To those on the outside, affiliate marketing can seem like a black box. It’s inner workings are mysterious to most marketers and in many companies it’s not treated with the same seriousness as other channels. Some marketers, only familiar with the bad reputation acquired by some industry players in the 2000s, deride it as a source of spam and little more.
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

A metric used to show the number of times your affiliate link has generated a predefined conversion compared to the number of times the link has been viewed displayed as a percentage. To find your conversion rate take the amount of sales a link has generated and divide it by the number of impressions the link received and multiple the result by 100 to get your conversion rate percentage. Example – if your link was viewed 100 times and generated 2 sales, then you would take 2 (sales) and divide if by 100 (impressions) to get .02 (result) and multiply that by 100 to get a conversion rate of 2%.
This is a very common way to promote offers. For example, you will often see a blog post with links to certain products or services. If the reader clicks through and makes a purchase, the blog owner will make a commission. These in-text links blend in with other content on your site and are a great way of promoting an offer within your content, without being over-the-top salesy with banners. 
As another example, I’m planning on writing a blog post comparing the Blue Yeti USB Microphone to the Blue Snowball iCE Condensor Microphone. I have both and use them for client video calls, livestreams, and creating courses. However, the Blue Yeti is twice as expensive. I’m sure a lot of people wonder whether they investment is worth it (the answer is “yes,” by the way). I can help people make their decision and earn a bit of affiliate income in the process.

The truth is much more complicated. It’s true that affiliate programs can be sources of phantom revenue and off-brand promotion. But managed properly, they can also make up 5-15 percent of online revenue and have an ROI among the highest of any online channel. CMOs are realizing that affiliate marketing can be an important part of their arsenal and are integrating the channel into their overall marketing strategies.


