Awesome article! This is jam packed with great info. I am just starting a personal finance blog with my fiance and we were a little confused about how to start monetizing. We were initially thinking about using Google AdSense but between this post and another blog I read I am surely convinced that’s not the correct route. I’m really happy you have shared this information because it’s provided an excellent starting point for creating income.
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Too much too soon. Stick to one website to begin with. Don’t get distracted by shiny new niches. This will only dilute your efforts. It’s absolutely not a waste of time to spend hours on end researching the very best niche for you to enter into. The commission, cookies, product and even the advertiser’s website all have to be excellent. The last thing you want to do is invest money in creating your own site only to send visitors to an advertiser’s site that barely converts a single sale. Would you buy from the advertiser’s site? Question everything before you spend a single penny on building your new site.
Process-specific tutorials: You can also provide your readers with an in-depth process tutorial. For example, a DIY blog could write a tutorial blog post on “How to refinish an antique dresser” or a food-based blogger could describe “How to can your own tomatoes.” In each of these, all of the products you need to accomplish these outcomes would be links to Amazon.
The truth is much more complicated. It’s true that affiliate programs can be sources of phantom revenue and off-brand promotion. But managed properly, they can also make up 5-15 percent of online revenue and have an ROI among the highest of any online channel. CMOs are realizing that affiliate marketing can be an important part of their arsenal and are integrating the channel into their overall marketing strategies.
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.
Affiliate marketing has contributed to the rise of many leading online companies. Amazon.com, one of the first significant adopters, now has hundreds of thousands of affiliate relationships. It is not uncommon to see industries where the major players have affiliate programs–often structured in a similar manner and making similar competitive changes over time.
I can’t remember exactly when, but I decided to turn online looking for earnings. Various scams and attempts to “get rich quick” came and went. I tried a bit of MLM (failed), tried to earn money with spread betting (failed), tried this and that (failed this and was terrible at that), before I eventually found a community that would train me. Think of it as half “training course” and half “forum”.

When you’re picking a domain name you’ll want to choose an authoritative domain, that doesn’t limit the potential of your website. For instance, topoutdoorgrillreviews.com might sound like a good choice, but then you’re limited to just writing about outdoor grills. Something like theultimatebackyard.com will allow you to expand your site into different niches as your site becomes more established.
Affiliate marketing also gives you the freedom to choose what you promote. In other words, it offers you the luxury of being picky. Not only do you get to decide precisely which programs to work with, but in most cases, you’ll even select the individual products and services you want to promote. As such, you always have full control over what’s featured on your site.

Many new affiliate marketers like to use the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program as their first way to start earning a living online. This is actually a great choice! Amazon is trusted by almost everyone and most people you refer to Amazon will already have an account on Amazon. This lowers the barrier to a sale. Many affiliate marketers earn a full-time living just by using the Amazon Associates affiliate program, but it has to be done right. Here are some tips and tricks to earning substantial earnings using the Amazon Associates Program.

I am new to this website and the funny thing is that l was looking for an objective analysis on starting an Amazon affiliate site. Your review on this issue is the BEST that i have ever seen in the last 3 years. This article was a joy to read. It was detailed, honest and very hard hitting especially when you are trying to get readers to understand that they MUST diversify their traffic sources and STOP relying on getting to first page on Google. As a result of reading your article l am changing my digital marketing services, affiliate marketing and , e-commerce strategy. I look forward to hearing new and innovative ideas from you on internet marketing. Keep up the great work!!!
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!
Hiding content on a webpage or hiding affiliate tracking code in links. Hiding content on a webpage is bad as it is against the guidelines of the mainstream search engines such as Google. Hiding affiliate tracking in a link is an acceptable and widely used practice. If you'd like more information, I wrote an article on why and how I cloak affiliate links.

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.


