This week we tackle the oft-asked question: “what is affiliate marketing?”. It’s a question that I get a lot, and this week I answer it once and for all. Of course, if you would like more in-depth information about information marketing, you can check out my Affiliate Marketing Overview. It’s a free affiliate marketing resource right here on the blog. In fact, I answer this common question about affiliate marketing there as well.

Last episode we talked a little bit about two additional business models – blogging and information products. In both of those cases, a lot of times you’ll hear something mentioned called affiliate marketing. Information product websites often have affiliate programs that you can join in order to help them sell their products and bloggers often make money using affiliate marketing. That begs the question which is the topic of this episode of Internet Marketing Minute, “What is affiliate marketing exactly?”

As you can imagine, I get this question quite a bit anytime I mention the kind of work that I do online. The easiest analogy that I can give is commission sales in the real world. If you go to a store that has salespeople on commission and someone helps you select a product, that salesperson gets a commission based on whatever it is that you buy. By the same token, in the online arena if you have web traffic and you help that traffic select a product then you get a commission for that product.

Let me give you a simple example. Let’s say that you have a website about cookware and you think that All-Clad Cookware is the absolutely most fantastic cookware on the planet, and you believe in your heart of hearts that if more people bought All-Clad Cookware food in the world would be better. So on your website whenever you talk about cookware or whenever someone asks you a question about what cookware to buy, you point them to All-Clad Cookware on Amazon.

Now, it happens that you have an affiliate relationship with Amazon. You’re an Amazon affiliate and Amazon has given you a special link that you can use to send people to their page where they sell All-Clad Cookware. So if a visitor visits your website, becomes convinced that All-Clad Cookware is the best thing since sliced bread, then they can click on that link, go to Amazon, and buy a set of All-Clad Cookware. That will make you very happy as an affiliate, because All-Clad Cookware is quite expensive and you’ll get a nice commission from Amazon, usually a check in the mail or a deposit into your Paypal account, as a reward for the fact that you’ve sent customers to Amazon that turned into buyers.

My good friend Jimmy Brown told me one time, and I will never forget this, that really marketing is all about matching offers with buyers. In fact, that’s really what business is about. You have an offer somewhere, in this case a fantastic line of cookware from All-Clad, and you have people that need great cookware. Your job as an affiliate marketer is to match those All-Clad offers with those buyers that would have their life improved by buying All-Clad. That’s really what you’re doing with affiliate marketing.

When you do affiliate marketing you have things that you need to know about, like affiliate links and cookies and all those kinds of things. We’ll cover all those technical details in later episodes of the Internet Marketing Minute. For now, all you really need to understand is that affiliate marketing is really about this conscious effort to match offers that you’re promoting with buyers that you’re able to find through web traffic, paid advertising, or wherever it is that you get those buyers.

Thank you for listening to this week’s episode of the Internet Marketing Minute.

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