The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect on May 25, 2018, is a set of regulations governing the use of personal data across the EU. This is forcing some affiliates to obtain user data through opt-in consent (updated privacy policies and cookie notices), even if they are not located in the European Union. This new regulation should also remind you to follow FTC guidelines and clearly disclose that you receive affiliate commissions from your recommendations. 

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.
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.
Research and Join Affiliate programs. Amazon, EBay and Flipkart are amongst the few who offer products for Affiliate Marketing in your niche. Study them very well before signing up. If a company is asking you to provide credit card it means you might be getting scammed. As this companies give commission on sale so they might ask you for your bank details or PayPal account number. Affiliate programs are usually free of charge.
Also, remember that you are able to receive a commissions on anything your referral purchases over a 24hr period. So, even if you refer someone to purchase an e-book but they also end up buying $400 worth of other stuff, you get a commission on that, too. So really, you’re playing a numbers game here, especially around the holidays. This is why the Amazon Associates affiliate program is so powerful. When people by from Amazon, they tend to load up that cart.

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.
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.
But more than just that, 75 percent of shoppers shop on Amazon most of the time. And Amazon has awesome conversion rates—the rate at which a customer who visits the site actually purchases something. If you’re talking about Prime customers, as many as 74 percent of them convert. That’s compared to an average of less than 10 percent for most retail sites!
I’ve read a lot of horror stories where Amazon has randomly closed people’s accounts for different reasons. Fair enough – many of these are due to breaches of their terms and conditions (e.g. failing to properly disclose links, not using the appropriate images and links provided in the affiliate dashboard, buying from one’s own affiliate links, etc.) but yes, if you fail to comply by their rules, you’re at risk of being shut down (and losing all the commission you’ve racked up). SO, don’t be a dummy, read the terms and conditions thoroughly and make sure you’re not breaching them.

One of the main reasons why most newbie affiliate marketers give up after 3 months is the fact that they can’t build up traffic to their affiliate website. It’s a thorn in most marketers’ sides, but one that can be easily resolved if you put the effort in. Below I have covered a few areas that will get you good targeted traffic to your affiliate deals.


Stands for Return on Advertising Spending, also shortened many times to Return on Ad Spend and can also be referred to as ROI. It refers to the amount of money made as a result of a specific advertising campaign. To find the ROAS of a campaign, you take the revenue divide it by the ad spend and multiply the result by 100. The result is presented in percentage form. Example – if you spent $200 to run a campaign and you made a gross profit of $600, you would take $600 (revenue) and divide it by $200 (ad spend) to get 3 and then multiply that by 100 to get 300 – displayed as a 300% ROAS. The amount over 100% using this method of calculation is your profit. In this example, that would mean you received a 200% profit on the campaign.

In order to do this properly, you should find a specific niche to get involved with. You’ll notice on my site, I focus almost exclusively on dog food. If you simply start up a generic review blog and start reviewing every product at Amazon, your site visitors will not see you as an expert, the search engines wont understand what your site is really about, and in the end, you’ll have a tough time earning anything in return. But, if you become the expert in a specific line of products, then you have a real chance of building some authority. At that point, all you need to do is write some honest and detailed reviews with special links you receive through the Amazon Associates affiliate program member login. The more detailed your reviews the better.
“We hired Brick Marketing to manage our SEO, but they ended up also managing our company blog, social media marketing, helped us launch a pay per click advertising campaign, migrated our website to a new domain and so much more! Our SEO Specialist is always quick to respond whenever we had a question and went above and beyond to help us with any SEO issues.”