About 80% of the emails you send to your list should be more helpful than any other email they received that day. You must provide exceptional quality and figure out how to make peoples lives easier or better through the emails you send them. This is the perfect setup for the other 20% of your emails – sales emails! Now, you don’t have to give a hard sell. For example, in October, you could send an email with “The Top 10 Dog Halloween Costumes Of The Year!” Include goofy pictures of dogs wearing ridiculous looking costumes and link to Amazon where people can buy those costumes if they want to. See how easy it is to “sell” through email marketing? You don’t actually have to SELL at all!
Thank you for a very straightforward introduction to the world of Affiliate Marketing. I’m looking forward to the journey and just starting out. For me, I’m just as enthusiastic about the challenge of gaining success for its own sake, as the financial rewards it may hopefully bestow on me. There are so many variables involved and putting the whole thing together feels like attempting a 40,000-piece jigsaw puzzle with a hangover.
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.
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.

A year ago, when I ran an ABestWeb contest for the best definition of affiliate marketing, Chris, who ended up winning the first prize, summarized things both eloquently and beautifully. He defined affiliate marketing as “the art of doing a merchant’s marketing better than they can, and profiting from it.” Many successful affiliates (also known as super affiliates) are truly better experts in what they do that most of the merchants that they promote. Consequently, they can market e-tailers’ products/services in such a way that merchants get incremental business, while they themselves make a good living off the per sale commission they get.


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If you want to jumpstart your success: I really do recommend enrolling in Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. It has helped me SO much in terms of starting out and getting in the right mindset for affiliate marketing. The Facebook group is amazingly helpful, and I have heard great feedback from blogger friends who have taken it based on my recommendation. If you are a beginner, this course will definitely help you. To sweeten the deal, I’ll throw in a copy of my Affiliate Marketing for Travel Bloggers eBook for free if you buy the course from my affiliate link. Remember, there’s a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, so there’s no harm in giving it a try.

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!
I’m in the process of creating a new blog now and have decided on a niche to focus on. I’d like to implement affiliate marketing as soon as the blog launches. Was wondering if affiliate networks require those requesting to become affiliate marketers to have a certain number of followers before approving the request to join the affiliate program? Generally, what types of requirements have to be met when applying to join an affiliate network? I’d hate to apply then get rejected because I haven’t met the minimum requirements, if those exist. Thanks!
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:
Websites consisting mostly of affiliate links have previously held a negative reputation for underdelivering quality content. In 2005 there were active changes made by Google, where certain websites were labeled as "thin affiliates".[34] Such websites were either removed from Google's index or were relocated within the results page (i.e., moved from the top-most results to a lower position). To avoid this categorization, affiliate marketer webmasters must create quality content on their websites that distinguishes their work from the work of spammers or banner farms, which only contain links leading to merchant sites.
Two-tier programs exist in the minority of affiliate programs; most are simply one-tier. Referral programs beyond two-tier resemble multi-level marketing (MLM) or network marketing but are different: Multi-level marketing (MLM) or network marketing associations tend to have more complex commission requirements/qualifications than standard affiliate programs.[citation needed]

The parts contain over 90 videos and complementary PDF files and notes to help you grasp the concepts that the program is trying to impart. The program is regularly updated for the past nine years to keep the tactics in line with the changes in the digital marketing landscape. It ensures that the guide teaches you the best practices and prevent your site from incurring potential penalties.
Developing and monetizing microsites can also garner a serious amount of sales. These sites are advertised within a partner site or on the sponsored listings of a search engine. They are distinct and separate from the organization’s main site. By offering more focused, relevant content to a specific audience, microsites lead to increased conversions due to their simple and straightforward call to action.
From the very first time you post your first article, you should create a separate profile for your brand or niche blog on each social media platform like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Reddit, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and others. These are mega authority websites, and getting a nofollow link from them will surely help. Whenever you add a new content, you should post them on your social media.
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.
An elegantly straightforward process, affiliate marketing via reviews, blogs, social media, and other platforms is a new frontier in marketing that’s just waiting to be utilized. Follow the tips included in this article, and you’ll be able to engage your audience, convert passive readers into active consumers, and enhance your paycheck one click at a time.
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.
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.
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.

