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.
One great traffic driver for me has been my new Travel Resources page. I put it up less than a month ago, created some pretty pins for it and it has done superbly well on StumbleUpon and Pinterest (racking up over 1.5k repins). This boost in traffic has helped substantially increase my conversions for Amazon, which was not a huge earner for me before. So, traffic + affiliate links = happy money dance.
Affiliate marketing as a monetization stream is perfect for bloggers, because we recommend things on a daily basis. It’s also a largely passive way to make money, which frees up your time to do other cool things, like travel and eat your weight in pie. Long story short: affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to monetize your blog, so you should read on to learn all about it!

Affiliate marketing is an online strategy where people are incentivized to promote your product or service. It’s defined as ‘a marketing arrangement by which an online retailer pays commission to an external website for traffic or sales generated from its referrals’. This can be through the search engines, social media, an email list or other means. All of the referrals are tracked using cookie technology so that commissions and affiliate payments can be automated. The power of affiliate channels is real as anyone that sells online can understand the need for qualified website visitors to grow an online business.
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.

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:
Also referred to as “spyware”. Adware is usually included in free computer programs users download without realizing the Adware is also part of the package. In many cases, the advertisements are unwanted and difficult to get rid of, even after uninstalling the offending program. Most merchants will not work with affiliates who want to promote their offers via Adware. Get more information on affiliate adware.
I’ve read a lot of horror stories where Amazon has randomly closed people’s accounts for different reasons. Fair enough – many of these are due to breaches of their terms and conditions (e.g. failing to properly disclose links, not using the appropriate images and links provided in the affiliate dashboard, buying from one’s own affiliate links, etc.) but yes, if you fail to comply by their rules, you’re at risk of being shut down (and losing all the commission you’ve racked up). SO, don’t be a dummy, read the terms and conditions thoroughly and make sure you’re not breaching them.
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.
Amazon is always a good choice for those looking to get into affiliate marketing. It is a well-known and trusted merchant and let's not forget they carry almost everything under the sun. Many of the cookies are only 24 hours and the commission is usually 1% to 10% depending on the product. But, people usually buy so much more than the one thing you are recommending. One holiday season, a person clicked on a link to a book I had mentioned on my site and bought a $1,900 engagement ring with it. At 7% commission on jewelry, that one sale earned me over $130. And I don't even promote jewelry! Amazon also pays a flat fee bounty on several of their verticals such as Amazon Video, baby registry, Audible, Prime and more.
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.
In February 2000, Amazon announced that it had been granted a patent[18] on components of an affiliate program. The patent application was submitted in June 1997, which predates most affiliate programs, but not PC Flowers & Gifts.com (October 1994), AutoWeb.com (October 1995), Kbkids.com/BrainPlay.com (January 1996), EPage (April 1996), and several others.[13]
Some of the most successful content in our network is repurposed for email, social media and other channels to enable publishers to share their expertise as widely as possible. If you’re an expert in your area, it only makes sense people will want to discover your content, get advice on purchases they’re making and act upon them in a channel of their choice. So think about how you can generate interest in your content from other avenues than search alone.
An influencer is an individual who holds the power to impact the purchasing decisions of a large segment of the population. This person is in a great position to benefit from affiliate marketing. They already boast an impressive following, so it’s easy for them to direct consumers to the seller’s products through social media posts, blogs, and other interactions with their followers. The influencers then receive a share of the profits they helped to create.
At MoreNiche, our commissions are some of the highest found on any affiliate network selling physical products. We actually turn away potential advertisers who we believe don’t offer a fair deal. In fact, none of our advertisers’ commission rates fall below 30% per sale and the most they pay is 80%! That means for every sale you generate with a value of £100, you could potentially earn between £30 and £80 in commission. Not bad, we think you’ll agree!

A third party who provides affiliate program management to a merchant. Affiliate networks provide the technology for tracking affiliate efforts, ensure that sales are properly tracked, commissions are paid to affiliates, handle reporting for both the merchant and individual affiliates and help expose the merchant to potential affiliates for their products and services. You can find a list of the more mainstream affiliate networks here.
The easiest and most common way to start building an audience for a website is via social media. Depending on your niche and industry, you can choose from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and several other niche and location-specific networks. Building up an engaged and interested following on social media is a great opportunity to build relationships and once you have their trust, promote your products and services to them. 
^ Shashank SHEKHAR (2009-06-29). "Online Marketing System: Affiliate marketing". Feed Money.com. Archived from the original on 2011-05-15. Retrieved 2011-04-20. During November 1994, CDNOW released its BuyWeb program. With this program CDNOW was the first non-adult website to launch the concept of an affiliate or associate program with its idea of click-through purchasing.
Anyone can start a video blog absolutely free on YouTube, assuming you have access to a web cam or other digital camcorder. Youtube is a great place to promote your Amazon Associates affiliate program links. You don’t need anything fancy. Simply review products or you can just start a video blog about any niche topic you want. I guarantee you there will come a time when you can recommend products to your audience. When you do, tell your audience you have put a link in the video description to the product you’re referencing.
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!
Give it all a try yourself: As a hopelessly stubborn person, I understand that sometimes you just want to try things out for yourself. No stress, friend! All these resources will still be around later, so if your gut tells you that it’s not time to buy a course or eBook, don’t force it. Test the waters for yourself and then see later whether or not you need the extra boost.
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…

