Make money while you sleep: what is affiliate marketing?

This post contains affiliate links; I will make a commission at no extra cost to you, should you click through and make a purchase. Remember I only promote products I have used and love! Please read my disclosure for more info. 

Affiliate marketing. If you’re a blogger and you haven’t heard of it, you’re missing out on some serious money.

And if you haven’t started a blog, it might be how I convince you to. (Although you can actually use affiliate marketing without a blog. More on this to come).


Affiliate marketing is basically where you share information on a product, service or website. Then if someone purchases that product, uses the service, or visits the website, you make a commission.

And that’s basically it!

Sounds simple right? Whilst it is in theory, it can be so easy to get wrong.

But get it right, and it’s a legitimate way to earn an income online.

MAKE MONEY IN YOUR SLEEP (Find out how...)


You’re gonna hate this answer, but there isn’t really a limit.

But to give you a better idea, I’ve got some examples of bloggers killing it with affiliate marketing for you.


I’ve got to start with this one, because when I first read it I though there was a mistake with the decimal point!

A pro at making money through affiliate marketing, Michelle from Making Sense of Cents went from making $0 dollars a month on her finance blog, to over $50,000 per month

You read that right; $50,000. Every month.

Crazy right! And that’s just through affiliate marketing. She makes even more than that on her blog through other income streams!

She now teaches bloggers how to make money with affiliate marketing regardless of what you blog about, with her online course making sense of affiliate marketing*.  If you’ve heard other bloggers mention this course before, let me tell you- it’s because it’s the course for affiliate marketing for beginners.

You have to remember, Michelle started out earning nothing through affiliate marketing. Which is probably where you are at right now! She knows what it’s like to be new to it, and has created this course with that in mind. I credit it to being the reason I made my first affiliate sale, and continue to make sales, even with a small audience!


Maybe she’s a fluke, right? We can’t all be making money through affiliate marketing.

That’s where you’re wrong! Check out these other bloggers making loads of money through affiliate marketing:

Isn’t that just crazy?!

Bloggers who make $1000+ through affiliate marketing

Now, please don’t think that as someone who is not an affiliate marketing pro (or perhaps you’d never even heard of affiliate marketing up until now), that you can’t make that kind of money too.

All these bloggers started out earning $0 from affiliate marketing, asking themselves the question “what is affiliate marketing” when they first heard of it.

No doubt in fact that some of them were actually in a worse position when they started than you are now. Stuck in a crippling 9-5, a single parent needing money to support their kids. Some of them even started because they were in debt (the big kind).

If they can do it with those kind of pressures, there’s no reason why you can’t do it and be a great success too!


If you’re reading this post after searching what is affiliate marketing, the big numbers can be scary (I know they were for me when I started blogging anyway. There was no chance I was going to ever reach that amount of income!).

Well, here are a few bloggers making smaller amounts through affiliate marketing:

So you see, you can make as little or as much as you like; it’s all up to you and how hard you work!



Whilst it’s true that the more page views your blog has, the more money you can make (because the chances that somebody uses your link increases). It does not mean you need to have hundreds of thousands of page views to make a sale.

I speak from experience; I made my first affiliate sale with less than 3,000 page views a month, and under 30 blog posts published (thanks to making sense of affiliate marketing).

So if you came to this post wondering what is affiliate marketing, don’t let the fact that it’s new to you or your blog is small (maybe even non existent currently) to get started!


Below is a step by step for getting started with affiliate marketing for beginners, so you can start making money online.

Please note, this is not a get rich scheme and does require work. But once the work is done, it can make you money on autopilot (even whilst you sleep!).

The beginning steps are for those who are completely new to blogging and making money with affiliate marketing. If you already have a blog and are getting regular readers, skip the first two steps!


To make money with affiliate marketing from your blog, if you haven’t already you need to get your own blog up and running.

You can actually make money using affiliate marketing on social media without even having a blog. In this post how to make $1500 a month using Pinterest, I talk about how to make money through affiliate marketing with Pinterest (so no blog required). I actually used Dale’s ebook Get Paid to Pin* to learn about this, and it’s one of my favourite ebooks simply because I’m yet to see another book with the same information about how to make money on Pinterest!

However, it is better to have a blog if you want to make as much money as some of the other bloggers I listed are. That’s because you can provide more information about a product or service in a blog post, and hopefully that’ll get more people to click through (and make you more money).

If you’re yet to start a blog, check out my ultimate how to start a blog guide. It’s over 3,000 words long, and shows you (with screenshots) how to start your own self hosted blog from scratch, for as little as £3 per month. And with the chance to be making over $100,000 from your blog, why wouldn’t you start one today?!


It’s important to have a blog with some stuff on before you start applying to any affiliate programmes.

You might have heard otherwise, as some affiliate programmes do not have any requirements to join.

However, lots of affiliate programmes will want to take a look at your blog before you start recommending their product or services. They need to see you are for real, and you’re the right fit for them. So make sure to have a few blog posts (it doesn’t have to be loads) so they know you’re not scamming them.

