Affiliate Marketing Definition

Affiliate Marketing Definition: What, Why, Where, How…


In one line, ‘Affiliate Marketing’ can be defined as earning a commission by selling products or services that you don’t own. You don’t really have to worry about inventory, shipping, refunds, exchanges, etc. Just sell the product and bag the commission. Sounds simple right? But that’s a very basic affiliate marketing definition.

Want to know about Affiliate Marketing? Let’s discuss everything possible about affiliate marketing. We are going to talk only about online affiliate marketing in this section. affiliate marketing lifecycle

What Is Online Affiliate Marketing Definition?

OK, so let’s try that again. The idea of affiliate marketing is revenue sharing. Think about it as a distributor taking your favorite shampoo in bulk and distributing it to the local vendors of each city. Local vendors then distributing to the supermarkets and other stores near you. You then buy it from the supermarket.

The distributors, vendors, and supermarkets are the affiliate marketers in this chain. They earn commission behind each shampoo that gets sold. There can be many more affiliate layers between the company that earns the commission.

Now let’s take the same concept to the online world. It works exactly in the same way, however, there are no multiple layers like in the shampoo example above. There are only three major parties involved in affiliate marketing:  vendor, affiliate marketer, and consumer. Sometimes there is an optional entity called affiliate network which nothing but a one-stop place for vendors, affiliate marketers, and consumers.

Different Roles In Affiliate Marketing

  • Vendor: This role is also known as a merchant or a creator or a seller. This role owns a product (or group of products). These products can be physical (e.g.. Laptops, phones, etc) or digital (software, online courses, etc). The vendor is responsible for receiving the order from the affiliate marketer and handling the delivery, returns, refunds, and end to end fulfillment. The vendor is also responsible for keeping track of each affiliate marketer who brings him sales and its commissions.
  • Consumer: Consumer is the one who purchases the products created by the vendors (or sellers or merchants).
  • Affiliate Marketer: This role is also known as the publisher. This role is responsible for introducing consumers to the vendors. It is the responsibility of the affiliate marketer to perform the marketing activities necessary to find the consumers for the products. Consumers then directly deal with the vendors to buy the products and the affiliate marketer earns the commission if the sale happens. This entire process is either fully automated or semi-automated.
  • Affiliate Network: It is the platform where Vendors can find affiliate marketers and vice versa. In some cases, even consumers are part of this network too. The responsibility of the network is to have a fully automated system for vendors and affiliate marketers. Using this system, they can display the products to sell, handle the commissions, have the rating system, etc. Clickbank, CJ are some of the affiliate networks. Another great example is the amazon network. It also has the consumers on its network.

How Much Do Affiliate Marketers Earn?

We are going to give you a safe answer here. It depends. It depends on how good you are with respect to your efforts, the knowledge that you possess about the products that you use, your buyer network, the way you market, and so on.

Depending on the product and affiliate network you can earn a commission from 3 to 75% per sale. Some expert affiliate marketers are earning from $10-$100 to over $3000 per day.

It’s obvious that you won’t start earning from day one. Affiliate marketing is a long but sure journey to earn money.

Benefits of Affiliate Marketing?

We can think of 100 reasons why people should get into Affiliate Marketing. Here are a few that will make you consider taking the affiliate marketing path.

