Briefly defined, affiliate marking is the concept of accepting commission based online salesmen to promote your product, who proceed to sell your product independently, they only earn money if you earn money. This type of partnership is potentially extremely lucrative, guarantying you don’t lose a penny while upping your business’s advertising potential exponentially; there is no limit to how many affiliate marketers can work for you or how much they can make you.

In a sense, it’s very similar to telemarketing, except without having to call anyone. A business owner, say selling windows and doors, hires a team of salespeople and offers them 10% of whatever they can persuade customers to buy. The business owner then sits back and counts his money. With affiliate marketing, you are that business owner and millions of people across the globe are your potential salespeople. Many of the world’s most popular purchasing websites are modeled of off this idea, such as Amazon.

Properly termed, the business owner is the vendor and the salespeople are the affiliates. However, the hierarchy isn’t as rigid as an actual telemarketing firm, since vendors can be affiliates and affiliates can be vendors. This means that your website can offer links to products related to your business, adding bonus revenue from commissions and helping your site readers find what they’re looking for. If you choose purely to vend, online affiliate marketing will nonetheless boost your exposure and brand, while still earning you sales.

Part of the advantage of affiliate marketing is that it can be done completely free. As a vendor, after choosing your affiliates, your only expense is the commission they earn for selling your product—money that you would have not made without their partnership. As an affiliate, after being approved by a vendor, your only expense is the website from which you will sell your chosen product—which is provided to you free of charge.