A quick and inexpensive method of making money without the hassle of actually selling a product, affiliate marketing has an undeniable draw for those looking to increase their income online. But how does an affiliate get paid after linking the seller to the consumer? The answer is complicated. The consumer doesn’t always need to buy the product for the affiliate to get a kickback. Depending on the program, the affiliate’s contribution to the seller’s sales will be measured differently. The affiliate may get paid in various ways:
Through our global affiliate network, we empower marketers to engage shoppers across the entire consumer journey. Affiliate success comes down to partnerships — we connect advertisers with publishers to reach new audiences and influence repeat purchases. Our solutions create a holistic strategy that delivers proven incremental revenue and is continually optimized for performance.
Before I get into details, I’ll say one thing up front; both are perfectly viable business strategies. They both have checkered pasts with spammy abuse and high quality use. The difference between them comes in infrastructure and setup, as well as how you go about managing the business you create. Neither is inherently better than the other; it comes down to what you want out of the business, what you’re willing to put in, and which system seems more appealing to you.
One of the main reasons why most newbie affiliate marketers give up after 3 months is the fact that they can’t build up traffic to their affiliate website. It’s a thorn in most marketers’ sides, but one that can be easily resolved if you put the effort in. Below I have covered a few areas that will get you good targeted traffic to your affiliate deals.
At the end of the day, I have two things to say. First, neither option is better overall than the other. It all comes down to how much effort you put into it, what connections you make, what you’re willing to invest, and the fickle vagaries of luck. Second, absolutely nothing says you’re limited to just one or the other. You can always build a dropshipping storefront and augment that income with affiliate marketing. No one can stop you but your competition and your own lack of ambition.
Sorry I was not more clear in my questions, we want to market products and re-direct traffic from our website to the seller websites. With that said, we need to know how to get started in forming relationships with sellers whereby they allow us to market their products and whereby they will pay us commissions if their items are purchased as result of our website being visited by their eventual customers. What is the contractual arrangement? What is the typical commission that we would be paid? How do we formalize and structure the contractual arrangement between us and the sellers, etc? We need the specifics on this process.
Dropshipping is an online retail activity in which the seller adds a product to their store without actually having the physical item in stock. Instead, they pass the order to the dropshipping wholesaler. The suppliers will then send the product to the final customer using the seller’s name. It is a very good option if you don’t want to have to worry about stock, as all you need do is pass the order to your dropshipper.
Third, successful affiliate marketers measure beyond just money. How will you know that you’ve become a successful affiliate marketer? The number cruncher in you may raise your hand and say, “When I make X dollars per month every month for a number of years.” Hard to argue with that, since making money online is a strong motivator. However, why not measure success by the number of lives you touch in a positive fashion by introducing them to your affiliate products? Chances are that the money will follow…
“I emailed each partner via a mass broadcast email to let them know to stop sending traffic. I chose that route immediately because it informed everyone quickly, and allowed them time to stop sending their highly-targeted traffic to an offer not making them any money. After the broadcast, I began to personally call, Skype, Facebook, and text all the contacts one at a time. I wanted to ensure them we were doing everything possible to make things right, and thank them for their support,” he said.
5: How much do you want to diversify? Dropship stores are not generalist stores. You aren’t going to compete with Amazon and have a little of everything. If your store is selling tablet cases, you might be able to branch out into screen protectors, stylus accessories, phone cases, and other accessories, but you won’t be able to add something like model trains to your shop. On the other hand, affiliate marketing allows you to build as many individual niche sites as you wish. If you want to add model trains to your roster, build a site about trains. If you then want pool accessories, do that on another site.
Affiliates work to introduce their visitors to the merchant’s brand. They might write a post about a new product or promotion on the merchant’s site, feature banner ads on their site that drive people to the merchant’s site, or offer visitors a special coupon code. If people come from that affiliate’s site and make a purchase, that affiliate gets paid.
I suppose it could be a different story for me since I’m more focused on the blogging area of internet marketing. Speaking of, what do you think the benefits/drawbacks are of the blogging approach vs. the email only approach when it comes to internet marketing? A lot of SEO “gurus” out there say blogging is essential because of the extra link-power it can give your site. Obviously you’ve had a lot of success with both approaches – what’s your opinion on the issue?
When you dropship goods, you’re building an asset – your brand. With dropshipping, you’ll have your own professional website. You’ll make enough money to invest in advertising, content and other traffic and money generating techniques. In a year from now, if you decide you want to move onto another niche, you can sell your business to someone else. However, not all affiliates have their own assets. Some affiliates make their money by creating YouTube videos. Yet, you’re not allowed to sell your YouTube channel. Between dropshipping vs affiliate marketing, you’re better off with dropshipping.
