Websites consisting mostly of affiliate links have previously held a negative reputation for underdelivering quality content. In 2005 there were active changes made by Google, where certain websites were labeled as "thin affiliates".[34] Such websites were either removed from Google's index or were relocated within the results page (i.e., moved from the top-most results to a lower position). To avoid this categorization, affiliate marketer webmasters must create quality content on their websites that distinguishes their work from the work of spammers or banner farms, which only contain links leading to merchant sites.
Now most affiliate programs have strict terms and conditions on how the lead is to be generated. There are also certain methods that are outright banned, such as installing adware or spyware that redirect all search queries for a product to an affiliate's page. Some affiliate marketing programs go as far as to lay out how a product or service is to be discussed in the content before an affiliate link can be validated.
Videos also make it easier to build a relationship with your audience; you can talk right to them, and they can hear your voice (and see your face, though that’s not always necessary). Plus, not only are you sharing what the product looks like and how it works, since you’re the one who’s showing your audience how it works, you’re also building your authority with them as an expert they can trust.
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. 
Affiliate marketing is basically performance-based marketing, whereby affiliates/partners promote a merchant’s product/service and get remunerated for every sale, visit, or subscription sent to the merchant. The most frequently used payment arrangements include: pay-per-sale, pay-per-lead, and pay-per-click compensations. Affiliate marketing is one of the most powerful and effective customer acquisition tools available to an online merchant today. You decide what commission to pay, and pay only when results (sales, leads and/or clicks) are obvious.
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!
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.
Designed to create a huge amount of traffic at all times, these sites focus on building an audience of millions. These websites promote products to their massive audience through the use of banners and contextual links. This method offers superior exposure and improves conversion rates, resulting in a top-notch revenue for both the seller and the affiliate.

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!
So, there you have a comprehensive answer to the question – what is affiliate marketing? It can benefit a wide range of businesses and delivers a strong return on investment. The setup requires some initial work to define program terms and create promotional content for affiliates to use. However, once this is completed, affiliate marketing can be a relatively passive source of revenue.

When I used to write product reviews, I used to include just one affiliate link. For some reason, I thought that a single link would be enough and I didn’t want to run the risk of annoying readers with more links. However, one day it struck me that the reviews I was writing were quite long and by the time people got to the end of them, the link to Amazon was no longer visible.


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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).
The concept of affiliate marketing on the Internet was conceived of, put into practice and patented by William J. Tobin, the founder of PC Flowers & Gifts. Launched on the Prodigy Network in 1989, PC Flowers & Gifts remained on the service until 1996. By 1993, PC Flowers & Gifts generated sales in excess of $6 million per year on the Prodigy service. In 1998, PC Flowers and Gifts developed the business model of paying a commission on sales to the Prodigy Network.[8][9]
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