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How to Start Affiliate Marketing UK?

Written by, Ljubica Gjorgievska

Updated June, 14, 2022

Affiliate marketing in the UK can be a great way to take your business to the next step and add an alternative stream of income. 

If you want to become an affiliate marketer, learn more about affiliate marketing, and how to start affiliate marketing in the UK, read on. 

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a type of online marketing where publishers earn a commission for promoting products or services made by another advertiser or retailer. 

The publisher, called an affiliate partner, is rewarded a payout for providing a specific result. For example, businesses can compensate affiliate partners for sales, site visits, app downloads, or leads.

Commissions often vary based on the company you’re working with and the type of product and service you’re promoting. Some affiliate marketers earn a 5% commission from a sale, while others get 50%, especially if they’re promoting an event. 

Can you do affiliate marketing in the UK?

Affiliate marketing was introduced in the UK in 1996 thanks to the Amazon Associates affiliate programme. Since then, this type of marketing has seen immense growth. 

What makes it a great option for small businesses is that there are many free affiliate programs in the UK, meaning they won’t have to worry about start-up expenses as financial hurdles are one of the biggest challenges for them.

What is an affiliate link?

An affiliate link is a URL that contains the ID or username of the affiliate partner, which is used to track traffic sent to the advertiser’s website

This helps advertisers gauge exactly how much traffic an affiliate partner is bringing to their website and allows the affiliate partner to take credit and get paid for it. 

How to get affiliate links?

The most common way to get an affiliate link is through an affiliate programme. Many companies offer affiliate programmes where anyone can sign up and earn a commission by promoting their products. 

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: How to Start Affiliate Marketing

To help you get started as an affiliate advertiser (or partner), we created a short guide to affiliate marketing.

  1. Pick your platform and method

The first step to becoming an affiliate partner is choosing where you’ll promote the product and services of the companies you partner with. 

Some of the options include:

  • Niche topics and reviewing sites: This method is ideal for those who are already creating content (or plan to).  Many affiliate marketing websites review products in a specific niche (like tech) and use their platforms to link to the products they’re reviewing. 
  • Digital content: Digital content creators, like YouTubers and bloggers, often have an audience that’s interesting in certain niches since they often create content that appeals to a certain demographic. They can use their online space to promote products that their viewers/readers are likely to enjoy.
  • Online training, conferences, meetings, and courses: Those who work in education, can use affiliate partnership offers as part of your events.
  1. Choose a niche 

When it comes to success in the digital world, picking a niche is essential to any type of business. A specific niche invites the right audience and increases the chances of them being interested not only in the content you produce but the products you promote. 

Worth noting: The products and services you advertise have to be in line with your content and your audience’s interest. For example, a tech blogger probably shouldn’t promote meal kits.  

  1. Find a product 

Once you’ve picked a niche, you’ll need to find a product or service to promote. The most important thing to keep in mind when looking for a product is to make sure that it aligns with the content you create and/or that your followers would be interested in it. 

You can either look through some of the many affiliate marketplaces or check to see if the products or services you use have an affiliate programme. 

  1. Choose an affiliate programme 

Finally, becoming an affiliate require joining an affiliate network, which is a platform that connects affiliates with merchants. These platforms connect you to advertisers and give you access to the companies’ product information and promotional materials so you can start promoting the product.

Types of Affiliate Marketing

There are three main types of affiliate marketing: involved affiliate marketing, related affiliate marketing, unattached affiliate marketing, 

Unattached affiliate marketing

In this type of affiliate marketing, the affiliate partner has no connection to the service or product they’re promoting and usually involves running pay-per-click ads. 

The advantage of unattached affiliate marketing is that the affiliate partner doesn’t have to do any legwork. Since they have no related expertise or skills, they can’t make any claims about the product or service’s efficiency and don’t recommend the product or service.

Related

In related affiliate marketing, affiliate partners promote products and services that are related to their niche but aren’t necessarily something they use

In this case, the affiliate has enough expertise to talk about the product or service and generate traffic, but they make no claims about the use of the product or service.

Involved  

Involved affiliate marketing involves promoting a product or service that the affiliate partner has personally tried and tested

This type of marketing emphasises the experience of the affiliate partner and as such, it’s often the most successful form of affiliate marketing, However, since the affiliate partner personally recommends the product, they risk damaging their reputation if their audience doesn’t like what they offer.

How much does it cost to start affiliate marketing?

Most affiliate programmes are free to join, but you may need to purchase some marketing tools or materials like banner ads and tracking links. The advantage of affiliate marketing is that compared to other forms of marketing, it often comes cheap. 

Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing

Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of affiliate marketing is crucial to determining whether it fits your business’ financial goals.

Pros:

  • Easy to execute

The affiliate marketer’s only concern is promoting the product via a digital channel. The company that sells the product has to deal with creating, maintaining, and delivering the offer. 

