Everything You Need to Know About Affiliate Marketing

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Nowadays affiliate marketing is a common term in the blogosphere. The people who want to make a career in blogging or already doing it are fully aware of what affiliate marketing is.

Apart from the ads networks and selling own products, affiliate marketing is a lucrative way to start making money online as the commission by promoting someone else’s products.

But, before signing up for any affiliate program, you must check the following points so that you can decide whether joining that affiliate program is really beneficial or not.

Will Affiliate Programs Help You Make Money Online?

The internet has evolved in the last few years, and many businesses are going online. When compared to offline businesses, the rests which are powered digitally have more reach and potential to grow rapidly.

Affiliate promotion is a good way of advertising where the merchant needs to pay only when a lead or a sale is generated. The publishers also get awesome benefits depending on performance.

But it’s not an easy task to succeed as an affiliate marketer. You must have knowledge of the products that you are promoting; you need to work on not only content but promotion also.

Your promotion strategy must include a list of targeted people who are interested in your products and services and want to buy or subscribe to them.

Random advertising doesn’t work fine, and eventually, you’ll end up with nothing in your pocket.

As a blogger, I have learned a little that I want to share with you. Though many people are earning $1K-10K or even more like $20-100K from an affiliate marketing business, you must be aware of a few things in affiliate marketing.

In this article, I have shared some of the loopholes in the affiliate marketing business.

Finding A Profitable Niche

If you are seriously thinking about starting an affiliate marketing business, then it would be better if you do some research before taking the initial step.

Many niches like SEO, web hosting, tech, blogging, weight loss, etc. have become saturated and competitive so you’ll need to put more effort and indefinite time to survive there.

If you have a good referral network and only want to make a part-time income, then it seems fine to continue with competitive niches. But, to achieve the dream of a multimillion-dollar business, you must find something profitable where you can make adequate income and scale it over time.

If you are unable to select the best one, you can take help from the article- How To Choose A Profitable Niche.

You can select a successful affiliate model from a less competitive niche and make it better for making money from it.

Otherwise, hiring a mentor is a good thing but consider the expenses involved in training. Many people who are just starting out do have not enough money to spend on such things.

These people can avail of free training through the web (consider us also) and some essential tools also. Still, a small investment in polishing your skills is not a big deal.Here’s a practically oriented course to be a master in affiliate marketing.

Needs A Platform To Promote The Affiliate Products

What’s the stupid point? You might think so.

Every affiliate marketer needs a platform to promote affiliate products and services. It may be a blog, social media page, forum, or mobile app.

But, owning a website or blog is the best option when you think about affiliate marketing seriously. Unlike other platforms,  creating a website or blog is an easy way to affiliate promotion.

As most of the affiliate networks want the publisher should have his web property, especially a website (or an app which is not easy to maintain as a site).

You can use contextual links, affiliate banners, or widgets as per your preference and have full control over them if you have a self-hosted website.

So, why not create one?

It’s simple. Just buy domain + hosting,  install CMS (I prefer WordPress), build a full-featured blog or website, and start promoting the products and services.

You can create a free website with Blogger, WordPress.com, and Wix but a self-hosted WordPress site has the edge over all of them.

If you don’t know how to do this, then I can create a stunning WordPress-powered website for you. The best thing is that I won’t ask for a single penny from you.

So, don’t waste your time thinking.

Sources of Traffic

Affiliate marketing is all about traffic. If you have decent traffic and proper strategies or business model, then there are maximum chances of conversions.

It does not mean only the sites that have tons of traffic make more money. The quality of traffic is also similarly important.

You will need targeted traffic that wants to buy the particular product you are promoting. You should be a person (middleman) who helps them to find the right product or service.

SEO, SEM, and SMM are a few techniques in digital marketing that will help you a lot in driving targeted traffic to your site. But, search engine optimization (SEO) is the ultimate way to drive traffic to your site because it’s a free method.

You need to work on some of the on-page SEO factors like keyword research and optimization, design, site speed, and content as well as the off-page SEO factors like link building, social bookmarking, etc.

Still, you can opt for PPC models at the beginning of your career to boost your site but not compulsory if you don’t mind working on your site’s SEO and the time involved in that.

The reputation of the Affiliate Platform

You will find multiple ways to get into an affiliate business. You can join the in-house affiliate program or sign up for the affiliate marketplaces like Shareasale, CJ, and JVZoo.

If you ask your fellow bloggers or dig more into this, you will get several mixed reactions about affiliate marketing and the particular product or service. Every person interprets the quality of the product from his angle like the USP of that product or service, value for money, reliability, usability, and overall experience about it.

Many people either do some fake positive reviews to achieve quick money through maximum sales or write negatives to downgrade the reputation of competitors. They may be getting paid for that.

I’m not telling you to ignore this but at least keep such things out of your mind like making quick money by black hat methods.

What Should You Check?

