AM 100: What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Since a lot of the content on The College CEO is about affiliate marketing, it would probably help if I explained a little bit about what Affiliate Marketing is. I’ll be referring to Affiliate Marketing as “AM” from this point on. This post will cover the basics of AM only. I’ll go into more detail in other posts. But for now, realize that AM is extremely popular and one of the most popular methods used by bloggers to monetize their sites. One survey of over 500 bloggers showed that 69% of bloggers use AM on their sites.

Terms To Know

  • Affiliate: The person who is advertising a company’s products for a commission. Also referred to as the “Publisher”.
  • Commission: The amount of money the affiliate makes for each purchase made when someone buys through their affiliate link. This is typically expressed as a percentage.
  • Affiliate link: An URL given to the affiliate to promote products for the vendor.
  • Conversion: The completed process of a visitor purchasing a product or service through the affiliate’s affiliate link.
  • Advertiser: The company whose products the affiliate is promoting. Also referred to as a “Vendor” or “Merchant”.
  • Cookies: Small files stored on the visitor’s computer.They are primarily used for tracking purposes. The advertiser uses them to see what affiliate the link belongs to and also to see what time the visitor clicked the link.
  • Cookie Duration: The amount of time that can go by before an affiliate no longer receives commission for a purchase made through their affiliate link.
  • Recurring Commission: Receiving a recurring payment/commission for an affiliate sale. Typically offered by merchants who offer subscription based products/services.
  • Affiliate Program: The formal setup of how merchants allow publishers to sell their products as affiliates for reward.
  • Affiliate Network: A company that brings merchants and publishers together. They offer a directory of affiliate programs that publishers can choose from. They provide you with affiliate links, tracking, and even receiving payment.


Affiliate Marketing Definition (according to Wikipedia)

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts

In other words, it’s a way of making money online by promoting a company’s products and/or services. You as the publisher, earn a commission on each product or service purchased through your affiliate link.

How Affiliate Marketing Works

Now that you know what Affiliate Marketing is, let’s briefly talk a little bit about how it works. Let’s say I have a blog about dogs. I create a post all about the best way to pick up dog poop (there’s a lot of people who live around me that would need to read that post!). In the post, I make mention of some of the different products available like bags, small scoops and rakes. For each product I mention, I would place an affiliate link to the product. For example:

One my favorite ways to pick up poop when my dog craps on the grass where people walk on is the Lazy Pet Poop Patrol Jaw Scoop.

When someone clicks on the “Lazy Pet Poop Patrol Jaw Scoop” link, they’ll be taken to If they purchase the pooper scooper, I would receive a commission. The beauty of AM is that I would also receive commission on anything else the visitor buys with that click through! So if they want to get a new leash for their dog Spot, some dog toys, and poop bags, I would receive a commission for all of it. This applies to Amazon and a lot of other merchants that let people add multiple items to checkout. Pretty freaking awesome right?

How Do You Find Merchants That Have Affiliate Programs?

Finding companies to become an affiliate for is actually really easy. Pretty much every large online retailer has an affiliate program. Amazon, Best Buy,, Walmart, Target, and others all have affiliate programs. No matter what niche your blog or site is in, there is more than likely an affiliate program for it.

There are two primary ways you can find affiliate programs. Use an Affiliate network like Commission Junction or ShareASale. Or, you can go to the website of the company you want to be an affiliate for.

Being a part of an affiliate network is 100% free. In another class, I’ll go more in depth about affiliate networks.

If you want to go to individual company sites to find out whether or not they have an affiliate program, you can usually scroll to the bottom of the home page and they’ll have a link that says “Affiliate” or “Affiliate Program” like this:

Game Stop Affiliate

Heels Affiliate

Nine times out of ten, the company uses an Affiliate Network for their program and will redirect you to signup through the affiliate network. Commission Junction, ShareASale, and Link Share are 3 of the more popular networks out there. I’d recommend signing up for those three to cover your bases.

That’s it for this class. We covered the bare basics of what AM is and how it works. Be sure to check back for more lessons!

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