  • Low risk

Most affiliate programmes are free and don’t require an upfront investment. What’s more, affiliate marketing can help generate some form of passive income through commission – after you invest time developing traffic sources at first, your affiliate links will regularly bring income.

  • Easy to scale

One of the biggest advantages of affiliate marketing is that affiliate partners can bring in extra products to boost their income without having to hire extra help. It might take a little bit of time to set up, but once you’re done, you can continue to focus on your existing work as your affiliate links generate revenue in the background.

  • Flexibility

Affiliate marketers work whenever they choose, making it a great side hustle. What’s more, they can join and operate an affiliate programme from anywhere in the world, as long as they have a stable internet connection. 

Cons:

  • Need patience 

As with any business, it takes time and effort to build an audience and acquire authority. Affiliate partners also have to deal with advertisers’ demands and make sure they don’t overstep any limits set by the business they’ve partnered with. 

  • Commission-based

Affiliate marketing doesn’t come with a regular payback, making it harder for affiliate partners to plan their finances. 

  • Lack of control

Affiliate partners have no control over the business’s delivery of a certain product or service, which means they might face backlash if their audience doesn’t like it.

  • Competition

Affiliate marketing is extremely competitive since many people promote the same services or products. This makes it difficult to get approved as an affiliate partner for large brands and businesses.

Affiliate Marketing Guide: Best Affiliate Programs in the UK

Here are some of the most popular UK affiliate programs for a website affiliate marketing business. 

Awin

Awin is one of the best affiliate programs, with more than 1,000 companies on their books. It connects companies and potential affiliate partners and provides a variety of ready-made banners that affiliate partners can use to advertise a company’s products.

Panthera Network

Panthera Network is a US-based firm that supports campaigns across all channels through search, incentive, mobile, social media, and email. It’s known for having excellent tracking features and ensuring timely publisher payments.

Skimlinks

Skimlinks is one of the biggest affiliate networks that provide access to over 48,500 affiliate programmes. Also, Skimlinks has special pricing agreements with merchants, which are frequently 2x the usual rates. 

The best part about it is that Skimlinks automates content linking.

FlexOffers

FlexOffers is a marketer that specialises in digital performance-based marketing. 

 They use a ‘one-roof’ strategy, which allows them to work with over 12,000 advertisers and 75,000 publisher programmes across 65 networks. This unique model gives affiliate partners access to a variety of performance-based marketing solutions. 

Rakuten Advertising

Rakuten Advertising is an agency for international enterprises. 

It has around 1.4 billion members and is known for providing marketing solutions that improve performance and are excellent for audience scaling. 

CJ Affiliate 

CJ affiliate, which is a US-based affiliate network, allows UK consumers to participate in hundreds of programmes and sell ad space directly to publishers. 

What makes it stand out is its widget function that enables affiliate partners to advertise several items in a slideshow or collage. 

Amazon Associates

The Amazon Associate is one of the largest and most popular affiliate marketing programmes that enables authors, publishers, and bloggers to monetize their traffic.

 Affiliates can use simple link-building technologies to direct visitors to items they suggest and earn up to 12% on qualifying purchases and programmes.

eBay Partner Network

With 1.4 billion listings and 184 million buyers in 190 markets, this platform helps affiliates develop ads and campaigns, increase traffic to boost income, measure performance, and improve outcomes.

The platform excels at providing a good user experience and regularly introduces new solutions.

How Do Affiliate Marketers Get Paid? 

When you pick an affiliate programme to advertise, there are a few payment options to choose from. 

Although affiliates are paid in several different ways, the most common models are:

  • Pay per sale: You earn a commission for every sale you make. 
  • Pay per lead: You earn a commission when a user signs up for something. 
  • Pay per action: You earn a commission when a user completes a specific action, like a click, newsletter sign-up, and contact request.
  • Pay per click: You earn a commission every time someone clicks on the affiliate link. 
  • Pay per install: You earn a commission when someone instals the app or programme you’re promoting.

Is Affiliate Marketing Worth It?

When done right, affiliate marketing can turn into one of your most lucrative online endeavours. If you’re wondering how to start affiliate marketing in the UK, all you’ll need to do is pick a platform, a product, and find an affiliate programme. Keep in mind that the most important thing is to make sure the product you’re promoting is in line with your niche.

As a writer for Don’t Disappoint Me, my job is to collect relevant key information and interpret it into a wide range of content. I also have an MSc in Marketing, so I am always trying to expand my knowledge and discover new and exciting areas of digital marketing, SEO and web traffic building. I am a nature enthusiast, so when I’m not researching and analyzing, I love to go hiking with my dogs, camping, or snowboarding. I am a bookaholic as well and have an ongoing obsession with crime TV shows and movies.