What Is Affiliate Marketing? [And How to Get Started!]


In the early 2010s, the affiliate marketing industry exploded in popularity with pretty much everyone. It didn’t matter if you were an individual wanting to make a bit of cash on the side or a company looking for rapid growth – affiliate marketing became a go-to revenue source across the web!

Even more than a decade later, this boom hasn’t slowed down. It seems like every blog is promoting some affiliate product, countless news sites have affiliate ads plastered across their content, and who can forget the internet gurus that made their fortunes thanks to affiliate marketing?

Let’s talk numbers for a second. The industry is projected to surpass the $15.7 billion mark in 2024, experiencing a reported 10% year-over-year growth rate – that’s particularly impressive for an industry that’s already so big. Plus, Forbes is predicting that the affiliate market could reach a whopping $40 billion by 2030. That growth is great news for any aspiring affiliate looking to earn their own cut of this ever-expanding pie!

So, what is affiliate marketing? And how does it work? We’re here to answer all of those questions and more in this super-guide to getting started with affiliate marketing!

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What is Affiliate Marketing? How Does It Work?

Affiliate marketing is an arrangement where a third-party marketer can earn commissions by promoting someone else’s product.

We’ll get into the how later, but this business model is one of the easiest ways to start making an income online – no need to create your own product, set up a business structure, or deal with customer service!

Affiliate marketing owes its huge growth in both profitability and appeal to a few things

Unique distribution structure

Unlimited earning potential

Flexible schedule

Low barrier to entry

But before we dive deeper into those, we first have to introduce the three core players of affiliate marketing: The Affiliate, the Product Owner, and the Buyer!

The Affiliate

The “affiliate” earns a commission in exchange for marketing (i.e. promoting) a seller’s products. They target specific audiences to uncover interested buyers who will go on to make a purchase.

Each time one of these customers buys the product, the product owner will pay the affiliate a commission based on the revenue from each sale.

The Product Owner (Seller)

Whether they’re a large company or a solo entrepreneur, if they have a product or service to sell, they can be a “seller,” product owner, or brand. The seller relies on the affiliate to promote their product, which allows them to acquire new customers and make sales at scale through third-party partners.

When a customer buys their product, the product owner is responsible for fulfilling the order and paying a commission to the affiliate who made the sale. 

The Buyer

Customers, or buyers, are people within the target demographic for an affiliate product. The affiliate marketing system relies on buyers purchasing the products and services advertised to them to drive sales for the seller and commissions for the affiliate. 

It’s important to note that the buyer should not be kept in the dark about the relationship between the product owner and the affiliate. All parties must be fully aware of what’s happening to create the cohesive system powering your affiliate business. (See our affiliate link disclosure guide for more information.)

Putting it All Together: How it Works

When these three core players come together, they create something called The Affiliate Marketing Distribution Network.

Here’s an example of how it works:

A product owner who is skilled in home improvement decides that she could make quite a bit of money by creating an online course to teach others. 

She’s not too familiar with marketing, so she works with an affiliate to promote her product in exchange for a portion of the sales that he generates. 

The affiliate promotes the product to an online audience of potential buyers by running ads, sending emails, or publishing blog posts about the product.

Buyers interested in learning about woodworking view these ads or consume this content.

If the buyers are convinced of the product’s value, they click on the affiliate’s unique link and are taken to the product owner’s sales page, where they can purchase her course. 

Once the purchase has been confirmed, the seller pays the affiliate his commission and keeps the rest of the sale.

Beyond this basic definition, ‘affiliate marketing’ is quite a versatile term that can be applied to a whole host of online business models. 

Let’s go through a few of them!

1) The Performance Affiliate Marketing Model

Possibly the most powerful form of affiliate marketing, the performance affiliate marketing model sees affiliates being paid once a “goal” – such as a purchase or a form submission – has been met. 

At ClickBank, we think of the performance model in terms of media buyers running paid campaigns on ad platforms like Facebook or Google, bringing potential buyers to a product owner’s sales page featuring a text or video sales letter. The goal is to take these potential buyers from thinking about a problem they have to learning about a solution and then purchasing the product that solves their problem. 

