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The Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Marketing for Beginners

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how affiliate marketing works, let’s first look at the history of collaborative marketing. Businesses have been promoting and selling their own products since the first butcher or artisan pitched their wares on the city streets of the ancient world. Want the best wine? The Tiberius’ Winery is usually set up on the corner of Athena Street. Looking for a top-quality pot? Visit the ceramic masters at Creations by Claudus.

Then a new type of business model emerged when Tiberius realized that most of his customers preferred to store his wine in the pots from Creations by Claudus. So he began to recommend those pots to all his clients. When Claudus saw the influx of sales and heard references to Tiberius’ Winery, he asked Tiberius what was happening. Tiberius explained that he was referring people to Claudus, who then happily offered to pay a referral fee for any future customers.

Symbiotic partnerships like these have been around for centuries. They’re the business versions of the relationships that exist between species such as remoras and sharks or clownfish and anemones. When multiple parties combine forces for mutual benefit, the individual always comes out ahead of where they would’ve been if they’d gone solo.

In a way, these partnerships prove the dystopian math of George Orwell’s 1984 to be not so flawed after all. Through collaboration, 2 plus 2 actually can result in 5.

But referral marketing has its limits. If a doctor refers a patient to a specialist, they often get a kickback. The same goes for a builder who refers a customer to an electrician. These types of referrals are easy to track, so the individual responsible for the sale is likely to be paid.

History of Affiliate Marketing

Things got a bit murkier with the advent of online shopping. You could…

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