Affiliate marketing is a great way to start making money on the internet. It does not require you to have created your own product, the start-up costs are small and beginners can start seeing results relatively quickly. The basic definition is often overcomplicated by marketers, but in simple terms it's a publisher agreements to pay an affiliate a percentage of the profits for any visitor that send that buys the product. In effect, an affiliate is a middle man for the publisher's product.
The affiliate-publisher relationship is attractive to both sides which is what makes it so successful. The affiliate gets to make good money by driving traffic to a site without having to pay the cost of getting a product created. The publisher gets potentially thousands of affiliates driving huge amounts of traffic to his or her sales page.
You can find affiliate programs through many websites, but two of the most popular are Clickbank and Commission Junction. These sites act as networks of publishers looking for affiliates to help sell their products, and you can find companies in most niches on these sites. Clickbank is for digital products, while Commission Junction focuses more on tangible goods, and both sites are free to sign up.
Once you've chosen the product you want to promote, in most cases you will be given a unique URL through which you should send all your traffic. Many affiliate schemes have a cookie planted on the visitor once they enter through an affiliate link so that if they leave and return to buy you still get paid the commission. It should be noted at this point that in the majority of cases you should never have to pay to join an affiliate program, so be wary of any that charge.
As previously mentioned, another reason affiliate marketing is so popular among new marketers is that the start up cost is very small. In fact it can cost nothing apart from you time as there are plenty of free ways to drive traffic to an affiliate link.
So what are these free ways to get traffic to the affiliate page and ever earn commissions? There are many but the most popular amongst beginners is article marketing. This method is a good way to start, as most people can write short articles reasonably quickly and start seeing results within a few days. The idea is to write an article on the same topic as the product you're promoting. Once the article has been written it's then submitted to an article directory. At the bottom of the article the author is allowed to include a short bio which can include links to a landing page and on this landing page is an affiliate link.
A paid method of traffic generation is to use a Pay-Per-Click search engine such as Google AdWords to buy targeted visitors in your niche. This is not recommended for beginners as it has a steep learning curve and has the potential to lose you a lot of money, but is definitely worth considering once you start to see some sales.