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What is affiliate marketing? A guide for stores and marketers

Written by Vanessa Petersen on January 31, 2024 Enterprise Ecommerce, Marketing.

What is affiliate marketing?

There are a lot of ways to make money online. You can, of course, launch your own store selling products you make or a service you provide. You can also market products that you dropship through a third party or create designs that are printed on demand when customers place their order. 

You can create an audience and sell advertising — either directly or through an ad network.

And you can take advantage of affiliate marketing. If you’ve heard of it, but aren’t really sure what it is or how it works, this article is a great place to start.

If you’re already familiar with the concept and want to start using it to make money from your website or store, keep reading for some actionable tips to become a successful affiliate marketer!

What is affiliate marketing?

There are two perspectives from which you can view affiliate marketing. The first is as the marketer yourself. In this case, you’ll be promoting products and earning commission based on the results. 

The second perspective is that of an ecommerce store owner. In this case, you might use affiliate marketers with the right audience to help promote your offerings in a more targeted, less risky way. 

Either way, you can make affiliate marketing work for you.

But let’s be clear about one thing: becoming an affiliate marketer is not a way to generate instant income. You won’t become a millionaire after just a few months. 

It is a way, however, to generate mostly passive income and, if you work at it consistently, it can grow into a full-time revenue stream and that provides financial freedom and independence. 

Affiliate marketing explained

An affiliate marketer offers products from other companies to the affiliate’s audience and earns a commission for each sale or lead generated. An affiliate marketer acts like a referral source, except that, in most cases, they don’t personally know the people they’re referring to specific products.

In a lot of ways, influencer marketing and affiliate marketing are tied together. Influencers may have a variety of revenue streams, but when they link to their favorite handbag with a note that they might earn a commission if you purchase, they’re practicing affiliate marketing.

Here’s how it works:

The affiliate marketer promotes products from other companies on their blog or social media channels and they include an affiliate link. The affiliate link sends anyone who clicks on it away from the affiliate marketer’s media and takes them to the product seller’s page. That unique affiliate link is trackable, so any purchases generated from it are credited to the affiliate marketer.

So if you want to become a professional affiliate marketer, you’ll make deals with individual companies or through an affiliate marketing platform, and then include links to products on your blog and elsewhere. Any time someone clicks one of those links and makes a purchase, you’ll earn a commission, usually a percentage of the purchase price. This is a great way to generate passive income.

As a store owner, you can start affiliate marketing by making deals with individuals to promote your products, or you could join an affiliate network so that anyone with an audience can potentially link to your items. 

How are affiliate marketers paid?

Affiliates are paid based on their agreement with each company for whom they’re marketing a product or service. Payment could be based on a variety of actions, all of which are tracked using affiliate links to each company the marketer works with. In most cases, affiliate marketers get paid:

  • A percentage of the product sale price
  • Per lead generated, such as a form submission or newsletter signup
  • Per click
  • Per app download
  • Per free trial initiated

Being paid per click is the most rare type of affiliate marketing. Only big companies working with the most-in-demand influencers or affiliates can afford to do that since no sale is guaranteed. 

Being paid a percentage of a sale price is probably the most common arrangement. But for software-based services, free trials and downloads are also quite common, because the people acting on those offers frequently become long-term paying customers.

Why do companies use affiliate marketing?

Companies look to affiliate marketing because paying for performance is a low-risk way to promote their products. Affiliates are typically only paid when sales are generated, and affiliate marketers may also have access to highly-specific audiences that trust the opinions of the marketer. 

Let’s take a close look at some of the reasons companies use affiliate marketing: 

Targeted reach and niche markets

Companies continually seek new leads, sales, and customers. Affiliate marketing provides an efficient way to tap into niche markets.

Consider a blogger who specializes in pet fish and aquariums, reaching an audience passionate about this specific interest. Their recommendations can directly influence their readers’ buying decisions. This targeted approach is what makes an affiliate marketing program invaluable.

tank full of fish

Cost-effective marketing with a high ROI

Traditional advertising can be a costly gamble with uncertain returns. Affiliate marketing, on the other hand, operates on a performance-based model. A pet supply company, for instance, could spend a significant amount on broad-spectrum digital ads or they could collaborate with niche bloggers in the aquarium space.

These affiliates only earn when they drive sales, ensuring a more cost-effective and results-oriented approach for the company. This setup not only reduces marketing expenses but also enhances the likelihood of a positive return on investment.

