How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing Programs Successfully and Ethically

by Andrew Shih
How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing

Last Updated on December 20, 2022 by Andrew Shih

If you’re like most people, you’ve heard people talk badly about affiliate marketing. If the above describes how you feel, then you’re on to something. For long-term success, it is important to learn how to get started with affiliate marketing ethically.

They’ll tell you it’s a scam, and you’ll never make the thousands of dollars that many affiliate marketing promotors promise. There’s something that keeps you interested in it, though. It’s not really the promise of the thousands of dollars a month, it’s the way that affiliate marketing is done that interests you. You feel like deep down inside, it really could be successful.

Affiliate marketing truly is a way to make money online. It is a legitimate online business. If you’re not afraid of working hard and build trust with your followers, you’ll be happy to know you can be successful with this type of business.

Disclaimer:  Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to register or make a purchase, we may earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please review the full affiliate disclaimer

How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing

It is important to start affiliate marketing with the correct mindset. The first step is understanding the Dos and DO NOTs of the business.

  • DO promote the products and services you enjoy. You’ll be marketing them, and it helps when you tell the truth about how great they are – consumers are pretty intuitive, so they know when you’re telling the truth.
  • DO market products and services you believe are good for your followers. Just because you like the products doesn’t mean your followers will so be sure they will before you try to sell it to them.
  • DO understand what you can and cannot do when promoting products and services. Most merchants have specific guidelines when it comes to marketing, so follow them.
  • DO NOT promote a product or service just because it has a commission rate. While you may love how much money you could make from sales, it won’t make a difference if you don’t sell much because it’s not a product or service you really believe in.
  • DO NOT throw the affiliate link to people haphazardly. For instance, don’t send out links to an email list repeatedly, post it everywhere on social media, and beg people to use the link when buying a particular product or service. This tactic pushes people away, which is not what you want for affiliate marketing success.

You have the basic DOs and DO NOTs of affiliate marketing. Keep those in mind as you get started with affiliate marketing. The next step is to choose the affiliate network you’ll use.

Choosing Top Affiliate Networks

Once you know how to get started with affiliate marketing ethically, it’s time to look into the top affiliate networks. An affiliate network is a database of merchants wanting affiliate marketing to promote their services and products. Each affiliate network is different, which means each has its pluses and minuses. The following are the top affiliate networks available and the pros and cons of each.

FlexOffers Dashboard


FlexOffers is the leading affiliate network provider with over 12,000+ advertisers, covering advertisers across all industries. A few name brands include Udemy, Macy, Overstock, Kohl’s, Allstate, Crayola, Clinique, H&M, HyreCar, Lenovo, LinkedIn, Shutterstock, and Yelp.

FlexOffers has an intuitive, responsive, and possibly the most user-friendly interface for affiliates. 

A unique feature and only offered by FlexOffers is its FlexRev-Share Bonus.  If you can refer new affiliates successfully and your referrals are able to sell and earn commissions, FlexOffers will even share a portion of FlexOffer’s profit with you.  The profit-sharing ranges from 5% to 50%, depending on your tier level, making FlexOffers the most generous affiliate network provider.

ShareASale Affiliate Marketing Dashboard


ShareASale is a popular affiliate network because it is certainly one of the biggest, with more than 3900 merchants. You can find many digital and physical products on this site, as well as many specialty and niche stores if your focus is on a niche market. There are also special coupons and deals provided by the Merchants for your affiliate links to make your promotion more attractive. Some of the large known brands include Sears, Weebly, Omaha Stakes, As Seen on TV, and GerberStore.

The only downside to this affiliate network is the dashboard isn’t very user-friendly. Newbies will likely have a bit of trouble finding what they need.

CJ Affiliate Affiliate Marketing Dashboard

CJ Affiliate

CJ Affiliate network doesn’t have as many merchants as ShareASale, but they have some big named ones, such as Adidas, Dell, BJs, Bose, Costco, DisneyStore, Edmunds, Godiva, Highlights, Keurig, Mcafee, Olympus, Office Depot, Overstock, Samsung, TurboTax, Vistaprint, etc.

