2nd tier.  If you are an affiliate for a particular program and you refer others to sign up for that affiliate program, a 2nd tier program will pay you when the affiliates you referred make sales. For example, I am an affiliate for Ultimate Bundles. If you join their affiliate program via my 2nd tier affiliate link here. I will get a small percentage of any sales you make going forward.

Now as to your comment on traffic it is true, traffic is important. But the truth is, acquiring traffic is easier than converting it. Plus we have many posts dedicated to traffic generation on this blog. Simply check this post, this post or this post. But must importantly, the reason why people struggle with traffic is that they try to promote a sales page or a heavily biased piece of content. Nobody wants to share that, nobody wants to link to that, and as a result you don't get traffic and blame your lack of success on traffic (like you did in your comment above).
Know when to wait. Some affiliate programs require a certain level of traffic, subscribers, etc. If that’s the case, I say it’s better to wait to apply for that program instead of applying and hoping for the best. You risk being labelled the person who can’t follow guidelines and you might also risk not be allowed into the program when you do meet the qualifications.
In the past, large affiliates were the mainstay, as catch-all coupon and media sites gave traffic to hundreds or thousands of advertisers. This is not so much the case anymore. With consumers using long-tail keywords and searching for very specific products and services, influencers can leverage their hyper-focused niche for affiliate marketing success. Influencers may not send advertisers huge amounts of traffic, but the audience they do send is credible, targeted, and has higher conversion rates. 
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I have been researching Affiliate Marketing for a while now, but I got confused each time I read new article on the subject. I was hoping to get more confused when I started reading this write up, but instead it explained to me in clear terms, the meaning of Affiliate Marketing. I can say that the foundation for leaning the subject has just been laid in my mind.
Thanks! I have a few products mixed into my blog posts, and will be adding more. I have found CB to be a mixed bag so far - but need more time to see how it pans out. Also wondering about setting up more sites to follow the funnel you set up. I was pleased to hear you mention having 3 follow ups in the responder sequence. Someone else had suggested 10! I figured by 4 or 5 you lost them anyway.

The terms of an affiliate marketing program are set by the company wanting to advertise. Early on, companies were largely paying cost per click (traffic) or cost per mile (impressions) on banner advertisements. As the technology evolved, the focus turned to commissions on actual sales or qualified leads. The early affiliate marketing programs were vulnerable to fraud because clicks could be generated by software, as could impressions.
The best way to think about affiliate marketing is quality over quantity. There are a lot of small websites that will promote your product, but the key is finding a small number of partners that will deliver conversions. For example, an equity management services firm has over 20,000 affiliates in its system, but only about 25 affiliates generate 85 percent of revenue.
Merchants receiving a large percentage of their revenue from the affiliate channel can become reliant on their affiliate partners. This can lead to affiliate marketers leveraging their new-found status to receive higher commissions and better deals with their advertisers. Whether it’s CPA, CPL, or CPC commission structures, brands are willing to pay, and affiliate marketers are in the driver’s seat.

Most businesses require startup fees as well as a cash flow to finance the products being sold. However, affiliate marketing can be done at a low cost, meaning you can get started quickly and without much hassle. There are no affiliate program fees to worry about and no need to create a product. Beginning this line of work is relatively straightforward.
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