Credibility and trust

The power of affiliate marketing lies in the personal connection and trust that influencers have with their audience. When an affiliate promotes or endorses a product or service, it’s akin to a friend recommending an item to another friend.

This personal touch often carries more weight than traditional advertising methods. A blogger who writes about aquarium maintenance and endorses a specific type of fish food, to continue with our previous example, offers a level of credibility that can’t be matched by generic ads. Their endorsement is seen as a trusted recommendation, which can significantly drive sales.

If you’re aiming to become an affiliate marketer, you’ll want to keep in mind that this trust can be broken if you over-saturate your content with advertising or promote products and services that end up to be duds. It’s best to only recommend items that you personally have experience with and love.

An expanding customer base

Affiliate marketing allows companies to reach new customer segments, often ones they hadn’t tapped into before. By collaborating with niche influencers, brands can get their products in front of specific demographics that might be interested, but have yet to discover the brand.

Long-term partnerships

Affiliate marketing isn’t a one-time transactional deal. It often leads to long-term partnerships between the company and the influencer. Through nurturing these relationships, companies can continue to benefit from the marketer’s reach and credibility in their target market.

Likewise, as the influencer’s audience grows, so does the potential for increased sales and brand visibility. Nurturing these partnerships can also lead to new opportunities for collaboration and mutual growth.

Become an affiliate — find products to sell

To start affiliate marketing and begin generating your own income, consider your existing interests and media assets.

Hopefully, you already have an active blog, YouTube channel, or social media platform. Affiliate marketing is much easier to add to existing assets than to start from scratch. It helps a lot if you’re already familiar with the basics of at least one online marketing channel. And it helps even more if you already have followers, traffic, or subscribers who know, like, and trust you.

The products you want to sell should relate in some way to your existing interests and media assets. But it doesn’t have to be a direct correlation. Again, take the aquarium blogger. Obviously, that blogger could become an affiliate for pet stores, pet products, fish food, aerators, fish tanks, and things of that sort. 

But that blogger could also easily promote affiliate products that are geared towards other things that relate to their audience. Maybe most of their followers are young families. Things like kids’ toys or board games might make sense to promote occasionally

To find affiliate marketing opportunities that integrate naturally and authentically with your online assets, here are three ways to get started:

1. Look on company websites for products you’ve purchased or know well

Many companies offer affiliate marketing opportunities. Often, you can learn about their programs through a link somewhere in the footer of their website. If you know and like their products already, these offer your best affiliate marketing options because your endorsements will be the most truthful and authentic.

2. Search on affiliate marketplaces

There are online marketplaces devoted specifically to affiliate marketing. They enable companies to search for affiliate marketers like you, and they enable you to find companies that align with your interests. Any company on these sites should already have an active affiliate marketing program, and you’ll be able to jump right in with minimal effort. 

A few such affiliate marketplaces include Clickbank and ShareASale.  

ShareASale site

3. Propose affiliate marketing to companies you like

Other companies, particularly ecommerce stores that may be new or less established, may not be using affiliate marketing, but could benefit greatly from it. 

You could be their first affiliate marketer! Especially if you’re a loyal customer, there’s a good chance you could get access to a manager or administrator and make a presentation about how affiliate marketing could improve their revenue and broaden their customer base. 

dashboard with affiliate information

As part of your presentation, you could show them the Affiliate for WooCommerce extension.

This extension allows WooCommerce stores to add affiliate marketers, track purchases, pay commissions, and perform various other affiliate-marketing-related tasks without having to build their own software. 

Tips to become a successful affiliate marketer

So far, you’ve learned what affiliate marketing is, how to make money from it, and how to find products that are relevant to what you’re doing online already. 

The more buyers you can attract, the more revenue you’ll produce. As you get a feel for it, you can add more products and services to your promotional lineup.

And remember, the most effective affiliate marketing happens for products you actually like and have used. Or, even if you haven’t used them, you admire them and could market them authentically. 

Here are nine tips to help you make more money using affiliate marketing:

1. Review products in relevant niches

You could start with a review of the top five products in a certain category. If you truly believe they’re among the best, include products you’re promoting on that list. 

For example, if you’re an educator, you might write a blog post about the best educational birthday gifts for three-year-olds. Then, you can include products in the list that you’re an affiliate for, and describe why they’re great options.

