Once you’ve done all the heavy lifting of niche selection, keyword research, and competition analysis, then you can finally start building your site. It’s important not to skip all the steps above. You’d hate to spend months on a site, only to learn that it won’t be profitable at all. All that hard work for nothing. You can read more about why I use WordPress for my Amazon sites.
In addition to merchant-driven programs, there are also dedicated affiliate networks, such as Rakuten, Awin, CJ, and Pepperjam. These programs encompass several different merchants and thousands of products. This gives you access to multiple types of products, without needing to join lots of programs. Even eCommerce giants like eBay and Amazon have their own successful affiliate programs.
Also sometimes spelled as “Click Thru Rate”. A metric used to show the number of times your affiliate link has been clicked on compared to the number of times the link has been viewed displayed as a percentage. To find your CTR, simply take the number of clicks the link has received and divide it by the number of impressions (times the link was shown) and times the result by 100 to get your CTR percentage. Example – if you are displaying a banner ad that has had 100 impressions and received 1 click, then you would take 1 (clicks) and divide it by 100 (impressions) to get .01 (result) and multiply that by 100 to arrive at a CTR of 1%.
It’s important to know where your traffic is coming from and the demographics of your audience. This will allow you to customize your messaging so that you can provide the best affiliate product recommendations. You shouldn’t just focus on the vertical you’re in, but on the traffic sources and audience that’s visiting your site. Traffic sources may include organic, paid, social media, referral, display, email, or direct traffic. You can view traffic source data in Google Analytics to view things such as time on page, bounce rate, geo location, age, gender, time of day, devices (mobile vs. desktop), and more so that you can focus your effort on the highest converting traffic. This analytics data is crucial to making informed decisions, increasing your conversion rates, and making more affiliate sales. 

So an effective affiliate marketing program requires some forethought. The terms and conditions have to be tight, especially if the contract agreement is to pay for traffic rather than sales. The potential for fraud in affiliate marketing is a possibility. Unscrupulous affiliates can squat on domain names with misspellings and get a commission for the redirect; they can populate online registration forms with fake or stolen information; they can purchase adwords on search terms the company already ranks high on, and so on. Even if the terms and conditions are clear, an affiliate marketing program requires that someone be monitoring affiliates and enforcing the rules. In exchange for that effort, however, a company can access motivated, creative people to help sell their product or services to the world.
In the BigCommerce affiliate program, you receive a 200% bounty per referral and $1,500 per Enterprise referral, with no cap on commissions. Plus, the more referrals you drive through the program, the higher your commission tier will go. BigCommerce uses an industry leading 90-day cookie, so you will receive credit for up to three months for the referrals you generate. Also, there are no obligations or minimum commitments to join the program.
If you are reading this post as an online marketer who may want to become an affiliate, feel free to drop me an email and I’ll be happy to guide you. You will find this video of help, but for an advice tailored to your needs, shoot me an e-mail, and I will be happy to find good matches for your website, PPC campaign, or any other online marketing initiative.
Hi Christina. I have been looking for answers about how to start affiliate through a travel blogging for more than 3 weeks and this post shined a light for me. Thank you! I still have a question about how and when to start applying to affiliate programs. I just opened my travel blog last week and had only 2 posts. Off course I have no established traffic and posts yet. I want to use affiliate links to start writing about reviews of hotels and places where I have visited, but I know my blog won’t be accepted by advertisers because I don’t have enough contents. I also took Michelle’s course and one of the chapters said to start affiliate marketing as soon as possible, but I don’t know how would you be accepted by advertisers at very very beginning?? Should I forcus on writing more posts first? And how many would be adequate to start applying to programs? Thank you for reading. Your blog is very helpful!!
Many affiliate marketers use paid advertising to generate additional traffic to their site and drive more sales. Paid advertising on social media is often a good place to start, as these networks tend to be more affordable.You may also want to consider taking out inexpensive banner ads on small niche sites. Depending on your niche, Google AdWords could also be a good option to drive some paid traffic to your site.
first off, show visitors that you have a great site by getting a better theme! You did not get a penalty because of affiliate content, nor have I ever heard of, however, I have heard of sites in the past getting penalty for having do follow links to affiliate programs such as amazon, remember, google does not like you giving credit to a site in exchange for receiving paid compensation, so ask yourself, are your external links nofollow? this may also include any buttons/graphics that link to affiliate sites that do not have a no follow attribute, not going to go to much into this, so I am going to assume your content is ok, if it is, then you need to check your link portfolio; maybe you have too many low quality links and/or you may have over-optimized anchor/text in your link building efforts; bad links, over optimization are common link issues that could cause your site to get a penalty, as it is not about what you are writing about, if all else fails, then hire seo consultant for an entire site autdit, they will go through your site tooth and nail, and see why you have lost your rankings. good luck.
Affiliate marketing as a monetization stream is perfect for bloggers, because we recommend things on a daily basis. It’s also a largely passive way to make money, which frees up your time to do other cool things, like travel and eat your weight in pie. Long story short: affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to monetize your blog, so you should read on to learn all about it!
If you’ve decided affiliate marketing is right for your business, there are many different ways to go about it. It’s not the right strategy for every business. It depends on the kind of business you have. If you have a brick and mortar pizza shop, this probably isn’t for you. But for a retailer it can be a helpful tool. Brick Marketing sets up one web site that resells your product or service on other web sites. It’s performance-based marketing, paid by commission. Brick completes the whole process: Develops a strategy, writes program terms, writes banners and text ads to promote the site. They start by listening to what your business needs—the audience you’re looking to reach and who your competitors are. From there, Brick designs a successful affiliate program that works for your business. Picking an affiliate network—a group of web sites that represent your business interests—is another key part of the process. Then they launch the program and put a tracking system in place to illustrate how effective it is. The whole thing is completed in-house by Brick to get your affiliate program started. Down the line, they do monthly promotions and create affiliate programs to help. For their monthly full service program, Brick charges a flat fee of $2,000, which takes about 20 to 30 hours. This is a program that offers clients a full solution for their affiliate program.
From a publisher’s perspective, affiliate marketing involves the promotion of a product or service that your audience is likely to purchase. To do this you might create detailed blog posts, infographics, or step-by-step video guides to using it on YouTube. You may choose to host a resource page on your blog that lists all of your favorite products or send an email to your list with your top shopping picks for the week. You might even invest in pay-per-click campaigns to drive visitors to a landing page that includes your affiliate links.
While your site is still new, it's a good idea to start capitalizing on someone else's audience. Continue focusing on building your own content, but also considering writing content for a few big, high-traffic blogs that are relevant for your niche. By writing content for a bigger site, you are able to get in front of another audience and showcase your expertise on a particular topic. This will eventually lead to more traffic to your site, as well. 
Many affiliate programs run with last-click attribution, where the affiliate receiving the last click before the sale gets 100% credit for the conversion. This is changing. With affiliate platforms providing new attribution models and reporting features, you are able to see a full-funnel, cross-channel view of how individual marketing tactics are working together. For example, you might see that a paid social campaign generated the first click, Affiliate X got click 2, and Affiliate Y got the last click. With this full picture, you can structure your affiliate commissions so that Affiliate X gets a percentage of the credit for the sale, even though they didn’t get the last click. 

