Affiliate Marketing 101: How To Get Paid for Sharing and Making Referrals

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Content Updated: October 16, 2019

What is affiliate marketing?

You might have read my story about Bob the mechanic… so you’re aware that there are people and businesses out there who make money from referrals. And no, it’s not just real estate agents capitalizing on this amazingly simple enterprise.  Chances are even AFTER reading Bob’s story you have more questions than answers, right? I know. It takes time to mentally wrap your head around making money without having to actually DO some type of work. So consider this Affiliate Marketing 101.  School is in session, friends.

Today I’m going to go through the process of affiliate marketing from start to finish. I’m going to give you everything you need to know to grasp the concept, start to recognize opportunities around you, and begin to visualize how you can make this type of revenue stream work for you, 24/7/365.

In case you haven’t read about Bob yet, here’s the short version…  Bob’s a great mechanic.  You love him SO MUCH you tell your friends and family about his services  People you know go to Bob with their vehicles.  They hire Bob for their repairs.  Bob is so appreciative he gives you a commission, or referral fee, for helping spread the word about his shop.

Simple, right?  That’s affiliate marketing.

What if you don’t know a Bob the mechanic? That’s ok. You might know Sally the hairdresser? Or maybe you use a local office of a national bank? Maybe you use a food delivery service? What if your real life job allows you to be an expert at using a certain software, like for graphic design?

Each and every one of those scenarios is a valid affiliate marketing opportunity to make an affiliate commission in your every day life. And actually, there are so many more. Let me give you two examples, one from my personal life and one from my work life.

My Affiliate Opportunities

Personal Opportunities

I’m a plus size girl. And I have Hashimoto’s Disease. Plus, I’m one of those urban homesteader type people who likes all natural, homemade products. And I’m really busy with my digital marketing career. I authored an Amazon best seller about zero waste cooking, too. And all of these personal facts are going to give you an eye opening view of just how deep into affiliate marketing you can get if you look around you.

Because I’m so busy with work I’m able to spend money on things that allow me to prioritize my time. Like, it’s more lucrative for me to work a few extra hours a week than it is to go shopping. When I shop for plus size clothes, it’s brutal. More times than not MOST of what I try doesn’t work. It leaves STILL without cloths and mentally worked over. And because of Hashimoto’s I have to use an autoimmune paleo dietary protocol which is SUPER restrictive. It’s seriously the hardest thing I deal with, day in and day out. A huge majority of my day is spent trying to figure out recipes I can actually have. I have found two services that make my life immensely more manageable and not a mental drain to me.

Dia & Co. is a subscription clothes box for plus size women. I’ve received two boxes so far. The first box I kept three items, and the second box I kept two items. I’ve spent less than $200 for 5 pieces of QUALITY plus size clothes. They are MORE THAN the right fit, fashionable, and look amazing on me. The inside jeans pocket says, “You make these jeans look good.” I have a personal stylist that refers to a style profile I filled out. And she follows me on social media to get a better idea of how to nail the right pieces to send me.

I’m HOOKED on this service. Yeah, I’m still overweight and have further to go in my health journey. But for the first time since like high school, I can actually wear blue jeans AND THEY LOOK PRETTY GREAT on me! They feel great. I’m so confident when I wear my Dia clothes. For years I’ve been wearing knit separates. I mean, a whole new world has opened up for me.

I have referred three people to Dia & Co. For each person that orders a box using my referral link, I receive a $20 credit. Affiliate marketing in action.

Sun Basket is a food delivery service. I know, I said I was an urban homesteader, homemade products type of person. And I am. But here’s the thing… it takes me HOURS every week to find just 7 dinner recipes I can actually eat on the AIP protocol. That doesn’t count breakfasts and lunches. It’s exhausting. Then, once I find enough recipes, I have to find the products, buy them, and hope they don’t cost me a small fortune. But Sun Basket saves my life every. damn. week!

They have a paleo meal plan option. Yes paleo is different from autoimmune paleo. But it’s pretty close. So I order 3 meals per week from them. Each meal feeds two. That means I have six dinners. And sometimes, a meal is actually three servings for me. I put those extras in the freezer for meals later to help fill in another day for lunch or something. The items in the box I can’t use because they aren’t AIP, I save and give to my family and friends who DO use them. So nothing is wasted.

And Sun Basket uses all eco friendly materials for their packaging, except for their plastic bags and small containers for sauces and things. I keep these bags and containers and reuse them so they aren’t wasted either. I love their recipes so much that I’ve shared them with family and friends, and made them again for visitors… die. hard. fangirl. For every person I refer to Sun Basket, I receive a $25 credit. Affiliate marketing in action.

And that’s not all. I also have an affiliate account for heirloom seeds, essential oils, and gift services I use. And if you do as much online shopping as I do, you could also be raking in rebates from things like eBates. Seriously… tons. of. money! You are leaving all KINDS of money on the table if you don’t use the power of referrals in your life.

Those are JUST my personal life examples. My digital marketing examples are going to blow your ever loving mind.

