WHAT IS AFFILIATE MARKETING?

A ClickBank official guide on how to become an affiliate marketer.

PART ONE

What is affiliate marketing and how does it work?

Since the 2010’s, affiliate marketing has skyrocketed in use and popularity among… well, everyone. From individuals looking to make a little extra on the side, to large scale companies seeking an alternative to traditional marketing costs, affiliate marketing has provided a unique and powerful revenue source across the web.

In fact, by 2022, the affiliate marketing industry will surpass the $8 billion mark. According to Forbes, that’s nearly double what it was worth in 2015.

So, what is it about affiliate marketing that is so lucrative and approachable?

The power of affiliate marketing lies in its distribution structure.



 

The Affiliate Marketing Distribution Structure

Let’s dive deeper into that distribution structure.

There are three core players in affiliate marketing:

What is Affiliate Marketing All About?

It’s about making money online

The fact of the matter is all of these core players want to make money online.

If you’re interesting in affiliate marketing as a fun hobby, we suggest you try out birdwatching or table-making.

No offense. We just know that afilliate marketing can be too complex and challenging to get into without any desire for a monetary reward.

Affiliate marketing, at its core, is about making money online. It is a gateway for passive income and a tool you can use to unshackle yourself from the monotony of the 9 to 5.

The money that affiliates make comes from commissions that are earned by promoting. Vendors choose their commission rates based on a bunch of calculations and factors that you don’t need to worry about because as an affiliate your primary purpose is to promote.

Some vendors offer as high as 75% commission rates and others may offer 30%. When you browse the ClickBank Affiliate Marketplace after you sign up for an account, you can see the commission rates for offers as well as the average amount you will make per conversion.

When you earn commission by promoting a ClickBank product, there’s nothing else you have to do except sit back and wait for your direct deposit. There are no commission caps and you can select to get paid weekly, biweekly, or monthly.

We’ve heard that nothing feels as good as that first ClickBank sale. That’s why we’ve made it easier than ever to get started. You’ll still have to show up and put the work in, but we’ve made building a solid foundation approachable and fun with these online resources:

We also have a great ClickBank for Beginners video to help point you in the right direction:

PART TWO

Who Can Be an Affiliate Marketer?

Affiliate marketing is for everyone. Becoming an affiliate is one of the smartest things you can do if you want to take a hold of your own marketing future and digital career. Just like all great things in life, gaining expertise in affiliate marketing requires resiliency and hard work. The number one, science-backed way to become an expert at something is to engage in deliberate practice. Deliberate practice means that you will fail. A lot.

Of course a failure doesn’t mean that you’re a failure. Every second you spend investing in learning affiliate marketing will pay dividends down the line. It takes patience the same amount of patience for the stay-at-home mom, the high school graduate, the MBA holder, the retiree, and the former CEO. Everyone has to come to the table willing to see themselves through failure. Don’t worry though–it’s a big table, and luck for you, your seat is next to us.

Affiliate Marketing Real Life Scenarios

There are a multitude of scenarios in which affiliate marketing makes sense. With so many different types of vendors, you can find offers to promote that fit your passions and skills.

Here are a few vendor-affiliate relationship scenarios:

SCENARIO 1

THE HOBBYIST

“New to webs but not to nets.”

You’re an affiliate who wants to promote products that you’re passionate about. You have a small but impressive Instagram following and you want to monetize in a niche that will be responsive. For you, this niche just happens to be fly fishing. It’s important to you that the product is high-quality and authentic because you don’t want your followers to be turned off by gimmicks.

Enter Tom. Tom is a retired fly fishing guide. He’s written an e-book about Fly Fishing the Pacific Northwest and wants to sell it online. He creates a website, but he doesn’t make any sales. While he has over forty years of fly fishing experience, he’s new to internet marketing.

He finds ClickBank through an internet search and onboards his product. Through the ClickBank Affiliate Marketplace, affiliates (just like you!) find his offer. Because he is selling a downloadable ebook, he doesn’t have to worry about shipping. This means he can offer a high commission percentage to affiliates, which means every time one of your followers clicks the referral link you put in your bio and downloads the book, you get paid.

SCENARIO 2

THE ARTISAN

“Nothing ‘Mid Level’ About This Marketing.”

You’re an affiliate who wants to make money promoting a popular product that you know will sell, but you don’t want to deal with the vendors. You know that the essential oil industry is hot right now, but the thought of reaching out to that girl from high school who keeps Facebook messaging you to join her pyramid scheme is stressing you out. How can you make money in this booming industry from a safe distance?

Enter Sam. Sam is passionate about essential oils. In fact, he makes his own healing compounds and sells them through his social media channel. While this is lucrative enough to pay for his monthly yoga studio membership, he knows there is more potential. He wants to add another marketing arm to his business plan.

