What Is Affiliate Marketing & How Does It Work? (A Simple Guide For Beginners)


So you’ve heard about affiliate marketing & you’ve maybe even heard about people making money with it.

Potentially, you’ve heard about them making LOTS of money.

And now you’re curious.

You’ve found yourself wondering, what is affiliate marketing & how does it work?

Well, I’ve got good news for you.

In this blog post, I’m going to explain in simple terms exactly what affiliate marketing is, how it all works & most importantly, how you can get started with it (for free).

You can think of it as an affiliate marketing for beginners quick-start guide.

So let’s dive in and get started.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?   |   How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?   |   Is It Legal?   |   How Much Money Can You Make?   |   How Do You Become an Affiliate Marketer?   |   Is Affiliate Marketing Easy?   |   How Long Does It Take To Be Successful?   |   The Bottom Line

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing basically involves promoting products or services for companies online (such as Amazon) in return for commissions which are paid out on successful sales.

So as an example you could sign up to Amazon’s affiliate program (which is free to do) & that would enable you to promote any of the products listed on their website.

If you refer somebody to a product & they purchase it, you get paid.

Here’s a screenshot of Amazon’s program (named Amazon Associates):

Amazon Associates

As you can see from the screenshot they title their program “Profit from Amazon” and state that you can earn up to a whopping 12% in commissions by promoting their products.

But Amazon isn’t the only online retailer to have an affiliate program.

Nowadays nearly all companies that have an online presence have an affiliate program through which you can promote their products for money.

And the good thing about affiliate marketing is that you don’t have to mess around with any selling, handling refunds or dealing with customer support.

The one & only job you have to do is promote the products, then once you’ve sent the person to the product you let the company deal with all of the rest.

They make the sale, you get the commission.

Plus the amount that you can earn with affiliate marketing is completely uncapped. As a result, some affiliate marketers earn as much as 5-figures per month.

Amazon Earnings Example

Some even earn as much as 6-figures per month.

It sounds pretty crazy, but what’s crazy is that those levels of income aren’t actually unrealistic to achieve providing you’re willing to put in the work to make it happen.

The sky’s the limit.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Basically, when you join the affiliate program of a company whose products (or services) you’d like to promote, you get provided with a special link to their website.

That special link is known as an affiliate link.

The affiliate link is just like a normal link, only it contains an ID that is unique to you which means the company can track which visitors you sent to their website.

So as an example, if you signed up to Amazon’s affiliate program you might get provided with a link which looked something like this:


Then, as an affiliate marketer your job would be to promote that link.

Anybody you sent to Amazon via that link would be tracked back to you (because it contains your unique ID) & this means that if they then purchased something, you’d get rewarded with the commission.

But it gets better.

Most companies will stay pay you commissions through their affiliate programs even if the person you referred ends up purchasing a completely different product than the one you referred them to.

Or they’ll pay you a commission on the total if they end up purchasing multiple.

So as an example, if you referred somebody to Amazon to purchase a bicycle, but they ended up purchasing a laptop instead – you’d still get paid the commission.

And thanks to something called affiliate tracking cookies you can often still get paid commissions even if the sales happen days or months later from the date you referred the person to the website.

You see, when you send somebody to a website via an affiliate link, most companies save something known as an “affiliate tracking cookie” on the user’s device.

This is basically just a small text file containing your affiliate ID & an expiry date.

Each company sets different expiry dates on the tracking cookies, but for as long as the cookie is still active on the user’s device, you’ll still get credited for the sale – even if it happens months later.

Pretty cool, right?

And knowing that probably makes it easier to see how as I mentioned above, some affiliate marketers are able to make as much as 5-figures per month (or more). It’s powerful stuff.

Yes, absolutely. As an affiliate, you’re simply advertising products on behalf of companies & it’s perfectly legal to do (hence why many big-name companies have affiliate programs).

The only time affiliate marketing would become illegal is if you were promoting something illegal or were trying to hide your earnings or do something else shady like that.

It’s just like any business.

But it’s easy to see why many people question its legalness & legitimacy.

There are many stories about affiliate marketers earning thousands of dollars per day & as a result, it can lead you towards thinking that something shady might be going on.

But it’s not – it’s just a powerful method of earning money & it’s a method that’s relatively easy for anybody to get started with, without needing any special skills.

Perfectly legal, perfectly legitimate.

How Much Money Can You Make As An Affiliate Marketer?

Honestly, the sky is the limit as an affiliate marketer, there are absolutely no limits on the amount you can earn with affiliate marketing.

It’s simply a case of the harder you work, the more money you stand to be able to make.

And like I mentioned earlier in this affiliate marketing guide, some affiliate marketers find themselves earning as much as 5-figures or even 6-figures per month.

Here are a few success stories from the Wealthy Affiliate platform that highlights the amount of money average people are making with affiliate marketing:

And realistically there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from being able to do the same.

How Do You Become An Affiliate Marketer?

There are many ways that you could become an affiliate marketer. For example, you could take away what you’ve learned in this guide & try to connect all of the dots yourself.

But obviously, I don’t recommend doing that.

I’m all about making life easy for yourself.

So instead of doing that, what I’d recommend doing is making use of a proven platform like Wealthy Affiliate which will show you step-by-step exactly how you can get started.

Wealthy Affiliate is the worlds largest, longest-running & most reputable affiliate marketing training platform in the world.

