Make Money Series – The Basics of Affiliate Marketing

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Welcome back to another edition of the make money series!  If you are new to Sprout Wealth, then this is our little series that describes ways to make more money.  We all know people are interested in earning more to better their finances, so we decided to show them how.  Making extra money on the side is not as hard as you may think.  Yes, it does require work, but if you play your cards right, then it can be quite lucrative.  There are a large number of ways to earn money, especially online.  Today, I am going to share a little run down of how you can make more money with affiliate marketing.  You do need to have a website in order to make money with affiliate marketing.  You can also use it on a blog. If you want a blog, then check out my how to start a blog guide for more information.

What is Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is really a simple concept.  Though the concept is simple, I am going to show you a little graphic that will make it much easier to understand.  Who doesn’t learn more with visuals?

Affiliate Marketing basics

OK, from the graphic above, you can see the basics of how affiliate marketing works.  You join an affiliate network, which I will speak about later, then put links on your site.  When someone clicks your link and completes a purchase, you get paid.  It is that easy, right?  No, it isn’t that easy. Sorry to burst your bubble.  I will dig into this more in order to show you how you can earn money.  Here are the steps to start affiliate marketing.  As I said before, you need to have a website in order to do this.

Step 1: Join an Affiliate Network

This is the most important step.  In order to have access to a wide range of affiliate programs, you should join a network. These networks have a large amount of advertisers that all have active affiliate programs.  These networks just aggregate these advertisers into one place to make it easier for you.  The two terms to understand in affiliate marketing is that you are considered the publisher(affiliate) and the product/service you are promoting is the advertiser.

There are quite a few affiliate networks out there, but the biggest and most established are Commission Junction and Linkshare.  Some other networks worth noting are ShareASale, Amazon Associates, and Clickbank.  Clickbank deals entirely with digital goods, so you won’t find too many advertisers that sell physical products.  Many of the biggest brands are on Commission Junction or Linkshare.  The Amazon Associates program is just for Amazon.

Step 2: Find a Suitable Advertiser

Finding a suitable advertiser is key to affiliate marketing.  You do not want to promote products or services for companies that do not match your niche.  If you were running a website dedicated to clothing, you wouldn’t promote auto parts products. They just don’t work.  Most affiliates fail when they don’t have the right offers for their audience.  You want to look through the affiliate network and find advertisers that match your niche and who your readers will react to.  If you speak about a specific product or category a lot, then check out the advertisers who are in said category.

Just finding the advertiser is just the beginning. You then have to apply to be in their program.  This requires you to read their terms and accept them.  They will then either approve you automatically, decline you, or manually review your application. It can take days to weeks to hear back from some advertisers.  Don’t get discouraged.

Step 3: Promote the Advertiser

You will never get paid unless you promote an advertiser.  This is how you earn money as an affiliate.  If you are running a blog like this one, then you could deal with products or companies that are connected in the finance industry.  You would talk about specific products or services that match who is visiting your site.  For example, let’s say I wanted to talk about Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover.  This is a great personal finance book that has helped many people get their financial houses in shape.  Do you see that link that I put in?  Yes, that is an affiliate link.  It might not appear as one, but it is. If you were to click that link and buy the book off Amazon, then I would get a commission.

Adding in affiliate links into your work is super easy.  You can do it when you are speaking about anything that has a product or service with an affiliate program.  If you are dedicated an entire webpage or post to a specific thing, then see if there is an applicable affiliate program to join.  If you do well with that page, then you could earn money when people click through your links and buy.  The opportunities for affiliate marketing are endless.

If you run a WordPress blog, there are many ways to help you with affiliate links.  One plugin that I not only use, but recommend is Pretty Link Pro.  It is well worth the price and it does a great job with managing and promoting affiliate links.

Step 4: Get PAID!

This is the step you have been waiting for.  The time when you get paid.  If you earn enough money in your affiliate network account, then you will get paid. Many of these accounts have minimum thresholds.  Some are $50 or $100, while others have none.  You have to earn enough commissions in order to get a payment if there is a threshold.  Most networks will pay you via check or direct deposit your earnings into your checking account. It is up to you.  There are also some networks that will pay you via Paypal.

Getting paid can be confusing if you don’t read the terms of each advertisers program. There are some things they will pay you for while others they won’t.  Some will pay you when a customer makes a purchase, while others will pay you just for leads.  This is like if someone was to just fill out a form.  You can get paid when someone clicks on your link and fills out a form.

Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to get paid online. If you know what you are doing, then you can make passive affiliate income over time.  You can put up a website and get some traffic to it.  If you did well, then you can convert that traffic into commissions over and over again.  As I said before, affiliate marketing opportunities are endless if you just strive to use it.  Many people I talk to are scared of affiliate marketing because they don’t understand it.  It is not hard to do.  If you have any questions about affiliate marketing, then make sure to check out my services. I can help you get setup and start earning money!


