“You sell when you sleep,” or affiliate marketing in a nutshell. How to get started and what are the earnings?

Affiliate marketing
Wojciech MaroszekWojciech Maroszek
Published: 04.02.2022
18 minute

Affiliate marketing is everywhere. As consumers, we often don’t even realize that by clicking on a link and making a purchase, here we have become part of affiliate marketing. It may have also occurred to you that affiliation, while it has its advantages and disadvantages, is a nice way to make money and so you wonder how to get started.

This article will be a good introduction to the topic for you. You’ll learn the basics and who knows – maybe you’ll sign up for one of the affiliate programs today.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is about earning commissions by promoting a product or service made by another vendor or advertiser. If you are an affiliate, you earn money from referrals – you get a percentage of conversions. If you are a company with an affiliate program, you reward third-party publishers (affiliates) for generating sales of your products or services.

The basis for affiliate compensation is not always the sale itself, but, for example, gaining a lead – that is, a potential buyer – for the company.

As you can see, affiliate marketing benefits both the brand and the affiliate. These two parties do not have to be connected beforehand. If a company gives you the opportunity to become their affiliate, there are usually no special requirements for this. You can simply sign up and try your hand at it.

Dealing with affiliate marketing, in practice, means running a business project.

I know, it sounds awfully serious. However, I think this is how you should look at affiliate marketing. Because even if at first the affiliation will bring you money only for pizza and Coke, on the other hand – actually no upper limit of earnings.

Affiliation requires you to do the same as any business:

  1. time,
  2. .

  3. commitment,
  4. .

You in turn put in time and commitment in order to take money out of the game. Just like from any other business.

Disadvantages and advantages of affiliate marketing

Benefit: Low or zero cost of entry.

Affiliate marketing does not require you to have any startup capital. You can start with an empty wallet – all that matters is that you have access to the Internet.

Of course, it’s good to have a few hundred to start with, to buy, for example, a camera and microphone (if you intend to record videos) or a server and a nice template on which to put up a website. But go ahead and take advantage of options that don’t require you to have extra cash: record with a smartphone or a camcorder mounted in your laptop, and put the site up on free hosting.

Depending on the model you adopt, you may face the need to purchase out of your own pocket the products you want to talk about. Otherwise, the products you want to review will be provided to you for free by a distributor (this is often the case for book reviewers, for example). You can also create materials that do not require you to have direct contact with the product or service – in this option, too, you do not need capital.

Benefit: No risk.

The low or zero cost of starting an affiliate business means you have nothing to lose but your time. Affiliation is an example of doing business, but it’s significantly different from running a company. You don’t hire people, you’re not responsible for the capital entrusted to you by investors, you don’t worry about office or warehouse bills. You don’t record losses.

Benefit: You don’t worry about customer service.

As an affiliate, you don’t own your own products and services – you merely advertise someone else’s. You don’t even have to do it under your name. This guarantees a certain peace of mind: any complaints go to the direct seller, manufacturer or service provider. You don’t deal with returns, customer service or technical support. You may be waiting to respond to comments that appear under your materials – but then you are referring to them as the creator of the content (e.g., reviews), not the product itself that you are recommending.

Benefit: No upper limit on earnings.

As an affiliate, you are based on commissions. So if you play it right, you can cozy up some really good money. More than one marketer has proven that affiliation can become a way of life. And a very comfortable life at that.

Disadvantage: You only operate on a commission basis.

I have included the commission model in both the disadvantages and advantages of affiliate marketing. Because it’s a double-edged sword – you can reach really high ceilings, but you might as well not be able to pierce the low-hanging ceiling. Commissions in affiliate marketing are often not high, especially if you use an affiliate network (such as Amazon).

Disadvantage: You will need time and skills.

An affiliate can become a passive source of income – and then you are no longer doing any work, and the money is growing in your account. That’s where the misconceptions can come from, that in order to get started in affiliate marketing, all I have to do is set up an account somewhere, click on something, and then I’m basically open to a stream of cash.

That would be nice. But it isn’t.

Yes, in theory, you can create a “self-game” and just check how the zeros in your account and the cars in your garage are growing. However, to get to such a position, you have to put in the work.

Often quite a lot of work.

If you run a business or work a classic 9am to 5pm job, it would be reasonable to ask if and how much time I am able to devote outside of those hours to affiliate-related activities. For example, to record videos or write texts for the site, and in the beginning to create such a site at all.

It may be necessary to publish really quality content. The Internet is a fiercely competitive environment, on top of which it is increasingly less kind to texts or videos created on the knee. You will attract fewer people with such material, and encourage even fewer to take advantage of your offer.

For these reasons, your ability to “sell” your content and manage your time and energy will be critical to success.

It may not be easy, especially if you want to recommend products or services in a segment where many affiliates are trying to make a penny. But the payoff after time may be that the game was worth the candle. Passive income is not a bad thing.

So this point is not strictly a disadvantage of affiliate marketing. It’s just something to keep in mind so that you don’t get smashed by your own notions of a cash inflow for nothing.

And now that we’ve got that established, let’s move on to concrete actions.

Affiliate marketing – how to get started?

Like the vast majority of affiliates, you can start affiliate activities as a side project. Something you do outside of your main job. Over time, affiliate marketing can become your main source of income.

Select the products or services you want to recommend

The easiest and most effective products to recommend are those you know about. As an affiliate, your job is to recommend a product or service in a credible and natural way.

If you’re an avid reader, reviewing books (and raking in commissions on each copy purchased from your link) may be your best bet.

If you like electronics, and are called “Gadgeteer” in your backyard, then think about creating lists and rankings of home appliances/RTV products.

Ranking-cleaners.co.uk is an example of a service, operating under an affiliate model

The originator of Ranking Purifiers Lukasz Rajzer writes as follows:

I came up with the idea for the service in September 2017, when I was faced with choosing an air purifier for my daughter’s room. Until then, smog was completely non-existent for me. Having the experience of co-creating other comparison sites (…) I decided to simplify the choice of air purifiers”..

And here’s how Rank functions as a business and makes money:

We buy products ourselves for testing and review. You can’t buy a paid review from us and influence the amount of products in the ranking. We have established cooperation with entities to which we redirect users willing to purchase a product (Ceneo.pl comparison engine, Media Arena store, Homespot store, Loveair store or Klarta brand). We make money from this”..

When choosing products to recommend, it makes sense to scale down – that is, instead of choosing a general category of products or services, focus on something more niche. Instead of going into bicycles in general – you focus only on fatbikes. I’ll expand on this thought below, under the heading “How to use SEO in affiliate marketing.”

Get referral links directly from the seller/manufacturer

The vendor or manufacturer provides each affiliate with a unique reference link – so they know to whom to award the sales commission.

This means that in order to make money from affiliates, you need to get referral links to specific products or services. Check if the company has an affiliate program and join it.

decathlon affiliate program
By joining Decathlon’s affiliate program, for example, you can get links and start recommending sports equipment


If you want to recommend an SEO tool, think about joining Senuto’s affiliate program – then you’ll get a unique link, and everyone who registers through it will be “your” customer.


At this point, a small note. You don’t have to be Eve Chodakovskaya to recommend sports equipment. Of course it’s good to have knowledge, to show something from yourself, but affiliation is not a discipline only for the biggest enthusiasts, long-time professionals or mega-influencers.

Similarly, Senuto affiliates include not only SEO experts. You can join the program, for example, as an e-commerce store owner, marketer, trainer or business consultant. The possibilities are wide.

Affiliate network – how to join?

Another – simple – way to get referral links is to join one of the affiliate networks. Such networks gather many advertisers in one place. So, as an affiliate, you have a lot of choices, as well as diversification – you can recommend different products, different brands. Create interesting lists, comparisons or rankings.

The downside of affiliate networks can be a lot of competition around the best products or those on which you can earn high commissions.

There are also situations when companies migrate between one affiliate network and another – and then the links lose their validity.

It is said that an affiliate network is a good place especially to start, to learn affiliation, to see how the whole business works.

Examples of affiliate networks in Poland:

  • Awin
  • Amazon
  • .

  • Ceneo.pl
  • .

  • Tradedoubler
  • .

  • MyLead
  • .

Registering with affiliate networks is not much different from registering with other online systems. After going through a short procedure, as a rule you will get access to a panel where you can check the statistics of your links and make money withdrawals.


Some affiliate networks or publishers will require you to provide the website you intend to use to promote products.

Therefore, the point we’re going to get to now may actually be the number one point for you.

Create your channel

If you want to make money from affiliates, people have to click on your affiliate links. There is no other option.

And since that’s the case, you need to promote your affiliate links somehow. And the best way to do that is to:

(a) as many people as possible see these links,

b) among those who see them, as many as possible want to click on them.

You can always go the simplest route and throw in product links in publicly accessible places, for example:

  • in comments or private messages on social networks,
  • .

  • on online forums,
  • .

  • on Quora,
  • .

In principle, this is not a bad idea – but it can quickly become a bad one if you limit affiliate activities to these channels only. First of all, the chances of success are then relatively low, and secondly – you risk being patched as a spammer and earning a ban.

That’s why you need your channel – a place where you invite visitors and where you recommend products and services of your choice.

  • Such a place can be a blog,
  • .

  • a channel on YouTube,
  • .

  • profile on Instagram,
  • .

  • profile on Pinterest,
  • .

  • group on Facebook (keep in mind that Facebook requires informing users that the link posted is an affiliate link).
  • .

Or all of these channels at once. As your affiliate business grows, you can go wider and wider and add YouTube videos, for example, to your blog content. The cost is, of course, more time you’ll need – but the potential gain is more customers.

Once you’ve chosen and established a channel, all that’s left to do is publish: reviews, comparisons, rankings, presentations, discussions. Anything that will help the product (and your link) get noticed.

Examples of affiliate campaigns

“Campaign” is one of the basic concepts in marketing – and affiliate marketing is no exception.

So what kind of campaigns can you run as part of your affiliate efforts? Here are some examples.

A relatively simple affair – you place banners on your site that take the user straight to the merchant’s website. Of course, a reference link is sewn into the banner and the vendor knows that the customer came to it from your site.

Campaigning in podcasts

Podcasts are growing in popularity in Poland and can be a good way to mention products or services.

Podcasters usually do a special “ad break” in which they talk about the product for a few tens of seconds and at the end give a special discount code or information about a link to click on.

Sometimes a podcast begins with an ad – similar to YouTube videos, for example. It may or may not be related to the topic of the podcast itself.

Mailing campaign

This subsection is for people who have their own, preferably broad, base of email contacts who have agreed to receive marketing content.

If you have, say, 10,000 users in your base who are familiar with you as a content creator, you can send them an email inviting them to purchase specific products or services. Or a series of emails in which you break down a burning topic.

> How to prepare for a trip and what to visit in the Balkans? (you are an affiliate of Booking.com and earn a commission on booked accommodations)

> Receive 500 PLN for opening a bank account – I explain step by step (you are an affiliate of one of the banks and you want to tell about an interesting promotion, because you will earn when someone uses it)

> How to check visibility in Google and find keywords for your e-store? (you are an affiliate of Senuto and get a commission from every paying customer who registered through your link)

Note that the titles of these emails could just as well be the titles of blog posts. In fact, there is not much difference here. An email is simply a channel to reach the recipient. At the end of the day, it’s all about the click.

Blog campaign

Here the room for creativity is quite large. Suppose you want to insert an affiliate link on your blog to register with Senuto. You can in this connection:

  • Mention Senuto when writing about SEO in general,
  • .

  • Write a use/case study,
  • .

  • Compare Senuto to another product on the market,
  • .

  • Show data from Senuto when discussing a problem,
  • .

  • Create a ranking of SEO tools and mention Senuto in it,
  • .

You can apply a similar principle to a digital camera. Dietary supplements. Running shoes. Shaving razors. Bank accounts.

Document your experience and product knowledge. With affiliates, sales come from creating engaging content that carries real value for the recipient.

Earnings in affiliate marketing

As I mentioned, there is no upper limit to earnings in affiliate. You can shoot up and earn very well, but you may also never go beyond penny rates. That’s the charm of earning commissions.

