How to Become an Affiliate and Make Passive Income

How to become an affiliateEverybody dreams of being their own boss. But unless you were born into money, or are a trust fund baby, there’s a good chance you’re part of the majority that wakes up most of the week to the daily grind.

While there’s no shame in that, you could still be your own boss to a certain extent, sans the massive amount of resources required by putting up your own business. The concept is called passive income, and one of the ways to do it is through affiliate marketing.

So, in this article, you will learn how to become an affiliate, get affiliate links, and earn a steady revenue stream.

Affiliate Marketing?

Simply put by Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income, affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting another’s products/service. There are four basic elements in the process of affiliate marketing:

  • Merchant – Any business selling a product/service online.
  • The Affiliate – Any person/business that promotes the merchant’s products through social media, blog, etc.
  • Affiliate network – Supplies the affiliate links and tracks the referral to the merchant’s website by dropping a tracking cookie into the buyer’s browser. As noted by More Niche, they serve as the glue to the affiliate marketing process and are responsible for sending payment to the affiliate.
  • Consumer – Person who sees promotional content on an affiliate’s post, clicks on the link that leads to the advertiser’s site and makes a purchase.

How Does it Work?

So, for example, as an affiliate, you could create a product review of a running shoe on your fitness blog. If a consumer sees that post, becomes interested in the sneaker, clicks on the link, and eventually decides to buy it from the merchant’s e-commerce site, you get paid a commission.

Alternatively, you can also be the advertiser/merchant if you have a product you want to sell with the help of affiliates.

Neil Patel details how to come up with a product idea here. In this side of affiliate marketing, you sign up with affiliate networks/programs that handle reporting, tracking, affiliate management, and facilitate payment and refund processing. Most important of all, these affiliate network systems provide access to a large base of publishers.

How to Become an Affiliate?

Essentially, there are two ways you can start affiliate marketing and walk the quest to earning passive income:

  • Review products in your niche through various digital platforms – YouTube channel, social media, live videos, blog, etc.
  • Collect emails, so you’re not dependent on social media channel’s algorithm – allowing you to connect with your audience whenever you want.

Patel also suggests using joint venture webinars to increase sales and growing your email list, as well as creating content. And when you’re affiliate marketing venture starts seeing money come in, you can scale your growth thru pay-per-click advertising.

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Pro-tips on How To Be a Successful Affiliate


Be authentic and provide value

While a simple online search will show you that people are reviewing virtually any product, however specific it may be (like hair straightening irons), you would be a more effective affiliate marketer if you are reviewing a product that you can genuinely relate to. In this age where people increasingly value authenticity, consumers will see right through you if you start reviewing anything and everything in hopes of just getting paid. As such, apart from being able to relate to a particular product, you also need to provide content that’s helpful to consumers. If you can inform them thoroughly about a particular product, while guiding them to a purchasing decision, do so.

Catching emails

Patel suggests putting a Hello Bar on your site. A hello bar is a CTA on top of your site, like “Pre-order the latest hair iron from Dyson today, and get 40 percent off.” When consumers click on the hello bar, they’ll be directed to a page where they can enter their email in exchange for the promised value.  

The exit gate, meanwhile, is a layover pop up that appears when visitors are about to leave your website. This is often triggered when the mouse pointer moves to the top area of the browser and brings up another CTA to catch emails in exchange for content.

Once you get enough people on your list, make sure you consistently keep your audience engaged. It doesn’t need to be about sales all the time, as you can also send emails to notify them of an upcoming review.

Test, measure, and track your affiliate campaign

Like all marketing efforts, your affiliate marketing campaign is only as effective as your ability to measure its success. As such, you should also try to use different promotion strategies, and see what works best by split testing, and measuring the performance of your campaigns.
You might be surprised how seemingly small tweaks, like changing the position of banner ads, can impact your revenues.

Research the product

It’s one thing for you to be able to relate to a product, it’s another to find out if there is an actual demand for it. Take time to research the products you’re planning to promote to see if it’s something your audience actually wants.

