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.
While these models have diminished in mature e-commerce and online advertising markets they are still prevalent in some more nascent industries. China is one example where Affiliate Marketing does not overtly resemble the same model in the West. With many affiliates being paid a flat "Cost Per Day" with some networks offering Cost Per Click or CPM.
Affiliate marketing owes its birth and first developments to CDNow.com and Amazon.com. Back in November, 1994 CDNow started its Buyweb Program — the first online marketing program of its kind at that time. Amazon continued this pattern in July 1996 with its Associates Program. Amazon claims that currently the number of their affiliates worldwide exceeds 1 million associates. (A Practical Guide to Affiliate Marketing, p. 11)
Affiliate marketing helps publishers get rewarded for the role they play in shopping journeys. If a publisher adds an affiliate link to a merchant in their content, they’ll receive a commission for every sale driven to that merchant as a direct result of someone clicking on the affiliate link. Publishers can add as many affiliate links to an article as they like, but they will need to build each individual link manually which can be time consuming.
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.
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!
Its really very good article for a newbie. I am also a new blogger for the one-month-old blog. Like every blogger, my goal is also making money. I have started the blog with multi-niche like motivation, business ideas and career counselling. I am confused whether I can earn money with these niches or not. I am thinking of adding the niche “review” in which I will start a review of mobile and gadgets and also Home decoration material.
You might be curious about how the merchant knows which affiliate is responsible for the purchase. That’s actually the easy part since every affiliate is given a unique link that tracks each product they promote. This lets the merchant track all referrals using cookies to ensure that they know exactly how much money they’ve earned thanks to each affiliate (and what to pay them in return).
Great article as it gets me thinking about the various ways to monetize my sites. With that said, my biggest hurdle has been how to get started building traffic. You see articles all over the net talking about massive traffic techniques, but I’ve never really found a guide for a fresh blog/website and how to get to their first 100, 500, or 1,000 daily uniques. Of course writing consistent quality content is key, but writing alone an audience does not make. Any tips or articles to point us to? Thanks again Sean!
1. EasyAzon flat-out didn’t work, and their customer service was the absolute worst. 2. Genius Links worked, but often the same products wouldn’t be available on other Amazon sites, and the link would redirect to another product or a search page full of irrelevant products… not ideal. Plus, I was getting more clicks, but not enough international conversions to justify the $9 a month [seriously guys, Amazon does not pay well haha]. Long story short: this is a complication to be wary of!
Today, Amazon Associates has to be the most recommended program empowering affiliate marketing for beginners. As the name suggests, Amazon Associates is Amazon’s official affiliate marketing program. Because of Amazon’s wide range of products, the program is perfect for anyone to monetize quickly. No matter your audience, they sell something relevant to them. Their payout system is pretty good too. The starting commission for volume based sales is 4% and can go up to 8.5%. You will make money from everything so you can make 4% on a $10 toothbrush or a $4,000 mattress.

This site might seem authoritative, but it doesn’t really cater to the visitor. As you can see the site contains a ton of ads, and doesn’t do much to provide a good reading experience. The content is long, but it’s also very hard to read. You could easily create a site that reviews this product and provides a better reading experience and higher-quality review.
Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission. Know that I only recommend products, tools, services and learning resources I’ve personally used and believe are genuinely helpful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to purchase them. Most of all, I would never advocate for buying something that you can’t afford or that you’re not yet ready to implement.
In the case of cost per mille/click, the publisher is not concerned about whether a visitor is a member of the audience that the advertiser tries to attract and is able to convert, because at this point the publisher has already earned his commission. This leaves the greater, and, in case of cost per mille, the full risk and loss (if the visitor cannot be converted) to the advertiser.

