Hey Tom, thanks for this tutorial – it’s a good thing to get a tutorial like this from a trusted person like you and not from the thousands of (sometimes) confusing articles about passive income/affiliate marketing/clickfunnels and what not that I come across from time to time, I am making a living as a web designer and I have been thinking of pivoting from design and creative work to focus on passive income but didn’t know where to start. This is the perfect foundation article I have seen so far and I ‘d like to ask if you have any further reading/guides/videos on affiliate marketing that you’d recommend. I like to do my deep research before starting :) One more thing, there are some broken or missing images in this article, it could be my browser but check from your side too because there are quite a few images (e.g your Mercedes) that are missing. Thanks
If you’re planning on relying on SEO for traffic which most people do, it’s all about finding keywords where people would be interested in purchasing an affiliate product, and analyzing the competition of each of those keywords. Back when I was promoting Genesis themes, I saw hardly any articles about “Genesis eCommerce themes” (when I Googled it) which was a popular keyword. I got myself #1 for it. For SiteGround and StackPath, I saw opportunities to write articles on “settings” for each cache plugin (W3 Total Cache Settings, WP Fastest Cache Settings, WP Super Cache Settings, etc). After researching these keywords I was confident I could write better tutorials that the ones out there.
Another top paying affiliate program is the one run by WP Engine. This company provides a highly efficient web hosting platform with different packages. Its commission rates start at $200 per sale. And it has a multi-tiered rewarding system. For example, if you are able to make five sales, you earn $100 but if you generate 10 sales, you are given a bigger commission of $250. It also has a program in which you earn extra money from the referrals of people who you invited to sign up as affiliates. You’ll also be glad to know that its cookies last for up to 180 days. The only drawback you have to be aware of is the product’s expensive cost, which does have an effect on the conversion rate.

hello Stuart, i must confess that you've been fantastic here with all your posts and i want to say here and now that I've learned a lot, but my problem is that i don't know the one to go for now, I'm confused i want to make my full time living online but i don't know were to start from. pls i need an online business model that will make money and last forever with a low start up budget. your advice is highly needed please.
I have had two Amazon stores (on two separate sites) since early 2008 and to date I have not made enough for a payout – I’m about half way there. The referral fee is so low, it drives me crazy. I get a lot of traffic and my sites have the potential for high-end items, but the items offered through Amazon in my niche are lower end and therefore lower priced. I utilize a few widgets on other websites, but again the same issue. Amazon is my least favorite affiliate program due to their low referral fees, but still worth it. After all, any earning in excess of my expenses is worth it.
I am new to all this. I saw that Chris Guthrie posted quite a while back on here. Did you change any of your strategies based on his blog? How are your amazon sales going these days? So far, all I have on my site is amazon. I also was curious, I understand Google looks at load time and I had 2 amazon widgets on my sidebar that took a long time to load, I recently removed those, hoping it will help my rankings, which need alot of help! :o) Looking forward to hearing how things are working for you these days.
To break down the question “Is affiliate marketing worth the effort?” take a look at the efforts I’ve laid out, and determine for yourself. In order to be successful in affiliate marketing you’ll need to choose a product category to focus on, learn about your audience, build a website or blog audiences can trust, create LOTS of content, and promote your content and your product, and with the right trial and error, you could be well on your way to receiving those commission checks from happy brands earned by referring happy customers. In terms of regular maintenance you will need to keep up with the latest online marketing trends, promote your content regularly, and continue learning about how your product category of choice is developing in today’s modern age in order to remain a trusted resource on your chosen topic.

I expanded my SEO blog and started writing about hosting, cache plugins, and other relevant topics… while recommending SiteGround in each tutorial. I added social proof like the 34 Facebook polls where they were rated #1. Each tutorial was super detailed and tons of people found them helpful – many get 100+ visitors/day since great content = higher rankings.


Theme – you don’t need a special theme for affiliate marketing, you probably just need a blog. I recommend StudioPress themes since that’s what Yoast, Matt Cutts (from Google), and I use. Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress also recommends them. One of the biggest mistakes I made was using a theme from Themeforest… since they’re built by independent developers who may stop making updates to their theme. This happened to me and I hear horror stories all the time about people having to switch themes and redesign their entire site. I’ve been using the same StudioPress theme (Outreach Pro) for 3 years. Their themes are lightweight (load fast), SEO-friendly via optimized code, secure, and they have a huge selection of plugins for the Genesis Framework and an awesome community in the Genesis WordPress Facebook Group. They include documentation for setting it up and will serve you for many, many years.
Another top choice when it comes to email marketing solutions, AWeber is currently being used by millions of online users and online marketers all over the world. It started back in 1998, and is now one of the oldest and most effective email marketing companies. The affiliate program that it runs provides up to 30 percent recurring commissions. The higher the price plan is, the higher the recurring commission is. You’ll also be glad to know that its cookie lasts for 365 days. It means that if a user clicks anytime within the year, the sale will still be credited to you. This is one of the affiliate programs with the longest cookie durations.
Another simple but effective website builder that you should consider becoming an affiliate for is Weebly. This website builder is now being used by more than 40 million people worldwide. This is true even though it’s not as advanced as other website builders. What people love about this one is that its drag and drop interface is very easy to use that even if you have zero knowledge in this field, you will not have a hard time figuring out how this one works. Its affiliate program, which you can find on ShareASale provides 30 percent recurring commissions as long as your referral remains active. Its cookie meanwhile remains for up to 120 days.

