Affiliate Marketing: What Is It, How to Start as a Beginner, and How to Earn from Scratch in 2024

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners Your Startup Guide 2024 2024

The development of the internet has led to the emergence of numerous online professions. Here, goods are sold, courses are offered, consultations and seminars are conducted, deals are made, cryptocurrency is mined, and much more interesting things happen. Many people deliberately retrain to run a business from home. Affiliate marketing is just one of such examples. There are plenty of places online where you can engage in it: social networks, messaging channels, affiliate programs of all kinds. If you’ve been thinking about mastering a new skill that will help you work for yourself, then you’re in the right place. We’ll tell you what affiliate marketing is and how to start as a beginner.

What is Affiliate Marketing in Simple Terms

Affiliate marketing is the process of acquiring traffic from one source and then selling it elsewhere. In an ideal world, it works like this: traffic is found and redirected to platforms and services that pay for it. It would be great if the earnings exceed the expenses. Still, some people, who are far from marketing, sometimes think that this niche is something illegal. Of course, it’s not, and if you’re reading this article, you probably understand it but you may know some people who don’t. If you have such people, make sure you sent them our article on whether affiliate marketing legit or scam to enlighten them.

An affiliate (or so-called ‘webmaster’) invests their funds to launch an advertising campaign promoting offers – products and services to be sold. As a result of these campaigns, users should visit the target website and perform desired actions: register, subscribe to newsletters, play in casinos, place bets, make orders for goods, supplements, and everything else the seller needs. And affiliate who brought them here will receive their commission.

So, to earn from affiliate marketing, you need to know and be able to do a lot:

  • Understand marketing;
  • Know about various marketing tools;
  • Distinguish between targeted advertising and contextual advertising;
  • Know how to set up and launch advertising campaigns;
  • Understand SEO optimization and keywords;
  • Understand where and which creative will work best;
  • Understand the peculiarities of each geo where campaigns are launched;
  • Understand the basics of design.

And that’s just the beginning. To work effectively, you need to know much more.

Who Are Affiliates and What Do They Do

An affiliate is not the only term for someone engaged in affiliate marketing. Webmaster, partner, affiliate mean roughly the same thing – a person who drives traffic to a target page, places ads online, sets them up, and monitors the results.

With such a description, an affiliate can easily be confused with a marketer, who should do the same. But there is one very important difference: a marketer usually works for an agency, while an affiliate works for themselves. And they spend their own money to launch ads. So, if the ads don’t bring results, they can easily end up in the red. But profits are not limited to a salary. You can earn a lot in various places and verticals.

Important Terms in Affiliate Marketing

If you’ve decided to become an affiliate, you can’t do without basic concepts. Besides those like affiliate marketing and webmaster, which we’ve already discussed, there’s plenty more to explore. It’s easy for beginners to get confused, but over time, you’ll figure it all out. To make it easier, we’ve prepared a list of terms that are encountered more frequently than others. We’ve arranged them from the most general and important to more specific ones.

Vertical – a group of offers that can be grouped together based on their nature. For example, e-commerce, nutra, or gambling. It affects affiliate marketing methods, traffic attraction techniques to the target site, permissible marketing tools, and platforms for advertising placement. We’ll delve deeper into verticals later.

Offer – a service or product that an affiliate needs to sell in order to earn.

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners Your Startup Guide 2024 2024
Examples of offers

Creative – advertising material used to attract traffic: banner, link, website, video, push notification, and so on.

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners Your Startup Guide 2024 2024
A creative for Facebook Ads

Landing Page – the page a user lands on after clicking on an advertisement. Triggers are applied here to encourage the visitor to take a specific action. For example, vibrant images, time-limited offers, slogans, bonuses, and so on.

Storefront – a website with multiple offers, often in the financial vertical. Various offers from different organizations are listed here, and the user chooses the most suitable options for themselves. The affiliate is responsible for the design of the storefront.

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners Your Startup Guide 2024 2024

Payment Model – the method of receiving compensation from an affiliate program for the traffic attracted. There are three main methods:

  1. CPA – Cost Per Action, in this case, the webmaster receives payment for a user’s specific action, such as registration, loan application, or providing personal data.
  2. RevShare – Revenue Share, which involves payment based on the revenue generated by the target site, for example, from users who have spent money there.
  3. Hybrid – a combination of the other two reward models.