  1. No Boss: You are your own boss. You decide your work timings. You decided what to sell and what not to sell. You decide when to sell and when not to sell. You decide how to sell. In short, you are the one who is responsible for your success and failures. Too bad, you can’t blame it on someone else 😉
  2. Work From Anywhere: You only need a computer with an internet connection and bank account to receive money other than your will and passion to succeed. That means you can work from anywhere as long as there is an internet connection. You can work on your own schedule. It is so flexible.
  3. No Inventory: You don’t own the product and hassles associated with it. You don’t have to keep inventory at your end and worry about shipping or delivery. Merchant takes care of that. That also means that you don’t have to worry about the or refunds/returns or customer service of the products.
  4. Minimal Risk Of Failures: Imagine setting up a physical business with thousands of dollars of investment and that business fails. Well, that doesn’t happen here. You are not setting up a physical business here. You are selling someone else’s products. If one product fails you can stop selling it and try something else. At max, you will lose the investments that you did on marketing.
  5. On-Time Payment: Unlike other businesses where you need to keep following up with your clients for invoice payments, here you get paid on time, each time. The payment process is 100% automated in the case of affiliate marketing commissions. You don’t need to follow up with anyone (barring some technical issues). You can run your affiliate marketing business without talking to anyone in person or on phone.
  6. Earn While You Sleep: Once your product starts selling, it can get sold while you are sleeping. That way you earn while you sleep. That’s certainly not possible with your 9-5 job 🙂

Affiliate Marketing Is Easy, Isn’t It?

Do you think so? Sure, it is easy to get started with affiliate marketing but sustaining here is not easy. There are many challenges. You may end up selecting the wrong products, wrong niches, products with high returns, and so on. It will be challenging to find the consumers who will buy from you initially.

There may be difficulties in maintaining the right balance between what you spend on marketing vs what you earn in commission. There is a learning curve involved in finding the right product to how to sell it.

You may feel that you are putting in a lot of efforts but nothing is happening. That is because those efforts are not in the right direction. Many people join affiliate marketing thinking that they will start selling products immediately and become rich overnight. When that doesn’t happen, people get disappointed and quit.

Remember that affiliate marketing is not fast food. It is more like a 7-course meal. There are a lot of steps to be taken before you become a successful affiliate marketer. If it was easy then everybody would have done it.

Ummm… So Is There Anyone Who Teaches Affiliate Marketing?

You bet. There are a lot of so-called gurus who teach affiliate marketing and make money. Most of the times they are learning affiliate marketing themselves with your money.

If we have to recommend the best teachers then there are only two of them

  1. Click Bank University
  2. Wealthy Affiliate

In fact, we have created an in-depth review for ClickBank University and Wealthy Affiliate. This will surely help you decide which way to go. If you are still confused then here is a comparison of Clickbank and wealthy affiliate for your reference.

While there is no trial for Click Bank University, you can try the entire system of Wealthy Affiliates for free for 7 days. You don’t even need to enter the credit card details. 

affiliate Program

Both these courses give you step by step instructions about how to become an affiliate marketer. Both are known names in affiliate words for over 15 years now. In short, they know their s**t. You can join either of them and learn it step by step.

Just remember to be patient before you actually start earning money.

If you are an experienced affiliate marketer, then we would like to hear about your affiliate marketing journey. If you are just starting and exploring, then we would like to hear about the expectations that you had about the affiliate marketing 🙂 Don’t forget to share this post with your friends too. The ball is in your court now.


8 thoughts on “Affiliate Marketing Definition: What, Why, Where, How…”

  1. Thank you for this. I love that your post is well laid out and easy to navigate through to what i needed to know.
    I am already with Wealthy Affiliate and therefore have not checked out Clickbank Unversity, but it has always sparked my curiosity. I may have to schedule some time to look into it.
    Thanks again.

    • Hey JoAnne,
      Clickbank pieces of training are good too. I may rate them half a point above WA in quality but they don’t really teach you from scratch like how to make a website and all. They do cover the concept nicely and best part is you can cancel the subscription and still access the training.

  2. “affiliate marketing is not fast food. It is more like a 7-course meal” this is the best ever description!
    You cover the basics and the hidden questions in a form that is so easy to understand and it is not sugar-coated. Like the post layout too.

    • Thank you Lovely for stopping by.
      That’s right. People are looking at online money for overnight success and when they get disappointed when their expectations are shattered 🙁

  3. Hey,

    I really like the way you explained Affiliate Marketing, very lucid and crisp explanation. Patience and Persistence are two most important “Pillars” to have a sustainable online business. I hope this message reaches out to all those who think making money online is an overnight job. Thanks for sharing this, looking forward for more such posts.


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