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Learn what affiliate marketing is and how to get started

In this post, we'll tell you all about affiliate marketing and how affiliate programs work.


02/04/2022 | By Hotmart

An affiliate is someone who promotes other people’s products and services online and, in return, receives a commission for each sale made.

Online shopping has become one of the most popular online activities worldwide. According to S&P Global, in the U.S. for example, the e-commerce industry is expected to exceed US$1 trillion for the first time in 2022.

This is a promising scenario and many people are starting an online business to take advantage of the opportunities available on the internet, generate income and even change their lives.

There are several options for those who want to work with e-commerce and selling digital products is one of them. eBooks, online courses, and video lessons are popular choices and a great opportunity for those who want to start out.

But if you think that only those who create digital products can join in on the online fun, then you need to dig a little deeper.

In this post, you will learn more about affiliate marketing and the role of an affiliate, a professional who promotes and sells other people’s products and services on the internet. Find out what it takes to be an affiliate and how to get started!

Check out what you will learn in this post:


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What is affiliate marketing?

If you like to keep up with the latest trends in the online world and are interested in entrepreneurship, you’ve probably heard about affiliate marketing. But, what is it exactly?

In short, affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing model in which a person (a.k.a, an affiliate) promotes products created by other people and earns a commission for sales made.

To become an affiliate, you must join a program created by brick-and-mortar or online businesses, carefully choose the products you want to promote, and start promoting them to your audience.

In the case of online affiliate programs, such as Hotmart’s, your sales are tracked through a unique link, called an affiliate link. That way you can trace all your commissions.

There are online products on many topics, such as entrepreneurship, cooking, literature, software, technical skills, animal training, arts, and much more.

There’s some much diversity out there that it is very likely that you’ll find a suitable product to promote to your audience.

Are you with me so far? But, why should you work as an affiliate? And what are the best affiliate marketing strategies?

That’s what we’ll talk about next!

What are the benefits of working as an affiliate?

Now that you know what an affiliate is, you might be wondering what are the perks of this role, right? So, let’s do this!

There are several ways to earn extra income on the internet or become an online entrepreneur. Joining an affiliate program is just one of them, right? So why should you choose this option? Find out below!

1. Be your own boss

In addition to defining the strategies, choosing the products and channels you’ll promote them, the time you will dedicate to this activity and even the results you want to achieve are up to you! There’s no one to make demands about your performance, for example.

And what you earn is directly related to your strategic effort, that is, if you plan well, you can achieve good results even if you only do it part-time.

2. Start the business with low investment

Many people think that to start your own business you need to invest a lot of money.

But to become an affiliate you don’t have to invest a lot! Just join an affiliate program and start selling with a trackable and unique link.

You can create a website using free platforms like WordPress and even use the layouts they provide at no extra cost.

You can also promote your content on social media also without any additional investment, by implementing organic traffic strategies. 

For this kind of business, you also won’t need to rent a store or an office or have a warehouse to store products.

Your fixed costs will remain very low in this business. And that’s great! Because it means that you’ll make more profit on each sale, after all, there will be few expenses to worry about.

3. Work however and wherever you want

Flexibility is the name of the game. You can work as an affiliate anytime you want and anywhere in the world. That is, when the children are at school, on your breaks, at the end of the day, or while you’re traveling.

To make this work, all you need is a good action plan and to use some tools that allow you to schedule your posts on social media and blogs.

In WordPress, one of the platforms for creating and managing websites and blogs, you can schedule the day and time of each post. Some social media apps work that way too.

In other words, forget about the suit and tie or the sales counter. You will work according to your schedule.

All this is very interesting, and there is another super cool thing that needs to be mentioned: regardless of what your area of expertise is, joining the world of affiliate marketing is sure to be a learning experience and you’ll definitely understand better what it takes to become an entrepreneur in the area.

4. Get started today!

To start selling, you need to register with Hotmart and look for courses you would like to sell. It’s 100% free and you don’t need to buy any of them to start selling.

One of the perks of being an affiliate is that you don’t have to devote time to create products, just focus on the marketing that is required to sell them. So, what are you waiting for?

