I would like to add that for information products, a lot of the time it’s pretty easy to rank for “information product review”. I recently did a review of a popular ebook that is a month long discipline program. I went about it by doing the actual program and documenting everything. At the end of the month I wrote up a 2700 word article summing up the whole experience.
Along with that, Amazon is a complete SELLING MACHINE! What I mean by that, is they have drilled their conversion rates down to the last detail. Typically I can convert traffic I send to Amazon from my affiliate sites around 12%. The reason why it works so well is that the moment people land on Amazon, they are automatically switched into "buyer mode". Meaning, they know the only thing left for them to do is BUY. What that means, is all you have to do is get people to Amazon's site, and they literally do the selling for you.
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)

The tips mentioned above covers the bulk about how profitable affiliate sites are set up nowadays. If you’re familiar with building sites and a bit of SEO, then this affiliate marketing guide should put you on the right path. However, if you want a more comprehensive guide to affiliate marketing, then you will need more than just free resources online to get a website up and running.
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!

The term “qualified sale” (or its synonym, “qualified purchase”) is important in the affiliate marketing context because the advertiser (the ecommerce merchant) defines in advance what constitutes a qualified sale. When an affiliate agrees to promote the merchant’s products, that affiliate is accepting the merchant’s definition of a “qualified sale.”

