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How to Become an Affiliate Marketer – A Step By Step Guide

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It’s likely that if you’re here, you’ve heard about a growing new career option that enables you to make money online. I’ve been an affiliate marketer for a little over two years now, and in this article, I’ll be showing you how to become an affiliate marketer.

So the scenario goes…

You’re not happy with your current income situation. You might feel like you’re not making as much money as you could make, or you have more lifestyle choices you want the freedom to act on, but your income is holding you back.

You decide to look for side hustles that could turn into full-blown careers, and you keep hearing about affiliate marketing. You hear that it:

  • Doesn’t require a degree
  • Is low cost to get into
  • Is a career with time and location flexibility
  • You can work without a boss
  • You can have an income without a glass ceiling
  • and you may have even heard some exaggerated claims

Either way, you’re intrigued by this career option, and you want to know how to become an affiliate marketer.

Sound right?

My Story

I started seriously looking for alternative ways to make an income (aside from a job) in 2012-2013 timeframe. At that time, I was Active Duty in the Air Force, and I wanted to separate the military, so I wouldn’t have to deploy away from my husband and son again.

I didn’t mind hard work, and I wanted to do something that was impactful. I joined the military to make a good income, to make an impact in people’s lives, and to get my degree done, and I didn’t want to pursue a new career that would feel less fulfilling.

When I started looking for career options, there were lots of options where I’d have to continue in school (even beyond my Bachelor’s degree) and I’d still make equivalent to what I was making when I separated the military. Many of the careers, would have clear caps, where it would say you can make a set amount once you have a certain level of experience, and often, they had limits set by the corporations who were hiring.

I always wanted to start my own business, so I started looking for business ideas that would use my skills well. I loved to write, to do visual arts, to network and communicate with people, to mentor others, and to do public speaking.

For awhile, I thought book publishing would be my 2nd career after the military. In fact, I published 15 books, but after publishing them, I noticed, I really needed to improve my digital marketing skills in order to get more sales.

As a result, I started learning more about blogging. The skills I’d learned from blogging and growing up in a performing arts school are what I decided to use to get freelance clients. After I separated the military in 2015, I was helping my husband in his General Contracting business and doing freelance work–that worked well until my son got sick and I got pregnant.

After I started having more personal situations come up, it became difficult to manage clients and family, so I started to wish I had an income that didn’t have so many strict deadlines, that had more time flexibility (where I could work around my kids), and that wasn’t a direct time-money exchange–that’s when I started doing research about alternative ways to make money from home.

In 2018, I decided Affiliate marketing was a good career path for me. Since I’ve gotten started, I’ve been able to grow my income, help many people become affiliate marketers, and it’s been one of the best decisions I could’ve made.

Choosing an affiliate marketing career has meant that I was able to have an income despite some intense life obstacles (where my son was in and out of the hospital, while homeschooling, and even while being a stay-home mom to a newborn). I love sharing with others how to become affiliate marketers because it’s a great career choice if you’re willing to do what it takes to make it work.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is actually a very simple way of making money in theory. Basically, you get paid when people for recommending products and services.

How does Affiliate Marketing Work?

When you decide to actually take action as an affiliate marketer, you’ll find that it sounds very simple, but there are more complex components to it. Usually, the process of making money with affiliate marketing works like this…

1. A Merchant who has products or services decides he wants more sales

For example, let’s say you and your team of developers have created an accounting software. You’re getting great sales with it, but you believe that if you add affiliates into the mix, you could get even better sales.

2. He sets up an affiliate program to partner with publishers to get more sales

The affiliate program is usually either set up using affiliate tracking software and managed in-house, or merchants will go to an affiliate network and set up their affiliate program with them. Affiliate networks have large email lists with publishers and work with affiliates directly, so often, merchants find that it’s best to simply add their affiliate programs to the networks’ database, so the program can grow faster.

3. Affiliates sign up to the Affiliate program

Once the affiliate program is set up, and the terms are desirable, affiliates will apply to be a part of the program.

4. He Approves relevant affiliates to participate

The merchant will review that applications and decide which affiliates are relevant to what he’s selling. Sometimes, merchants may also want affiliates to meet criteria like: have an email list, get a certain amount of website visitors, have an established brand, or have a certain amount of content on their website.

5. Affiliates create relevant content and recommend those who engage to buy from the merchant using their Affiliate links

Affiliates create websites, articles, ads, sales funnels, graphic designs, videos, social media posts, podcasts and other content types that educate, demonstrate, and solve problems for people. When their content is understandable, high-quality, and helpful, then it’s likely, they’ll get people to click on their affiliate links.

The affiliate link has tracking code associated with it, so everyone who clicks the affiliate link will be tracked as a referral from the affiliate marketer.

6. Consumers take action

Some merchants pay for leads (people giving their email addresses, completing an application, etc.). Other merchants pay for sales only. Affiliates are paid when consumers take action: whether that means as a lead or as a new buyer.

7. The merchant and affiliate make money

When the consumer takes the right action, it should lead to income for the affiliate and the merchant.

What Skills do you Need to be Successful in Affiliate Marketing?

