Adam Enfroy is the Affiliate Partnerships Manager at BigCommerce. With 10+ years of experience in digital marketing, ecommerce, SEO, web development, and selling online courses, he is passionate about leveraging the right strategic partnerships, content, and software to scale digital growth. Adam lives in Austin, TX and writes about building your online influence by scaling your content and affiliate marketing strategies on his blog.
This is a HUGE one! A lot of people register for Amazon Associates at the beginning of their blogging career because they assume it’s just good to “get it out of the way”. Don’t!! *foams at the mouth* I repeat: don’t register until your blog is reasonably established and you’re quite certain someone out there will buy something off of your link. If you don’t net any sales within your first 90 days, your account will get shut down. You’re welcome to apply again, but by then, your fragile ego will be in ruins.
Cost per click was more common in the early days of affiliate marketing but has diminished in use over time due to click fraud issues very similar to the click fraud issues modern search engines are facing today. Contextual advertising programs are not considered in the statistic pertaining to the diminished use of cost per click, as it is uncertain if contextual advertising can be considered affiliate marketing.

Great advice here. The typical idea of writing reviews of bicycle pedals and expecting someone to follow your link in order to buy a pair is dead. Now if you are actually a cyclists, and you know something about all the different types of pedals, and why different types solve different cycling problems, then hey, welcome to the world of providing useful content.
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 important status to receive higher commissions and better deals with their advertisers. Whether it’s CPA, CPL, or CPC commission structures, there are a lot of high paying affiliate programs and affiliate marketers are in the driver’s seat.
When there are multiple affiliates involved in one transaction, payment gets much more complicated. Sometimes it’s even possible for affiliates to jump in at the last minute and claim commissions for customers brought in by other affiliates. Successful programs use multi-channel attribution to ensure the affiliates that create the most value get paid the most.

Mention it in a blog post. A lot of bloggers get great initial results by working backward. Make a list of your top 5 or 10 blog posts. What things would be a natural fit in there? If it's a recipe post, maybe it's a few of the necessary tools needed to complete the recipe. Include your Amazon link. If it's a potty training tale, include a list of books you read or potty training supplies you recommend. Still not sure? Google posts similar to yours. What are those people promoting within those posts?
But beyond these specific points, promoting affiliate products on Amazon really involves the same ground rules that apply to affiliate marketing in any form or on any other site or network. That is, know the products you’re promoting, be honest in how you represent those products, and give people enough information to make an informed decision about the product.
Alright, I know that was a lot to digest, but if making passive income was easy, don’t you think we’d all be walking around, draped in velvet like the fancy people we truly are? Making money off blogging, passive income no less, is super difficult… and it takes hard work and dedication. With these basics out of the way, it is my genuine hope that you now feel (somewhat) less confused and more motivated than ever to tackle this beast. If you haven’t run away to the woods yet, you might be wondering, “ugh crap what do I do now?”
Translation: Amazon won’t let you join their affiliate program if your site is involved in anything illegal, deceptive, violent, or hateful. But even if this doesn’t describe your site (and I hope it doesn’t!), keep in mind that sites of an “adult” nature may not be allowed either. Also, even if your site is totally family friendly, if it’s focused on kids it may not be allowed, as Amazon says it won’t accept sites directed toward kids who aren’t teenagers yet.
Since the emergence of affiliate marketing, there has been little control over affiliate activity. Unscrupulous affiliates have used spam, false advertising, forced clicks (to get tracking cookies set on users' computers), adware, and other methods to drive traffic to their sponsors. Although many affiliate programs have terms of service that contain rules against spam, this marketing method has historically proven to attract abuse from spammers.
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.
Affiliate marketing enables you to generate more sales by tapping into other people’s audiences. These people or ‘affiliates’ earn a commission for referring customers, so it’s in their interest to write positive reviews and spread word of mouth. They’ll often write blog posts, promote your product on social media, and share it with their email list, in order to earn higher commissions. The best will leverage their social network with facebook ads, facebook messenger, or leveraging their affiliate websites.
I just LOVE your writing style, Christina! I recently purchased the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course, but have yet to really dig in. I had NO idea all of those crazy complications with Amazon! I’ve already been rejected once 😛 But luckily, though my ego was bruised, I pressed on and am now on round 2 (with no success so far..lol) Hopefully with this post and the course I will make something in the next 90 days!
Readers are in the mood to spend money and are eagerly looking for products to purchase as presents. If it fits your blog well, write a “best gifts” post for your audience.Create multiple pin images for the post and promote the holiday pin images starting in October. You can visit the Pinterest business blog to know when to start promoting your seasonal content.

