How affiliate marketing works

Every day ordinary people from all walks of life are making money on the Internet through affiliate marketing.  Affiliate marketing, simply put, is selling another company’s products in exchange for a commission on each sale.  In this article I will explain how affiliate marketing works, both for the companies with products to sell and for you as the affiliate marketer.

How affiliate marketing works for the product vendors
A company with products to sell faces the same challenge you will face as an affiliate marketer.  The company needs to get its product in front of as many people as possible so that a large number will become customers.  Traditionally, companies have relied on a sales force and advertising to accomplish this.  Today many of them are turning to affiliate marketers to essentially serve as both their sales force and advertisers.  It’s a low risk sweet deal for the vendors.  They invest in setting up an affiliate program, some banners and suggested sales copy and make those available to their affiliate marketers.  If the affiliate marketers make sales, the company benefits and is happy to pay out the commission.  If the affiliate marketers don’t make the sales, the company doesn’t have to pay them anything.

How affiliate marketing works for the affiliate marketers
Because affiliate marketing is such a sweet deal for the product vendors, just about everyone with something to sell is hoping to find a lot of affiliate marketers pushing the product.  That means there is a lot of competition for you as an affiliate marketer.  Vendors who are serious about attracting good affiliate marketers will offer generous commissions, good marketing materials including the ability to offer special promotional discounts, and support.  This means that you as the affiliate marketer can shop around for the best affiliate programs among thousands to join.  You can focus exclusively on one product or vendor, or you can market a number of products from several different vendors.  You can set up a separate campaign for each product, or you can market several related products–even from different companies–in the same campaign.  You are in charge of how you promote your affiliate products so you are free to experiment with what will work the best for you.


It’s all about the campaign
Once you’ve settled on a niche and one or more products to build your campaign around it’s time to set up your campaign.  The campaign consists of two main parts.  The first is the website.  Yes you do need your own website.  For many reasons it is much less effective than it used to be to just send traffic directly to your affiliate urls.  Your website needs to be filled with useful, engaging and relevant content.  Today’s Internet users are primarily looking for information, not a sales pitch, and the successful affiliate marketers provide valuable information to their visitors for free.  Part of your content of course is designed to sell your products, but it cannot be the only thing on your site or your visitors will leave.

The second part of the campaign is what you do outside of your site to drive traffic to your site.  You drive traffic to your site by publishing articles in major article directories like or which link back to your site.  Target each article to a different long tail keyword your potential customers are likely to search under.  Just like your website your articles need to provide useful, relevant and engaging information.  Article readers need to feel they benefited just from reading the article.  If the article is nothing more than a sales pitch the readers will be annoyed and will not click on your link.  If they liked the article and want to learn more, they will visit your site.  You can also drive traffic to your site by using pay per click and other forms of paid advertising.  If you are new to affiliate marketing I highly recommend you begin with article marketing because you can lose a lot of money on paid advertising if you don’t know what you’re doing.  Besides, no matter what traffic generating strategy you use, you will still have to write–a lot.

Affiliate marketing is a great deal for both the product vendor and the affiliate marketer.  It provides the vendor with salespeople and advertisers at no risk.  It provides you the affiliate marketer with the freedom to choose products to sell from thousands of options and to promote those products in the way that works best for you.  Successful affiliate marketers set up and maintain campaigns that consist of a website and a strategy for driving traffic to that site.  That’s how affiliate marketing works.

How affiliate marketing works is one of many online marketing related topics I cover on my website Online Marketing 101. Visit Online Marketing 101 to learn more about online marketing.

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