Many affiliate programs run with last-click attribution, where the affiliate receiving the last click before the sale gets 100% credit for the conversion. This is changing. With affiliate platforms providing new attribution models and reporting features, you are able to see a full-funnel, cross-channel view of how individual marketing tactics are working together. For example, you might see that a paid social campaign generated the first click, Affiliate X got click 2, and Affiliate Y got the last click. With this full picture, you can structure your affiliate commissions so that Affiliate X gets a percentage of the credit for the sale, even though they didn’t get the last click. 
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.
Pretty Link will help to cloak your links, so they look less spammy. For instance, if you have a link that looks like “amazon.com/product-one/76/dprertet4454354rwefsrer43545”, people are less likely to click on it. With this plugin you can transform that link into something like “yoursite.com/go/product-one”. This plugin also provides data and tracking information.

A lot of people don’t realize this, but you can’t just become an affiliate – it’s a process that requires an application. Even once you’re part of an affiliate network, you’ll still need to apply for individual brands within those networks. There are times when you’ll be declined… usually there’s a reason why (lol like that time I applied to hundreds of clothing retailers in anticipation for all the packing lists that I still have not written). Other times, you’ll feel like a good fit and they’ll reject you anyway. That’s the way this cookie crumbles, so remember to put a little effort into your applications and really pick companies that fit your blog.
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.

You can sign up as an Amazon associate straight away without a site. As long as you have the URL and it belongs to you. They won’t approve your site until you have made your first commission. So what I would do is get the site built and add all the content that you need. Make sure its finished. Then sign up to the Amazon associates, add in your aff codes to your review pages and then you just wait for your first sale. Make sure you read the amazon T&Cs so your site is compliant. If it isn’t then they will not approve your site.


This is my first comment on your blog and I am really impressed by the quality of the content! You said that Amazon is famous but it’s complex and I agree with you upon that. As a beginner, I don’t think it’s a good idea to join complex affiliate programs. I recently published an infographic about affiliate marketing sats (https://www.earnyfy.com/affiliate-marketing-stats-2016) amazon was not the list of top affiliate networks used by affiliate marketers. I think Clickbank is good for the beginner. And another I think liked is that telling people that it’s not as easy as it sounds. Most people think making money is really and when they know the truth they call it a scam and give up.
In February 2000, Amazon announced that it had been granted a patent[18] on components of an affiliate program. The patent application was submitted in June 1997, which predates most affiliate programs, but not PC Flowers & Gifts.com (October 1994), AutoWeb.com (October 1995), Kbkids.com/BrainPlay.com (January 1996), EPage (April 1996), and several others.[13]
Always disclose your affiliations. Your readers will appreciate your honesty and will feel better about contributing to your earnings. If they sense that you are being less than honest about your affiliations, they are savvy enough to bypass your link and go directly to the vendor just to avoid giving you referral credit (even though the price is the same it's just something people do; strange but true!).
If instant gratification is your thing, affiliate marketing will make you want to run into a wall. Even after you surpass the threshold needed to “cash out”, there’s usually a waiting period before your commission is confirmed/approved, simply because they allow time for people to return goods if needed. So yes, affiliate marketing is by no means a fast track to cash.
In the case of promoting consumer products, like tools, books, toys and household items, the biggest affiliate network, by far, is Amazon. Amazon Associates affiliate program lets you promote any item that is sold on their platform. Amazon Associates is Amazon’s affiliate marketing program that allows website owners and bloggers to create links and earn referral fees when customers click through and buy products from Amazon. It’s completely free to join and easy to use.
Although it differs from spyware, adware often uses the same methods and technologies. Merchants initially were uninformed about adware, what impact it had, and how it could damage their brands. Affiliate marketers became aware of the issue much more quickly, especially because they noticed that adware often overwrites tracking cookies, thus resulting in a decline of commissions. Affiliates not employing adware felt that it was stealing commission from them. Adware often has no valuable purpose and rarely provides any useful content to the user, who is typically unaware that such software is installed on his/her computer.
Affiliate marketing is an ideal solution for those looking to gain control of their own income by focusing on performance-based revenue options. Working in tandem with a seller, a motivated affiliate marketer will be able to achieve a passive income from the comfort of their home without worrying about producing their own product or service. Although the success of the job does depend on the affiliate’s marketing skills, it can prove to be an effective way to meet your income goals as either a primary career or a profitable second job.
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!
^ Shashank SHEKHAR (2009-06-29). "Online Marketing System: Affiliate marketing". Feed Money.com. Archived from the original on 2011-05-15. Retrieved 2011-04-20. During November 1994, CDNOW released its BuyWeb program. With this program CDNOW was the first non-adult website to launch the concept of an affiliate or associate program with its idea of click-through purchasing.
It works for me & I've used it myself. It's really hard to promote something you haven't personally used and loved. A good example of this for me would be FlexJobs. I get a lot of questions about this program. If someone asks me where to find something in the dashboard, I can tell them. If they tell me they aren't finding ANY jobs to apply to, I can provide them with a list of steps that may change that. If they ask me if I pay for a membership myself, I can, with 100% honesty, say YES.
There is serious competition in the affiliate marketing sphere. You’ll want to make sure you stay on top of any new trends to ensure you remain competitive. Additionally, you’ll likely be able to benefit from at least a few of the new marketing techniques that are constantly being created. Be sure you’re keeping up to date on all these new strategies to guarantee that your conversion rates, and therefore revenue, will be as high as possible.