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).
The topic you choose must have enough depth that you can create a lot of content for it. This is important for building an authoritative site, for search engine optimization, and most importantly, for the end user. If you don't have enough content about a topic, you're not going to be taken very seriously as an authority on the topic and it's unlikely you can convince someone to make a purchase from you. 
But I think the biggest deciding factor in this, goes back to the site as a whole and all of the other posts. Are the genuine? Is the blogger constantly trying to push products? I’d like to think I’ve been doing this long enough that my audience knows I’m not out to make a quick buck – and I think even relatively new bloggers can prove this based on their other content.

Return on Investment. I can be calculated via the same method as ROAS, but in the interest of diversity, I'll show you an alternate option to calculate it. To calculate the ROI on a campaign, you can take the gross profit from running the campaign minus the cost of running the campaign and divide it by the cost of running the campaign and times it by 100 to get a percentage that the investment returned. Example – if you spent $200 to run a campaign and you made a gross profit of $600, you would take $600 (gross profit) – $200 (campaign cost) to get $400 and then divide $400 by $200 (campaign cost) to get 2 and multiply that by 100 to find a 200% ROI for the campaign.
You can try to build our business on free Web hosting or blogging platforms, but I never recommend it. If you are serious about affiliate marketing and building a website that can actually make money, you need to buy your place on the Internet. Sure you can get your nerdy neighbour to host your website on his home-made server, but trust me, this only leads to trouble.

In this video, I explain why Amazon Affiliate Marketing is best for beginners, and how to get into the industry. The reason why I love this program so much is because it has much lower competition overall, and you don't have to "sell" people on things. Amazon's powerhouse strategy does all the lifting for you. I also reveal some tips you can use to increase your conversion rates with your affiliate websites.


Thank you for the detail step by step article on Amazon affiliate website. I am from India and want to start a new niche affiliate. My question is how to target all international amazon local sites? Is there any tips available? I want my site to work such a way when a visitor from USA comes to site, then it shows the same content but links for amazon.com and when anyone visits from India it shows links from amazon.in

Okay, so far we’ve talked about some of the key strategies for success as an Amazon affiliate, focused mostly on the positives—the what to dos—along with a few things to avoid. Now let’s talk about a few more things on the negative side of the equation: the practices you need to avoid if you want to grow your affiliate income (and yes, avoid getting in trouble with Amazon).
One thing you should strongly consider is promoting digital information products. These products are attractive for two reasons. First, they have higher conversion rates because the customers can get instant access and instant gratification when they purchase. Second, they typically offer much higher commission rates than physical products -- which means more profits for you.
Affiliate marketing works because it creates a win-win situation for everyone involved. Companies only pay commissions on sales that are generated which guarantees a strong return on investment. Affiliates get to earn more money which can eventually turn into passive income over time. It’s a low-risk marketing channel that benefits both advertisers and publishers.
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”.
The second place where honesty is crucial is in how you represent your affiliate links themselves. I always recommend being honest with the fact that you can earn a commission when people use your affiliate links to purchase a product. In fact, the FTC requires that you disclose when you’re using affiliate links, but beyond even that, it’s just good practice to let people know that you’ll make money when they purchase via a link on your site.
URL masking: Often, you’ll find that affiliate links are a real, million character eyesore. It’s likely that your links will look like Merchant.com/dlfjlfjlfjdskljdfgimmeallyourmoneyalajdlkaf2131032klfjfdjldsjf. And let’s be honest, few people are going to want to click on that. URL masking is therefore when you create a prettier, cleaner “vanity URL” that makes your links more clickable. Some people use bit.ly, which has tracking purposes, or the WordPress Plugin Pretty Link.
In affiliate marketing, last click is often used to describe an affiliate program where the last affiliate to get a user to click a link and make a purchase is the one to be credited with the sale – even if a valid cookie from a prior click on a different affiliate's link still exists on the users computer. There has long been a debate between whether first click or last click is most beneficial to both the affiliate and the merchant.