Since ClickBank tends to run on the performance affiliate marketing model, we encourage you to check out our resource on how ClickBank works to learn more.

2) The Affiliate Blogging/Publisher Model

In the affiliate blogging/publisher model, affiliates publish content on their websites to promote products to their readers. These sites, typically blogs, will revolve around a specific topic (i.e. niche) and often host product reviews of relevant affiliate products. The affiliate publisher utilizes SEO and organic traffic to get eyes on their blogs, often along with other owned channels like an email list or social media.

Not only do publishers make money by encouraging readers to buy the products they review through an affiliate tracking link, but they are also able to earn additional revenue through display ads!

3) The Coupon Affiliate Marketing Model

Coupon affiliate marketing is very similar to performance marketing, except instead of promoting a product, you promote a product through a deal or discount.

The product owner gives the affiliate a personalized coupon code that the affiliate can then place on their website, social media profile, or paid campaign. If a buyer uses the promoted coupon to buy an item from the seller, the affiliate will earn a portion of the money made on the sale.

Many people associate this type of affiliate marketing with social media influencers or coupon/cashback websites, as they are an efficient way for brands to share special deals with a wider range of buyers.

4) Referral Programs

Referral programs often get lumped in with affiliate marketing. However, unlike affiliate marketing, where merchants work with affiliates to promote their products, referral programs rely on existing customers to refer new business!

Referral programs also do not guarantee a percent of any sale made from a referral and often won’t even pay out in cash. Customers participating in a referral program are likely to receive store credit or discounts as their referral bonuses. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with sharing a product you like as a customer – but you probably won’t be able to build a thriving, profitable business around referral programs alone.

Okay, we’ve talked through what affiliate marketing is, its biggest players, and some of the most common types of affiliate marketing. But, we know that that’s a lot of information to wrap your head around, so let’s review what we’ve covered so far!

What Exactly IS Affiliate Marketing?

A good way to think about affiliate marketing is as follows: affiliate marketing is a business model that helps companies sell more of their products by enlisting the help of people like you!

You don’t need to be an expert at all the different methods of affiliate marketing that we’ve talked about – you just need to develop ONE core skill to start making an income as an affiliate online!

If you’d like to develop the necessary skills to start your affiliate journey, we have just the place to start. Spark by ClickBank is the official affiliate marketing education platform from ClickBank, featuring the courses, community, and tools you need to start earning with affiliate marketing and skip the trial-and-error phase!

Why Become an Affiliate Marketer?

Now that you have an understanding of affiliate marketing, you may be thinking to yourself, “Is this for me?”

You might even have some concerns about affiliate marketing being legit or wonder if you can actually make real money with this business model.

Well, you should find out the truth about affiliate marketing so that you can make the best decision about your potential career as an affiliate! Here’s what to know:

The short answer is, yes, affiliate marketing is perfectly legit, and it’s a great way to make money online.

However, it can also be a challenging industry to see success in, particularly when you’re starting out. So, with so many online business models to choose from, why would you pick affiliate marketing?

Let’s break down affiliate marketing into its pros and cons to help you make that decision!

Pros of Affiliate Marketing

Low Risk

Starting your own business can be a very appealing prospect. However, for many people, this means hours of cold calls, years of research and development, or huge cash investments in marketing or business assets.

One of the biggest advantages of affiliate marketing is that you can start making sales with little to no upfront investment, and you can start selling products that are already proven and in demand.

Once you’ve done the work to build up an audience, you can start promoting to them. You can also invest money into your affiliate marketing efforts if your chosen method has a cost (i.e. paid media campaigns), but there are ways to be an affiliate for free!

Follow Your Passion

Many people work in industries that they aren’t interested in and spend their free time exploring their hobbies. With affiliate marketing, you can generate income by selling products in an area you are passionate about, like fitness, music, or home renovation!

Then, you can use the skills you develop to monetize yourself. Are you passionate about social media? Are you good at writing? Do you love to talk? This is your chance to spread the word and start making money!

Passive Income

Unlike many side hustles, affiliate marketing is a “golden goose” that can continue to generate revenue for you even after your initial effort.The video review or blog that you posted last year can continue generating revenue for you every month. Your profitable video ad just needs more budget, and you can sit back as the money rolls in.