Sam puts together an offer for his most popular essential oil salve and makes a website. He writes some copy and makes some high quality ads featuring pictures of the salve. He adds all of this to an affiliates tools page–a website that has copy, images, and marketing assets for affiliates.

You find his product in the ClickBank Affiliate Marketplace and create your own landing page to feature the marketing assets Sam has already created. With a little investment in an ad budget you know you can capitalize on this offer. You add in your referral link to the order page and you earn commission on every click that converts.

SCENARIO 3

THE INFLUENCER

“Influencing the Influencers”

You want to break into the affiliate marketing industry but everything you’ve heard about the affiliate marketing industry has been negative. Because you have such a dedicated online following, you can’t risk promoting negative or fraudulent products. Your skepticism of the industry has kept you uninformed but now you want to find out more.

Enter Grace. Grace has been producing and starring in high intensity work out videos for years. Her production team is growing and her YouTube channel has over 125,000 followers. Her Instagram following is also growing. With a social media manager, Grace has discussed social media influencers and working with an affiliate marketing company to manage promotions
and commissions.

With ClickBank’s customizable commission settings, you can rest assured that only the best of the best affiliates can promote for Grace, which makes you feel comfortable accepting her offer of a higher commission based on your personal following when you find her offer in the ClickBank Marketplace.

SCENARIO 4

THE NETWORKER

“You scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours.”

You’re a newbie who wants to break into affiliate marketing but you also have some ideas of your own that you’d like to bring to fruition and sell online. After learning the foundations of affiliate marketing you find Pat’s product in the ClickBank Affiliate Marketplace. It’s a subscription dog training course that has a high commission rate and great affiliate tools.

Pat knows how to attract good affiliates because Pat got his start as an affiliate over ten years on ClickBank. Inspired by the products he was promoting, Pat decided to give it a try and followed his passion for dog training.

Pat was able to onboard his dog training course offer and network with all-star affiliates and other vendors to cross promote and create joint ventures. In his first year, he made over $250,000.

Pat’s path is appealing to you. You bring your own product to the ClickBank Marketplace–an ebook about dog behaviours and natural remedies for your canine friends. Because you’ve done such a good job promoting Pat, you both decided to enter into a joint venture and help each other achieve even greater success.

SCENARIO 5

THE BRAND EXPERT

“Not into knock offs.”

You want to get into affiliate marketing because you already know a thing or two about affiliate marketing. In fact, your day job as a content creator has given you a unique foray into the world of ecommerce. Because of your prerequisites you know your value and want to promote high quality products for even higher commissions.

Dave is a CEO of a startup that specializes in health and fitness supplements. His most famous product, Detox Daily, has been featured in health magazines and has a 4.7 star review on Amazon. He wants to explore alternatives to traditional marketing but he wants to be choosy about who can represent his brand.

Dave onboards his product and chooses the “Approved Affiliates Only” setting. This means that any affiliate who wants to promote his well known product will have to be approved before they can receive a referral link. Dave loves this feature because it ensures brand and marketing control.

This feature is great for you because you know your skills as content creator are rewarde and valued.

Can I Really Make Money With Affiliate Marketing?

By now you might be wondering, “Is this for real? Can all of these people really make money with affiliate marketing? And what about me? Can I make money too?”
Yes. To all of the above.

Affiliate marketing works. All it takes is a simple google search to understand the breadth and reach of the industry. Affiliate marketing is a ubiquitous part of the internet landscape.

The real question you need to be asking yourself is:

“Am I ready to invest time, education, and determination into a new skill that can help me make income either as a side hustle or a full-time career?”

If the answer is “No,” throw in the towel right now.


PART THREE

How do I get started as an Affiliate Marketer?

All of the scenarios we laid out illustrate the symbiotic distribution structure of affiliate marketing. Vendors of all shapes, sizes, and types rely on affiliates just like you to market their product to abroad global audience.

It takes affiliates to power affiliate marketing.

That’s where you come in.

If you’re an affiliate marketing newbie and are concerned that you won’t be able to compete or keep up or make any money, you need to:

  • Believe in yourself a little more
  • Invest in your affiliate marketing education
  • And check out these statistics:

The Top 100 ClickBank Earners have, on average, 52 unique affiliates each. That means that the top offers on ClickBank right now have over 5,200 affiliates actively promoting them. And that’s just the best of the best! There are over 200k affiliates promoting offers right now.

Over ClickBank’s two decades in the industry, we’ve paid out 4.2 billion dollars in commission to affiliates promoting ClickBank products.

Then, you’ll need to make sure you have these items:

What is the first step to Affiliate Marketing?

In theory, with just the affiliate network you choose, a smart phone or computer, and an internet connection, you should be able to get started as an affiliate marketer.