2. Start producing digital content beyond blog posts

Blog posts are the essential foundation you need to get started. But you can expand your media to new areas and bolster your efforts across the board. Consider creating videos, podcasts, and webinars. Or stick to your blog, but create more in-depth how-to manuals, ebooks, and other written content that extend beyond your typical blog post. 

As your credibility grows through a variety of media, your recommendations will be met with less resistance — regardless of price.

3. Use courses, events, and workshops

You can increase your perceived authority by producing more overtly educational material. Any time you can get on a stage, whether actual or digital, your legitimacy in the eyes of your followers, and your ability to market products. Speak at conferences, trade shows, and conventions. Use online courses, workshops, and webinars to demonstrate your knowledge. 

Sensei LMS homepage

However you do it, lead through education and recommend genuinely helpful products to your audience, and they’ll snap them up to everyone’s benefit. 

4. Interview product experts

This works best if you interview someone who works or is very familiar with the products you’re trying to market. Interviews are powerful, unique, and helpful to overcoming writer’s block. 

Let someone else do the talking and then associate yourself with their wisdom for a quick content win. 

5. Create how-to guides

For blogs in particular, how-to content works very well because you can present the product or service as the solution to the problem being addressed. It’s a natural and authentic fit.

For example, if you write a blog post about how to clear up dry skin, you might recommend your favorite healing lotion.

If you’re going to write a guide on how to build a fire pit, you’re naturally going to provide a list of recommended supplies. Oh, look at that — affiliate links galore. 

6. Email your subscribers frequently

If you have email subscribers and serious affiliate marketing goals, you should be sending an email at least once a week. You can include affiliate link opportunities in a natural manner, as with the rest of your content. Or, at the very least, you should use email to promote the content that includes your affiliate links. 

And you can also toss in emails specifically about promoted products now and then, but don’t abuse your list by doing this every day. As part of your communications, simply continue to tell stories about and express admiration for the items you’re marketing.

someone using Instagram on their phone

7. Use social media

Just like with email, if you have social channels and are using them effectively, adding affiliate marketing is a natural step. All you have to do is post occasionally about products you use or admire, and some of your followers will click the affiliate links. This is true whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, or even LinkedIn if you’re an affiliate for business-related products.

Just don’t make your feed a flood of advertisements, and remember to vary up your media. For example, you can go live to talk about a product and include the link in the description or ask comment moderators to add links in the comments as you mention certain things. 

8. Create an affiliate store

You can organize all of your recommendations in a single place and let your followers browse them like they would any other store. All you need is WooCommerce — the powerful, free ecommerce solution for WordPress.

When creating a product, simply set it to be an “external/affiliate” item. Then, you can include all the pertinent information — like a title, description, price, and image — and add the affiliate link for the item. Your promoted products will all show up in an attractive, easy-to-navigate online storefront. 

adding an external/affiliate product in WooCommerce

This is particularly useful if you also sell physical or digital products yourself. For example, if you run a food blog, you might sell a digital cookbook, along with recommending affiliate products like pans, knives, and spices.

See full instructions for adding affiliate products to WooCommerce.

9. Promote consistently, frequently, and respectfully

Whatever you do to promote affiliate products, keep doing it. Be consistent, whether that’s daily social posts, weekly emails, bi-weekly blog posts, or monthly podcasts. Keep showing up. 

And remember that you must do this frequently to generate revenue. If you’re using multiple channels, frequency is easier. You can write a blog post one day, send an email the next, write a Facebook post the next, record a podcast after that, and go live on Instagram to finish off the week. 

As for respect, this means keeping your affiliate marketing content helpful. Remember, you’re a trusted source of information for your audience. Share products and solutions that really do make their lives better in some way. Be authentic. 

You can put affiliate links just about everywhere — email, social media, blog posts, web pages, and even direct mail. The links are trackable no matter where you put them. 

Setting up an affiliate program for your online store

If you’ve ever considered influencer marketing for your business — or have seen competitors partnering with thought leaders in your space — you probably understand the value of a personal endorsement from someone prominent. 

And if you only pay for results? There’s really almost no downside. 

Thankfully, if you’re using WordPress and WooCommerce to represent your business online, setting up a successful affiliate program doesn’t need to involve teams of developers, lawyers, designers, and testers. However, there are a few key steps and best practices. 