Write a review post. You don't always have to take the stale, old review structure. Maybe your post will be “10 awesome things I've bought with my Swagbucks” or “3 courses in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle that changed my life.” Honestly, I hate writing traditional reviews. But writing something like the two examples given gets me excited and allows me to more clearly show my excitement. That's what sells – your story and excitement!
The products and services you will be promoting to your audience must be relevant and good quality. Make sure you believe in them and know everything about them, because this will be crucial to you delivering the sales pitch to your audience. You need to build trust with your audience so make sure the products and services you choose to promote are trustworthy enough. 
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.
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.

Robey is particularly rankled by the distinction between “beauty” and “luxury beauty” — a difference between a 6 and 10 percent commission under the new system. Almost none of the products she covers are grouped in Amazon’s luxury beauty category, although she considers many of them luxury goods. The result is a major incentive to write about brands in the favored category, although Robey says she won’t change the products she writes about.

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.


The best way to find suitable brands to promote is by simply using a search engine using: '[Brand] + Affiliate Program'. Some companies run in-house affiliate programs however, this is a very specialist area. Therefore, most companies opt to employ an 'affiliate network' which has already built a large base of affiliates and gained years of experience in running successful programs for clients.
Great article. Great resources. I do find it quite odd that people will reject sellers. As an affiliate marketer and new blogger myself, this is extremely frustrating. Now, I know there could exist a reason for rejection, especially within marketplaces, however, I haven’t the faintest idea why they would off the bat. I have heard it reduces epc’s (earnings per click), but, I don’t get why people care about this other than for some contests internally. Which in my opinion hurts less than refusing essentially free eyeballs on your products.
Plus, it can be especially tempting this time of year to “catch the wave” of holiday shopping excitement and—as we talked about earlier—start promoting products you don’t know well and haven’t even used personally. While that may lead to some extra sales in the short term, in the long run you risk your audience’s trust by promoting products you don’t know and can’t stand behind.
Affiliate marketing as a monetization stream is perfect for bloggers, because we recommend things on a daily basis. It’s also a largely passive way to make money, which frees up your time to do other cool things, like travel and eat your weight in pie. Long story short: affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to monetize your blog, so you should read on to learn all about it!
I thought I would just bring something else to your attention; I did take a second to look at your site; you know why I left within just one second? EXACTLY! You have less then 3 seconds to make your first impression on visitors; if your visitors are bouncing off your site at the speed of light, they either found your site by mistake, or they were not impressed with your site, and left, which means? right, they did not trust your site!!! What happens if you have a high bounce rate? right, you can certainly lose rankings! Is google going to keep sending you traffic if you have nothing to offer? nope! I can not say this is your problem, or you could have multiple problems going on at the same time to cause you to lose rankings. I can tell you one thing for sure by just taking a 1 minute look at your link profile; You have quite a few links, and you have almost no authority, what does this mean? This most likely means you are spamming your link to poor quality sites. You also have a massive amount of do-follow links which does not look natural vs your no follow links, and with your site having low trust flow, do you think your site deserves that many do-follow links? I wonder what google thinks? at first glance, your anchor/link diversity does not look to bad, so your anchor/text does not look over-optimized, but whoever is building links for you, consider firing them immediately, as you are getting all the wrong links. I am going to assume at this point google has certainly given you a penalty; Your next move to to hire someone to audit your site, and start disavowing/removing bad links from your portfolio, over time, your rankings may come back, and that may depend on other factors also, but at this point, it certainly looks like you have link issues. Just a little bitty research goes a long way. good luck.
Set up a website. Professional or business websites can also use the Affiliate program. However, they are best used with people who do not sell similar products on their website, since Amazon's marketplace can drive business away. If you have a website promoting different products, a club, a non-profit or a service, then you can recommend quality products on your site and make money doing it.
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!

