How To Earn An Income Online At Home: Affiliate Marketing Business Model

Welcome to this post in which I will answer many of the questions you have about how to earn an income online at home, using an affiliate marketing business model. I am an affiliate marketer and do just that. 

What you will learn by reading this post is:

  1. How you can make a full-time income from affiliate marketing working from anywhere
  2. The benefits of this business model over other online business models
  3. My recommended no.1 training program for teaching you affiliate marketing
  4. How I can help mentor you if you so wish
  5. How to find affiliate programs
  6. How you drive traffic to your sites
  7. How real people get verifiable results using this method
  8. How much money it will cost – I think you will be pleasantly surprised
  9. The disadvantages of this business model
  10. Whether this model is right for you.

So read on, and if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at:

I would be most pleased to help you and guide you through.

online incomeIntroduction to Online Income-Generating Opportunities

There are many ways that people use the internet to earn an income, be it pocket money, part-time, full-time or to gain full financial freedom for themselves and their families.

The internet has opened up literally millions of opportunities for ordinary people to make money more easily than ever before, and whatever you want to do, there will be a way to use the internet to promote or run you business.

On this website you will find different posts about how you can make money, how to be a better entrepreneur, how to improve your mindset and everything else to do with online businesses.

Some ways to earn online income include:

  • affiliate marketing (covered in this post)
  • eBay or other market-place selling
  • quizzes and surveys
  • online competitions
  • blogging
  • vlogging
  • freelance writing
  • paid-for searches
  • selling your own products online
  • drop-shipping
  • online tutor
  • sellling your own photographs or graphics
  • bitcoin and cryptocurrency
  • write and publish a ebook
  • writing, designing or reviewing ‘gig’s on Fiverr or other freelance sites
  • become a mystery shopper
  • freelance designer or software writing
  • online market trading
  • create or sell audio books
  • build an online store
  • become a virtual assistant.

We will cover many of these opportunities in future posts, but this article will narrow the online income market down to one model only: that of affiliate marketing, and talk you through how you can make money from that.

What is Affiliate Marketing and How Can I Make Money?

Affiliate marketing is simply where you earn a small commission from referring someone to a product they are interested in buying. It is not about selling the product, but more about giving people information and letting them make up their own mind.

There is definitely NO hard selling or cold-calling as some people get confused about this.

  • Have you ever recommended a new store to a friend, or a new coffee shop?
  • Or have you told the other parents at the school gate about a good dance or gym class when they asked you?
  • Or when was the last time you passed on the details of you local plumber or electrician to a friend because they needed someone they could trust and knew you knew a good one?

This is the basis of affiliate marketing – recommending things that you know about to other people who want to know. The only difference in affiliate marketing is that, if people then buy the things you recommend, you receive a small commission from the company that make that particular product.

You can see in the diagram below, how the affiliate marketing model works and how you can earn money from it.

There are other factors that this model relies on however, because you need to :

1) CREATE A WEBSITE in a niche area (something that you are interested in)

2) Use strategies to DRIVE TRAFFIC to your site, meaning you need to attract readers and potential customers.

Stop: Don’t Panic!

Now don’t panic if you don’t know anything about setting up a website or the only thing you know about traffic is that you hate it in your morning commute.

Help Is Available: FREE Training Programs Exist!

When I started in this business, I (and many thousands of other like me I might add), knew very little about how to start a website and even less about search engine optimisation (SEO), getting traffic to a site or how to use social media as a business tool.

HOWEVER, what I did know was that I really did want to start an online business that had all the benefits that the affiliate marketing model offered, which are:

  • It’s easy to get started
  • You can work from anywhere
  • You can work at times that suit you and you lifestyle; full-time or part-time
  • You can create a niche site in an area that you are interested in or that is a hobby (e.g. fishing, cooking, cycling)
  • There are training sites out there that you can join for free to get you started
  • You can create a long-term, sustainable business that can make money while you sleep (passive income)
  • Once established, you will not be exchanging you time for money like a traditional job
  • With certain training programs you can get 24/7 support and help
  • You can repeat the process and create multiple sites to support multiple income streams.

So I continued in my search, researched many different programs, got burned a few times with internet scams but finally found what I now call:

My No.1 Program For Affiliate Marketing Training:  WEALTHY AFFILIATE

This is the program that I have used to create not only this website (which I invite you to explore) but another niche site called: How To Create Your Own Life. You are welcome to view this site as well since this is another product of my training and business.

Firstly let me put you mind at rest: Wealthy Affiliate is NOT a scam. This is one of the biggest worries that readers who are genuinely looking for a legitimate online business opportunities have. And their concern is relevant and appropriate because there are many scammers out there on the internet, ready to relieve you of your money.

