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What is Affiliate Marketing?

For small-time business owners and entrepreneurs, searching for a strong source of income becomes a top priority. Different models and strategies can supply various streams of revenue, but in the age of digital marketing, nothing does the job better than affiliate marketing. Popularized by Amazon, affiliate marketing helps certain businesses meet their marketing goals at a low cost, and the affiliates themselves gain a stream of passive income. This practice is a win-win situation for both merchants and affiliates, and the advancement in technology has only improved methods to track leads and sales.

This article will act as an introductory post to what affiliate marketing is, the diverse types, and how it can be advantageous and disadvantageous to your business.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is an advertising model where third-party publishers earn commission-based pay by promoting an advertiser’s products and services through an affiliate link. Businesses work with an affiliate in the hopes of increasing web traffic, sales, and general awareness for their brand, product, or service. In return, affiliates gain a percentage of sales and customer traffic based on their marketing efforts.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

The process of affiliate marketing involves different parties coming together and negotiating certain terms and responsibilities to create a beneficial marketing strategy. The complexity and methods depend on the business, but the standard partnership results in 3 main parties.

The Seller

Affiliate marketing begins with a vendor, merchant, or creator with a product or service to market. The seller might not have any marketing experience, but instead, some funding and resources to find a specialist who can increase awareness.

The Affiliate

The chosen affiliate or publisher will be the individual or company responsible for making the product or service appealing to consumers. Influencers, bloggers, and email listings are common affiliate marketing channels that help spread the word for audience growth and brand recognition. Of the 3 main parties, affiliates have more responsibilities over the quality of the advertisement. In addition to convincing and persuading consumers on the beneficial use of a product or service, these publishers must balance the content with specific guidelines and inserts requested by the seller.

The Consumer

Consumers play a key role in deciding the success of an affiliate’s endorsement. Sellers will know whether to invest more in this business strategy, and affiliates can earn a part of the revenue made through purchased products or services. Through this form of marketing, customers must know that an affiliate is receiving a commission through advertised products and services. The Federal Trade Commission ensures these so consumers can weigh in on their decision based on the information given.

What are the Types of Affiliate Marketing?

When consumers come across a post or sponsored content infused with affiliate marketing, some question if the affiliate has used the promoted product or service. While it may not matter to some customers, others would be wary to trust the affiliate in their marketing pitch. Because of this, affiliate marketer Pat Flynn cleared the difference with three distinct types of affiliate marketing.

Unattached Affiliate Marketing

This business model considers the affiliate unattached to the product or service they are advertising. They have no experience with the niche of the product and little connection with the target audience. Unattached affiliates have a sole interest in the passive income and will run PPC marketing campaigns in the hopes that anyone would click and make a purchase.

Related Affiliate Marketing

Related affiliates do not use the product or service, but they have enough influence over the niche that they can speak about it with relevant experience. They often have a close connection with their audience and carry some authority. This business model can guarantee website traffic and generate income but still has the potential risk of backfiring if the promoted product or service becomes a bad recommendation.

Involved Affiliate Marketing

Involved affiliates are aware of the product and service they are promoting, which builds a sense of trust and credibility with their audience. They commit themselves to test the advertised product to deliver a genuine review based on personal experience.

Marketers want this type of business model because the affiliate is a reputable source for organic website traffic and can be contacted again for future sponsorship deals.

What are the Benefits of Affiliate Marketing?

The affiliate marketing industry is a worthy investment for any business. This low-cost advertising strategy yields high income and online traffic that converts into sales for both the marketer and affiliate. There is also no learning curve required to get into affiliate marketing. The process opens several opportunities to experiment with different social channels and find the tactics that can reap the most profits.

What are the Drawbacks of Affiliate Marketing?

Although affiliate marketing is considered one of the easiest methods to gain passive income, the process demands a considerable amount of time and patience to grow an authentic audience and influential power. Limitations can also lead to problems for both the company and the affiliate. With limited control over sponsored content, affiliates must find ways to be creative while adhering to the guidelines. Also, affiliate links do not automatically guarantee, so if there are not enough clicks or impressions, the company will consider the efforts a waste of time.


Affiliate marketing can work in your favor as a low-budget strategy. Partnering with an affiliate program can supply some creative individuals who understand how to persuade consumers about a product or service. For any small or mid-sized companies needing to make earnings, this method is a good place to start.