How Online Affiliate Marketing Works – The Simple 3-Step Process

How Online Affiliate Marketing Works

Welcome to this guide on How Online Affiliate Marketing Works

Since the World-Wide-Web was given to the world in 1990 by a British scientist at Cern, we have seen some massive changes for the better, with a vast number of ways to improve our lives.

From YouTube that shows us how to practically do anything, through to the many opportunities that are out there to help us better our lives on a financial level.

Want to know or do anything and the Internet is there at our fingertips.

Just GOOGLE IT we hear ourselves saying.

However, not all opportunities are there to better ourselves but better someone else’s and there are many of them dotted around.

Many go down the multi-level-marketing route (myself included) and find out very quickly that they are a lot harder to crack than they initially thought.

With the vast majority losing money, sleep, and just feel that they are just banging their heads against a wall. I remember that feeling oh so clearly! 

I bet you thought it would be a piece of cake with the money rolling in over-night, I know I did because I believed the BS that I was told.

There is no such thing as a get-rich-quick opportunity although that’s exactly what we are told.

For me, I found out that Online affiliate marketing was the better choice as it isn’t a get-rich scheme, or full of false promises.

However, it is possible to earn money and even big money with Online Affiliate Marketing, but it is not easy and will take a lot of hard work, dedication and a lot of patience so if this is not you then probably not wise to continue reading.

If you are looking for a way to supplement your existing income or even replace one then I would seriously consider this route.

It’s working for me and it could work for you!

[Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission if you purchase anything through one of the links. However, this will not affect what you pay!]

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The Affiliate Marketing Process

How online affiliate marketing works - A process to a better life

For the online affiliate marketing process to work, it requires 3 elements.
    1. The Customer

The person who is searching for information in the search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.

    1. The Affiliate Marketer

This would be me and maybe you, who would promote the vendor’s products normally on a website that you own with the end goal to connect the customer with the vendor.

    1. The Vendor

This is where the product comes from, the manufacturer or retailer like Amazon and Walmart.


So the affiliate marketer…

    • Does not…hold or pay for any stock
    • Does not…create or manage the sales order
    • Does not…handle the delivery of the products
    • Does not…handle any returns

For our hard work providing the customer purchases the product or service we would get paid by way of a commission.

  • The beauty of online affiliate marketing is that you only need an internet connection and a laptop, so this could be done anywhere on the planet.

Just think, touring the world with the family and your laptop, sounds great doesn’t it?

Check out this diagram of how online affiliate marketing works and we’ll continue to break it down further.

  • How online affiliate marketing works - Affiliate Marketing Diagram

How Online Affiliate Marketing Works – The 3 Basic Steps

Online affiliate marketing has no restrictions on what you can promote, not like in a multi-level-marketing business opportunity.

You could promote any product and there are literally millions to choose from, but the proper way is to create a website based around what you are interested in.

What you are hoping to achieve is 1 website = 1 Interest/hobby/niche.

Like this website that you are currently on is about how to “Make Money Online” and it is my job to help people like you to find the right opportunities and to warn you of the opportunities that I don’t recommend.

first-step / decide on a Niche

So, the first thing we need to decide on is what your website is going to be about, which could be about literally anything.

In the online affiliate marketing world, this is what we would call a “Niche”

Just click on the image below for some free training…

How online affiliate marketing works -How to find a Niche

second-Step / create your WEBSITE

Once you have decided upon a niche then you would need to create a website to promote your niche.

Creating a website is usually what puts people off becoming an affiliate marketer but take it from me nowadays this couldn’t be any easier.

A website is what establishes you in CYBER-SPACE.

Just click on the image below for some free training…

How online affiliate marketing works - How To Create a Website in 30 seconds

third-step / Promote your site – By creating great content

Once you have created your website now the interesting stuff, creating great content that your potential customers are going to love reading.

REMEMBER, it is all about connecting the customer with the vendor.

Before we go any further, let me tell you about my writing skills prior to starting out as an affiliate marketer.

I can’t remember the last time I had written a letter so when I got to this part of my journey it sort of scared me, but most people are anyway.

Anything new can be scary at first but when I got into it I actually found that I was enjoying it.

So, what do you write about?

That’s an easy one…whatever you decided as your niche and what your website is going to be about.

For argument’s sake, let’s say you decided to choose your niche to be about “DRONES”, then we write about drones.