Equally important is researching the company behind the products. Your audience’s interest might be piqued by the products you promote, but if they find an issue with the company behind those products, then it’ll affect the credibility you’ve worked hard to establish.

Be transparent about affiliate relationships

Earning your audience’s trust is a crucial element in affiliate marketing, which is why you have to be transparent about all of your affiliations. As pointed out by the balance, honesty and full disclosure is a key part of building a loyal audience base.

Apart from being transparent about affiliate links, you can also offer incentives if they take action using your links – a tactic that helps further your relationship with your audience.

Top Affiliate Networks you can sign up with:

affiliate handshake

Amazon Associates

As the top internet retailer on the planet, being an affiliate partner gives you the benefit of doing business with Amazon’s massive, and extensive e-commerce experience. Joining is free, and will allow you to simply cut-and-paste to link to chosen products, categories, search result pages, among a plethora of other options.

As an affiliate, you can link to a specific product on Amazon, and show information about that product. You can also build customized text links, text and image links, or image only links.


Linkody positions its service as the easiest way to track your link building campaigns. Being part of the program gets you notified when you gain, or lose links; insights into competitors’ link-building strategies; analysis of your link profile; and identifies and disavows bad links, among a slew of other features.

Among their promises is the potential to earn up to 30 percent monthly recurring commission for each referred customer, and they offer a 30-day free trial for their service, making it easier to gauge if the program works for you.

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Shopify claims to be the no. 1 platform for building an e-commerce business, promising that even those with little tech backgrounds can be able to set up shop with their simplified processes.

If you get accepted into the Shopify Affiliate Program, you’ll be given an affiliate link that you can share on your website, social media, digital content (webinars, video tutorials, online courses, etc.) – basically whichever way you to choose to share it.

Of course, how much you earn depends on how much you want to work, which in this case is through promoting the link. As well, Shopify offers incentives like the first two months of a customer’s paid subscription fee for every merchant you refer (up to $598 on standard plans).


Terraleads pioneered a distinct business model by taking traditional CPA (cost per action/acquisition) styled-products but having a significant difference in producing their own goods. This ensures that partners will get paid without waiting for companies to fund the affiliate network.

You can learn more about Terraleads’ unique affiliate program here.


Clickbank leans on its extensive 17-years experience in partnering with digital marketers, selling its products to over 200 million customers around the world. This experience has not only led to a continually growing catalog of digital products, but also to a solid reputation for reliability – promising to pay commissions on time, every time.

Congratulations, you’re an affiliate! Now what?

While there are success stories that see their affiliate marketing income go from zero to seven figures in just a matter of years, the reality is affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. And even if you get to the point where you earn $20,000 a week, it could just as easily plummet to $200 before you realize it.

The industry will continually evolve, and so should you. Here are some of the things you can do once you’ve become an affiliate:

Teach affiliate marketing

While not everyone is an expert (although there are tons of them online who claim to be), if you stay in the game long enough, you’ll be able to teach newbies a thing or two about affiliate marketing. There are a lot of people who want to earn that elusive “passive income,” but don’t have a clue how to get started. As an affiliate marketer, you can be that person.

You can create webinars, eBooks, and effective online courses for those eager to learn. You can even offer consulting services once they do get in.

Create an affiliate marketing service

As an affiliate marketer, you’ll often find holes in affiliate networks’ services. If you have enough resources, you can fill that void yourself by developing tools. And if you have a large enough network of fellow affiliates, you can tap into their purchasing power by offering them your tools.

As noted by seasoned affiliate marketer Charles Ngo, some of the tools started by affiliates include tracking software, affiliate software, spy tools, and cloaking software.

Become an advertiser

Becoming an advertiser is one of the most common paths for those who reach “super affiliate” status. And as pointed out by Ngo, there are two main types of advertisers:

Those who create offers, and distribute them to affiliates (directly or through networks)

Those who create offers and promote it internally, cutting out the need for an affiliate network and its cut. This path is ideal for those who’ve become experts at creating traffic.