However, there are a few things that will make your takeoff a bit smoother.

For one, a little bit of know-how from the pros and education are helpful. You’re working on that right now so you can mark it off your list.

A website makes things a bit easier as well, but that’s super easy to create with the right tools.

The most important thing that will make your foray into affiliate marketing as seamless as possible is…

Genuine stoke.

The Number One Secret to Affiliate Marketing Success

So, what is genuine stoke?

“It’s not about what you do; it’s about what you love.”

An important part of affiliate marketing is picking the niche you want to promote in. Everyone, from experts to officials at Forbes, strongly suggests picking a niche that you are passionate about or at least marginally skilled in.

If you think about it, this makes sense–especially if you are new to affiliate marketing. You’re going to want to be able to bring that genuine stoke to your promotions. And that’s just not possible if you’re trying to hype things that you don’t care about or don’t know about.

Genuine stoke has been around since the dawn of humanity. Examples of genuine stoke:

  • When man first ignited fire and danced around in an ecstatic craze
  • Jonas Salk inventing the polio vaccine in 1953 and choosing not to patent it because he
    cared that much
  • Brandi Chastain winning the US FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1999
  • The entire Seahawks stadium when Marshawn Lynch dodged 9 tackles in 2010–an event
    known as the “Beast Quake”
  • Billy Mays every time he filmed a commercial for anything

This kind of energy is genuine stoke. This is the kind of energy you need to have about the niche you choose to promote in.

If you bring a lukewarm vibe to your promotions, your audience will be able to sense the inauthenticism and won’t be able to get on the stoke train because it’s just not there.

A good rule of thumb when figuring out what niche you should start promoting in is to ask yourself this question:

“Would I be interested in this topic on a weekend?”

If the niche is something you would spend an off day participating in happily, then it could be the right niche for you.

Of course, you may have to narrow, test, and pivot as you continue on your promoting journey–but for now, choose your niche based on genuine stoke and “the weekend”.

PART FOUR

Affiliate Programs: How do I choose an affiliate network?

Choosing an affiliate network is an important step on the roadmap of affiliate marketing.

The affiliate network acts as an intermediary between vendors and affiliates. It allows vendors to easily find affiliates who want to promote their product and it helps affiliates find quality offers.

Here are the three most important things to consider when choosing an affiliate network:

  • Quality products
    A good affiliate network will attract vendors with quality products that have been cleared for compliance with FDA and FTC guidelines.
  • Consistent and on-time commission payouts
    It’s also important to make sure that commission payouts are consistent and timely to affiliates.
  • Easy to navigate marketplace
    Choose an affiliate network that makes finding products and promoting them as easy as possible.

There are several affiliate networks out there that are perfect for beginners, however (because we’re obviously biased), we recommend signing up for a ClickBank account.

If you want to explore other platforms that bring together the best of an internet retailer and an affiliate network, we encourage you to do so. Learning to do market research and make decisions that are best for you is an important skill in affiliate marketing, so now’s a good time to do some deliberate practice.

What is ClickBank?

ClickBank is an internet retailer that sells quality digital and physical products in a variety of categories. Most ClickBank products aim to improve and enrich customers’ lives physically, mentally, or financially.

ClickBank has been around for over two decades and carved out a space for affiliate marketing in the ecommerce industry. With over $4 billion in commission paid out in over twenty countries, ClickBank knows a thing or two about affiliate marketing.

ClickBank supports vendors and affiliates through compliance, consistent commission, and back office tools that make the lives of our clients easier and more streamlined. Affiliates can search the ClickBank Affiliate Marketplace for offers and simply promote them using a HopLink (which is ClickBank lingo for an affiliate link).

With a ClickBank account you’ll score access to thousands of converting offers that you can start promoting right now–even if you have limited web traffic.

What is the ClickBank Affiliate Marketplace?

The ClickBank Affiliate Marketplace is an online pavilion full of potential products in an array of niches, all ready for promotion. You can browse the categories or use the search function to find just the right offer. Once you find it, you’ll just need the HopLink to start promoting.

What is an affiliate link?

An affiliate link is how affiliates networks track who referred traffic and whether that traffic converted into a sale. It’s also affiliate networks make sure that you get paid commission for your promotions.

You can add this link to icons, images, blog copy, or put it in the bio of your Instagram profile. You can answer questions on forums, YouTube, or put it on your website. You can link to it from a landing page that is linked to a Facebook ad. It doesn’t matter where you put it (as long as you follow the promotion rules for that specific platform). If it gets clicked and the clicker commits to the offer within 60 days of clicking, the commission is yours.


PART FIVE

What is web traffic and how do you get it?

Web traffic is the amount of visitors to a particular website. Web traffic is typically measured in visitors and is understood using web analytics. Essentially, it is the amount of visits that people make to specific content.

