Affiliate marketing is one of the fastest growing strategies to drive sales online and create significant online income. Extremely helpful to both affiliate marketers and brands, the newest drive towards more traditional marketing tactics has thus paid off tremendously. In fact: there’s a projected 10.1 percent increase in affiliate marketing spend per year in the U.S. alone, which means that by 2021, that figure will rise to nearly $6 billion. But where does this all begin? What drives people to start earning money from affiliate marketing?

For a successful affiliate marketer, it all begins with a clear understanding of what makes up this particular niche. Affiliate marketing success begins with strong traffic, and the primary way to drive traffic is through search engines, and the only way to truly establish authority on the major engines is to be included in major directories such as Google Places, Yahoo Answers, and Facebook Answers. It’s important to always have a presence within the greater social community, and participate in discussion forums and marketplaces where relevant. But there’s another way to go about establishing authority, and that’s through link building and reputation management. These techniques are an integral part of building long term revenue for any marketer.

When you have established yourself within your niche, then it’s time to move the conversation forward. You can’t continue to promote to your audience without offering something in return. If the content that you provide is good, they’ll keep coming back for more, and eventually, you’ll build up a loyal audience who trusts you implicitly. This relationship gives you the opening to move into promotion of products and services directly, but in a subtle manner. Rather than promoting affiliate products or services directly from your blog or website, you should begin to establish relationships with other individuals within your niche.

You want to develop a good relationship with a merchant, or group of merchants, whom you represent. You can do this through a sponsorship deal, where the affiliate marketer takes a commission from the merchant based on the sales that result from his or her promotional efforts. You can also get a marketing tie-up where you promote a merchant’s product or service and he provides you with a link to his site, so that you can also promote his product. An example of this would be when a merchant creates an affiliate program through which you can get paid a commission if a visitor to your website purchases his product. Sponsorship deals are typically handled by a third-party organization such as Commission Junction or Clickbank, and partnerships such as these can provide serious, long term benefits for your affiliate marketing career.

It’s important to understand how the various models of commission structures work, because in this case, everyone wins: the affiliate marketer, the merchant, and the visitor to the merchant’s site. For the affiliate, each sale results in a commission, while for the merchant the commission is a net profit because he or she does not have to pay any employees, manage inventory, or even provide customer service. In a standard affiliate marketing system, the merchant will provide the affiliate with banners, text links, and other promotional materials. The affiliate marketer then generates potential customers and links them to the merchant through a variety of internet marketing venues, including Pay Per Click, Link Trading, and Blogs. The last two options involve a monthly fee, but the potential cost to the merchant is less than the cost to the affiliate marketer, who may also need to set up a website and maintain a customer database. For affiliates, creating a website is free while maintaining a customer database can be a small amount of money, depending on the number of products or services that you wish to promote.

The final step in a successful affiliate marketing system is to provide the merchant with detailed reports on the number of visitors that have purchased a product or service, as well as analyzing the behavior of these visitors to determine which keywords were used to direct them to the merchant. Along with this report, the affiliate marketer should provide their client with a detailed analysis of the conversion rate of each of the campaigns, including specific details such as click-through rates and average dollar values per campaign. Although it takes more work to products, it is the most important task for both the merchant and the affiliate marketer. While affiliate marketing can be profitable, it takes considerable effort to successfully navigate the system and ensure that you are making the most of your time and efforts.

Companies are happy to pay commissions to people just like you, in return for selling their products or services. You have the potential to make a great income when you choose the right niche, stay committed, and understand your audience. Join us on the for a no-nonsense, easy to follow guide to making money from .