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Inside the Affiliate Marketing & FAQs

Inside the Affiliate Marketing & FAQs

A technical guide on how affiliate marketing works along with frequently asked questions.


In last article — what is affiliate marketing and how does it work, I discussed about the affiliate marketing and what are the main components of an affiliate marketing triangle. I also shed light on the key characteristics of a successful affiliate marketing strategy. 

In this article, I will discuss technical aspects of affiliate marketing; how companies manage their affiliate marketing program and what is necessary for you to know for better conversions. We will also try to answer few of the most asked questions related to affiliate marketing. 

The most frequent question, I heard from many newbies is, how companies know who is sending the traffic and making the sales. The answer lies in tracking a unique URL. When you sign up for an affiliate program, they generate a unique referral URL for you to track the referral traffic. 

The referral URL is the main source in affiliate marketing. The advertiser uses it to keep track of all the traffic and sales of their products and services via your website, social media platforms and email marketing etc. There are still few old-fashioned affiliate programs that ask the buyer to enter the username or email of the affiliate in order to consider it an affiliate sales, but it is very rare and is not a good way to track affiliate progress.

There are tens of thousands of companies, which sell products and services online such as logo design, air tickets, electronic gadgets, clothes, shoes, web-hosting or any other service or product, offer an affiliate program. You can easily join any such program and get the unique referral link. Now, whenever, you will write about the product or service, you can simply use that special tracking affiliate link to recommend the company's products and services. When your visitors will order that service or product, you will earn a piece of revenue for your hard work.

 BlueHost Affiliate Program — BlueHost is one of the top hosting company which offers shared web hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated hosting and WordPress hosting etc. It is one of the four hosting providers recommended by for WordPress hosting. BlueHost affiliate program is very impressive as the company paid over $5 million to its affiliate last year alone. It offers $65 per sign up for 1-5 sales per month at the beginning and it can be extended up to $100-$125 for big number of sales. 

Each affiliate program offers a set of terms and conditions (TOS) which is a mutual contract between the advertiser and the publisher. These terms govern the rules of cookies policy as well as payout options. For instance, many programs offer a 60-day cookie policy, which means that if a visitor uses your particular affiliate link to access the company's sales page and instead of buying straightaway, he buys the product or service later on within the next 60 days, you will be still entitled to claim sale commission. 

Similarly, terms of service also defines the payout options as well as the affiliate earning release policy. Following are some of the most common terms associated with affiliate marketing: 

  • Advertiser: A company or individual offering a product or service and willing to pay other individuals or a company in order to promote their products and to grow their business.
  • Publisher or Affiliate: Publisher can be an individual or a company involved in promoting an advertiser products and services on their website or blog by using unique referral links. 
  • Consumer or Customer: The person who buys the promoted product or service via affiliate links. 
  • Affiliate Network or Marketplace: There are many affiliate networks like CJ, Clickbank and Shareasale, which work as a middleman between the publishers and the advertisers. They are like a central database for affiliate programs in different niches. 
  • Affiliate Link: The special unique tracking link given to you by your affiliate program to track the sales via your recommended visitors.
  • Affiliate Software: The special software used by the companies to create their in-house affiliate program for their products and services. One common example of such software is iDevAffiliate.
  • Affiliate ID: Similar to the affiliate referral link, there are many programs which offer a unique ID that can be then embed to any page of the product or service. 
  • Affiliate Commission: The amount earn by the affiliate by recommending the advertiser's products and services. It is generally a slice in the revenue collected from the product sales. 
  • Payment Mode or Payment Options: Different affiliate programs offer different payment methods to withdraw the commission. For example, Wire Transfer, PayPal, Check etc. 
  • 2-tier Affiliate Marketing: This is a great way of making extra money from an affiliate program. There are few affiliate programs which offer 2-tier marketing strategy. This essentially means you recommend others to join affiliate program, and you will receive a commission when a sub-affiliate makes a sale, known as sub-affiliate commission.
  • Landing Pages or Product Pages: A unique product or service sales or demo page used for the purpose of marketing and increasing sales. Most of the programs offer such landing pages.
  • Affiliate Bounty: Many affiliate companies offer bounty to their affiliates on the number of sales. The top affiliates get an extra money in the form of bounty or performance reward.
  • Custom Coupons: Many affiliate program allows the publisher to create custom coupon codes which are also used to track sales. Custom coupons sometimes work as an affiliate link.
  • Link Cloaking: A method used to make a long affiliate URL link into a shorter and prettier one — often to the detriment of a brand. One of the most common forms of link cloaking occurs when an affiliate doesn't use its own URL at all, but rather just appropriates a brand's URL without any disclosure. 

Affiliate program offers a great opportunity to the companies to promote their services and products without spending much on the marketing. They only pay to affiliate when any sale happens. For affiliate, it is great way of making extra money without owning any product or service. 

Affiliate Marketing Frequently Asked Questions

So far, we have discussed what is affiliate marketing, how does it work and what are the technicalities involved in such program. At this point, we have a basic understanding of what affiliate marketing is and how it works.  

Now, let me answer some of the most frequently asked questions related to affiliate marketing and affiliate programs:

1. Is affiliate marketing legitimate? 

Yes, it is fully legal way of earning money online. It is neither harmful nor illegal in any way. You simply promote the services and products of other company or an individual to earn the commission.

2. Can I use affiliate marketing along with Google AdSense? 

Yes, you can! It does not violate any AdSense terms of service. For many people, affiliate marketing is far better than Google AdSense. 

3. How much does it cost to join an affiliate program?

It does not cost any money to join an affiliate program. However, it may add cost depending on what promotion methods you've chosen. For example, writing a quality post, product review, PPC marekting, email marketing or advertising may add extra costs. 

4. Is it necessary to have a website or blog for affiliate promotion?

Not necessarily! It is not must to have your own blog or website for promoting products and services. You can still promote the advertiser's products and services on your social media pages or include a link in your email signature etc. However, a blog is the best way of promoting products. 

5. Do I need any specific skills set to become an affiliate partner?

There is no qualification needed to join an affiliate program. But good writing and marketing skills are always a plus. 

6. How much money can I earn from affiliate marketing?

As we discussed in previous post, there is no upper bound on the amount of commission you can earn from affiliate programs. It all depends on your marketing strategy and the type of products you are promoting. 

7. How much time do I need to invest in affiliate marketing?

Please be sure, affiliate marketing is not an easy way of earning money. It needs a lot of patience and commitment to get the first sale. It is not like you just post the affiliate links in your website and boom, you're millionaire! You have to create quality content, craft an out-of-the-box marketing strategy, and work hard to reach the target audience. 

8. How much traffic do I need to earn good commission? 

Affiliate marketing is totally different world than Google AdSense! It does not matter how much traffic your website is getting monthly because you are not getting paid based on the website's visitors. The most important thing is how many targeted visitors (the visitors how are relevant to the products you are promoting) visit your website monthly because they are likely to buy the promoted products.  


This completes our beginner's guide to affiliate marketing. I hope, now you understand what affiliate marketing is all about. In coming days, I'll write about expert tips and tricks to get started as an affiliate. We will also write about top affiliate programs available in the market.

Following is a list of our recommended affiliate programs, that can help you get started:

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Disclosure: This page may contain external affiliate links that may result in us receiving a commission if you choose to purchase said product. The opinions on this page are our own. We do not receive payment for positive reviews.
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Atta-Ur-Rehman Shah      

A passionate programmer, domainer, writer and photographer! Love writing about web development, latest trends in technology and domain name industry. Working hard to make the world a better place!