Here’s a startup guide for setting up an effective affiliate program for your WooCommerce store: 

1. Install and set up the affiliate management extension

Begin by installing the Affiliate for WooCommerce extension. This tool is specifically designed for WooCommerce and offers a range of features for tracking affiliate activities, managing commissions, and preventing fraud​​.

image with a blue background and text about affiliate partners

2. Establish commission parameters

Set your initial commission rates and types within WooCommerce, and decide on the duration of cookie tracking. The extension provides flexibility to adjust these parameters as needed, catering to different products or affiliates.

setting up commission parameters

3. Create an affiliate sign-up area

The extension automatically creates a dedicated area for affiliate registration on your website. You can customize this page to match your brand’s style and requirements, making it easy for potential affiliates to sign up and start promoting your products​​.

4. Review and approve affiliate applications

Use the Affiliate for WooCommerce extension to review and approve affiliate applications. This step is crucial for maintaining quality control and mitigating risks associated with affiliate fraud​​.

5. Customize the affiliate dashboard

Personalize the dashboard provided by the extension to make it intuitive for your affiliates. Include essential resources such as product tutorials, promotional materials, and online marketing tips unique to your brand. The more assets and information you can provide your partners, the more effective your affiliate program can be.

6. Manage affiliate payouts

The extension provides for streamlined payment processes. You can choose to make payouts via PayPal or manually, and even offer alternatives like store credit or reward points. This flexibility is key to managing a diverse group of affiliates or creating a solution that fits unique stores or affiliate types.

managing affiliate payouts

7. Leverage advanced features

Use the extension’s advanced features, such as multi-tier commissions, lifetime commissions, and customizable affiliate marketing campaigns. These features enable you to create a more dynamic and incentivizing affiliate program​​.

8. Monitor and optimize performance

Make full use of the included analytics tools to track and manage your affiliate program’s performance as well. Monitor metrics like conversion rates, click-through rates, and overall revenue generated by affiliates to identify successful strategies and areas for improvement​​.

Managing your company’s affiliate program

The success of your affiliate program hinges significantly on effective management. Once you start your affiliate marketing journey, continually refining your strategy is crucial for long-term success.

Here are some key tips for managing your affiliate program:

Monitor affiliate performance

While one of the key benefits of using affiliate marketers is that your network can be working on your behalf 24/7, it’s not something you should set and forget. Regularly monitor your affiliates’ performance and catch any anomalies before they become major issues. Look for ways you can improve the program and the success of everyone involved. 

Incentivize top performers

Recognize your top affiliates and offer them special or lifelong commissions. This strategy encourages long-term collaboration and adds motivation for your affiliate network.

Provide marketing materials

Equip your team with necessary affiliate marketing marketing tools such as banners, product descriptions, and engaging content. These resources are vital in enhancing their affiliate marketing efforts and ensuring a successful program.

Everyone’s looking to do more with less work. Be the one who’s willing to go above and beyond and it will pay off in the end.

Train and inform affiliates

Continuously educate your affiliates about new products and promotions. Keeping your affiliate marketing partners well-informed aligns them closely with your brand’s message and marketing efforts.

Providing insider information may also help endear them to your brand and provide a greater sense of ownership. When given the choice between doing something that benefits you vs someone else — they’ll be more likely to lean your way.

Engage in direct communication

Building a strong relationship with your affiliates through personal interaction is key. Discuss growth opportunities, solicit feedback, and seek to understand their challenges. This effort will only serve to improve your affiliate program.

woman working on a laptop

Showcase success stories

Share reviews and case studies that highlight the success and reliability of your affiliate program. This not only boosts affiliate confidence, but also attracts new affiliate marketing partners.

Provide timely payouts

Ensure timely payments to your affiliates to maintain trust and a positive relationship. Consistent and reliable payouts are a key aspect of successful affiliate programs.

Leverage affiliate networks

The broader your affiliate network, the more extensive your reach. Engage with various affiliate networks to expand your program’s visibility and effectiveness.

Look at more than one strategy. Unattached affiliate marketing allows for those who are really talented at digital marketing to use these skills to market products for which they otherwise have no association or authority. So these people may be able to market products so efficiently that they can even use things like PPC ads with enough margin to make a profit on affiliate commissions. 

Related affiliate marketing usually implies more of the influencer route where the marketer has a following in a specific niche and the trust of that audience.

Optimize affiliate campaigns

Continually refine your affiliate marketing program based on data and feedback. This ongoing optimization can determine the longevity and success of your program.