Conversion – the ratio of users who have completed a specific action to the total number of users. Calculated as a percentage. It can be used to evaluate effectiveness.

Lead – a user who clicked on a link and completed a specific action: registered on the site, submitted an application, made a purchase, or applied for a loan.

Reach – the ratio of users who have seen the advertising message to the total number of visitors targeted by the ad. The higher the reach, the better.

Affiliate Program – an organization that gathers offers for affiliates. It acts as an intermediary between advertisers and webmasters. Affiliate programs can be direct, promoting offers from only one advertiser, or aggregators, which gather offers from multiple advertisers. Read on for more details.

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners Your Startup Guide 2024 2024's homepage

To describe all the terms, you’d need an entire dictionary, so let’s limit ourselves to these. They should suffice for starters.

How Much Can You Earn in Affiliate Marketing

Naming specific figures is quite tricky. To earn your first income, you’ll need to study a lot of theory and then try your hand at practice. Rarely does everything work out perfectly the first time. More often than not, it’s a matter of failure and budget losses. But such practice is the best teacher. So at the beginning, you might not earn anything, then a little, and eventually, as you become more skilled, more.

If you join a team, inexperienced newcomers are usually offered between 50 to 70 thousand. More experienced affiliates can easily earn over 100 thousand. And beyond that, it all depends on you.

Where to Start for Beginners in Affiliate Marketing

The entry algorithm into the profession is usually the same across all niches and consists of the following stages:

  1. Job market research – this helps you understand what knowledge and skills are required to enter the profession;
  2. Theory study – to avoid getting lost in terminology and understand how everything works at least theoretically;
  3. Choosing a vertical and affiliate program – it’s not recommended to spread yourself too thin with multiple options because you may not succeed in any of them;
  4. Finding work in a team or doing solo affiliate marketing.
Affiliate Marketing for Beginners Your Startup Guide 2024 2024
One of the courses on affiliate marketing

What Are the Sources of Affiliate Marketing

As we’ve mentioned, traffic sources are one of the key concepts in affiliate marketing. There are plenty of places online where users hang out. And you have places where you need to bring them to earn your commission and income. We’ll tell you where to find users.

Social Networks

The main source of traffic is social networks. According to Statista, over the past decade, the time spent by users on social networks has steadily increased, reaching an average of 151 minutes per day in 2023. Considering that the functionality of social networks is constantly expanding, this is not surprising. After all, here you can chat, find educational and entertaining materials, buy or sell something.

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners Your Startup Guide 2024 2024

The main advantage of social networks is the number of users. There are approximately 3 billion accounts registered on Facebook alone. This means that traffic for any niche can be found here. Plus, there are numerous advertising tools for promoting offers.

In addition, communities on social networks are indexed by search engines, so developing them is cheaper than your own website, where you’d have to pay at least for a domain.

And the main tool for attracting traffic on social networks is targeted advertising. It is launched through advertising accounts. The affiliate sets the parameters of the audience to whom they want to show their ads: gender, age, region of residence, and so on.


The second source of traffic similar to social networks is channels in messengers. Primarily, this refers to Telegram. For many people, it has already become the primary platform for consuming information. This means that there is also traffic there.

There are several ways to acquire it:

  • The most complex is creating your own channel. It’s a long-term game, so getting rich quickly won’t happen. But in the long run, your channel can become a very stable source of traffic. Ideally, if the main theme matches the offers you are promoting.
  • Here, you can create bots to attract traffic. For example, collecting general information from users for an order with subsequent redirection to the target page.
  • If you don’t need a channel or bot, you can simply buy advertising. This is the simplest but also the most costly method.

Here is what advertising looks like purchased on the platform itself – marked as “Advertisement” available.

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners Your Startup Guide 2024 2024

It can also be purchased through channel admins.

The main advantage of Telegram as a source is audience engagement and lack of spam. Here, people choose what to subscribe to and won’t watch everything that’s shown to them in the smart feed of other social networks. This makes some advertising placements genuinely expensive.