Check Your Backlinks

Get an Instant Insight Into Who Links to Your Site

Start your own network

This isn’t the easiest path to take, of course (a large number of affiliate marketers have tried and failed), but if you’re the type who loves challenges, and more importantly, are well-versed enough in the field, then this is a route you can take.

Invest in your passions

Of course, it doesn’t always have to be tied up to affiliate marketing. You’ve made your money, it’s time you do the other things you enjoy. Whether it’s another venture designed to create even more income, or one with a more philanthropic nature, you’ve got the resources, so go for it!

Best Marketing Practices

Know your audience

While it may be tempting to put up affiliate ads promoting random products because of the high payouts attached to them, it’s more important to keep in mind why your audience comes to your site in the first place. So if your niche is sports, stick to affiliate products that provide value to your intended audience. Educating them about products that are relevant to them is more important than trying to chase payouts that will, ultimately, only alienate your audience.

Build trust

One of the best ways to turn off an audience is by inundating them with ads that don’t matter to them. As alluded to earlier, it is important to only promote products that you actually believe in. The audience can sense this, and is one factor that’ll lead to them becoming repeat visitors.

Once you establish trust with your audience, they’ll do half the work for you—spreading the word about your site as a valuable go-to resource, driving more traffic, which is one of the main goals anyway. Build trust by providing consistent value, and the rest will follow (profits included).

Give them a reason to keep coming back

In line with the point above, by keeping the content you curate helpful, informative, and useful, you give your audience plenty of reasons to keep coming back. As pointed out by The Balance, you can be guided with this by thinking of affiliate ads as additional resources that serve to complement your content.

As well, creating timeless content is one way to provide consistent value. A simple way to do this is to add links to older content to more updated ones. You can also show categories like “related articles,” “most popular,” and “most recent,” which will ensure that your old articles will still show up, hence opening up the possibility of it creating income.

Try different programs

You don’t always find the perfect partnership on your first try – that’s true in life as it is in affiliate marketing. There are various factors at play when it comes to affiliate programs (products, payment structures, marketing content), so if one doesn’t quite work for you the way you envision, try another one. Also, sometimes, you can go directly to the source, as vendors also run their own affiliate programs. This way, you’re not limited to affiliate networks.

Be patient

Again, while it is commonly referred to as “passive income,” affiliate marketing is far from a get-rich-quick scheme. As with everything you want to be successful in, it takes time and effort – sometimes, more so the former than the latter.

The very nature of affiliate revenue is that it builds over time. There are also some programs that offer lifetime payouts, while active referral links in older posts may still result in added revenue.

Stay tuned

To stay at the top of your game, you need to keep abreast with the latest developments, not just in yours, but in different affiliate programs. In this rapidly evolving world, new tech and tools are constantly being developed, and you need to keep your finger on the pulse of these changes.

Similarly, you need to monitor trends that could lead to new opportunities. This goes for branching out to different products, and types of content. Staying tuned to industry developments is a sure fire way to ensure you stay ahead of the competition.

Love what you do

This is key whatever venture you decide to embark on. Success is synonymous with passion, and you can’t be passionate about something you don’t love. If you’re practicing affiliate marketing just for the sake of it, it’ll be reflected in the content you produce, ultimately affecting the end goal, which is to create income.

Now You Have to Become an Affiliate

By now, some of you might be thinking that affiliate marketing is too complicated a practice for you to enter. Some of you might be right. But for those who are still interested in becoming an affiliate marketer 2,000-plus words in, you just might have what it takes.

Patience is a key element in affiliate marketing, and so is putting in the work. But if you put just the right amount of time and energy into it, it can be an extremely rewarding venture – enough to make you say goodbye to your desk job permanently.    


Naida is born and raised in Manila, Philippines, and a graduate of BS Entrepreneurship. She’s an entrepreneur and a junior content marketing specialist for various online brands. She writes mostly about branding, entrepreneurship, business development, and marketing.