How Affiliate Marketing Works – A 4 Step Visual

So you’re here to find out how affiliate marketing works. You’re in the right place! Not only is it a common way to start making an income online, it’s also a solid long-term strategy and revenue stream for many internet marketers.

How Affiliate Marketing Works-Step by Step

In this post I’m going to cover how affiliate marketing works, step by step to clarify exactly how the process works so that even if you’re just starting out in the industry you will have a clear understanding by the time you’re done reading this.

The Basics of Affiliate Marketing

When it comes to making money online you can either sell your own stuff, or partner with companies to promote existing products or services and get paid for it.

Affiliate Marketing is the latter – a way for you (the affiliate) to earn a commission by recommending products or services to your readers – people who visit your website or blog.

Simple enough, right?

It’s a great way to “get your feet wet” minus the risk and investment included in product creation – plus, no inventory or shipping to deal with.

The same basic steps of affiliate marketing apply no matter what niche/topic your website is about. The 4 steps go like this…

Step 1 – Choose an Interest You Want to Promote

While you can promote pretty much anything online, I would not recommend trying to promote things just because you can.

You will be way better off choosing a passion or topic that you find interesting enough to write content about long-term, something you won’t get bored talking about and something that will help serve a need or solve a problem for your readers.

Once you choose your niche make sure to choose products and services that are relevant to it. For instance, not only does it make no sense for me to promote kitchenware on Sweet Lifestyle Freedom, it would confuse visitors since it’s not what they’re looking for on my site.

It’s also important to recommend things you truly believe in. I only partner with companies that offer products or services relevant to my niche that I’ve personally tried or had experience with so that I’m confident they offer the greatest value and benefit to my readers.

The last thing you want is to look like a “spammer” out to make quick buck. It’s a surefire way to lose trust fast and once you do, it can ruin your reputation for good. These are the types of actions that give affiliate marketers a bad rap.

If you start off with high standards from the beginning you build solid credibility as an internet marketer who has the best interest of your readers in mind, which goes a lot further when it comes to gaining their trust in the long run.

Step 2 – Build a Website

Your website will be the foundation of your business, the place where you will write about, review, and discuss everything related to your topic.

People are searching the internet for all kinds of stuff everyday and you can create a website around a niche you’re excited about while helping people find what they’re looking for.

How Affiliate Marketing Works-Online Search

Think of all the times you search for information, tips, or where to buy something online. When you find helpful information or tips you probably go back to that website again or if you find information about what you’re looking to purchase you click on a link to buy it right then.

And don’t worry, building a website is a lot easier than it used to be. These days you can have one set up in matter of minutes, even if you have absolutely no experience whatsoever.

Step 3 – Attract Visitors

If you own a brick and mortar business and no one ever walks through the door, how can you expect to make sales, right?

The same goes for your online business, if nobody ever visits your website, your goal of monetization isn’t going to pay off.

If you want visitors, your website and posts need to get ranked in the search engines so people can find you.

So how do you do this?

By using SEO (search engine optimization) techniques and consistently creating valuable and relevant, high-quality content. When you do this, people will naturally want to keep visiting for more.

Learning how to use keywords in your content is also a key strategy to boost rankings and social media is another important avenue to reach a larger audience with your content.

Step 4 – Earn Revenue

Once you have targeted an audience with a need or interest in the types of products or services you recommend, they will naturally start checking these out through the links on your website and some will decide to purchase them.

This is where you will receive a commission for your affiliate partnership with companies who’s products or services you recommend, at no extra cost to the buyer.

Let’s take for example a blog about pet food. Here’s what the step by step visual looks like.

How Affiliate Marketing Works-4 Step Visual

Wrap Up

Affiliate marketing is a solid way to earn a legitimate income online sharing products and services you are passionate about and that others can benefit from, without the need to keep an inventory or deal with shipping.

And since affiliate programs are free to join, it’s a great way to earn revenue with no investment.

Affiliate marketing is a win-win for everyone involved.

Your readers benefit from helpful information and resources from a trusted source while saving time and money in the process. Companies benefit with more customers or clients. And you get a little thank you for sharing products or services you believe in.

When you put in the work, the more traffic you get and the more your sales increase. Over time you can get enough of these to earn a nice revenue online.

If you want to learn all about building your own online business and earning revenue through affiliate marketing, check out my top recommendation that finally helped me make money online.

Affiliate Marketing Success

Do you feel like you have a better understanding of how affiliate marketing works? Any thoughts, questions, or suggestions, share them in the comments below!

Like this? Please share!