You will not doubt have come across them yourself: they promise you the earth – “make money in you sleep with little effort”, claim you can make thousands within a few weeks and often that their automated systems will make it easy for you to achieve a laptop lifestyle by hardly lifting a finger.

But remember the old adage:

“If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

Which looked at another way simply means:

The scammers tell you a pack of lies just to get you to buy whatever they are selling with no concern for you, your  outcomes or your business.

I have been scammed like this and I know many others who have also fallen prey to unscrupulous people. MOBE was closed down in the USA for making outrageous claims which were unsupported, immoral and unethical.

Because I have been scammed in the past, it is one of my ongoing missions to expose online scammers and point people in the direction of legal, legitimate and proven systems, because they DO EXIST and I believe Wealthy Affiliate is one of them.

However, you don’t have to take my word for it, because the beauty of WA (as we call them) is that you can try them yourselves for free and see for yourself first.

What Makes Wealthy Affiliate My No.1 Training Program?

This post is not supposed to be a review for Wealthy Affiliate – you can read my full review of them here and there is much more information about the program they run and my take on it. However, I will summarise why they are my no.1 choice for training in affiliate marketing:

  • You can start for FREE and you get a full 7 days to experience everything in a try-before-you-buy option
  • You can continue on the free starter program after 7 days and still have access to the first 10 lessons, 2 websites (still free), live help and blogs. This is more than enough to get you started with your site and to see if this model is for you.
  • If you want to, you can upgrade to premium membership ($19 for the first month, then $49 per month after that) which will give you access to more training, personal messages, webinar training, Jaaxy keyword research tool and so much more. See my post on Wealthy Affiliate Premium Membership for more information on that.
  • The training you receive is second to none and is constantly being updated and revised.
  • There are many hundreds of members on the site for you to ask questions of 24/7, live-chat help, video tutorials, live webinar sessions, an online library of Q&As; to search.
  • The system is proven to work: you can read success stories every day from other members who are more than willing to share their experiences with you.
  • The community of other WA members is unique: totally positive, ready to help and they want to see other members succeed. There is a ‘pay-it-forward’ mentality at WA which is actively encouraged from the top down which I have never experienced anywhere else. You will see this within the first few days of you starter membership: supportive people, ready to help and eager to improve themselves and help others to do the same.

Mentoring help if you need it

When you start an online business, or when you start anything for that matter, it’s nice to be able to learn from others that have gone through it before and to use their experience (and mistakes) to guide you though the inevitable challenges you will face.

You can start an online business by yourself, just by searching through all the information on the internet and you can absolutely do this. But you will not have the support of other people and you will need to sift and sort through all the information you find to work out what is valid, reliable and trustworthy.

If you want a much easier start however, I would recommend getting training from somewhere.

It doesn’t have to be with Wealthy Affiliate – there are other systems and companies out there if you want to use them. They vary in their price, reliability and what is offered but as with anything, it’s ‘horses for courses’ and you are always free to investigate them as well.

However, if you do decide to go through Wealthy Affiliate, then you will have me as you personal mentor, along with thousands of other like-minded business people who will help you.

How Do You Find Affiliate Programs?

If you want proof that affiliate marketing is not a scam, I suggest you do an internet search for “affiliate marketing programs” and see just how many traditional businesses offer affiliate programs to affiliate marketers. There are affiliate programs for everything.

To illustrate this, I did a search through Google using a general search term and got the following results:

“Cat Food Affiliate Programs”

These are the first 6 results from page 1 of Google, ignoring the sponsored and paid-for adverts.

You can see that they are 6 companies that supply pet food that are offering affiliate programs to people like you who want to become affiliate marketers. And there were 6,950,000 results in this search!

Now clearly, they will not all be companies with affiliate programs but there pages and pages of different companies to choose from. You may have no interest in pet food at all, but if you did, there is a vast choice for you to research and write about.

Let’s do the same for “Car Audios Affiliate Programs”:

And how about “Knitting Affiliate Programs”

Remember, these are just the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully they will show you 2 things:

1) Affiliate marketing is a legitimate business to business marketing model

2) Many people are making a living using this model already.

That is why I say that affiliate marketing is a PROVEN METHOD for making an online income.

There are also affiliate programs that companies like Amazon run, and also others such as Awin, Clickbank and Shareasalethat pool affiliate programs so finding affiliate programs becomse even easier.

How Do You Drive Traffic To Your Site?