Thanks for a nice job. I am currently promoting some of the affiliate programs listed here and making a few dollars from them. But I must say that making money from affiliate programs is not rocket science; it requires hard work and perseverance. Affiliate marketing keeps evolving daily and any serious affiliate should be ready to change tactics and invest time and money in order to beat the competition.
We have a wealth of brilliant articles on our website covering the many various aspects of affiliate marketing in depth, however, for those of you who are completely new to the concept, I’m going to go back to basics and explain in detail exactly what affiliate marketing is, what it takes to succeed and how you could become a successful affiliate marketer, too.
If your domain is your address, hosting is like the actual house within which your site will live. It's your own little slice of the internet — the place where all your website files live. Hosting is very affordable these days, so don't unnecessarily scrimp on costs. Go with a reputable, reliable provider because your affiliate marketing business depends on it. 
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Great article as it gets me thinking about the various ways to monetize my sites. With that said, my biggest hurdle has been how to get started building traffic. You see articles all over the net talking about massive traffic techniques, but I’ve never really found a guide for a fresh blog/website and how to get to their first 100, 500, or 1,000 daily uniques. Of course writing consistent quality content is key, but writing alone an audience does not make. Any tips or articles to point us to? Thanks again Sean!
There are tons of typographic and grammatical errors which tend to slow the reader down just a bit. That usually annoys me to no end distracting me, and I tend not to finish a less-than-sound writing. But the wealth of information in this eBook forced me to finish it. It would be great, however, if the author could have any future writings proofread prior to uploading and selling since he doesn't enjoy writing. The errors are/can be extremely distracting.
Be patient. Finally, affiliate marketing rarely leads to overnight success. Instead, it usually requires a lot of time and effort to slowly generate traffic and build an audience. This is especially true if you’re starting with a new or low-traffic site. It’s essential that you don’t expect quick results, and are ready to put in the work needed to grow your site and commissions.

If you have built up an email list, you could also promote your affiliate offers via email promotions. Just make sure you build up a relationship with your audience first instead of going for the hard sell straightaway. The emails you send out must contain your affiliate links to products so when your audience click through. the sale is attributed to you. 
Do you have any opinions about sites that got hit with Google Fred for having too much affiliate content? I think one of your other sites got hit (not TYS) and I saw you add a lot of new content but it’s not going up much. The same thing happened to me; I had too much affiliate content and got penalized; added more content but it’s not helping. I am thinking of just starting a new site and redirecting links to the new site. I feel like this penalty is unrecoverable….
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.
If you create a product or service then affiliate marketing can be used to generate buzz and ensure a successful launch. Successful affiliate products stand the test of time and business ideas span across several industries and verticals. It is also highly effective at generating leads, trials, and sales. Since you only pay commission after a genuine sale is made, there’s a minimal amount of risk involved. Once you set up your program and find affiliates, it’s a relatively self-sustaining channel that basically manages itself. This frees you up to pursue new marketing initiatives or focus on other areas of your business.

Not promoting the right products is a common issue with newbie affiliates. Would you purchase the product you are promoting through a website? Think about it. You can advertise a Ford dealership on your website until the cows come home, but will anyone seriously purchase a brand new car via a website without visiting a garage? I don’t think so. Don’t market cars, houses, wedding venues, perfume or dogs online. Do market products people will actually buy from a website without seeing them in the flesh!
Be patient. Finally, affiliate marketing rarely leads to overnight success. Instead, it usually requires a lot of time and effort to slowly generate traffic and build an audience. This is especially true if you’re starting with a new or low-traffic site. It’s essential that you don’t expect quick results, and are ready to put in the work needed to grow your site and commissions.
Focus on reviewing products that fall within your niche. Then, leveraging the rapport you have created with your audience and your stance as an expert, tell your readers why they would benefit from purchasing the product you are promoting. It is especially effective to compare this product to others in the same category. Most importantly, make sure you are generating detailed, articulate content to improve conversions.
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:
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.
While these models have diminished in mature e-commerce and online advertising markets they are still prevalent in some more nascent industries. China is one example where Affiliate Marketing does not overtly resemble the same model in the West. With many affiliates being paid a flat "Cost Per Day" with some networks offering Cost Per Click or CPM.
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