What Does An Affiliate Marketer Do?

The question that so many people who are interested in starting an online business is what does an affiliate marketer do?

For people who never ventured into the realms of understanding online business, affiliate marketing can seem quite baffling.

To be honest the subject in a whole can still be quite puzzling to most marketers.

It doesn't help that in the beginning affiliate marketers were mostly spammers that tried to get clicks on their banners no matter what it took.

An affiliate marker primarily directs customers to merchants/companies that have products or services to sell. If that referred customer buys a product or service the affiliate marketer earns a commission for each sale. If the affiliate does not succeed in having the customer buy a product or service, the affiliate marketer does not get paid.

The affiliate marketer will essentially repeat this process to earn a regular commission income from multiple merchants.

The process of linking with merchants, finding customers and referring them to the merchants can become an entangled web of confusion if you don't know what you are doing.

I will debunk some myths about affiliate marketers and explain the basic process in further detail in this blog along with providing you with some handy tips and tools to help if you are starting an affiliate marketing business.

Here is a quick view of how affiliate marketing works

Diagram How Affiliate Marketing Works

All Affiliates Are Spammers! Myth?

Unfortunately, in the past, many, if not most affiliate marketers were spammer type of entities.

If you are somewhat aged like me you may remember the days where you landed on web pages full of banners with flashing red and yellow text everywhere.

If you were unfortunate enough to accidentally click on one of those banners you may end up seeing a stream of windows open. 

Then every time you tried to close one, 10 more would open. You either had to close your browser completely and empty your cache, sometimes having to reboot the computer completely.

Popup ads from scammers from affiliate scammers

These kinds of sites may still exist but with the evolution of search engines, you won't find them anywhere near the top of any search engine results.

These sites typically don't bother for paid clicks either as it would cost more to advertise than the commissions they may earn.

Advanced search engines have eliminated the affiliate spammers! Hooray!

So nowadays affiliate marketers are much more civilized. You may get one or two popups here or there.

You see fewer and fewer popups as tools available to the affiliates are so much more advanced today that they can see if a popup helps them or causes their readers to flee to the hills.

The most common popup people use today is one that will show up only if you are about to leave their site.

They use that tactic because they really don't have anything to lose at that point to give one last try to encourage you to stay, subscribe or sign-up to a program.

It's kinda like when you order a meal at a fast food chain and they ask if you want any extra fries with your meal.

So now you may be asking what are affiliate marketers doing now?

What Do Affiliate Marketers Do Now?

Write Blogs

This is where things can get complicated but I will stay with the basics here to keep this blog with the limits of the internet.

The most common and easiest way for people to become an affiliate marketer is by creating a website and blogging.

The affiliate marketer will create a website about a subject, what is called a niche, hopefully about a niche they are familiar with.

They will add content to that website in the form of blogs and images.

If they create content of good value and do the whole process correctly, they can get their website showing up on the first page of Google, Bing, and Yahoo search engine searches.

This process, in turn, will bring free/organic traffic to their website.

Here is an example for one of my blogs showing up on the first page of Google. Now that is a long tail search query but you have to remember that I only started adding real content to this site in December 2018 (1 month ago at the time of writing this post). So I am still quite pleased to see my new blogs already showing some awesome results. 

AWA number one rank on Google for Clickbank blog screenshot

One of the principals I try to follow closely when writing my blogs is to write something that helps to answer somebody's question(s).

Another personal rule I follow is to not have affiliate links or ads all over the place. 

Now I do feel that the work I do should provide some type of compensation.

Sometimes just knowing that I have helped someone is good enough for me, so seeing phenomenal comments goes a long way.

Unfortunately, comments don't pay the bills so I do have affiliate links on my websites.

The difference compared to other sites though is that I only refer people to things I truly trust and believe in. 

Which brings me to the next step of what affiliate marketers do, add affiliate links to their websites.

Adding Affiliate Links To Blog Sites

Affiliate marketers will add affiliate links to their sites in various ways on their blog website.

The fastest, easiest, and I believe to be the most effective way is to add affiliate text links.

Text links are usually a word that has a color assigned to them, underlined, and the mouse arrow changes to a hand pointing when you hover over it.