Affiliate marketing success can lead many to believe this is an easy way to make money online (passive income). However, It takes a lot more than an online course, a few domain names and Amazon products to become one of the real success stories. Although the internet is flooded with business models and marketing tips, it is simply pretty darn difficult to start leveraging this channel effectively.

Go Direst to Merchant Sites: Some merchants choose to handle its own affiliate sales and payments. For example, the Elegant themes affiliate program is run from their website. If you see a product that others are selling then the first place to visit is the merchants website. Most will have an affiliate link for more information on how to join their program.


It’s also an incredibly low-risk marketing strategy with a high ROI. Most other promotional channels require some kind of payment upfront and there’s a chance that it may not work. In these cases, you’ve lost some precious marketing budget and not gained anything in return. However, with affiliate marketing, you’re only charged once a sale is confirmed. You can define the payment terms as 60 or 90 days to allow for refunds or processing issues. An affiliate agency will generally charge a nominal amount to cover overhead and then leverage their relationships to build your affiliate network.  This format protects both parties cash flow and ensures you’ve already received the money from the customer before you have to pay the affiliate. It’s a performance-based method that rewards top-performing affiliates who refer genuine customers.

Even though I say that “content is not the only king“, by gosh it is dam important! If you haven’t got the information that your visitor wants then you can kiss your affiliate commissions goodbye. Excellent content is the main ingredient in your sale process so never just slap any old content up. See this article showing what I think quality content is.
Affiliate marketing success can lead many to believe this is an easy way to make money online (passive income). However, It takes a lot more than an online course, a few domain names and Amazon products to become one of the real success stories. Although the internet is flooded with business models and marketing tips, it is simply pretty darn difficult to start leveraging this channel effectively.

Indicate who is the main contact for the account. Select the first bubble, labeled “the payee listed above,” to indicate that you are setting the account up for yourself. Select the second bubble, labeled “someone else…,” if you are setting the account up as a representative of a company. Click “next: your website profile” to finish setting up your Associates account.[4]
Affiliate marketing is an ideal solution for those looking to gain control of their own income by focusing on performance-based revenue options. Working in tandem with a seller, a motivated affiliate marketer will be able to achieve a passive income from the comfort of their home without worrying about producing their own product or service. Although the success of the job does depend on the affiliate’s marketing skills, it can prove to be an effective way to meet your income goals as either a primary career or a profitable second job.
I have a free WordPress website with 1000-2000 visitors/month. I was trying to place Amazon Affiliate ad links last night and failed/flailed mightily. I would paste the links into my posts in the HTML mode, switch to Visual mode, and could see the image. However, every time I tried to save or update the post, the image reverted to the gangly hyperlink. As some suggested, I tried cleaning the links of any formatting from the copy and paste with text edit. No dice.

