Easiest Way to Start Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is hands down the easiest way to make money online. With affiliate marketing, you don’t need to create your own products or service. You don’t even need to know how to create websites or write blog posts (although that might help you get started without any knowledge). All you need is an affiliate link, and maybe some graphics if you want to double your chances of getting sales.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is an arrangement by which you earn a commission for promoting another company’s products or services.

Affiliate marketing is sometimes also known as performance marketing or CPA marketing. The definition of affiliate marketing makes it different than other forms of digital marketing.

Although it’s a form of online adverting, affiliate marketing is much different than just hosting ad banners.

Unlike ad banners, with affiliate marketing, you usually don’t get paid unless a visitor “converts.”

Typically, a conversion is defined as a purchase made by the prospect (the visitor to your site). But some merchants define “conversion” differently. It can be as complex as a customer not only purchasing a product but also performing a specific action after that purchase is made.

Affiliate Marketing Glossary of Terms

Like any topic, affiliate marketing has its own lingo. The definition of affiliate marketing itself is a word salad and a lot to digest. So let’s break down the terminology you’re likely to see.

  • Merchant — The business selling a product.
  • Product — The item sold by the merchant and promoted by the affiliate.
  • Affiliate — The third-party promoting the merchant’s product. Also known as the publisher, associate, or partner.
  • Super Affiliates — The highest-performing affiliates. Typically, fewer than 20% of affiliates are super affiliates, yet they generate 80% of all conversions.
  • Affiliate Link — Also called the tracking link. This is a unique URL that tracks the clicks and conversions from the affiliate.
  • Conversion — An event defined by the merchant that is deemed payable to the affiliate. It can be anything defined by the merchant but is usually a lead or the purchase of the merchant’s product.
  • Prospect — An individual who performs a conversion with the merchant. Also known as a lead, customer, or client.
  • Affiliate Network — An optional middle man between the merchant and the affiliate that helps facilitate commerce.
  • Affiliate Manager — A person who works with affiliates as a go-between with the merchant. Their goal is to maximize the performance of the affiliate program.
  • Affiliate Program — An arrangement in which the merchant pays commissions to affiliates.
  • Offer — A specific promotion of a product.
  • Click-through Rate (CTR) — The percentage of affiliate-link clicks per number of web page impressions.
  • Conversion Rate (CR) — The percentage of clicks that converted.
  • Cost per Action (CPA) — A commission model in which merchants pay affiliates for conversions only.
  • Cost per Click (CPC) — A commission model in which merchants pay affiliates for clicks only. It’s typically used with ad banners, rather than affiliate marketing.
  • Postback URL — A URL used for server-side conversion tracking; also called server-to-server tracking.
  • Pixel — A hidden image that tracks when a web page view event occurs. In the context of affiliate marketing, a pixel tracks when conversions occur. Instead of images, today, pixels are typically pieces of JavaScript code embedded on a webpage.
  • SubID — A string of text embedded as part of the affiliate link that is defined by the affiliate and used to track conversions by the affiliate.
  • Creative — An ad banner image or text that is used by the affiliate to promote the merchant’s product.
  • Copy — Written text that helps promote the merchant’s product.
  • Co-branding — An instance in which the affiliate’s logo, copy, or branding appears on the merchant’s landing page.
  • Landing Page — The merchant’s webpage to which affiliates refer traffic via an affiliate link.
  • Ad Blocker — Web browser technology that can prevent the tracking of affiliate clicks and conversions. In addition, it can also prevent the display of ad banners.
  • Attribution — The process of correctly identifying which affiliates are generating conversions.
  • Charge Back — An invalid conversion that results in the affiliate’s commission being forfeited.
  • Commission — The income an affiliate earns for generating a conversion. It is also known as a referral fee, a finder’s fee, or a bounty.
  • Cookies — Information stored on a prospect’s web browser to identify that particular visit. With affiliate marketing, cookies are used to track affiliate link clicks and potential conversions.
  • Link Cloaking — Hides the affiliate link with a cleaner-looking URL than what the merchant has provided. Link cloaking can be used to better manage links and track clicks and conversions. For more info, see my article on link cloaking.

How much can you make from affiliate marketing?

  • Top affiliates and influencers make over $100k a month from affiliate sales (influencers such as Pat Flynn, John Chow, Rae Hoffman, Mark Ling, Kristy McCubbin, and Shawn Collins).
  • Middle-class affiliates make anywhere between $1k to $10k a month.
  • New affiliates generally have ZERO affiliate earnings.

Anil Agarwal from Bloggers Passion made $200k in sales just from just one affiliate marketing product, see a screenshot of his earnings below. Yes, affiliates’ marketing profits can be this good.

How Much Can You Make From Affiliate Marketing? (2020)

James Njenga from Freelancing Hackers made over $7876 last year through the Amazon Associates affiliate program have a look at his inspirational screenshot.