Sometimes they will write something like this example to highlight the fact you can click it to go to another page, website or in this case another section of the page ==>Click Here

Another common way affiliates will add affiliate links is by adding a call to action button, see below.

The next common way to add affiliate links is to have an image or banner that people can click, like the example below.

Example of a banner with thumbs up

Now that Amazon is super popular for affiliate marketers they have some incredible widgets that can be added to your website.

A widget is just a term to describe an element from the merchant that can be added to your website.

It comes in the form of code that the affiliate marketer will add to their website that will then communicate directly with the merchant, like Amazon

The widgets can be quite simple such as an image, with some text and the live price to a full on store front page.

I have some more examples of affiliate links and how to sign up for them in my blog called, "How to sign up to affiliate programs"

Which gives an awesome segway to where do affiliate marketers find merchants to affiliate with.

Where To Find Merchants and Their Affiliate Links

I recently wrote a post about this subject here, but I will give a brief explanation.

Almost every merchant/company that has a website will have an affiliate program where an individual may apply.

The companies will review your credentials and see if you meet their criteria for eligibility to become an affiliate for their company.

Some companies run their own affiliate programs directly others will rely on affiliate networks to manage the applications and the day to day runnings of the affiliate programs.

Amazon is an example where they run their own affiliate program directly.

Whereas a company like Adobe rely on affiliate networks like TradeDoubler to manage all of the day to day aspects of dealing with affiliates. 

You can find affiliate programs or networks in a few ways:

1- Use Google search by typing in "affiliate program + the product or service".

Example "affiliate program + camera"

How to search affiliate programs on Google screenshot

​​​​Choose one that aligns with your niche, go to their site and follow the instructions on how to sign up to their affiliate program.

2- Go to any of the popular affiliate networks and search for a merchant that aligns with your niche. 

Here is a short list of affiliate networks.

  • CJ  (Commission Junction)
  • Linkshare
  • ShareASale
  • FlexOffers
  • Rakuten
  • ClickBank 
  • TradeDoubler
  • Impact Radius
  • Performance Horizon
  • Awin
  • 3- Use a tool, like a keyword research tool called Jaaxy to search for affiliate networks related to your niche site keywords.

    Affiliate program search results

    Want To Become An Affiliate Marketer?

    There you have it!

    The basic explanation of what does an affiliate marketer do.

    Do you think that you want to be an affiliate marketer?

    If your answer is yes but has no experience then I suggest you get some training.

    I always recommend Wealthy Affiliate so you can start with their free training with no obligation to buy anything.

    After you've completed the 5 courses you will know if affiliate marketing is right for you.

    Click the Call To Action below to sign up and I will be there to greet you.

    Another great teaching site that I recently found is called Income School. It's a little more expensive but their recommendations are authentic and realistic.

    Always keep learning!

    Whenever I have a couple of minutes of downtime I learn from those that have been in the business for a long time, like NeilPatel where has a great blog about what is affiliate marketing.

    If you have any questions or comments I would love to hear them. Please write them down at the bottom of the page. I always reply.




    I have been working from home and making an amazing living for over 8 years. I started affiliate marketing about 3 years ago. If you would like to learn how to work from home and earn money as an affiliate please hit the subscribe button on the bottom of the page. Paul

    Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 25 comments
    Triumphant Life TV - January 20, 2019

    An affiliate marketer basically guides clients to vendors/organizations that have items or administrations to move. On the off chance that hat alluded client purchases an item or administration the offshoot advertiser acquires a commission for every deal. In the event that the partner does not prevail with regards to having the client purchase an item or administration, the subsidiary advertiser does not get paid. The associate advertiser will basically rehash this procedure to procure an ordinary commission salary from numerous dealers.

      Paul - January 20, 2019

      That is exactly it! Merchants do not have to pay anything if the affiliate does not succeed in having the customer make a purchase. Although some merchants will pay a small sum just for referring customers. There are few and it would require a very high number of referrals in order to earn a decent income from that source alone.



    Mercedus - January 20, 2019

    Oh my gosh, I remember when I first started with affiliate marketing. I joined so many programs that promised to help do one thing or another and I ended up dazed and confused. Between the pop-ups and the pop-unders, it’s surprising I didn’t turn into a total online tool (fool-something really bad). 

