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 once persuaded my mum to buy all my Christmas presents using my affiliate links on Amazon, and then found out that Amazon won’t pay out to anyone with the same surname as you (as they assume them to be family; luckily I have an unusual surname!) or anyone who lives at the same address. However one of my friends has ordered through one of my affiliate links and the commission has tracked for that. It’s my ONLY commission, mind. And my account hasn’t been shut down yet (touch wood, fingers crossed etc etc…)
I once persuaded my mum to buy all my Christmas presents using my affiliate links on Amazon, and then found out that Amazon won’t pay out to anyone with the same surname as you (as they assume them to be family; luckily I have an unusual surname!) or anyone who lives at the same address. However one of my friends has ordered through one of my affiliate links and the commission has tracked for that. It’s my ONLY commission, mind. And my account hasn’t been shut down yet (touch wood, fingers crossed etc etc…)
One of the challenges I came up against when writing about cameras regularly was that while a certain percentage of my readers were actively shopping for a new camera, many readers already owned one. In fact, writing a ‘photography tips’ blog means you attract more people wanting to learn how to use a camera that they already own, rather than buying a new one.
But I think the biggest deciding factor in this, goes back to the site as a whole and all of the other posts. Are the genuine? Is the blogger constantly trying to push products? I’d like to think I’ve been doing this long enough that my audience knows I’m not out to make a quick buck – and I think even relatively new bloggers can prove this based on their other content.
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.
Awesome article! This is jam packed with great info. I am just starting a personal finance blog with my fiance and we were a little confused about how to start monetizing. We were initially thinking about using Google AdSense but between this post and another blog I read I am surely convinced that’s not the correct route. I’m really happy you have shared this information because it’s provided an excellent starting point for creating income.

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!
Avoid ‘affiliate theft’ at all costs. There are several illegitimate methods of increasing your commissions, which are collectively referred to as ‘affiliate theft’ or ‘commission theft.’ As such, you’ll need to make sure you only use proper, disclosed links at all times. Otherwise, you might end up like the scammer who used affiliate theft to steal $28 million from eBay.

Thats a great point, and I’ve definitely seen my fair share of those “how to start a blog” posts. That’s always been a good fit for people at Location 180, and if they do a good job on the post (truly make it useful) that’s one that doesnt bother me as much – solely because I know how valuable starting a blog can be for your life and goals. So if it’s some personal finance blogger that creates one and you start a blog from that by following their tutorial – all the better!
Of course you want instant profits today. Who doesn’t? You can get your instant commission from selling other people’s products but always try and remember how the customer is also connected to your business. Can you connect with that person in the future? Are they signed up to your list, following you on Facebook, or maybe commenting on your content?
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)
We have a wealth of brilliant articles on our website covering the many various aspects of affiliate marketing in depth, however, for those of you who are completely new to the concept, I’m going to go back to basics and explain in detail exactly what affiliate marketing is, what it takes to succeed and how you could become a successful affiliate marketer, too.
I do this because I want to build a solid reputation and a loyal readership of people who trust me. I’d rather make less money and still have a reader than make lots of money and never see the reader again. For me, this comes not only from my ethics but my belief that in the long term building a good profile and reputation leads to other opportunities for profit.

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.
From the very first time you post your first article, you should create a separate profile for your brand or niche blog on each social media platform like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Reddit, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and others. These are mega authority websites, and getting a nofollow link from them will surely help. Whenever you add a new content, you should post them on your social media.
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.
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.

Most of the traffic for your affiliate website will come from product related searches, and product reviews. Generally, these will be more long-tail terms such as, “Blendtec 570 vs Vitamix 5300”, or “greenworks mower vs black and decker”. The traffic coming from keywords like these will be very targeted, as the searcher has the intention to purchase something.
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.)

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 feel like if you have 98% only affiliate content and no other valuable content it’s more likely to be penalized. I was following a lot of competitor sites in Ahrefs and noticed all the ones that tanked had only thin affiliate content and no non-affiliate content. For some reason I thought FixYourSkin was yours but I was wrong. That site went down like crazy and lost their traffic by half. I saw them trying to recover by adding more quality content but it doesn’t seem to help for them and it’s not helping me either.
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.)
Affiliate marketing has grown quickly since its inception. The e-commerce website, viewed as a marketing toy in the early days of the Internet, became an integrated part of the overall business plan and in some cases grew to a bigger business than the existing offline business. According to one report, the total sales amount generated through affiliate networks in 2006 was £2.16 billion in the United Kingdom alone. The estimates were £1.35 billion in sales in 2005.[19] MarketingSherpa's research team estimated that, in 2006, affiliates worldwide earned US$6.5 billion in bounty and commissions from a variety of sources in retail, personal finance, gaming and gambling, travel, telecom, education, publishing, and forms of lead generation other than contextual advertising programs.[20]
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