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!
Small-scale bloggers like Robey won’t be the only ones hit by the rate changes. Publications like The Wirecutter have built thriving businesses entirely on affiliate payments, which are made by vendors like Amazon whenever a referred customer buys a product. Though a number of companies offer similar programs, Amazon’s affiliate system is the most lucrative, and auto-tagged product links have become a significant part of many online businesses’ revenue. (That includes The Verge, which auto-generates affiliate links in some cases.) Though the relationship can be lucrative, it’s also entirely subject to Amazon’s discretion — and as Robey and others are learning, it can often change with little to no warning.
The person who manages an affiliate program for a merchant. They are responsible for affiliate recruitment, ensuring that the affiliates are using above board promotional methods and for increasing affiliate sales for the merchant. They also act as the liaison between the affiliate and the merchant. The affiliate manager may work directly for the merchant or be an independent service provider contracted by the merchant to run their affiliate program. Also referred to as an OPM.
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.”

This is a HUGE one! A lot of people register for Amazon Associates at the beginning of their blogging career because they assume it’s just good to “get it out of the way”. Don’t!! *foams at the mouth* I repeat: don’t register until your blog is reasonably established and you’re quite certain someone out there will buy something off of your link. If you don’t net any sales within your first 90 days, your account will get shut down. You’re welcome to apply again, but by then, your fragile ego will be in ruins.

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.

So whenever you mention a product or a brand, add outbound links to where people can find them. Language is important to, the difference in conversions between the phrases “click here” and “buy here” is 60% in the latter’s favour. You can also compare prices adding in similar products at a range of price points, to cater for readers’ of all budgets.

And in case you think it’s too soon for you to even think about affiliate marketing, let me quickly shake you. That’s. not. true! Affiliate marketing success requires a strategic mindset that is best learned at the very start, even if you don’t have loads of pageviews or anything else. Trust me – it’s much easier to optimize posts now rather than go back to tweak them, so read on and I promise, you’ll learn something of value.


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.
Insurance comparison sites are fulfilling a need. People don’t want to spend hours looking for insurance, and they don’t find it fun. If you’ve ever found anyone who enjoys this kind of activity, they could possibly be a little crazy. Both Compare The Market and Gocompare.com have not only made the tedious process of finding a policy infinitely faster, they’ve also made it fun. (Think of the free meerkats and the Gocompare man you love to hate.)
Hi Christina, quick question about amazon affiliates? I recently signed up for amazon.com as 45% of my readers are from US and I was only with UK amazon. However, my 90 days is almost up for the uk version. Do you know if the 90 day resets for each country you sign up to? And if someone buys something with my UK link, does that count for my 90 days with the US version as well?
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.
Affiliate marketing has increased in prominence with the internet age. Amazon popularized the practice by creating an affiliate marketing program where websites and bloggers put links to the Amazon page for a product being reviewed or discussed in order to receive advertising fees when a purchase is made. In this sense, affiliate marketing is essentially a pay for performance marketing program where the act of selling a consumer on a product is outsourced across a potentially vast network.
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