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….
A quick and inexpensive method of making money without the hassle of actually selling a product, affiliate marketing has an undeniable draw for those looking to increase their income online. But how does an affiliate get paid after linking the seller to the consumer? The answer is complicated. The consumer doesn’t always need to buy the product for the affiliate to get a kickback. Depending on the program, the affiliate’s contribution to the seller’s sales will be measured differently. The affiliate may get paid in various ways:
When I used to write product reviews, I used to include just one affiliate link. For some reason, I thought that a single link would be enough and I didn’t want to run the risk of annoying readers with more links. However, one day it struck me that the reviews I was writing were quite long and by the time people got to the end of them, the link to Amazon was no longer visible.
Let's look at the affiliate program of a fictional company called Daisy's Emporium. Daisy's Emporium sells all kinds of things online for a very reasonable price. Everybody knows about this store, and almost everybody has made a purchase online through this store. It's a trusted store. On its website, Daisy's Emporium mentions its affiliate marketing program and how it pays each affiliate 10 percent of each sale they make. That's a pretty good percentage, especially since most customers of Daisy's Emporium make a purchase of at least $100. A 10 percent commission from a $100 order is $10. If you spend one hour working on your affiliate marketing and make five sales, then you could potentially earn $50.
Thanks Nathalie! And glad to see you came over from AONC 🙂 When done the right way I think affiliate links in context are much less intrusive and offensive than having ads on your sidebar. The average non-tech reader probably wont even know its an affiliate link anyway. So just by doing everything you’ve already been doing, you can switch out links, and probably make a nice side income!
I do this because I want to build a solid reputation and a loyal readership of people who trust me. I’d rather make less money and still have a reader than make lots of money and never see the reader again. For me, this comes not only from my ethics but my belief that in the long term building a good profile and reputation leads to other opportunities for profit.
Ahh thanks for the kind words. Glad you found the post helpful. I would focus on building up a good base of content first before adding affiliate links, because like you said, some programs might not accept you if your blog is still so new. 2 posts is a nice start, but I’d definitely work your way up to 10-15 posts, enough to “fill up” the blog before you apply for affiliate programs. That’s just my opinion though! The other thing about starting too early is that you haven’t really established authority or a solid audience that trusts you yet, so the odds of readers making purchases through you is much lower as well. Focus on content first, then programs! The good thing is, you’ve taken Michelle’s course, which I thought was super helpful in terms of getting in the right mindset for affiliate marketing. Now that you know what sort of content works, you can get a good strategy set out from the beginning. 🙂 Best of luck!
Ah, my favourite section. SO, by now, you guys should know that I hate crappy advice. Wellll, I feel like the Internet really let me down with affiliate marketing, because there’s so many small considerations and details that people rarely mention in the beginner guides. SO, here are some sad truths to be wary of (that I had to learn the hard way):
Okay, I’ll be honest, when I first started out, I found it surprisingly difficult to understand how to even generate links (and deep links). For a while, I legitimately thought I was stupid. In hindsight, stupidity may have been a small part of the cause, but the truth is the process is actually pretty confusing. SO, I’ve written some pretty boring (though helpful) step-by-steps on how to generate links on a few common programs and affiliate networks… So, for my fellow life-dummies, here’s:
If you are building a site that has the potential for information that will never age and remain useful for your audience, you have the opportunity to create what is known as evergreen content. It's important to carry out extensive keyword research before planning any evergreen content for a site like this, as your site could hugely benefit from the proper usage of keywords within such content. 
Tip 4: If you're a beginner, it's important that you realize it make take more than a few days before you start making sales. While it is possible to earn affiliate commissions with Amazon within a few days of creating a campaign, realistically you shouldn't expect to start making sales within the first 14-30 days. It takes time for your website to carve out a space on the internet. However, if you are determined and post 1 new blog post and 1 new video each day for your first 30 days, you hold a way higher chance of earning affiliate commissions within the first 30 days.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you only promote one merchant’s products, you are stuck with their commissions, their landing pages, and ultimately, their conversion rates. It is important to work with many different merchants in your niche and promote a wide range of products. This affiliate marketing strategy will diversify the amount of commissions you make and create a steady stream of revenue when building an affiliate website. 
As search engines have become more prominent, some affiliate marketers have shifted from sending e-mail spam to creating automatically generated web pages that often contain product data feeds provided by merchants. The goal of such web pages is to manipulate the relevancy or prominence of resources indexed by a search engine, also known as spamdexing. Each page can be targeted to a different niche market through the use of specific keywords, with the result being a skewed form of search engine optimization.
You're going to be doing product reviews and recommendations, so pick a topic that you enjoy and about which you can demonstrate some expertise. Choose a narrow enough niche to be distinctive—for example, bands from your city, left-handed guitarists, music for a certain kind of dancing, authors of a certain religion, books about business, or arts and crafts resources. If you can't stay passionate about the topic, that will show.
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.
As search engines have become more prominent, some affiliate marketers have shifted from sending e-mail spam to creating automatically generated web pages that often contain product data feeds provided by merchants. The goal of such web pages is to manipulate the relevancy or prominence of resources indexed by a search engine, also known as spamdexing. Each page can be targeted to a different niche market through the use of specific keywords, with the result being a skewed form of search engine optimization.
Great article as it gets me thinking about the various ways to monetize my sites. With that said, my biggest hurdle has been how to get started building traffic. You see articles all over the net talking about massive traffic techniques, but I’ve never really found a guide for a fresh blog/website and how to get to their first 100, 500, or 1,000 daily uniques. Of course writing consistent quality content is key, but writing alone an audience does not make. Any tips or articles to point us to? Thanks again Sean!
Some very useful information for those starting out. Many would-be affiliate marketers give up after a couple of months; they soon realise it’s not as easy as some report. You have to spend money to make money (in most cases). I use a combination of AdWords, Facebook Ads and the little know Bucksme.com. The latter is a great way to promote discounted products and they offer a free version; it’s a great way to get started without cost.
Once you are done writing your review, the next thing is to post it live by clicking on your blog posting the link (on WordPress you will see it as the Press It! Icon). You will see two pieces of link code on the posting form if it is WordPress you are using. The first one ends with “Associates Build-A-Link>”. Delete all through that point. The other part is a link to the product having your Amazon Associate built in. So, go ahead and write your product review, select the most appropriate categories for it then click on Publish.
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Great article as it gets me thinking about the various ways to monetize my sites. With that said, my biggest hurdle has been how to get started building traffic. You see articles all over the net talking about massive traffic techniques, but I’ve never really found a guide for a fresh blog/website and how to get to their first 100, 500, or 1,000 daily uniques. Of course writing consistent quality content is key, but writing alone an audience does not make. Any tips or articles to point us to? Thanks again Sean!