Translation: Don’t lie about the Amazon products you’re promoting. This seems pretty obvious, but this also means not overpromising or misrepresenting the products you’re promoting, even in a small way. (For instance, don’t say the camera you’re promoting has 20 megapixels when it really only has 15.) Now, of course innocent mistakes and typos can still happen to anyone, so double-check everything you write about the products you’re promoting to make sure it’s accurate.
Same here, this post kind of fell from the sky at such a great time. Been building a great community of readers over the years but reached a point where I’m losing money maintaining the site and newsletter. As you said, the ads don’t bring much -ironically I use Adblocks too but affiliate marketing always seemed like a weird and opaque subject. I’ve read many of Chris Guillebeau’s books in the last few months (this is how I discovered your site actually!) and I didn’t realize he had affiliate links for instance. Your post opened up a new window of possibility for me. Still need to process everything and do the work behind but a big thank you to you Sean!
“I have formed an invaluable marketing partnership with Brick Marketing. Nick Stamoulis and the rest of the Brick Marketing team are professional, timely, thorough and take time to, not only succeed at the tasks, but also educate myself and my team on the strategies in the process. Since my first encounter working with Brick, I’ve changed organizations and have taken them along with me…they are that good! In my experience in working with many outside agencies who over-promise and under-communicate, I can truly state that Brick Marketing is levels above all others and vested in our relationship. They are not just an SEO consultant, but an integral part of my team. I highly recommend Brick Marketing for any company looking to significantly increase search engine competitiveness and internet presence.​”
The phrase, "Affiliates are an extended sales force for your business", which is often used to explain affiliate marketing, is not completely accurate. The primary difference between the two is that affiliate marketers provide little if any influence on a possible prospect in the conversion process once that prospect is directed to the advertiser's website. The sales team of the advertiser, however, does have the control and influence up to the point where the prospect either a) signs the contract, or b) completes the purchase.
“We hired Brick Marketing to manage our SEO, but they ended up also managing our company blog, social media marketing, helped us launch a pay per click advertising campaign, migrated our website to a new domain and so much more! Our SEO Specialist is always quick to respond whenever we had a question and went above and beyond to help us with any SEO issues.”

So, there you have a comprehensive answer to the question – what is affiliate marketing? It can benefit a wide range of businesses and delivers a strong return on investment. The setup requires some initial work to define program terms and create promotional content for affiliates to use. However, once this is completed, affiliate marketing can be a relatively passive source of revenue.
Let no one tell you that email marketing is dead. An email list is crucial for every affiliate marketer. You can start building up your email list with a lead magnet (like the information products mentioned previously) or even just by encouraging your audience to sign up for your updates. You can then push your content to this audience via email and also direct them to your affiliate offers. Don't be sleazy about the sales, but if you build up enough trust with your email audience; when the time comes, they will not mind purchasing a product from you. 
Now, when I choose who to target for this ad, I would only target dog owners at least 25 years old who have “liked” Amazon.com in the past and live in the United States. Notice in the title I asked, “Are you a dog owner?” Well, I already know that everyone I’m targeting IS a dog owner! This, along with the catchy image, will grab their attention and cause them to read the body of the ad. If the body of the ad sounds interesting to them, they will click the ad and end up on Amazon.com through my Amazon Associates affiliate program link. Once on Amazon, the sky is the limit. Amazon is able to convert visitors like CRAZY. Just get potential buyers through the door and let Amazon handle the rest.
I have a question: while searching for the niche, and I think I found one that is pretty good, the search on google (for “high end …….”) didn’t revile any brands. Now, I believe it’s possible that there are not many brands for this niche, but checking it little further, I found that there are some, but it was difficult finding it on amazon and even if I did find the products, they didn’t have many reviews, if there were any.

If the above locations do not yield information pertaining to affiliates, it may be the case that there exists a non-public affiliate program. Utilizing one of the common website correlation methods may provide clues about the affiliate network. The most definitive method for finding this information is to contact the website owner directly if a contact method can be located.


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.
Visit the Amazon Affiliate program’s website to create an account. Visit http://affiliate-program.amazon.com and click “join now for free” in the top right corner of the screen. Sign into your existing Amazon account if you are already an Amazon customer by entering your email address and password. Click “sign in using our secure server” after you’ve finished.[2]

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.
Fun fact: the “Amazon Associates” program actually has a different program for a variety of different countries, meaning yes, Amazon.COM has a different program than Amazon.CA, and Amazon.CO.UK, and Amazon.FR, etc. etc. If you want to, you can sign up for all of them without being residents of these countries. What’s important is where your readers are from.

Let no one tell you that email marketing is dead. An email list is crucial for every affiliate marketer. You can start building up your email list with a lead magnet (like the information products mentioned previously) or even just by encouraging your audience to sign up for your updates. You can then push your content to this audience via email and also direct them to your affiliate offers. Don't be sleazy about the sales, but if you build up enough trust with your email audience; when the time comes, they will not mind purchasing a product from you. 