Being proactive when managing your affiliate program with WooCommerce cultivates a dedicated and effective affiliate network.

Remember, the success of your program hinges on both the tools you use and the relationships you nurture with your affiliates. So take advantage of both!

How to best work with influencers in your niche

Working with influencers can be a great way to benefit from affiliate marketing while boosting your brand reputation with specific audiences by association with thought leaders. It can provide a direct sales increase, but also help grow long-term business and even lead to additional partnerships that aid growth.

If you want to take this path, there are several keys to success:

Identify the right influencers

The first, and perhaps most important, step begins by identifying influencers who align with your niche and brand values. Look for those whose followers are your target audience. Tools like BuzzSumo or Followerwonk can help you find influencers based on keywords and industry relevance.

Evaluate their engagement and reach

Beyond follower count, assess the engagement rate of potential influencers. An influencer with a highly-engaged audience in your niche can be more valuable than one with a larger but less engaged following.

And, unfortunately, you may discover that some accounts have thousands of purchased followers who have no true interest in the “influencer” account after all. 

Establish clear communication

Once you’ve identified potential influencers, reach out with a clear and personalized proposal. Explain your affiliate program, the advantages for the influencer, and why you think this partnership would be mutually beneficial.

Offer attractive commission structures

To attract and retain top-notch influencers, offer competitive commission rates. Consider offering higher commissions for top performers or bonuses for meeting certain sales thresholds.

Provide necessary resources and support

Equip influencers with all the resources they need to successfully promote your products. This includes high-quality images, product samples, detailed product information, and any relevant training about your offerings.

Set clear goals and expectations

Be transparent about what you expect in terms of content creation, posting frequency, and brand messaging. At the same time, allow influencers enough creative freedom to present your products authentically to their audience.

Make use of special promotions and exclusive offers

Give influencers access to exclusive deals or special promotions that they can offer to their audience. This not only incentivizes purchases, but also adds value to the content.

Build long-term relationships

Focus on building lasting relationships with influencers. Recognize and reward their efforts, and consider them as valuable partners in your brand’s growth. Regular check-ins and feedback can strengthen these relationships.

Keep an eye on the latest trends in influencer marketing and adapt to changes in consumer behavior. This will keep your influencer campaigns relevant and effective in reaching potential customers.

How to use your existing WordPress site to become an affiliate marketer

If you already have a WordPress site, possibly with an associated WooCommerce store for merchandise, you can efficiently get started with an affiliate marketing business at any point. Perhaps you have a blog with a growing loyal following. 

If you wanted to monetize this blog, you could always place ads in various locations on your site. But these often don’t pay well and are served by third party platforms like Google, so you have no control over the types of ads that are shown. 

You can be more selective in what ads display on your site, and often make much more money, by selling your own ads directly or monetizing your genuine recommendations of products and services you believe in. 

Here are some things you can do to get started:

Identify affiliate programs in your niche

Start by finding affiliate programs that align with your site’s content and your audience’s interests. You can look for products or services that complement your current offerings. For instance, if you run a fitness blog with a WooCommerce store selling workout gear, you might affiliate with nutrition supplements or fitness equipment brands.

Remember, you can add certain products (or even an entire storefront) in WooCommerce as affiliate products that display seamlessly for visitors, but ultimately send customers to another location to complete the purchase.

Join affiliate networks or direct programs

Sign up for affiliate networks like Amazon Associates, ShareASale, or Commission Junction, where you can find a wide range of products to promote. Or, you can consider direct affiliate programs as we previously discussed, offered by companies in your niche.

Amazon Associates homepage

Once you’ve chosen products to promote, ad affiliate links to your existing content. This can include blog posts, product reviews, or resource pages on your WordPress site. Ensure these links are naturally woven into high-quality, valuable content.

Leverage WooCommerce for affiliate products

If you have a WooCommerce store, you can also list affiliate products alongside your merchandise. WooCommerce allows you to set products as “external/affiliate” products where you can include your affiliate link instead of an Add to Cart button.

Create dedicated affiliate pages or posts

Consider creating specific pages or blog posts on your WordPress site dedicated to affiliate products. For example, a “Top 10 Fitness Gadgets” blog post can feature affiliate links to those products.

Utilize SEO and content marketing

To attract traffic to your affiliate content, optimize your posts for search engines. Use relevant keywords, meta descriptions, and high-quality content to improve your site’s visibility and ranking.

