How to Make a Passive Income with Affiliate Marketing

by Jon Torres

Affiliate marketing has become one of the most popular and smartest ways to make extra money online.

If you have an online presence through social media or blogging, it makes sense to pursue this form of passive income.

Keep reading to find out the benefits of affiliate marketing, how to get started and important things to be aware of.  

What is Affiliate Marketing?

If you have a YouTube channel, podcast or website, you’ve probably heard of affiliate marketing.

It might seem kind of complicated at first so let’s break it down:

Affiliate marketing is when an affiliate or publisher promotes a product to an audience and gains a commission based on sales made from this referral.

Getting started with affiliate marketing is fairly simple:

  1. Find a few products that you would like to promote.
  2. Research affiliate programs attached to the products. 
  3. Complete the signup process for the programs you’re interested in.
  4. You will receive a unique link from your affiliate program. Embed this link wherever you want to promote the product.
  5. If your visitors click this link and buy the product, you’ll receive a commission on the sale. 

affiliate marketing

When you first start out, focus on a small selection of products to promote.

Avoid signing up for every program available to you. Instead, concentrate on building your brand with a niche focus.

Every product you promote should be relevant to your niche.  

Remember, in order for you to make money, someone has to buy the product you’re promoting.

Find products that your target audience can benefit from.                                                                                                                  

The Benefits of Affiliate Marketing:

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So, what’s so great about affiliate marketing? Here are a few reasons why its a smart move:

  • Work from anywhere: You can make money with affiliate marketing from the comfort of your home. Once you add an affiliate link to your content, the company takes care of the rest. All you have to do is direct your audience in their direction.
  • Make your own hours: You have the freedom to make your own schedule. Once you join an affiliate program and start promoting, you’ve created a form of passive income. As long as people are using your link to purchase products, you can even make money in your sleep. 
  • Low overhead: Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money online without having to own any products or carry any inventory. This is a huge plus to affiliate marketing that you don’t see with online stores. You don’t have to worry about stocking a shop or creating a product.

How Much Can You Make With Affiliate Marketing? 

A study done by VigLink gives us some insight into how much people are earning through affiliate marketing. The study shows that 9% of affiliate marketers made over $50,000 in 2016.

Additionally, merchants made between 5% and 20% of their revenue from affiliate marketers.

The publishers making the most money had been using affiliate links for at least 5 years. 

So, what does income look like for beginners?

Expect to start low and slowly increase your sales. Your first month of affiliate marketing may bring in under $100.

Don’t let that discourage you. Almost every affiliate marketer started off with low sales, but nearly everyone reports a steady climb in sales month-to-month.

Pay attention to the products your audience responds best to. Make regular, consistent content that targets these products.

Master your social media channels and focus on generating lots of traffic using vivid marketing techniques.

By the end of your first year, you may find yourself bringing in between $1000-$4000 every month. 

How to Choose a Niche:

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Think about your interests: What fascinates you? Start thinking about the topics that you’re excited about. It could be cooking, fashion, technology, fitness, video games, pets, etc. Just make sure it’s something you are passionate about.

Narrow it down: Next, think about the specific aspects of this topic that you know the most about. For example, if you want to focus on fitness, start thinking about subtopics in this genre that you have some base knowledge about. That could mean long-distance running, bodybuilding or yoga. Start to narrow down your topic in this way. 

See if it’s popular: Use Google Trends to learn about the popular trends of your topic. Enter your keyword into the search bar and take a look at the graph. If your topic has severely declined in popularity, you may want to take it in another direction. If you see an upward or steady trend, you’ve found a solid niche. 

Where to Find an Affiliate Program:

One of the best ways of finding a suitable affiliate program is by joining an affiliate network.

An affiliate network acts as a middleman between merchants and publishers. 

Rather than searching for programs that fit your niche, you can use an affiliate network to efficiently find the right products for your audience.

Some popular affiliate networks are:

  • ShareASale
  • CJAffiliate
  • Awin
  • Rakuten

If you want to join an affiliate program directly, here some good options for beginners:

  • Amazon Associates
  • eBay Partner Network
  • Target Affiliates

These companies have a wide selection of products so you can easily find one that fits your niche.

Bring Affiliate Marketing to Any Platform:

Affiliate marketing can be used to earn a passive income on a number of online platforms. Here are a few popular platforms where you can use affiliate links:

Your website:

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If you already have a website or a blog, you can easily incorporate affiliate links into your posts.

Pros: Blogs are niche by nature. This makes it easy to promote products to a target audience.

Cons: It may be harder to generate the traffic needed to make money.  


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YouTube is one of the most popular ways to utilise affiliate marketing. If you’re making a review video, chances are high that your audience is willing to purchase the product. 

Pros: There’s a lot of opportunities to review promoted products or make tutorials highlighting a promoted product. You also have access to the massive audience of YouTube users.

Cons: YouTube has some linking restrictions that prohibit activities that seek to drive people off of YouTube and onto another site. If you’re making quality content, this shouldn’t be an issue.


product tutorial videos marketing

Podcasts are another great platform for affiliate marketing. This can give you more ideas for content such as interviews with the product creator, or someone who uses the product. You can also use your ad segment to incorporate affiliate links.

Pros: It’s easy to incorporate your affiliate links without disrupting your podcast. Put your affiliate links into your show notes for your audience.

Cons: For episodes unrelated to the product, it will be harder to generate sales from your links. 

Social media:

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Social media is one of the most effective ways to make money with affiliate marketing. If you already have a large following on a social media platform, affiliate marketing is a no brainer. 

Pros: You can reach a huge audience with tools like hashtags, stories, and videos. You can also use the caption space to thoroughly explain the product.

Cons: On apps like Instagram, you can’t include links in the caption. You’ll have to put the link in your bio instead.

What Are the Negative Aspects of Affiliate Marketing?

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Of course, nothing is perfect and affiliate marketing is no exception. Here are a few things to be aware of before you get started on this venture:

  • It’s competitive: if you’re a beginner, you’ll be facing off with highly skilled affiliate marketers in your niche.
  • No control of the program: You don’t own the products you promote, and you can’t control what is available for affiliate marketing. Publishers have to respect the terms and conditions set by the merchant.
  • Legal issues: There are always guidelines to adhere to and if you don’t you risk running into legal issues. Affiliates in the past have been sued for using banned marketing techniques, not disclosing the terms or using pictures without permission. 

Make sure to keep these aspects in mind when you get into affiliate marketing to avoid any rough patches or trouble down the road.

Review the terms of the agreement and any guidelines thoroughly and you should be in the clear. 

Want more marketing guides, strategies and advice? Check out one of our most popular articles ever: 

Jon is a content marketing expert and founder of, a blog dedicated to teaching others about affiliate marketing and SEO. Jon writes about his experience in web-based entrepreneurship and digital marketing.

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