A text file that is sent from a website to a file within a user's web browser. Cookies are used for various reasons on the web as a whole. In regards to affiliate marketing, Cookies are used to assign an ID to a user that has clicked on your affiliate link to get to a merchant website for a predefined period. If the user returns within that predefined period (whether or not they click on your affiliate link again) then you will be credited with the sale. Example – a user clicks your affiliate link (cookie gets “dropped” to their browser) and then bookmarks the merchant's website to buy later. The user returns before the Cookie Expiration and makes the purchase. You would receive credit – and this commission – on the sale.

A page on your website or blog that informs site visitors what you do with their personal information – whether received via contact forms, etc or through any anonymous tracking methods. A website is required to have a privacy policy by many merchants to participate in their affiliate program. It is also required to use Google AdSense and Google Analytics.

That’s a great tip Sean, thanks! I was thinking about what you said in your post about some companies not putting that they have affiliate links and you having to do some digging and there are couple of companies/authors who made products I love and keep using, but I’m not sure how to go ahead and ask about the affiliate link. I read the post you linked below about asking for guest blogging, which I thought was a must-read, and so, if you think of doing a follow-up on this one, would love to read some of your tips and do’s and don’t about this. Thanks again, Sean, you’re doing some very inspiring work here!
Wow. Thank you for parting the mists of the mystery of affiliate marketing. I was drowning in vagueness and confusion for a few weeks there and now I feel like I have enough information to at least create a strategy around when I might want to start. I had no idea that it was so country-specific, which is important because I get just as many hits from European countries as I do the U.S.
This online marketing strategy is suitable for lots of different business situations. If you want to launch a new product or service with a bang and generate buzz from the start, having an army of affiliates (that have an interest in revenue sharing) can help. Besides selling a physical product, affiliate marketing can also increase your website traffic and generate more leads, so you drive more sales of an existing offering to new audiences.  To really drive an effective at this channel, working with a firm who specializes in affiliate management is a sure-fire way to bypass any learning curve, leverage existing relationships and turn up the heat on results.

Don’t go insane and join a million at once… think first about what would make sense for you to endorse. If you’re a travel blogger for instance, becoming an affiliate for hotels, tours and travel gear may be appropriate. Most companies will have an affiliate program, or be part of an affiliate network. Your best bet would be a quick Google: “company + affiliate program”.
You might be curious about how the merchant knows which affiliate is responsible for the purchase. That’s actually the easy part since every affiliate is given a unique link that tracks each product they promote. This lets the merchant track all referrals using cookies to ensure that they know exactly how much money they’ve earned thanks to each affiliate (and what to pay them in return).
If your domain is your address, hosting is like the actual house within which your site will live. It's your own little slice of the internet — the place where all your website files live. Hosting is very affordable these days, so don't unnecessarily scrimp on costs. Go with a reputable, reliable provider because your affiliate marketing business depends on it. 
The three above examples are “referral” programs. That means you become a user of the platform yourself and they add more money to your account as you refer your friends. (Look for the refer-a-friend link on your dashboard.) These can often be more lucrative than their affiliate program counterparts and they are offered by so many companies these days.

A page on your website or blog that informs site visitors what you do with their personal information – whether received via contact forms, etc or through any anonymous tracking methods. A website is required to have a privacy policy by many merchants to participate in their affiliate program. It is also required to use Google AdSense and Google Analytics.
There are two ways to approach affiliate marketing: You can offer an affiliate program to others or you can sign up to be another business's affiliate. As the business driving an affiliate program, you'll pay your affiliates a commission fee for every lead or sale they drive to your website. Your main goal should be to find affiliates who'll reach untapped markets. For example, a company with an e-zine may make a good affiliate because its subscribers are hungry for resources. So introducing your offer through a "trusted" company can grab the attention of prospects you might not have otherwise reached.
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