What is Affiliate Marketing and How Does it Work?

Affiliate marketing has become an indispensable part of a brand’s marketing strategy. It helps businesses flourish, cross geographical boundaries, and cater to a global audience.

This article will provide aspiring affiliate marketers with the behind-the-scenes details of affiliate marketing, like meaning, benefits, and more.

Key learnings from this article:

  • What is affiliate marketing?
  • What’s the difference between affiliate and digital marketing?
  • How does affiliate marketing work?
  • What are the benefits of affiliate marketing?
  • How to become an affiliate marketer?

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a revenue-sharing marketing model in which brands deploy affiliates, such as bloggers, YouTubers, influencers, etc., to promote their products or services online. In turn, affiliates earn a percentage of the sales.

Here are two main reasons for affiliate marketing’s increasing popularity across industries:

  • Increase in sales, traffic, and brand awareness
  • Helps form a connection with their target audience, increasing brand trust and customer loyalty

 Who are Affiliates?

Affiliates are individuals who promote a brand’s products or services through their websites, blogs, and emails.  They receive a commission for every product or service sold through their recommendation.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Affiliate marketing has four main entities that play an active role throughout the process. Here are they:

  • Affiliate- The person who promotes the products or services
  • Merchant- The individual selling the product or the person offering the service. They are also called Manufacturer or Brand owners
  • Affiliate network- A platform for the merchant and affiliate to connect
  • Customer- The individual who purchases the product or service

Generally, an affiliate and merchant connect over an affiliate network, where they try to understand each other’s objectives and start the process (of affiliate marketing).

Note: As an affiliate, you don’t have to buy the products yourself to promote them. Instead, you will be paid every time someone buys something through your link.

You can choose whether to be paid per click or as a flat fee for referring people to a particular product or service. If your referrals make purchases, you will be paid a commission on each sale they make.

Benefits of Affiliate Marketing

Low start-up cost

Affiliate marketing is an excellent way to make money. The cost of starting a career as an affiliate marketer is much less than in other professions. Additionally, you can take up affiliate marketing as your second job.
Affiliate marketing helps creates passive income by selling products. You can earn money from every sale you make. You just need to find the right products and promote them on your platform, and you will earn commissions from every sale.

Low Risk

The most significant benefit of affiliate marketing is its low risk. There’s little risk of loss since payments are made when there’s actual conversion.


You can easily upscale or turn down your affiliate programme at little or no cost. Plus, work from wherever you want! You are not bound to a desk or an office.

High ROI

Affiliate marketing offers a high return on investment. You can set up an affiliate programme in minutes and earn commissions on products within minutes of your sale.


How to get started with affiliate marketing?

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to become an affiliate marketer.

Step 1: Pick your niche based on something that not only interests you but also offers value to a sizeable audience

Step 2: Pick a platform that matches your niche

Step 3: Join an affiliate marketing network to connect with fellow affiliates and merchants.

Step 4: Expand your network using a mix of digital marketing tactics. You can enrol in Emeritus India’s digital marketing certificate courses offered in association with reputed institutes to build a strong foundation in digital marketing. Our courses cover everything from what digital marketing is to what are different digital marketing strategies.

Step 5: Be consistent and master your skills to enhance your career prospects

What are some real-life examples of affiliate marketing?

Some real-life examples of affiliate marketing include:

  • Websites having affiliate links on their blog posts
  • YouTube videos that have affiliate links in their description
  • Product review website or YouTube videos

What are the types of Affiliate marketing?

  • Related Affiliate marketing- This marketing model involves promoting a product or service that lies in the niche of an affiliate.
  • Involved Affiliate marketing- In this marketing model, an affiliate profoundly connects with the brand or product/service they are promoting.
  • Unattached Affiliate marketing- In this marketing model, the affiliate has no connection with the product or service.

What’s the difference between digital marketing and affiliate marketing?

Digital Marketing Affiliate Marketing
The seller or product owners can only conduct promotional activities. Third-party agents like social media influencers, bloggers, etc., conduct the promotional activities of a product or service.
The main aim of a digital marketing campaign is to increase brand awareness. The main aim of affiliate marketing campaigns is to promote a brand’s products or services comprehensively.
Digital marketing includes researching customers’ wants and needs, understanding market conditions, evaluating competitors’ strategies, and more. Affiliate marketing includes promoting goods or services in exchange for a commission.


About the Author

Emeritus brings you the latest learning trends, in-demand skills, and research across the most sought-after professions. Discover the benefits of lifelong learning with us.
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