Contextual Advertising

If you’re seeking traffic through contextual advertising, you’ll need to set it up based on the queries users are searching for right now. So you’ll have to learn how to compile a semantic core. In practice, it looks like this: a user enters a query, and at the top of the search results, they are offered sites with relevant topics and a note indicating that it’s an ad. This traffic source is suitable for instant promotion “here and now.”

Launching contextual advertising is done through Google Ads as one of the options.

On the downside, there’s the risk of draining the budget due to incorrect settings and the auction-based mechanism for calculating click costs. In other words, the price of advertising depends on the number of competitors vying for the same spot in search results. The more competitors, the higher the cost.


The world’s leading video hosting platform, YouTube, is also an excellent source of traffic. There are numerous ways to acquire traffic here. Firstly, creating content yourself. Yes, it’s not for everyone because you’ll need to master video editing skills. But growing your channel, just like groups on social media or channels on Telegram, is a long-term endeavor. Secondly, you can collaborate with influencers and pay them for advertising and placing affiliate links. Thirdly, expertly engage in comments and attract people to your platforms. YouTube’s advantages also include its large user base and many advertising tools.

Short Videos

Short videos became popular several years ago and immediately proved themselves as an effective promotion channel. There’s TikTok, there are Reels on Instagram, and there are Shorts on YouTube itself. Their success is primarily attributed to the format itself. In just one minute (or less), users receive content suggested by algorithms based on their preferences. The brain doesn’t strain much because there’s no need to focus on one thing for too long, and dopamine is produced because it’s interesting. This explains the endless scrolling. There’s plenty of traffic, plenty of niches, plenty of everything. The format is convenient, and the barrier to entry is not very high either. Traffic acquisition algorithms are generally the same as on YouTube. Paid promotion and collaborations. Adding links may violate network rules, so you’ll also need to study the legal framework.

What is an Affiliate Program and How Does it Work

An affiliate program is a company that facilitates cooperation between advertisers who need to attract customers to a product or service, and affiliates who seek out these customers.

The principle of operation is as follows:

  1. The affiliate program lists offers on its website that need to be promoted and for which traffic needs to be attracted;
  2. Affiliates join the affiliate network and start promoting offers at their own expense. Affiliate networks often assist their partners with promotional materials and suggest what specifically converts best in their niche and vertical;
  3. Upon successful traffic acquisition, the affiliate program receives payment from the advertiser and pays the affiliate.

The scheme is universal and describes the general state of affairs. There may be nuances depending on the offer, geography, and target audience.

Types of Verticals in Affiliate Marketing

Offers are grouped into verticals based on some common feature. There are white verticals that advertising networks do not ban, gray ones where certain rules must be followed, and black ones that get banned as soon as moderation algorithms notice them. It’s best for beginners to start with white and gray verticals – let’s talk about them.


The whitest and most popular vertical is e-commerce. This includes everything people buy in regular and online stores to fulfill their basic (and not only) needs. This includes electronics, clothing, toys, and basically everything sold on marketplaces.

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners Your Startup Guide 2024 2024

There are many advantages here, and the first one is the low entry barrier precisely because of the “whiteness” of the vertical.

Secondly, there’s minimal risk of blocking. The level of trust in such offers is higher, meaning it’s easier to pass moderation. Consequently, accounts also live longer.

Thirdly, the audience understands what you’re offering. You don’t need to hide anything or mislead users.

Unfortunately, there are also downsides. Due to the low entry barrier, there’s high competition here. People have already become adept at googling and searching for Chinese analogs, which are usually cheaper and have many reviews.

Moreover, there’s a lot of low-quality products in e-commerce due to competition and attempts to make them cheaper. This means not the highest payouts. However, for understanding processes and reducing the risks associated with draining the budget, e-commerce is suitable.

Nutraceuticals (Nutra / Health & Beaty)

The second vertical is not as white as e-commerce, but it also performs very well. This is nutraceuticals. These are also products, but for health and beauty. For example, dietary supplements, weight loss or, conversely, body part enlargement products, normalization of medical indicators, relief from muscle and joint pain, and so on.

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners Your Startup Guide 2024 2024

In general, it’s something related to healthcare but not actual medicines. They are available over the counter. Therefore, it’s better to call them not “medicine” but rather “product” or “preparation” and emphasize the natural composition and complete harmlessness, unlike real medicines, which may have side effects.

