Exploring the 3 Main Types of Affiliate Marketing: A Beginner’s Guide

Welcome to the world of affiliate marketing! At its core, affiliate marketing is a simple concept: you promote someone else’s product and earn a commission for every sale made through your recommendation. Think of it like being a middleman – you introduce a friend to a store, they buy something, and the store thanks you with a little reward.

But, just like every other field, affiliate marketing has its nuances. There are different ways to approach it, and the best method often depends on your individual style and resources. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll dive into the three main types of affiliate marketing, helping you figure out which might be the best fit for you.

Remember, every master was once a beginner. So, let’s start your journey into affiliate marketing with a solid understanding of its basics.

Every journey begins with a step, and in affiliate marketing, that step involves choosing a path. Here’s a breakdown of the three main routes you can take:

The 3 Main Types of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing can be categorized into three main types: Unattached, Related, and Involved. Unattached affiliate marketing is a hands-off approach where marketers promote products without a personal connection. Related affiliate marketing involves sharing products on platforms like blogs without a deep personal endorsement. Lastly, Involved affiliate marketing is rooted in the marketer’s personal experience and genuine endorsement of the product.

Each type varies in its approach and level of engagement with the products being promoted.

Now that we’ve briefly touched on the three main types of affiliate marketing let’s delve deeper. Understanding the nuances of each type can provide clarity on which might align best with your approach and goals. So, without further ado, let’s break down each type to give you a clearer picture.

Unattached Affiliate Marketing:

What is it? This is the “set it and forget it” style of affiliate marketing. You don’t have a personal connection to the products you’re promoting. Instead, you’re banking on numbers and visibility.

Key Features:

  • Primarily based on paid advertising.
  • No need for a strong online presence.


  • Quick to start.
  • Less commitment in terms of personal brand building.


  • It can become costly due to advertising fees.
  • There is less trust from consumers as there’s no personal endorsement.
Related Affiliate Marketing:

What is it? Imagine a fitness instructor recommending a specific brand of workout gear. They’re not selling workout gear as their primary business, but the recommendation is aligned with their profession. That’s related affiliate marketing.

Key Features:

  • Recommending products that align with your main content or profession.

  • Requires an existing online presence or platform.


  • Higher trust compared to unattached marketing as it’s linked to your main content.

  • Potential for better conversions due to the relevance.


  • Requires some level of personal brand or following to start.

  • Balancing between your primary content and promotions can be tricky.
Involved Affiliate Marketing:

What is it? It’s all about deep personal involvement. You’ve tried, loved, and now wholeheartedly recommend a product. It’s personal and driven by genuine endorsement.

Key Features:

  • Personal experience with the product is crucial.

  • Establishing a high level of trust and authority on the product.


  • Highest trust and potential conversion rates due to genuine endorsements.

  • Build stronger relationships with your audience.


  • Requires a considerable amount of time and effort.

  • Reputational risk if the product fails to meet the expectations of your audience.

Understanding these types will help you navigate the vast ocean of affiliate marketing more efficiently. The goal is to find a method that aligns with your strengths, resources, and the level of commitment you’re willing to invest.

3. How to Choose the Right Type for You

Stepping into affiliate marketing can feel a bit like arriving at a crossroads. With multiple paths to choose from, how do you know which direction is the right one for you? Making this decision boils down to understanding yourself, your resources, and your preferences.

Here’s a simple guide to help you decide:

A. Assess Your Current Position

Do you already have an established online presence, or are you starting entirely from scratch?

Why it matters:

  • If you have an existing audience or platform (like a blog or a strong social media following), leveraging it can help you dive into related affiliate marketing with ease.

  • Starting from scratch? Unattached affiliate marketing might be a quicker entry point, though it can be less personal.

B. Evaluate Your Comfort Level

Are you the hands-on type who loves deep dives, or do you lean more toward a hands-off approach?

Why it matters:

  • If you’re passionate about certain products and enjoy sharing your experiences, involved affiliate marketing might be your lane. It requires a more personal touch and deeper involvement.

  • Do you prefer to keep things more casual or impersonal? Unattached affiliate marketing allows for a more hands-off experience.

C. Consider Your Budget

Are you in a position to invest in paid advertising, or would you rather lean on organic growth methods?

