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Affiliate Marketing 2021: Ultimate Guide on Uses and Tips

  • What is affiliate marketing?
  • Types of affiliate marketing methods
  • Affiliate marketing mistakes to avoid
  • How to track the success of your affiliate marketing efforts

Many bloggers earn passive income by using affiliate links, which is the process of promoting a product or service by another company in exchange for a commission.

Sounds appealing, right? You launch a website, add a few affiliate links and your earnings increase. For example, Ryan Robinson of earns five figures every month through affiliate marketing.

While not everyone is earning five figures from affiliate marketing, it is a dream job for many and can be achieved through blogging, microsites, email and video marketing.

If you’re thinking about jumping into affiliate marketing, we’ve covered tips, tricks and strategies you could use to improve your website and boost your income.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is an advertising technique that involves earning commission for promoting another retailer or advertiser’s products or services.

You may have come across “affiliate links” or “sponsored posts” on websites you’ve visited before, or perhaps you’ve already taken steps to work with third-party publishers to generate traffic or leads to their products or services.

Affiliate Marketing

Whether you’re entirely new to affiliate marketing or trying to wrap your head around the basics, keep reading to discover how it works.

How does affiliate marketing work?

To get started, you’ll need to find an affiliate programme or network that interests you. Ensure you look at the types of products or services, payment methods, and commissions the retailer or advertiser offers before you sign up.

If you still like how it sounds after this point, sign up and await confirmation of acceptance. Once this has been processed, you can create content for the company and add the affiliate’s custom links.

Those links track when someone who lands on your site clicks through and purchases on the affiliate’s website, earning you a small commission.

It’s up to you whether you want to work with individual companies or an affiliate network – choose whichever you think will work best for you and your site. Programmes tend to be divided into categories to facilitate the selection process.

When you receive acceptance, you can then include links wherever the company or network permits, which could include:

  • Webpages
  • Social media
  • Emails
  • Blogs

The company or network usually sends payment over after you’ve hit the minimum payment threshold. Depending on the programme, the consumer does not need to purchase anything for you to receive remittance.

Affiliates can get paid in several ways, such as:

  • Pay per sale
  • Pay per lead
  • Pay per click

Payment Payment methods vary but tend to include online bank transfers, cheques and PayPal.

Types of affiliate marketing channels

There are several different marketing channels that you could leverage when advertising affiliate products or services. We’ve covered some of the most popular ways of ensuring audiences are engaged and receptive to purchasing promotional products.

Influencer Marketing

Influencers have become central to today’s affiliate marketing, courtesy of social media sites such as YouTube, Instagram and TikTok.

Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Ariana Grande and Cristiano Ronaldo are among the world’s most influential influencers, with a combined total of more than 789M followers on Instagram.

“Ordinary” people have become just as famous due to their influencer status and ability to create powerful, engaging content and interact with their following. Prime examples include the TikTok phenomenon, Addison Rae, Venezuelan YouTube star Lele Pons and Dr Mike Varshavski.

While brands pay influencers to promote their products, these social media personalities are also happy to share affiliate links in exchange for a commission.

If you own a business with loyal, engaged followers, consider branching into influencer marketing and promoting affiliate links on your platform.

You could share and promote these links by:

  • Tagging the brand in the photo and post you publish
  • Adding link to the product to your bio
  • Talking about and adding a swipe up link to the product or service in your social media story
  • Creating product comparisons or guides to educate your following

Whenever you include affiliate links on your social media platform, make sure you have a killer call-to-action (CTA) to entice your followers to click.

Also, promote products or services that your followers care about, meaning they need to be relevant to your brand or niche. For example, if you are a make-up brand, promoting cooking products doesn’t make sense.


With the ability to rank organically in search engine result pages (SERPs), blogging is often the go-to choice for marketers that want to monetise content.

Influencer Marketing

Bloggers excel at increasing third-party conversion rates by sharing or reviewing products or services of interest to their audience in a compelling way, which drives traffic to the affiliate’s website.

To incorporate affiliate marketing into your blogs, add links within your blog post or in a sidebar. You could also showcase products or services through ad banners, video content or pop-ups, encouraging users to interact with the content.

However, remember to use links in a natural way to avoid annoying or frustrating your audience. Share links that offer value to your readers, don’t oversell and prioritise the sale – how can you demonstrate that the product or service will be of use to people that land on your blog post? 


Developing and monetising microsites, which are smaller sites distinct and separate from the leading website, can garner substantial traffic and sales.

Brands often use microsites in tandem with other marketing efforts such as social media and blogging. These sites tend to offer more focused, relevant content for your niche and may run on their own domain or a sub-domain or the leading site.

