This is extremely helpful information for somebody who is a newbie blogger! I’ve been looking for an all inclusive “guide” to explain affiliate marketing and this is the best I’ve found. Quick question for you – when you talk about the cookie expiration date, is that from the date that you post your review/recommendation or from the date that the reader clicks on the link? For example, the affiliate links you posted in this post are well over 90 days old but if I click on one of them now and buy that product, do you still get paid? Just curious how that works.
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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.
Good comment Jason, at some time in the future Amazon may decide they have so much market share they don't need affiliates anyway. I mean, if you're just sending them people who are already Amazon customers there's not so much benefit there for them. Or they may decide to only work with select HIGH QUALITY affiliates and the average "affiliate site" owner will not be chosen.

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.
The three above examples are “referral” programs. That means you become a user of the platform yourself and they add more money to your account as you refer your friends. (Look for the refer-a-friend link on your dashboard.) These can often be more lucrative than their affiliate program counterparts and they are offered by so many companies these days.
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!

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.


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!
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….
i have just started it. But i am not new to it after almost 6 months of research. I have studied affiliate marketing from super affiliate blog like affilorama (free lessons from this blog) niche hacks and authority hacker etc. But i don’t know how to design affiliate websites and blogs. I also don’t know how and where to research to create unique content?

Refers to a product being returned or a sale “falling through” that you were already paid for. Since the sale didn't actually finalize, the merchant will deduct the amount you were previously given in commission for that sale from your affiliate commissions. In lead generation, this can also occur if the merchant decides the leads sent were unqualified or fraudulent in nature.

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In November 1994, CDNow launched its BuyWeb program. CDNow had the idea that music-oriented websites could review or list albums on their pages that their visitors might be interested in purchasing. These websites could also offer a link that would take visitors directly to CDNow to purchase the albums. The idea for remote purchasing originally arose from conversations with music label Geffen Records in the fall of 1994. The management at Geffen wanted to sell its artists' CD's directly from its website but did not want to implement this capability itself. Geffen asked CDNow if it could design a program where CDNow would handle the order fulfillment. Geffen realized that CDNow could link directly from the artist on its website to Geffen's website, bypassing the CDNow home page and going directly to an artist's music page.[14]
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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.
Did you know that Commission Junction is one of the oldest affiliate marketing programs? That means they are a trusted company working with a lot of big brand names. That is a very valuable asset. Don’t think it will be easy, you will have to work hard for it, as Commission Junction standards are high. But it’s all well worth it. Products from these big brands will sell much easier, especially if your audience is already buying them. Working with Commission Junction can be hard work, especially for beginners. But, the brands that Commission Junction provides is why the company is highly recommended regardless. Nothing worthwhile is easy I suppose, even if you’re just starting out.
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.
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.
At Oberlo, we have our own affiliate program. If you’re interested, Oberlo is also part of the cj.com affiliate network. We want to help people with their drop-shipping businesses. And, we have many happy and successful customers. Word of mouth is important to us which is why we have a fantastic affiliate program. You don’t have to be a customer of ours to participate. You can earn 50% of recurring commission on every new paying customer. That’s $479 per new customers just for you. You can share a link on your blog, website, as well as social media account like Twitter or Facebook. Help us grow and join us as an affiliate.
Cost per action/sale methods require that referred visitors do more than visit the advertiser's website before the affiliate receives a commission. The advertiser must convert that visitor first. It is in the best interest of the affiliate to send the most closely targeted traffic to the advertiser as possible to increase the chance of a conversion. The risk and loss are shared between the affiliate and the advertiser.
Also referred to as “spyware”. Adware is usually included in free computer programs users download without realizing the Adware is also part of the package. In many cases, the advertisements are unwanted and difficult to get rid of, even after uninstalling the offending program. Most merchants will not work with affiliates who want to promote their offers via Adware. Get more information on affiliate adware.
Stands for Earnings Per Click. Your earnings per click is the average amount you earn every time someone clicks on your affiliate link. To find your EPC you would take the amount you have generated in commissions from an affiliate link and divide it by the total number of clicks that link received. Example – if an affiliate link has generated $4000 in sales over the lifetime of your affiliate relationship and the same link was clicked on 12,000 times, then you would divide $4,000 (sales) by 12,000 (clicks) to get an EPC of 33 cents. This means you earn an average of 33 cents each time someone clicks on your affiliate link.
Thats a great point, and I’ve definitely seen my fair share of those “how to start a blog” posts. That’s always been a good fit for people at Location 180, and if they do a good job on the post (truly make it useful) that’s one that doesnt bother me as much – solely because I know how valuable starting a blog can be for your life and goals. So if it’s some personal finance blogger that creates one and you start a blog from that by following their tutorial – all the better!
If there’s no products on Amazon for “High end” then you have no Amazon products to promote and no way on earning any commission. Why not try keywords like Best (x) or Luxury (y) where there will be more search volume. Let’s say you want to promote hammocks, you can then target search KWs such as Best Hammock for Under $100, Most Comfortable Hammock, Luxury Hammocks etc. Let me know how you get on.
Anyone can start a video blog absolutely free on YouTube, assuming you have access to a web cam or other digital camcorder. Youtube is a great place to promote your Amazon Associates affiliate program links. You don’t need anything fancy. Simply review products or you can just start a video blog about any niche topic you want. I guarantee you there will come a time when you can recommend products to your audience. When you do, tell your audience you have put a link in the video description to the product you’re referencing.
At Oberlo, we have our own affiliate program. If you’re interested, Oberlo is also part of the cj.com affiliate network. We want to help people with their drop-shipping businesses. And, we have many happy and successful customers. Word of mouth is important to us which is why we have a fantastic affiliate program. You don’t have to be a customer of ours to participate. You can earn 50% of recurring commission on every new paying customer. That’s $479 per new customers just for you. You can share a link on your blog, website, as well as social media account like Twitter or Facebook. Help us grow and join us as an affiliate.
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.