14 thoughts on “How Affiliate Marketing Works – A 4 Step Visual”

  1. Misty Marchione

    This post was very helpful in explaining affiliate marketing. I like the fact that with affiliate marketing you don’t have to worry about shipping any product. Yay! You have a great point about staying with a topic that one is passionate about. This way, if it doesn’t work out as fast as one could hope they will stay with it. Trends come and go!

    1. Yeah, if don’t want to deal with inventory/shipping, affiliate marketing is definitely a great choice. If you’re planning on having your website long term, choosing a topic you won’t get bored with makes it so you are able to continue writing content for the duration. Some people like to have multiple sites, where they do affiliate marketing within trendy niches, and that can also work well as long as you know what you’re doing, have some knowledge on the topics, and the realization that it may be a more short term way to make money. I’m glad you found this helpful and thanks for visiting!

  2. It is just four steps to commit to and the rest is history, It is so amazing the amount of people that are getting in to online business as a way of life and the truth is this is great business and long as you are willing to put in the time and the work you will be on your way to living the kind of live that you always wanted to live. Thanks for sharing, your readers will learn a lot from what you are sharing, your post is well detailed and filled with great information, all the best to you and keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and encouragement. It’s important for anyone interested in affiliate marketing to know that hard work does pay off and that anyone is capable of making a great living doing what they love. All the best to you as well!

  3. I’ve heard about the concept of affiliate marketing for quite some time but never really grasped the idea of how it works and affiliates make money on the web.

    When you break it down into 4 sections, it’s really simple to understand how affiliate marketers create full-time businesses.

    I can certainly see why everyone’s a winner when it comes to affiliate marketing, and especially how normal people can become financially free from generating big profits from their work.

    And YEP, I’m gonna check out your top recommendation…


    1. I’m glad this 4 step breakdown makes the process of affiliate marketing easier to understand and absolutely, it’s a great way to for the average person to make a nice income on the side, or a full-time income depending on how much you put into it. All the best and if you have any questions I’m happy to help!

  4. Hey there! I’ve been searching for a part time job online for a while now. I heard a lot of things about affiliate marketing but I don’t have a lot of knowledge prior to this kind of job. I’m a college student and I only have limited money to spend. Even though I’m on a budget I have a lot of spare time to invest. Do you think that I can handle this kind of job? I really appreciate your response.

    1. Hi John! Absolutely, one of the greatest aspects of affiliate marketing is the flexibility of it. You can certainly do it in your spare time around your school schedule. One of my favorite things about doing this for a living is that the your success depends on your efforts, so the more you are able to work on your website the faster you will see results.

      The other great part of affiliate marketing is that you can get started for free, which is perfect when you’re on a limited budget to begin with! Be sure to check out my recommendation to get started for free with step-by-step training that will put you on the right track. All the best and please let me know if I can answer any other questions!

  5. Hi there Jess, I’ve been contemplating between doing eCommerce or affiliate marketing as the foundation of my online business idea. You mentioned the need to write content for blogs long term with affiliate programs.

    You see, I am not an avid writer and I think blogging is very time consuming since I also have a full time day job. So I am leaning towards drop shipping and such because it feels more direct. Not to mention that there are many online marketplaces that I can start off with very low investment.

    I wonder what’s your thought about this plan of mine.

    1. Hi Cathy! I can only go off of my previous experience with inventory and shipping products on a regular basis. Honestly, it just became too time consuming to the point that I really had no life, Needless to say, not my idea of lifestyle freedom. While content creation is also time consuming, it’s something that can be done on your own time and when you choose, without the pressure of people relying on shipments.

      I have not however, dealt with drop shipping, it’s just not something that appeals to me. But it’s another income stream that can be lucrative, and ultimately you have to go with what’s right for you. As with any business decision you’re contemplating, before deciding if it’s right for you, I suggest you do your due diligence and research to weigh the pros and cons, so you can make an informed decision. Whatever you choose, I wish you all the best!

  6. I always thought that starting an online business was difficult. Mainly because the thought of building a website seemed difficult. But you really break everything down in a very simple manner. I checked out this wealthy affiliate program you recommended, and it seems interesting. How supportive are the members within the community when it comes to helping those just starting out?

    1. Thanks for reading Ralph and glad this took some of the “difficult factor” out of starting an online business. Wealthy Affiliate is an extremely supportive and helpful community, which as you probably know is one of the greatest contributors to your success. The support is available 24/7. All the best with your online endeavors!

  7. Jacob Schilling

    Hi Jess. I love the affiliate marketing business model due to the low start-up costs and the high-income return. It is hard to get a real grip on the business unless you have good training. That is why I recommend wealthy affiliate, as they offer training, as well as awesome tools and training.

    1. Couldn’t agree more Jacob! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience with WA. Much success to you!

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