Affiliate Marketing 101 – Almost Everything You Need to Know to Get Started Making Money with Affiliate Program

Posted on 28th July, 2007

In the past few days, I’ve posted the following articles about affiliate program targeted towards bloggers

When I wrote those articles, I assumed the potential readers (or bloggers in particular) already have a pretty good understanding of what affiliate program is all about. Whether they realise it or not, those running AdSense to make money from their blogs are already involved in affiliate program.

Then when one of my readers asked how to get started and whether he has to pay anything, I realised that an introduction to affiliate program is necessary. So here we go.


What is Affiliate Program?

Affiliate program is basically an advertising program that you put on your blog or website. You get paid when you refer visitors from your website to the merchant’s website that run the advertising program.

A merchant is any individual or company that sells products or service on the Internet. You earn commissions when the visitors you refer buy a product or complete some type of action such as download a trial software, completes an online form, click a link (like AdSense).

What Are The Requirements to Join an Affiliate Program?

Most affiliate programs accept applicants from anywhere in the world although some only accept affiliates from certain countries like the US, Canada and the UK.

Almost all of the affiliate programs out there are free to join although I’ve seen a few which require you to make a purchase before you are acccepted into their program and start selling the product.

Each affiliate program has its own requirements in term of website traffic level, type of sites accepted, geographical location, target audience etc. There requirements are usually stated in the online application form.


How Does Affiliate Program Work?

When a visitor visits your blog or site and clicks on one of your merchant’s links, a cookie is saved on the visitor’s computer. A cookie is a small text file that is placed on your hard drive via your web browser whenever you visit a website.

It’s used to store information about you and remembers variety of information. In affiliate program, cookie is used to inform a merchant that a visitor was referred by your website.

When the visitor purchases a product, or completes some action on the merchant’s website, you’ll get paid for referring that visitor. It’s the same thing to selling products from an offline MLM company for example where you get a commission for each sale except that an affiliate program runs online.


What Are The Benefits of Joining an Affiliate Program?

Besides helping you make money, it has a very low start up costs (even free if you host your site at blogger.com). However I recommend getting your own domain name if you want to be taken more seriously.

You don’t need to keep products inventory. If you are selling ebooks or software, these information based products are delivered over the Internet which is handled by the merchant.

Another beauty of promoting affiliate program over the Internet is that you have access to anyone with Internet connection regardless of where they are in the world. You also don’t have to worry about customer service as everything is handled by the merchants. To get started with affiliate program, all you need is a website, a computer and your existing Internet connection.


Affiliate Programs Types

Basically there are four types of affiliate programs:

  • Pay per sale – you get paid when your visitors purchased a product or service typically a percentage of the sale but sometimes a flat dollar amount.

    Merchants that pay a flat dollar amount usually sell services such as web hosting, dating service and so on. Merchants that pay percentage of sale include Amazon.com, Dell Computers, ClickBank.com merchants. Pay per sale allows you to make more money when your users buy multiple items at once.

    The disadvantage is that it’s harder to promote. The commissions can also be small when users buy small ticket items.

  • Pay per lead – you get paid when your visitors complete a lead form or sign-up for a service.

    Pay per lead merchants are some of the most desirable merchants to promote. The conversion rates for pay per lead programs can be better than pay per sale because the visitor isn’t buying anything. They simply need to complete an online form for you to get paid.

    The disadvantage of pay per lead programs are the commission can be less than pay per sale programs. It is also not always easy to send qualified leads especially when a merchant expects US leads but your website caters to non-US visitors.

  • Pay per action – you get paid when your visitors perform certain action such as download a trial software or complete an online survey. The distinction between pay per lead and pay per action isn’t always obvious.

    Like pay per lead, you visitors aren’t required to purchase anything in order for you to get compensated.

  • Pay per click – you get paid when your visitors click certain links. Pay per Click programs were quite popular before AdSense arrived at the scene but many advertisers are moving away from this payout model due to the click fraud problem.

    But this didn’t deter Google AdSense and the Yahoo Publisher Network from using and even thrive under the pay per Click model with the help of their fraud click detection technology to combat the problem. Another popular pay per click program is Kontera.com


25 Affiliate Networks You Can Join

You can join any affiliate program by signing up with an affiliate network, or join directly at the merchant’s website.

Joining an affiliate network is often best because you can typically find hundreds if not thousands of merchants under one roof. In addition your payment is consolidated into one lump sum rather than individual checks from each merchant.