    Learned so much during that time and it was fun, but I am so glad things have evolved into a more subtle tone. Instead of spamming emails and “tricking” people with pop-ups, we simply invite them to our blog or website. I think one of the main things we as affiliate marketers have to be aware of is the splash page. Many people get excited and want to add a banner or text link to every program they are affiliated with and then leave enough room to say “purchase advertising here”

    It is a journey that can get dicey at times, but worth it in the end if you stick with it. I wish your article had been there when I started out. Thanks for such great information.

      Paul - January 20, 2019

      Thanks. I guess we will need to wait and see what affiliate marketing will look like in another decade. As of now, affiliate marketers must focus on helping people in order to get ranked on the first page of search engines. Anybody trying to fool the system may win for a short term but it won’t take long for them to crash and burn.



    Henry - January 20, 2019

    Hi Paul! Thank you very much for your very informative post! I’m glad search engines have evolved and left behind all those spammers with their unethical tactics. It’s good to search online and find a useful blog and do an educated purchase thanks to affiliate marketers that have done their job of researching, comparing and writing reviews exposing the pros and the cons.

    Becoming an affiliate marketer sounds cool! Thank you for this introduction.

      Paul - January 20, 2019

      Affiliate marketing has come a long way over the past decade and I look forward to seeing what the future affiliate marketer will look like.



    GVporras - January 20, 2019

    Thank you for sharing this great information about Affiliate marketing, this article will help a lot of people to understand the process and what to expect as an affiliate marketer. I just started blogging and hopefully see my blogs on google first page. I saw that you promoted project 24 compared to WA which one you recommend the most?

      Paul - January 20, 2019

      At this time I still prefer Wealthy Affiliate for having an all-in-one platform with training, support, webinars, hosting, keyword research tools, live chat, and domain purchases. It just makes the whole process of running an online business so much easier. Income School is another great and legitimate platform but the platform is currently not as mature yet.

    Veronica - January 26, 2019

    Great article Paul! Reading about the affiliate marketers back in the day and all of the pop up banners started taking me down memory lane!! I appreciate all of the information that you have shared about what affiliate marketing really is about. Would you say that there are certain niches that have a higher probability of being profitable or does it depend how the information is shared?

      Paul - January 26, 2019

      I believe that any niche can be profitable. It all depends on how you market it. Sometimes I like to compare an online business to brick and mortar businesses. They are different in a lot of ways yet the business similarities are there. If we take a restaurant business for example. You can have someone open a restaurant open in a prime location only to see it fail within the first year. Then a new owner takes and turns it into a successful local business and can turn it into a global franchise.
      The limit is what you make it. If I fail at my online business, I only have myself to blame.
      I say if you believe in what you are doing you will stick with it. If something doesn’t work right away don’t quit, reassess, and go at it from a different angle. Sooner or later you will find the right recipe that works for you.


    Abdirashid Aden - January 28, 2019

    Nice and informative article! Perhaps it is that reason why your post ranked in the Google’s first page!
    Happy to see that we both belong to the same community (WA).
    I feel like asking a question if you don’t mind!
    Question: Can I place links to other sites that for instance offer affiliate programs like ShareASale and so on just like that way you did. Or I must get recommendations from them before making use of them as a resource to my article.
    Thank you.

      Paul - January 28, 2019

      You can apply for any affiliate program but they may not accept you for various reasons. The main reasons people don’t get accepted as an affiliate or associate are that their sites are too new, the content does not align with the merchant’s products, or you are not meeting basic requirements such as missing disclaimers, privacy or cookie policies clearly indicated.
      In the end, you as an affiliate marketer want to promote products that align with your niche site. It would be out of context for your site if your niche is about fishing and then you suddenly have links and banners on your site for lipstick. People will come to your site with a certain mindset or expectation, if they see all types of weird stuff they’ll just click the back button and go to the next search result.
      I hope to see you around WA. Have you been a member for long?

