Updated November 19, 2020:

How to become an affiliate for companies is an easy process and one that provides the opportunity to earn a commission by selling services or products online offered by a variety of companies.

Starting an Affiliate Marketing Business

Becoming an Affiliate

  • When planning to become an affiliate, it is best to sell products and services you know about and are familiar with. In marketing talk, this is referred to as "picking your niche." Select a niche that is representative of your interests and occupation. For example, if your expertise is in interior decorating, it makes sense to sell products reflective of home decor versus auto parts. Marketing will be easier when you stick to selling what you know.
  • Set up a website that is relevant to your chosen niche. Many companies will ask for the URL to your website where their products will be sold. They want to be sure that the content on your site will not hurt the company's reputation.
  • Do your research on affiliate programs and zero in on affiliates that are offering goods and services relevant to your niche. A few affiliate programs to consider are Amazon, Commission Junction, and Clickbank.
  • Join an affiliate program, which is almost always free of charge to do. The majority of reputable companies will not ask for a fee to join. When you do join, you will be asked for either your bank account or PayPal information so you can be paid any commission earned. You may also be asked for the URL to your website.

Marketing Products on Your Website

  • Add affiliate links within the content on your website. When someone reads your content, clicks through to the company website, and makes a purchase, you will receive a commission.
  • Use the sidebar on your website to your advantage by including visual ads for products relevant to your niche. Companies generally make it easy to get the links and images needed to support the products and drive traffic to the company website.
  • Continue to produce relevant and fresh content related to your niche for your website. Fresh content keeps visitors coming back. The more they come back, the higher the percentage they'll click through to one of the companies and buy something. This is what's known as "content marketing" by marketers.
  • Measure your success using analytics. The information lets you know who, what, and how of the product. You'll know who you sold it to, what product was sold and how you sold it. Based on the information gathered, produce more content for your website, pay attention to the posts that garner the most visits, and focus on what works and eliminate what doesn't.

Managing Your Business

  • Any money earned from affiliate marketing is subject to taxes, so prepare for that process. You'll receive a Form 1099 from each partner company at the beginning of the year with an earnings total. If your affiliate marketing business is a sole proprietor or LLC, your 1099 income is reported on a Schedule C - Profit or Loss from Business. If the business is run as an S or C corporation, income is reported on Schedule K-1.
  • With affiliate marketing, the business either expands or it contracts. Strive for growth so you aren't experiencing diminishing returns. Expand your product base and look for new businesses welcoming affiliates. Promote your business continually online using social media, email, and any other channel to let people know what you have to offer.
  • As your business expands, start delegating routine tasks to others so you can put all your energy into focusing on growing the company for future success. Investing in paying someone to do the tasks is worth the expense in the long run.
  • Make your business simpler and easier through automation. Use whatever digital marketing tools are available that will help you build your business. It is another investment that is well worth the money spent. Also, work on creating a long-term strategy for the affiliate business. This means relying on the tools and employees you have in place so you have time to handle responsibilities focusing on the "big picture" of your business.

If you need help with how to become an affiliate or companies, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.