#3- Different Style for Email– You’ll probably notice my email style is much different from the content on this blog.  The paragraphs are short.  I use CAPS on some words.  The character lines are less than 65 letters.  And I definitely use more of salesy type of copy.  The reason I do it this way is because this is what’s worked for me with email marketing.  Why fix what ain’t broke?
In 1996, Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon.com, popularized this idea as an Internet marketing strategy. Amazon.com attracts affiliates to post links to individual books for sale on Amazon.com, or for Amazon.com in general, by promising them a percentage of the profits if someone clicks on the link and then purchases books or other items. The affiliate helps make the sale, but Amazon.com does everything else: They take the order, collect the money and ship the book to the customer. With over 500,000 affiliate Web sites now participating, Amazon.com's program is a resounding success.
Both affiliate marketing and dropshipping require similar skill sets. To be successful in either you’ll need to be able to market your products by creating ads and driving traffic to landing pages where customers will buy the product. This might not sound too difficult, but it can take a while to start seeing any significant number of people actually buying products using your site or links.
When running an affiliate marketing business, the costs are generally quite low. There’s usually no fee for the affiliate to pay as the merchant usually covers administrative fees on affiliate networks like Clickbank or Amazon Associates. The only costs that an affiliate typically pays for are their own website and server, which keeps costs low. However, as an affiliate marketer, you’re required to pay for the marketing costs as you’re the person driving traffic to the merchant’s website. Yet, as it is a business expense, you’ll likely be able to write it off during tax season.
Dropshipping is no doubt better for entrepreneurs, because they can set up their own margins and price uplift. Nobody thinks for the customers in this situation, because they are paying more for something, which costs less. This get me motivated to create a small affiliate eCommerce aggregator with the best tech deals from one of the biggest China online wholesalers. Because I truly believe that the customer needs to pay the true price of the product I also implemented a Crypto Cash Back reward program where he can withdraw up to the full amount of the affiliate commission in cryptocurrency. Soon I will also add paypal.
2. Education: The next important part that can make or break your business is your education, or your knowledge about this online business. Most people failed because they did not know exactly what Internet Affiliate Marketing is, how it works, and how they can do things correctly. If you want to see results in the long run, you must arm yourself with enough knowledge. Don’t let something that you don’t know holds you back.
Day by day, more and more companies participate to using this marketing method to create their own business web-site. This partnership is a low–cost model; because it is paid only when sales are completed. For instance, most affiliates pay 5% commission for every visitor who purchases a product suggested by its affiliate marketing platform. (Generally another web-site) Although commission is a very small percentage, the partnership allows affiliates to benefit from brand awareness by providing a continuous level of sales to the company.

You also need to contact suppliers and make deals with them. For some products, this is easy; the suppliers don’t want to deal with marketing or sales themselves, so they set up dropshipping programs and allow almost anyone to enroll. Others are harder to contact and require a phone call to be passed through to the right department. These can be more lucrative – the barrier to entry keeps out the low-effort dropshippers – but it takes effort to set up.
Adam Enfroy is the Affiliate Partnerships Manager at BigCommerce. With 10+ years of experience in digital marketing, ecommerce, selling online courses, and web development, he is passionate about leveraging the right strategic partnerships and software to scale digital growth. Adam lives in Austin, TX and writes about affiliate marketing and building your online influence on his personal blog.
In the case of cost per mille/click, the publisher is not concerned about whether a visitor is a member of the audience that the advertiser tries to attract and is able to convert, because at this point the publisher has already earned his commission. This leaves the greater, and, in case of cost per mille, the full risk and loss (if the visitor cannot be converted) to the advertiser.
“It is absolutely vital to provide them with real-time reporting. Obviously, this reporting needs to be 100% accurate with integrity. Some affiliates will be running 100+ different sources to your offer, and by offering them real-time reporting, they can quickly determine which sources are working and which are not. You save yourself money as well as your affiliates. This also helps scale quickly if you have a good performing offer,” he said.
Despite its older origins, email marketing is still a viable source of affiliate marketing income. Some affiliates have email lists they can use to promote the seller’s products. Others may leverage email newsletters that include hyperlinks to products, earning a commission after the consumer purchases the product. Another method is for the affiliate to cultivate email lists over time. They use their various campaigns to collect emails en masse, then send out emails regarding the products they are promoting.
Fortunately for beginners just getting started with affiliate marketing, hard sales skills – though great to have – are not a prerequisite for affiliate marketing success. Provided that you choose a profitable niche market, set up your WordPress platform properly, and take the right steps to grow your audience, you can generate affiliate income as a relationship marketer. As mentioned earlier, if you do it right promoting the right products that can help your audience is a way to actually add value.