Want to stay in the loop and learn the best tips for starting your online business? Check out our Hotmart Tips about this subject in the video below:

5. Product delivery is automated

You don’t have to worry about logistics for product storage or distribution. Hotmart will be in charge of delivering the course virtually, no need for shipping.

Best of all, your customers can shop anytime of the day, every day of the week.

Can anyone join an affiliate program?

You need to know that there are some variations and types of affiliation. So, to be successful, you need to choose the one that is most in line with your lifestyle and personality.

For example, you can dedicate yourself fully to affiliate marketing, making 100% of your income from your sales performance, or use affiliate programs only as a way to earn extra income.

However, no matter what’s your choice, you need to be committed to your planning so that you achieve the desired results.

To participate in affiliate programs with free accounts, you will need:

  • have a valid email address;
  • have an identity document;
  • be 18+ years of age;
  • create an account on an affiliate platform.

You don’t need to have a website or blog. However, the results of some affiliates who use these tools tend to be better, especially when they have their own domain.

That’s because, in this way, the promotion strategies are more trustworthy and have more authority. You can also explore its features and create a more interesting presentation of the products, which ultimately leads to better results.

Don’t forget that blogs and websites allow you to attract an audience organically, that is, without making investments. Blog and website’s content plus long-term content marketing tools and strategies can help in your conversion rate.

The same goes for social media. Social networks help build a closer relationship with customers, boost engagement and build authority in the market where affiliates want to stand out.

With a business profile, there are even features directed to sales. That means it’s possible to promote your products and include the affiliate link to track each sale made.

There are not many restrictions to start selling products through an affiliate program, so, one of the most frequently asked questions is about how much money you can make. I bet you’re curious about that, too. 

How much money can you earn with affiliate marketing?

If you are still not sure that the market can offer great opportunities and financial returns, here are some good news:

  • it’s only up to you: sales are directly proportional to the efficiency of your strategy and promotional efforts;
  • there’s no limit to the commissions you‘ll get. They are proportional to your sales performance;
  • there are also no restrictions on your sales volume, unless the digital products you’re selling are limited, of course.

Content creators determine the affiliate commission percentage on each product, and some of them, of course, are quite generous. The values range from $ 0.30 to more than $ 100.00 for each sale made.

So, it’s very important that you know the value of the commission for each product available for promotion beforehand.

It will be up to you to decide which products are most relatable to your niche, offer better opportunities to the audience you aim to reach, and are easier to manage.

Why is affiliate marketing booming?

There are several benefits to being an Affiliate, such as:

  • having your own business or a way of earning extra income;
  • The opportunity to increase your conversions without having to watch them closely or be online for them to happen;
  • Leaving bureaucracy, dress code, and office etiquette aside — you make the rules;
  • working with topics that you have more affinity with and doing what you love!

So your focus can be on what you do best: promoting products to your audience!

But beware; there are no miracles in this market! Working as an affiliate doesn’t mean making money effortlessly or getting rich overnight.

To be a successful affiliate, you need to dedicate yourself, study the digital market, and work hard! Only then will you be able to stand out and sell the products you help to promote.

How to join an affiliate program and start selling

It all sounds great so far, right? If ideas are already buzzing in your head after learning about affiliate marketing, then get ready to create an action plan to get started! In this action plan, consider:

  • studying which are the best affiliate marketing platforms available on the market;
  • choosing the one that offers the best benefits for you and your buyers;
  • choosing your promotion channels, such as social media, blogs, online communities;
  • choosing digital products and applying to become an affiliate;
  • learning about the product and its promotional materials, among others;
  • understanding the financial processes involved in withdrawing your commissions;
  • creating content and arguments to sell the product;
  • using paid advertising to promote your products;
  • regularly checking the digital products mix to diversify your offer, without necessarily abandoning your niche;
  • monitoring the results of your actions using analytics that help you to understand what’s working and what isn’t;

It is important to note that there are some prohibited practices in affiliate marketing, such as spamming, making unrealistic promises, and misuse of tools.

These practices can even lead to your account being blocked by Hotmart. If you want to know more about this topic, check out our best practices manual for content creators and affiliates.