With the basic terms clarified, let’s get an overview of how you can best get started with building your affiliate marketing business on Amazon. As I said, there are basically two sides of the affiliate marketing equation that you can choose from, you can become a merchant and have others promote your product, in exchange for giving them a commission from the sales that they make.
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. 
Do you have zero interest in an expensive mountain bike the company you are an affiliate of sells? Well, you probably don’t want to feature it on your blog, as it is extremely difficult to persuade readers (or anyone for that matter) that they should buy something you wouldn’t be caught spending a single penny on. When you are passionate about a product or–at the very least–interested in learning more about it, this will come through to your readers, engage them and better coax them to buy
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.
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.
In regards to affiliate marketing, click fraud most often refers to generating “fake” clicks to a merchant program that is based on a PPC compensation method. The fake clicks (which can be generated in a manual or automated fashion) have no chance of converting for the merchant since the traffic clicking the ads have no real interest in the product or service the merchant is selling.
For example, if I talk about how cool a product is, and then you find out that I’m an affiliate for them, wouldn’t you as a conscientious observer become skeptical as to whether my information is biased, if perhaps I’m only saying how cool something is because I can get paid for it? Wouldn’t that make you question my integrity with other things I say as well?
Thanks Nathalie! And glad to see you came over from AONC 🙂 When done the right way I think affiliate links in context are much less intrusive and offensive than having ads on your sidebar. The average non-tech reader probably wont even know its an affiliate link anyway. So just by doing everything you’ve already been doing, you can switch out links, and probably make a nice side income!
If you want to jumpstart your success: I really do recommend enrolling in Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. It has helped me SO much in terms of starting out and getting in the right mindset for affiliate marketing. The Facebook group is amazingly helpful, and I have heard great feedback from blogger friends who have taken it based on my recommendation. If you are a beginner, this course will definitely help you. To sweeten the deal, I’ll throw in a copy of my Affiliate Marketing for Travel Bloggers eBook for free if you buy the course from my affiliate link. Remember, there’s a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, so there’s no harm in giving it a try.
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!
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.
Many people enjoy working with Rakuten Marketing because of their user-friendly interface. It is said to be a great benefit for beginners who are looking to get the hang of affiliate marketing. This is even more helpful because you’re likely to be working with more than one brand. Rakuten Marketing keeps all the important information and any other records in one place. If your audience is more specific, it’s going to be much easier to sell your products through Rakuten Marketing. Niche markets prefer to buy from smaller companies to help the whole community thrive. It’s a great contender to consider if that’s your current audience.
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.
If you're not technically inclined at all, register your domain wherever you set up your hosting. Otherwise, you can save a few dollars by choosing a lower-cost provider. This is not a big deal for one or two sites, but it can be for 10 or 20. GoDaddy is a good option because it offers great domain management tools and at a low cost annually. One of the least expensive and reputable in the market is 1&1. Prices start at the low end of the spectrum for the first year with increases, sometimes significant for each subsequent year, depending on what plan you choose.
But more than just that, 75 percent of shoppers shop on Amazon most of the time. And Amazon has awesome conversion rates—the rate at which a customer who visits the site actually purchases something. If you’re talking about Prime customers, as many as 74 percent of them convert. That’s compared to an average of less than 10 percent for most retail sites!
At Oberlo, we have our own affiliate program. If you’re interested, Oberlo is also part of the cj.com affiliate network. We want to help people with their drop-shipping businesses. And, we have many happy and successful customers. Word of mouth is important to us which is why we have a fantastic affiliate program. You don’t have to be a customer of ours to participate. You can earn 50% of recurring commission on every new paying customer. That’s $479 per new customers just for you. You can share a link on your blog, website, as well as social media account like Twitter or Facebook. Help us grow and join us as an affiliate.
The implementation of affiliate marketing on the internet relies heavily on various techniques built into the design of many web-pages and websites, and the use of calls to external domains to track user actions (click tracking, Ad Sense) and to serve up content (advertising) to the user. Most of this activity adds time[citation needed] and is generally a nuisance to the casual web-surfer and is seen as visual clutter.[citation needed] Various countermeasures have evolved over time to prevent or eliminate the appearance of advertising when a web-page is rendered. Third party programs (Ad-Aware, Adblock Plus, Spybot, pop-up blockers, etc.) and particularly, the use of a comprehensive HOSTS file can effectively eliminate the visual clutter and the extra time and bandwidth needed to render many web pages. The use of specific entries in the HOSTS file to block these well-known and persistent marketing and click-tracking domains can also aid in reducing a system's exposure to malware by preventing the content of infected advertising or tracking servers to reach a user's web-browser.[citation needed]
Knowing this, many affiliates using the Amazon Associates affiliate program simply use the sales of cheaper items as a way to boost their commissions on the larger items they promote. You won’t be able to sell nearly the number of high end digital cameras as you can e-books, so the e-books simply help to raise your commission percentage when you do happen to sell a $1,000 camera.
No. Before you get too excited, you must understand one very important thing. Affiliate marketing for beginners can be hard. It is, after all, a business. It is not a get rich quick scheme, and no honest affiliate manager will ever tell you it is. It requires patience, perseverance and heaps of learning. Sometimes it can take years to achieve the results you really want to see, although with the help of our affiliate management team, we hope you would see them much sooner than that!
I do find the rejections strange sometimes, and you are SO right that often there doesn’t appear to be a good reason. Just yesterday I got a rejection from a program I applied to months and months ago citing that “my site wasn’t a good fit”, but I had actually been accepted to them through CJ Affiliate when I first applied and have been generating pretty consistent sales haha. Oh well! Guess we’ll never know the “inner workings” of it all, but thanks for reading Robert 😀
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.

Once you know “What is affiliate marketing?” you can begin to consider whether it’s a good tactic for your business. You need to work with professionals once you can define affiliate marketing. They know the most common mistakes and can provide helpful affiliate marketing tips. You don’t want to waste your money advertising on another’s web site, make sure you’re getting on a profit return on your dollars. Affiliate marketing is another tool for your business to compete in today’s tech-hungry world. But like other tools, if not properly used you can even damage the traffic heading to your site. A poorly designed, poorly placed advertisement can make viewers think twice about your competitor. You want to send your competitor an ad that makes them a little scared. Many businesses have exploded due to affiliate marketing in your company could be next.
Also sometimes spelled as “Click Thru Rate”. A metric used to show the number of times your affiliate link has been clicked on compared to the number of times the link has been viewed displayed as a percentage. To find your CTR, simply take the number of clicks the link has received and divide it by the number of impressions (times the link was shown) and times the result by 100 to get your CTR percentage. Example – if you are displaying a banner ad that has had 100 impressions and received 1 click, then you would take 1 (clicks) and divide it by 100 (impressions) to get .01 (result) and multiply that by 100 to arrive at a CTR of 1%.
That’s a great tip Sean, thanks! I was thinking about what you said in your post about some companies not putting that they have affiliate links and you having to do some digging and there are couple of companies/authors who made products I love and keep using, but I’m not sure how to go ahead and ask about the affiliate link. I read the post you linked below about asking for guest blogging, which I thought was a must-read, and so, if you think of doing a follow-up on this one, would love to read some of your tips and do’s and don’t about this. Thanks again, Sean, you’re doing some very inspiring work here!

