The Complete Guide to Learning Affiliate Marketing

Almost 33% of all Americans work a side hustle to make ends meet. That’s in addition to their regular work. Others take on side hustles to pay off debt or to save up for a vacation or big purchase.

If you want to get extra cash in the door, there are hundreds of ways to do it. Nearly all require an investment of time and resources that you may not have to give because you already work full-time.

Affiliate marketing represents one way to make a regular passive income. You do the hard work upfront, and you cash in for years to come. Does that sound good to you? Keep reading to learn affiliate marketing and how you can get started today.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is kind of like network marketing. You have a product or service that you endorse or sell on that merchant’s behalf.

Affiliate marketing is a bit more technical because it’s all done online. You’re given a tracking link by the publisher or merchant, and you use that link throughout your website and social media posts.

When someone makes a purchase using that link, you get a commission. If you make enough sales and have a program that pays well, you can make a significant amount of money each month.

With that model, you can sell products without having to invest the time into developing your own product. This is how most people choose to make money as an affiliate marketer.

The alternative way to make money with affiliate marketing is to be a publisher or merchant. That’s when you sell your own products and have other people drive traffic to your site.

You don’t have to invest too much in marketing your own products because others take care of that for you. All you have to do is give affiliates a commission on the sales.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing for Money

It is possible to make money from affiliate marketing. It’s not automatically guaranteed, though. There is a lot of work that goes into affiliate marketing. You need the right program, products, and platform to be very successful.

What program will you sign up with? There are hundreds out there, each with its own range of products, commission structures, and payments. Amazon is one of the largest affiliate marketing programs. Others are Rakuten, CJ Affiliate, ClickBank, and ShareASale.

You’ll need to choose the products that you want to sell online. You might already have a site such as a travel blog, which is a great fit for travel-related products. You can sell luggage, travel power converters, and so much more.

If you don’t have an existing website, that’s OK. Pick a category that you’re passionate about. The category should be a niche category that has a broad range of products needed to participate. You can start a site about birdwatching and be an affiliate for books, binoculars, cameras, and lenses.

These are expensive products that can deliver big commissions. If you just sell small products like books, you’ll need a lot of sales to make money.

Now it’s time to build your platform. This is the way you’ll bring traffic to your site and sell affiliate products. Social media is the best place to build a platform.

You should start with your existing networks, especially if you’re still in college and don’t have a lot of time. For example, you can leverage Facebook groups and connections. The fastest way to get free traffic from Facebook groups while in college is to be active and reach out to people.

Let them get to know you and see that you have a lot of value to share. They’ll then be curious about you and visit your site and affiliate links.

After that, you can expand to Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.

The Legal Side of Affiliate Marketing

Since affiliate marketing is advertising, you have to comply with certain rules and regulations. You have to let people know that the links on your website lead to a retailer’s site and you earn a commission on purchases.

This isn’t something that you can tuck away in your site’s terms and conditions or privacy policy. You have to make these disclosures front and center. The Federal Trade Commission oversees these regulations in the United States. You can find out more about your responsibilities here.

The Tax Consequences of Affiliate Marketing

The money you earn from affiliate marketing can count as income. That means that you are taxed on it, which can be a big surprise to people earning extra money with affiliate marketing.

You’re probably earning money as a sole-proprietor, so you’ll need to fill out Form Schedule C to claim your income. The good news is that you also get to deduct your business expenses, so that can help bring down your tax bill.

You’ll want to sit down with a CPA once you start making money to make sure you pay your taxes on time and to get all of the deductions you’re entitled to.

Get Started With Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a great way to earn money as a side hustle. You just need to choose the right products to sell and have a platform to sell them. You can use your existing network to get started and build a larger platform that delivers more traffic and sales.

Take your time and review the various affiliate marketing programs. Look for ones that offer a broad range of products, a good commission structure, and fast payments.

Are you ready to start your affiliate marketing site? Take a look at the Online Marketing section of this site for tips to get more traffic.