Affiliate Marketing – A Guide for Complete Beginners Part 1

affiliate marketingThe high failure rate of beginners trying out affiliate marketing is both well known and very disturbing. The figures thrown around range from 85% to 97%. I don’t know the real number but these failure rates use a time period of less than 120 days. Yes, just 3 months.

However, despite these startling figures affiliate marketing is, and will continue to be, one of the most profitable ways to make money on the internet.


Let me ask you why are you reading this post?

Does this mean you are a beginner affiliate marketer or someone who is struggling a bit with your affiliate marketing?

To be honest I don't know but it would be great if you told me all about your situation in your comments below because as a blogger (and an affiliate marketer) I'd love to connect with you if you feel that you got something of real value from this post.

My blog is my place or my home online but in reality its my welcome mat as well.

And in this series of posts I am specifically welcoming those folks who are beginner affiliate marketers facing the problem of not being able to make any money so far with this well-known business model.

If that sounds like you then I am very pleased to have created something that will help you.

You see recently I did a podcast post about the deadly mistakes many marketers make online and as a result I had many people asking me for help.

They wanted something in layman’s language that simply explains what affiliate marketing is all about and how can you make money with it.

Does this sound of interest to you as well? If so I'm very excited to have you visit me today. 

So here it is.

The topic “affiliate marketing” is too important and too big to cover in just one post so I have created a 4 part series about this very popular form of making money online.

Am I one of the top affiliate marketers? No I am not anywhere near the best marketers who are earning millions of dollars with this business model. But I have lots of experience and have also made my own 4 figure affiliate commission days.

If you are reading this then I assume that you don’t know very much (or nothing at all) about marketing online.

However, if you are an experienced and successful affiliate marketer I also welcome you to comment and add your 2 cents worth to this conversation. Thanks for that.

This is a “Beginner’s Guide” will take you step by step though the process of getting started making money on the internet as an affiliate marketer.

Prefer to Listen Instead to My Dulcet Tones?

If you prefer to listen then here’s my podcast version BUT please dont forget to leave me your comments below – that’s the “lifebood of my business” and your feedback is always appreciated so much.

In this Part 1 of this 4 part Affiliate Marketing Guide for Beginners and will cover:

What Really Is Affiliate Marketing?
What does “marketing” involve?
How does affiliate marketing actually work?
Your Unique Affiliate Link
What are the Different Types of Affiliate Programs?
The big advantages of affiliate marketing
If affiliate marketing is popular why do so many beginners fail?
The downsides of affiliate marketing
What are these front-end and back-end products I hear about?
The critical importance of an email list

So let’s get started.

What Really Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing in simple terms (that even I can understand) is where you as the affiliate send traffic to a vendor’s offer (giving them a referred customer) and the vendor pays you (the affiliate) if a sale or some other agreed action takes place.

“Internet traffic” according to Wikipedia is “sometimes used to describe web traffic, the amount of data sent and received by visitors of a particular web site.”

People (or more correctly their email addresses) that you send to a vendor’s sales page is data.

The more interested the people are in a particular offer, the more “targeted” we say that particular trafficaffiliate marketing is.

As an affiliate marketer you will be selling other people’s product for an agreed commission.

This happens when you send preferably targeted customers to the product owner’s purchasing page (often referred to a a sales page for obvious reasons) via an affiliate link or banner that you have created.

Obviously if you send the right person to the right offer you have a far better chance of making a sale and getting paid.

As an affiliate marketer you are always “marketing” someone’s products to potential customers. In other words you are finding customers for a product owner (vendor) who then pays you a commission if the “sale” takes place.

If you want to start earning money online then affiliate marketing is probably the quickest and cheapest way to get going.

Notice I didn’t say “the easiest“ way because once you read this series of posts you will realize that it also take a lot of work.

Note: I don’t know any ways to make money online that don’t require a lot of effort.  Just recently I was asked “Peter, help please. How can I make a guaranteed $500 this week” and my answer was sorry but I don’t know.

I’m going to assume to start with that you probably don’t know too much at all about the online marketplace except when you’ve been a customer.

As an affiliate marketer you now have to position yourself as a seller not a customer.

This is the complete opposite but to be successful as an affiliate marketer it’s always valuable to think like the customer when you are marketing your offers.

Think about how you’d like to be approached and make sure you do this in your marketing.

In other words DO NOT try to sell everyone that ever graces your doorstep online.

So many affiliate marketers set up their blogs and simply try to sell everything they can to anyone they can.

This is stupid and believe I should know because I tried that as well when I first got going online and the results were disastrous!