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.


It’s important to know where your traffic is coming from and the demographics of your audience. This will allow you to customize your messaging so that you can provide the best affiliate product recommendations. You shouldn’t just focus on the vertical you’re in, but on the traffic sources and audience that’s visiting your site. Traffic sources may include organic, paid, social media, referral, display, email, or direct traffic. You can view traffic source data in Google Analytics to view things such as time on page, bounce rate, geo location, age, gender, time of day, devices (mobile vs. desktop), and more so that you can focus your effort on the highest converting traffic. This analytics data is crucial to making informed decisions, increasing your conversion rates, and making more affiliate sales. 
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.
Affiliate marketers have to consider whether a particular product or company is worth their time to promote. Some companies only pay a one percent commission, while others pay 75 percent commission. And you can get paid as little as a few cents and as much as a few hundred or thousand dollars depending on the type of item sold. As the affiliate marketer, you also have to determine how much time you need to spend in order to make a sale. Affiliate marketing is not a set it and forget it kind of method, as some people claim it to be - it takes active work to make a sale. If you have to spend one hour in order to make $0.38, then it may not be worth it for you. But if you spend only 20 minutes and you get paid $50, then that's probably worth it.
The above three give you cash, but many merchants give you store credit. Examples of those would be Stitch Fix, thredUP, Zulily, The Honest Company and more. Whether those would be worth it to you will be dependent on how much you shop there. Stitch Fix will give you up to $600 a year in referral credit. That's $600 worth of clothes that I don't have to pay for. That's worth it to me. Once I hit that $600 mark, I switch out the link for their Commission Junction affiliate link so I am still earning on any signups after I hit their referral threshold.
Effectively, these advertisers have a couple of choices. They can use an affiliate network that acts as a go-between, connecting the advertiser to affiliate marketers and managing the tracking and payments in exchange for a service fee. Or the advertiser can license affiliate-tracking software to deploy on its own servers or as a cloud-based service.
Well, in my personal experience, affiliate marketing makes up the largest chunk of my blog income. Since getting started back in October, I’ve made a few thousand dollars from affiliate marketing (including $1500 in the first 30 days!). The road to get there wasn’t easy though… affiliate marketing isn’t just about dropping links and hoping people will buy things. There is, in fact, a lot more strategic thinking involved, which brings us to the next major question:

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.
Many affiliate marketers use paid advertising to generate additional traffic to their site and drive more sales. Paid advertising on social media is often a good place to start, as these networks tend to be more affordable.You may also want to consider taking out inexpensive banner ads on small niche sites. Depending on your niche, Google AdWords could also be a good option to drive some paid traffic to your site.
Translation: Amazon won’t let you join their affiliate program if your site is involved in anything illegal, deceptive, violent, or hateful. But even if this doesn’t describe your site (and I hope it doesn’t!), keep in mind that sites of an “adult” nature may not be allowed either. Also, even if your site is totally family friendly, if it’s focused on kids it may not be allowed, as Amazon says it won’t accept sites directed toward kids who aren’t teenagers yet.
Anyone can start a video blog absolutely free on YouTube, assuming you have access to a web cam or other digital camcorder. Youtube is a great place to promote your Amazon Associates affiliate program links. You don’t need anything fancy. Simply review products or you can just start a video blog about any niche topic you want. I guarantee you there will come a time when you can recommend products to your audience. When you do, tell your audience you have put a link in the video description to the product you’re referencing.
Great article! I need to go back to your post many more times for it to properly go in and for me to understand. Sorry if my question is a strange one. I am quite new to the whole concept of amazon affiliate marketing. When we are advertising their products, do we spend any money ourselves? Or we are just middle wares advertising their product? In what case, we have to have inventory? Can we sell products in Amazon?
It doesn’t let the link influence its decision of whether to include or omit anything it deems worthy of inclusion, as to do so would damage its trust rating. There’s a lot you can learn from taking this stance. Remember, your site should be built with your visitors in mind, not profit. Take care of your visitors and the profits will take care of themselves!
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.
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