Most of the traffic for your affiliate website will come from product related searches, and product reviews. Generally, these will be more long-tail terms such as, “Blendtec 570 vs Vitamix 5300”, or “greenworks mower vs black and decker”. The traffic coming from keywords like these will be very targeted, as the searcher has the intention to purchase something.
Most of the traffic for your affiliate website will come from product related searches, and product reviews. Generally, these will be more long-tail terms such as, “Blendtec 570 vs Vitamix 5300”, or “greenworks mower vs black and decker”. The traffic coming from keywords like these will be very targeted, as the searcher has the intention to purchase something.

It seems nowadays many bloggers are obsessed with this monetization stream, clamouring to find out how they, too, can make money off blogging through affiliate sales. This popularity has led to one very negative consequence: information overload, and not enough answers. After a few email exchanges, I realized some newbies were petrified of asking basic questions… in fear of sounding dumb.
If you aren’t technically inclined, you can register your domain name at the same site you set up your hosting to make it easier for you. However, if you want to save some money, you can choose a lower-cost provider. This shouldn’t be a big deal using one or two sites but might be a big deal for up to ten or twenty. Domain companies like GoDaddy.com have great domain management tools are very affordable charging less than $10 yearly.
If there’s no products on Amazon for “High end” then you have no Amazon products to promote and no way on earning any commission. Why not try keywords like Best (x) or Luxury (y) where there will be more search volume. Let’s say you want to promote hammocks, you can then target search KWs such as Best Hammock for Under $100, Most Comfortable Hammock, Luxury Hammocks etc. Let me know how you get on.

Although it differs from spyware, adware often uses the same methods and technologies. Merchants initially were uninformed about adware, what impact it had, and how it could damage their brands. Affiliate marketers became aware of the issue much more quickly, especially because they noticed that adware often overwrites tracking cookies, thus resulting in a decline of commissions. Affiliates not employing adware felt that it was stealing commission from them. Adware often has no valuable purpose and rarely provides any useful content to the user, who is typically unaware that such software is installed on his/her computer.
Many affiliate marketers use paid advertising to generate additional traffic to their site and drive more sales. Paid advertising on social media is often a good place to start, as these networks tend to be more affordable.You may also want to consider taking out inexpensive banner ads on small niche sites. Depending on your niche, Google AdWords could also be a good option to drive some paid traffic to your site.
Set reasonable expectations for earnings. You've only invested $20. You're going to make 5 percent on most products. That means that you need to sell $400 worth of stuff to make back your investment. You get credit for purchases customers make while at Amazon besides just the product you linked to, so it's not as hard as it may sound. It won't make you rich, but it's not hard to be profitable, and the income builds over time.
Great post, Sean! I have been using Adsense for the most part for two years now and each year, due to great content, my income has doubled. Thanks for all the great content, and this is sure to open my eyes a bit more to the likes of Amazon, which, I will admit, I have been ignoring due to the way they treat their affiliates. But, maybe it’s just me being a turd….
The above three give you cash, but many merchants give you store credit. Examples of those would be Stitch Fix, thredUP, Zulily, The Honest Company and more. Whether those would be worth it to you will be dependent on how much you shop there. Stitch Fix will give you up to $600 a year in referral credit. That's $600 worth of clothes that I don't have to pay for. That's worth it to me. Once I hit that $600 mark, I switch out the link for their Commission Junction affiliate link so I am still earning on any signups after I hit their referral threshold.

