How to Make Money From Affiliate Programs: For Beginners

In today’s post, we’ll slay some myths and reveal the truth about how to make money from affiliate programs. Beginners often have misconceptions that can undermine success as an affiliate marketer because myths continue to surround the industry.

So, we’ll do some debunking and provide clarification to replace some of the crazier notions. You’re in the right place if you’re eager to get your questions answered in an honest and straightforward fashion.

Affiliate marketers earn anywhere from a few hundred dollars a month to hundreds of thousands of dollars in income. Sadly, there are also people who’ve never earned anything because they either failed to get any training or they didn’t have the right mindset to achieve success.

I can help you with some excellent and very affordable training. But the proper mindset and motivation to succeed online is something you either bring to the table or you don’t.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the affiliate environment, shall we?

The Affiliate Marketing Players and How Affiliate Marketing Works

Affiliate marketing is a pretty simple concept that’s all about promoting other people’s stuff for a fee. There are at least 3 players involved in every affiliate marketing transaction – a consumer, an affiliate, and a vendor – with a possible fourth, an affiliate network.

Many companies have products or services to sell and they need to get the word out. The more exposure they get in the marketplace, the better their sales are likely to be. Hence, they use commissions as a form of revenue sharing to entice affiliates.

Not everyone has a product to sell but there are multiple products we all use in our everyday lives that we can choose to promote. When our referrals make a purchase, affiliates earn a fee. Ultimately, it’s consumers who keep the affiliate marketing wheel turning.

The infographic below describes the affiliate marketing process pretty well.

The Affiliate Marketing Players and How Affiliate Marketing Works

Replacing Affiliate Marketing Fiction With Facts

It’s now time for slaying a few of those myths because I want my readers to walk into affiliate marketing with their eyes wide open and not be hampered by rampant falsehoods. We’ll address three of the most egregious myths.

Myth #1 – Affiliate Marketing is Easy

Not true! I like to describe the process of affiliate marketing as simple but not easy and I believe the distinction is significant. By simple, I mean it’s not complicated and anyone can grasp the requirements.

Naturally, you need some training as you would for anything that’s entirely new. But understanding the fundamentals is not a problem. What is a big problem is when people jump in thinking they’re not going to have to work and they’re going to instantly start making money while they sleep.

Successful Internet marketing entails building a website and then filling it with quality content. Bloggers research and write articles for a target audience that has a lot of general information and product-related questions. I love blogging but content creation is real work!

Myth #2 – Posting Affiliate Links Can Quickly Make You Rich

The truth is that those affiliate marketers who persist will continue to blog consistently for at least 6 months or even a year before they earn any significant income. It’s like a rite of passage. You have to build trust with both an audience and the search engines before you start to see regular traffic.

Once you have traffic, it’s a completely different story. There are many ways to monetize a traffic-generating blog. But you have to have the motivation and patience to power through the lonely months of blogging in obscurity. The Internet is littered with abandoned blogs started by folks who became disillusioned.

Mind you, the slow months early in the life of your online business aren’t much different than what any small brick and mortar startup experiences. But we’ve heard crazy tales of overnight riches in the online space and we want the Internet to be different.

Myth #3 – Getting Started Online is Expensive

This last falsehood is one that prevents a lot of people from taking the plunge even though they love the idea of working from home. Online barriers to entry are actually very low if you find the right platform. I spend less than $1 per day for all the resources I need to operate my business.

Heck, I spend more than that on my latte habit! 🙂

5 Affiliate Programs for Beginners

Let’s look at some of the top affiliate program choices for beginners to get started with. Once you’ve created some great content on your website and you’re ready to start recommending products to your readers, it’s critical that you promote reputable brands.

Beginners can’t go wrong with one or more of the selections on this list. Signing up for an affiliate program is always free and it’s typically a quick and easy process. I do recommend that you wait until you have ten or twelve articles first. My reasoning is that most companies will want to check out your site before approving you to ensure your content is appropriate.


Amazon is an e-commerce behemoth that has become a household name since it’s early creation in Jeff Bezos’ garage back in 1995. The retailer’s signature a to z logo gives a pretty good picture of the breadth of product offerings. With a trusted name and a few hundred thousand inventory items to choose from, Amazon is a good choice for pretty much any niche.

