Hey Jan, glad it made you think. As you've found out it's not easy to rank #1 on Google especially when so few people will link to your product reviews. You need to tackle a specific niche with a focused target audience as a whole and build a community of like minded people around your site in order to make any significant income online sustainably and for the long term.

Along with that, Amazon is a complete SELLING MACHINE! What I mean by that, is they have drilled their conversion rates down to the last detail. Typically I can convert traffic I send to Amazon from my affiliate sites around 12%. The reason why it works so well is that the moment people land on Amazon, they are automatically switched into "buyer mode". Meaning, they know the only thing left for them to do is BUY. What that means, is all you have to do is get people to Amazon's site, and they literally do the selling for you.
Amazon Associates is one of the first online affiliate marketing programs and was launched in 1996. The Amazon Associates program has a more than 12 year track record of developing solutions to help website owners, Web developers, and Amazon sellers make money by advertising millions of new and used products from Amazon.com and its subsidiaries, such as Endless.com and SmallParts.com. When website owners and bloggers who are Associates create links and customers click through those links and buy products from Amazon, they earn referral fees. It’s free to join and easy to use.
Refers to a product being returned or a sale “falling through” that you were already paid for. Since the sale didn't actually finalize, the merchant will deduct the amount you were previously given in commission for that sale from your affiliate commissions. In lead generation, this can also occur if the merchant decides the leads sent were unqualified or fraudulent in nature.
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.
Most businesses require startup fees as well as a cash flow to finance the products being sold. However, affiliate marketing can be done at a low cost, meaning you can get started quickly and without much hassle. There are no affiliate program fees to worry about and no need to create a product. Beginning this line of work is relatively straightforward.
Let no one tell you that email marketing is dead. An email list is crucial for every affiliate marketer. You can start building up your email list with a lead magnet (like the information products mentioned previously) or even just by encouraging your audience to sign up for your updates. You can then push your content to this audience via email and also direct them to your affiliate offers. Don't be sleazy about the sales, but if you build up enough trust with your email audience; when the time comes, they will not mind purchasing a product from you. 
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.
Education occurs most often in "real life" by becoming involved and learning the details as time progresses. Although there are several books on the topic, some so-called "how-to" or "silver bullet" books instruct readers to manipulate holes in the Google algorithm, which can quickly become out of date,[41] or suggest strategies no longer endorsed or permitted by advertisers.[42]

Acorns is a micro-investing platform making a great new opportunity for those in the save money/make money niches. Acorns allows people to invest as little as $5 at a time and/or link up a debit or credit card and Acorns will roundup those purchases investing when you reach $5. They recently added a “Later” program which allows for IRA investments as well. It's an easy way to start saving for a rainy day. And the referral program isn't too shabby either! Earn $5 for every referral. Acorns will also give your friend their first $5 to invest. Why pass that up? Even better, because this is a new platform looking to grow its userbase they have been running some really lucrative referral bonuses. Some months have been, for example, “refer 12 people and get a $1000 bonus.” Other months have been “refer 5 people and split a $100,000 pot.” Definitely numbers small enough for everyone to play. Take advantage of it while you can.
Also, remember that you are able to receive a commissions on anything your referral purchases over a 24hr period. So, even if you refer someone to purchase an e-book but they also end up buying $400 worth of other stuff, you get a commission on that, too. So really, you’re playing a numbers game here, especially around the holidays. This is why the Amazon Associates affiliate program is so powerful. When people by from Amazon, they tend to load up that cart.
In 1994, Tobin launched a beta version of PC Flowers & Gifts on the Internet in cooperation with IBM, who owned half of Prodigy.[10] By 1995 PC Flowers & Gifts had launched a commercial version of the website and had 2,600 affiliate marketing partners on the World Wide Web. Tobin applied for a patent on tracking and affiliate marketing on January 22, 1996, and was issued U.S. Patent number 6,141,666 on Oct 31, 2000. Tobin also received Japanese Patent number 4021941 on Oct 5, 2007, and U.S. Patent number 7,505,913 on Mar 17, 2009, for affiliate marketing and tracking.[11] In July 1998 PC Flowers and Gifts merged with Fingerhut and Federated Department Stores.[12]
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.
Ahh thanks for the kind words. Glad you found the post helpful. I would focus on building up a good base of content first before adding affiliate links, because like you said, some programs might not accept you if your blog is still so new. 2 posts is a nice start, but I’d definitely work your way up to 10-15 posts, enough to “fill up” the blog before you apply for affiliate programs. That’s just my opinion though! The other thing about starting too early is that you haven’t really established authority or a solid audience that trusts you yet, so the odds of readers making purchases through you is much lower as well. Focus on content first, then programs! The good thing is, you’ve taken Michelle’s course, which I thought was super helpful in terms of getting in the right mindset for affiliate marketing. Now that you know what sort of content works, you can get a good strategy set out from the beginning. 🙂 Best of luck!
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.
In April 2008 the State of New York inserted an item in the state budget asserting sales tax jurisdiction over Amazon.com sales to residents of New York, based on the existence of affiliate links from New York–based websites to Amazon.[45] The state asserts that even one such affiliate constitutes Amazon having a business presence in the state, and is sufficient to allow New York to tax all Amazon sales to state residents. Amazon challenged the amendment and lost at the trial level in January 2009. The case is currently making its way through the New York appeals courts.

I have a free WordPress website with 1000-2000 visitors/month. I was trying to place Amazon Affiliate ad links last night and failed/flailed mightily. I would paste the links into my posts in the HTML mode, switch to Visual mode, and could see the image. However, every time I tried to save or update the post, the image reverted to the gangly hyperlink. As some suggested, I tried cleaning the links of any formatting from the copy and paste with text edit. No dice.
I am Rowan, just another blogger trying to get in the affiliate marketing community. I want to spice up my earning from adsense to affiliate marketing level. But the thing is i don't wanna make any mistake, i've been searching for plugins and especially some free good ones but i could not find any. but others are not that well to my need as well. I need some like Coupon, daily deal and cashback etc. but there is no platform that is providing all that under one roof except this site that came up on my search like this comment section, 'Revglue' but i have no idea so i need suggestion.
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.
1. EasyAzon flat-out didn’t work, and their customer service was the absolute worst. 2. Genius Links worked, but often the same products wouldn’t be available on other Amazon sites, and the link would redirect to another product or a search page full of irrelevant products… not ideal. Plus, I was getting more clicks, but not enough international conversions to justify the $9 a month [seriously guys, Amazon does not pay well haha]. Long story short: this is a complication to be wary of!
First things first, choose a niche. You should choose something which interests you, you don’t mind learning about, or have the ability to pay someone else to write about. Consider the potential costs carefully before delving into something which you know absolutely nothing about. Another important aspect is to be confident that it will be a lucrative niche to work in. There needs to be an abundance of products to promote, and the commission levels need to be significant enough to give you a good profit each time a sale is made.
After being accepted into an affiliate program, marketers receive a unique URL that includes their affiliate ID. They share that unique URL with their subscribers, site visitors, and social networks via text links or ads. When someone clicks on that link, affiliate software records that click and any resulting product sales in the affiliate’s account. When commissions reach a pre-determined threshold, the affiliate is paid.
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