The following is a list of affiliate network you can consider:


  • Commission Junction – one of the most popular ones where you can find some of the biggest names such as Home Depot, eBay and so on.
  • LinkShare – another popular network with good merchants to choose from. It boasts Fortune 500 clients including Apple, Avon Products and Wall Mart.
  • Google AdSense – You can learn more about AdSense by browsing my AdSense category or read about Google referral 2.0 here.

  • ClickBank – If you are into selling digital and info products such as ebooks, with thousands of merchants under them, ClickBank is the best network to join. Some merchants offer payouts as high as 75%.
  • Azoogle Ads – This is one of the better paying pay per lead companies. While they are mainly looking for US affiliates, you can always write to them for consideration if your non-US website attracts significant US traffic.
  • ValueClick Media – ValueClick offers ads from several different merchants divided into several categories ranging from free sweepstakes, beauty product samples to personal finance.
  • Share a Sale – While they don’t always have many big name merchants, they offer more or less the same reliability as the big networks.
  • MaxBounty– MaxBounty is very similar to ValueClick in terms of type of campaigns but it has fewer merchants under. One advantage it has over ValueClick is for a given campaign that is available in both programs, MaxBounty generally offers a higher payout.

    My main gripe about this program is that it automatically converts my payment into local currency and there’s no way to avoid this. While this could mean my checks only take two or three days to clear since they are already in RM, I rather receive checks in USD and wait for a month to clear.

    This is because the local checks issued by MaxBounty use a lower exchange rate than what my bank could have given me.

  • OneNetworkDirect – OneNetworkDirect is dedicated to selling software products.


More Affiliate Networks

15 more affiliate networks you can join:


I have experienced promoting merchants from Commission Junction, LinkShare, Google AdSense of course, Click Bank, Azoogle Ads, ValueClick Media, Share a Sale, MaxBounty, Performics, and CyberBounty.

While it’s not necessary to join all of the networks, it pays to join a few so that you don’t put all you eggs in one basket in case the network shut down. In addition, you can sometimes find the exact offers in other network but with higher payouts, so shop around and promote the ones that offer the best commissions.

To learn more about affiliate program, just search Sabahan.com using the keyword “affiliate program” or browse through my Affiliate Program category.


An engineer by training, Victor has been working full-time online as an Internet marketer, a programmer and an app developer since 2001. He has been blogging at Sabahan.com since 2006 sharing his experience and teaching people how to make money online. Click here to join his private Facebook Group for bloggers.

  • Felex Tan says:

    As a newbie of internet marketer,i suggest that try s few affiliate programs in order to get experience on it and compare which one is the most comfortable for you.After that you focus on specific product that you comfortable with,master the product knowledge well,if possible,buy the product and share your experience.You will find that,the more you share,the more sales you will get!

  • […] Everything you need to know about affiliate marketing […]

  • […] Instead of explaining what affiliate program all over again, you can check my earlier article where I explained almost everything to help you get started with affiliate program. […]

  • yasir says:

    nice info..thank a lot..im still newbie.

  • ben says:

    now am still learning about this affiliate things 🙂

  • This is a great article, but only a getting started list. What I mean is, I would like to see more in depth information about each program – especially real world experience review with info on what money (if any) you made. I personally use adsense, commission junction, amazon, and kontera almost exclusively. I have an account with MaxBounty but dislike them because their offers usually seem sleazy or not what they seem (like ringtone offers), and border on (in my opinion) slightly deceptive signup techniques. With the ones I use, when my users click they know exactly what they are getting (or buying).

  • I liked your article but do you have any tips for the SEO of your blog or site. How do we compete against all the other established players.

  • Great stuff! The thing I like about this blog; contingency. You always take the time to right a complete and profound article. It’s really appreciated!

  • Fahmishah says:

    i’m now using CJ.Com as my affiliate program..really good..thanks for the listing…i will register it..

  • ben says:

    Aha, finally the wait is over.. 🙂 Gaman thanks for this valuable information…i believe others people will learn something from here regardless what is their blogging level…(Begginer,Pro..amatur…etc etc)

    Every bloggers try their very best to monetize their blog, so that they can have a home based business.

    Sometimes it’s funny to see some bloggers put lots of ads in their blog (but who care’s right? i put them all, and i make money)and you don’t put emm all that’s your business?? 🙂

    thanks gaman!

  • Zul says:

    Another good thing joining few affiliate programs is that you never know how long the products can last. I joined share a sale since last year promoting 9 products. As of today, only 3 are fully running. 3 are off line, and another 3 on low funds…

  • kalpesh says:

    Nice post. true affiliate marketing can be very productive if undertaken properly

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