The format of microsites can vary, but they are typically used to highlight:

  • specific events
  • products
  • content

If you’re wondering whether there is any value in creating a microsite, you may want to consider if:

  • Having another site will benefit the buyer journey
  • You will need the website over the long term
  • You’re testing campaigns or keywords
  • The affiliate network or individual company is targeting a specific niche

If you think that creating a microsite will benefit your brand, ensure that you create detailed, media-rich content on the site to ensure your success.

You should also highlight valuable features and benefits that users can locate at a glance and add product reviews to boost trust and credibility.

If you’re using a microsite to promote products, we advise including offerings from different affiliate networks and various price points for a more varied mix.

Referral Links

After signing up for an affiliate network, you’re sent a personalised link, also known as a referral link.

It is this link which you need to feature on your marketing channels as when visitors to your blog, social media page, or email click this link; you earn a commission.

Businesses that send out newsletters regularly or create blog content find referral links a good strategy for generating passive income. For example, NASDAQ-listed eCommerce platform BigCommerce, pays $1,500 for every enterprise referral.

However, newsletters are not the only way you can implement referral links. You could also use referral links in:

Wherever you decide to feature referral links, make sure that the content is helpful and the links are easily visible. Include powerful CTAs and compelling titles that will encourage users to click.

Social Media Sites

Social media sites are ideal for affiliate marketing as they comprise millions of users.

While you will need to check ad regulations for each channel, sharing affiliate links on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram would be ideal for brands with a significant number of followers or a niche product.

You could share affiliate links via:

  • Advertisements
  • Personal posts
  • In groups
  • Promotional posts

The social media method offers superior exposure, often resulting in high conversion rates for you and the seller.

Email Lists

Despite its older origins, email marketing is a popular and viable source of generating passive income.

Marketers set up email lists of their subscribers through in-house email marketing software or services such as MailChimp and encourage registered users to click the link in exchange for an incentive such as a free training session, template, or discount on their first purchase.

Links are usually included in newsletters or order status emails. Time-limited and exclusive offers from affiliate networks are also highly effective as they take advantage of FOMO (the fear of missing out) and create a sense of urgency.

Video content

Video content has become the best-performing digital content and is now a popular marketing method for B2C and B2B companies.

If you want to boost engagement levels, utilise video content, which has been proven to drive higher more views, engagement and responses than any other type of social post. If that hasn’t convinced you, take a look at YouTube, which is ranked second amongst all global social media platforms, with 2.29 million active users.

Other social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook and TikTok, which has had a meteoric rise over a short period, are also perfect for video content.

Why is video content so popular?

Video content is easily digestible, especially for those with hectic lives. Marketers can also use video content to demonstrate how to use products and highlight the pros and cons of that product, which helps to instil confidence in your consumers.

Vlogging and Video Marketing

If you want to include an affiliate link, you could pin them underneath the video in the caption, add them to your bio and even community pages.

Affiliate marketing strategies you should not employ

Unsurprisingly, there are some affiliate marketing practices that you should avoid.

As with any other profit-making business, affiliate marketing can become a target of fraud, such as click stuffing and faking conversion.

Also, don’t expect the links to do the work themselves. Instead, concentrate on nurturing relationships with your audience with valuable, high-quality content and avoid the direct sales approach.

Check the legitimacy of the products you promote. While it might sound impressive and come with a mouth-watering commission rate – have you checked to see if the product or service does what it claims?

Research the product beforehand and read reviews so you don’t mislead your audience, as this could negatively affect your brand. 

Trust is key. Don’t lure your audience into clicking to generate a commission, as this is unethical and potentially illegal. Remember that if your subscribers or followers don’t trust you, you will struggle to earn any commission.

How to track the success of your affiliate links

When beginning your affiliate marketing career, it’s important to track your performance to see if your current efforts are working.

Several tools are available that boast comprehensive dashboards for tracking clicks, sales, and commissions to help you view your performance and earnings.

If you’re using ad services such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads, you can monitor the performance of your affiliate links in their dashboards.

When tracking and measuring your affiliate link performance, these are the key metrics you should be focusing on:

  • clicks
  • ad spend
  • return-on-investment
  • conversion
  • net monthly sales
  • total revenue

These metrics will help you identify the types of content that are most effective in driving sales and conversions.

Understanding what content your audience responds to can help you devise lucrative strategies for your business. So research your ideal audience and target them on the platforms they engage with to increase your chances of success.

Ask yourself: Do they use social media? Are they using Google to search for answers to their queries? Are they likely to click referral links included in emails or on web pages?

Perhaps your audience responds best to offers. Suppose that is the case; consider creating competitions or offering a discount to boost the success of your affiliate marketing campaigns.

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