This is a big question and one that cannot be answered in a few sentences. That is why training is important in affiliate marketing because the training is what helps you drive traffic to your site. You can use:

  • Searth engine optimisation (SEO)
  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Paid-for services (e.g. Adwords)
  • Keyword research
  • Competitions
  • Webinars
  • Video marketing
  • Creating giveaways
  • Advertising

These are just some of the way you can learn to drive traffic to your sites and there is more information elsewhere on the site about some of these methods.

The main thing here is to understand that if you get the correct training and information, you CAN attract visitors to your site, but this will take some time and it would be irresponsible of me to suggest that you can start a site today and expect thousands of visitors tomorrow.

Traffic grows with site trust and as the search engines learn that your site offers valuable information for readers. Most people can see a spike in traffic after 6 months if they are following the recommended courses of action.

One thing to point out here is that this is no different to any new traditional business – things take time and trust needs to be earned, so you should not be put off by this.

Real People Get Verifiable Results With Affiliate Marketing

One of the biggest questions people ask about any online business is: “Does it work?”

And that is absolutely fine because we all want to know that we are not putting our time, effort and money into another scam.

As a model, affiliate marketing is NOT A SCAM and neither is Wealthy Affiliate.

The affiliate marketing model is simply a business model and as such, it works.

And if you want more proof that real people get real results, then read a couple of the blogs that WA members have written on the WA blog forum. Remember too, that these are not marketing blogs, but information that members share with other member to offer encouragement and help.

Let’s look at some of the WA member’s blogs about their $2,000+ earnings from their sites:

Blog 1 from “Littlemama”

Blog 2: From “AffTraining”

And this is just the start – the sky is really the limit on how much you can earn, and it is true that once your site is established, you can earn money in your sleep because the business model means that you don’t have to show up in a shop or location every day in order to make a sale. It truly can be a passive income stream for you.

Other programs may have other similar success stories that you can look into if you want to as well.

How Much Does It Cost To Start?

This is where I said you would be pleasantly surprised and here it is:

You can start affiliate marketing for FREE!

Yes, you read that correctly – you can start for FREE.

You will need:

1) Some training

2) A website

3) Affiliate programs

4) Ways to drive traffic

All of the above you can get, as I’ve mentioned above, in some form or other, for free.

If you choose to start with Wealthy Affiliate, then you get free training and you can start with 2 free siterubix websites. Affiliate programs are usually free to join and you can see how to drive free traffic to you site through the training program.

Now just because it is free to get started, does not mean that you can’t or shouldn’t invest further in your business if you want to. I would absolutely urge you to do so as soon as you can because this is and the first step in my book would be to become a premium member of WA just for the sheer amount of extra training and benefits you would get.

But you don’t have to. I just happen to think that it would be the best way of psychologically setting you up for you online business and giving yourself the time and resources you need.

And if you joined for a year on their annual program, it would cost you less than $400 which is NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, compared to the cost of setting up any other kind of business, anywhere. Read more here and here if you want more information on my experience of premium membership.

Again, this is not a hard-sell blog and I reiterate, you can start for free and many people do this to test things out first.

What Are The Disadvantages of Affiliate Marketing?

I absolutely LOVE what I do in this business but I know that it is not for everyone, and there are disadvantages as with anything.

As I see it there are 2 main disadvantages to this model of making an online income:

1) It takes time for sites to become established and trusted by the search engines

What this really means is that traffic to your site can be slow in the first few months resulting in the return on your time being initially slower than other methods (e.g. drop-shipping or selling on eBay).

However, this is countered later on because the income from affiliate marketing can become a passive income stream and articles you wrote years ago can continue to bring in income for years. If you have an online drop-shipping business instead, then you will always need to fulfill every order in good time.

The trade off here is really about whether you need short-term income or a longer-term business. Only you can answer this question.

Affiliate marketing is definitely not a ‘get-rich-quick’ option but it does provide an excellent prospect for creating a long-term, stable passive income, if that is what you are looking for.

If you need money right now, I suggest you find a quicker, online income-generating opportunity which could meet your immediate financial needs, or get a more traditional job until your situation eases. You could then set up an affiliate marketing business and work on it in your spare time if you want a longer-term business too.

2) It takes time and effort writing blogs, articles and reviews to populate your site.

Affiliate marketing means that we give our readers the information they are searching online for. Therefore, you MUST add content to you site regularly in order for the site to build up trust.  The information you offer needs to be of a good quality too. That’s why most people choose a niche site that they are interested in or knowledgeable about.

It is recommended that you write 10 good quality posts to you site each month (so about 2-3 per week) but this will depend on the time you have and how quickly you write.

One thing I would add here though is that there are other options to populate your site if you don’t personally like writing.

Many people outsource their blogs and articles to freelance writers and it is a perfectly legitimate way to source content for your sites. Other people start by writing their own articles then use freelancers later on as well.

