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For those of you who are affiliate marketers — do people understand what you do?

For those of you who are affiliate marketers — do people understand what you do? How do you explain your business to friends and family?

Those of you who hang around here from time to time know that I’ve been working to create a successful affiliate marketing business in recent years and I write about it here from time to time. And among my affiliate marketing friends, I find that many have given up on trying to explain their business to those who ask about it.

There are a huge number of affiliate marketing business models out there. The one thing they have in common is a lack of actually stocking or selling products or services. No affiliate marketer carries his own retail products or wholesale products, or any other sort of products. If you do that, you are NOT an affiliate marketer, you’re a merchant. (I’m using the terms “marketer” and “merchant” here to refer interchangeably to people who handle products/goods and/or services, for convenience.)

In simplest terms, when family or friends ask me what I do when I tell them I’m an affiliate marketer, I generally say something like this: “I earn commissions from online merchants for sending people from my websites to the merchants’ websites who then buy something from those merchants.” Either they “get it,” or they realize I’m speaking gibberish they’ll never understand, so that generally ends the conversation.

Just out of curiosity, those of you reading this who do affiliate marketing, what do you tell people to help them understand what your business is? Feel free to leave a comment and tell us about it.