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What the Heck is Affiliate Marketing?

Updated on April 12, 2008

Let me explain...

Okay... so I had two... not just one, but TWO phone calls today from people who thought they were interested in affiliate marketing only to discover that they had no idea what affiliate marketing actually entails!!!

Naturally, these were not the first two conversations I've had over the past five years where someone doesn't understand exactly what affiliate marketing might be. Not even the first time someone has called raring to get involved... until they realized they had to actually DO something if their desire is to "make money from home". In fact, it's because the conversations are so frequent that it occurs to me there simply isn't enough information available about the basics. That's where I come in...

Yes indeedy... in addition to being an author, editor, mom, grandma, Early Childhood professional, Administrative Assistant and loyal friend... I AM a MARKETER. Specifically, a network marketer and an affiliate marketer. And I remember a day when I was clueless about all this 'marketing' stuff. So I hope to clear a few things up right here and now!

Affiliate Marketing is...

It's really quite simple...

An Affiliate Marketer is a middleman (or woman, as the case may be) who connects the merchant... with the consumer. And a great deal of affiliate marketing happens on the Internet, making it a wonderful way to make money from your computer... wherever your computer is located!

It's very attractive to many people because they so often hear about the advantages in the form of what it does NOT entail and the things you do NOT have to get involved with. Here's an example of a list you are likely to see:

  • No selling
  • No inventory
  • No major expenses
  • No customer support
  • No returns
  • No refunds
  • No shipping
  • No product creation

I've even seen websites that claim... (absurdly) No NOTHING!

Okay...okay... ENOUGH!

While those things listed are true enough, and they are very wonderful aspects of affiliate marketing, they do absolutely no good in terms of letting people know what IS entailed in Affiliate Marketing.

Here's the Good News/Bad News folks...

You have to be willing to spend some time MARKETING the products and/or services the merchant provides! In other words, it's your job to educate and direct the consumer to a product or service. When you do that successfully you will then receive a percentage of the sale from the merchant.

Ahhhh... I see the lightbulb flashing. That's right, this begs the question... How do we get the consumer to our educational information?

That, in a nutshell, is the task before you as an affiliate marketer. And if it were a simple, "Gosh... you don't really have to do anything" deal then why would any merchant be willing to pay you a percentage?

For heavens sake think about it. If it were simply a matter of slapping up a URL here or there don't you think they could take a couple of minutes and keep all the profit for themselves?

So yes, it takes a bit of work and time but the good news is that it is possible to earn a lot of money from that bit of time and work, you have virtually unlimited income potential in front of you... and it can be done with little to no overhead for you as there is a lot of training and tools available all over the 'Net.

Much of the training and many of the tools are available at no cost at all. I highly recommend starting by going to Google and searching for blogs about affiliate marketing.

And be warned -- there will be an amazing number of people willing to share information at a cost. Some of this information is well worth the price... and much is not even worth your time reading.

I am proof that you can wean yourself from your 'Full Time Job' to supporting yourself online and doing it truly on a shoestring budget. And because of the time it took to learn the many elements and sort them into some sort of system that produced measurable money results... I don't recommend it to everyone.

There are simply so many elements that come into play, for instance you want to ask yourself how familiar you are with any of the following:

  • building a simple website
  • building a simple webpage
  • interacting in forums
  • having an opt-in list
  • PPC
  • article marketing
  • blog marketing
  • email marketing
  • social marketing and bookmarking
  • pinging
  • SEO
  • redirecting links
  • installing simple scripts on your web host

And more. If this list leaves your head spinning then you have a bit of education ahead of you. Please don't be discouraged... it really can all be like a very fun game! And a quality training system like Affiliate Classroom or Wealthy Affiliates can speed up your learning curve immeasurably. I know it would have saved me years!

Here's the bottom line...

Affiliate marketing can be moderately profitable or immensely profitable. You start by selecting a product you would like to be affiliated with... something that really jazzes you is best and there are many dozens of things to choose from...but you won't make a dime if you don't give it the time and energy to connect with the consumer and introduce them to your merchant! Anyone really can do it... as long as they have the time, the tools and a system! Have FUN!

Any questions?


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    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Really enjoyed reading your fun hub.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image

      Squidoo Mama 

      10 years ago

      Mary K,

      Excellent information!! I love your writing and always enjoy reading your work.


    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Awesome job GF. Funny, I was just thinking about this vary thing yesterday. Always delighted to see you write what I was thinking. LOL Kat


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