I can still hear my high school football coach repeating again and again..."Focus on the fundamentals!" This sentence rings true in most endeavors, including online affiliate marketing. If you don't address the basics, your shooting yourself in the foot right from the get go. So as not to beat around the bush...here is a very general view of the basics of affiliate marketing.
Basic No. 1
Discover what it is that people on the internet want and are looking for. If you don't do your homework first and try to market the first affiliate that you find, you are wasting your time and will only bring yourself frustration and disappointment. There are tools out there that will help you gather the information you need to research different markets.
Basic No. 2
Partner with companies that are providing the things these individuals want by becoming an affiliate. This shouldn't be to hard. There are many, many companies on the web that have affiliate programs. Once you sign up as an affiliate you will have the right to market that companies product(s). This can be done in multiple ways and there are many resources to learn about these.
Basic No. 3
Create a web presence that can effectively present these products to those who are looking. Possibly a website (many sources out there offering free website), a blog (again, multiple sources), among other. The important thing here is simply to have a vehicle for offering this product you've chosen, through thought and research, to the web public.
Basic No. 4
Drive those people, that are wanting and looking for what you are offering, to your website so they may encounter your offer and make a buying decision.
Basic No. 1 and Basic No. 4 are where the vast majority of people fail. By not doing their homework ahead of time, people are working hard to offer a product that might not be fulfilling any particular need of the public. And in turn by not putting the effort in and using the right strategies to drive web traffic to there offer people may be offering a great product that absolutely fills the needs of the public, but falling far short of getting enough peoples attention to create sales.
In the end you must put in the time and effort to educate yourself on the basics, put in some hard work, and be diligent in your business. There is an idea being propagated out there that making money on the internet is a cinch. If you are entering into your journey to make money online thinking it should be a breeze you're in for a rude awakening. It's not complicated, but that doesn't mean it's easy. Approach it like you would any other business, worry about acquiring the basics and the money will follow.