly would be when you can consider a service like revglue.
      If you want to launch a new website correctly and have the right foundation to earn money, then I would highly recommend you try the free starter membership with Wealthy Affiliate and learn all there is to know about Affiliate Marketing. There is no time limit on the starter membership, although some features do switch off after 7 days you can still use your free websites.
      Hope that helps Alex and wish you well in your future endeavours!

  3. I am new to affiliate marketing and I agree that to be successful you want to help, not sell. You provide an easy to follow explanation of affiliate marketing.

    I have considered Amazon as an option and you make it seem pretty simple to use them for affiliate marketing.

    Do you recommend Amazon for someone just starting out?

    • Hey MrC, thanks for the comments!

      Amazon is great for new starters for a couple of reasons – firstly browsing their marketplace allows you to narrow down and target a specific niche in the direction you want your website to go down. Secondly, it is easy to apply to become an affiliate.  Only watch out is with is if you do not get a number of sales in the first 6 months, they discontinue your account.  But it is easy to reapply straightaway.  

      But that is where the WA training is great, as you should only really be applying for affiliate links when you start getting traffic, that way you can get your sales and keep your account – which means you are earning money.

      Amazon is great for when you are learning as it is easy to apply and if necessary reapply. Once you are established you will find that there are thousands of affiliate programs out there that you could join.

      Thanks again for the questions and comments.

  4. Hi John!

    Affiliate Marketing is one of the greatest ways to start earning money online. Especially if you have a passion, and start documenting your experiences and purchases within that passion.
    Indeed, the target is to help people and then profit from that.
    Thank you for a very detailed post!


    • Thanks Marios,

      it definitely makes it worthwhile when you are working to help people, as it shows you care and your audience with appreciate it.  Having it about a subject you really enjoy also means you are working on something you won’t get bored of.  thanks again


  5. Hallo there,

    Thank you very much for helping me get the essential basics of affiliate marketing. I have been trying to learn a few things about it with the hope of launching an affiliate site for myself.

    Your article has given me more than I wanted since I have not only gotten enough information but also a good direction to take to achieve this. Thanks heaps.

    • Hi Dave,

      thanks for your comments – affiliate marketing is billed as a great way of earning money online and it is – but without knowing the basics you could be led down the wrong path by those who offer it as a ‘Quick Buck”. 

      Make the right decisions and you get the right support and you will make it a great success.

      Thanks John

  6. I am also new to the whole affiliate marketing world and scouring sites to get all the extra information I can.

    I have joined up to Amazon and now trying to generate enough traffic to make it pay. I just wanted to reiterate what you were saying about the Amazon program for others who are new and might read this.

    Once you get signed up it really is super easy to access all their products (millions of them) and getting the affiliate link is a piece of cake as you showed.

    I love your comment about it being easier to walk away when your online if someone is being salesy.

    Do you have any tips on getting sales without selling? Is it really as simple as just trying to help people?

    • Hi Heidi,

      thanks for your comments – the key thing when writing content or promoting your content is to HELP.

      Being too salesy puts people off.  But the number one reason why people are searching the internet is because they are looking for help.

      They want help on which is the best product, so they read reviews

      They want help on how to complete something, so they read step-by-step guides

      They want help understanding a subject, so they read content on it.

      Help any potential reader and they will trust you more and end up buying what you are promoting.

      Sell it, and they may decide it doesnt look right and go elsewhere.

      Hope that helps?



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