Connecting the dots between marketing and sales is hugely important -- according to Aberdeen Group, companies with strong sales and marketing alignment achieve a 20% annual growth rate, compared to a 4% decline in revenue for companies with poor alignment. If you can improve your customer's' journey through the buying cycle by using digital technologies, then it's likely to reflect positively on your business's bottom line.


This is the standard affiliate marketing structure. In this program, the merchant pays the affiliate a percentage of the sale price of the product after the consumer purchases the product as a result of the affiliate’s marketing strategies. In other words, the affiliate must actually get the investor to invest in the product before they are compensated.
Find and work with affiliates. Affiliates will help grow your business and help you tap into web traffic. There are many ways to meet and engage with affiliates, but the best way to access desirable affiliates is by building a reputation for yourself. You can do this by developing a popular blog or otherwise earning a large online following, or by becoming a published author of a book or article.[15] There are other ways of meeting affiliates, of course, and each method will vary in its success and required effort. Generally speaking, the basic course of action for acquiring affiliates typically involves one of the following methods:
Don’t hit a send button without proofreading and testing your campaigns. Email with spelling and grammar slips will feel rushed and will make you look unprofessional. Sometimes when you work on something for too long, it’s easy to miss small mistakes. Make sure that all links work correctly. I recommend that you always send a test email to a colleague or a friend to read it first. Or, take a break and come back to check your email later with a fresh mind.
Affiliate marketers are only paid when someone in their audience takes an action that you’ve committed to pay for. If you’ve committed to pay a commission for sales, they’ll only get paid after they actually drive sales. 5 percent to 10 percent commission rates are common, although commissions on products like electronics tend to be lower. If you’ve committed to pay for qualified leads, you only have to pay when they refer a lead that meets the qualifications you’ve specified.
“Affiliate marketing is a relationship business, period. Whether you are a product owner doing the affiliate management or an affiliate manager, make sure you spend your energy building relationships and true friendships. It’s always easier and more profitable to do business with people you know, rather than just some person with which you have only exchanged emails,” Alarid said.
Here is something that I didn’t think about before if you are selling informational type products. If you want to make a lot of money very quickly you will need to build a list of names and email addresses. The larger the list the better. That way when someone has a product that you can sell as an affiliate you can just send out an email message to your email list and people will start buying from you that day or in the very near future.
Although there is complete control over the types of products to promote or market on the website, shipping cannot be controlled because product sellers handle that. Sellers ship the ordered products at their own convenience (such as waiting to collect multiple orders from a single location and sending them all in one go). Because of similar reasons, customers are often seen complaining about late receipt of their orders.
#5- Introduce Curiosity in Subject Lines– The third thing you’ll notice is my subject lines are designed to tease the reader.   We all get a ton of email in our inboxes.  As a result, I write my headlines either to show the benefit the subscriber will receive OR to create enough curiosity to make them open the message.  To be honest, I’m always tweaking my headlines to maximize open rates.  You should do the same!
Affiliate marketing is one way to make money online for those who want to derive an income from their web use. An affiliate marketer promotes specific products or websites in exchange for a cut of the profits or commissions from the web traffic she generates. Any time the recommendation/web traffic from an internet affiliate leads to a sale, the affiliate earns money. In other words, the products or services are provided by others, while you provide a sales or marketing outlet. While there are no successful get-rich-quick schemes, many people have found success doing internet marketing as an affiliate. Learning how to work as a successful affiliate marketer can help you determine whether a career in this potentially lucrative field might be right for you.
Create a bonus offer for a product that an affiliate is already marketing. For example, if one of your affiliates is selling a course on driving e-commerce sales from your Facebook fan page, you can write a short and useful step-by-step guide that complements the product, such as the fundamentals of lead generation from Facebook. Ideally, the short bonus that you add to your affiliate’s product should bring extra value to all of your customers.
One big difference between SkimLinks and VigLinks, however, is that once you’re approved by the company, you can choose to work with any merchant or program on its platform. SkimLinks has also published a white paper discussing its partnership with Buzzfeed, giving SkimLinks a lot of credibility. SkimLinks also has a higher tier of vetted merchants called “Preferred Partner” and “VIP” that both pay higher commissions than standard merchants.
When running an affiliate marketing business, the costs are generally quite low. There’s usually no fee for the affiliate to pay as the merchant usually covers administrative fees on affiliate networks like Clickbank or Amazon Associates. The only costs that an affiliate typically pays for are their own website and server, which keeps costs low. However, as an affiliate marketer, you’re required to pay for the marketing costs as you’re the person driving traffic to the merchant’s website. Yet, as it is a business expense, you’ll likely be able to write it off during tax season.