Obviously, around Christmas period, people tend to buy more, therefore, post recommended products before this period to take advantage of sales that will go on on Amazon affiliate marketing. It is better to start creating a seasonal schedule for your blog posts early enough. There are several holidays, so you can plan ahead of them to make more sales and earn your commission. 
Great article. Thanks for writing it. I am right now picking my theme and building my wordpress. I have my hosting and domain name. What I don’t get though from the article is whether you have to apply to Amazon to be an affiliate or if they accept everyone. How does that all work? Like if I build my site and post links to amazon’s products, they wouldn’t have my details to pay me my commission. Do the templates do all that for you automatically? I am finding it hard to choose one because I want one that automatically integrates the amazon products without making my blog look like a shop per se. I’m going to have a look on the amazon site to see if there’s any clues there. But I thought that was the finishing and crucial touch, which forgive me, seems missing from your well explained and detailed article.
Aside from the obvious advantages of running your own business, being able to work online from anywhere at any time, and having the freedom to choose just how hard you work, there are a few other perks. Affiliates with a strong social following (also known as influencers) can expect to receive freebies from advertisers looking to boost their brand awareness.
RightCasino managed to monetize traffic through industry and entertainment news, Twitter, PPC (we’ve just translated our site into foreign languages to take advantage of cheaper sources of traffic in other countries), email marketing and others. (We will show you how you ways to promote your affiliate products faster if you click here to join our digital marketing training)
Part of the reason I recommend diversifying is because, as we talked about earlier, Amazon commission rates tend to be lower than they are from other affiliate income sources. I’ve seen this in my own affiliate marketing, where my commission rates and overall income from Amazon are not as high as they are for many of the products and services I promote on other platforms and from other companies.
Hey Jan, glad it made you think. As you've found out it's not easy to rank #1 on Google especially when so few people will link to your product reviews. You need to tackle a specific niche with a focused target audience as a whole and build a community of like minded people around your site in order to make any significant income online sustainably and for the long term.

Most businesses require startup fees as well as a cash flow to finance the products being sold. However, affiliate marketing can be done at a low cost, meaning you can get started quickly and without much hassle. There are no affiliate program fees to worry about and no need to create a product. Beginning this line of work is relatively straightforward.


I would like to add that for information products, a lot of the time it’s pretty easy to rank for “information product review”. I recently did a review of a popular ebook that is a month long discipline program. I went about it by doing the actual program and documenting everything. At the end of the month I wrote up a 2700 word article summing up the whole experience.
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.

Some commentators originally suggested that affiliate links work best in the context of the information contained within the website itself. For instance, if a website contains information pertaining to publishing a website, an affiliate link leading to a merchant's internet service provider (ISP) within that website's content would be appropriate. If a website contains information pertaining to sports, an affiliate link leading to a sporting goods website may work well within the context of the articles and information about sports. The goal, in this case, is to publish quality information on the website and provide context-oriented links to related merchant's websites.

Music may perform better than books and other products, mainly because you can listen to the clips of an entire album in roughly 10 minutes and get a good enough feel for it without buying it to write a short review. If you have another topic that you're passionate about, great, but make sure you have a unique angle on the topic. People can get reviews about a lot of those consumer products anywhere. You need to give them a reason to visit your site.
Recently, our friend Kent from Nicheup gave me an interesting insight. According to his findings, massive organic social share is good enough to rank an article to the first page of Google. Whether that is applicable to your situation or not, you have to make sure that you are using social media for your website. Consider your website as a company.

In affiliate marketing, first click is often used to describe an affiliate program where the first affiliate to get a user to click a link and make a purchase within the limits of the cookie expiration is the one to be credited with the sale, even if the user landed on another affiliate's website and actually converted after clicking on a link from the second site. There has long been a debate between whether first click or last click is most beneficial to both the affiliate and the merchant.

I have a question: while searching for the niche, and I think I found one that is pretty good, the search on google (for “high end …….”) didn’t revile any brands. Now, I believe it’s possible that there are not many brands for this niche, but checking it little further, I found that there are some, but it was difficult finding it on amazon and even if I did find the products, they didn’t have many reviews, if there were any.

The implementation of affiliate marketing on the internet relies heavily on various techniques built into the design of many web-pages and websites, and the use of calls to external domains to track user actions (click tracking, Ad Sense) and to serve up content (advertising) to the user. Most of this activity adds time[citation needed] and is generally a nuisance to the casual web-surfer and is seen as visual clutter.[citation needed] Various countermeasures have evolved over time to prevent or eliminate the appearance of advertising when a web-page is rendered. Third party programs (Ad-Aware, Adblock Plus, Spybot, pop-up blockers, etc.) and particularly, the use of a comprehensive HOSTS file can effectively eliminate the visual clutter and the extra time and bandwidth needed to render many web pages. The use of specific entries in the HOSTS file to block these well-known and persistent marketing and click-tracking domains can also aid in reducing a system's exposure to malware by preventing the content of infected advertising or tracking servers to reach a user's web-browser.[citation needed]
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