Affiliate marketing is a technique that involves inter-brand cooperation in promoting a good or service. In one of its simplest forms, affiliate marketing consists of one brand, company or individual promoting a product (likely in exchange for some sort of commission) on behalf of another brand, company or individual. Its intended function is to expose one brand to another’s customer base, and is typically done when there is some sort of similarity between the two brands that might draw common interest. The rise of the internet has enabled a diverse range of opportunity in affiliate marketing, largely by way of data tracking (such as web cookies) and analytics.
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’m in the process of creating a new blog now and have decided on a niche to focus on. I’d like to implement affiliate marketing as soon as the blog launches. Was wondering if affiliate networks require those requesting to become affiliate marketers to have a certain number of followers before approving the request to join the affiliate program? Generally, what types of requirements have to be met when applying to join an affiliate network? I’d hate to apply then get rejected because I haven’t met the minimum requirements, if those exist. Thanks!
Affiliate marketing works because it creates a win-win situation for everyone involved. Companies only pay commissions on sales that are generated which guarantees a strong return on investment. Affiliates get to earn more money which can eventually turn into passive income over time. It’s a low-risk marketing channel that benefits both advertisers and publishers.
If you are building a site that has the potential for information that will never age and remain useful for your audience, you have the opportunity to create what is known as evergreen content. It's important to carry out extensive keyword research before planning any evergreen content for a site like this, as your site could hugely benefit from the proper usage of keywords within such content. 
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.
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:
In November 1994, CDNow launched its BuyWeb program. CDNow had the idea that music-oriented websites could review or list albums on their pages that their visitors might be interested in purchasing. These websites could also offer a link that would take visitors directly to CDNow to purchase the albums. The idea for remote purchasing originally arose from conversations with music label Geffen Records in the fall of 1994. The management at Geffen wanted to sell its artists' CD's directly from its website but did not want to implement this capability itself. Geffen asked CDNow if it could design a program where CDNow would handle the order fulfillment. Geffen realized that CDNow could link directly from the artist on its website to Geffen's website, bypassing the CDNow home page and going directly to an artist's music page.[14]
Cost per action/sale methods require that referred visitors do more than visit the advertiser's website before the affiliate receives a commission. The advertiser must convert that visitor first. It is in the best interest of the affiliate to send the most closely targeted traffic to the advertiser as possible to increase the chance of a conversion. The risk and loss are shared between the affiliate and the advertiser.
A metric used to show the number of times your affiliate link has generated a predefined conversion compared to the number of times the link has been viewed displayed as a percentage. To find your conversion rate take the amount of sales a link has generated and divide it by the number of impressions the link received and multiple the result by 100 to get your conversion rate percentage. Example – if your link was viewed 100 times and generated 2 sales, then you would take 2 (sales) and divide if by 100 (impressions) to get .02 (result) and multiply that by 100 to get a conversion rate of 2%.
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.
Let’s say you have a promotions page where you’re promoting a product via affiliate links. If you currently get 5,000 visits/month at a 2% conversion rate, you have 100 referrals. To get to 200 referrals, you can either focus on getting 5,000 more visitors, or simply increasing the conversion rate to 4%. Which sounds easier? Instead of spending months building domain authority with blogging and guest posts to get more organic traffic, you just have to increase the conversion rate by 2%. This can include landing page optimization, testing your calls-to-action, and having a conversion rate optimization strategy in place. By testing and optimizing your site, you’ll get far better results with much less effort. 
As mentioned merchants will pay publishers a certain commission when they’re directly responsible for driving a sale. So when you look for merchants to write about, or products you want to review, keep in mind what commission rate they pay. The better the rate, the more money you’ll make if you drive a sale. If you can combine a high commission rate with a product you believe in you’ll have struck gold.
Effectively, these advertisers have a couple of choices. They can use an affiliate network that acts as a go-between, connecting the advertiser to affiliate marketers and managing the tracking and payments in exchange for a service fee. Or the advertiser can license affiliate-tracking software to deploy on its own servers or as a cloud-based service.
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.
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!
Ebates is a fan favorite. Even though they have been around for years, a lot of people still aren't using it. And it's easy money. Who doesn't love that? Because it crosses so many industries, it can be an easy program to promote. Even if you aren't in the save money/make money industries, if you are talking about your organizing your office or trip to Jamaica it's an easy mention. “Don't forget to stop by Ebates first to get 8% back on your The Container Store purchase” or “Get 12% back this week when you book your Hilton stay through Ebates.” Bonus points: Ebates gives people an extra $10 when they sign up and make their first purchase. And you get $15! (Plus bonuses.)
A browser extension is a plug-in that extends the functionality of a web browser. Some extensions are authored using web technologies such as HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. Most modern web browsers have a whole slew of third-party extensions available for download. In recent years, there has been a constant rise in the number of malicious browser extensions flooding the web. Malicious browser extensions will often appear to be legitimate as they seem to originate from vendor websites and come with glowing customer reviews.[32] In the case of affiliate marketing, these malicious extensions are often used to redirect a user’s browser to send fake clicks to websites that are supposedly part of legitimate affiliate marketing programs. Typically, users are completely unaware this is happening other than their browser performance slowing down. Websites end up paying for fake traffic number, and users are unwitting participants in these ad schemes.
Amazon is known for sometimes coming down hard on sellers, affiliates, and other partners who don’t follow the rules. This is maybe the other big downside of being an Amazon affiliate—Amazon is big enough to boss you around if you step out of line, and there’s usually not much you can do about it. I’ve heard stories of affiliates having their accounts closed without any chance for recourse or appeal when they went against one of Amazon’s affiliate policies.
Affiliate marketing also enables you to reach a much wider geographic audience. If you’re a business that sells internationally, then you can recruit affiliates from all over the world to promote your products and services. Instead of having to invest in local agencies and translation of traditional marketing materials, your affiliates will produce localized promotional content on your behalf. They’ll know the best keyword terms to target search engines in their own language without you having to source expensive translators or local marketing companies.
I absolutely see the value in affiliate sales (and Pay Flynn is one of the masters at doing this authentically and openly), but I got really turned off it when I saw a lot of bloggers I read and respect writing junky “How to set up a blog” posts that didn’t seem relevant to their audiences purely so that the could get the sweet Bluehost commissions in.
The Amazon Associates program allows you to generate revenue by placing links to Amazon products on your personal website. Each time someone purchases a product by clicking on a link from your website, Amazon will give you a small commission. With a few quick tips, you can easily apply to become an Amazon Associate so that you can start generating revenue from your personal website.
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.
This is the number of views that you can test each month on your website.It's up to you how you choose to use them, either by allocating all the views to one test or to multiple test, either on one page or on multiple pages. If you have selected the 10.000 tested views plan and you run an experiment on your category page which is viewed 7000 times per month, then at the end of the month 7000 is what you'll be counted as tested views quota.