Some advertisers offer multi-tier programs that distribute commission into a hierarchical referral network of sign-ups and sub-partners. In practical terms, publisher "A" signs up to the program with an advertiser and gets rewarded for the agreed activity conducted by a referred visitor. If publisher "A" attracts publishers "B" and "C" to sign up for the same program using his sign-up code, all future activities performed by publishers "B" and "C" will result in additional commission (at a lower rate) for publisher "A".
Thanks Nathalie! And glad to see you came over from AONC 🙂 When done the right way I think affiliate links in context are much less intrusive and offensive than having ads on your sidebar. The average non-tech reader probably wont even know its an affiliate link anyway. So just by doing everything you’ve already been doing, you can switch out links, and probably make a nice side income!
You are talking to the wrong person here if you are waiting to hear that you can make lots of money by not having a website. You possibly can make money without a website but what exactly are you building? I like to build a business and something that becomes virtual real estate. If you are planning on spamming social media with affiliate links, or some other devious way to get a sale, then this article is not for you.
Before you promote your site, you want to have some substantial content there. Write several product reviews. Have at least two to three in each category you've created. You may also want to create categories for articles, news, and commentary about your topic. The more content your site has, the better. And the great thing is that while you're writing all this, the search engines are getting notified automatically, assuming you turned on the necessary notifications.
An influencer is an individual who holds the power to impact the purchasing decisions of a large segment of the population. This person is in a great position to benefit from affiliate marketing. They already boast an impressive following, so it’s easy for them to direct consumers to the seller’s products through social media posts, blogs, and other interactions with their followers. The influencers then receive a share of the profits they helped to create.
This is a very common way to promote offers. For example, you will often see a blog post with links to certain products or services. If the reader clicks through and makes a purchase, the blog owner will make a commission. These in-text links blend in with other content on your site and are a great way of promoting an offer within your content, without being over-the-top salesy with banners. 
Acorns is a micro-investing platform making a great new opportunity for those in the save money/make money niches. Acorns allows people to invest as little as $5 at a time and/or link up a debit or credit card and Acorns will roundup those purchases investing when you reach $5. They recently added a “Later” program which allows for IRA investments as well. It's an easy way to start saving for a rainy day. And the referral program isn't too shabby either! Earn $5 for every referral. Acorns will also give your friend their first $5 to invest. Why pass that up? Even better, because this is a new platform looking to grow its userbase they have been running some really lucrative referral bonuses. Some months have been, for example, “refer 12 people and get a $1000 bonus.” Other months have been “refer 5 people and split a $100,000 pot.” Definitely numbers small enough for everyone to play. Take advantage of it while you can.
I personally prefer to do it that way--you can create a more convincing review that's more likely to make sales. It's not always possible or practical, though; for example, would you break up with your significant other just to test a product for getting your ex back? ;-) In cases like that, or if the product is expensive, it's usually best just to use the vendor's affiliate resources instead.

1. EasyAzon flat-out didn’t work, and their customer service was the absolute worst. 2. Genius Links worked, but often the same products wouldn’t be available on other Amazon sites, and the link would redirect to another product or a search page full of irrelevant products… not ideal. Plus, I was getting more clicks, but not enough international conversions to justify the $9 a month [seriously guys, Amazon does not pay well haha]. Long story short: this is a complication to be wary of!


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I have found that one size doesn’t fit all. Rather, specific types promotions of particular products work well with Amazon. I have also had some success by getting people in the Amazon door for other reasons. For example I’ve experimented a couple of times on dPS with running a posts that gave readers a hypothetical $1000 to spend on photography gear and asked them to surf around Amazon and choose what they wanted to buy. The result was 350 comments (a fun community building exercise) and quite a few sales and commissions!
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.
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