Amazon Affiliate Program

How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m sure you can pick that up on Amazon”? Moreover, those of us who have an Amazon Prime membership are even more likely to go the Amazon route, aren’t we? After all, we know we can have it in 2 days without the hefty shipping charges!

Affiliate commissions range from 4% to 10% depending on the product category. What’s also nice is the 24-hour cookie duration. If a referral follows a link on your site to Amazon, you will earn a commission on anything site wide that they purchase in the subsequent 24 hour period.

Check out this post for instructions on how to become an Amazon Associate.


Walmart is another super retailer with total name recognition, tremendous product selection, and good value. Affiliates can earn up to 4% on eligible referral transactions. As with many organizations, Walmart uses an affiliate network (LinkShare) to administer its affiliate program.

Walmart Affiliate Program

Here’s a helpful FAQs page where you can discover more information about Walmart’s affiliate program or sign up. Walmart has a 3-day cookie duration which is helpful in the case of consumers who are initially undecided but then come back and buy. Know that they also have special promotions where you can earn higher fees.


Target is another company that everyone recognizes and trusts. They have a somewhat unique program in that they offer commissions on a sliding-scale basis depending on the number of products your referrals purchase in a given month.

Here’s their current commission schedule for your reference.

Target Affiliate Program Commission Schedule

Target offers affiliates a 7-day cookie duration meaning you get credit for any sale that occurs within the first 7 days of a referral clicking your link. They use the Impact network and you can sign up for an affiliate account here.

FlexOffersFlex Offers Affiliate Program

Flex Offers is one example of an affiliate network that you might consider joining. While they’re not the largest network, Flex Offers is growing and now partners with almost 12,000 merchants. Once you join the network, you can apply to any associated vendor.

This network works with Macy’s, Kohl’s, True Value Hardware, GNC, Petco, and Callaway Golf just to name a few entities you’re probably familiar with. Commissions will vary for each merchant but you can sign up as a Flex Offer publisher here.

Wealthy Affiliate

Wealthy Affiliate (WA) is a premier platform designed for beginner and successful Internet marketers alike. They offer a unique Online Entrepreneur Certification program that includes training in essentials like search engine optimization and social media marketing.

Additionally, WA offers a tool chest of resources that is second to none. Quite literally, they provide all the resources you need to launch a website and skyrocket to online success, And the really cool thing is that anyone can try out all aspects of the program for a full 7 days without having to provide anything more than an email address.

Now, that’s confidence!

Affiliate Program at Wealthy Affiliate

I’m including Wealthy Affiliate in this list of top affiliate programs for beginners because they have one of the most lucrative affiliate programs on the Internet with a lifetime cookie and recurring commission schedule. And every member is assigned an affiliate link whether you’re a long-time premium member like myself or a free Starter Member.

Start Your Successful Online Journey Today

Wrapping Up

Consider getting some solid training with WA that will have you on your way and learning how to make money from affiliate programs. Hopefully. you’re now ready to stop believing or spreading affiliate marketing myths. Instead, let’s embrace the myriad opportunities in this industry for making a steady income from home.

Finding the right affiliate programs can sometimes feel overwhelming when you’re just starting out. So, you may want to select one or more of the choices on my list. The big advantage to that approach is sticking with companies and brands that you recognize and trust.

Over to You

Are there affiliate programs you have a keen interest in partnering with? Please share your thoughts and ideas on how to make money from affiliate programs in the comment section below. And, don’t hesitate to ask your questions. I respond to all comments and it’s my pleasure to help!

Like It? Please Share It!

Start Affiliate Marketing Online

Sharing is caring!

20 thoughts on “How to Make Money From Affiliate Programs: For Beginners”

  1. The listed myths about affiliate marketing are entirely true. Sadly a lot of people enter into this line of business with the mindset that it is easy and is going to be a quick fix to their money problems. I think this is one of the reasons a lot of people quit because after a few months they would notice that they have not earned anything and would wonder if they are actually wasting their time.