The target audience here is people with corresponding issues with appearance and health. And there are many of them, so you’re likely to find your potential clients.


The third vertical with not the highest entry barrier is dating, or dating websites. According to various estimates, about half a billion people use them worldwide.

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners Your Startup Guide 2024 2024

On the plus side here, users aren’t always required to buy a subscription or pay for a premium status. Payments can be made for simple registration or with the confirmation of personal contact details. But in any case, this is easier than the deposit option.


The fourth vertical is gambling. Anything related to betting, casinos, slot machines, and the opportunity to win a lot of money without doing anything. It’s one of the fastest-growing verticals that isn’t tied to the season at all. There are events to bet on at any time of the year. And this is a huge market – forecasts suggest that gambling revenue for 2023 will be nearly $100 billion.

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners Your Startup Guide 2024 2024
Here’s how they lure people to websites

And the payouts here are some of the biggest. But for this to happen, the person who clicked on your affiliate link needs to deposit money into the casino and place a bet. Your profit will be calculated based on this deposit.


Another rapidly growing vertical is cryptocurrency. This includes everything related to it. Previously, cryptocurrency was steadily rising, but now it has become more volatile, and it’s possible to earn money on price fluctuations.

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners Your Startup Guide 2024 2024
One of many trading platforms

In affiliate marketing, it’s mainly offers on platforms for trading crypto. So you attract a user to such an exchange, they deposit funds, and you earn a percentage from that deposit.

Everything here can be done exactly like with gambling. Quality content on your website, channel, profile, and offer. You can write about where to invest, how to store money, which assets to pay attention to. Yes, it’s a long game because users don’t always easily decide to make a deposit, but the profitability here will be higher. It’s suitable for beginners with a bit more budget for advertising.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing from Scratch

The first thing you need to do is study the theoretical base, as well as thematic forums and channels where people who have been working in affiliate marketing for some time share their experience. Often, you can ask them interesting questions right there. If it’s not some personal strategy that brings in money, they will likely share what they know with you.

Otherwise, the advice is simple – to start understanding something, you need to start understanding. By the way, there are already many courses on traffic management even on the most well-known platforms. Yes, they cost money, but you will always have a curator who will answer all your questions.

What Programs and Services Do Affilates Use

There are many services, many analogs, so over time you will have your own set of tools that you will master perfectly. Otherwise, practically no affiliate can do without:

  • several accounts used for advertising on platforms where multi-accounting is prohibited;
  • an anti-detect browser, which helps you hide your digital fingerprint, which can identify you;
  • proxies for smooth work in any geo;
  • analytics and statistics services;
  • spy services that help analyze what’s currently trending.
Affiliate Marketing for Beginners Your Startup Guide 2024 2024

Over time, you’ll need more advanced tools like cloaking, ad automation, and so on, but those are for a more advanced level.

Overall, it’s quite challenging to break into affiliate marketing easily. It’s only possible if someone is willing to take you under their wing and teach you everything, but that rarely happens. So, if you’ve decided to delve into affiliate marketing, study the theory and concurrently familiarize yourself with the tools, verticals, affiliate programs, and everything we’ve discussed in the article.


How can a beginner start earning money through affiliate marketing?

Study the theory and start using the tools needed for affiliate marketing: affiliate programs, ad networks, anti-detect browsers, and so on.

What does it take to become an affiliate marketing specialist?

A desire to learn something new, readiness for failures, and an entrepreneurial spirit to help sell offers to website visitors where you’re running ads.

Where can one learn affiliate marketing?

There are many places to learn affiliate marketing: YouTube, where there are plenty of educational videos, mentors, and courses available on every educational platform.

Can one engage in affiliate marketing without investments?

It’s impossible to engage in affiliate marketing without any investment because at the very least, you’ll invest your time and effort. Plus, even at the outset, you’ll need expenses like accounts, which also cost money.

How to choose an affiliate program?

It’s best to choose an affiliate program based on the vertical and offers— the more familiar they are to you, the easier it will be to get involved. Also, read reviews because scammers are everywhere.

What niche is best for beginners in affiliate marketing?

For beginners, it’s best to choose white niches. The terms of cooperation are much more transparent there, and there are fewer unknown nuances.

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