Now from the publisher’s side, you will find many people who are earning millions while others are not getting even $100 in their bank account. Some publishers may feel like the affiliate companies have cheated them.

I also know that more than 90% of people don’t read affiliate terms and conditions completely facing troubles in the future like account suspension or termination, not getting paid, etc.

To avoid all these things, you must check the reputation of the affiliate programs before joining them.

You will find many affiliate programs, especially new ones that only want to make money and don’t mind a few bad reviews.

Some quick rich schemes of MLM are promoted through independent affiliate marketing channels where they show an incredibly luxurious lifestyle and tons of money within a very short time.

These things are not possible without using illegal ways or scamming. So, don’t get involved in such things, or unfortunately, you may end up not getting paid.

Though you can join affiliate programs for free of cost, you need to push things harder to promote them. There is always a risk of getting paid for your efforts by such independent programs so avoiding them is a better solution.

If you want to make money as an affiliate marketer, then play things safe by joining the reputed and trusted affiliate program or an affiliate marketplace. I’m saying this because as a beginner, $100 per month plays a major role in continuing this career.

I have mentioned a few reputed affiliate marketplaces below that you can trust. You need not worry about your payments unless you are playing with the system against its guideline.

The affiliate programs/marketplaces You can Join

  • Amazon
  • ShareASale
  • CJ Affiliates
  • JVZoo
  • Clickbank
  • Flipkart
  • Rakuten Linkshare

The bottom line,

Join only those affiliate programs or marketplaces which are trusted for years and paying their publishers on time. The product or service quality and support are other things you should take into consideration while selecting an affiliate program.

Don’t hesitate to ask the influencers in your niche, if you are not confident about a particular affiliate network.

Payout Method

You may think it’s not a big issue still you should check it by priority. Many companies give money or other things like gift vouchers, coupons, and subscriptions as a commission for promoting their products and services.

There are many payment methods to redeem the affiliate commission, but online payment gateways and direct deposit are mostly used to receive the money in your bank account.

Using paper checks has now become an old fashion in this internet era.

It’s simple to understand, where is the real problem?

Yes, getting paid is a vital part of the affiliate business. If you have selected a payment mode that is not supported by your country or bank, then probably you will lose all your money made through the affiliate promotion.


I’m from India promoting an individual affiliate program based in the UK. The payment gateway they are providing supports only Euro, not INR (Rupees). It does not support currency conversion too.

How would I get paid for my affiliate promotion?

This is just an example, and such things have happened to many publishers.

How to safeguard yourself from such incidents?

If you don’t want to put yourself into trouble, then make sure the payment method supports your country and currency. Most of the companies are clear with their payment terms at least the reputed ones.

Still, if you are facing a problem, then take help from your affiliate manager asking whether there is an alternative or not. Use the contact form or any other means like a phone call or email to get into the helpdesk.

There are many payment methods popular among affiliate marketers. Here, I have mentioned a few of them.

  • PayPal
  • Payoneer
  • Direct Deposit/Bank Transfer (Get ready with the bank name, account number, IFSC/SWIFT code, etc.)
  • Paper Checks (Old method for online businesses still in use)

Minimum Payout

If you are a beginner and starting out the affiliate marketing business with less traffic, then this point is important for you.

Most of the affiliate programs have set the minimum payment threshold like you will get paid once you reach $50.

Very few affiliate networks have a minimum threshold of less than $50. Cuelinks (INR 500) and Amazon.in (INR 1000) are the few examples here.

The rest affiliate networks pay only when you reach the minimum limit. So, it’s necessary to check the performance of affiliate publishers because many people who have a blog or online publication join the affiliate programs and forget them after one or two sales.

If you haven’t reached the minimum threshold, then you will not get paid. It seems frustrating, and many people feel cheated even after a few months they don’t reach the payout thresholds.

It’s marketers’ mistake that they forget to check the minimum payout for an affiliate program they sign up for.

It’s also important to focus on fewer things because you can give quality time to create more useful content and promotional purposes. It will help you to reach that threshold quickly compared to random promotion for multiple programs in the same niche.

Total Affiliate Commission Value

You should consider this point when you join an affiliate program. The commission rates are different for every merchant or affiliate marketplace.

Generally, digital products offer more commission than physical products. You will get 1-15% of the affiliate commission for promoting physical products while digital products pay well like 20-70% of the final selling price.

Some of the companies will also pay you depending on the sales volume. You will find this section mostly on the affiliate sign-up page of the merchant site or in payment options.

Consider the taxes and fees are deducted from your income, and the remaining income is added to your account.

Some companies offer a two-tier affiliate program where you can get paid for the leads/sales generated by your referral affiliate publisher.

Some hosting companies like WP Engine and InMotion use this technique to lure more publishers to promote their products.

Remember, for the high-selling products; you will get a very less percentage of commission (up to 1-4%) while others may have better commission rates.

It’s better to know, what you will get by promoting that particular business and its products or services. Many legit companies have a clear mention of commission percentage.