When doing a comparison between dropshipping vs affiliate marketing, the biggest disadvantage of affiliate marketing is you’re paid on commission. You might’ve just spent $100 in ads only to make $50 back in commission fees. The payout for affiliate commissions is generally a lot lower than dropshipping. Even if your commissions are several hundred dollars, odds are the cost of the product is higher. This means finding the right people will cost more as well. Also, you don’t have the opportunity to set the price. For example, if people are interested in the product but feel the cost is too high, you can’t lower it to meet the demand of your audience. In addition, since you can’t set the price of your earnings, you’ll likely make a lot less than if you were the merchant.
Hi Jamie, awesome content that is very helpful esp with the resources, links and the rich discussions. Want to start e-commerce and blog for money…selling others products, want to go full on with this, tired of the daily routine crunch working for others. I live in a developing country (PNG) that has high internet costs (work still in progress with getting rates down…) so will see how I go with your posts. Any advise? Don’t have a website yet, have to build one I guess….
Adam Enfroy is the Affiliate Partnerships Manager at BigCommerce. With 10+ years of experience in digital marketing, ecommerce, selling online courses, and web development, he is passionate about leveraging the right strategic partnerships and software to scale digital growth. Adam lives in Austin, TX and writes about affiliate marketing and building your online influence on his personal blog.
Betfair Affiliates is the affiliate marketing program for the well known Betfair betting website. Betfair’s primary market is sports betting. It’s actually a betting exchange, so it allows gamblers to place lay bets too – in other words, bets that bank on the opposite outcome. Betfair also offers in-play betting that allows users to lock in profits before the match ends. They also have great offers for the new customers to Betfair Casino.
In 2006, the most active sectors for affiliate marketing were the adult gambling, retail industries and file-sharing services.[21]:149–150 The three sectors expected to experience the greatest growth are the mobile phone, finance, and travel sectors.[21] Soon after these sectors came the entertainment (particularly gaming) and Internet-related services (particularly broadband) sectors. Also several of the affiliate solution providers expect to see increased interest from business-to-business marketers and advertisers in using affiliate marketing as part of their mix.[21]:149–150
“It is absolutely vital to provide them with real-time reporting. Obviously, this reporting needs to be 100% accurate with integrity. Some affiliates will be running 100+ different sources to your offer, and by offering them real-time reporting, they can quickly determine which sources are working and which are not. You save yourself money as well as your affiliates. This also helps scale quickly if you have a good performing offer,” he said.
I’ve just got to hear about affiliate marketing and am really a newbie to this matter. The post above was so great and helpful for a person like me. I also took a look at locationrebel which seemed very exciting to me. I wonder if those courses and blueprints are still applicable because as far as I’ve seen, the reviews and testimonials all refer to the year 2013. It was the only reason that hold me back from joining the Locationrebel. I would be very thankful if you help me with this matter.

It sounds like you have a good system going and you are correct, they both do take a lot of work. Most people will not have the time to put up hundreds of affiliate sites and stores. Given that you are comparing one affiliate site versus one dropshipped store, they both should take a similar amount of time to rank in the search engines. The advantage of the dropshipped store is that you won’t be completely dependent on SEO. If Google were to all of a sudden tank your website for your keywords (this has happened to me on several occasions), then you still have a solid customer base and word of mouth that will get you new customers.


Its a great article. I was pondering with pros and cons of “Drop Shipping” Kindly add 2 points: 1) It also provide positive cash flow, you have window period cash received and cash paid to manufacturers. 2) You do not want your child school admin to know his father profession is an “Affiliate”. Affiliate is not a career, it is not even a business but a part time income model. I diversifying contract manufacturing and drop shipping to raise profits more then affiliate programmers. You can not affiliate 25 million inventories but can trade as drop shipping. Correct me if I wrong. Thanks for the post.
hey sean, am a newbie who is so ethusistic about online marketing. great post , i must commend , it came in handy. through your post i clearly understand that an affiliate mustr have a website and a blog as a platform for promoting the good and services. here the thing with me , i dont have either of them and am asking ….. is it advisable for me to delve in affilate marketing peradventure i get a blog running now …?
The truth is much more complicated. It’s true that affiliate programs can be sources of phantom revenue and off-brand promotion. But managed properly, they can also make up 5-15 percent of online revenue and have an ROI among the highest of any online channel. CMOs are realizing that affiliate marketing can be an important part of their arsenal and are integrating the channel into their overall marketing strategies.
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