How Much Can You Make From Affiliate Marketing? (2020)

How Are You Get Paid In Affiliate Marketing?

How much you earn directly correlates with how much you get paid. 

By that, I mean the percentage you earn from the affiliate sale. Are you promoting a $5 Amazon product and getting a 2% commission, or do you promote a hosting server and get a fixed $220 commission per sale? You will need to sell so many more $5 products with a low affiliate percentage payout, compared to referring customers who will purchase just one hosting deal. Affiliate marketing commission rates aren’t equal across all affiliate networks, nor for the same products.

This also means you need to put significantly more effort and build a higher traffic website to reach the same amount of revenue. This brings us to our first affiliate marketing tip of the day:

Affiliate marketing tip: work smarter, not harder.

Read also:

Affiliate Marketing Stats and Facts

Let’s start with 15 facts about affiliate marketing in 2020; you never knew before.

  • Affiliate marketing in the US has reached $6.8 billion in 2020 (Source: Statista)
How Much Can You Make From Affiliate Marketing? (2020)
  • 15%–30% of companies’ sales come from referral programs or affiliate marketing plans.
How Much Can You Make From Affiliate Marketing? (2020)
Source Sales Camp
  • 48% of affiliate marketers globally earn $20k a year (which is $1660 a month).
  • Only 3% of all affiliate marketers are making over $150k a year.
  • Only 34% percent of affiliate marketers are willing to invest in PPC to generate traffic and exposure. (Source: Affiliate Marketing Benchmark Report)
How Much Can You Make From Affiliate Marketing? (2020)
  • Most affiliate marketers promote between 1 to 10 products only and only 7.53% of the affiliate marketers promote over 300 products (remember – work smarter, not harder).
  • 80% of all brands leverage affiliate marketing in order to generate leads. (Source: Mediakix)
  • 84% of bloggers use affiliate marketing to monetize their content. (Source: Rakuten Marketing)
  • The affiliate marketing industry is worth $12 billion (as of 2020).
  • The fashion and retail affiliate niche generates the highest revenue % globally. (Source: AM Navigator)
  • The US affiliate marketing spending is perceived to grow by 10.1% each year. (Source: Mediakix)
  • The interest in the search term “affiliate marketing” is consistently increasing for the past five years. (Source: Google Trends)
Google Trends search term "affiliate marketing"
Google Trends search term “affiliate marketing”
  • In most affiliate marketing programs, 10% of affiliates contribute 90% of sales (which is even less than the famous Pareto principle). (Source: AM Navigator)
  • 45% of bloggers prefer affiliate marketing because it doesn’t harm the UX on their website, unlike ads. (Source: VigLink)
How Much Can You Make From Affiliate Marketing? (2020)
Image source: VigLink
  • Digital products usually offer 50% affiliate commissions because they can be replicated at zero expense. (Source: Neil Patel

What can we learn from these (apparently random) stats? And what does it tell us about our primary question – how much can you make from affiliate marketing in 2020?

  1. Making money from affiliate marketing is hard because everyone is doing it, and the competition is fierce.
  2. Most affiliate sales are run “invisibly” through coupons, deals, offers, review blog posts, and other sources where the author recommends the product instead of trying to flog it or use a display ad.
  3. Promoting digital and virtual products is profitable because there are no shipping or handling fees, and commissions are generally a lot higher. For example, at Scaleo we offer 30% lifetime commissions on all our plans, only because we are selling an affiliate marketing software and can afford to reward our affiliates more.
  4. Half of all affiliate marketers earn approximately $1660 a month, on average.

Affiliate marketing is an extremely lucrative niche, with billions of dollars in circulation, but not everyone makes it to the top.

Also, check out our other popular articles:

The fierce competition resulted in many spam websites, spam emails, fake reviews, and fraud marketing schemes, all for the sake of ripping a piece from a very creamy cake we call “affiliate marketing revenue.”

Check out Scaleo’s Anti Fraud Logic and what does it do.

After trying out in an affiliate marketing business, many people give up simply because they cannot earn enough even to cover the costs of their websites.

How to make it to the top 3%?

That’s a million-dollar question, literally.

If you want to maximize your affiliate revenue, you have to study the market and the competition.

How to choose a profitable niche for affiliate marketing?

Before talking about how much do affiliate marketers make, it’s important to note that niche makes a big difference. Picking a topic just because you love it, isn’t a great idea. Imagine wasting so much time and energy, building an affiliate website on a topic that you like only to discover that there aren’t many valuable goods you can promote and sell.

How To Find The Most Profitable Affiliate Marketing Niche? https://t.co/2iOVY5RW1o— Scaleo.io (@Scaleo_io) September 15, 2020

If you love your niche – it’s great, but remember that it has to make money. That’s where you should begin, find a topic or a niche that is packed with useful products, so you will know you can make a profit there, even though it’s more convenient to write and work in a niche you like.