That type of affiliate marketing strategy is a sure way to fail very quickly online.

Trust me here please and follow this advice.

To be a successful affiliate marketer you need to be able to HELP people first before you even think about selling anything. And to help others as a beginner you're going to need to educate yourself a little.

More on this important aspect of continuous learning later.

Just to make sure you can get your head around some of the main terms used in affiliate marketing throughout this series I will provide simple explanations (with apologies to you if you are already familiar with them).

[Tweet “Affiliate marketing has made many people millionaires but its not for everyone”]

What Does “Marketing” Involve?

In simple terms “Marketing” is promoting or selling goods and services.

The marketing process involves quite a few elements including:

a. Deciding your preferred target audience of prospects and understanding what their needs are. Their needs are usually “pain points” or problems that they’d like solved.

b. Marketing also includes you, as an affiliate marketer, finding the most relevant product solution for your target prospects.

c. Then you simply send your targeted prospects to the sales page of your most relevant product solution.

If they buy then you get paid.

affiliate marketingHow Does Affiliate Marketing Actually Work?

There are 3 main parties involved with all affiliate marketing processes.

Merchants, affiliates and customers

A. The merchant or Advertiser is the Product Owner 


In affiliate marketing the advertiser is a person or a company who pays other people to help them sell their products or services.

B. The Affiliate 

The affiliate (that's you!) usually publishes an advertisement on your website or blog.

In affiliate marketing you are sometimes referred to as “a publisher” as you can place promotions or banners on your website as a way of generating interest n your affiliate offers – and hopefully getting paid a commission when someone clicks on them.

I must admit that even though I also have a few affiliate banners on my blog I think most people these days suffer from “banner blindness” as they seem to be everywhere online.

C. The Customer

The consumer is an individual who sees the advertisement (or the link) and decides to click and discover what it’s all about- and then maybe buys!

[emvid btn_color=”orange” btn_icon=”money.png” btn_url=”” btn_text=”Get Access to All The FREE Traffic You'll Ever Need for Your Affiliate Marketing” btn_size=”large” btn_pos=”undefined” redir_settings=”]

Your Unique Affiliate Link

When you join an affiliate program and choose the products that you want to sell you are then provided with your own unique affiliate code or link.

You use this link when you are referring traffic to a particular affiliate offer.

Your affiliate links can be text based or even banners with your own code embedded in them.

When interested visitors click on your affiliate links they get redirected to the vendor’s sales page and if they purchase a product or subscribe to a service then you as the referrer make a commission.

The ID of your unique affiliate link can be tracked by the seller and this is how they know how much commission to pay you.

What are the Different Types of Affiliate Programs?

Well to start with you don’t need to sell products every time to make a commission.

Affiliate programs use different payment terms such as:

  • Pay per Sale (PPS): In this program the merchant (seller) pays you a percentage of the sale price when the purchase is completed (e.g. 50%).
  • Pay per Click (PPC): In this program as an affiliate marketer you get paid simply based on the number of visitors you send to the merchant’s website via your affiliate link, whether or not a sale is made.
  • Pay per Lead (PPL): In this type of program you get paid as an affiliate marketer once the referred visitors provide their contact information on the target site by filling out a simple contact form.

The Big Advantages of Affiliate Marketing

 The major advantages of this model as an affiliate are:

You do not have to create any products

You have no customer management issues to worry about

It’s relatively easy to get set up and started for very little outlay (depending on the type of traffic you use)

You can run this business from anywhere in the world – even sitting on a beach if the wifi works there!

It’s a great model and many have made millions of dollars using this model.


If Affiliate Marketing is So Popular Why Do So Many Beginners Fail?

Many new (and not so new) affiliate marketers have failed but there’s no real mystery here.

The main reasons they fail is that they lack consistency and persistency (yes you actually have to work for your money – there’s no magic solutions).

In other words people give up too soon.affiliate marketing

One of the underlying reasons for their lack of success is the “quality of their traffic.”

The “quality of the traffic” is based on the interest and needs of the prospective customers (your traffic) that you send to your affiliate offers.

To use a simple example, if you sent a group of dog lovers to a high protein cat food site then you obviously wouldn’t expect many (or any) sales to occur. Agree?

Another important success factor is the relevance of their affiliate offer (or more importantly the conversion rate of their sales page).

The “conversion” rate is simply how good the sales page is at grabbing the attention of your traffic (prospects); holding and then building their interest long enough for them to make a buying decision.

The actual conversion rate is a combination of the traffic quality and the effectiveness of the sales page.

Rates can vary widely but for typical digital affiliate marketing offers don’t expect rates higher than 1 or 2% as a beginner. In other words for every 100 customers you send to your affiliate offers you may get only 1 sale if any at all.

