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.
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.
Some merchants will create a specific and custom landing page for an affiliate to send referrals to that contains both the merchant's branding and the referring affiliate's branding. Example – a merchant might create a page on the merchant's website that shows a lead form that contains both the merchant's logo and the specific affiliate's logo on the page. This is referred to as Co-branding. Many times merchants limit Co-Branding opportunities to only being available to Super Affiliates.
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.
Whichever way you choose to promote something, you’ll include a trackable link that’s unique to your affiliate account so that any sales can be attributed back to you. If you’re a blogger who wants to monetize your platform, then becoming an affiliate can provide that steady source of income as you earn commissions. An associate program gives you the opportunity to provide solutions to your audience who may need a product to solve a problem. The savviest publishers are content marketers, pay per click powerhouses, leverage marketing automation and can recite the guide to affiliate marketing like clockwork.
Thank you for a very straightforward introduction to the world of Affiliate Marketing. I’m looking forward to the journey and just starting out. For me, I’m just as enthusiastic about the challenge of gaining success for its own sake, as the financial rewards it may hopefully bestow on me. There are so many variables involved and putting the whole thing together feels like attempting a 40,000-piece jigsaw puzzle with a hangover.
There’s something about an image that people are drawn to and that makes them click. I began to experiment with linking images to Amazon with my affiliate links, setting up a tracking code to test whether they converted. While they didn’t convert as well as text links, they did convert in some instances and to this day I still use this technique most of the time.
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.
In the past, large affiliates were the mainstay, as catch-all coupon and media sites gave traffic to hundreds or thousands of advertisers. This is not so much the case anymore. With consumers using long-tail keywords and searching for very specific products and services, influencers can leverage their hyper-focused niche for affiliate marketing success. Influencers may not send advertisers huge amounts of traffic, but the audience they do send is credible, targeted, and has higher conversion rates. 
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:
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.
The dollar amount of commissions an affiliate has to accrue before being paid. Some merchants set a minimum payment threshold themselves (to lower accounting costs by paying less frequently to people sending very few sales) while others allow the affiliate to do so (usually to avoid receiving frequent smaller checks and instead receive one larger one).
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.
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.

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!

Did you know that Commission Junction is one of the oldest affiliate marketing programs? That means they are a trusted company working with a lot of big brand names. That is a very valuable asset. Don’t think it will be easy, you will have to work hard for it, as Commission Junction standards are high. But it’s all well worth it. Products from these big brands will sell much easier, especially if your audience is already buying them. Working with Commission Junction can be hard work, especially for beginners. But, the brands that Commission Junction provides is why the company is highly recommended regardless. Nothing worthwhile is easy I suppose, even if you’re just starting out.


Some merchants will create a specific and custom landing page for an affiliate to send referrals to that contains both the merchant's branding and the referring affiliate's branding. Example – a merchant might create a page on the merchant's website that shows a lead form that contains both the merchant's logo and the specific affiliate's logo on the page. This is referred to as Co-branding. Many times merchants limit Co-Branding opportunities to only being available to Super Affiliates.

Affiliate marketing enables you to generate more sales by tapping into other people’s audiences. These people or ‘affiliates’ earn a commission for referring customers, so it’s in their interest to write positive reviews and spread word of mouth. They’ll often write blog posts, promote your product on social media, and share it with their email list, in order to earn higher commissions. The best will leverage their social network with facebook ads, facebook messenger, or leveraging their affiliate websites.

When deciding which programs to sign up for, you should first look at what products they want you to promote. Most importantly, they’ll need to offer products that are popular in your selected niche. Therefore, look for brands that speak to your target market, and see if they offer affiliate programs. For example, if your site is about running websites, you could look for web hosts with their own affiliate programs.
Hey, thanks for the great post. I’ve been following Pat Flynn and love his “give and it shall be given unto you” attitude..my perception anyway. At 50, with a high school education, I’m trying to learn affiliate marketing from information online. What I’ve gleened so far is to focus on giving the best, most honest information, like your Parents would give you. In exchange for your efforts rewards will come.