Invest time upfront in a campaign and you’ll keep making money as people buy your stuff even after you’re done working. Your marketing efforts will keep earning you cash even when you’re not actively working on it.

Easy to Execute

With affiliate marketing, you don’t have to worry about those frustrating and sometimes annoying parts of a business like shipping a product, customer support emails, product returns, or storing products.

In affiliate marketing, the seller/product owner does that for you, and the only thing that you have to worry about is showcasing their product! Plus, some sellers will supply you with ad copy, so your workload as an affiliate may end up being pretty light.

Work From Home With a Flexible Schedule

Affiliate marketing is the ultimate work-from-home job! Not only can you do it from home, but you can do it from anywhere.

No meetings, no deadlines – just you promoting the products that you like when you have the time!

High Earning Potential

While affiliate marketers don’t get the full value from each sale that they make, the volume of sales that they can drive more than makes up for it. 

Unlike traditional jobs where working longer hours doesn’t equate to higher pay, affiliate marketing operates on a different principle – it’s all about your performance. 

The beauty lies in the direct correlation between your efforts and your earnings. When you sharpen your skills in campaign crafting and reviewing, you’re investing in your own paycheck. It’s about time you start getting rewarded for your exceptional work!

Cons of Affiliate Marketing

It Requires Patience

Though you see the occasional “overnight success” story, affiliate marketing isn’t a “get rich quick” scheme. Getting consistent sales requires being patient, investing quite a bit of time, and being willing to test and retest strategies to figure out what will work best. 

Like any skill, the more time you dedicate to affiliate marketing, the better you become and the more it pays off. 

Commission-Based

What is a plus for some can be a drawback for others. Unlike a typical job that pays you for the hours that you work, affiliate marketing pays you based on a commission model. 

The seller gives you, the affiliate, a special link that will track the actions people take based on their interactions with the content. When a buyer completes the seller’s desired action – a lead, click, or sale – the affiliate will get paid. 

But if they click and don’t complete the action, you don’t get paid at all, no matter how much work you did or resources you invested.

Minimal Control Over the Product

The rules, terms, and conditions of an affiliate program are primarily set by the product owner and the affiliate network.

All affiliates who want to promote a quality product must obey the guidelines and avoid any banned advertising methods or practices, so you’ll have to get creative to distinguish yourself from the crowd. And while you can negotiate aspects of your affiliate relationship, such as commission type or total commission, control over the product always stays with the product owner/brand.

Final Thoughts

Affiliate marketing may not be for everyone, but for many people willing to put in the work, it can be an incredibly rewarding and lucrative way to make money. Additionally, it allows you to do what you love and monetize your passion projects!

Now that we’ve walked through what affiliate marketing is, it’s time for the moment you’ve no doubt been waiting for…

How Much Money Can You Make As an Affiliate Marketer?

Of course, you’re probably not starting affiliate marketing purely for fun, so it’s important to look at what is possible – and what is likely – in terms of potential revenue.

So, who is making money? How much money could you make? These are important questions to consider when committing to a new business opportunity. Luckily, we can answer those questions by diving into the data that ClickBank has as one of the largest affiliate marketing networks in the world.In 2023, we found that 91% of people who make at least one sale on ClickBank will earn less than $10k on the platform. The truth is that affiliate marketing can be very challenging and takes a lot of time, dedication, and knowledge to pay big.

This is why we launched Spark by ClickBank, our affiliate education platform dedicated to giving the most important tips and strategies from top-performing marketers. The goal is to drastically reduce the knowledge gap for new affiliates and decrease the barrier to entry for affiliate marketing!

What we see is that the students who put in the work to learn and improve are the ones who reap the rewards. Partly due to Spark by ClickBank, we have seen the number of affiliates making more than $10k go from 6% to 9% from 2020-2023. This means that nearly 1 in 10 affiliates will make more than $10k in their career!

And this earnings increase isn’t just a recent trend. When we reviewed our data over the last decade, we noticed that total affiliate pay and average affiliate pay have increased almost every year since 2012.

Which begs the question: With these record-high numbers, what income level is possible for affiliates willing to put in the work? And what does it take to see THAT kind of success?