When it comes to affiliate marketing, consider web traffic the gasoline that powers the engine. You can bring affiliates and vendors together, but without visitors to those offers, the machine does not go.

The Affiliate Marketing Power Source

Web traffic is the power source of affiliate marketing. When we talk about web traffic in affiliate marketing, we’re talking about views. If you currently have internet followers, video viewers, subscribers, or a robust email list, affiliate marketing is a phenomenal way to monetize the eyeballs on your content.

If you don’t have web traffic before starting out as an affiliate marketer, no worries–you’re in good company. The majority of people reading this don’t.

You can still be an affiliate marketer. It’ll just take getting some eyeballs through Google ads, Facebook ads, native ads, or other traffic building techniques.

How to Get Traffic for Affiliate Marketing

There are a few ways you can get traffic for affiliate marketing.

There are tools, tips, and tactics to do all of these well and, to be honest, every attempt won’t always be a win. Remember, patience is key here.

These ways include:


The NUMBER ONE PIECE OF ADVICE we can give you to be successful with any of these traffic-building media channels is:

FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES OF THE SITE YOU ARE USING!

The quickest way to derail your progress as an affiliate marketer is to get shut down on Facebook, YouTube, or a forum.

Free Traffic Tips

Technically, there’s no such thing as free traffic. You’re going to pay for it with time or cash. Even if you don’t shell out cash for ads, you’ll still be working (a lot) to grow your audience or email list.

You can decide if you want to work more hours or put up money to get started. There are pros and cons to each, but determining the best combination of ad spend and content optimization hours is your choice.

Each affiliate marketer is different and comes with different assets. Maybe you set aside some money before wanting to get started. Maybe you don’t have a lot of money, but you have a lot of time.

No matter the situation, remember to follow the guidelines.

How to Monetize Web Traffic

If you already have followers, subscribers, or web traffic coming in through a blog or social media channel, you can use affiliate marketing as a way to monetize that traffic.

There are a few ways to do so.

Social Media

The most up and coming form of affiliate marketing is influencer marketing. If you pick up your phone right now and scroll through your feed, stop at the first time you see “Link in Bio.” There’s a significant chance that link is an affiliate link or that it links to an affiliate link.

Social media influencers make their living off of promotions. So if you have an active and engaged social media following promoting products this way may be right for you. Even if your following is moderate (5,000 or less), it is likely that there is a common thread through your followers. Whatever niche you represent, make sure you choose offers and products that won’t turn off you followers.


YouTube Reviews

If you have a current YouTube channel, you know that the best way to stay relevant on YouTube is to just keep posting content. Why not make one of those posts a review of a product you’re promoting? Make sure you are transparent about your promotion and be honest about how you really feel about the offer.


Blog

A blog is a great way to review products, produce content, grow subscribers, and promote products. With quality written content, you can reach niche audiences and specialize in what topics you write about.


Email Marketing

All of these facets set up a group foundation for email marketing, one of the best ways to harness the power of affiliate marketing. For example, if you have a blog, you likely have subscribers which means you have the potential to send out a weekly or monthly email. This email can contain information about your new posts and affiliate links to products you’re promoting.

If you have a social media following you can promote your website via posts and entice traffic to sign up for weekly updates. This same tactic can also be used with a YouTube following. All in all, email marketing is a great way to grow your brand and engage with your subscribers, and… make money online through affiliate marketing.


PART SIX

Next Steps for Beginner Affiliate Marketers

You’ve made it this far. What’s next?

We started with the question, “What is affiliate marketing? By now, you should have a good idea what affiliate marketing actually is and how you can utilize it to make a little extra on the side or accelerate your digital marketing career.

As you figure out how you want affiliate marketing to fit into your life, there are a few things you can do to bolster your success:

  • Subscribe to the ClickBank Blog
    Subscribe to the ClickBank Blog and get updates about affiliate marketing every week sent straight to your inbox. There’s no better way to succeed than to surround yourself with information about succeeding.
  • Subscribe to the ClickBank YouTube Channel
    The ClickBank YouTube Channel is a rich source of videos all made to help ClickBank clients. It’s a vast array of knowledge that entertains and informs.
  • Check out the ClickBank Top Offers
    If you’re ready to get to it and start promoting right now, check out these top ClickBank Offers. We update the leaderboard monthly so to stay up to date with the top offers, make sure to follow ClickBank on YouTube.
  • Sign Up For Spark
    Spark is the only ClickBank-endorsed education platform. With over 70 videos that harness the power of ClickBank’s two decades of expertise, Spark is the best way to shorten the time between now and your first ClickBank paycheck.To be a successful affiliate marketer, you need the right education. Consider it an investment in your future and choose a credible, expert-curated, gimmick-free source.

GET SPARK ACCESS NOW