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How Do You Explain Affiliate Marketing?

Posted on November 14, 2007 by Tim Schroeder

Here is a simple question, or is it? πŸ˜‰

A friend, relative, or just some stranger asks you the question,
What Do You Do For A Living?

How do you personally answer that question (assuming you do affiliate marketing at least part-time)?

Now for me, I’ve probably answered that question to 100 different people a 100 different ways. Here are a few of them:

1. I own my own business.
This is true but the next obvious question they are going to ask is, “Doing What?” or “What Kind of Company?” It does not really avoid explaining what affiliate marketing is.

2. I do online Affiliate Marketing.
Well that answer does not really help either because the vast majority of people I meet don’t have a clue what “affiliate marketing” is and they want to know more. Then I usually just go on to explain it similar to number 4 people.

3. I do Internet Marketing.
If you do affiliate marketing then you are doing some kind of internet marketing as well so this is also true. That answer sometimes works to avoid explaining affiliate marketing but the I’ve been asked several times if I could do work on their website or a friends website. Then I have to explain that I don’t really have or want clients which leaves them confused and wanting to know why. Then I have to explain that I doing internet marketing for my own websites only and start the affiliate marketing explanation.

4. I own my own business selling other people’s products online.

This is a more common answer of mine. Then I go on to explain that it’s called affiliate marketing. I say, “Take Amazon for example (because most people know Amazon). Amazon has something called an affiliate program that will allow you to place Amazon books on your website. If someone clicks on one of the books on my website and purchases the product from Amazon, they will give you a commission.” Then they somewhat start to get it.

Then they usually follow with a series of question such as “how does Amazon know you sent the the order?” etc..

Anyhow, I was curious how you would answer the question, “What do You Do For a Living” in ONE SENTENCE and the again in THREE to FIVE SENTENCES? πŸ™‚

I’ll send $20 paypal to the answer I think gets the point across the best!

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36 Responses to “How Do You Explain Affiliate Marketing?”

  1. Richard

    - 14th Nov, 07 10:11pm

    Affiliate Marketing is : Connecting buyers and sellers and rewarding me the connector.

    Thanks Richard

  2. Mike

    - 14th Nov, 07 11:11pm

    I’m an online sales agent, I help people sell their products online much in the way as estate agents help sell houses.

  3. Steven

    - 15th Nov, 07 12:11am

    I usually tell them “I am an entrepreneur and I do various investments in online marketing campaigns”. This would usually stop the questions right away, but if that doesn’t, I would continue to say something like “I do marketing of goods and services offered by companies online” (which is true because you do market goods and services offered by companies where you would receive commission or pay through the sales and leads). That usually would sum up everything in one or two sentences. Rarely do I have people pursue past this point and ask more questions like which companies or products/services. Even if they did, you can always say something like depends since you always get new clients =]

    Often times the first sentence works well.

  4. Ron

    - 15th Nov, 07 01:11am

    What do I do for a living?

    I’m a district manager for a lumber company.
    (Somehow, I don’t think that’s the answer you’re looking for, but it might stop the additional questions!)

  5. James - DigitalKeyToInfo

    - 15th Nov, 07 02:11am

    I make money online?
    Well, at least I hope I will. πŸ™‚

  6. DerekBeau

    - 15th Nov, 07 06:11am

    Lol, I’ve been through the EXACT same scenarios and got the exact same responses as you posted.

    I think what’s harder than telling people what you do for a living is trying to make sure they understand that you don’t just sit at home and do nothing all day. Many people seem to think that I don’t work πŸ˜€

  7. dino

    - 15th Nov, 07 09:11am

    I tell people that I am an entrepreneur into internet marketing.Then most of the people say “that is interesting”.They ask me “are you working from home ?”,I say no,I have an office and I do a lot of research and will be launching my portals very soon.
    People often ask me to design their sites,I have to explain to them that I am not a programmer.Most people think that it is very difficult to set up a revenue generating website.Some ignorant people advice me to take up a job first,and then become an entrepreneur!