People love how easy CJ Affiliate is to generate links and the organization on the backend when managing marketing efforts. What people don’t like is the dashboard (like ShareASale). It can be a bit overwhelming, especially for people who are just starting with affiliate marketing.

Rakuten Advertising Affiliate Marketing Dashboard

Rakuten Advertising

Rakuten Advertising has about 2000 merchants covering over 70 industries, including e-commerce, digital content, communications, fintech, and professional sports. Some of the big brands include Microsoft, Macy, Udemy, Dyson, Monster, Coursera, and RocketLawyer. The platform also offers 24/7 live chat assistance.

The dashboard is intuitive to navigate, although the interface looks a bit outdated, and response can be slow at times.

ClickBank Affiliate Marketing Dashboard


ClickBank, like the others, has digital and physical products available. They are most known for the eBooks, online courses and membership sites they have for marketing. What sets ClickBank apart is many of the digital products offer recurring commission opportunities.

However, the problem is that many of these aren’t very good as far as quality goes. Unless you are already familiar with the products, you will have to judge the products yourself before trying to sell them to your audience.

Amazon Associate Affiliate Marketing Dashboard

Amazon Associate

Once you join the Amazon Associate program, you can start earning commission for sales you generate on the Amazon platform. The interface is easy to use and create links. One huge benefit is you earn a commission for the full purchase through your affiliate link, not just the affiliate product you recommend.

However, there are also several restrictions. The purchase must be made within 24 hours; you must register Amazon Associate accounts for other countries if you want to earn commission internationally, some countries require a local bank account. If you do not make at least 3 sales within 6 months, your account will be closed, but you can reapply again. Lastly, Amazon has a strict affiliate policy so make sure you read and follow the guideline.

Step-by-Step in Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing

The first step in getting started with affiliate marketing is to join one of the affiliate networks above. Once you’re signed up, start researching products and each of the merchant’s guidelines for promoting them. When you’ve found something you’re passionate about marketing, apply with the merchant for permission to proceed.

Once you have permission to proceed, you can start marketing the product with the affiliate link you generate from the affiliate network. This link will be only for you. Whenever anyone clicks on it and makes a purchase, you receive a commission.

Frequently Asked Questions

When people get started with affiliate marketing, they often have these questions about it.

Question: Can I make money with affiliate marketing?

Answer: Yes, you can make money with affiliate marketing. However, you should not expect the money will just start pouring in simply by putting out affiliate links. To be successful with affiliate marketing, it does considerable effort to establish trust with your audience, build an email list, improve SEO, etc.

Question: Can you promote affiliate products without a mailing list? If so, how?

Answer: Yes, you can promote affiliate products without a mailing list. You simply need a following to sell the products. Websites are a great way to promote a product. Placing the link on your site people can find and click on is a great way to get people to purchase your product without a mailing list.

Question: Is it appropriate to promote affiliate products on social media?

Answer: As long as the merchant allows it, you can promote the products on social media. What you cannot do is create a Facebook ad with the affiliate link. To get around this, you need to create a landing page with the affiliate link on it and then promote the landing page’s link on the Facebook ad.

Question: What’s the best way to improve the conversion rate?

Answer: The best way to improve the conversion rate is to ensure you are promoting the affiliate product to the right people, at the right time, in the right way. If you do not see the sales you’re hoping for, try to change the direction of your marketing in those three ways. Marketing has a lot to do with trial and error until you find what works, which is what makes it fun.

The Only Way to Get Started Is to Start

The only way to get started is to start. You can read about affiliate marketing all day long for weeks, months, and years and never start. That will also never make you money.

If you want to show yourself and the world around you that affiliate marketing is a legitimate business that has great earning potential, you’ll have to jump in and do it. Sign up with one of the affiliate networks mentioned above now. It’s the first step to a fun and successful future.

Related Article: Best make money online from home ideas

Related Posts

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments