What is an Affiliate?



Increasingly references to affiliation are seen online but what does it mean to be an affiliate?




‘To bring or receive into close connection as a member or branch.’ (Merriam-Webster)
‘To associate as a member.’ (Merriam-Webster)

‘To bring into close association or connection.’ (Dictionary.com)

‘To adopt or accept as a member, subordinate, associate, or branch.’ (The Free Dictionary)

‘Officially attach or connect (a subsidiary group or person) to an organisation.’ (Unknown)

‘A person or organization officially attached to a larger body.’ (Unknown)

Comprehension of definitions can vary depending on perspective. In this article it is the private individual under consideration.


An affiliate is someone who encompasses some or all of the following:

  • Is licensed by a company to market its merchandise.
  • Brings people to a company’s website.
  • Helps a company sell its goods.
  • Is authorised to sell other people’s products.
  • Promotes a commodity not their own.

In all instances the person is considered to be formally connected to the company that provides the wares, merchandise, goods, products, services.


  • Each time a person utilises an affiliate link AND makes a purchase, the affiliate usually receives a proportional (small percentage of purchase price) commission.
  • Allows people to help their friends and followers by recommending a product relevant to their interests or needs.
  • Generates passive income.
  • Identifies the affiliate (to their friends and followers ) as a reliable source of helpful information.


  • No guarantee will make money.
  • Commissions payable are becoming smaller, minimal in many instances.
  • Constant, even frequent, promotion may appear ‘spammy’ (unsolicited messages) thereby putting people off from following them.
  • Income against time and effort required may not be viable.
  • Tax considerations. (Income automatically subject to tax.) See also under ‘Setting Up’ below.

Setting Up

In view of the limited benefits combined with the negatives, not everyone will consider being an affiliate is now worth the effort nevertheless, some will undoubtedly be interested in the possibility.

There are a couple of different ways to set up an affiliate account: direct with a company or by means of an affiliate programme. The following will be required when signing up:

  • Name and Address. (Will have to be validated.)
  • Payment method. (To receive commission.) (Will have to be validated.)
  • Agree a service agreement.
  • Probable need to complete tax forms. (These should hopefully obviate the need for separate individual decelerations.)
  • Affiliate’s website link and details. (URL, Name, Description, Content, etc.)
  • Acceptance of minimum amount required before any payment is made.

Note 1: Those signing-up should be aware of security implications because validation is often carried out by a third party. (They should research and check as much as possible, about the company and validator, before exposing their information.)

Note 2: Naturally, those companies offering affiliate programmes are keen to have people join consequently, it is normally easy for those interested to be approved. Nevertheless and undoubtedly, the company will first wish to approve the site the affiliate intends using but, unless there is something seriously amiss, this should be straight forward.

How Works

Obviously, for the individual, promotion of merchandise is achieved through their own website and/or blog. They may also link to these through their social media accounts but the main link needs to be through the website/blog.

The product company will often provide ready made banners; adverts; text; links; etc, relating to the item to be marketed for the affiliate to post. Where the company has not provided any readymade material, the affiliate will have to draft their own content.

Note: The affiliate may (will usually) be required to provide a disclosure stating they receive a commission for each purchase made. These normally have to be visible on the page containing the link.

When a visitor clicks a link it does not actually go direct to the merchant site but first accesses the page containing the affiliate’s details (to enable them to be identified for payment purposes). This is so quick no one notices because within milliseconds they find themselves on the product page from which they may make their purchase.

When a purchase is made the system calculates the percentage payment due. Once the agreed minimum limit is reached the affiliate is paid.

Note: This affiliate facility normally works best when the affiliate chooses products related to their content and which are relevant to their readers, followers, fans, interests.


Affiliate programmes are not for everyone. In large measure it depends upon whether the user has a reasonable following and whether they see the promotion of products as helpful to their connections.

Affiliation is a way for users to earn additional, passive income but, with the reduced percentages now payable, users may find the benefit offset by the time and energy required to create and post notifications.

The decision, to be an affiliate or not, is naturally the individuals own but they should be baring in mind how best to serve their followers, friends, and fans. It is easy to put people off and disincline them from continuing to follow: constant promotion of products may be interpreted as spam.

Please feel free to add a comment if you have any experience of being an affiliate, positive or negative.

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