And if you believe a user is violating our Terms of Use, you can report them. Hotmart has a whistleblower channel created exclusively for this purpose. It allows you to report abuse cases in a simple and easy way and even anonymously if you wish.

And how does affiliate marketing work at Hotmart?

So far we’ve seen what it is and how to become an affiliate. Now, it’s time to learn a little more about Hotmart, a platform focused on the Creator Economy and specialized in online courses and digital products.

So, how does Hotmart work?

After creating your Hotmart account, you will have access to the platform and be able to search our Market for the products you want to promote.

In the market, you will see the carousels to choose your products:

  • Recommended: the more you use the marketplace, the more products are recommended according to your preferences;
  • Hottest: products that stand out in our market with high sales or low refund rates, for example;
  • Most loved: they have excellent user satisfaction ratings;
  • Most recent: those that have just hit the market.

A good tip is to search for keywords related to the niche you have chosen to work with, as the Hotmart system will show you all related products in the search results.

After that, just choose one or more products and affiliate with it by clicking on the “Promote” button for each one of them.

After this step, you’ll receive the affiliate link for each product you are promoting. It works as a tracking device to link you to the sales  of that product, and it points to a Sales Page where the buyer can make the purchase.

How does Hotmart identify a sale made by an affiliate?

Hotmart uses tracking technology for sales facilitated by its Affiliates through an exclusive link.

So, even if the buyer buys on the creator’s external website, the system will identify that they accessed the affiliate’s link up to 2 months ago.

How does Hotlinks work | Hotmart Help Center

How and when are payments made?

Payments are made according to your registration information at the time of affiliation. So, carefully fill in the data related to payments in “My Account -> Payment Information”.

Each commission received will add up to your balance and may be unavailable for a period ranging from 30 to 60 days. After this period, the full balance is available for you to withdraw it.

How does the Sales Page work?

Hotlinks take you to a specific Sales Page for each product. So if you want to combine all your products on one page, you need to create your own website.

The sales page from Hotmart is created by the person responsible for that product, that is, the creator.

5 affiliate marketing tips to get you started

Now that you understand what an affiliate is and how it works, I bet you can’t wait to get started in this market.

To help you on this journey, we have some valuable tips. Check it out:

1. Choose quality digital products

The first point to consider is precisely the quality of the product you intend to affiliate with. First of all, think that your name and your credibility will be put to the test in the market.

So, it‘s essential that you know and, if possible, try out the digital product you intend to promote. That way, you can assure your audience that you are, in fact, presenting a quality product that makes their investment worthwhile.

But pay attention! It is not necessary to buy a product to affiliate with it. So, contact the creator and ask for materials that help you better understand the product.

2. Choose products in your niche

This is a very important step in choosing a digital product to promote: it should be something you have knowledge about, something in your field. As your work will consist of promoting, the best scenario would involve a product that is related to what you do and what you talk about with your audience.

This makes your audience receive the recommendation with open arms, as they’ll see the product as valuable. .

For affiliates who already have a well-established communication channel, such as a blog or even a YouTube channel, the ideal is that the choice of products should be related to the existing content.

Promotion will be much more natural for the audience, the chances of conversion will increase and, consequently, your profit as well.

3. Analyze the commissions

Now that you’ve chosen a niche and selected those products that interest you and your audience, it’s time to analyze the commission possibilities.

While it’s not a rule of thumb, think about the amount of work you’ll have to do to promote the product.

So, if you already have a project in progress that you need to dedicate a lot of effort to, it is interesting to opt for those products that, despite paying a lower commission, require less commitment.

Now, if your idea is to start completely from scratch, the best option may be to invest in those products that offer the highest commissions. You will need to put in more time and effort, but the profits will also be higher.

4. Read the product reviews

Product reviews are written by people who purchased it, used it and rated it. As with any type of online business, reviews attest not only to the quality of the product, but also to its credibility.

So, if you choose to only work with products that have high ratings, your credibility as an affiliate will also grow, further increasing the audience’s confidence in your recommendations. It’s, without a doubt, a virtuous circle.

In addition, when we work with quality products, satisfied customers will spontaneously promote it to friends and acquaintances, increasing sales.