What we hope to achieve with our content is, that we want to help our readers by giving them information that will be useful and in the process, we can offer products and services that they might be interested in.

REMEMBER, it’s all about helping others and in time people will see your “BLOG-POSTS” because you will learn how to get those posts RANKED on GOOGLES page-1, and we do that by…


That’s finding out what people are keying into Google that relates to your niche in this case DRONES.

We could use something like the Jaaxy Keyword Research Tool

How online affiliate marketing works - Jaaxy drones

If you check out the image above, this is an average amount of times that the keyword “drones” is keyed into the Google Search Engine in a month.

This is just to show you how popular the keyword “drones” is.

One thing to notice with this keyword is that its too BROAD a keyword and encapsulates everything relating to drones.

You need to be smarter and try something like this…

How online affiliate marketing works - Jaaxy drones for beginners

We know that people are searching for these keyword terms and therefore could use these keywords to create our content.

One keyword per article or blog post is a guideline.

The more content you create the more eyes see your website and the more chance of your website making money.

That’s it but one thing I haven’t mentioned is that you need to find affiliate programs for your content which I cover in the next section.

How Online Affiliate Marketing Works – How to Find Affiliate Programs to use

To promote products and get paid you would need to join one or more affiliate programs.

Think of a product, no matter what it is and there will be affiliate programs that you can use.

Affiliate programs are free to join and once you sign up you are given your own personal affiliate link.

This is what you use to link the products to the customer and this link is what controls how you are paid.

Commissions paid out vary from company to company with them starting at 2% all the way up to 85%.

How online affiliate marketing works - how to find affiliate programs

Misconceptions on How Online Affiliate Marketing Works

Before you start considering affiliate marketing and finding an online affiliate marketing program to sign up to and learn all this, you must understand that this is not a get-rich-quick scheme.

Online affiliate marketing works in a way that gives you full control, not like those multi-level-marketing programs do, and designed in a way to be sustainable, passive and a realistic way to make money.

However, the time it takes all depends on you.

Many affiliate marketers will tell you affiliate marketing is easy, but they are trying to get you hitched into what they are promoting, and I am also but I’d like to think that I lay it down in a more precise way.

I fell into that trap with the Wealthy Affiliate training platform I eventually joined, where I believed that it was going to be easy and the reason why after 6 months decided to take a break because I thought it wouldn’t work.

I now realize that if I’d continued instead of taking a 15-month break I would be where I wanted to be today.

There is however a massive earning potential, but you have to expect to work hard to reach those goals.

That been said…

It Takes Hard Work, Dedication and Patience to Get the Best Results from the Process

You need to realize that this online affiliate marketing should be treated as a proper business, just like you would any other business venture.

You will not be successful if you don’t put in the hard work and you need to have the dedication and above all patience.

You’ll find that you are always fighting with that part of you that wants you to fail.

A few things to consider…

Just look at online affiliate marketing as a “Shop” without the overheads but more flexible, much more flexible.

How online affiliate marketing works, is by you starting this journey by carefully choosing what your website is going to be about and make it about something that you will have a passion for and love.

That way building your website isn’t going to be a chore, but something that you look forward to doing, not like some crappy job that we hate and I’ve had a few of them in my time.

Invest in yourself and find a great training platform like Wealthy Affiliate and start how you mean to carry on.

Ensure the niche you choose isn’t too popular otherwise it will be a struggle to rank in Google and will be difficult to succeed in.

Not like me with the MMO(Make money online) niche because everybody seems to be in that niche, but I like a challenge and if I can crack it in that niche then you can surely crack it in a less popular one.

Remember, it’s all about you and finding an identity that you are looking to portray to other people by been helpful and honest.

There are far too many affiliate marketers out there who just don’t give a damn about you, and in it only for the money and will sell you just about any old CRAP there is.

Yes, money is great but don’t you want this business of yours to be around in years to come? Maybe this could be your legacy that you hand down to a family member. I know it is with me!

Make use of social media and don’t spread yourself too much and choose 2 maybe 3 areas to expose and do it well.

    • YouTube – My number one recommendation
    • Pinterest
    • Facebook
    • Instagram
    • Twitter
    • There are much more but less popular

Email marketing, should be high on your list but not in the interim, and a place where people who love your work will subscribe to so they don’t miss any new stuff that you create.

