What is Affiliate Marketing? Affiliate marketing is an online sales tactic that lets a product owner increase sales by allowing others targeting the same audience – “affiliates” – to earn a commission by recommending the product to others. At the same time, it makes it possible for affiliates to earn money on product sales without creating products of their own. The cost to the customer purchasing the product or service through an affiliate is the same as buying directly from the product owner. While product owners make less money per sale because they must pay a percentage of the sale to the affiliate, they are also reaching potential customers they probably wouldn’t reach on their own. Affiliates can earn commissions on a one-time purchase or recurring income through sales of subscriptions or membership programs.