Wealthy Affiliate Statistics

And on top of just providing the training that shows you how to get started, they also provide you with all of the tools that you need to actually see success as well.

Think of it as a “one-stop-shop” for everything affiliate marketing.

Plus, the best part is that you can actually get started with Wealthy Affiliate absolutely free of charge.

There’s no payment details required or any “trials” that you have to remember to cancel. Just an email address is all you need to create a free Starter account.

The Starter account will give you access to the first 10 lessons of the training, the ability to begin building out your first website & full access to the community.

Then, if you decide you like it & want to pursue a career in affiliate marketing you can opt to upgrade to the Premium membership which gives you access to everything.

The good thing is that there are NO upsells after Premium.

And I know that’ll have probably got you thinking that it’s going to cost a lot, but nope.

The Wealthy Affiliate Premium membership actually costs just $49 per month, or even less if you decide to pay for a full year in advance – and that includes everything.

Tools, training, support & even personal mentorship.

So if you want to get started with affiliate marketing then rather than trying to figure it all out by yourself, my advice would be to just make use of Wealthy Affiliate.

That way, you’ll make life easier for yourself.

Is Affiliate Marketing Easy?

Yes & no.

As you’ve probably been able to see from this beginners guide to affiliate marketing, the process of affiliate marketing is very simple indeed & anybody can do it.

  1. You join an affiliate program.
  2. You promote a product or service.
  3. If somebody buys it, you get paid a commission.

But whilst the process itself is easy, whether or not you actually find success with it depends on how effectively you promote your affiliate links & how hard you work.

Basically, you can’t just start affiliate marketing & expect to begin making good money with little to no work.

It’s easy, but it still requires work.

And it’s also like anything else, it’s only easy if you know what you’re doing – which I why I recommend the Wealthy Affiliate training to anybody that’s brand new.

If you don’t know what you’re doing then you won’t know how or where to promote your links & that’s the most vital thing that’ll determine your success.

To make good money with affiliate marketing, you absolutely need to know how to effectively promote your affiliate links in order to generate sales.

But the good news is that yes, once you do know what you’re doing affiliate marketing is indeed pretty easy & over time, your business will typically require less & less effort to maintain.

The hardest part is simply the beginning when you’re going through the learning curve & gaining the initial momentum in your business.

Providing you stick with it & see the initial bit through, you’ll find great success for sure.

How Long Does It Take To Be a Successful Affiliate Marketer?

Technically, you could become an affiliate marketer & earn money tomorrow – but realistically, if you’re brand new then you should appreciate that there will be a learning curve.

Some newbies earn their first commissions in their first weeks or months, for some it takes longer.

But if you are brand new then I would advise giving yourself at least 4 to 6 months before expecting to see your first commissions from affiliate marketing.

Of course, it may happen sooner than that – but at least by setting yourself of a goal of at least 6 months, you won’t find yourself disappointed if it doesn’t.

Disappointment leads to quitting – and it’s only the quitters that never find success.

As a bit of motivation, here’s an insight into what an actual Wealthy Affiliate member’s income growth over his first 10 months of getting started looked like:

Jerry's Income Growth

As you can see from the image, for the first 4 months nothing really seemed to be happening (which is when most people quit).

But then after month 4, his income grew to almost $1,000 in a month, and then from there, it began to skyrocket, quickly growing to over $6,000 per month by month 10.

Persistence is the key to success with affiliate marketing, even when things may not appear to be “working”.

The Bottom Line

As far as I’m concerned, affiliate marketing makes for the best way to earn money online, hands-down.

With affiliate marketing, you can grow your income to any level you desire & you can build up an income than can ultimately even become completely passive.

Plus, you only have to focus on one thing. Promoting.

Other methods, such as dropshipping or selling products require a lot of work. You need to deal with sales, refunds, customer support, sourcing products, etc.

With affiliate marketing, however, you let the companies you’re promoting deal with all that. All you need to do is send people to their websites… That’s it.

And literally anybody can do affiliate marketing.

You don’t any special skills, storage space or qualifications… And the start-up cost of it is next to nothing meaning you don’t need to make any sort of huge investment.

So if you’d like to get started with affiliate marketing I’d highly recommend you head on over & check out the Wealthy Affiliate platform, which in my opinion is the best place to start.

At Wealthy Affiliate, you’ll get the tools, training, support & even mentorship that you need to get started – and you can even create a completely free Starter account to check it out.

Plus, I’m a member of Wealthy Affiliate myself too so you can interact with me on the inside as well.

Here’s a screenshot of my own personal Wealthy Affiliate profile:

Wealthy Affiliate Profile

If you do, however, still happen to have any further questions about affiliate marketing then don’t hesitate to leave them below & I’ll answer them as quickly as I can.

About the Author:
Hi, I'm Dale, the founder of Affiliate Marketing FAQ. I've launched several hugely successful affiliate websites in various niches & I'm one of under 50 people worldwide to have been officially recognized as a Super Affiliate by the world's largest affiliate training provider.

1 thought on “What Is Affiliate Marketing & How Does It Work? (A Simple Guide For Beginners)”

  1. To sign for free or we gotta pay for.it I’m broke as broke i need help to build a career for my kids I really need help if anyone out there can help me I’m welling to learn whatever it takes to make money online


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