I am a member of quit a few affiliate programs, and I must say the I find Amazon the easiest and most convent program to navigate. They give affiliates a lot of choose in how one uses their products. To promote the commission may be low in comparison to other affiliate programs but the name Amazon does sell when you stay with them. I am happy to be an affiliate for Amazon.
Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for SiteGround using my affiliate link I will donate a good chunk at no cost to you. Each year I donate $3,000 to GoFundMe campaigns (2018 was to feed the hungry in Denver, 2017 was to Red Cross at Hurricane Harvey). Your support helps and I genuinely appreciate it. I try to make my reviews unbiased and backed by evidence in the form of Facebook polls, tweets, and real conversations. If you don’t want to use it, here’s a non-affiliate link to SiteGround. Either way, I suggest doing your research, see who Yoast uses, and results of people who migrated.

2. Of course, nearly all my readers are using WP so I’m biased. But even so, most successful affiliates use WordPress. There are less restrictions in terms of hosting (site speed), design customizations, plugins, cloaking affiliate links, lots of things. I would setup a free wordpress.com site just so you can play with the dashboard and see how you like it. Who knows, you might find a theme you really like (eg. StudioPress) and want to make the transition. I would at least test it out…it’s better to make the transition earlier than later.
Man, Ive been pulling my hair out over not really getting much from my Amazon Affil. based site. Im grateful you put this up about your experience with it. As far as you thinking you aren’t getting much back because you only sell low priced items goes, Im pushing big ticket items and it really isnt much better. Consider how much traffic you need to sell the lower priced stuff and then double or triple it to get a sale on a big ticket item.
There are lots of Amazon affiliates in this space, mostly because it’s a strong hobby (i.e. passion) niche with tons of products. Which is good, since tons of these big stores are very general in nature, making it possible for big outdoors sites to possibly even pick one or two stores to recommend (this, in turn, might have other advantages, too, like negotiating better rates with those brands).

This is such an important post. I used Amazon Affiliate program and find it really works. I’ve been doing this stuff for years and I do things in a certain way to get best results. And i believe this is indeed a topic which has been ignored by many experts & professionals. You have done a great job by bringing this topic into light. I hope quality discussions follow this post. Great job.

Hi Petra, I have to agree with the first Chris, Amazon is great when you target a niche where people want to “buy now”. Something like “last minute gifts for …” or similar. One person I know of that has a lot of success with his astore is Darren from “Digital Photography School”, his astore has even a page rank of 4 😉 Have a look at his site to see how he implements amazon products into his site content seamlessly. Another great example on to learn “how they do it” 😉 SY
Thank you so much! You've been an inspiration throughout. The way you wrote about TIWIB, and how they drive insane traffic from social media is mind blowing. I am amazed that even going viral on a social site like pinterest for one day can build our brand identity huge. Am I correct? Now I need to get going with my first affiliate site, come up with a unique idea and learn how to drive traffic from each source. I feel Adsense is not so rewarding.

An affiliate program refers to the arrangement in which a merchant or owner of a product pays a certain amount of commission for the sale generated by an affiliate. The affiliate sets up a website where he/she will post affiliate links that will direct visitors to the merchant’s site so they can make a purchase. Information on commission rates are provided in the program.
Your words are your own, so be nice and helpful if you can. Please, only use your REAL NAME, not your business name or keywords. Using business name or keywords instead of your real name will lead to the comment being deleted. Anonymous commenting is not allowed either. Limit the amount of links submitted in your comment. We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it please. You can wrap code in [lang-name][/lang-name] tags.

Affiliate marketing is most profitable if you generate your own emailing list using an autoresponder. This involves some initial expenditure, but the rewards of creating a list can make the work well worthwhile. By communicating with your list and providing useful information on your niche you can gain their trust. List members will then be more likely to listen when you recommend certain products to them.
BTW, I am ranking for keyword phrases like “Beach Decor”, “Beach Theme Home Decor”, “Gecko Decor” etc, and would have thought that people looking for these things are looking to buy. But they are probably not specific enough yet, they are just browsing….. Could you supply us with a few of your site’s URL’s at all so we can see what your blogs really look like, or is that too much to ask? 😉 I would understand if not…

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. 
Of course you want affiliates with high commissions, but they should also have a solid reputation with high conversions and low reversal rates (you get $0 if people cancel after signing up). If they’re part of an affiliate marketplace like ShareASale or ClickBank you can see some numbers there. Companies likes Amazon/SiteGround are safe bets, otherwise do your research (or track your affiliate links so you can monitor their performance). Avoid affiliates offering huge commissions since this probably means they’re struggling to acquire/retain customers naturally. This will hurt your numbers (specifically your conversions/reversal rates).

People often make the mistake of thinking that they need to go big or go home. The truth is that you need to be good at whatever you choose to do and niche markets make it easier for you to focus and hone your skills. Don’t try to tackle all of sporting equipment, for instance. Focus instead on the one or two sports about which you are passionate. In short, pick a niche and develop a deep knowledge about it.
You can create a free account on WordPress.com to become familiar with the WordPress dashboard. But when you actually begin designing and building your actual website, you will want to buy domain/hosting and use WordPress.org. Otherwise you will need to do some migrating: https://www.wpbeginner.com/wp-tutorials/how-to-properly-move-your-blog-from-wordpress-com-to-wordpress-org/
Next, research individual affiliate programs to compare their structure. You want to consider factors such as how much the commission is and how often the affiliate pays. Also, make sure you understand what rules, if any, a company imposes for being a part of its affiliate program. Additionally, you're likely to make more money with affiliate marketing content that is similar to your own.
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