Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which advertisers (also called mer- chants, companies, or brands) adver- tise the products and services they have to sell by soliciting the help of savvy, entrepreneurial - dare I add - well-connected publishers (also known as affiliates, bloggers, and mar- keters).
If your goal is to earn money by selling other people’s products as an affiliate marketer, you are a publisher; you promote products and services advertisers with which to partner, they will probably be advertisers who sell products that interest your readers, subscribers and network.

Affiliate Marketing in the Offline World

Despite the noise being made in the online world about the ever-growing affiliate marketing industry, affiliate marketing is actually nothing new. Off- line companies frequently recruit sales and marketing professionals just like you to sell their goods and services, and pay a commission on each sale. You can probably name a hun- dred professions right off the top of your head where this model has worked for years: Real estate, direct sales, network marketing, auto brokering. Even your friend’s $50 gift card that she received by referring you to her cable company follows the same general rules as affiliate mar- keting. Throw in a click button and a URL, and substitute the word “pub- lisher” for “sales and marketing pro- fessionals” and the model remains fundamentally the same. The online affiliate marketing industry is about as old as the Internet itself. Long before we were calling it affiliate marketing, revenue-sharing programs existed between online re- tailers and publishers.
You may be surprised to find that the system of tracking affiliate sales is actually patented by William. J. Tobin. Tobin is the guy responsible for modern-day affiliate marketing.
In 1994, Tobin created an affil- iate program to promote his e- commerce business, PC Flowers & Gifts. Within a year, he had 2,600 affil- iates and was generating more than $6 million in annual sales. PC Flowers & Gifts eventually merged with Fingerhut and Federated Department Stores, but not before Tobin collected three patents for his affiliate tracking sys- tems - two patents in the US and one in Japan. Fast-forward two decades and the affiliate marketing industry is alive and well. And growing.

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