  8. Tim Schroeder

    - 15th Nov, 07 12:11pm

    Yes, so true. I think some people assume I must be doing something shady (which I’m not). Then there are others that assume I must not work very hard when in fact I probably put in a lot more hours than they do with their “day job.”

  9. Michael Woo

    - 15th Nov, 07 01:11pm

    Ah I tried explaining that i’m a blogger, but everyone will show me a big questionmark on the head..

    I said online business or online entrepreneur, it raises curiosity

    I say affiliate marketing, more questions…

    But maybe selling online advertisements best fits me..

  10. Josh Spaulding

    - 15th Nov, 07 08:11pm

    I say “what’s your email?” Then when I get home I send them a short report that I put together for this exact reason πŸ™‚

    I haven’t had to explain what I do for a long while now.

  11. Miles

    - 15th Nov, 07 10:11pm

    Single Sentence: “My company sells how-to books online.”

    Longer Version: “My company determines what kinds of life challenges individuals are looking for help with. For many, this is to increase their income or gain additional free time. Then we find publishers who have worthwhile books and DVDs with information to solve those challenges, and we link the publishers with those individuals.”

  12. gaman

    - 16th Nov, 07 11:11am

    I think you are in a better position to explain your job. In Malaysia, probably 99% of the population have never heard of Amazon.com.

    So when I’m asked, first I say I own my own business. If they continue asking, I tell them I get a commission selling other people products.. you know like an Amway distributor but I do it on the Internet. Other than that, I’ll say I got an online magazine and I sell advertising space.

  13. Steven

    - 16th Nov, 07 09:11pm

    This defeats the purpose because people usually want a face-to-face answer rather than you emailing them. It’s like asking a friend where do you want to eat, and getting the response “let me email you the answer”. It can be considered rude and some people don’t care enough to wait for an email.

    If you’re going to go that far, might as well have a webpage set up specfically to answer this question and give them the URL instead. But even then, thats not any better than giving them a direct answer then and there. Just my personal opinion =]

  14. Josh Spaulding

    - 16th Nov, 07 09:11pm

    This defeats the purpose because people usually want a face-to-face answer rather than you emailing them. It’s like asking a friend where do you want to eat, and getting the response β€œlet me email you the answer”. It can be considered rude and some people don’t care enough to wait for an email.

    If you’re going to go that far, might as well have a webpage set up specfically to answer this question and give them the URL instead. But even then, thats not any better than giving them a direct answer then and there. Just my personal opinion =]

    I tell everyone who asks that I run an online business. Those who don’t really care are content with a short, basic answer ie. “I sell products and advertising.”

    Those who really are very interested are super happy that they can go home and read up on it, rather than just getting a one or two line answer.

    Anyway, that’s just how I do it and people seem to like it. Nothing wrong with your way, that’s just how I do it πŸ˜‰

  15. Style Snatch

    - 16th Nov, 07 10:11pm

    I don’t affiliate . I do ADSENSE

  16. Marie

    - 17th Nov, 07 01:11am

    “I do online commission-based sales.”

  17. John

    - 17th Nov, 07 06:11am

    “I do online lead generation.”

    This has turned into other revenue opportunities πŸ™‚ Many people want quality leads and it can parlay into custom direct to vendor lead opportunities.

  18. We Finance Loans

    - 17th Nov, 07 12:11pm

    I make websites that refer potential customers to companies. The companies pay me a commission if the customer buys anything. There’s so many companies online these days that it is sometimes hard to find the right one so I’m like the middle man that helps recommend the right company for the right customer.

  19. pktan

    - 17th Nov, 07 07:11pm

    The best answer i heard from a friend is “I do online MLM”, heh, that pretty much sums it up for someone who doesn’t understand how the internet affiliate marketing works. As for me, “I help websites get ranked up on search engines”

  20. Leo Dimilo

    - 18th Nov, 07 07:11am

    I usually say I do internet marketing. When this reply gets a blank stare, I go into my longer version…

    “Let’s say that you are looking for a Canon HD-7535 Camera and you google it….You see a listing on the top and click on it and buy your camera. I am the guy who “sold” it to you…

  21. Alex Yeo

    - 18th Nov, 07 05:11pm

    Facing the same scenario as you too! I get tired of explaining what’s “internet marketing” and “affiliate marketing” Most street people don’t have a clue at all. πŸ™‚

    So right now, if they ask me what I am doing online, I will just say:

    One sentence: I am running an online business.