The answer can be found with regular people who are routinely making life-changing incomes from affiliate marketing. Here are just a few examples:

Francisco, a formerly broke college student from Chile, is 22 years old and making over $250,000/year…

Jenn, a mother of 4 who lost her job in 2020, made over $5M in 2022…

Lucas, a top-tier ClickBank affiliates from Brazil, made over $1.3M in just 90 days…

And yes, these three are still some of the hardest-working affiliates on ClickBank!

Everyone who gets into affiliate marketing isn’t going to make a quarter of a million dollars a year or more, and you certainly won’t get there overnight – but we do routinely see new affiliates making an extra $1,000, $2,000, or even $5,000 a month using the tactics that we teach in our affiliate education platform, Spark by ClickBank!

Profit By Industry/Niche

When you get started with affiliate marketing, you need to choose a product category or “niche” with the products you want to promote.

When choosing a niche, it’s important to consider your passion for it. Can you consistently create new content or copy around those topics? Is it something you could easily create 50 pieces of content for right now? If so, then that’s a good niche to start looking at.

In addition to passion, it’s equally important to consider the profitability of your chosen niche. While you can make a profit in any industry, it’s worth considering:

Which industry generates the most money?

Which industry generates the most sales?

Which industry generates the most money per sale?

To help you choose the best industry for your affiliate marketing business, we have compiled a list of the average order value (how much a buyer pays per purchase on average) and average commission payout (the percent of each sale that the affiliate earns) by niche on ClickBank.

These exact numbers will vary depending on the affiliate program or affiliate network you choose, but they give you a perfect starting point to think about which niche may be right for you! 

Top Products by Category

As you can see, some of the top-performing industries across the board include:

Health (fitness, supplements, mental health, etc.)

Politics / Current Events

E-Commerce Operations

Business / Investing

People with a passion for those industries begin with a much higher earning potential than people who choose to promote products in other industries.

However, if you’re passionate about other topics, notice the millions of dollars in annual sales that most of them represent. Just because they aren’t the absolute highest earners on a per-sale basis does not mean that you can’t make money in any given industry – it just means that you might have a lower ceiling or may require some creativity to reach that highest level of profit!

But How Much Money Can I Make?

Enough hypotheticals.

Yes, affiliate marketing can be profitable. Yes, some people have made life-changing incomes.

But how much could YOU make?

Answer these questions to get an estimate of your earning potential:

How Many Hours a Week Can You Dedicate?O1 to 2O2 to 5O6 to 9O10 to 19O20+What Industry Are You Most Interested In?OHealth & FitnessOSpirituality, New Age & Alternative BeliefsOE-Business & E-MarketingOSelf-HelpOUncategorizedOEducationOPolitics / Current EventsOBetting SystemsOHome & GardenOBusiness / InvestingOGreen ProductsOSportsOSoftware & ServicesOLanguagesOCooking, Food and WineOArts & EntertainmentOParenting & FamiliesOGamesOComputers / InternetOReferenceOEmployment & JobsYour Projected Income$1,000-5,000 a month

What is an Affiliate Marketing Program?

If you’re going to be a successful affiliate, you’re going to need… well, affiliate products! After all, if you’ve got nothing to promote, then you obviously won’t be able to make much money.

There are two ways that you can solve this problem and start getting products to promote: First, you can directly contact companies and attempt to establish a partnership with them. You’ll be able to negotiate the terms of the agreement, but you’ll probably have a hard time getting accepted, or getting them to agree to what you want, if you’re just starting out as an affiliate. 

The other way – and the one that we recommend to new affiliates – is to find sellers with affiliate programs on an affiliate network like ClickBank. The affiliate network will do all the work to bring everyone involved in affiliate marketing together so that you don’t need to worry about making deals, negotiating contracts, or getting paid for the sales you generate.

And on a network, many sellers are more open to letting newer affiliates try promoting their products than you may find when you directly reach out to a company and try to become their affiliate.

Sounds better than going at it by yourself, doesn’t it? 

But what exactly is an affiliate program?

As the name implies, an affiliate program is a formal arrangement between a business and external partners called “affiliates” to get more customers and generate more sales.

