How does affiliate marketing work?
To put it simply, affiliate marketing is the promotion of someone else’s product by yourself, in return for a small commission on each sale made.
It is a common method of monetisation in the digital world, growing ever-popular in correlation with the rise of ecommerce and the move to online purchasing by consumers.
In fact, according to data from Kinsta, affiliate marketing is ranked in the top three customer acquisition channels for 54% of brand marketers. That’s higher than both organic search (16%) and display ads (15%).
Here’s a (brief) step-by-step explanation of how affiliate marketing typically works:
- Create a website, YouTube channel, or social media account
- Produce engaging, relevant content that appeals to your target audience – this could be in the form of video reviews, blog posts, or entertaining social content
- Consider which products will appeal most to your target audience. You want to maximise sales opportunities – there’s no point selling chocolate to Oompa Loompas
- Create an affiliate account using an affiliate platform – we will go into further detail about which platforms to use, further down
- Set up your affiliate links and begin earning commission on sales as your audience clicks on them – and of course, celebrate when you make your first commission!
We’ve kept our explanation short and sweet, but would highly recommend you watch the video below by Shopify for a comprehensive guide to getting started with affiliate marketing.
Examples of affiliate marketing
We’ve highlighted a few interesting examples of how content creators make money through affiliate links, below. The principles of how you monetise remain the same, it’s mainly a question of where you’re reaching out to an audience.
Jack Smith runs a highly successful kitchen appliance reviews blog. He loves nothing more than to test out and write about microwaves, and is currently working on a review of ‘the top ten microwaves for people on a budget’.
Russell Hobbs is a kitchen appliance juggernaut. They supply microwaves and one particular model ranks highly on Jack’s list. By forging an affiliate relationship, Jack will be able to directly link to the Russell Hobbs website throughout his review article, and receive payment from Russell Hobbs every time the business makes a sale via one of Jack’s links.
Alternatively, Jack can work with Amazon’s affiliate platform to link to Russell Hobbs microwaves on sale there.
Through social media – influencer #ads
Many influencers make money through affiliate deals with brands. They advertise products to their followers and earn a commission on any sale, usually via using a specific code that the influencer will share with their followers.
Through price comparison websites
An area that has really excelled in the affiliate marketing space is comparison websites such as USwitch, and MoneySavingExpert.
By offering consumers the chance to compare costs in relation to energy, car insurance, and other highly common commodities, these websites are able to provide vast amounts of affiliate links directly to the providers, all whilst drawing in a huge amount of traffic from audiences that want one thing and one thing only – to save money.
Through video content
Many influencers use YouTube or TikTok to Livestream, and video blogs to promote products and brands. A very common, but very effective, way to affiliate market through YouTube is through ‘try on hauls’. This is when a content creator/influencer will try on a series of outfits from different brands, and review each item.
Links to the products will be included either in the description, or throughout the video, and the content creator will earn a percentage of a sale whenever someone viewing the video clicks through and makes a purchase.
Influencer Tanya Burr has become incredibly successful using this method of affiliate marketing.