As search engines have become more prominent, some affiliate marketers have shifted from sending e-mail spam to creating automatically generated web pages that often contain product data feeds provided by merchants. The goal of such web pages is to manipulate the relevancy or prominence of resources indexed by a search engine, also known as spamdexing. Each page can be targeted to a different niche market through the use of specific keywords, with the result being a skewed form of search engine optimization.
Hiding content on a webpage or hiding affiliate tracking code in links. Hiding content on a webpage is bad as it is against the guidelines of the mainstream search engines such as Google. Hiding affiliate tracking in a link is an acceptable and widely used practice. If you'd like more information, I wrote an article on why and how I cloak affiliate links.
Refers to a term often used in affiliate reporting that allows you to see how many unique people have clicked on your affiliate link versus seeing all clicks (Raw Clicks) that have occurred. If a person on their home computer clicks your affiliate link 3 times, then 1 of those clicks would be considered a unique click. What is defined as unique typically resets after 24 hours with most programs. So, if that same person in the above example comes back 6 days later and clicks on your affiliate link 1 more time, they would now account for 4 raw clicks and 2 unique clicks.

Great stuff here Sean – thanks for all of these insights and sharing some best practices when it comes to affiliate marketing. I’ve never been comfortable giving it a shot, but after reading this post and your perspective on how and when to do it, I may just have to give it a try. Especially considering I’m already mentioning and recommending services and products on my site, I’m just not getting the potential rewards associated with doing so. Thanks again.
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.

Also referred to as CID tracking, MID tracking and TID tracking. “SID” is the abbreviation for the sub campaign tracking abilities offered by Commission Junction. Almost every mainstream network refers to it differently. SIDs allow you to create specific tracking codes for your affiliate links to track the success of a specific effort. I wrote a whole article about SID, CID, MID and TID tracking codes if you'd like more information about what they are and how they're used.


As this article aims to cover affiliate marketing for beginners, here’s a little example for you. So, let’s assume John is an affiliate. He has a website which is all about skateboarding. On it, he has a blog where he shares videos of his latest stunts, pictures of the parks he’s visited, and in-depth reviews of the best and worst skateboards he’s ever used.
This site holds no stock whatsoever. They are just promoting amazon products by ranking high for keyword terms around scooters “best pro scooter” “best scooters for kids”. People are searching for these terms in their thousands every month. They click on his amazon links, purchase products on amazon and then the owner of myproscooter.com will get commission on the whole basket.
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!
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!
Now if you notice I am not giving you any details of whom these specific e-mails are from because to me they are all exactly the same if I send for one of them or all of them I end up with pretty much the exact same product.  It is something I cannot use let alone something that I can make heads or tails of, and I feel like a complete idiot seriously.

You don't need a tool, you need a good strategy. You have few products ready to be sold, so, to complete the process you need a traffic and conversion. You can have some paid traffic from social networks, search engines, forums and other advertising websites. For the conversion you need a well built website and attracting products that your visitors will want to buy.
As this article aims to cover affiliate marketing for beginners, here’s a little example for you. So, let’s assume John is an affiliate. He has a website which is all about skateboarding. On it, he has a blog where he shares videos of his latest stunts, pictures of the parks he’s visited, and in-depth reviews of the best and worst skateboards he’s ever used.
Still, as Amazon shifts its attention to new ventures in streaming and personal assistant hardware, many see it as an ominous sign for the affiliate program. “Amazon has done such a great job taking all their profit and dumping it back in to their business. And investors are now asking Amazon to show a profit,” says Lakes. “I’m not surprised that they’re whittling a few percent here and there.”
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.

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.
When you’re picking a domain name you’ll want to choose an authoritative domain, that doesn’t limit the potential of your website. For instance, topoutdoorgrillreviews.com might sound like a good choice, but then you’re limited to just writing about outdoor grills. Something like theultimatebackyard.com will allow you to expand your site into different niches as your site becomes more established.

In February 2000, Amazon announced that it had been granted a patent[18] on components of an affiliate program. The patent application was submitted in June 1997, which predates most affiliate programs, but not PC Flowers & Gifts.com (October 1994), AutoWeb.com (October 1995), Kbkids.com/BrainPlay.com (January 1996), EPage (April 1996), and several others.[13]
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