What Is Affiliate Marketing & How Does It Work? A Simple Explanation For Beginners


So you’ve heard about affiliate marketing – now you’re wondering what it is, how it works & maybe even how you can get started, right?

Well, the good news is that you’ve landed in the right place to find out.

In this post, I’m going to explain everything you need to know about affiliate marketing (put simply as possible) and I’m also going to show you how you can get started with it, for free… Even if you’re totally brand new.

Sound good?

Let’s dive in…

What Is It?   |   How Does It Work?   |   Tracking Cookies Explained   |   How To Get Clicks & Sales   |   Getting Started   |   Fast-Start Bonus

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Put simply, affiliate marketing is the process of promoting products or services for companies online in return for commissions… And it provides a pretty neat way to make money.

You see, most companies with an online presence, including the big names like Amazon & Best Buy have what are known as “affiliate programs” through which you can promote their products for money.

Here’s an example of the Amazon affiliate program, which is named Amazon Associates:

Amazon Associates Screenshot

As you can see from the screenshot above the program is titled “Profit from Amazon” and it states that you can earn up to 12% in commissions by simply promoting their products.

You send somebody to their website, they buy something, you get paid.

Pretty simple, right?

Plus the best part is that most companies will still pay you commissions even if the customer ends up purchasing a different product than the one you referred them too – and on the total if they end up purchasing multiple products together.

So let’s say you sent Dave to Amazon to purchase a digital camera, but Dave decided to buy a computer monitor & a workout DVD instead…

You’d still earn money from all of those purchases as a whole, even though you sent him to purchase something entirely different.

This means that the amount you earn with affiliate marketing can quickly add up, and there’s no limit on the amount you can earn with it.

Amazon Earnings Example

You can earn as much as you want.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

When you join an affiliate program like the Amazon Associates program (which is free to do), you get provided a custom link to send people to the website via, which is unique to you.

This link is known as an affiliate link, and it usually looks something like “website.com/?id=AID” – with AID typically being your unique affiliate membership ID.

So now when you send somebody to that website, they’ll be traced back to you because they were sent there via a link which had an ID which was unique to your affiliate account.

Make sense?

And this means that if the person you sent there ends up purchasing something, then you’ll be awarded with the commission for the sale.

But it gets even better, too, thanks to some little things that are known as “affiliate tracking cookies”…

Affiliate Tracking Cookies

A cookie is essentially a very basic file that’s saved by web browsers which contains a little bit of text & an expiration date.

So how does that help you as an affiliate marketer?

Well, most companies (including Amazon) actually save cookies known as “affiliate cookies” on a users PC when a visitor is referred to their website by an affiliate.

The cookie typically contains the ID of the affiliate that referred the person, along with an expiration date.

So this means that even if the person you referred closes the browser without purchasing anything, you could still earn a commission in the future for as long as that cookie is active on their device.

Some companies like Amazon only save the cookies for a period of 24 hours, whereas others save them for as long as 30 days… And some even save “lifetime” cookies, which will stay until the user manually clears their cookies themselves.

This means that it’s not uncommon for affiliates to refer people to a website & then finding themselves earning commissions from that person days or even months later.

In fact, I personally have actually received commissions in the past years after I made the initial referral.

Pretty powerful stuff.

But How Can You Get People Clicking Your Links & Actually Buying Stuff?

As you can likely now see the process of making money with affiliate marketing is actually pretty simple… But whilst the process itself is simple, the problem is that most people struggle to actually get people clicking on their links.

No clicks means no sales, and no sales means no money.

So you need clicks on your links – and if you want good success, you need lots of them.

Thankfully though there’s an easy way that you can leverage search engines like Google, Yahoo & Bing to actually send you unlimited amounts of people to your links, all for free.

And this basically just involves you creating small, simple webpages… Which nowadays is easy enough to do.

You see, when you create a webpage, search engines like Google automatically discover it & list it within their results as an option for people to click on whenever they search for something related to it.

So as an example if you were interested in cycling & you created a page outlining what you thought were the best backpacks, then Google would show that page in the listings whenever somebody searched for something related to “cycling backpacks”.

Take a look:

Cycling Backpacks Google Search Results

So this then means that after publishing the page, people will begin visiting it – and that gives you the opportunity to then promote something to them as an affiliate in order to earn a commission.

They click the result, come to your page, make a purchase & you get paid.

And if we take a closer look at that page about cycling backpacks we can see that’s exactly what the owner of that website is doing too – see below:

Amazon Affiliate Links Example

As you can see next to the backpacks that are listed, the creator of that page has added a button which takes the visitor to the product page via his affiliate link.

This means that if a visitor to that page clicks the button & buys something, he gets paid – even if they end up purchasing something completely different altogether.

And even if they end up closing their browser & purchasing it the next day instead (thanks to the awesome affiliate tracking cookies that I mentioned further up).

Pretty sweet, right?

And as you can also likely see, this really isn’t difficult to do. Anybody can sign up as an affiliate (for free) and anybody can create small, simple web pages.

Which brings me onto…

How To Get Started With Affiliate Marketing

Well, if you like you could certainly go out & try to connect all of the dots yourself… Or alternatively, instead, you could just use the help of a step-by-step training program like Wealthy Affiliate.

Second option probably sounds better, right?

Good choice.

Wealthy Affiliate provides you with access to literally everything you need to get started with affiliate marketing. You get the training, tools, and even community support.

Plus the best part is that there’s no cost to join.

You can create a completely free Starter account at Wealthy Affiliate which will get you inside, enable you to work through to the first 10 lessons & get you on your way to launching your first website.

And at Wealthy Affiliate, free means free. There’s no need to enter any credit card details or anything like that… Literally just an email address is all you need to get inside.

So if you don’t like it, don’t worry – there’s no risk.

But if you still prefer checking it all out first without signing up then that’s cool too. I’ve got you covered.

Here are the direct links to the first 10 lessons for you to browse at your leisure, without having to sign up:

Lesson 1  Lesson 2

Lesson 3  Lesson 4

Lesson 5  Lesson 6

Lesson 7  Lesson 8

Lesson 9  Lesson 10

And Here’s An Added Bonus For You

I’m a member of Wealthy Affiliate myself (I only recommend things I truly believe in)… And guess what?

Wealthy Affiliate has an affiliate program.

Well, it’d be kinda silly if they didn’t, right?

So here’s the deal… If you sign up via my link, decide you like it & decide to go Premium (which gives you access to everything) then I’ll earn a commission – at no expense to you.

And in return for helping me out, I’d be willing to help you out too by offering you my personal 1-on-1 mentorship to help you get things moving as quickly as possible.

Sound good?

All you need to do is create your free Wealthy Affiliate account via my link here.

You can still check it all out first & there’ll be absolutely no pressure on you to go Premium… But just know that when (or if) you do, I’ll be there ready to help you. ?

And here’s the direct link to my own personal Wealthy Affiliate profile in case you have any questions you want to ask me first:

Wealthy Affiliate Profile

About the Author:
Hi, I'm Dale - the founder of Hate Work ❤ Love Money . After discovering a legitimate way to earn money online several years ago I said goodbye to my boss & I've never looked back. Ever since then I've been earning an income entirely from the internet & I set up this website to help others who are looking to do the same. Ready to get started? Learn more here.

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