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.
One of the challenges I came up against when writing about cameras regularly was that while a certain percentage of my readers were actively shopping for a new camera, many readers already owned one. In fact, writing a ‘photography tips’ blog means you attract more people wanting to learn how to use a camera that they already own, rather than buying a new one.
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.

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!
One great traffic driver for me has been my new Travel Resources page. I put it up less than a month ago, created some pretty pins for it and it has done superbly well on StumbleUpon and Pinterest (racking up over 1.5k repins). This boost in traffic has helped substantially increase my conversions for Amazon, which was not a huge earner for me before. So, traffic + affiliate links = happy money dance.
Affiliate marketing has lots of business benefits but it’s also important to be aware of potential drawbacks too. From an advertiser perspective, it can be one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your website. It’s a well-known concept that people need to know, like, and trust you before they’ll buy from you. In the case of affiliate marketing, they just need to know, like, and trust your affiliate. You benefit from their credibility and existing relationship with their audience. So, instead of having to go out and build something from scratch, you get a head start on sales.
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!

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.


Whichever way you choose to promote something, you’ll include a trackable link that’s unique to your affiliate account so that any sales can be attributed back to you. If you’re a blogger who wants to monetize your platform, then becoming an affiliate can provide that steady source of income as you earn commissions. An associate program gives you the opportunity to provide solutions to your audience who may need a product to solve a problem. The savviest publishers are content marketers, pay per click powerhouses, leverage marketing automation and can recite the guide to affiliate marketing like clockwork.
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
In 2006, the most active sectors for affiliate marketing were the adult gambling, retail industries and file-sharing services.[21]:149–150 The three sectors expected to experience the greatest growth are the mobile phone, finance, and travel sectors.[21] Soon after these sectors came the entertainment (particularly gaming) and Internet-related services (particularly broadband) sectors. Also several of the affiliate solution providers expect to see increased interest from business-to-business marketers and advertisers in using affiliate marketing as part of their mix.[21]:149–150
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.

