I like you have spent 2 years learning all about Affiliate marketing and have built a number of websites that did nothing until I built this one which I managed to get on to page 1 of Google for a while and actually started to make some sales via Amazon and I was so pleased that all my efforts were starting to pay off, but all of a sudden it disappeared from Google and I have no idea why. I am however going to keep going and the info provided here has been very encouraging. Thank you
Be sure to check what kind of customer support you can expect from your affiliate program once you have signed up. Do your research online and if possible, speak to other sellers using the program to get their thoughts. Can you speak to someone via phone or Skype or do you have to wait 72 hours for email responses? Be clear on this because trust me, you will need support at one point or another. 
I do make a small commission on some of the products and services that I use and recommend through affiliate relationships with those merchants. Before making any purchase you should always rely on your own judgement and do your own due diligence. The results you get will be entirely based on your own experience and skill set. Never, EVER purchase anything that you cannot afford. Avoid purchasing products that do not have a clearly stated Guarantee, or that promise ridiculous results, like "Getting Rich Quick". There is no guarantee that you will have the same success with any of the products or services recommended. Most people don't do anything with the products they buy, and most of the time, their results are zero! My results aren't typical because I'm not typical ;-)
One of the most well-known ecommerce platforms today is BigCommerce. It boasts of having more than 60,000 active merchants. Many prefer this platform because of its superior functionality and countless features. It also has an affiliate program that offers big commission rates of up to 200 percent of the plan. This lets you earn anywhere from $60 to $1,500 per each sale that you’re able to secure. Its cookies last for 30 days, and it provides you not only with text affiliate links but also with banners, content and SEO advice and so on.
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.
Yes is the short answer. Any time you are planing on generating money, you should have a plan. No plan means no real focus. There may be some 1/1000 percent of a chance you will succeed, but I haven't met them yet. If you have already started and have generated an income, record how. Doing so will give you material for use in expanding your business faster.
Get specific. Just because a niche may seem very competitive, you can get more specific in any niche and discover gold minds. Let’s go back to the cat blog example. Instead of operating a “cat blog” you may instead have a “Bengal Cat” blog. This is more specific and would have less competition than a cat blog. Word to the wise, never go so specific that you have no one looking for that type of information. Find the right balance.
Freelancer – refer people to developers, designers, and other freelancers you’ve worked with and make 100% of Freelancer’s project commission for the first 90 days. I get a lot of people requesting WordPress speed optimization services… so I refer them to my developers with a freelancer affiliate link and make $125/month in passive income. You can’t use affiliate links to link to specific freelancer profiles, so I direct people to the homepage via affiliate link and give people my developer’s usernames.
The key is to work very hard on your affiliate blog, or for that matter, on your podcast or YouTube channel. While the top 6% of affiliate marketers around the world earn a six-figure income from this business, as someone starting out, you should aim for anything from $10,000 to $25,000 in your first 1 or 2 years in this business. It gets better as you go along and learn precious skills on the job.
If you’re in the WordPress industry like I am (whether it be design, development, or SEO) I have accumulated quite the list of WordPress affiliate programs. I excluded those I found unsuccessful or pay too little to make a profit from, specifically ThemeForest, Creative Market, and low quality theme stores like Template Monster. Hosting pays well and I wrote a tutorial for SiteGround’s affiliate program and StudioPress themes which are my 2 highest paying affiliates. Those tutorials have tons of screenshots/social proof especially for SiteGround.
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. 

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.
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