If you’ve decided affiliate marketing is right for your business, there are many different ways to go about it. It’s not the right strategy for every business. It depends on the kind of business you have. If you have a brick and mortar pizza shop, this probably isn’t for you. But for a retailer it can be a helpful tool. Brick Marketing sets up one web site that resells your product or service on other web sites. It’s performance-based marketing, paid by commission. Brick completes the whole process: Develops a strategy, writes program terms, writes banners and text ads to promote the site. They start by listening to what your business needs—the audience you’re looking to reach and who your competitors are. From there, Brick designs a successful affiliate program that works for your business. Picking an affiliate network—a group of web sites that represent your business interests—is another key part of the process. Then they launch the program and put a tracking system in place to illustrate how effective it is. The whole thing is completed in-house by Brick to get your affiliate program started. Down the line, they do monthly promotions and create affiliate programs to help. For their monthly full service program, Brick charges a flat fee of $2,000, which takes about 20 to 30 hours. This is a program that offers clients a full solution for their affiliate program.

Understand that being an affiliate is not ‘selling out.’ By promoting other companies’ products, you’re nothing but a pawn in their marketing schemes, right? While some people assume this, it really isn’t true. In fact, a key characteristic of most successful affiliates is that they provide honest and insightful content to go along with their links. Since you choose what to promote, there’s no need to bend the truth or connect your name to poor-quality products.


First of all, it’s a low-risk and inexpensive business. The bare minimum for getting started as an affiliate is having a blog, a website, or even just a social media profile. This makes it a very cost-effective method for earning money. It also means you don’t have to commit a lot of cash up-front since you can start small and grow your marketing efforts over time.
Well duh! If you don’t add affiliate links and banners into your content then how do you expect to make sales? When people fail to make money when affiliate marketing, it is usually because they are not discretely monetizing all opportunities. People DO NOT care if you have a few links and banners on a website, in fact they expect it. Especially when they get interested in a product and want to see more. If they have to go and search for the product themselves, they hate that.
About 80% of the emails you send to your list should be more helpful than any other email they received that day. You must provide exceptional quality and figure out how to make peoples lives easier or better through the emails you send them. This is the perfect setup for the other 20% of your emails – sales emails! Now, you don’t have to give a hard sell. For example, in October, you could send an email with “The Top 10 Dog Halloween Costumes Of The Year!” Include goofy pictures of dogs wearing ridiculous looking costumes and link to Amazon where people can buy those costumes if they want to. See how easy it is to “sell” through email marketing? You don’t actually have to SELL at all!
In the BigCommerce affiliate program, you receive a 200% bounty per referral and $1,500 per Enterprise referral, with no cap on commissions. Plus, the more referrals you drive through the program, the higher your commission tier will go. BigCommerce uses an industry leading 90-day cookie, so you will receive credit for up to three months for the referrals you generate. Also, there are no obligations or minimum commitments to join the program.
One thing you should strongly consider is promoting digital information products. These products are attractive for two reasons. First, they have higher conversion rates because the customers can get instant access and instant gratification when they purchase. Second, they typically offer much higher commission rates than physical products -- which means more profits for you.

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!

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!).
One of the main reasons why most newbie affiliate marketers give up after 3 months is the fact that they can’t build up traffic to their affiliate website. It’s a thorn in most marketers’ sides, but one that can be easily resolved if you put the effort in. Below I have covered a few areas that will get you good targeted traffic to your affiliate deals.

Cost per click was more common in the early days of affiliate marketing but has diminished in use over time due to click fraud issues very similar to the click fraud issues modern search engines are facing today. Contextual advertising programs are not considered in the statistic pertaining to the diminished use of cost per click, as it is uncertain if contextual advertising can be considered affiliate marketing.
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