On the other hand, a customer who is unhappy with the quality of a product may not only give a bad review about the product, but also about the affiliate who promoted it. And that, of course, can be extremely damaging to your business.

5. Analyze the sales page

Finally, another very important point to be analyzed is the product sales page on the platform. To do this, make the same path the customer would do and, when you reach the sales page, carefully analyze all the information contained there, especially the product promotion video.

As you watch the video, ask yourself if you felt compelled to buy. If not, it might be better to choose another product. After all, your audience might think just like you.

Now, if you felt motivated to complete the purchase, that’s a great sign. It means the sales page has fulfilled its role and the product is a good choice for you to promote as an affiliate.

Here’s a good tip: when analyzing the product sales pages, check to see if they offer some kind of bonus materials, as these strategies tend to make the product sell much more than usual.

You can check out other tips in this post:

>>Top 5 channels to promote digital products

Tips for affiliates

You may have already realized that there is a lot of freedom to do your business as you see fit. But to have good results, you have to have a good strategy, right?

Affiliate marketing does not require exclusive dedication or the affiliate’s presence for a sale to be completed.

With the exclusive link to track your sales, you only need to nurture relationships, engage your audience and put them on the path to purchase.

Can I affiliate with any product?

It depends. Within the Hotmart market, content creators can make their course available to the Affiliate Program in 2 ways:

  • Open Affiliation: Any affiliate can join instantly, that is, just request affiliation and you will immediately receive the link to start promoting it.
  • Restricted Affiliation: Any Affiliate can apply for affiliation, but their approval will depend on the creator’s decision, according to what they believe is relevant to their brand.

In this way, you will be able to immediately affiliate with any open affiliation products or try to affiliate with restricted affiliation products.

Top ecommerce niches in 2022

The first step to working on the internet is choosing your market. It’s very important to choose a niche when selecting products to promote. Your community will revolve around this topic. For example, if your audience is interested in healthy living, you’re not going to sell a drywall course, are you?

Another valuable tip is: Don’t just focus on the value of the product. Some people are dazzled by the commission values and end up failing to evaluate the product’s niche. Selling a product that costs over $1,000 will be more difficult, but you will need to make less sales to reach your monthly goal. A product that costs less, on the other hand, will be easier to sell, but the number of sales you need to make is much higher. There’s no right answer but it’s important to consider this point.

Oh, and don’t forget: choose a winning product. With a well-defined niche, it’s time to choose a product that sells well. Access the Affiliate Market on the Hotmart platform to filter the products by Hottest and Most Loved. Use the search filter on the left to choose niche, language, currency and other search criteria.

And here’s a list of profitable niches for online sales in 2022; take note!

  • Education;
  • Finance;
  • Personal development;
  • Digital Marketing;
  • Sports and Health.

Can I sell products internationally?

No matter where the sale is made, you can count on Hotmart’s payment system, which is fully integrated into the platform and allows for sales in over 188 countries and has an exclusive anti-fraud system.

Hotmart’s payment system was developed to meet all the needs of the digital products market, carrying out thousands of transactions simultaneously with high performance.

In addition, the solution brings many benefits for those who want to sell outside their country of origin. Check out the tips:

  • Sales in more than 12 currencies;
  • Payments with two credit cards;
  • Subscription payments;
  • Automatic commission for affiliates;
  • Discount coupons;
  • Local payment methods.

You can learn more about this by accessing this article on our blog that explains everything about international sales.

What’s the next step?

Now that you understand what affiliate marketing is, it’s time to create your strategies and get organized to make it work. After that, don’t forget to monitor your results and make the necessary adjustments and innovations.

Consider larger investments to foster more business, and hire services that automate processes, such as email marketing. It all depends, of course, on whether the results of the affiliate program are satisfactory.

Promoting online courses and other digital products is a great alternative for those who want to make money on the internet. And we’ve already proved that it’s possible and affiliate marketing offers many possibilities.

However, with such a competitive market, it can be difficult to stand out and start selling without knowing the right strategies to make sales. Especially for those just starting out.

And now, after this avalanche of information about affiliate marketing, are you ready to start your own business?