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!
No matter how good your marketing skills are, you’ll make less money on a bad product than you will on a valuable one. Take the time to study the demand for a product before promoting it. Make sure to research the seller with care before teaming up. Your time is worth a lot, and you want to be sure you’re spending it on a product that is profitable and a seller you can believe in.
The best way to find suitable brands to promote is by simply using a search engine using: '[Brand] + Affiliate Program'. Some companies run in-house affiliate programs however, this is a very specialist area. Therefore, most companies opt to employ an 'affiliate network' which has already built a large base of affiliates and gained years of experience in running successful programs for clients.

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.


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
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.
A year ago, when I ran an ABestWeb contest for the best definition of affiliate marketing, Chris, who ended up winning the first prize, summarized things both eloquently and beautifully. He defined affiliate marketing as “the art of doing a merchant’s marketing better than they can, and profiting from it.” Many successful affiliates (also known as super affiliates) are truly better experts in what they do that most of the merchants that they promote. Consequently, they can market e-tailers’ products/services in such a way that merchants get incremental business, while they themselves make a good living off the per sale commission they get.
This site might seem authoritative, but it doesn’t really cater to the visitor. As you can see the site contains a ton of ads, and doesn’t do much to provide a good reading experience. The content is long, but it’s also very hard to read. You could easily create a site that reviews this product and provides a better reading experience and higher-quality review.