Promote affiliate products on social media

Share your content, including posts with affiliate links, on your social media channels. This approach can amplify your reach and drive more traffic to your affiliate offers.

someone using Instagram on their phone

Track and analyze your performance

Use analytics tools to monitor the performance of your affiliate links. Track metrics like click-through rates and conversions to understand what resonates with your audience and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Be transparent with your audience

It’s important to disclose your affiliate relationships to your audience. Include disclaimers in your posts or on your pages to maintain transparency and build trust with your readers. You should also research products you’re going to personally recommend. It’s even better if you use them yourself and truly see the value. 

Your long-term affiliate marketing success ultimately depends on creating and sustaining a trusting, relevant audience. Spamming them with low-quality recommendations is a quick way to ruin a reputation that took years to create. 

Stay compliant with regulations

Ensure you comply with any legal requirements, such as the FTC guidelines in the U.S., which require clear disclosure of affiliate relationships and endorsements.

In the affiliate marketing world, adhering to legal and ethical standards is a must, not only for maintaining credibility and trust with your audience, but also for complying with legal regulations.

We’re not lawyers and none of this is legal advice. If you have questions about the laws relevant to your specific situation, you should consult with a qualified, independent legal professional.

Here’s a quick primer on understanding these aspects, followed by compliance tips:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines

In the United States, the FTC sets regulations for affiliate marketing. The UK has similar rules in place, as do governments all around the globe. You should review the laws that are applicable to you.

For the most part, affiliates are required to disclose their relationships with the products or services they endorse. This disclosure should be clear and noticeable, informing the audience of the potential commission earned through affiliate links​​.

Honest endorsements

Endorsements must be honest and not misleading, reflecting the genuine opinion of the endorser. Claims about the promoted products or services should be factual and evidence-based.

influencer putting on makeup in front of a camera

Disclosure of relationships

Any connection between an endorser and the business that might impact the consumer’s evaluation of the endorsement should be disclosed. This includes situations where endorsers are relatives or employees, or they have received any form of compensation from the company​​​​.

Truth in advertising

This principle applies to all media, including digital platforms like blogs and social media. It’s important to ensure that endorsements are not deceptive and provide a truthful representation of the product or service​​.

Ways to strive for proper compliance

To help you adhere to legal and ethical standards in affiliate marketing, here are some tips you can follow:

  • Clear disclosures. Ensure that your disclosures about affiliate links are easily visible and understandable to your audience. This could be a disclaimer on your website or in your video content​​​​. This can also be done through labels or hashtags such as #ad, #sponsored, or #affiliate​​.
  • Avoid deceptive practices. Don’t use testimonials or endorsements that don’t reflect the typical consumer experience. Avoid promoting products you haven’t personally used or don’t believe in​​​​.
  • Understand the impact of incentives. Even small incentives or gifts can influence the credibility of an endorsement and should be disclosed. Continually receiving free items from a company could create a biased relationship, which should be transparent to your audience​​.

Following these guidelines can help in building a trustworthy and credible affiliate marketing strategy. Doing so can aid not only with legal compliance, but with fostering long-term success in the affiliate marketing industry by maintaining a strong reputation with your audience. 

Pro tips for successful affiliate marketing programs

To achieve the most success in affiliate marketing, businesses and marketers alike will need to become proficient in the basics and then study more advanced or nuanced parts of the system as well. 

Here are a few examples:

Tailor products to your audience

Understanding your audience’s needs and preferences is everything. This goes beyond general niche selection and delves into the personal thought processes of your target audience.

For instance, promoting an expensive high-tech product on a budget-conscious blog may not resonate with your readers. 

Here’s the crux of this tip: Even though it might be tempting, you must be willing to pass offers that don’t fit with your audience. It might be hard to let go for a minute, but will protect your brand and save you many sleepless nights in the future. 

Favor transparency in affiliate efforts

Being upfront about using affiliate links is not only often a legal necessity but also helpful with building trust with your audience. Creating truly valuable content and integrating affiliate links also helps avoid the label of “thin affiliate pages” penalized by Google​​. 

Most consumers understand how modern marketing works. You’re not gaining anything by being secretive with your relationships and the fact your newest post involved affiliate marketing, but you may be risking some stiff penalties. Be honest and transparent.

Follow your passion, but consider profits

Almost every niche, no matter how unique, is ultimately big enough to support a few major influencers and brands. Some can support hundreds. 