Why it matters:

  • Paid advertising can speed up your reach and results, especially in unattached affiliate marketing. However, it requires a budget and some knowledge about effective advertising.

  • On the other hand, building a personal brand or platform for involved or related affiliate marketing can be the way to go if you’re looking for organic growth without much initial financial outlay.

In essence, the best affiliate marketing type for you is one that matches your current resources, aligns with your comfort levels, and meets your budgetary considerations. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The beauty of affiliate marketing is its flexibility and the possibility to pivot or evolve your strategy as you learn and grow.

4. Tips for Success in Affiliate Marketing (Regardless of Type)

Whether you’re dipping your toes into the vast ocean of affiliate marketing or are looking to refine your approach, some universal truths can guide you toward success.

No matter which type of affiliate marketing you choose, these foundational principles remain constant:

A. Always Prioritize Your Audience’s Trust

Build and maintain trust with your audience above all else.

Why it matters:

  • Trust is the cornerstone of successful affiliate marketing. If your audience believes in your recommendations, they’re more likely to take action.

  • Breaking trust, even once, can have long-lasting repercussions. It’s always harder to rebuild trust than to maintain it.

B. Stay Updated with the Latest Trends and Products in Your Niche

Keep your finger on the pulse of your industry or niche.

Why it matters:

  • The online world is dynamic. What’s in vogue today might be passé tomorrow. Staying updated ensures you’re always recommending the best to your audience.

  • Knowledge is power. Being seen as a trendsetter or an expert can enhance your authority and credibility in the eyes of your audience.

C. Disclose Your Affiliate Relationships for Transparency

What’s the advice? Always be open and transparent about your affiliate links and relationships.

Why it matters:

  • It’s not just about being ethical; it’s the law in many places. Properly disclosing affiliate relationships ensures you’re compliant with regulations.

  • Transparency fosters trust. When your audience knows you’re upfront about your affiliations, they’re more likely to respect and view your recommendations as genuine.

The path to success in affiliate marketing isn’t about finding secret shortcuts; it’s about adhering to these timeless principles. By focusing on trust, staying informed, and championing transparency, you’re well on your way to building a successful and sustainable affiliate marketing journey.

Wealthy Affiliate: Your Springboard into Affiliate Marketing

Having delved deep into the world of affiliate marketing, it’s only apt that we introduce you to a platform that has garnered significant attention over the years: Wealthy Affiliate.

So, what is Wealthy Affiliate, and how does it fit into everything we’ve discussed?

A Deeper Dive into Wealthy Affiliate

Wealthy Affiliate, widely recognized in the affiliate marketing world, offers a suite of features to help beginners and seasoned professionals alike.

Before we dive into the features, here’s something you should know upfront:

FREE 7-Day Test Drive ( No Credit Card Required)

Offer: Try Wealthy Affiliate for 7 days. No credit card is required.

Benefit: Test out the platform. Decide if it’s right for you without any commitment.

Here’s a breakdown of Wealthy Affiliatet’s features, tailoring our exploration to our previous discussions:

Comprehensive Training Modules:

What it offers: Step-by-step courses ranging from the basics to advanced affiliate marketing strategies.

Why it’s beneficial: Acting as a virtual course, it’s ideal for beginners needing a roadmap and veterans aiming to refresh or upskill.

Website Builder and Hosting:

What it offers: An intuitive website builder with inclusive hosting, emphasizing security and protection.

Why it’s beneficial: Tackles the technical challenges, enabling users to quickly launch professional sites, irrespective of their technical prowess.

Keyword Research Tool:

What it offers: An in-platform tool designed to pinpoint low-competition keywords for your content.

Why it’s beneficial: Boosts your content’s visibility on search engines, driving organic traffic without the need for expensive advertising.

Active Community and Support:

What it offers: A vibrant community of affiliate marketers alongside 24/7 technical support.

Why it’s beneficial: Offers networking, real-time assistance, and feedback, ensuring a robust support mechanism backs you.

Regular Webinars and Updates:

What it offers: Frequent webinars spanning varied topics, coupled with updates to the platform.

Why it’s beneficial: Ensures you stay at the forefront of affiliate marketing trends, tools, and tactics.