Hi, Nice article. I am not sure about the process though. I can understand, finding a niche. But, when it comes to affiliate programs I get a little lost. Would I be promoting someone else's products? If so, no problem. I know I need to research high end products with gravity, are these products ones in certain stores, or companies, etc.?? If so, do I need to get permissions to be on an affiliate program with that company? Also, if it is products with a company, then how do I offer promotions on their products since they are not mine? Thank you, Nanette Vlahusich
Amazon has spent years perfecting the art of online selling and you’ll learn a lot about online marketing by observing how they do it. They constantly test different ways of promoting products and have evolved their site quite a lot over the years. See what widgets they use to promote related products, watch how they use reader reviews, and see the way that they describe products.
Did you know that Commission Junction is one of the oldest affiliate marketing programs? That means they are a trusted company working with a lot of big brand names. That is a very valuable asset. Don’t think it will be easy, you will have to work hard for it, as Commission Junction standards are high. But it’s all well worth it. Products from these big brands will sell much easier, especially if your audience is already buying them. Working with Commission Junction can be hard work, especially for beginners. But, the brands that Commission Junction provides is why the company is highly recommended regardless. Nothing worthwhile is easy I suppose, even if you’re just starting out.
I have started looking at affiliate networks and finding products to promote that way. Also going to try to utilize a Youtube channel with promotion, as well as some paid advertising. It all works with the right amount of patience. I do have an Amazon Affiliate account that I can link too, but diversifing and learning to branch out is key. Truthfully I do not think the Amazon associate program is all that newbie friendly.
A two-tier affiliate program allows affiliates to not only earn commissions on their own sales, but to also get a percentage of the commissions (usually much smaller) earned by people they've recruited into the affiliate program (either directly because they knew them or indirectly – meaning someone signed up to be an affiliate by using the first affiliate's link).
The first place where honesty is crucial in affiliate marketing on Amazon is in how you represent the product itself. This may go without saying, but if you oversell or flat-out lie about what a product can do for someone, it’s going to backfire, big time. And not just in terms of your affiliate sales for that product, but in the likelihood people will continue to trust you at all. You can always find new affiliate products to promote, but once you’ve lost your audience’s trust, it’s hard if not impossible to gain it back. This is why using a product yourself and getting to know it inside and out is extra important, because the chances you’ll misrepresent the thing you’re promoting are much, much lower when you’re an expert on it.
I have yet to implement all the tools you have shared and recommended in this article, but I really like the way you explain things. It is written in a very easy-to-read style, and ho hype or exaggerated comments. Now I have to get busy and take the necessary time to study, and implement, your recommendations. Thank you for all that you have shared.
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%.
Great article. Great resources. I do find it quite odd that people will reject sellers. As an affiliate marketer and new blogger myself, this is extremely frustrating. Now, I know there could exist a reason for rejection, especially within marketplaces, however, I haven’t the faintest idea why they would off the bat. I have heard it reduces epc’s (earnings per click), but, I don’t get why people care about this other than for some contests internally. Which in my opinion hurts less than refusing essentially free eyeballs on your products.
You can put up banners on your site, to promote your affiliate offers. Most affiliate programs will usually provide their own creatives when you sign up for their offers. All you have to do is insert the banner on a highly trafficked page (your affiliate tracking is usually embedded within the code). Banner ads in the right locations can do a great job of driving sales.  
The most common type of affiliate marketing is done on the internet. With this type of affiliate marketing, you create a website that talks about the product you want to help sell and the company you are affiliated with gives you a special link to use. When people click on this link, the company knows that they came from your website. Then when these people buy something, you get a certain percentage of each sale.
It’s hard to predict exactly what Amazon’s new rates will mean for those participating in the program, but there’s plenty of reason to be nervous. The most immediate change will be the end of Amazon’s “variable standard program fee” rates, which gave sites a higher cut as they drove more business to Amazon. The scale ranged from 4 to 8.5 percent, depending on how many products visitors bought in a given month. Robey says she never had trouble selling enough products to earn an 8 percent rate.
I built several small sites that only sell ‘small’ items for sale on Amazon. Typically $4/$5 an item, and items that are usually bought in bulk. Painting supplies, for instance. I then take out a small Facebook ad at the start of the month promoting that site. Usually 2 or 3 orders of multiple products is enough to send my commision percentage up, then it’ll stay that way until the end of the month. Hope that helps someone. 🙂
Third, you have to actually create the product. Since creating a physical product usually comes with huge investment and risks, I’ll only show you ways to create digital products. These are the best place to get started since they typically only require your time and little or no money. For more on product research and how to find your next blockbuster product, do read 10 Better ways to do Amazon Product Research. With SellerApp not only will you get product ideas, but also uncover product ideas based on keyword search volume and their monthly usage. Try SellerApp today for free to uncover your next product.
Adam Enfroy is the Affiliate Partnerships Manager at BigCommerce. With 10+ years of experience in digital marketing, ecommerce, SEO, web development, and selling online courses, he is passionate about leveraging the right strategic partnerships, content, and software to scale digital growth. Adam lives in Austin, TX and writes about building your online influence by scaling your content and affiliate marketing strategies on his blog.

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).
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.
A text file that is sent from a website to a file within a user's web browser. Cookies are used for various reasons on the web as a whole. In regards to affiliate marketing, Cookies are used to assign an ID to a user that has clicked on your affiliate link to get to a merchant website for a predefined period. If the user returns within that predefined period (whether or not they click on your affiliate link again) then you will be credited with the sale. Example – a user clicks your affiliate link (cookie gets “dropped” to their browser) and then bookmarks the merchant's website to buy later. The user returns before the Cookie Expiration and makes the purchase. You would receive credit – and this commission – on the sale.

You can sign up as an Amazon associate straight away without a site. As long as you have the URL and it belongs to you. They won’t approve your site until you have made your first commission. So what I would do is get the site built and add all the content that you need. Make sure its finished. Then sign up to the Amazon associates, add in your aff codes to your review pages and then you just wait for your first sale. Make sure you read the amazon T&Cs so your site is compliant. If it isn’t then they will not approve your site.

Two-tier programs exist in the minority of affiliate programs; most are simply one-tier. Referral programs beyond two-tier resemble multi-level marketing (MLM) or network marketing but are different: Multi-level marketing (MLM) or network marketing associations tend to have more complex commission requirements/qualifications than standard affiliate programs.[citation needed]
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