The Amazon Associates affiliate program uses a tiered commission structure to pay out to affiliates. The more you sell, the more you will earn. That’s why many affiliates will attempt to promote two different types of products – cheap and expensive. By promoting cheap products under $10, you will likely receive a lot of purchases. For example, many affiliate marketers will promote e-books that may only cost $5. Since Amazon only pays up to 8.5% commissions, you’re not going to earn much by selling a $5 e-book. However, making a lot of sales of smaller items helps to boost your sales count in the, which also boosts the amount of commission you receive. Here is the current Amazon Associates Affiliate Program commission structure:
Whitelabeling refers to a merchant allowing an affiliate to sell products under their own brand with no mention of the actual merchant. Visitors to the affiliate's website would likely believe it was the affiliate who was actually selling the items or taking the leads since there is no mention of an outside merchant. This typically occurs by the merchant creating a website branded solely to the affiliate on their own server under their control and allowing the affiliate to “mask” that website as appearing to be a subdomain on the affiliate website. Many times merchants limit Whitelabeling opportunities to only being available to Super Affiliates.
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.
Affiliate marketing is an online strategy where people are incentivized to promote your product or service. It’s defined as ‘a marketing arrangement by which an online retailer pays commission to an external website for traffic or sales generated from its referrals’. This can be through the search engines, social media, an email list or other means. All of the referrals are tracked using cookie technology so that commissions and affiliate payments can be automated. The power of affiliate channels is real as anyone that sells online can understand the need for qualified website visitors to grow an online business.
As with your niche, your approach to implementing links will depend on your site’s purpose. Feel free to experiment with different strategies, but always remember that your focus should be on providing value to your audience. If you fail in that task, visitors won’t trust you, click on your links, or return in the future. Make sure you write quality content, therefore, and keep an eye on your conversions to see what’s working (and what’s not).

When beginning your affiliate marketing career, you’ll want to cultivate an audience that has very specific interests. This allows you to tailor your affiliate campaigns to that niche, increasing the likelihood that you’ll convert. By establishing yourself as an expert in one area instead of promoting a large array of products, you’ll be able to market to the people most likely to buy the product.
Most of the traffic for your affiliate website will come from product related searches, and product reviews. Generally, these will be more long-tail terms such as, “Blendtec 570 vs Vitamix 5300”, or “greenworks mower vs black and decker”. The traffic coming from keywords like these will be very targeted, as the searcher has the intention to purchase something.
Amazon is known for sometimes coming down hard on sellers, affiliates, and other partners who don’t follow the rules. This is maybe the other big downside of being an Amazon affiliate—Amazon is big enough to boss you around if you step out of line, and there’s usually not much you can do about it. I’ve heard stories of affiliates having their accounts closed without any chance for recourse or appeal when they went against one of Amazon’s affiliate policies.
Because Amazon has a huge selection, and it’s so easy to generate an affiliate link for just about any product, it can be easy to fall into the trap of promoting an Amazon product without getting to know the product first. As a result, it can be really easy to start promoting something you don’t know very well, and risking the trust of your audience in the process.
Some merchants run their own (in-house) affiliate programs using dedicated software, while others use third-party intermediaries to track traffic or sales that are referred from affiliates. There are two different types of affiliate management methods used by merchants: standalone software or hosted services, typically called affiliate networks. Payouts to affiliates or publishers can be made by the networks on behalf of the merchant, by the network, consolidated across all merchants where the publisher has a relationship with and earned commissions or directly by the merchant itself.

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.
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!

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.
Hi, Nice article. I am not sure about the process though. I can understand, finding a niche. But, when it comes to affiliate programs I get a little lost. Would I be promoting someone else's products? If so, no problem. I know I need to research high end products with gravity, are these products ones in certain stores, or companies, etc.?? If so, do I need to get permissions to be on an affiliate program with that company? Also, if it is products with a company, then how do I offer promotions on their products since they are not mine? Thank you, Nanette Vlahusich
I live in Jamaica and I’ve tried and become miserably frustrated with affiliate marketing. “They” always made it seem so easy yet it can be quite an uphill struggle. I’m quite fascinated with the prospect of making passive income especially after earning my first $20 (which i still havent collected lol) and Your post has been very informative and encouraging; Thank you. I’m definitely gonna get that course you recommend when I begin again. Thanks a million for being so real and all the best with blog!
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.
Same thing as affiliate tracking. A unique ID attached to the links you use to send traffic to the merchant that is specifically for you to track your sales for or referrals to the merchant. Example of a tracking code in a link: merchant.com/?ID=YOURUNIQUEID – You'll find an in-depth article on what affiliate tracking codes are and how to use them here.

The Amazon Associates affiliate program uses a tiered commission structure to pay out to affiliates. The more you sell, the more you will earn. That’s why many affiliates will attempt to promote two different types of products – cheap and expensive. By promoting cheap products under $10, you will likely receive a lot of purchases. For example, many affiliate marketers will promote e-books that may only cost $5. Since Amazon only pays up to 8.5% commissions, you’re not going to earn much by selling a $5 e-book. However, making a lot of sales of smaller items helps to boost your sales count in the, which also boosts the amount of commission you receive. Here is the current Amazon Associates Affiliate Program commission structure:
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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