Imagine that you could earn commissions on a popular brand-name product just by placing a link on your website or in your email. That, my friends, is "Affiliate Marketing"!
OK... So it's not quite that simple, but it doesn't have to be much more complicated either.
Let's start with a few definitions. An advertiser, or merchant, is the company who is selling a product. An affiliate, sometimes referred to as a publisher or partner, is another person or company who assists in the promotion of the product and earns a commission for doing so. (That could be you!) In between is the account management service that partners the advertisers with the affiliates and keeps track of the sales and commissions.
If you want to become an affiliate, you first need to choose either a product you want to sell, or an account management service. You will end up with both, but the choice of one will determine the choice for the other. If you choose the product first, the advertiser will direct you to the account management service that they already work with. If you choose the account management service first, they will provide you with a list of merchants that they do business with.
To see if your favorite product or company offers an affiliate program, go to their website and check the menu bar or the bottom of the screen. Look around for the word "affiliate". Click on that link, read about their program and requirements, and fill out their application. Some companies require specific types of websites to place their links on. They will email you all you need to know to get started.
If you don't know what specific product you would like to promote, or if you want to promote several, I recommend browsing the participating merchants on the account management service's website.
Try to stick to products or ideas that you are familiar with and passionate about. It will be much easier to market to your visitors if you can add value to the link you want them to click on. Personal recommendations or stories will get way better results than just a banner or solo text link. Give them a reason to "click here".
Welcome to the world of Affiliate Marketing! Good luck with your new venture!