There are some other modules where you will get flat per sale and no matter what the sales volume or package is.

Affiliate Program Payment Withhold Period

Who would like to wait to get paid for the sleepless efforts involved in affiliate promotion?

Withhold period is the time interval to get paid after a successful conversion where you have been involved in a promotion that generates leads or sales.

It’s used to avoid scams, or fake affiliates who make benefit from promotional sales features like a 30-day money-back guarantee or trials only, etc.

Generally, most companies have 30 days withhold period where some of them hold your payments for 90 days or even more.

Waiting for three months may be annoying especially when you are earning very less. The individual companies providing services have more withhold periods compared to affiliate marketplaces and businesses selling physical products.

I have mentioned it because you may get in a frustrating situation after the month-end seeing nothing has been credited to your account.

Cookie Length

To make money from your affiliate promotion, you promote a product or service on your blog or other allowed platforms.

When a visitor goes to the product page (landing page) of your affiliate merchant through your link and makes a purchase, then that visitor is tracked, and you get paid.

What about if the person only visited the landing page of your affiliate merchant but does not take action?

Here cookie length will help you a lot. But, before that understand what the cookie is.

It’s not something that we eat as snacks in our free time. In the digital world, a cookie is a randomly generated unique identification code associated with a particular user.

Most of the sites place a cookie on the user’s browser to track the behavior. The expiry duration of the cookie is set by the website owner from one day to 30 days or even more.

Are Cookies Really Helpful In Affiliate Marketing?

Now, what is the benefit of cookie length in an affiliate marketing business?

When a visitor lands on a product page through your link, his behavior is tracked in the cookie. And, if this person makes a purchase before the cookie expires, he is still supposed a customer referred by you after a successful sale.

You will get maximum chances of getting paid with a larger cookie duration. Still, consider factors like a last-click play that affect your affiliate commission.

Most times, people don’t make a purchase for the first time, and the entire sales process takes around a few days after lead nurturing and proper follow-up.

At that time, the cookie length plays an important role to get paid for your promotional efforts.

Isn’t it cool?

Well, it is quite good to know that you will get paid even if the sale is happening several days later. But, all affiliate programs don’t offer the same cookie length.

Generally, the cookie expires after 30 days whereas some websites offer 45-180 days of cookie duration.

Hidden policies about all of this may lead to not getting paid even if your referred person make a successful purchase.

Be aware of such networks which don’t have clear affiliate policies.

Another important thing,

You can also get paid for the cross-sales, up-sells, and down sales for the people going through your referral links. Refer to the guidelines or TOS of the particular affiliate program before signing up.

For retail products, Amazon pays well for not only direct sales but cross-sales, up-sells, and down sales also. You will get the commission for all the successful purchases your referral makes that fit under Amazon’s TOS.

Content Creation

Crafting an engaging copy for an affiliate site seems like a challenging task. These sites need to write mostly informative posts and reviews so that they can get more sales.

You’ll find a ton of sites reviewing the bestselling products. The information you want to use in your copy may be used by other people or very less (like description and features).

In such conditions, you need either buy that product or service or write by digging information on the web from other authoritative sources. (Some people may prefer writing fake or misleading people, but I don’t recommend that).

It’s also not possible to buy each product particularly when you are starting out. At that time you need to find legit alternatives to get the product to write on it.

If you already master a particular niche, then it may not be a problem for you. Otherwise, you can check the following resources to create something out of the box.

How long Does Affiliate Marketing Take to See the First Sale And Start Earning a Steady Stream of Passive Income?

It’s something many people forget who start affiliate marketing by keeping only money in their mind.

Though money is a major factor and almost every affiliate marketer wants to make more money, it should not be your priority when you are at the beginning stage.

Affiliate marketing is not a quick-rich scheme; you should focus on building traffic and more than that the relationship and trust with them.

To get more traffic, you need to learn SEO, link building, and SMM and evolve as a successful affiliate marketer; it takes around six months to 1 year.

Some people are lucky and get instant success, especially who already have a huge fan following but, it’s rare. The rest should focus on the specific strategies to reduce this time before starting to get paid.

The coaching from the influencers who dominate this industry can unlock the doors of success if you are dedicated to your goal.

Summing Up

Yeah! These are some of the critical points where you must look at before joining any affiliate program.

By ensuring you have followed this simple guideline, you won’t get scammed or cheated.

You can receive your commission on time and if it’s not happening contact your affiliate manager immediately for further interactions. However, the chances are less as you know some valuable insights or loopholes in affiliate marketing.

Are you an affiliate marketer? What are the other things you usually check when signing up for an individual affiliate program or the marketplace?

Have you ever fallen into a scam or been cheated by an affiliate company? Which one is that?

Or, anything specific to mention here you can share with us? It will help other people not get fooled by affiliate networks in the future.

If you have liked this post, don’t forget to share it with your friends.

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