Giving away a free informational product such as an e-book, an email series or a mini-course is a popular tactic many affiliate marketers use. Usually, your readers will have to provide their email addresses to receive the product from you. You can then use this to sell to them via email marketing. Additionally, an informational product can generate interest in the actual product you're trying to sell. If your product is popular enough and brings enough traffic to your site, you could also monetize the traffic in other ways, such as AdSense.
Ooh that makes sense! Yeah, surname would probably be a big one. I’ve also heard that they keep tabs on any old addresses you’ve registered and if the address is the same as someone buying from you, then that doesn’t count either. I can’t imagine they’d be able to know who ALL your friends are, but a good thing to be mindful of! When I first started I thought, hey, why not just make a FB post and tell everyone to buy off me? haha then I realized maybe it’s not that simple.
To define affiliate marketing is that it’s a technique where other publishers and websites will promote your business. Basically the way it works is that an affiliate is rewarded every time a visitor, customer or sale for your business is generated through an advertisement on their web site. There are many different ways compensation is provided, but the concept remains consistent—you pay them for generating business for you. If a viewer is at the affiliate’s web site, and the affiliate doesn’t quite have what they’re looking for, they can easily click over to your web site. It’s an increasingly popular technique for those seeking to maximize they’re staying power on the web.
With the basic terms clarified, let’s get an overview of how you can best get started with building your affiliate marketing business on Amazon. As I said, there are basically two sides of the affiliate marketing equation that you can choose from, you can become a merchant and have others promote your product, in exchange for giving them a commission from the sales that they make.
MoreNiche is one of the few affiliate networks that offer free affiliate training and ongoing personal support in this way. Many people who don’t know about our network currently pay out hundreds, if not thousands of pounds on affiliate training courses, seminars and even personal mentors each year. But they only learn the same information we give away for free once you’re working with us!
Affiliate marketing success can lead many to believe this is an easy way to make money online (passive income). However, It takes a lot more than an online course, a few domain names and Amazon products to become one of the real success stories. Although the internet is flooded with business models and marketing tips, it is simply pretty darn difficult to start leveraging this channel effectively.
Once you’ve done all the heavy lifting of niche selection, keyword research, and competition analysis, then you can finally start building your site. It’s important not to skip all the steps above. You’d hate to spend months on a site, only to learn that it won’t be profitable at all. All that hard work for nothing. You can read more about why I use WordPress for my Amazon sites.
“I have been working with Brick Marketing for over 4 years now. Brick Marketing sends me the reports every month, but I don’t need to read them. I already know what he does is extremely effective because of all the web requests I get, phone calls from customers when they see their page come up on the first page of Google! I have worked with many other companies that made promises they could not keep. Brick Marketing has gotten me results and that is why I continue to work with them. I don’t have to micro-manage anything they do. I know that they always do what they say they are going to do. If you are looking for an SEO company, I would say, look no further as you have found the one that will do the job right! In addition to doing an excellent job, Nick Stamoulis is a pleasure to work with.”
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.
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.
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.
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.