But, when expanding your content or affiliate product portfolio, you may have to choose a niche that skews slightly beyond your core passion to find an audience that’s going to lead to success. 

Passion is going to keep you going when you’re not making any money. Good planning will ensure that one day the checks do finally roll in. 

Leverage your existing high-traffic content by adding affiliate links to these pages. Using tools like Google Analytics can enable you to identify which pages are performing well. You can further boost traffic to these pages through paid ads or SEO strategies​​.

Google Analytics homepage

The key here is to know your top performers. Then, it’s all about adding fuel to the fire. If a door is open, walk through it instead of beating down the locked one beside it.

Ready to take things to a new level? Experiment with different placements, colors, and styles of affiliate links and banners on your page. This helps in understanding what resonates best with your audience. The impact of colors on conversion rates is a significant factor to consider during these tests​​.

When you’re getting hundreds of thousands of visitors a month, a small improvement is worth big bucks. 

To cater to an international audience, use tools like Amazon OneLink or geo-tagging to redirect users to their local sites. This ensures a more cohesive user experience and prevents the loss of affiliate sales due to regional unavailability or excessive shipping fees​​.

Affiliate marketing works

There’s way more to an affiliate marketing business than just putting links on your blog posts and web pages. You might get some revenue as a result, but being more intentional with your efforts is the path to long-term success and worry-free, passive affiliate marketing income. The more tips from the above list you start using, the more money you’ll make as an affiliate marketer or a WooCommerce store that uses this strategy. 

Affiliate marketing is not effortless. It requires the investment of time and effort, but you can engage with it at whatever level works for you. And if you do it long enough — consistently, frequently, and following proven practices — you’ll start generating passive affiliate income as a marketer or make more sales on your store as a result.

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11 Responses

  1. Sandra from Spoo-Design
    September 28, 2022 at 9:39 am #

    You cannot become rich with affiliate marketing (some maybe, but not usually) – but when you can find some fun in it with products you like, it can be some kind of hobby that even gives a little pocket money out.

    Or, of course, if you already have a website or social account, it makes sense to include an affiliate program with products that you like by yourself and match to your topics.

    I by myself have an affilate marketing site ( and I also offer to take part in an affiliate program in my own silver jewelry shop (if you like to take a look:

    At the end it is win – win for all. Not at least for your audience, when you helf them to find what they are looking for.

    • Kathryn Marr
      September 29, 2022 at 7:43 pm #

      Thanks for reading, Sandra! Great thoughts here.

      • kelechi1978
        February 23, 2024 at 2:10 am #

        Thanks for sharing a wonderful idea.

  2. Halim
    September 28, 2022 at 10:31 am #

    I have been in the affiliate marketing business for many years. I have shared a lot of links, especially for web tools and themes. I wonder why WooCommerce doesn’t offer affiliate marketing. I’ve searched a million times with no results.

    There are some great themes and plugins here, and I want to share them on my website. Unfortunately, WooCommerce does not offer any affiliates.

    By the way, excellent article. Thanks for sharing.

    • Kathryn Marr
      September 29, 2022 at 7:49 pm #

      Thanks for sharing your ideas, Halim!

  3. Rachael
    September 28, 2022 at 12:42 pm #

    Thanks for this article I found it really interesting.

    I’m in the CBD industry and make my own educational videos to market my products. The CBD industry is tough because the usual marketing platforms such as facebook and google wont allow the advertising of CBD.

    I’m thinking now that I could offer an affiliate scheme on my website and see if I can find new customers this way.

    Looking forward to trying to the WooCommerce affiliate plug in.


  4. Mike Nkosi
    September 29, 2022 at 7:20 pm #

    Hi. Great article, I learned a lot of useful information. Quite interesting, actually, my son recently told me about affiliate marketing, and then this!

    • Kathryn Marr
      September 29, 2022 at 8:28 pm #

      Glad you found it helpful, Mike!

  5. Mike Holubowski
    September 29, 2022 at 9:11 pm #

    Hi! I’d highly recommend everyone reading this excellent post to look into Solid Affiliate ( it’s by far the best affiliate plugin for WooCommerce.

    In fact, it natively supports *only* WooCommerce with a complete and utter focus on quality and automatic integration.

    Wish you all the best.

    • Kathryn Marr
      February 9, 2024 at 12:16 am #

      Thanks for the recommendation, Mike!