    Not a lot of people are able to overcome this temptation and just end up quitting. But those that are able to stick with it to the end soon realize that their efforts eventually pay off as they start receiving sales on a regular basis. This is what happens and only a few people are able to make money the first few months when they start their online business.

    It is the sad truth but that is just the way it is.

    • Hi Jay,

      Yes, I think you have some very insightful observations here. I’m a huge fan of affiliate marketing because it’s done well by me, and I truly believe that many others could benefit as well. I like to tell it like it is and blast some of these rumors. I don’t do it to discourage people, but rather to give them a realistic picture of the process. 

      Making money with affiliate marketing is not a walk in the park. And yet, if you persist until you’ve built traffic, the opportunities are amazing. Traffic starts slowly as a trickle and I know this discourages people. But eventually everything starts to snowball and that trickle becomes a rushing stream. In my mind, it’s just a question of investing in your future.

      Thanks for reading and the great comments!

  2. Thank you for an informative post about affiliate marketing and debunking all the myths. I was somehow thinking of MythBusters lol I agree with you, affiliate marketing will not make you rich overnight. However, if you spend your time on it and deliver good contents and be patient, making money on affiliate marketing is achievable. I also want to suggest beginners not start with Amazon right away, not until they have some traffic to their website or Amazon will reject their application. With Amazon, you have to make 3 sales within 180 days and if your site is very new that can be hard to accomplish (My application was terminated). I suggest Flexoffer is a good affiliate program to start and also ShareASale. Also, getting the latest news and training in affiliate marketing is important. Rules and regulations change all the time and having a community that can answer your questions will keep you update in this fast-paced business.

    • Hi Nuttanee,
      Yes, I always recommend having at least 10 or 12 posts and some traffic on your site before you monetize through affiliate programs. Most companies want to get a sense of your content before they approve you. I’m sorry to hear that Amazon terminated your account. It can happen. But if you wait a few weeks, you can re-apply, and they’ll probably accept you back. You may want to consider using social media marketing to target your followers. That can sometimes be an excellent way to get your first few conversions.

      Your point about getting training and finding a supportive community is well-taken. I know I’d feel a bit lost if I didn’t have the Wealthy Affiliate community to rely upon.

      Thanks for taking the time to share your comments!

  3. Great insight Linda,

    I had to admit, I too fell for the myths especially #1 and #2, I had the perception that it’s a very simple thing and that everything has this push button software where you just spam links and money will come right in. It’s completely the opposite and as a newbie, I got tricked by these internet gurus who say these nice things just so that he could get me to spend.

    So happy to see you debunk this and laying out the right affiliate marketing platforms, I hope a lot of new beginners can start out right and avoid the pitfalls I went through 🙂

    • Hi Riaz,

      Some of those pitfalls can be both expensive and painful, can’t they? The saddest part is that people feel scammed when they don’t make money right away and they walk away discouraged. Many of those folks would have highly successful websites today had they only approached their online venture with the proper determination and training. 

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  4. Hello Linda, I must say that this article is very helpful and informative. I agree with you that affiliate marketing is not easy at all and one should invest time and effort to succeed. I am currently working only with Amazon but I plan to start with Walmart too. Amazon commissions are very small and I really need a ton of traffic to earn some significant money.

    • Hi Daniel,

      It is true that many Amazon categories have commissions of only 4% which are low. But I hope you won’t give up on them. As your traffic increases your volume of conversions will grow also and this can make a big difference to your total commissions. But do consider other affiliations as well. Nothing prevents you from partnering with multiple vendors. Walmart can be a good choice.

      Good luck with your site and thanks for commenting!

  5. You are right there are a lot of myths in affiliate marketing. Thank you for making this beginner’s guide because it helps to clarify some things. I definitely agree that finding the right training and information is important because I always wanted to get into affiliate marketing but the information wasn’t really all in one place. It was scattered around in free articles, but I didn’t really know where to start. That’s one thing wealthy affiliate helped with, basically giving me a template of how to get started. The other thing is like you said the mindset and luckily for me, I’m a workaholic, so I basically work constantly. I could see myself continuing to do my website and the different traffic-generating activities on a continual basis now that I have a better idea of what I’m doing.
    Thanks for sharing about the affiliate programs I just started with Amazon because of simplicity. Good article, thank you.