    Pretty straight forward, as most people know what’s “online” and “business”, but not many people know what’s “marketing”.

    But, at least 70% will probe deeper and ask me what do I do or sell online? I will then say.

    Longer sentence: I run my own online business by selling other’s people products.

    Again, a few people will ask whether I am in MLM. I laughed and shook my head and explain a little further.

    Final sentence: I am just like an authorized retailer and earn commissions from products. But it’s online based.

    99% will be satisfied with my explanations. πŸ˜€

  22. Jonk

    - 18th Nov, 07 07:11pm

    “I get a commission for promoting other people’s products through my websites”

  23. Jonk

    - 18th Nov, 07 07:11pm

    OH, sorry, three to five sentences.

    One sentence: “I get paid commissions to recommend other people’s products through my website.”

    Three to five “I’ve built a website where I recommend other people’s products. Using special software, they track the visitors that go from my website to theirs and see if they are buying anything. If they do buy something, I receive a commission from that.”

  24. Jonk

    - 18th Nov, 07 07:11pm

    Stopping the questions has never really been my goal when talking about internet marketing. You should be trying to generate interest because they might buy through you OR have someone in their network who could help bring you more success.

  25. Steven

    - 20th Nov, 07 11:11am

    I do paid a finders fee for referring clients to major businesses, basically marketing.

  26. Mike Cabarles

    - 21st Nov, 07 02:11am

    I ask them “Have you ever bought anything on the internet?”
    If they have, I say “Well, I sell that kind of stuff!”

    If they haven’t, I show them how to find something they want and buy it – and a new internet shopper is born.


    Mike Cabarles

  27. Topj

    - 21st Nov, 07 09:11am

    I say I’m into IM, useally that ends the conversation, since no one understands what I’m saying…sometimes I’ll say I run some websites for a living, and all people want to know about is: How do I build websites:) Crazy.
    This is just to show you that affiliate marketing is a wide-open market, at this point if you even know what it is, you’re way ahead in the race.

  28. Carpentry Jobs

    - 21st Nov, 07 09:11pm

    How about saying, ‘That’s none of your business..’ ??

  29. Sarah Lewis

    - 22nd Nov, 07 02:11pm

    I like what you said at the end: “I got an online magazine and I sell advertising space.”

    That seems like a very good description, though it’s not usually the way we think of it; it’s completely an offline idea taken online, and I expect that it’s much easier for less web-savvy people to grasp than many of the others.

  30. Steven

    - 23rd Nov, 07 03:11pm

    Oops, I meant to say “I get paid a finders fee” rather than “I do paid a finders fee” LOL…

    What I was trying to say was along the lines of “I am a freelance marketer that get paid a finders fee for referring potential clients to a list of specific companies that pay commission base on these customers I send their way.”

  31. Doug

    - 24th Nov, 07 06:11pm

    I create websites that help people find what they want online, mostly tangible products, and I get paid a generous commission each time one of those people purchases something I helped them find.

  32. fredrik Gyllensten

    - 28th Nov, 07 09:11pm

    Having fun on my Mac πŸ™‚

    But seriusly, I cant explain it in one centence – as i do many things πŸ™‚

  33. Cash Dominator - Make Money Online

    - 20th Dec, 07 08:12pm

    In my country (Hungary) when I talk about internet marketing people look at me like I was talking about something nasty… πŸ˜€

  34. John Allsopp

    - 25th Feb, 08 02:02pm

    Unfortunately there’s too much hype and BS about affiliate marketing these days.

  35. Make Friends, Earn Money

    - 30th May, 08 06:05pm

    I would explain it in the following way

    “I get paid to to sit on my bum without lifting a finger”


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