Have you tried affiliate marketing before?  Did you like it?  If you haven’t, then what is stopping you?

Image via commission factory

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  1. Like Laurie said, Amazon affiliates left Minnesota (I believe because of some tax law that was passed here). I haven’t spent as much time on affiliate marketing as I should have, but I hope to ramp it up over time. I think the key is trial and error. You are going to have a lot of links that make no money, then some that perform quite well. The key is figuring out which links work and why.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…How to Get Up to 3 Free Las Vegas Hotel Rooms a MonthMy Profile

  2. How can you retire a millionaire if your not willing to try new things and step outside your comfort zone. Just like what was mentioned above. I have not tried affiliate income yet but if ever i have a website, will most likely try it. Sounds like a good way to earn additional income.
    Jeff @Project Ikonz recently posted…March net worth updateMy Profile

  3. Thanks for the guide Grayson, it was helpful! Registering for affiliate programs is on my list of things to do next month. I’m glad to hear Amazon struck a deal in NC as that’s where I’m headed.
    E.M. recently posted…March Budget ReviewMy Profile

    • You are welcome Dee! You should try to track those links, but one key to succeeding it putting links on your most successful pages. That really can make a difference.

  4. I find it interesting that you are running adsense on a page about affiliate advertising. It might be an interesting followup article weighing the pros and cons of the two.

    The appeal of the adsense for me is the simplicity. You cut and paste some code, and once a month a deposit is made into your bank account. Simple solutions allow me to focus on creating content and building traffic.

    The affiliate programs represent another hill to climb. Is there enough pay back to warrant dividing your time?
    Kevin @ Credit Bureau Insider recently posted…Which Credit Bureau is Most Accurate?My Profile

    • I would say that it is interesting, but not really. Since our site is relatively new, it is hard to get approved for many programs. Adsense is just an alternative. While it is easy to setup and run, you don’t get paid that well.

      Affiliate marketing might be a climb, but you can make a lot more with affiliate than you can with adsense. I can make an entire month’s worth of adsense income in one day with affiliate.

  5. Hey Grayson and thanks for this introductory post to affiliate marketing 🙂

    I have dabbled in AM and find that Share-A-Sale and Amazon work best for me. There are some AM’ers that make a nice full time income from just a few sites or blogs using this income model! I just may have to get back on that horse 🙂

    Thanks again Grayson and take care. All the best.

    lyle @ the Joy of Simple recently posted…Are You Ready For The Simple?My Profile

  6. Thanks for breaking this down for us, Grayson! We’ve dabbled in affiliate advertising – there’s some on our blog now. As a newer blogger, we’re concentrating more on developing traffic instead of focusing on advertising. The one important thing that I know we’ve agreed on is to make sure that we actually use and support the products/services that we tell others about. That way, we can really give them the good, bad, and the ugly – from a consumers perspective 🙂
    Anneli @thefrugalweds recently posted…Recipe: Brie & Spinach Grilled Cheese (and we’re competing in the Grilled Cheese Invitational THIS weekend!)My Profile

  7. I like to chime in about adsense and other affiliate offers. Many people just stick adsense on their websites and forget about it. They never bother to try other options. Yes, it is easy but it is hardly the best money maker. I can make about 20 times more with affiliate offers than I would make with adsense. Don’t just pick the easy option. Try and test. Adsense may work better for your site but you don’t know that until you confirm.
    TC recently posted…Pay Off Old Auto Loan and Bring Insurance Premium DownMy Profile

    • I agree with you there TC. People find adsense much easier, but affiliate revenues can easily outpace adsense. I use both on my site, but just adsense as a way to pick up lost clicks.

    • I wouldn’t say it takes the least amount of effort. If you are blogging, then you have to develop the post, put some SEO on it, then market it. That is really how you get affiliate posts to do well.

  8. Nice post Grayson – you break down how everything works very well. Amazon has worked the best for me to far. I have not had any luck at all with CJ so far. Maybe I can fix that down the road 🙂

  9. This is something I’ve been looking into and one of my goals for this year. I feel my niche is getting more established so it may be time to start applying for some programs. Will be bookmarking this and may be hitting you up for some help. Thanks a lot!

  10. I still have to work on building traffic. I have some affiliate links up, but no luck so far.

  11. Hey- I don’t have any affiliate links yet- but was curious if there is a service you can search for what products are part of what affiliate networks. So let’s say I know I already am going to write a review of the barclaycard (I know there are 100s in the PF world) and I want to have an affiliate link to sign up for the barclay card. How do I find how to include affiliate links to products I already love- rather than random ones in these networks?
    Julie @MillennialCents recently posted…3 things girls buy that should never be boughtMy Profile


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