There are three main billing models in affiliate marketing:

Cost per lead (CPL) – money is paid for a customer filling out a form.

Cost per sale (CPS) – the basis for remuneration is sales.

Cost per click (CPC) – the affiliate gets paid for each unique click on the link.

Hybrid models are also encountered (e.g. CPL + CPS) or the more general cost per action (CPA), which sometimes includes CPL.

Data from PayScale shows that the median earnings for the affiliate marketer profession in the U.S. is about $52,000 per year. According to Scaleo, about 48% of affiliate marketers worldwide will earn $20k per year ($1,660 per month) in 2020. According to Statista, the affiliate market in the U.S. alone has already reached $6.8 billion.

The good news for every affiliate is that the affiliate industry has no geographic barriers – you don’t have to promote only Polish products or target your content only to Poles. Therefore, when we talk about earnings, operating on dollars makes a lot of sense.

Commissions range from 1 or 2 to even tens of percent of the item’s value. Much depends on how “difficult” the product or service is. Higher commissions will be for selling a loan than for selling running shoes. In your efforts, you can focus on promoting one or a few products, or you can go massive and let a few zlotys drip from each of your 200 affiliate links.

If you want to get into affiliate marketing, it is unfortunately in vain to find a concrete answer to the question of how much you will earn from it. For sure, two main factors will influence the amount of payouts: the amount of time you will spend on this game, and your marketing skills. If you just want to make some money and have some time each day – you will probably succeed. If you want to earn a lot – just know that it’s possible.

How to use SEO in affiliate marketing?

Search engine optimization, or SEO, helps your site rank higher in search results for your chosen keyword phrases. The traffic you drive to your site through high positions in Google is called organic traffic.

What this means for you as an affiliate is that if you manage to position your site in such a way that customers, after typing product names or related phrases into Google, are able to come right to you – you greatly increase your chances of making sales.

How to position your site is a very broad topic, but as an affiliate, it’s definitely worth your while to take an interest in the situation on Google – how often certain key phrases are searched and how much competition there is around them. This is the kind of information you’ll pull from SEO tools.

Suppose you have an idea to plug into selling trimmers.

How popular is this topic? We check with Senuto.

popularity of topics in affiliate marketing.

About 20,000 searches per month – so a popular topic – and a fair number of competitors. It’s worth doing what I mentioned earlier – scale down and look for a niche. This doesn’t mean that you have to give up on the topic of trimmers. But maybe not trimmers in general, but some specific ones? For example, nose trimmers – about 10 thousand searches per month.

Fewer monthly searches means less organic traffic – but also less competition. Larger competitors with established market positions will be difficult to jump over. It’s not impossible, but it will take time and, arguably, a budget for SEO efforts.

nasal trimmer keyword phrase details

Nose trimmer is still a popular phrase, with competition in the form of Morele.net or Euro.com.pl. But Senuto’s Keyword Database suggests questions related to this phrase:

questions related to the phrase nose trimmer.

And here we already see a lower volume of monthly searches. These are questions that can be answered in a blog article. If it is comprehensive and well-optimized for SEO, then the chance of traffic from Google is higher than if we try to appear for more general queries.

Checking what queries users are typing into Google and what is happening around those queries is the foundation from which SEO efforts in affiliate marketing should start. You can read more about SEO in our tutorials:


Affiliate marketing can be a way to build a source of passive income and, ultimately, financial freedom. However, you need to give up the pipe dream of easy money: the competition in affiliate is sizable, and like any other business, it takes time and skill.

The entry threshold for this is low. Even today you can sign up for one of the affiliate programs and see how it works. If you already have a blog, a YouTube channel and/or have a reasonable mailing base, it will be easier for you to start making money from affiliates.

This article is just an introduction to the topic – by putting together and implementing knowledge from various sources, you might as well make affiliation a way of life.

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Wojciech Maroszek

Content specialist i copywriter w Senuto, tworzy i zarządza treściami w serwisie. Przez lata związany z branżą mediów jako dziennikarz i wydawca.

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