Affiliate programs vary in commission structure and rules, but they all work off the same premise: The brand or product owner pays a commission whenever a consumer purchases the seller’s product through an affiliate’s unique tracking link.

What to Look for in an Affiliate Program

The ease of getting paid through an affiliate program on a network like ClickBank makes it an ideal opportunity for new affiliates, but you shouldn’t just join the first program you happen to find. If you want the affiliate program to give you the best chance of success as an affiliate marketer, you need to consider which niche you’ll be operating in. 

Earlier, we discussed the various categories and subcategories on ClickBank. To become a successful affiliate, you should first decide which of these categories you are passionate about. The products that you choose will fall within this category, as will the audience that you target.

So, you’ll need to keep your chosen category in mind when searching for and selecting an affiliate offer to promote!

When you find an affiliate program that fits your chosen niche and seems profitable, ask yourself these questions: 

Is the product offering something of value to my audience? 

Is the commission percentage large enough for the efforts I will put into promoting the product? 

Do I know enough about the product and category to promote it effectively? If not, am I willing to learn?

Does this program align with my goals?

If you answer ‘Yes’ to these questions, you’re all set to join (or apply to) the program and promote their product!

On ClickBank, you can often just grab your tracking link and go by hitting the “Promote” button, but there will be occasions where you need to apply and get accepted.

It won’t be long before you can launch a marketing campaign to promote your chosen product. The product owner or brand may provide some premade copy, content, and images for you to use, so be sure to include them in your promotions.

And of course, don’t forget to add the custom link in your post, link in bio, or landing page – this is how you’ll get credit (and get paid) for all the sales that you make!

The Best Way to Find an Affiliate Program

So, if you’re ready to start working toward your first sale by finding an affiliate program with a product you can promote, what’s the best way?

You could search for them online, or you could join an affiliate network like ClickBank and have tons of affiliate programs from a variety of sellers presented to you directly!

Introducing Affiliate Networks

Remember when we talked about the different types of affiliate marketing business models?

Well, for every affiliate marketing model, there are affiliate networks that cater to them, connecting affiliates with quality products to promote in various ways.

So, let’s talk about a few of the most popular types of affiliate networks you can join, and then look at the different ways you can be an affiliate marketer. Hopefully, this can help you decide which affiliate network(s) and products will be the best fit for you!

ClickBank – Performance marketing affiliate network

First, we have ClickBank, one of the first-ever affiliate networks on the internet. Founded in 1998, ClickBank started primarily as a place for merchants and brands to list their digital products (ebooks), but has since expanded into other product types, including physical products, consumables, and CBD oil!

ClickBank is different from most other affiliate networks because it’s set up to support the “performance affiliate” model, where affiliates get paid huge commissions for each sale they generate on a specific product (sometimes known as an “offer”) listed in the ClickBank affiliate marketplace. 

Where many affiliate networks cap commissions at around 30% – or even 10%, product owners and brands on ClickBank routinely offer affiliates significant commissions of 50%, 70%, or even higher. Part of the reason for this is that performance affiliates are attracting new customers that buy the product immediately, which is more valuable than what some other types of affiliates can provide. 

A few of the most popular products on ClickBank right now include dietary supplements, spirituality products, and digital programs in the e-business/make money online space. 

Ibotta – Coupon affiliate network

The Ibotta Performance Network (IPN) connects leading publishers to more than 1,500 brands with a pay-per-sale approach. It’s highly focused on digital offer promotions for cashback and rewards, connecting brands with publishers who can promote their products as a coupon affiliate. 

The three types of digital offers available on the IPN are digital coupons, cash-back offers, and flexible coupons. Digital coupons are applied as a discount with the brand or retailer at the point of sale (POS). Cash-back offers are a reward that the consumer can use online or in-store. A flexible coupon allows the consumer to decide between a discount today or future rewards.

If you want to be an affiliate with this model, you’ll need to build a website focused on promoting cashback or coupon deals for brands. Many popular products on a network like Ibotta are CPGs, or consumer packaged goods, from major brands.

Amazon Associates – Blog publisher affiliate network

There are many popular affiliate networks centered around the “blog/publisher” affiliate model, from CJ to Share a Sale, but Amazon Associates is probably the heavyweight champion of publisher affiliate networks. 