Amazon’s language: “… you will not engage in any promotional, marketing, or other advertising activities in any offline manner, including by using any of our or our affiliates’ trademarks or logos (including any Amazon Mark), any Content, or any Special Link in connection with an offline promotion or in any other offline manner (e.g., in any printed material, mailing, SMS, MMS, email or attachment to email, or other document, or any oral solicitation).”
I've tried affiliate marketing in the past without a lot of success, so wasn't sure that this book would help me much with giving it another shot. However, I was pleasantly surprised. There's no fluff or filler in this book - it's obviously written by someone who knows what they're talking about and it covers (in detail) what it promised - how to get started (and be successful) in affiliate marketing. I especially appreciate that the author added sections that aren't typically covered in these kinds of books, like how to use videos and bookmarking in your efforts as well as how to deal with backlinking after Google's Penguin and Panda updates. Glad I picked this one up. It's a keeper.
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….
Ohhh making that first affiliate sale might be the greatest feeling ever, even if it’s 18 cents. Here’s the sad thing though: most networks will have a minimum payout threshold that’s typically $50 or $100, so it may be a LONG time before you see the money. I used to be an affiliate for BlueHost, and after my first sale, I was stoked to see $65 in my affiliate report!! Legitimately, I felt like a millionaire. Unfortunately, BlueHost has a minimum payout of $100, so that money went untouched until I made another sale, but even then…
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. 
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.
MoreNiche is one of the few affiliate networks that offer free affiliate training and ongoing personal support in this way. Many people who don’t know about our network currently pay out hundreds, if not thousands of pounds on affiliate training courses, seminars and even personal mentors each year. But they only learn the same information we give away for free once you’re working with us!

If you're not technically inclined at all, register your domain wherever you set up your hosting. Otherwise, you can save a few dollars by choosing a lower-cost provider. This is not a big deal for one or two sites, but it can be for 10 or 20. GoDaddy is a good option because it offers great domain management tools and at a low cost annually. One of the least expensive and reputable in the market is 1&1. Prices start at the low end of the spectrum for the first year with increases, sometimes significant for each subsequent year, depending on what plan you choose.
Let us just say you have written an awesome article, but the affiliate products you usually sell will not fit with this content. You have a feeling that people who read this content might want to buy a particular product. For example an article about keeping children safe online might be suited to software like Net Nanny rather than an Antivirus program. The need would be direct and far more precise.

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.

You earn commission on anybody’s purchase, except yours, if they use your referral link within 24 hours. One tip here is that you can trade referral links with family members and friends and use their link to make your own purchases and ask them to do the same so there can be sharing of the spoils. This might not be the major way to make money in the affiliate program Amazon runs, but it can help your commission structure.
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.
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!
The three above examples are “referral” programs. That means you become a user of the platform yourself and they add more money to your account as you refer your friends. (Look for the refer-a-friend link on your dashboard.) These can often be more lucrative than their affiliate program counterparts and they are offered by so many companies these days.

This next one is not exclusive to Amazon, but it’s probably going to give you the biggest bang for your buck with Amazon. That is, showing people what they’re going to get before they get it. Instead of just talking about the product or sharing a little information about it, then posting your affiliate link and leaving it at that, you can give people a much richer preview of their potential experience with a given product.

It seems nowadays many bloggers are obsessed with this monetization stream, clamouring to find out how they, too, can make money off blogging through affiliate sales. This popularity has led to one very negative consequence: information overload, and not enough answers. After a few email exchanges, I realized some newbies were petrified of asking basic questions… in fear of sounding dumb.
Great advice here. The typical idea of writing reviews of bicycle pedals and expecting someone to follow your link in order to buy a pair is dead. Now if you are actually a cyclists, and you know something about all the different types of pedals, and why different types solve different cycling problems, then hey, welcome to the world of providing useful content.
Ahh thanks for the kind words. Glad you found the post helpful. I would focus on building up a good base of content first before adding affiliate links, because like you said, some programs might not accept you if your blog is still so new. 2 posts is a nice start, but I’d definitely work your way up to 10-15 posts, enough to “fill up” the blog before you apply for affiliate programs. That’s just my opinion though! The other thing about starting too early is that you haven’t really established authority or a solid audience that trusts you yet, so the odds of readers making purchases through you is much lower as well. Focus on content first, then programs! The good thing is, you’ve taken Michelle’s course, which I thought was super helpful in terms of getting in the right mindset for affiliate marketing. Now that you know what sort of content works, you can get a good strategy set out from the beginning. 🙂 Best of luck!
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you only promote one merchant’s products, you are stuck with their commissions, their landing pages, and ultimately, their conversion rates. It is important to work with many different merchants in your niche and promote a wide range of products. This affiliate marketing strategy will diversify the amount of commissions you make and create a steady stream of revenue when building an affiliate website. 
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.
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