    • Hi Charles,
      I have to agree that Wealthy Affiliate is a fabulous repository for everything you need to know about affiliate marketing. Combine all that knowledge with your work ethic and I know you’ll be successful. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I always shop from Walmart and did not know that they offer 4% commission for certain products. It actually can be great for a lot of niches. However I want to know how I can know the conversion rates for products? Do you have any methods or solutions for this?

    • Hi Alaba,

      I agree that partnering with Walmart can be an excellent choice for affiliates in numerous niches. Conversion rates will differ widely based on many different factors. The best advice I can offer is to dedicate all your efforts to first understanding the needs of your target audience. From there, you can then provide meaningful solutions for the problems your readers are seeking to solve.

      Connecting with readers starts with effective keyword research. One way to improve conversions, assuming quality content, is to target long-tail keywords that capture the attention of visitors who are further along in the purchase decision-making process. Employing search engine optimization techniques will also help readers to find you and hopefully engage.

      Good luck and thanks for commenting!

  7. Very correct post here for those who want to start affiliate marketing. When I was about starting too, I saw a lot of people saying it’s easy and I can make a fortune very easily. When I got in, I found out I needed to take many steps and training to perfect my work. I’m currently a member of Wealthy Affiliate and it’s been a fantastic ride. Great post.

    • Hi Henderson,

      I’m excited to read about your “fantastic ride” at Wealthy Affiliate. The platform offers world-class training, exceptional resources, and a supportive community. But what I appreciate most is that they’re not selling pipe dreams about overnight riches. Hard-working, entrepreneurial-minded individuals have all the tools they need to achieve success. But MEMBERS need to bring the work ethic, passion, and persistence. If you’re seeking that easy path to quick riches, you need to look elsewhere (and maybe buy that lottery ticket).

      Stick with the training and you’ll go far!

  8. I have heard a lot concerning Amazon as a better affiliate platform with a wider range of products for any affiliate to choose from. Though I haven’t plunged into them yet. I’m still in the earlier stages of growing my website and to be honest, the process has not been anywhere close to being easy. I’m practicing what I learned on wealthy Affiliate but it is easier learned than when it is being practiced. I will keep on working hard and hopefully soon, I will join affiliate programs listed here.

    • Hi Ro,

      You are wise to develop the content on your site first and then pursue affiliate relationships with reputable organizations. Your points are well taken. I like to describe the affiliate marketing process as simple but not easy. The concepts and steps required are not complex. But they do indeed require persistent effort and patience.

      You have the right mindset for success and I know your hard work will pay off. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Hi Linda,
    Thanks a lot for that very nice post on affiliate marketing.
    Most of us beginners come aboard with lots of myths and thanks for debunking them. I have come to realize that I need to put in the work, the hours and resources if anything substantial is ever going to come out of my affiliate marketing ventures.  
    Again, affiliate marketing is not an overnight get rich quick scheme. One needs to build authoritative sites that get trusted by search engines like Google and also by visitors who’ll eventually turn into buyers. It is not so expensive and Wealthy Affiliate makes this even better because you can learn to do this with a free trial period to begin with. The investment is eventually never lost.

    Boniface- AndroidBix

    • Hello,

      There do indeed seem to be a lot of myths floating around. I want prospective affiliates to have access to a realistic view of affiliate marketing. You make several excellent points and I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. It sounds like you’re well on your way to a lucrative online business and I wish you well on your journey!

  10. Excellent & Good in-depth article.

    Affiliate marketing is a large part of the Smart Passive Income business. it is indeed a great way to make good income online. But in order to make good income through affiliate programmes, one needs to have good knowledge, Patience & ability to promote affiliate products. Any potential affiliate marketer who wishes to be successful should go through this first. I’m sharing this right away.
    Thanks for such a good article. Keep up the good work.

    • Hi Jordan,

      I appreciate the kind words and your willingness to share my content. I agree completely that knowledge is power when starting any business. Thanks for joining the conversation!


Leave a Comment