While any “regular” job requires you to be at work to make money, affiliate marketing offers you the ability to make money while you sleep. By investing an initial amount of time into a campaign, you will see continuous returns on that time as consumers purchase the product over the following days and weeks. You receive money for your work long after you’ve finished it. Even when you’re not in front of your computer, your marketing skills will be earning you a steady flow of income.
Amazon has already made similar adjustments in many overseas markets. In 2015, the company moved its European affiliate program to a category-based structure, and according to the affiliate management firm GeniusLink, the result was more of a subtle chill than a freeze-out. “There’s definitely some pain as a result of it,” says GeniusLink CEO Jesse Lakes, “but we haven’t had a single client who stopped doing business because of the new payout structure.”
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.
Alright, I know that was a lot to digest, but if making passive income was easy, don’t you think we’d all be walking around, draped in velvet like the fancy people we truly are? Making money off blogging, passive income no less, is super difficult… and it takes hard work and dedication. With these basics out of the way, it is my genuine hope that you now feel (somewhat) less confused and more motivated than ever to tackle this beast. If you haven’t run away to the woods yet, you might be wondering, “ugh crap what do I do now?”
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.
Something to not overlook also is Pinterest, on almost all of my popular posts I spend the time to make a Pinterest specific image for them. If you don't know how to use Adobe Photoshop you can use a free online tool like Canva to create images. There are also plenty of WordPress plugins that add pin buttons to your blog as well. There are plenty of ways you can use Pinterest to drive traffic, see more tips on Buffer's blog.
Affiliates discussed the issues in Internet forums and began to organize their efforts. They believed that the best way to address the problem was to discourage merchants from advertising via adware. Merchants that were either indifferent to or supportive of adware were exposed by affiliates, thus damaging those merchants' reputations and tarnishing their affiliate marketing efforts. Many affiliates either terminated the use of such merchants or switched to a competitor's affiliate program. Eventually, affiliate networks were also forced by merchants and affiliates to take a stand and ban certain adware publishers from their network. The result was Code of Conduct by Commission Junction/beFree and Performics,[35] LinkShare's Anti-Predatory Advertising Addendum,[36] and ShareASale's complete ban of software applications as a medium for affiliates to promote advertiser offers.[37] Regardless of the progress made, adware continues to be an issue, as demonstrated by the class action lawsuit against ValueClick and its daughter company Commission Junction filed on April 20, 2007.[38]
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. 
File-Sharing: Web sites that host directories of music, movies, games and other software. Users upload content to file-hosting sites and then post descriptions of the material and their download links on directory sites. Uploaders are paid by the file-hosting sites based on the number of times their files are downloaded. The file-hosting sites sell premium download access to the files to the general public. The websites that host the directory services sell advertising and do not host the files themselves.
Videos also make it easier to build a relationship with your audience; you can talk right to them, and they can hear your voice (and see your face, though that’s not always necessary). Plus, not only are you sharing what the product looks like and how it works, since you’re the one who’s showing your audience how it works, you’re also building your authority with them as an expert they can trust.
You can put up banners on your site, to promote your affiliate offers. Most affiliate programs will usually provide their own creatives when you sign up for their offers. All you have to do is insert the banner on a highly trafficked page (your affiliate tracking is usually embedded within the code). Banner ads in the right locations can do a great job of driving sales.  
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….
Thanks for reading, Charmaine! I’m not sure about Hong Kong-specific affiliate programs, but what I would say is that most retailers do have an affiliate program in place, so if there’s a particular HK brand or company you use a lot, Google their name + affiliate program to see if they have one. Besides that, the ones I suggested are open to you regardless of where you’re from!
The most common type of affiliate marketing is done on the internet. With this type of affiliate marketing, you create a website that talks about the product you want to help sell and the company you are affiliated with gives you a special link to use. When people click on this link, the company knows that they came from your website. Then when these people buy something, you get a certain percentage of each sale.
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.
Ibotta is another program loved by many. If you have a mom-centered audience, start working it into your rotation. Everybody has to buy groceries and very few like clipping coupons.  Ibotta is like grocery rebates in your phone. And these offers pay in cash. Is a simple opportunity. Ibotta just sent an email to influencers today saying May was historically their best month for new people signing up as school is getting out and moms are looking to stretch that budget. Bonus: Your referrals get a $10 welcome bonus when they sign up and redeem their first offer and you earn $5.
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It's especially true now that the big media players are finally waking up to affiliate marketing (NYTime buying WireCutter and SweetHome) and BestReviews (which was already an epic product review site in it's self due to the fact they built their own 10,000 sq ft testing lab) being acquired by Tronc (owns the LA Times and half a dozen more publications).
If you would like to take a more subtle approach, include a product or service from your company that relates into your blog post. For example, let’s say that you are a wine connoisseur and that is what your blog is based around. In any post that is enticing your readers to open up a good bottle of Merlot or what have you, it would be wise to embed an ad for a quality, easy-to-use wine opener, wine glasses or stoppers that keep the wine fresh.
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.
The amount of time a Cookie set by someone clicking on your affiliate link has to show a conversion before you are no longer credited with a sale even if that user eventually ends up making a purchase. The standard length of a Cookie is typically between 30-90 days. Anything below 30 is considered low/short while anything above 90 is considered to be healthily above average.

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.

Being open and upfront about earning affiliate commission is another way not to appear pushy or as if you’re just trying to make a sale. This very useful and informative post contained a number of affiliate links and were I to want to buy one of those products or services mentioned, I would actively seek out this post and buy it through Sean as a way of saying thank you for such top information.
Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways people make money online. It is a strategy where an individual partners with a business in order to make a commission by referring readers or visitors to a business’s particular product or service. But that really is quite a simple explanation. To be really successful at making money with affiliate marketing there is a little more to it.
Affiliate marketing is something practically every website owner should have a basic understanding of in today’s digital world. Even if you don’t personally use it in your monetization strategy, there may be a time when you want to. This guide to affiliate marketing can get you several steps closer to understanding one of the most popular forms of website monetization online businesses use today.
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. 
Brick has become the trusted and efficient digital marketing department our company needed to get to the next plateau. From SEO, to article writing, to social media and Adwords campaigns they literally do it all for us. And honestly, Brick marketing keeps us on track for our marketing goals, not the other way around. We could not be more pleased with the job Brick is doing for us.”

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.

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