how_does_affiliate_marketing_workHave you ever thought about starting a business online but weren’t sure where to begin? Have you heard of 10,000 different ways to make money online in your spare time, but felt like they were all scams?

In this post I’ll give an easy explanation to answer a fundamental question many people have about online business opportunities: how does affiliate marketing work?

I’ll go through the basics of how affiliate marketers earn money, why it’s a real opportunity, and what you can do to get started.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Firstly, let’s look at how affiliate marketing works. The basics are actually fairly simple.

3 Sides to the Equation

There are three sides to the affiliate marketing equation:

  1. Publishers: which include bloggers and other website owners
  2. Sellers: people or companies trying to sell a product or service
  3. Customers: individuals looking to purchase a product and/or solve a specific problem.

Affiliate marketers are the “publisher” part of the equation. They have websites that generate traffic: real people looking to buy a product online, looking for information about a product, or simply individuals just trying to solve a problem they have.

Affiliate marketers connect these potential customers to the product owners who are looking to sell more goods and services. In exchange for connecting these two groups, affiliate marketers receive a fee, also known as a commission, at the time a purchase is made.


  1. You have a website on gardening.
  2. A reader comes to your website looking for information on how to protect the garden against rabbits.
  3. The user sees your article on how to put up rabbit-proof fencing, which includes a link to Amazon showcasing a rabbit-proof fence.
  4. The reader clicks the link and buys the product.
  5. You receive a commission. Everyone’s happy.

In this example, you have solved a reader’s problem and helped them find a product that fit their need. Everyone wins.

Why Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Affiliate marketing is not a scam. (read more on why affiliate marketing is not a get rich quick scheme)

In fact, there is a massive need for more people to ‘fill the gap’ between companies trying to sell products and individuals looking for solutions to their problems.

This gap exists because there’s no way companies can provide enough helpful content to cover all possible user searches. Can you imagine Amazon writing an article on how to use rabbit-proof fencing? No, of course not!

There are billions of web searches everyday, and most of those searches are people looking to solve a problem. If you can help them solve their problem and that solution is a product purchase, you’ve just satisfied a customer and filled a gap the company couldn’t account for.

How to Get Started

If you’re thinking of starting an affiliate website, you might want to consider the following resources:

Additional posts

Free Resources

Finally, the best way to get started is really to work through an established training course. Wealthy Affiliate provides the best option in my opinion, and is great because it’s free to join. They make it super simple and you could have your first website up today!

Click here to learn more about the free Wealthy Affiliate training!