How Does Affiliate Marketing Really Work? – A Simple Explanation


How Does Affiliate Marketing Really Work?So, you’ve been reading my blog for a while, and you are probably wondering, how does Affiliate Marketing really work? In this blog post, I will explain Affiliate Marketing in layman’s terms, so you can easily get the concept, and understand that anyone can do it, even we grandparents!

The Basic Premise

Affiliate Marketing works like this: You write a blog. In the blog, you write about products and review products for your niche. (your niche is the subject you write your blog about). You join affiliate programs of companies selling the products. You place links (given to you by the companies selling the products. These links are specific to your account with the affiliate programs you have joined). If a reader of your blog clicks on the link, and then buys the product or other items from that company they have clicked to from your site, the company then pays you a commission.

An example of this, is my other blog about plus size clothing. I have joined the affiliate programs of my favorite plus size clothing stores, and to stores selling books about plus size clothing. I write and post pictures about my favorite outfits and my favorite books, and I put links into my writing, mainly about where I buy my clothes. My readers like what I’m wearing and want to buy the looks I’m presenting. So they click on the links, and buy the clothing. The clothing retailer then pays me a commission for what the reader has purchased.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Really Work?A Numbers Game

Affiliate Marketing is a numbers game. The commission percentages are fairly low, usually around 8-12% depending on the programs you join. Let’s say you get a commission of 10% on a clothing item sold through your affiliate link. Typical clothing items are $30. You get $3 for that sale.

Well, in my world, $3 isn’t much money. However, if you get tens of thousands of readers, and .5% to 1% “convert” or click through to your affiliate partners (companies of whose affiliate programs you have joined), that dollar amount begins to add up. Let’s say you have ten thousand readers. 1% convert, on that $30 item. 10,000 x 1% = 100. Your commission is $3, so $3 x 100 is $300. That’s more than enough to pay for groceries in my house for 2 weeks.

Now lets say, you have a several websites, with a bunch of affiliate partners, and you get an excess of 10,000 visitors in a period to each of your websites, and 1% of those site visitors convert, you start to make some real money.

Maximize SEO

SEO is “Search Engine Optimization”. This is where the popular search engines, which are Google, Yahoo and Bing, bring your websites and articles up to the top when someone searches your niche subjects. If an article or blog post is properly SEO’ed, when someone searches your subject matter, your blog appears in the first page (preferably THE first listing) of the search results. You get the most traffic to your website if your posts are among the first to show up in a search.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Really Work?“Low Hanging Fruit” Keywords and Phrases

“Content” is basically the articles or blog posts you write. To invoke SEO in your content, you want “keyword rich” content. That means you have used a keyword search tool such as Jaaxy, to find keywords and key phrases that pertain to your niche. A keyword or key phrase is what a person surfing the web would type into Google to find information.

Here’s how you search keywords or phrases: I have several ideas about plus size clothing that I want to write about. I’m thinking I want to do an article about who the best plus size designers are. I then type into my keyword search tool, several phases I would use to search on plus size clothing designers, such as “who are the best plus size designers” or “top 10 plus size designers” or “which popular designers have a plus size line”.

My keyword search tool (Jaaxy) will tell me stats about the keywords or phrases I type in, such as the following:

  • Avg. (Monthly Searches): The number of searches a keyword has per month.
  • Traffic: Estimated monthly traffic you’ll get if your site ranks on Google’s first result page.
  • Quoted Search Results (QSR): tells you how many pages are competing for the same exact keyword or key phrase on Google. The lower this number is the better.

These criteria show me how much traffic to expect if I use the keyword or phrase in my content. The ideal “low hanging fruit” (easy and straight forward to write posts about) have an average above 40, and a QSR of under 100. The nice thing about the Jaaxy keyword search tool is the “traffic light” words they give you when you search a word. If you get a green “Great!” that means you have a good keyword.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Really Work?Writing “Keyword Rich” Content

Once you find a good keyword or phrase you want to write about, you need to get it into your writing in the correct places. Here’s where your keywords should go:

  • In your blog post title.
  • Within the first few paragraphs of your article

You can also put it throughout your article, but don’t overdo it. Google and other search engines don’t like obvious “packing” of keywords and may reject your writing for indexing (putting it into people’s searches) or may not rank (position your article on the first page) your content, and you won’t get the traffic you need to click on your affiliate links.

So now that you have keyword rich content, put in your affiliate links, and you are ready to publish.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Really Work?Exciting News About Affiliate Marketing and Wealthy Affiliate

If you read my blog, you will know that I write my content and host my blog on the Wealthy Affiliate platform. Click here for a review of Wealthy Affiliate to see what membership provides for you in your quest to become an Affiliate Marketer.

This past week some exciting news has come out about the Wealthy Affiliate platform. They are now offering an Affiliate Program search tool! This is excellent news! Always before, you needed to do all your own time-consuming and tedious searching for affiliate programs. Now, there is a tool that does a lot of the research for you!

I just tried the new Affiliate Program Search Tool for my plus size clothing blog. I am quite pleased with the results. It gave me mostly Rakutan programs, which is what I was missing in my affiliate partner list. Rakutan is an affiliate network, and their search was hard to use and wasn’t much help. Now I can use the Wealthy Affiliate, Affiliate Program Search to find partners in Rakutan.

===>  Click here to start your free membership in Wealthy Affiliate, and learn Affiliate Marketing from the BEST in the Business!<===

In Conclusion:

So if you were wondering how affiliate marketing really works, this is it in a nutshell. If you have any more questions about it, try the free membership in Wealthy Affiliate today and get all your questions answered.  I am always open for new ideas!  Please comment below, and share on social media!


Rhonda Stetson


  1. Hey Rhonda,

    This is an informative and useful article I must say. I had heard about Affliate Marketing before but the concept of it was never so clear than it is now. I had no proper ideas on it bit after reading your article I have come to know a lot of things about it and about maximizing SEO. I think affliate marketing is one of the best way to make money online. And as I have got basic knowledge about it I will research on it more and more and hopefully I will get myself involved on it in future.

    Thank you for sharing so much informations.

  2. A simple explanation is always a great way of explaining, especially for those who are just starting out with affiliate marketing. I really like your straightforward explanation of affiliate marketing, no beating around the bush. I totally agree that affiliate marketing is a numbers game, and it’s all about attracting large numbers of people because as you said commissions for a single transaction can be slight. Jaaxy and Wealthy Affiliate are both top-notch products. Everyone reading your post should follow these links to see what they are all about! Well done here.

    • Thank you for your compliments!  It’s because of Wealthy Affiliate (and Jaaxy) that I gained enough knowledge to write about affiliate marketing.  It has only taken a few months to get two functioning websites up and running, and generating traffic.  I could not have done this without the top notch training at Wealthy Affiliate!  Thanks again for reading and commenting!

  3. Thank you for making this article Rhonda! I am glad I found Wealthy Affiliate, because I have had the opportunity to learn several of the things you are speaking about in your article. This is gold and if anyone is looking to succeed I would recommend they follow the strategies you have laid out here, from SEO to finding the low hanging fruit. 

    • Cliff, thank you very much for reading and commenting.  I too have learned a lot about affiliate marketing through Wealthy Affiliate, more than I ever would have on my own.  Through hard work and following the training, I have become a successful affiliate marketer in a few short months.  Thanks again for the comments Cliff!  Rhonda

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