Lizzie has several years of experience working with content creation and management. She achieved a BA (Hons) in English Literature from the University of Birmingham, before developing a career in PR and comms.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a big business, and if you’re looking for ways to level up your marketing strategy whilst making a passive income then it could be the ideal next step for you.

Here, we’ll explain exactly what affiliate marketing is and how you can get started.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a small commission every time somebody buys a product or service that you have promoted. Normally it’s conducted with the help of affiliate platforms and links. You can include affiliate links within your content, and if a user clicks on it and makes a purchase, you’ll earn a small percentage of the sale.

Affiliate marketing is the ultimate passive income. If you do it properly, your affiliate marketing can tick over in the background with little effort or labour required from you.

If you have a product or service you want to promote and sell, then you can look to offer financial incentives for promotion through an affiliate programme. If your service offering isn’t ecommerce based and you don’t have a specific product or service to sell, but still want to begin earning a passive income, then you can promote products you believe in as an affiliate marketer.

There are three key players in the affiliate marketing system:

  • The merchant
  • The publisher
  • The customer

Without any one of the above, affiliate marketing wouldn’t work. Here’s why:

The merchant is the creator or owner of the product or service. This could be anyone from major online retailers, such as Amazon, through to an independent life coach looking to sell more consultation plans. If you have a product or service that you want to sell, then you can be classed as a merchant.

The publisher is the one who is actually promoting the product. This can be done in various ways. Perhaps you have a personal blog where you review specific items, or maybe your company has a business section where you offer recommendations to clients and visitors. The promoter or the “affiliate” can be an individual person or an entire business.

The customer is the user who is actually making the purchase. Without them, there would be no commission to hand out. Usually, the customer will use an affiliate link to access the merchant’s website and make a purchase. This could be from a blog post, a social media swipe-up or through a personal referral.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing: Merchants

If you want to become an affiliate marketing merchant, then the very first thing you’ll need to do is create a product or service to sell.

If you already have something that you sell to customers, then great – however, if not, you’re going to need to come up with something that people want to buy. If you don’t have anything to sell, unfortunately you’re not a merchant.

Once you’re sure that there is an audience for your product (we recommend undertaking some serious audience and market research before committing), then you need to find the right affiliate marketing programme for you.

An affiliate marketing platform will connect merchants with publishers, opening up your products to a much wider audience. Some of the most popular affiliate platforms include Amazon Associates and Awin.

Once you’ve selected your platform, you’ll need to decide on elements such as the commission rate you’re willing to offer and your expectations for each publisher. It’s also a good idea to provide information on things such as your brand guidelines and tone of voice to make sure your products are being promoted in places that align with your brand.

The three main commission models you can choose from are:

Pay-per-sale – you’ll pay commission based directly on the number of sales made.

Pay-per-click – you’ll pay commission based on the number of times your affiliate link is clicked by consumers.

Pay-per-lead – you’ll pay commission based on the number of leads generated by the affiliate link (usually measured via conversion rates).

How to Start Affiliate Marketing: Publishers

If you want to begin affiliate marketing as a publisher, then the first thing you’ll need to do is decide which platform you want to use to promote products to an audience. This could be anything from a blog or YouTube channel, through to social media platforms or email marketing.

Once you’ve chosen your platform, you’ll need to dedicate time to growing an engaged audience. After all, you’re not going to make any money if there is no one to actually click on your links and make a purchase.

As soon as you’ve built up a strong platform and audience, you can decide which affiliate marketing programme is best for you. When selecting a platform, there are various things to consider such as niche, volume and commission rates.

Some platforms offer high commission rates but operate in niche areas, making it harder to make any sales. On the other hand, some programmes offer a lower commission rate but have a broader range of merchants, allowing you to find options that fit your existing content and audience needs.

When you’re set up, don’t forget to actually include your affiliate links within your content!

The key to success as an affiliate marketing publisher, is to have an engaged audience who will actually make a purchase off the back of your recommendations. Building an audience like this takes time. Put effort into your PPC and SEO campaigns in order to make sure your content is getting in front of the right eyes.

How can Social Chameleon Help?

Social Chameleon have over seven years of experience in helping businesses with their digital marketing strategy and online presence. Part of that is often PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising.

If you’d like to find out more about what we can do for you, then get in touch at or via the enquiry form on the contact page.

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