The downside here is that you will have to pay the freelancers but you can get articles from freelance sites such as Fiverr from $5 for short articles. The price obviously rises for longer articles but this is an option too.

Is Affiliate Marketing Right For You?

Hopefully the above article and the information and blogs that link from it, will have given you a lot of information to decide whether affiliate marketing is the right option for you to make an online income. I’ve summarised some of the things I think below too:

Affiliate Marketing Is A Good Model For You If:

  • You want an online business that can provide a full-time, passive income in the mid- to long-term
  • You are willing to invest your time and effort in you business
  • You are hungry to learn and willing to make mistakes along the way
  • You are happy communicating information about subjects that interest you
  • You want to be able to work from home
  • You want to work at your own pace and in your own time
  • You don’t need money immediately, or if you do, you are willing to find other ways to fulfill your immediate needs.

Affiliate Marketing Is Not A Good Model For You If:

  • You need to make money quickly (within 1-3 months)
  • You don’t like the idea of writing or creating content
  • You would prefer to sell actual products or services
  • You don’t feel happy writing reviews or giving personal opinions about things
  • You don’t have the time or energy to work or invest in your business
  • You don’t really want to own a business and really just need a job.

Why wait to get started on your online business?

So that’s it – my guide to how you can make an online income in affiliate marketing. I hope that this article has given you a good insight into the affiliate marketing model for making an online income.

I really enjoy what I do in affiliate marketing and I’d love you to come over and join us at Wealthy Affiliate if you decide to. Otherwise, I wish you all the best in you search for an online income.

Please feel free to share this article or leave me a comment below:


Why premium membership at Wealthy Affiliate Is a MUST

How much does it cost to start an online business?

6 things to do before you start a business website

How to make money from a website: 5 easy ways








    1. Hi Tina. Thanks for that and I’m so glad you found what you are looking for on the site. Hopefully you’ll find other useful information here too that will help you in your online business.

  1. I had no idea there were so many independent affiliate programs out there – such as the cat supplies and car audio affiliates you’ve mentioned. Do you think these affiliate programs are to the scale where you can work from home, or is a combination of various affiliates a better option?

    1. Hi Kay. Thanks for reading and your comments. You certainly can make an income from any one of these niche areas, yes. However, many people start other sites when they have one site up and running and making a profit so they diversify their portfolios to give them many different income streams. That way, if anything changes in one area, there are other areas bring you in money. Hope that answers your question.

  2. Wow this article is so well written. I can attest that all the information provided here is what I am experiencing.
    This is because I believe in affiliate marketing. I am not earning a passive income yet, but I am working to have one as I know that affiliate marketing is like any other business, it needs time to mature, so it is more about building skills in this game.
    Thank you for a great article.

    1. Hi Thabo. Thank you for reading and taking the time to reply. I’m glad you liked the article and even better that you are discovering these things for yourself too. I love my affiliate marketing work and writing the content so it’s a win-win situation for me. You’re right too in that the business takes time to mature but that’s the same with any business. Understanding this is half the battle I think. All the best with your own business. Gail

  3. Hi Gail,

    Real people really do achieve and do very well well following the program you have just extensively covered Gail.

    I started back over a year now, had zero knowledge, and built my own site up! I could never have done it without the program you just spoke on.

    This is one way on how to earn an income online at home and many Mommy and Daddy blogs are testament that out of work parents can still earn from this affiliate marketing business model.

    I was very impressed how you quickly found so many affiliate programs for only a few search terms. This is all the evidence anyone needs to know that there are literally tons of programs in desperate need of bloggers to advertise on. Anyone really can do it.

    – Philip.

    1. Hi Philip. Many thanks for reading the article and leaving a comment. I completely agree with you and really wish more people could see that there is a different way of working for the 21st century that is right in front of us. I’m glad you are doing well with your own business and found that Wealthy Affiliate is really a great program.
      Wishing you every success in your endeavours. Gail

  4. I love the affiliate marketing model. I also love the thoroughness of your article! When I was new to affiliate marketing (just trying to make money online), I got scammed so many times! I wish I could have found a site like this one.

    1. Hello Shalisha. Thanks for reading the article and taking the time to leave a comment. I’m glad you found it useful and I really wanted to create a thorough article for exactly the reasons you describe to help prevent people getting scammed. I love affiliate marketing too because it is legitimate and perfect for people wanting to work from home. The only thing you need to remember is that it takes time to establish but then the world is really your oyster. And as they say, “Rome was not built in a day” – ALL businesses take time to establish if they are going to be sustainable. Hope to see you again soon. Gail

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