If you’ve been researching about the different kinds of things one can do to earn a living online, chances are that you have come across the term “affiliate marketing.” And if you’re like most people, you might be wondering what exactly this is and how one can make a living out of it. First off, we’d like to confirm that indeed this is a real way to make an income although it works best when you know what you’re doing. We’re glad that you’ve come to this write-up so we can educate you on this potentially awesome way of making a passive living.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Statistics indicate that the affiliate marketing segment in the US will surpass the $6.8 billion mark by the year 2020. That’s a remarkable 10.1% growth from 2015. As you can see, the future looks bright for affiliate marketers. But what exactly is affiliate marketing all about anyway?

The most basic definition of it is that it’s a way of marketing where you refer customers to businesses and get a commission for the same. So, the more people you refer, the more you get paid.

It’s just the same way you’d refer a friend to a car dealer and the dealer gives you a percentage of their profit to say thank you. The only difference with the kind of affiliate marketing we’re referring to right here is one that takes place online.

And thanks to modern technology, it’s now possible to refer more than just your friends to make purchases. And as long as they do so using links with your special code (usually given by the company one is rooting for) you’d get credited with a percentage of the money they spend.

Sounds complicated? Let’s take an example.

Think of any online marketplace out there. It could be eBay, Walmart, Clickbank or even Amazon. All those stores would like to grow their sales. Unfortunately, their internal marketing methods may not suffice and that’s why they often reach out to individuals like you and me and request them to help them with the sales process.

They’re usually like “Hey, would you mind helping us sell these products and in exchange will give you XX commission?”

So, if you take up the offer to become an affiliate, they provide you with a special code which you’ll simply be adding to the URLs of the products you choose to promote.

Examples of Affiliate Marketing Programs That Pay

Because of the unique nature of affiliate marketing, you’re better off working with a company that you can trust. Some of the leading names that come to mind when this ingenious kind of online business is involved include:

Amazon Associates

We all know Amazon. In fact, almost everyone uses Amazon to shop these days. And because they sell all manner of things, it’s easy to use their program as a full-time affiliate venture. You simply need to choose a niche and create a buzz around it.

Their commissions can be up to 10% for each sale you make. On the flipside, though, they only pay through bank transfer, checks, and gift cards.

eBay Partners

eBay is a fierce rival of Amazon’s. But they run an affiliate system that’s quite similar. Just like Amazon, they have a diverse product list allowing you to choose particular niches. Though less popular, they are reputed for their straightforward sales method and the absence of complex rules.


ClickBank is renowned for its incredibly diverse selection of digital products. And indeed, one of the things that set them miles ahead of other programs is that they offer some pretty huge commissions. Some of the merchants actually offer up to 100% commission for subscription-based products.

Other Programs

Individual companies also offer ways to earn affiliate revenues. Companies like Hostgator and Bluehost, for instance, are well known for this. There are also dozens of companies in the health and fitness niche as well. All you need to do is make sure that if working with a standalone company, they’re worth your trust.

How to Make Money Using This Method

The best way to earn a living using this strategy is by ensuring you have a platform to use. Obviously, the platform needs to have visitors. And the visitors need to be interested in whatever you’re selling to them. Most importantly, they need to be in a position to afford to make a purchase so you can get a commission at the end of the day.

You can either choose to use paid platforms or free (owned) platforms to market. Examples of paid platforms include Google Adwords and Paid Social Media Ads. Owned media, on the other hand, comprises all the systems that you can lay claim to. These include your social media handles and websites.

The most popular way to make sales is through content marketing. In that case, you’d need to invest in creating and hosting a blog where you can be posting useful content. Then you can introduce a few product links within such content and try to get your visitors to purchase through them. Usually, the more helpful your content is, the higher the chances of making some sales.


  • A great way to earn a passive income
  • It presents you with a scalable model
  • The future looks great for affiliate marketers
  • Payments are usually made regularly e.g. once a month
  • Anyone can join and start
  • No special skills are needed for one to get started
  • With a bit of training and mentorship, one can deliver more sales
  • Presents you with an awesome way to create an online network


  • Sometimes, it takes quite long to make a sale
  • Some programs like Amazon Associates limit your payment methods
  • There are a few bad apples who refuse to pay commissions after sales have been delivered

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this write-up has provided you with a rough idea of what affiliate marketing is all about. The truth of the matter is that although everyone can do it, only those who know what they’re doing are able to make some great returns. So, if this is your first-time giving affiliate marketing a try, we’d recommend finding a mentor or trainer. This way, you can avoid making some of the common mistakes people make when getting started.