One of the harder things when you're getting started in affiliate marketing is keeping your shit straight -- and by your shit, I mean the terminology. It's all affiliate marketing, but who is the affiliate? And who is the advertiser? And what in the what is a PPC (or is it PCP)?
So, yeah. Let's get a couple things straight:
Bloggers: We are the affiliate. By being the "mouthpiece" suggesting the merchant -- via text link, banner ad, data feed, widget, video, etc. -- we are presenting ourselves as being an affiliate of that merchant.
Merchant: Sometimes referred to as a brand. They're the ones selling the shit, and in return paying us, the affiliate, a little commish for "introducing" our reader to their product. Henceforth known as the cutie playing foosball (bear with me). ie: BHLDN, ModCloth, Target, Etsy.
Network: These guys are like the the bar where you met your significant other. They provide the playing field and the tools to get you from eyeballing the cutie playing foosball to sitting next to said cutie planning a first date and doing tequila shooters. ie: ShareASale, RewardStyle, Commission Junction, Affiliate Window.
Affiliate Manager / Outsourced Program Manager: Your wingman. Or that cutie playing foosball's wingman. This is the person you want to know, because they're your best chance at success (and a second date).