Sure it’s a numbers game but there’s also other important factors that come into play that we’ll look at later in this series.

There is a huge affiliate product range that should provide the affiliate marketer with exactly the right product solution they are seeking.

This product range includes digital affiliate marketing offers” are things like ebooks, video and audio files, reports, images, software and even webinars. All these digital products can be quickly and easily delivered to and downloaded by customers.

The advantage of dealing with digital products is that vendors are often happy to pay much higher commissions for your affiliate marketing efforts since they have no further labor or overhead costs to affect profitability.

Affiliate marketing can also involve a whole range of physical products like books, computer equipment, telephones, clothing, jewelry – the list is endless.

[emvid btn_color=”green” btn_icon=”money.png” btn_url=”” btn_text=”Click Here For The Best Way To Start Your Online Journey” btn_size=”large” btn_pos=”undefined” redir_settings=”]

Here’s the Truth!

Despite all the variety of affiliate products available there are no guaranteed quick results here and that’s also why many new affiliate marketers fail.

It’s a matter of incorrect expectations and a completely wrong mindset.

So many new affiliate marketers expect (and desperately want) almost instant success. They often come into this business model with huge existing debt levels and/or lack of cash funds, seeking a quick solution to their existing financial problems.

This is not a quick fix and to be honest if you don’t have some funds available to invest in your new online venture then I would strongly suggest you forget affiliate marketing until such time that you have available funds.

This is a business not a charity operation.

The affiliate marketing role is a journey that takes time, lots of effort and some money to achieve even moderate success.

It seems logical now to follow this moment of truth about affiliate marketing with a few other aspects you must take into account.

[Tweet “Many beginner affiliate marketers fail because of unrealistic expectations – Peter Beckenham”]

The Downsides of Affiliate Marketing

One of the problems of affiliate marketing is if you simply send traffic directly to a vendor’s offer you do not own the customer.

In fact you will never get their contact details and, unlike the vendor, you cannot market to them over and over again.

You also only get paid once so you have to keep sending traffic to vendors to maintain your income levels. 

Finally you also have no control over the vendor who may remove their product at any time or even reduce the commission payments.

What Are These Front-End and Back-end Products I Hear About?

 The real money made online is not with the lower priced front-end products that most affiliate marketers focus on but rather on the back-end higher priced offers.

“Front end” products are usually cheaper priced products that can vary in price from zero to say $500.

Yes you can still get paid for products that have no price as the offer may not be a product sale but rather the collection of a lead.

“A lead” is your prospect’s contact details like name, email, phone number, location etc.

affiliate marketingThe Critical Importance of an Email List

As an affiliate marketer if you are not building your own email list then when you send your traffic to the vendor you simply got paid to build their “buyers list!”

Because many vendors do not offer you the chance to earn affiliate incomes on their “back-end” or higher priced products.


These products can be thousands of dollars that the vendor then offers to the prospects you sent who purchased the lower priced front end offers.

But all is not lost as there are options where you can participate as an affiliate in BOTH the front end and back end products.

If getting access to both front-end AND back-end affiliate products is of interest to you let me know in your comments below.

You can make affiliate marketing work even more successfully for you IF you just take a few extra steps before sending the prospect to the vendor.

These extra steps involve you creating targeted traffic to a free gift offer you have and then capturing those leads for your own email list.

By “targeted traffic” in this situation I mean prospects who have some interest in the free gift you are offering in exchange for their contact details.

By building your own email list you then can build relationships with that list and over time make continuous relevant affiliate offers to your subscribers.

List building and email marketing are big topics in their own right and I have created posts on these already.

To keep this post fully focused I am not going to cover the list building options for beginner affiliate marketers. I just wanted to point out the real advantages of being able to regularly offer your affiliate marketing offers to your very own list.

This is a far better option than simply sending traffic directly to an affiliate product sales page. If you follow the latter process you will only get one shot with those leads and then they are then gone forever.

That’s it for part 1 in this 4 part series.

Don’t miss my next post for Part 2 that covers:

7 Key Reasons Why You Should Consider Affiliate Marketing
How Can I Make Money From Affiliate Marketing?
What Affiliate Programs Should I Select?

It’s Your Turn

I know just how busy you must be so many thanks for taking the time to leave me your comments.

As a beginner affiliate marketer what were the key things you got from this post?
hat has been your biggest struggle as an affiliate marketer?
Would you like some help with your affiliate marketing?


Let's talk to make sure this program is the right fit for you. If so we can then come to an agreement on the investments required