    Nia M - February 28, 2019

    Hi Paul, 

    Thank you so much for this very informative and detailed post about What An Affiliate Marketer Does. I have been researching how this work. However, I am glad I encountered your page because you listed how this works and what networks I could start with. Thank you so much! I have a niche and you have provided enough details for me to get started. 

      Paul - March 1, 2019

      That’s wonderful! I’m pleased to hear that you found this article helpful. Come back anytime. 



    Snowflake - February 28, 2019

    Hi Paul. Great Article. Love your work and honesty.

    Did you know how to write when you first started or did you do a course that helped you along the way?

    I have taken down notes from this article more so on the ‘Write Blogs’ section.

    I am part of Wealthy Affiliate and love the site and the community. I will also check out the ‘Income School‘ that you have recommended.

    I started with WA in October last year, so I do have a little way to go but each day I enjoy learning new things I can do to my site.

      Paul - March 1, 2019


      No, I did not do much writing before I started blogging. My first website and blogs were not all that good but with practice and time, I find that it has improved greatly. I’m still no novelist but I feel it is good enough to get my thoughts across. I also use Grammarly that helps to speed up the writing process as I don’t need to worry much about making typos or using different words as that tool makes it so easy to edit afterward.



    Michael - February 28, 2019

    Awesome Information. I appreciate all of the information you have shared here. I really love the way you outlined the reviews on what Affiliate Marketer does. I must say this is an eye opener; I cannot help but agree with everything that you had written. This is the most extensive article I have ever read

      Paul - March 1, 2019

      Thank you for your feedback. With comments like that you are welcome to come back anytime. 😉



    Cathy - February 28, 2019

    Not all affiliate marketers are spammers. Those who are genuine usually have a blog and acquire traffic through long term process such as SEO. Those who are somewhat more aggressive will go with banner ads or even solo ads. Recently, I discovered that my email has been included in some kind of email campaigns and I am getting daily messages to different product promotions through the same email. Looks like solo ads to me. 

    It felt like I’ve been spammed of course, but on the upside, it’s a gateway for more product review ideas since they are very relevant to my niche. I considered it a winning situation in my case 🙂

      Paul - March 1, 2019

      Absolutely not all affiliate marketers are spammers and with the new search engine algorithms it is getting harder for spammers to stay very long.

      I’m glad you are able to use spammer information for your gain.



    Sue - February 28, 2019

    Well, this certainly is a clear, concise explanation of what an affiliate marketer does and I thank you Paul, for presenting it in such an easy-to-understand nutshell. I wasn’t aware that many affiliate marketers in the past were spammer types, but I seem to remember stumbling onto some of those quagmire sites that were actually quite frightening and difficult to get out of!

    I’m glad you presented a link for signing up to affiliate programs because although I am an Amazon affiliate, I’ve had trouble applying to other programs and networks. Thanks for sharing your expertise with us.


      Paul - March 1, 2019

      You’re welcome, Sue,

      I hope you have better luck signing up to other programs. Just remember to let your site mature and have enough content before applying.



    Paul - March 1, 2019

    Hi Paul – As yes, I remember those days… pop up annihilation we used to call it.  I used to work in IT in a bank and they actually used to cripple branches at times.  We had to block all but critical pages, in the end, to keep our servers up.  I remember my boss talking about affiliate marketing back then (he didn’t call it that) and he commented that it was a fad and would be dead in a few years as everybody got tired of the barrage of popups.

    He was right in one way, in that we did get sick of popups but not on the affiliate marketing front.  It has certainly taken the path of almost gentlemanly marketing to provide value and solve problems all whilst still making some money.  As well more and more companies are adding affiliate programs to their marketing plans as it is essentially free advertising for them. Of course, there are still scammers out there but they, like popups, do not last long.  

    Thanks for such a clear outline


      Paul - March 1, 2019

      Brilliant story about your bank experience and your boss talking about affiliate marketing as being a fad.

      You are right that affiliate marketing is free advertising for companies for some part and they only have to pay when they make a sale. It’s a win/win process.



    Pat Simons - August 6, 2019

    Thanks Paul. Awesome article. I’ve never used the Google search command you mentioned above to find affiliate programs. I didn’t realize you can simply enter affiliate program + keyword. That’s one I’ll certainly keep in mind. Thanks again.


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