Business Opportunities

Literally every software, service, provider, and colleague I network with are a source for income for me.

Web hosting? Yeah, they have an affiliate program. So every single person I build a website for gets one year of free hosting. My clients LOVE that. Saves them over $100/year the first year they are in business. And when I set up their hosting account, it’s with my affiliate link. So after their first year, when they start paying for their service, I’ll start earning an affiliate commission.

Email Service Provider? OH YEAH! LOL I’m such a die hard fan of ConvertKit (online email service provider for digital marketing) that I became one of their first four certified experts, hand picked by the company.  Currently, I’m making just over $600/month JUST in ConvertKit commissions.

Even my cell phone… You heard me right. I LOVE my iPhone.  And my service has a referral program.  So every time I talk about how great my phone is for my business, I get to see affiliate marketing in action.

If you’re interested in learning more about Affiliate Marketing, click here to read How I Make Money without Doing a Damn Thing. Or if you’ve been throwing around the idea of using Amazon Associates to grow your nest egg, you might want to read this blog post and think again.

Is affiliate marketing profitable?

This is the part of the lesson I love the most… telling people exactly how much money they can make with affiliate marketing, ESPECIALLY if you’re an online service provider of any kind!

And here’s the most honest answer I can give… you are your only limit to the amount of money you can make with affiliate marketing.

I know people that struggle to make $100/month with affiliate marketing, and others like myself can make four figures per month easily… all from just networking with other service providers and talking about high ticket affiliate/referral offers that have helped grow our businesses.

Here’s an example scenario for you. I have a discovery call with a potential client for a sales funnel build. I don’t offer done for you services anymore. But I don’t cancel the call. Instead, I talk to that potential client just like I would someone I had every intention of signing and bringing on board.

The difference is, instead of offering my services at the end, I tell them how I used so and so’s mastermind to create this exact same sales system in my business effectively. And I have a handful of reliable and trustworthy service providers who can do the implementation from the mastermind for them… and ALL of this is LESS money than what I used to charge for done for you services.

So I’ve helped them as much as I would anyone else on the phone, given them a solution that gives them the results they are looking for, for much less money, I’ve still only invested a 30 minute phone call, but I’ve made $1500 for that 30 minutes of time… and I have no work to do when I hang up the phone!

You tell me, is affiliate marketing profitable and worth the time and effort to implement in your business model? It is to me. And that’s why I’ve made a minimum of $4k to $6k/month in affiliate marketing the last two years.

This doesn’t count the income I make every month from tools, programs, softwares, etc. I earn a recurring monthly commission on most of those I promote, to the tune of $1k to $2k/month, depending on the season… because digital marketers love black Friday sales as much as the next bargain retail shopper.

Can I do this without a website?

ABSOLUTELY! You don’t need a website, social profile, or business of any kind to get started with affiliate marketing. Literally all you need is friends and family who value your advice. When you share about the products and services that bring value to your life and make make it easier, you can promote an affiliate or referral offer.

Take Bob’s story for example, from my How I Make Money post. Bob didn’t have a website. He wasn’t on Facebook. He was just a regular Joe that liked to help those around him. And that swell guy rewarded everyone for their loyalty with a referral fee.

You can do the same thing every day with affiliate marketing and referral marketing.

If you do have a website, social profiles, or even a business, then you can take advantage of those angles to strategically earn more passive income with affiliate marketing, too. It’s just a matter of having the right plan to get the best results for your efforts.

How do I get started?

I’ll tell you like I tell all my clients and students, figure out how much time and effort you have to put towards creating a more passive-ish income stream for yourself. And be realistic with your expectations. If you only have one hour per week tops, there’s nothing wrong with that. I help people with a limited time budget all the time earn extra money with affiliate marketing.

Once you know exactly how much time you have, then you can evaluate what type of offer is best for you to promote. Some will require you to write content. That takes time. Some will require you having conversations with the ideal client for the offer. That doesn’t take as much time as writing content to create an affiliate content funnel from scratch. And that model works well for high ticket offer promotions. But content funnels are more automated and play the long term SEO game better than high ticket referral offers.

That’s why I’d sit down and strategize an ideal affiliate marketing plan for your unique goals and needs.

This, my friends, is my ultimate super power… the ability to see money everywhere.

If you’re ready to seriously commit to making a more passive-ish income, sign up for my Secret Sauce for Successful Affiliate Marketing Training Bundle and let me show you my ultimate super power… the ability to see money everywhere.

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. To read my Disclosure Policy in its entirety, click here.  Thank you for supporting my site! 

Fill your affiliate marketing basket with these nuts and bolts


I’m April and I’m known for a couple of amazing skills. They both have one thing in common… I make it rain. Book a call with me today and we'll ignite your business.


  1. Danielle Roberts on May 29, 2017 at 2:06 PM

    This is awesome April! I’m impressed!

    • April on June 7, 2017 at 10:32 PM

      Thank you!

  2. […] This part is super simple.  Probably the simplest part of the whole process.  So, take a breath while you can.  You’ll use your lists from your prior ESP to create list or tag names in ConvertKit. […]

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