Amazon is a great example because it’s so much more of a volume play. While ClickBank pays you a strong commission for promoting a single product (within 60 days), Amazon just wants people to buy products on Amazon – so they’ll pay a small percentage on the entire cart when someone buys after landing on Amazon through your Amazon affiliate link.

Right now, the highest non-Amazon category is luxury beauty at a 10% commission rate, but most fall between 1 and 5%. The hope with a network like Amazon is that you can get maybe 5% of a much higher cart value with all Amazon products within a narrow 24-hour window, and you just have more people willing to buy something because Amazon is such an established ecommerce presence online.

If you manage a blog, content website, or media/entertainment website, you’re primarily bringing in organic visitors and returning visitors to engage with the content on your site. From there, readers may click an Amazon affiliate link and wind up on a product page on Amazon, where they can make a purchase.

Learn more about ClickBank vs Amazon.

Creator.co – Influencer network

There are many influencer networks out there, from Grin to CreatorIQ. One influencer network that ClickBank recommends is Creator.co, which is specifically designed to help connect content creators and influencers with branded products they can promote to their audiences on social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. 

The model is slightly different with influencer marketing than it is as a straight affiliate. In a paid partnership, you may earn a flat payment per sponsored post on behalf of a brand, and sometimes additional commissions earned per sale of the product.

Key Considerations When Choosing an Affiliate Network

Commission Structure: Look for networks with competitive commission rates and structures that align with your affiliate marketing approach.

Product Variety: Choose a network that offers quality products relevant to your audience. 

Support and Resources: Consider networks that provide robust support, resources, and tools for affiliates.

Tracking and Reporting: Ensure the network offers reliable tracking and comprehensive reporting to monitor your performance.

By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each type of network, you can make an informed decision about which to join and set yourself up for success in your affiliate business!

5 Ways to be an Affiliate Marketer

In addition to the types of affiliate marketing models – from performance affiliates to publishers – you should consider the type of traffic channel you want to work in. 

These can generally be broken down into “free traffic” and “paid traffic” sources, but all of them are viable options within your affiliate business, based on your goals, proficiencies, and preferences. 

Let’s dive into the 5 common types of affiliates by traffic source now!

1) Blogger/publisher

The blogger or publisher builds a website that makes money by pointing readers to a third-party company’s product or service in exchange for an affiliate commission.

This could be a discount code or coupon for a brand, a branded product through a publisher affiliate network, or an affiliate offer on a network like ClickBank. The type of affiliate product you choose will depend on the niche, the audience, and the specific affiliate business model you’re going with.

Why be a blog or publisher affiliate? Well, for one thing, blogging is (almost) free! Aside from web hosting and the occasional tool, you can keep your costs down and make almost pure profit on your affiliate earnings. Often, you get those readers by creating content that’s optimized for search engines like Google so that readers find your website, which is more affordable and sustainable than other ways of getting traffic.

Traffic sources: Affiliate blogs, content sites, media and entertainment sites, coupon sites

2) Media Buyer/PPC affiliate

The media buyer affiliate is skilled at running digital ads on popular platforms like Facebook Ads, YouTube Ads, or Google Ads. They’re a perfect fit for the performance affiliate marketing model!

How does it work? Well, these affiliates can get traffic today if they’re willing to open up their wallets and pay for it. They just need to target the right audience and create engaging ads that move users on social media, search, or a website to click through to a landing page (bridge page), then on to a product page or sales page to make a purchase.

Generally, the goal is to hit upon a winning combination of affiliate product, hook, and ad creative that’s profitable by at least a 2:1 ratio (meaning for every $1 they spend, they earn an extra $1 to keep from affiliate sales). From there, they can scale by spending more money on ads and continue to earn more and more! Media buying is a higher-risk, higher-reward type of affiliate marketing.

Traffic sources: Facebook Ads, YouTube Ads, Google Ads, native ads

3) Email marketer

An email marketer is focused on making affiliate sales through email promotions via their email list. This type of affiliate marketing has its perks: you own those contacts, which makes the email list a significant asset – and you have a predictable way to market to them with your messaging. 

The challenge with email marketing is that you always have to get new contacts on your list somehow. This usually involves one of the other traffic channels: a website, paid ads, social media content, or online community. 

