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Brief introduction to Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is pretty much as old as commerce itself - so pre-dates the Internet by thousands of years! It is basically the promotion of a 3rd party's product or service in return for a commission payment for sales generated via that promotion.

Anybody with a website (and visitors to that website!) can earn money through affiliate marketing simply by placing special links on their website that contain information that identifies them / their website as the source, and then if one of the visitors they have referred subsequently makes a purchase; a commission is paid on their account - simple as that!

To see affiliate marketing in action; simply take a look at the banner for easyDNS just over to the right. If you hover your mouse over the banner and take a look at the destination URL in the status bar of your web browser you will notice that it contains a code. That code is unique to me and identifies me to easyDNS as the source of any visitors that reach their website by clicking on that banner. If you were to click that banner, and then decide that you like the service and want to sign up; I would be rewarded with a commission - which in the case of easyDNS is "paid" not in money, but in return for their services.

Most online merchants that offer an affiliate program make use of cookies in order to "remember" who has referred their visitors so that commission can still be paid even if a sale is not made immediately.

Finally, it is not even necessary to create affiliate accounts with every merchant who's product or service you wish to promote because of what's called an "Affiliate Network". Affiliate networks act as a middle-man between web publishers and merchants who wish to offer an affiliate program. This has lots of benefits for everyone involved, but primarily as a publisher; you don't need to maintain relationships with hundreds of merchants - you just have one relationship with the affiliate network. The same applies to the merchant; who likewise only has to maintain a relationship with the network instead of hundreds of affiliates directly.