Be patient. Finally, affiliate marketing rarely leads to overnight success. Instead, it usually requires a lot of time and effort to slowly generate traffic and build an audience. This is especially true if you’re starting with a new or low-traffic site. It’s essential that you don’t expect quick results, and are ready to put in the work needed to grow your site and commissions.
To define affiliate marketing is that it’s a technique where other publishers and websites will promote your business. Basically the way it works is that an affiliate is rewarded every time a visitor, customer or sale for your business is generated through an advertisement on their web site. There are many different ways compensation is provided, but the concept remains consistent—you pay them for generating business for you. If a viewer is at the affiliate’s web site, and the affiliate doesn’t quite have what they’re looking for, they can easily click over to your web site. It’s an increasingly popular technique for those seeking to maximize they’re staying power on the web.
The second place where honesty is crucial is in how you represent your affiliate links themselves. I always recommend being honest with the fact that you can earn a commission when people use your affiliate links to purchase a product. In fact, the FTC requires that you disclose when you’re using affiliate links, but beyond even that, it’s just good practice to let people know that you’ll make money when they purchase via a link on your site.
Being in Australia, I’m not required to do anything by the law (although I hear talk that there may be changes around this). I don’t disclose every single Amazon link on my photography blog in a direct way but do I have a disclaimer/disclosure page on the blog. When I’m doing a ‘best seller list’ always include a disclaimer on those posts as the whole page is filled with affiliate links. I have also written numerous times on DPS about how the links to Amazon earn us money and help the site to keep growing and be free.
Some very useful information for those starting out. Many would-be affiliate marketers give up after a couple of months; they soon realise it’s not as easy as some report. You have to spend money to make money (in most cases). I use a combination of AdWords, Facebook Ads and the little know Bucksme.com. The latter is a great way to promote discounted products and they offer a free version; it’s a great way to get started without cost.

Cookie stuffing involves placing an affiliate tracking cookie on a website visitor's computer without their knowledge, which will then generate revenue for the person doing the cookie stuffing. This not only generates fraudulent affiliate sales but also has the potential to overwrite other affiliates' cookies, essentially stealing their legitimately earned commissions.
There are tons of typographic and grammatical errors which tend to slow the reader down just a bit. That usually annoys me to no end distracting me, and I tend not to finish a less-than-sound writing. But the wealth of information in this eBook forced me to finish it. It would be great, however, if the author could have any future writings proofread prior to uploading and selling since he doesn't enjoy writing. The errors are/can be extremely distracting.
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!

“When we started working with Brick Marketing, we had just been subjected to a Google algorithm update and our websites both took substantial hits to traffic. Within a few months, Brick has taken both of our websites to pre-algorithm traffic and conversion levels, and for the CallFinder site, the traffic has increased over 80% year-over-year. Their expertise in SEO, responsive design, and content marketing helped us turn the situation around, and we could not be happier with the results we’ve seen in just our first four months of working with them. The team we work with at Brick Marketing is always available for off-the-cuff consultations and are at the ready to provide recommendations and suggestions to improve our site’s appearance and performance. They are truly a hands-on partner, which is immensely valuable to our business.​”


Because Amazon has a huge selection, and it’s so easy to generate an affiliate link for just about any product, it can be easy to fall into the trap of promoting an Amazon product without getting to know the product first. As a result, it can be really easy to start promoting something you don’t know very well, and risking the trust of your audience in the process.
Affiliate marketing helps publishers get rewarded for the role they play in shopping journeys. If a publisher adds an affiliate link to a merchant in their content, they’ll receive a commission for every sale driven to that merchant as a direct result of someone clicking on the affiliate link. Publishers can add as many affiliate links to an article as they like, but they will need to build each individual link manually which can be time consuming.
Return on Investment. I can be calculated via the same method as ROAS, but in the interest of diversity, I'll show you an alternate option to calculate it. To calculate the ROI on a campaign, you can take the gross profit from running the campaign minus the cost of running the campaign and divide it by the cost of running the campaign and times it by 100 to get a percentage that the investment returned. Example – if you spent $200 to run a campaign and you made a gross profit of $600, you would take $600 (gross profit) – $200 (campaign cost) to get $400 and then divide $400 by $200 (campaign cost) to get 2 and multiply that by 100 to find a 200% ROI for the campaign.
hey sean, am a newbie who is so ethusistic about online marketing. great post , i must commend , it came in handy. through your post i clearly understand that an affiliate mustr have a website and a blog as a platform for promoting the good and services. here the thing with me , i dont have either of them and am asking ….. is it advisable for me to delve in affilate marketing peradventure i get a blog running now …?
It’s a little silly how often people overlook this step. The simple math is, if you have more eyeballs on your affiliate links, the more likely you’ll make sales. Sure, that’s a bit of an oversimplification buuuut it still holds true that you should be trying to gain traffic on these posts anyway. So, remember the importance of promotion! It’s not enough to just write killer affiliate posts.
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!
Yep. I’m back again lol. Started making SOME money on my website – about $150 per month. I started in May, I write 3-5 posts PER day, sometimes more if I feel up to it, but I know with the 3-5 posts I am doing a lot more than a lot of others lol. However, in the beginning I DID link images to the amazon product. Then I just decided it was too much work (because it is when you do it manually), but I think I might make that change, starting this month and try it for another 4 months and see if it increases my income.
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.
Forms of new media have also diversified how companies, brands, and ad networks serve ads to visitors. For instance, YouTube allows video-makers to embed advertisements through Google's affiliate network.[22][23] New developments have made it more difficult for unscrupulous affiliates to make money. Emerging black sheep are detected and made known to the affiliate marketing community with much greater speed and efficiency.[citation needed]
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