What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing making money online
This is what people THINK affiliate marketing is…

If you’re looking to make some money online, either as a ‘side hustle’ or a full-time income, there are lots of different things you can do.

However, one increasingly popular way to make money online is affiliate marketing.

In this post, I’ll do my best to explain what affiliate marketing is (and isn’t) and some ideas about how you might want to head to get started.

If for some bizarre reason you’re reading this post and have no interest in affiliate marketing, check out my post about 8 ways to make money online for some other ideas.

Still here? Ok cool – let’s begin…

Table of Contents

Er, so what exactly is affiliate marketing?

Put simply, affiliate marketing is selling someone else’s product so that you earn a commission.

You are marketing someone else’s product for them – and if you’re successful, they’ll reward you with a commission.

The great thing about affiliate marketing is that there are so many different ways to get started, and so many things you can sell – there really is something for everyone.

Of course, this huge variety can be a double-edged sword because you need to find the right product to sell, that has good potential and doesn’t already have a bunch of affiliates (or at least one that still has room for you to get in on the action).

And also to get this out of the way, affiliate marketing is not a easy money get rich quick scheme (as the YouTube ‘gurus’ would have you believe…). It takes time, knowledge, effort and some investment.

BUT the rewards are worth it, in many ways it’s one of the easiest businesses to start…

The Benefits of Affiliate Marketing

One massive plus point for affiliate marketing over more ‘traditional sales’ is that you don’t have to own any products yourself.

You don’t need to worry about stock, you don’t need to worry about customer service. That’s all for someone else to worry about.

Of course, this also means you’re not having to front any money either, it’s not a model where you ever ‘own’ the thing you are promoting.

Another benefit is that this gives you the freedom to pick and choose what you wish to promote – without restrictions.

Want to promote software? Great. Decide that next month you’d like to promote courses – no problem. Suddenly decide you have a burning desire to promote tactical flashlights (whatever the hell that means) – go for it.

How Affiliate Marketing Works

If you want to get started as an affiliate, you’re going to need something to promote.

Many companies offer their own affiliate scheme, but if you really are just starting out it’s probably best to join an affiliate network, which you can then use to promote products that fit your chosen niche*.

*or ‘nitch’ – depending on which side of the water you’re from 😉

Affiliate networks will contain huge numbers of different products, that product owners are actively wanting affiliates to promote for them.

Once you sign up for a network then you search for products you like the look of and ask to promote them.

Basically, you will end up with a link for a product that is unique to you, you promote that link and anyone that buys from it earns you a commission.

Sound good? Ok cool.

So where can you get these links to promote?

There are more networks than I could list (before you’d fall asleep) – so here are some of the most popular ones in no particular order:

  1. Amazon
  2. Clickbank
  3. Digistore 24
  4. Warrior Plus
  5. JVZoo
  6. Max Bounty

Amazon affiliate program

Yep, Amazon has its own affiliate program where you can get paid to promote any one of the zillion products on there.

It’s easy to apply BUT you only get a certain number of days to make a certain number of sales before they close you down.

So if you’re wanting to start promoting products on Amazon, make sure you have a solid game before you apply.

It’s also worth noting the % Amazon pays out in commissions is, well, pretty pitiful…So you might want to consider promoting higher value products or you’ll have to make a LOT of sales to get any real money.

You can sign up for the Amazon affiliate program here (remember – get that game plan working first).

Clickbank affiliate network

Clickbank has been around for years, it started back in 1998 and now offers over 60,000 products(!)

This is where most affiliate marketing beginners start as it is very easy to create an account and get accepted to promote offers (a big plus when starting out).

Another benefit of Clickbank is that it (mostly) sells digital products – which means that vendors will pay out a very high commission rate as their overheads are very low. It’s not uncommon to see products that will pay 75% on the front end.

Clickbank Affiliate Marketing Network
Don’t be fooled by her smile, that cup is full of snake oil (maybe)…

Of course, Clickbank has a ‘certain reputation’ as well…Some of the products on there for sale as questionable at best, outright digital snake oil at worst (ironically some of the biggest selling products fall into this category – not sure what that says about the state of the human race!).

If you’ve got some time to spare its actually quite fun watching some of the sales page videos for the more ‘questionable’ products. They are crazy. CRAZY I tells ya.

However, the ethics of affiliate marketing on Clickbank is a post for another day…

If you are starting out, may as well head of there as your first port of call.

You can sign up for Clickbank here.

Digistore 24

Digistore 24 is a newer(ish) kid on the block in the affiliate world, it was created in 2010.

With over 8,000 different products to choose from, it’s not quite up there with Clickbank when it comes to volume, but it is catching up fast.

Digitstore24 Affiliate Network
Prettier than Clickbank…

In many ways, it’s a newer Clickbank – and it’s actually quite common to see the same product on both networks.

It certainly looks nicer than Clickbank, I’ll give it that!

If you want to sign up for Digistore 24 click here.

Warrior Plus

Warrior Plus (or the land of the perpetual product launch as I like to call it) is an affiliate network that is specifically for affiliates in the ‘make money online/biz opp’ niches (or nitches…sorry couldn’t help myself).

This one is probably not the place for beginners – the product owners on there REALLY care about their EPC (earnings per click), so if you don’t have a track record it’s really difficult to get accepted (you have to apply to promote each individual product).

Warrior Plus Affiliate Network
Get your magic buttons here!

If you’re already a pro and want to reach the next level, this site is for you. Lots of money can be made on product launches if you have access to the right audience and traffic source.

Pro or not, it’s worth checking out their private forums as a lot of knowledge is shared in there.

If you want to join Warrior Plus click here.


JVZoo is the weird cousin of Warrior Plus.

JVzoo is another affiliate network specific to the ‘make money online niche’, it’s also in the marketplace space (like Clickbank and Warrior Plus).

JVZoo Affiliate Network
The lady in the pic just opened one of the emails in her junk folder…

The products aren’t necessarily the highest quality(…), but if you’ve been around online for a while you will be familiar with them from your email inbox (in the junk folder mostly).

Like Warrior Plus, JVZoo focuses mostly on the ‘make money online’ nit..sorry niche.

Again products are launched constantly, the barrier to entry for a new affiliate is probably slightly lower than Warrior Plus.

You can sign up for JVZoo here.

Max Bounty

Slightly different to the networks above, Max Bounty focuses on CPA/Performance marketing.

CPA – or ‘cost per acquisition – is where the company pays you a fee for each lead they generate. This could quite literally just be an email address.

As you would imagine, the payouts for this kind of affiliate marketing are way lower than the networks that focus on straight-up sales – sometimes only earning a few cents per lead.

They want to talk, to YOU…

In ‘tier 1’ countries ( Tier 1 countries are typically wealthier countries, such as the USA, Canada UK etc) you usually find offers ranging from $1-$4 a lead.

This sort of affiliate marketing usually involves the use of paid advertising and is probably not the best place for a beginner to start, without some solid training.

The process is also quite ‘weird’ to get accepted as an affiliate for Maxbounty – they actually want to speak to you(!) I had a 15 minute Skype call in order to get accepted.

If you fancy a chat with someone, you can apply for Maxbounty here.


So there you go a whistle-stop(ish) tour of what affiliate marketing is and some places you can look into to promote offers of all shapes and sizes.

What is affiliate marketing? TLDR; Promoting other people’s stuff, if people buy it you get commission.

Stay tuned for the next post about how to actually start promoting your links.