how does affiliate marketing work

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work: Everything You Need to Know

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PureVPN UpdatesHow Does Affiliate Marketing Work: Everything You Need to Know

In the last decade, everything that we know has become digitized in some way. The business of referrals, where resellers would find suitable customers for a merchant’s products to earn a commission, has also gone digital. In the online space, this is known as affiliate marketing.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is the process of connecting consumers and producers on a platform and earning commissions on sales.

Major Components of Affiliate Marketing

Some affiliate marketing businesses may require complex aspects to be considered at all times. However, all affiliate marketing businesses can be divided into four major components that constitute the working dynamics of the business.


In simple words, affiliates are resellers. The products and services that they sell are not their own. This explains how affiliate marketers can earn thousands of bucks each month with little to no investment. In most cases, an affiliate will create a website or a platform where it will promote multiple products. Each time a user on the affiliate’s website buys a product, the affiliate earns a commission on it.


Merchants are the brand owners who are selling products online. In the modern times, many businesses rely solely on affiliates to promote and sell their products. Every merchant offers varying percentages of commissions based on the number of sales an affiliate is making.

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Sometimes, the number of sales being made each day by an affiliate are in the hundreds. Other times, an affiliate is involved in selling dozens of different products and services simultaneously. This can make it extremely challenging to manage the multitude of ongoing sales as well as to calculate commissions. To overcome the hurdle, affiliates and merchants make use of a third-party network (or several) that keeps all records, logs all sales, and calculates the amounts to be paid out to affiliates.


Consumers or customers are the end users who buy products. In an affiliate marketing perspective, consumers are the users who buy merchant’s products from the affiliate’s website.

Affiliate Marketing Payment Modules

There are three different types of payment modules that are utilized in the affiliate marketing industry. Even though the first two are very rarely adopted and the third one is popular within 90% of the industry, it is important to know all if you are new in the affiliate marketing business as the terminology will likely surface in conversations and in other research about affiliate marketing.

PPC (Pay Per Click)

The PPC module suggests that every time a user clicks on a merchant’s ad or a link, the affiliate will receive a commission, regardless of whether this user makes a transaction or not.

When the affiliate marketing industry was in its infancy, many affiliates and merchants opted for this module. However, it was soon learnt that PPC puts all the risks and expenses on the merchant, while the affiliates get to enjoy great profits. This module is now rarely used by anyone.

PPL (Pay Per Lead) or CPL (Cost Per Lead)

Unlike the PPC module that pays even if the user just clicks and bounces, the PPL module asks for a little more than that. It counts the number of leads generated by the affiliate website. These leads can be anything such as newsletter signups or free trial signup, which collect the users email address, IP address, or other contact details. The PPL module also puts all the risk on the merchant, as it is uncertain if a user will make a transaction and sign up for a paid service after signing up for a newsletter or a trial.

PPS (Pay Per Sale) or CPS (Cost Per Sale) or CPA (Cost Per Acquisition)

This is the most popular payment module in the affiliate marketing industry. Here, the affiliates get paid only when an actual sale or paid acquisition is made. In most cases, the affiliates are paid all the outstanding amounts collectively on a monthly basis. Some merchants that take help of third-party networks to manage their affiliate wing pay instantaneously with each sale too. However, such instances only occur amid affiliates with a very high volume of transactions and have a special relationship with the affiliate.

How to Grow Your Affiliate Marketing Business

There is no straight route to building a successful affiliate marketing business. However, based on the experience shared by hundreds of affiliate marketers, the following six steps can give you a kick start in building your affiliate marketing business.

Select an Industry

The first step toward building an affiliate marketing business module is choosing your niche. There are multiple industries that you can incorporate into your blog or website, but these industries need to be related to one another. For instance, if you choose tech as your niche, you can cover all sorts of topics such as smartphones, PCs, games, TV Shows, movies, etc. However, topics such as finance, and personal health cannot be incorporated within the same domain unless they’re tech gadgets. Don’t expect to see a good response if you’re to advertise a personal finance book or a fertility testing product.

Having content based around a singular niche or relevant industries makes it easier for users to find your website on Google search. In the long run, this will help you in achieving good daily traffic and also domain expertise as long as you consistently focus on it.

Build Audience

There are multiple ways to build an audience. As an affiliate marketer, you need to understand that no user will come on your website and search for their desired content. Rather, the only chance you have of getting a new user is by making him click on a link on a Google search, Facebook post, Instagram post, newsletter, or any other website. Once a user clicks on such a link, he will land on your website, adding to your audience.

Become an Affiliate

After you have set up a website and have a good amount of traffic coming in each day, you can start signing up for affiliate programs. In a typical setting, you can sign up for as many affiliate programs you want to, and sell as much as you can. However, a few things need to be considered.

If you want to base your business on trust between you and the consumer, you should focus on products from the same niche.e As mentioned in the previous section, don’t deviate from your topical focus. If you’re catering to pregnant mothers, don’t start selling products that cater to a business audience.

It is also worth noting that some merchants do not allow affiliates to resell their competitors’ products. Before choosing what products and services you want to sell online, it is recommended that you do thorough research on the affiliate programs offered by each of the merchants. Click the below link to become a PureVPN affiliate

Promote Products

The entire idea of an affiliate platform is being able to promote other business products and services. This needs to be done with caution and creativity. If the content has too much promotional material, the user may lose interest. If it has too much information, the user may get distracted before getting to know about the product and leave the page. When promoting products, success lies in finding a mix between awareness based content and promotional content.

Optimize Content

Once you set up a website and populate it with content, the most important thing that needs to be done with consistency is content optimization. This means that for all the content that you have curated around your merchants’ products, you need to be sure that it covers all the keywords and search phrases a potential user may use while searching for a solution on Google. That’s how you get found and get paid.

You also need to be sure that your page loads up quickly and the content is displayed neatly in a legible font. If your content fails to grasp your users’ attention, chances are that they will not do any transactions. Content optimization can take up most of your time. However, if it is done right, it can bring in a lot of traffic and sales to your website.

Get Paid

Lastly, collect your payments. While this seems to be the natural conclusion, much effort needs to be put by affiliates for managing payments and keeping a track of the pending amounts. Most of the time, affiliates are dealing with dozens of merchants. Without a proper sale management system, affiliates may lose out in keeping track of pending amounts and hence miss out on getting paid.

Rameez Ghayas Usmani Rameez Ghayas Usmani is a data-science and SEO enthusiast. He loves to apply machine learning algorithms to the digital marketing industry in order to amplify the marketing results. His expert quotes on Digital Marketing and SEO appeared in media such as, Oracle Marketing Platform, Search Engine Watch, Business2Community, and Herald Tribune.

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