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…

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. 
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.
Refers to a term often used in affiliate reporting that allows you to see how many unique people have clicked on your affiliate link versus seeing all clicks (Raw Clicks) that have occurred. If a person on their home computer clicks your affiliate link 3 times, then 1 of those clicks would be considered a unique click. What is defined as unique typically resets after 24 hours with most programs. So, if that same person in the above example comes back 6 days later and clicks on your affiliate link 1 more time, they would now account for 4 raw clicks and 2 unique clicks.

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.
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.
Once you are done writing your review, the next thing is to post it live by clicking on your blog posting the link (on WordPress you will see it as the Press It! Icon). You will see two pieces of link code on the posting form if it is WordPress you are using. The first one ends with “Associates Build-A-Link>”. Delete all through that point. The other part is a link to the product having your Amazon Associate built in. So, go ahead and write your product review, select the most appropriate categories for it then click on Publish.
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.
As an online strategy, affiliate marketing is often misunderstood. In the past, it gained a poor reputation for spammy tactics, but modern affiliate marketing is something very different. These days the savviest internet marketer is leveraging affiliate marketing success to turn more potential customers into clients. In this article, we break down exactly what affiliate marketing is and how it can benefit all types of businesses.
URL masking: Often, you’ll find that affiliate links are a real, million character eyesore. It’s likely that your links will look like Merchant.com/dlfjlfjlfjdskljdfgimmeallyourmoneyalajdlkaf2131032klfjfdjldsjf. And let’s be honest, few people are going to want to click on that. URL masking is therefore when you create a prettier, cleaner “vanity URL” that makes your links more clickable. Some people use bit.ly, which has tracking purposes, or the WordPress Plugin Pretty Link.
Affiliate marketing can be a big source of revenue. The key to maximizing your affiliate earnings is to provide additional value and to engage your readers. Unlike traditional ads where you are paid for impressions or clicks, affiliates are only paid if or when a specific action is performed. The action might be something as simple as signing up for a newsletter to submitting their zip code information up to having a sale completed. Regardless, you are not paid until you've compelled your readers to take some type of action.
While your site is still new, it's a good idea to start capitalizing on someone else's audience. Continue focusing on building your own content, but also considering writing content for a few big, high-traffic blogs that are relevant for your niche. By writing content for a bigger site, you are able to get in front of another audience and showcase your expertise on a particular topic. This will eventually lead to more traffic to your site, as well. 

This online marketing strategy is suitable for lots of different business situations. If you want to launch a new product or service with a bang and generate buzz from the start, having an army of affiliates (that have an interest in revenue sharing) can help. Besides selling a physical product, affiliate marketing can also increase your website traffic and generate more leads, so you drive more sales of an existing offering to new audiences.  To really drive an effective at this channel, working with a firm who specializes in affiliate management is a sure-fire way to bypass any learning curve, leverage existing relationships and turn up the heat on results.
Set reasonable expectations for earnings. You've only invested $20. You're going to make 5 percent on most products. That means that you need to sell $400 worth of stuff to make back your investment. You get credit for purchases customers make while at Amazon besides just the product you linked to, so it's not as hard as it may sound. It won't make you rich, but it's not hard to be profitable, and the income builds over time.
Building a successful Amazon affiliate site does take a lot of work. But, even if you’re a beginner it’s a great way to learn the fundamentals of working online. The steps above gave you everything you need to know to get started creating your very own website. Now it’s time to get to work! Remember, success will only come with consistent and sustained effort.