To be successful in affiliate marketing, it often requires:

  • Technical skills like website design and website setup
  • Communication skills like copy-writing, video presentation skills, or audio presentation skills
  • Math skills to calculate commissions, conversion rates, and make good decisions about what products to promote and which ones not to
  • Productivity and time management skills, so time and effort is invested in the right tasks (rather than spending lots of time on tasks that don’t make money
  • Sales skills like buyer psychology, the sales cycle, and persuasion techniques
  • Content creation skills because sales online are made thru content
  • Lead generation skills because you have to get people to see your content in order to get traffic
  • Market research skills because you have to validate that the content, products, and services you’re making are in demand

How do you get paid as an Affiliate Marketer?

Affiliate marketers typically setup payment arrangements with affiliate networks and affiliate programs before doing any promotions. Most vendors offer payment thru Paypal, Stripe, or direct deposit.

Some pay very shortly after the sale, some pay 30 days after the sale, and some pay further after the sale than that. The reason for withholding payments is to make sure that if the customer wants to request a refund, it doesn’t leave the merchant or the affiliate in bad standing (because they’d already spent the money).

How much Money do Affiliate Marketers Make?

The income in affiliate marketing ranges quite a bit. Considering that it’s a self-paced career field with no bosses, there are many people who don’t have the self-discipline to make it work. It requires a lot of initiative in order to be successful.

Those who make money with affiliate marketing can range in income quite a bit! The majority of those who express interest in affiliate marketing don’t become successful with it for various reasons, but those who truly commit to it and get good mentorship, can see full-time income results ($3000+/month) in 2-4 years. Very successful affiliate marketers are making more than $100,000/mo!

Is Affiliate Marketing a Business?

Affiliate marketing can turn into a business. When you’re first starting out, it’s important to develop the skills: the technical, communication, sales, content creation, and others.

Once your skills are developed, you have to take action and begin building online assets, getting visitors to your sales pages, and converting interest into buyers. When you want to save on taxes and protect yourself from legal liability, it’s important to incorporate your business as a separate legal entity.

As an affiliate marketing business owner, you’ll have to manage the tasks to attract more customers, make sales, account for money coming in and going out in a compliant way, and maintain legal compliance like other small business owners.

The Keys to Being a Successful Affiliate Marketer

Aside from the skills and tasks associated with being an affiliate marketer, it’s also important to maintain the right mindset. It’s very difficult to be successful in any career field if you doubt it will work, if you don’t have support or mentorship, if you have lots of self-limiting beliefs, or if you don’t have a strong work ethic–the same applies to affiliate marketing.

How to Become an Affiliate Marketer – Step-by-Step

If you’re ready to become an affiliate marketer, these are the steps I recommend you take:

1. Get the Affiliate Marketing training you need

Affiliate marketing requires skills. It’s important that you develop the skills, so you can get results with your affiliate promotions. You can get started with a free website and affiliate marketing training when you go here.

2. Participate in a Supportive Community

Stats have shown that regardless of what you’re trying to do — whether stay married, raise kids, become a master of your trade, or get started in a new career — it’s best to have the support of others around you rooting you on. In affiliate marketing, there are social networks where you can interact with other affiliate marketers, stay on top of trends and news, learn new skills, and give each other tips and feedback to improve.

My favorite affiliate marketing community is Wealthy Affiliate. They are by far the most engaged, welcoming, and helpful affiliate marketing community.

4. Choose a niche or Target audience you’ll serve

While we’d all like to think that everyone will know, like, and trust us eventually, the reality is…it doesn’t work that way. People have so many diverse interests, and they’re drawn to people who are most relevant to what they want to be and do.

For example, an exercise guru may attract people who are interested in exercise, but may be less attractive to people who are specifically interested in Yoga because they’ll talk a lot about methods that don’t interest them. A “yoga” guru is more likely to have higher engagement because they focus on yoga specifically.

It’s important for you to choose who you’ll be serving. Who are you going to be creating the most relevant solutions for?

3. Set up your website

Your website is like your digital storefront where people will come to get tips, advice, and products that help them achieve their goals. Social media is good, but you have much more control of your customer relationships on your website.

You can test drive how easy it is to set up a website using this website builder below…

5. Choose relevant affiliate partners

Once your website is set up, you’ll want to choose affiliate partners that compliment what you’ll be offering. If you’re focused on creating content on a specific topic, then you’d want to find affiliate partners who can offer great solutions to people interested in that topic. For more guidance on how to pick good affiliate programs to join, check out my article here.

6. Start creating helpful content

Affiliate marketers use content to handle objections, to educate, and to help consumers make buying decisions. It’s important that you make creating helpful content into a routine discipline because this is the most important task affiliate marketers do to make money.

7. Make money and scale

When you’ve created content and gotten it distributed to the right people, then you’re bound to make sales. Once you’ve gotten a process that works, you want to amplify your success to improve your sales. For more tips on how to improve your sales, check out my 37 Affiliate sales hacks here.


Affiliate marketing can be an incredibly rewarding career field. Hopefully, this article showed you what affiliate marketing is, what’s possible in the career field, and how you can get started on the right foot. If you have any questions about this, leave them in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you asap.

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