This can be as simple as adding a single disclaimer at the top of a blog post in which you’re sharing affiliate links. I’ve had people tell me it feels odd to tell visitors that you’re making money from an action they’re taking, and I get it, but the truth is this: it doesn’t cost those visitors anything to use your link (beyond the cost of the product), and once you help them, they’ll often look for ways to help you in return. And providing affiliate links is an easy way to let them do that, at no extra cost to them!
Effectively, these advertisers have a couple of choices. They can use an affiliate network that acts as a go-between, connecting the advertiser to affiliate marketers and managing the tracking and payments in exchange for a service fee. Or the advertiser can license affiliate-tracking software to deploy on its own servers or as a cloud-based service.
Ooh that makes sense! Yeah, surname would probably be a big one. I’ve also heard that they keep tabs on any old addresses you’ve registered and if the address is the same as someone buying from you, then that doesn’t count either. I can’t imagine they’d be able to know who ALL your friends are, but a good thing to be mindful of! When I first started I thought, hey, why not just make a FB post and tell everyone to buy off me? haha then I realized maybe it’s not that simple.
Knowing this, many affiliates using the Amazon Associates affiliate program simply use the sales of cheaper items as a way to boost their commissions on the larger items they promote. You won’t be able to sell nearly the number of high end digital cameras as you can e-books, so the e-books simply help to raise your commission percentage when you do happen to sell a $1,000 camera.
As of March 1st, that standard will be replaced with a new category-by-category system. That means affiliates selling products in certain favored categories will get higher rates, including “digital video games” and “luxury beauty,” while most products see a steep drop-off. Amazon says the changes were made to simplify the system and that most associates will come out ahead, although it’s unclear how to square those predictions with the falling rates.
This book is perfect for a complete beginner. It shows you all the methods needed to get you started. Keep in mind that if you are an experienced affiliate marketer, this book probably won't provide you with a whole lot of information you didn't already know. However, if you're like me, and you're ready to start slowly dipping into the world of affiliate marketing, then this book is absolutely for you!
With the basic terms clarified, let’s get an overview of how you can best get started with building your affiliate marketing business on Amazon. As I said, there are basically two sides of the affiliate marketing equation that you can choose from, you can become a merchant and have others promote your product, in exchange for giving them a commission from the sales that they make.
There is no shortage of products you’ll be able to promote. You’ll have the ability to pick and choose products that you personally believe in, so make sure that your campaigns center around truly valuable products that consumers will enjoy. You’ll achieve an impressive conversion rate while simultaneously establishing the reliability of your personal brand.

If you have built up an email list, you could also promote your affiliate offers via email promotions. Just make sure you build up a relationship with your audience first instead of going for the hard sell straightaway. The emails you send out must contain your affiliate links to products so when your audience click through. the sale is attributed to you. 
Companies have to decide whether their price points give them enough profit margin to also pay an affiliate for his or her sales. If a company doesn't have enough profit margin to pay an affiliate, then affiliate marketing won't be a financially viable option. Companies also have to consider the risk of an affiliate marketer misrepresenting the company. For example, an affiliate marketer might mistakenly claim that a particular lotion will make your wrinkles go away in two weeks, but in reality, the actual lotion product makes no such claim. An affiliate marketer could potentially cause problems for a company with such untested statements. Some affiliate marketers will say anything to make a sale, so companies need to weed these people out.
If you're not technically inclined at all, register your domain wherever you set up your hosting. Otherwise, you can save a few dollars by choosing a lower-cost provider. This is not a big deal for one or two sites, but it can be for 10 or 20. GoDaddy is a good option because it offers great domain management tools and at a low cost annually. One of the least expensive and reputable in the market is 1&1. Prices start at the low end of the spectrum for the first year with increases, sometimes significant for each subsequent year, depending on what plan you choose.

Great post , I do read a lot of the Nichehacks articles and this one is so true. At the moment I am in a niche I'm passionate about and yes although I am primarily using Amazon to monetize my site, I will be branching out to use other methods very soon. It frightens me to think the plug can be pulled at any time! I intent to use other affiliate programs as well as Amazon, maybe Google Adsense, I'm not sure yet, some digital products and also to build an email list.


Do you have any opinions about sites that got hit with Google Fred for having too much affiliate content? I think one of your other sites got hit (not TYS) and I saw you add a lot of new content but it’s not going up much. The same thing happened to me; I had too much affiliate content and got penalized; added more content but it’s not helping. I am thinking of just starting a new site and redirecting links to the new site. I feel like this penalty is unrecoverable….
Great stuff here Sean – thanks for all of these insights and sharing some best practices when it comes to affiliate marketing. I’ve never been comfortable giving it a shot, but after reading this post and your perspective on how and when to do it, I may just have to give it a try. Especially considering I’m already mentioning and recommending services and products on my site, I’m just not getting the potential rewards associated with doing so. Thanks again.

Affiliates were among the earliest adopters of pay per click advertising when the first pay-per-click search engines emerged during the end of the 1990s. Later in 2000 Google launched its pay per click service, Google AdWords, which is responsible for the widespread use and acceptance of pay per click as an advertising channel. An increasing number of merchants engaged in pay per click advertising, either directly or via a search marketing agency, and realized that this space was already occupied by their affiliates. Although this situation alone created advertising channel conflicts and debates between advertisers and affiliates, the largest issue concerned affiliates bidding on advertisers names, brands, and trademarks.[39] Several advertisers began to adjust their affiliate program terms to prohibit their affiliates from bidding on those type of keywords. Some advertisers, however, did and still do embrace this behavior, going so far as to allow, or even encourage, affiliates to bid on any term, including the advertiser's trademarks.
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