But if you can find a way to keep your email list growing, it’s possible to earn an average of $1 per month per subscriber, which is huge! Email marketing sits somewhere in the middle on the “free” and “paid” traffic continuum, but in the right hands, it’s easily the most profitable affiliate channel.

Traffic sources: Owned email list

4) Social media influencer/content creator

Social media influencers and content creators can be wildly successful affiliates too, but the main distinction for them is that they must grow an audience before they can earn any money. 

The most popular social media platforms are Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and some up-and-comers like Threads and Rumble. Sites like Medium and Quora can also work. Podcasters also fall under the content creator umbrella.

So, if you’re a social media influencer or content creator, you’re building a relationship with your audience, so you’ll want to find trusted brands and quality products to promote. The good news is, even influencers with a relatively modest audience can make successful affiliates if engagement and trust are high! 

Traffic sources: Organic social media platforms (TikTok, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest), podcast, YouTube

5) Community manager

A community manager is someone who runs a membership site or community online. Popular places for hosting a community include Facebook, Reddit, Slack, Discord, LinkedIn, or a forum. Like any content creator or publisher, a community manager can foster a community around a specific topic, niche, or type of audience. 

For example, there could be a community for product managers, real estate investing, piano playing, or learning French. With so many potential communities available to manage, you have the ability to grow your personal brand and build a trusted reputation. 

Then, when it comes time to recommend products for an affiliate commission, you’ve got an engaged audience that looks to you for guidance! Most communities are inexpensive to start, and you can potentially charge for membership if your community is exclusive enough.

Traffic sources: Facebook Group, Slack community, Discord server, website forum, LinkedIn Group

The Secret to Succeeding as an Affiliate Marketer

As you can see, there are many ways to succeed as an affiliate marketer. There are tons of companies out there that need people who know online marketing to sell their products – and they are willing to pay top dollar for people who can drive sales to them.

But here’s the secret: getting started in online marketing doesn’t have to be hard.

At ClickBank, we’ve got our finger on the pulse, knowing exactly what’s hot, what’s not, and how to turn clicks into cash. Recently, we’ve taken a peek behind the curtain, uncovering the nuts and bolts of online success.

And here’s the kicker: we’ve cracked the code and put everything you need to succeed in this free eBook!

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Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly does an affiliate marketer do?

An affiliate marketer is essentially a third-party salesperson working with a product owner or brand. As an affiliate, you’ll earn a commission for promoting someone else’s product and generating a sale. On ClickBank, affiliates can earn up to 85% commissions on a range of popular products – meaning for every $100 you make in sales, you keep $85 of that total!

How do I start affiliate marketing with no money?

The best way to start affiliate marketing with no money is by going the “organic” or free traffic route, either on a social media site like TikTok or with your own affiliate blog. ClickBank has an affiliate education platform called Spark by ClickBank that can teach you either of these methods from scratch. Click here to learn more!

Does affiliate marketing really pay?

Yes! At ClickBank, we have thousands of affiliates pocketing commissions from sales they generated each and every year. Many of them earn thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars per year as affiliate marketers.

What are the highest-paying affiliate programs? 

High-ticket affiliate programs tend to be high-priced info products like video courses, coaching, or masterminds. A lot of these are in the “make money online” or e-business niche, teaching customers how to make more money with a business or investing. With these, you may be able to earn 50% commissions on a product priced at $2k and up.

How much can a beginner affiliate make?

A beginner affiliate can realistically make a few thousand dollars while they’re just starting out. It takes time to build a successful affiliate marketing business, as you get to know your chosen niche and traffic source – but the income potential for more experienced affiliates is virtually limitless. At ClickBank, we have hundreds of our Platinum affiliate clients earning more than $250K per year on ClickBank alone!

Do I need a website for affiliate marketing?

Not necessarily, but it depends. If you want to build an affiliate blog, you’ll definitely need your own website. If you run paid traffic as an affiliate, you’ll usually need your own domain to host a landing page (bridge page) to point traffic to from your ads, but this isn’t the same as a full website. For organic social, you can often get by with a simple Linktree-style link-in-bio page – or just add your tracking link directly in the description.



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