This next one is not exclusive to Amazon, but it’s probably going to give you the biggest bang for your buck with Amazon. That is, showing people what they’re going to get before they get it. Instead of just talking about the product or sharing a little information about it, then posting your affiliate link and leaving it at that, you can give people a much richer preview of their potential experience with a given product.
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.
The first place where honesty is crucial in affiliate marketing on Amazon is in how you represent the product itself. This may go without saying, but if you oversell or flat-out lie about what a product can do for someone, it’s going to backfire, big time. And not just in terms of your affiliate sales for that product, but in the likelihood people will continue to trust you at all. You can always find new affiliate products to promote, but once you’ve lost your audience’s trust, it’s hard if not impossible to gain it back. This is why using a product yourself and getting to know it inside and out is extra important, because the chances you’ll misrepresent the thing you’re promoting are much, much lower when you’re an expert on it.
Start a new Facebook group in niche area and start recruiting people through paid advertising on Facebook to “like” your page. Paying Facebook for followers can be extremely cheap. I grew my Facebook following on DogFoodInsider.com to 25,000 followers at under 1 cent per like. The trick is, you have to be super targeted. My ad for DogFoodInsider.com simply said this…
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.
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”.

If instant gratification is your thing, affiliate marketing will make you want to run into a wall. Even after you surpass the threshold needed to “cash out”, there’s usually a waiting period before your commission is confirmed/approved, simply because they allow time for people to return goods if needed. So yes, affiliate marketing is by no means a fast track to cash.
Affiliate marketing is basically performance-based marketing, whereby affiliates/partners promote a merchant’s product/service and get remunerated for every sale, visit, or subscription sent to the merchant. The most frequently used payment arrangements include: pay-per-sale, pay-per-lead, and pay-per-click compensations. Affiliate marketing is one of the most powerful and effective customer acquisition tools available to an online merchant today. You decide what commission to pay, and pay only when results (sales, leads and/or clicks) are obvious.
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!
Amazon’s language: “… you will not engage in any promotional, marketing, or other advertising activities in any offline manner, including by using any of our or our affiliates’ trademarks or logos (including any Amazon Mark), any Content, or any Special Link in connection with an offline promotion or in any other offline manner (e.g., in any printed material, mailing, SMS, MMS, email or attachment to email, or other document, or any oral solicitation).”
Do you know who those guys are that own those hosting review sites that ranking for “best host” etc? I think Pat Flynn is one of them. I am very curious as to how guys who are on the first page for those keywords got to that level. I looked at all the sites on the first page and these guys are so elite they aren’t even using Thrive or normal themes but it’s pretty much all custom. I am guessing these guys mastered “Amazon authority sites” or niche first before moving into the hosting niche? It seems to me to be one of the most competitive niches online with super high KD (some keywords have KD 70 etc in ahrefs) plus these hosting programs payout like crazy.

In regards to affiliate marketing, click fraud most often refers to generating “fake” clicks to a merchant program that is based on a PPC compensation method. The fake clicks (which can be generated in a manual or automated fashion) have no chance of converting for the merchant since the traffic clicking the ads have no real interest in the product or service the merchant is selling.
Give it all a try yourself: As a hopelessly stubborn person, I understand that sometimes you just want to try things out for yourself. No stress, friend! All these resources will still be around later, so if your gut tells you that it’s not time to buy a course or eBook, don’t force it. Test the waters for yourself and then see later whether or not you need the extra boost.
Curious on affiliate marketing and how can it help build your business?  We used to be surprised when the first question from a lot of our future clients is “what is affiliate marketing?” but not anymore.  This is something we’re often asked by clients who are familiar with the term but don’t know exactly what it means. Perhaps you’ve heard it suggested as an effective marketing channel but aren’t quite sure what it is. Or you understand the concept of an affiliate marketing program but want to learn more about how it works.
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