They say the money is in the list and it is but over time and nurtured in the right manner could be a nice additional income stream, but don’t treat them in the right way and they will unsubscribe from your list.

Remember, GOOGLE is your friend and whilst your website won’t be noticed in the early days, creating content regularly is what GOOGLE likes to see.

Another BIGGIE is, don’t copy other peoples work because you will be penalised by Google.

Your job as a copywriter is to check out other peoples work and to get great ideas but turn it into your own words.

People who fail are the ones that lose sight of why they started online affiliate marketing in the first place.

Hard work, passion, consistency, patience and eventually you will see success and a way to enjoy life more.

How long will it take to see results?

That’s the million-dollar question as everybody is different and have their own work ethics.

I have seen people start seeing good returns in as little as 6 months, but this is all down to the right training and how you adapt to it.

For instance, I know a person who even today doesn’t have a great amount of content on his site, but he used Youtube in conjunction with his content to promote his business and it really catapulted him.

But, a realistic period of 6-12 months but probably 12+ months and that’s with devoting several hours a day.

The more you put into this business the more you will get out of it, but that is the same for anything in life.

Follow the training to a tee and put in hard work and who knows?

Do not listen to others who tell you that you are wasting your time and to get a real job.

Wealthy Affiliate is an online training platform with an amazing community, that I can highly recommend to anyone and it’s free to join and check out so nothing ventured and all that.

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How online affiliate marketing works is exactly how it is portrayed in this post and hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

If you did enjoy this article why not show a little love and share amongst your friends on social media.

If you have any questions at all about affiliate marketing or Wealthy Affiliate then you can enter them in the comments section below.

Until next time and stay safe!

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Author: Mick

Hey Guys and Gals, great to meet you and hope you enjoyed this post. We created this site to help people like you avoid the pitfalls of making money online and hopefully steer you onto the right path. ENJOY!

18 thoughts on “How Online Affiliate Marketing Works – The Simple 3-Step Process”

  1. Thank you Mick.Really helpful stuff.

    I had a feeling that affiliate marketing was not an easy way to make money. I tell you this as I have noticed some YouTubers claim that they made $1000’s within a week! And that’s for someone who is a newbie. I thought that it was just way too unrealistic of a claim.

    And you confirmed that Affiliate marketing is a business model and as such, one needs to put in their fair share of effort and time in order to see some rewards. Thanks for your honesty.

    You have also given me a clearer picture of how different affiliate marketing is compared to MLM’s. I like the fact that one does not have to do any recruiting.

    Love to see that your number one recommendation does have a free starter plan.


    1. Hey Roopesh, thanks for stopping by and commenting on this post.

      There are far too many “affiliate marketers” out there, who are in it only for the money and tend to not be truthful and give the rest a bad name.

      Wealthy affiliate is an excellent platform for anybody new to affiliate marketing and even if the training courses may be a little dated, you get more than enough information to run with.

      A bricklayer is not going to become an expert at college, it’s what they do with that knowledge out in the big wide world.

      Thank you for your comment.

  2. Hi Mick
    I greatly appreciate the honesty of this article. I’ve read far too much happy-clappy hype on this subject that it is refreshing to encounter a piece of writing that tells it like it is. If there is one quality that I would say is needed in addition to hard work and application of learning it would be patience. I would have one question for you though. As you are building out a website, does the approach you take to content need to be different at the beginning to get noticed and on Google’s radar, and is that different from the approach you should be taking to creating content when your site is more established? And does that depend on the niche you are in?
    Thanks and best regards

    1. Hey Andy, thank you for stopping by and taking time out to read and comment on this post.

      If you are new to creating a website then you are going to encounter plenty of mistakes throughout the course of your business development.

      The longer you stick at it the better you get and for me, it’s all about giving quality.

      Should always aim to be better each time you create a post.

      I guess that quality may not be as good if you decide to outsource the work.

      The niche is very important.

      Thank you for your support

  3. Terrific information on what affiliate marketing is about. I think you gave a well thought out and step by step process on what it takes to start the business. I’m sure most will appreciate the fact that you don’t try to sell it as a get-rich-quick business and that it will take hard work. Thanks for this honest take on affiliate marketing…well done!

