Affiliate marketing is an extremely popular and effective method for earning money online. It is widely used by merchants, both big and small, to decrease their advertising budget and to make more sales. How does affiliate marketing work? Well, the merchant aggregates out its advertising to others, called affiliates, and will pay each affiliate a percentage of the sales price, also known as a commission, for every sale made through that affiliate's marketing efforts.

Affiliate marketing gets its name from the concept of "affiliating." To "affiliate" is to form a partnership with someone else to achieve a certain end. In this case the merchant is forming a partnership with a group of individuals or companies to market its products and services in exchange for a percentage of the sales price.

Affiliate marketing is great for earning money online because, as an affiliate, you don't have to worry about inventory, shipping, or providing customer service. All you have to do is market the product online.

How to Find Affiliate Programs

The easiest way to find affiliate programs is to join one of the affiliate networks. Affiliate networks have countless products and services listed that  you can promote as an affiliate. The network manages the affiliate program for the merchant and is responsible for paying all affiliates for the sales hey make. The major affiliate networks are Paydotcom, Clickbank, and Commission Junction, although there are many others. Paydotcom and Clickbank are the easiest to sign up for beginners. Commission Junction requires that you jump through a few hoops before you can become an active affiliate, and one of its requirements is that you have a website.

You can also find affiliate programs by searching for them on the web. Almost any product out there, from the well known, to the just emerging, will likely have an affiliate program. Typing in  "product name" plus "affiliate program" into Google will bring up links that will take you directly to the section of the company's website about their affiliate program.

How Affiliate Sales Are Tracked And Credited

Affiliates are paid for sales tracked through the use of special links called affiliate links. The link goes to the merchant's website which is designed to sell the product or service offered.  In the link is special code called an affiliate ID which tells the affiliate network or merchant which affiliate made the sale and allow them to pay accordingly.

Many affiliates choose to re-direct to their affiliate links from their own domain. The reason for this is that affiliate links can be quite clunky.  Other reasons to use affiliate link re-direction rather than direct linking are a wider array advertising options and fewer lost sales.

How Affiliates Get Paid

How and when you get paid depends on the affiliate network or the merchant, if the merchant is running his own affiliate program. Most of the time, you are paid on a net 30 basis, which means that you are paid for all sales made in the previous 30 days. This breaks down to about once a month, with a lag time of a month when you first start.

For payment methods, some affiliate networks/merchants will pay you by a mailed check, direct deposit to your bank account, or even through Paypal. When dealing directly with a merchant, sometimes you can negotiate how you are paid, if you have a preferred method.

I hope that this article helps you understand how affiliate marketing works. Anyone can become an affiliate marketer. It simply takes a little marketing know-how and some time and dedication.

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