Affiliate marketing was a very early implementation of marketing strategy via the web. Several different industries are associated with its origins (such as flower delivery, music and even adult entertainment) but it is difficult to track an exact origin, partially due to its rapid expansion concurrent with the rise of the world wide web in the 1990s.
I am new to this website and the funny thing is that l was looking for an objective analysis on starting an Amazon affiliate site. Your review on this issue is the BEST that i have ever seen in the last 3 years. This article was a joy to read. It was detailed, honest and very hard hitting especially when you are trying to get readers to understand that they MUST diversify their traffic sources and STOP relying on getting to first page on Google. As a result of reading your article l am changing my digital marketing services, affiliate marketing and , e-commerce strategy. I look forward to hearing new and innovative ideas from you on internet marketing. Keep up the great work!!!
Okay, so far we’ve talked about some of the key strategies for success as an Amazon affiliate, focused mostly on the positives—the what to dos—along with a few things to avoid. Now let’s talk about a few more things on the negative side of the equation: the practices you need to avoid if you want to grow your affiliate income (and yes, avoid getting in trouble with Amazon).
A quick and inexpensive method of making money without the hassle of actually selling a product, affiliate marketing has an undeniable draw for those looking to increase their income online. But how does an affiliate get paid after linking the seller to the consumer? The answer is complicated. The consumer doesn’t always need to buy the product for the affiliate to get a kickback. Depending on the program, the affiliate’s contribution to the seller’s sales will be measured differently. The affiliate may get paid in various ways:
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.
Translation: Amazon won’t let you join their affiliate program if your site is involved in anything illegal, deceptive, violent, or hateful. But even if this doesn’t describe your site (and I hope it doesn’t!), keep in mind that sites of an “adult” nature may not be allowed either. Also, even if your site is totally family friendly, if it’s focused on kids it may not be allowed, as Amazon says it won’t accept sites directed toward kids who aren’t teenagers yet.

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.


One great way to get ideas for related products to promote is to look at the stats/reports that Amazon gives you to see which products readers are buying. After a while you’ll start to notice that they’re not only buying the products you directly promote but other products as well. Some will be completely irrelevant to your niche – but many times trends will emerge that could signal other products that it might be worth promoting.
I insist my writers actually read the books, test the cameras and use the software products they are reviewing. I encourage them to be as genuine and unbiased as possible, to point out both the pros and cons of the product. While there’s some temptation to hype up a product and only talk about its positive points, a real review will help your reader relationship over the long haul and I find actually helps promote sales.
Just like ClickBank, Commission Junction is an advertising platform that works with suppliers. Commission Junction works with big brand names. But they are still a middleman. You won’t be working or dealing with the individual companies yourself, which can be nice and can be a pain. Commission Junction does have higher requirements for joining their program. It’s not impossible if you’re serious about affiliate marketing.
This is extremely helpful information for somebody who is a newbie blogger! I’ve been looking for an all inclusive “guide” to explain affiliate marketing and this is the best I’ve found. Quick question for you – when you talk about the cookie expiration date, is that from the date that you post your review/recommendation or from the date that the reader clicks on the link? For example, the affiliate links you posted in this post are well over 90 days old but if I click on one of them now and buy that product, do you still get paid? Just curious how that works.
Translation: Amazon won’t let you join their affiliate program if your site is involved in anything illegal, deceptive, violent, or hateful. But even if this doesn’t describe your site (and I hope it doesn’t!), keep in mind that sites of an “adult” nature may not be allowed either. Also, even if your site is totally family friendly, if it’s focused on kids it may not be allowed, as Amazon says it won’t accept sites directed toward kids who aren’t teenagers yet.
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!
You're going to be doing product reviews and recommendations, so pick a topic that you enjoy and about which you can demonstrate some expertise. Choose a narrow enough niche to be distinctive—for example, bands from your city, left-handed guitarists, music for a certain kind of dancing, authors of a certain religion, books about business, or arts and crafts resources. If you can't stay passionate about the topic, that will show.
Go Direst to Merchant Sites: Some merchants choose to handle its own affiliate sales and payments. For example, the Elegant themes affiliate program is run from their website. If you see a product that others are selling then the first place to visit is the merchants website. Most will have an affiliate link for more information on how to join their program.
Building trust with your audience is paramount in affiliate marketing, and the quickest way to lose trust is to recommend products either you haven’t used before or that aren’t a good fit for your audience. Also make sure you never tell anyone to directly buy a product, you are simply recommending the product. The more helpful you are and the more you make quality recommendations, the more likely your web visitors will come back for your expertise. 
Hi Christina, quick question about amazon affiliates? I recently signed up for amazon.com as 45% of my readers are from US and I was only with UK amazon. However, my 90 days is almost up for the uk version. Do you know if the 90 day resets for each country you sign up to? And if someone buys something with my UK link, does that count for my 90 days with the US version as well?
Wow. Thank you for parting the mists of the mystery of affiliate marketing. I was drowning in vagueness and confusion for a few weeks there and now I feel like I have enough information to at least create a strategy around when I might want to start. I had no idea that it was so country-specific, which is important because I get just as many hits from European countries as I do the U.S.
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!).
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.
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