Think about the affiliate programmes your blog readers will be interested in whilst creating content for your blog. If your blog is about travelling, have a couple of post on travelling before you apply for any travel affiliates. Or if you have a multi niche blog, have a post on each so they know you do cover the affiliate programme topic you are applying for.


Now you need to start finding affiliate programmes so you can promote their links on your blog.

If you’re interested in affiliate marketing for beginners, chances are you don’t know any affiliate programmes.

You can find some in the following ways:

1. Google if there are affiliate programmes for products you are already using. 

I’m a firm believer in not promoting products unless you love them; if you just keep talking about loads of products it gets too sales-y and distasteful. Hopefully you’ve started a blog in something you’re interested in, so you should already be using products that are relevant e.g you have a beauty blog, and use make-up brands regularly. Google to see if these make-up brands have an affiliate programme you can apply for.

2. Google “your niche+ affiliate programmes”.

Other bloggers have already made lists of some affiliate programmes depending on your niche, and you should be able to find these by simply searching on Google or Pinterest, e.g “beauty affiliate programmes”.

3. Ask bloggers in your niche what affiliate programmes they love. 

If you’re a blogger and you’re not getting in touch with other bloggers, start now! It’ll help you massively in the long run. Just join some Facebook groups for bloggers, search “affiliate programmes” in these groups and see what comes up. And if nobody has asked it before, ask yourself! Chances are there will be other bloggers in that Facebook group interested in joining affiliate programmes too.

4. “Stalk” big bloggers in your niche.

This is kind of a joke, but bloggers who are making lots of money sometimes share their income reports (I linked a few further up in the post). Usually, if they are making money through affiliate marketing they will break it down into how much they are earning from each affiliate. Find income reports from bloggers who have posts on the topic(s) you blog about, and take note of what affiliate programmes they are earning money from.

Each affiliate programme will have different requirements to apply. I recommend apply for quite a few, as you don’t know how long each one will take to get back to you and you don’t want to be wasting time waiting!


Once you’ve been accepted to a programme, read the terms and conditions.

Then, create blog posts based around the products your readers will be interested in, or even link to them in your old posts. Just make sure the links you are using are for products that are actually what your readers want.

For example, I have linked to Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing* throughout this post. Because if you’re reading this you’re probably interested in affiliate marketing, and would be interested in a course on it created by an expert. I’ve also linked to it because I’ve done the course, and I know it’s good- I wouldn’t link to it otherwise!

I would not link to a programme about weight loss. it’s got nothing to do with this post, you’re probably not interested in it, and it would just make me look silly.

Try to create detailed posts that are insightful, or provide a unique view on the product. So I can say I made my first affiliate sale thanks to Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, and you’re reading this it’s likely you want to make your first affiliate sale. So you will check it out!


This is the kinda scary bit, and although this is a post on affiliate marketing for beginners I need to mention it. But if you don’t disclose your affiliate links right, you might actually be breaking the law.

This my favourite part of Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing is actually the legal section. Because I was doing it wrong before! And I could have gotten into a lot of trouble if I hadn’t taken the course and learnt how to disclose my affiliate links properly.

Be sure not to mislead people, and let your readers know that you will be earning money because it is an affiliate link. Don’t think that makes you look unprofessional- if anything it helps to establish trust with your readers!


Now this step can be done earlier on, and you can get regular readers then add in affiliate links and start making money. But the thing is, if you put the affiliate links in before you even start getting readers, you can be making money as soon as people start reading your blog.

And as your blog gets more readers and more people using your links, you will make more money!

That’s why so many people say you need to have lots of blog readers to make money with affiliate marketing. But it doesn’t mean you can’t be earning money with a small audience- like I said, I earned my first affiliate sale with less than 30 blog posts up and under 3,000 page views a month.

To get more traffic:

I hope this post has answered the question “what is affiliate marketing”, and shown you how easy it really is.

If it has helped, please share it on Pinterest!

Make your first affiliate sale (even as a new blogger)

Make an affiliate sale today (a beginner's guide)


This post turned out quite a bit longer than I expected! But even so, there is more to learn about affiliate marketing.

If you’re interested in affiliate marketing for beginners but want to become an expert quickly, be sure to check out Michelle’s course here*.

I really can’t praise it enough- you can’t get much better than a course about how to make money from affiliate marketing, from someone who makes a tonne from affiliate marketing!

Want to make an affiliate sale today? Check out this post for tips on how to get started with affiliate marketing and make money online. Read this step by step guide for making money with affiliate marketing, to monetise your blog and start making a passive income, or repin for inspo later #affiliatemarketing #passiveincome #bloggingtips #makemoneyonline

2 thoughts on “Make money while you sleep: what is affiliate marketing?”

  1. Hi, Emily. Thanks for taking the time to write this informative post. I think Affiliate marketing is a great way to monetize a blog. I have seen some bloggers earning millions, that’s crazy!

    1. You’re most welcome Khalid 🙂
      Yes I agree it’s crazy to think, but I’m sure the bloggers who do earn a six figure income (or more) did not think it could be done, until they did it themselves!

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