Affiliate Program Directory:

What it offers: A handpicked list of affiliate programs spanning diverse niches.

Why it’s beneficial: Reduces research time and ensures you align with reputable affiliate programs.

Ethical Approach to Marketing:

What it offers: Promotes the creation of authentic content, genuine reviews, and clear affiliate disclosures.

Why it’s beneficial: Cements trust with your audience, fostering sustainable success in affiliate marketing.

Upgrade Memberships:

After your 7-day test drive, Wealthy Affiliate offers upgrade memberships for enhanced features and benefits. You can find links to detailed comparison below.

Wealthy Affiliate is a one-stop-shop for anyone stepping into affiliate marketing. With their 7-Day Free Test Drive, you get a firsthand experience of what the platform offers.

I recommend starting with the FREE 7-Day Test Drive. Once you’ve explored and understood the platform’s potential, you can make an informed decision on whether an upgrade fits your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing can seem complex when you’re just starting out. This FAQ section aims to answer some common questions, making things a bit clearer for newcomers and those looking to understand the basics better.

1. What exactly is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a system where you earn a commission for promoting someone else’s product or service. Every time someone buys through your unique affiliate link, you earn a portion of the sale.

2. How do I get started with affiliate marketing?

Begin by identifying a niche or product you’re passionate or knowledgeable about. Next, sign up for an affiliate program that offers products in your niche. Once approved, you’ll receive affiliate links to promote.

3. Do I need a website to start affiliate marketing?

Not necessarily. While having a website or blog can be beneficial, many affiliates also use social media, email marketing, or paid ads to promote their links.

4. How much money can I make with affiliate marketing?

It varies widely. Some earn a few dollars a month, while others make thousands. It depends on factors like the type of products you’re promoting, your marketing strategies, and your audience size.

5. Is affiliate marketing the same as referral marketing?

While they’re similar, they’re not the same. Referral marketing typically relies on word-of-mouth and involves personally recommending products to people you know. Affiliate marketing can be more broad, reaching unknown audiences through content, ads, and other online strategies.

6. Do I have to pay to join an affiliate program? Most legitimate affiliate programs are free to join. However, if you choose the unattached affiliate marketing route, you may have costs associated with advertising.

7. How do I choose the best products to promote? Pick products relevant to your niche and audience. It’s often beneficial to promote products you’ve personally used and can vouch for. Remember, trust is crucial in affiliate marketing.

8. Do I need to disclose my affiliate links to my audience?

Yes, it’s both ethical and, in many places, a legal requirement to disclose that you earn a commission from recommended products. Being transparent helps build trust with your audience.

U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has guidelines concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising, which includes affiliate marketing.

Here’s the general URL for the FTC: https://www.ftc.gov/

If you’re operating outside the U.S., make sure to check your country’s regulations on this topic, as guidelines can vary.

5. Conclusion

Affiliate marketing, like any venture, is a journey filled with opportunities and challenges. The key lies in understanding its various forms and choosing the one that aligns best with your strengths, resources, and ambitions. Remember, each type has its unique flavor, with different levels of involvement, potential rewards, and challenges.

But why is it so crucial to pick the right type? Because a well-chosen path can make the difference between a fulfilling and successful affiliate marketing adventure and one riddled with frustrations. Just like in life, when you’re on the right track, things tend to flow more smoothly.

Yet, the beauty of this digital age is its flexibility. Starting with one type of affiliate marketing doesn’t chain you to it forever. Dip your toes, experience it, and don’t be afraid to pivot, adapt, or even combine styles as you grow and learn. As you embark on this venture, remember the age-old adage: it’s not about the destination but the journey.

Until next time,  Kerri.

Marketing with Kerri is a site I created to help people navigate through all the Schemes and Scams out there and find their path to success online. I am here to help you; whether you decide to join is up to you. There is no pressure. If you don’t think it’s for you and want to move on, that’s cool too. I want to say thank you for your time and good luck. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Until next time,  Kerri

Founder of  Marketing with Kerri 

Email:  kerri.o@marketingwithkerri.com

Member of   Wealthy Affiliate  

Member of Jaaxy

Free Website Builder SiteRubix

Leave a Comment