  4. Hi Mick,
    I really like your perspective that online affiliate marketing should be viewed as a “shop” without the overhead but with great flexibility. Few people appreciate that affiliate marketing requires a lot of hard work, dedication, consistency and patience. Knowing that it is not a get rich quick scheme and that results may only realistically be seen at about 12months + should create a mindset for people to take the time to set up “shop” properly. You provide lots of guidance here which I am looking into.

    1. Many just aren’t ready for the hard work that comes with developing a website, that’s why many use affiliate marketing networks like Clickbank.

      This way of affiliate marketing is all about earning money with no interest in whether the product is any good or not.

      The real question is, “Do you want to help other’s or not”?

      Thank for stopping by and commenting.

  5. I love your honesty in explaining how affiliate marketing works. I have come across so many programs that leave you guessing as to how it’s supposed to work and want a fortune to find out.

    It now makes more sense to me and also the fact that it does take work to make money even online. So, am I to assume then that all those programs that say you can make thousands right now is false? If so how can they get away with lying like that?

    Thank you for this honest information.

    1. Thanks, Rick for stopping by and commenting on how online affiliate marketing works.

      If something sounds too good to be true then it more than likely is.

      All these programs that offer you instant wealth are all aimed at the newbies who know nothing about how to make money online, and are after the easy way out and want to believe what they are told.

      Imagine how many of these products would be available online if the vendors gave you a true picture of what was involved and how hard it was to make money with affiliate marketing…They would no longer be vendors but back as affiliate marketers.

      However, they aren’t lying, because you probably could earn some money but the amount of hard work involved would be too much for a newbie.

      Why they are allowed to ply their trade is beyond me.

      Thank you for your support

  6. A big advantage of affiliate marketing is that you’re not directly holding and responsible for merchandise, but the common misconception is indeed that it is easy when it’s not. After I had been doing it for 3 months I also hoped for some incoming commissions, but that did not happen, I had to wait another year. It takes time, patience, and a lot of effort. I think if you persist, it will happen, but many give up, because it takes so long.

    1. People still look for the shortcut to wealth which of course we know there is no such thing, and most people are just not interested in spending hours, days, weeks, months and years working for nothing.

      When you don’t see returns the doubts kick in and then you start questioning what others are saying, because quite frankly that is what you have learned in the past, not to trust people through all the scams there unfortunately is.

      People need to look at building a website as starting a normal business, and doing it all on your own will let the mind wander and bring in that negative side that we are always fighting.

      Once you find a training platform that you can trust then that’s only part of the battle, then the hard work starts.

      You need a firm base and finding the right mentors is key to your success.

      Just ignore the negative side and as long as you are following the training and listening to other successful people then eventually success will happen, however long it takes.

      Thank you for your comment

  7. Hi Mick,

    You are correct. Making money through affiliate marketing isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, and the online income won’t flood into your bank account overnight. You need to put lots of hard work, effort, and perseverance into your online business before seeing any positive results. Only a few make money in return, while the majority fail to make money online. The key factor is just like what you said here, dedication and patience.

    Thanks for sharing today. You’ve provided great value today, and it’s a soft reminder for me to refresh again the reason I am doing affiliate marketing. 🙂


  8. Finally someone explains what affiliate marketing is in an easy to read honest format. I have never been able to grasp online stuff and always hear about affiliate marketing. You made it sound so easy! Thanks for such a great article and helping me to finally understand what affiliate marketing is and how it can be an answer to my dreams and goals.
    I look forward to other articles from you.
    Thanks! Jamie L.

  9. What a refreshing article about the reality of online business platforms. It’s so honest it’s tempting to try but I’ve been depressed after working 3rd shift in a windowless production environment since 95. I’m not going to lie, I get paid ok for the type of work I do but nothing excites me anymore.

    1. Hey Jason, thank you for your feedback and I hear you.

      I spent a couple of years trying various ways to make money online and everything I tried didn’t work until I came across Wealthy Affiliate.

      To be honest I joined quite by accident but decided to give it a go and 5 years later I am still here.

      The problem with the internet is that there is far too much misinformation and it is extremely difficult to believe anything nowadays but at Wealthy Affiliate, there was no BS and no pressure, it is down to each individual and how much you put in to determine how much you get out of the training.

      But, that is the case with any business.

      Something has to give and for me, that meant retiring from my freelance software development role which took me to other countries.

      Anyway, good luck with whatever you decide.

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