How exactly does Affiliate Marketing work?

Whether you are selling products directly to customers or creating informative blog posts to attract traffic, the ultimate goal is to monetise your website. This is the final stage of creating a long-term income stream but one which many people find difficult. You might look towards different options such as Google ads, selling advertising space or affiliate marketing. In this article we will look at affiliate marketing.

One of the main problems is taking a scattergun approach to affiliate marketing and losing focus. Never lose sight of the profile of your visitors/customers you receive. So, if you go down the affiliate marketing route only promote appropriate products and services relevant to the target market. There are many factors to take into consideration when looking to monetise your website. We will discuss various issues associated with affiliate marketing, what to focus on and what to avoid at all costs.

What is affiliate marketing?

In its most basic form affiliate marketing is a system whereby you receive a commission each time you refer someone to a third party website and they acquire a product/service. While there are some affiliate programs which will pay for newsletter signups and basic referrals, the vast majority of commission relates to product/service purchases.

Upon joining an affiliate program you will be given access to a dashboard, a unique ID and various types of affiliate link to use on your website and communications. This tracks all successful referrals that used your unique ID and appropriate commission credited to your account.

Example of an affiliate marketing opportunity

Let us take the example of a business blog which advises small businesses about promoting their products and services. There are numerous opportunities to engage in affiliate marketing. To begin, when promoting affiliate products you need to have a direct link. This link can go on your website, in your blog content and social media handles to attain more clicks.

In simple terms, there are two ways to create a successful business. Maximising sales and reducing costs without impacting service levels. We can safely assume that small business entrepreneurs visiting this blog are open to ideas to maximise their profitability. Some of the opportunities for affiliate marketing in this scenario include:

  • Marketing services
  • Web design services
  • Web hosting services
  • Business guides and supplementary reading

We could then dig deeper into each of these four sections. In theory, you could argue that each visitor to your website may also require banking services, payment systems, accountancy services and many more besides.  The problem with promoting more general products and services is that you lose the focus of your website. Avoid this at all cost! Simply put, if your focus is not immediately clear, how will Google treat your website and its content?

You need to stay focused and ensure your message is clear.

Best web hosting affiliate programs

In theory, you could argue there is a very strong link between any online business and web hosting affiliate programs. If you are looking to attract those with websites or those looking to launch online businesses then they will have a clear interest in web hosting. Here at we offer an affiliate program with a support service to maximise affiliate partner income and exposure. If we dig a little deeper into affiliate programs for web hosting there are numerous issues to take into account:

  • Reliability
  • Cost
  • Upgrading
  • Support

You will find that companies which have their own affiliate program are extremely confident of their products/services. Those which offer substandard products/services will very quickly be “found out” and it does not take long for word to get around the Internet. In the world of affiliate marketing, as in e-commerce, you live and die by your reputation.

Spread the good news. Share the message 

Picture the scenario; you have a number of online businesses which are hosted with one company you have been with for many years. When was the last time you compared and contrasted your current hosting fees against those available in the market today? The likelihood is that very few people will regularly compare and contrast the offers, costs and services available within the hosting industry. In order to get over this hurdle you need to show the benefits of a new hosting package with www and the fact that we will help you to transfer your websites. This offers potential cost savings/an increase in services as well as removing the hassle of physically changing the host server.

At this point it is worth noting that an affiliate marketing is different from reseller hosting. The affiliate program will pay a one-off commission on each successful referral with nothing else for you to do once the customer has been referred. The reseller option means that you acquire space on a server for which you will pay a monthly charge. You can then resell part or all of this space to one or more third parties with the aim of creating a long-term income.  As a reseller you would be the first point of contact for your customers although help and assistance will be available from our support team.

Affiliate marketing in a wider context

The above example of web hosting affiliate programs perfectly illustrates an opportunity to create a long-term income stream. Let us look at some important elements of affiliate marketing and how best to maximise your website’s profits.

Finding an affiliate program

If you go to Google and type in “affiliate program” you will see millions of different opportunities all of which promise the earth. You should only really take an interest in the larger well-known companies on the Internet offering their own affiliate program and those using reputable affiliate marketing platforms. There are two reasons for this; firstly the larger well-known companies would not risk their reputation with a substandard affiliate program. Secondly, affiliate marketing platforms such as Commission Junction , AWIN and Webgains need to protect their reputation at all costs.

Affiliate marketing platforms can offer literally hundreds of different affiliate partners to those looking to maximise their income. In exchange for carrying out various administration services they will take a fee from advertisers while also charging companies to set up and administer their programs.

The more well-known affiliate marketing platforms are extremely protective of their reputation and therefore only accept high quality companies. In the event of non-payment or issues with tracking of affiliate sales, these companies will be jettisoned from the platform. So, we advise choosing well-known reputable companies looking after their own affiliate program.

Different types of affiliate advertising

As it is in the best interest of the affiliate program provider for you to refer as many customers as possible they will supply you with sales literature and banners. Some of the more common types of affiliate advertising options include:

Text links

Text links are very subtle and can be added to articles where there is a reference to, for example, hosting services. The idea is to spoonfeed the reader as much information as possible, making them inquisitive as to exactly what you can offer. You then simply present a well-placed affiliate text link which will take them to the website with details of the services and plans available. Various affiliate links for different offers will be made available to you that include your unique ID. It is simply a case of adding these as hyperlinks within articles via your content management system.


You will no doubt have seen the large array of different sized banners on various websites. These will vary in size and shape and often focus on a different element of the underlying affiliate program. An argument exists that questions whether or not Internet surfers are “blind to banners.” However, analytics show they are still rather effective. This is the perfect way to promote special offers and deals. Ensure that you keep  all banners up-to-date with “live” offers. You will have access to a variety of different banners and the underlying code which you add to your website in your chosen location.

Newsletters and emails

In the past many people will have been inundated with newsletters and emails pushing particular services and various affiliate programs. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was recently brought in to protect private information. It will also reduce the amount of spam communication. As a consequence, you now need to obtain prior approval from individuals before you can contact them with offers, etc. Using various newsletter/email communications you can add the appropriate affiliate banner/text code which will contain your unique ID.

Social media

We all know the potential power of social media and the fact that some posts can go viral. If you create high-quality content on your website with various social media buttons there is every chance they could be shared across various platforms. The idea is that interested parties click on, for example, a Facebook post and is redirected to your website. Here they can see your content in full. If your article preps them for a potential sale and you spoonfeed them the affiliate link then you could create a significant income stream.


If you operate a website which advises entrepreneurs and those looking to set up their own websites then our hosting affiliate program would be extremely relevant. The key is to ensure that any affiliate programs you use, whether selling products or services, have a strong correlation with your visitors.

As we mentioned above, a scattergun approach to affiliate marketing rarely works because you spread yourself too thinly. Content which is highly focused on our hosting affiliate program will entice potential customers to investigate further, using your affiliate link. Then, it is up to us to maintain a high conversion rate and deliver on your promises.