How Much Can You Make From Affiliate Marketing? (2020)
Image source: VigLink

However, having an interest in your niche will make it easier for you to know your future audience, produce better content, and be more creative. This will help you market your website and your affiliate products, and you will see that when you make a significant increase in revenue.

Not all niches are equally profitable. According to Jeff Lenneythe most profitable affiliate marketing niches are:

  1. Health Niche (weight loss, quit smoking, yoga, muscle building, etc.)
  2. Dating Niche (dating advice, online dating apps, etc.)
  3. Making Money Online Niche (blogging, marketing, affiliate marketing, SMM, etc.)
  4. The ‘Learn to sing or play an instrument’ niche
  5. Learn to speak another language
  6. The Green Energy Niche (solar power, alternative energy, recycling)
  7. Spirituality and Alternative Beliefs (personal development, manifestation, astrology, tarot, etc.)
  8. The Survival Niche (home defense, grow your own food, and recently, coronavirus).

Read our post on how to find a profitable affiliate marketing niche.

This list doesn’t mean you cannot promote other products or dive into a different niche. It simply means that these are highly competitive niches, where payout per sale is generally higher

While you can make money through affiliate marketing in (probably) every niche, as we said earlier, it pays out to work smarter. Why not look into a niche that is already converting and selling well?

Choosing The Best Affiliate Network

According to the most recent statistics (2020), the most popular affiliate networks are:

  • ShareASale: This network has more than 2,500 CPA programs to choose from. Looking through ShareASale’s offers, you will definitely find a product in your niche to promote.
  • Commission Junction: CJ works with more than 3,000 brands, which you can promote and make money off. This is by far the largest pool of affiliate offers.
  • ClickBankClickBank is similar to ShareASale – getting started is simple, thanks to its consumer-focused UI and approach. Some ClickBank top earners make as much as 10K a month.
  • Amazon: It should come as no surprise that Amazon is always a safe bet for many affiliate e-shops. There are literally millions of products to promote, and you receive a commission from the customer’s entire purchase (not only the item you promoted). Check out our ultimate guide to affiliate marketing on Amazon.

Watch Nate O’Brien’s video on Top 10 Affiliate Marketing Programs For 2020:

In the chart below, you can also see, which affiliate marketing platforms are the most popular:

How Much Can You Make From Affiliate Marketing? (2020)

As you can see, the network you choose to operate in can have a direct impact on your earnings. Bigger networks tend to have a wider variety of vendors you can promote, more organized payouts, and typically more flexibility. If you are just starting, I recommend you join one of the top affiliate marketing networks. You will find them easy to use, therefore easy to get started with affiliate marketing in general, and a higher chance of closing a sale because the tracking system would be flawless.

Is affiliate marketing still profitable in 2020?

Taking into account all the statistics we have shown here and not only the affiliate marketing trends for 2021, but also the potential of the industry, it is safe to say that affiliate marketing is still profitable in 2020 and will continue to be profitable in 2021. As long as people will still be shopping online, (as they definitely will be), there will be more than enough affiliate offers to promote. This can also answer the corresponding pressing question “is affiliate marketing worth it?”. Of course, it does. If so many millions can be made in this industry, and you could see in this post how much affiliate marketers make, it should definitely be worth giving affiliate marketing a try and getting your share of this lucrative pie.

How to maximize your affiliate earnings on a blog? 

How to maximize your affiliate earnings on a blog?

When incorporating affiliate links in your content, keep in mind social a few tips that will help you make more money with affiliate marketing, regardless of the niche you promote or the network you work with:

  • Only promote items you would have bought yourself.
  • Build trust with your readers. Don’t try to sell right away.
  • Be honest and personal. There is no replacement for your own voice, tone, and style.
  • Storytelling: Your readers need to hear the “story” behind the items you wear/buy/promote, not just see a bunch of hyperlinked keywords in the context.
  • Build a relationship with your audience; engage with them on social media or via email.
  • Make it clear to your readers that you live your dream life – they would want a piece of it too.
  • Focus on a micro-niche (we have a great blog post about it!)
  • Be open about how you earn money on your blog or on social media. Let your audience know what happens when they click on your affiliate link. If they trust you and want to support you, they’ll be pleased to buy through your affiliate links. Check for example Starbucks marketing strategy to learn from this case study.


The average annual income for an affiliate marketer is $20,000 per year. That means you’re making about $2 per hour of work. If you have 10 hours of work each week, then you’ll be earning around $2400 per month or $25,200 per annum. This figure doesn’t include other sources of revenue such as sponsorships, product launches, etc.

The average income for an affiliate marketer is $0-$100 per day. The top 10% of affiliate marketers earn over $1,000 per month. That means if you’re in the top 1%, your monthly earnings could be as high as $10k or higher. If you’re not already making this kind of cash, then I don’t think you should expect to start right away. You’ll have to work hard before you see any significant results. But once you’ve got some experience under your belt, you may just surprise yourself by earning way more than what you thought was possible. 

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