It’s important to know where your traffic is coming from and the demographics of your audience. This will allow you to customize your messaging so that you can provide the best affiliate product recommendations. You shouldn’t just focus on the vertical you’re in, but on the traffic sources and audience that’s visiting your site. Traffic sources may include organic, paid, social media, referral, display, email, or direct traffic. You can view traffic source data in Google Analytics to view things such as time on page, bounce rate, geo location, age, gender, time of day, devices (mobile vs. desktop), and more so that you can focus your effort on the highest converting traffic. This analytics data is crucial to making informed decisions, increasing your conversion rates, and making more affiliate sales. 
Many affiliates struggle to make enough profit from the sales they make to allow them to reinvest that money into more content or marketing. Once you do find a product that people can and will buy online, make sure it offers enough commission per sale to make it worth your while. There’s little sense in promoting light bulbs for 1% profit per sale.
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.
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.
I did a lot of research to find the right one, and so I chose Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner (as I mentioned earlier). I figured it made sense to learn from the best, and with a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, I had nothing to lose. I chat WAY more in-depth about it in my review here, but this course was definitely a gamechanger for me.
Someone who does affiliate marketing is a sales person for an outside company. The affiliate marketer receives a specific percentage of each sale he or she sends to the company. To track orders from affiliates, companies give each affiliate their own special link. Affiliates send people to the company via these links, and when people make purchases, the affiliate receives a percentage of each order.
Process-specific tutorials: You can also provide your readers with an in-depth process tutorial. For example, a DIY blog could write a tutorial blog post on “How to refinish an antique dresser” or a food-based blogger could describe “How to can your own tomatoes.” In each of these, all of the products you need to accomplish these outcomes would be links to Amazon.
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.

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.


Great post, Sean! I have been using Adsense for the most part for two years now and each year, due to great content, my income has doubled. Thanks for all the great content, and this is sure to open my eyes a bit more to the likes of Amazon, which, I will admit, I have been ignoring due to the way they treat their affiliates. But, maybe it’s just me being a turd….
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 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…)
It’s important to know where your traffic is coming from and the demographics of your audience. This will allow you to customize your messaging so that you can provide the best affiliate product recommendations. You shouldn’t just focus on the vertical you’re in, but on the traffic sources and audience that’s visiting your site. Traffic sources may include organic, paid, social media, referral, display, email, or direct traffic. You can view traffic source data in Google Analytics to view things such as time on page, bounce rate, geo location, age, gender, time of day, devices (mobile vs. desktop), and more so that you can focus your effort on the highest converting traffic. This analytics data is crucial to making informed decisions, increasing your conversion rates, and making more affiliate sales. 

So an effective affiliate marketing program requires some forethought. The terms and conditions have to be tight, especially if the contract agreement is to pay for traffic rather than sales. The potential for fraud in affiliate marketing is a possibility. Unscrupulous affiliates can squat on domain names with misspellings and get a commission for the redirect; they can populate online registration forms with fake or stolen information; they can purchase adwords on search terms the company already ranks high on, and so on. Even if the terms and conditions are clear, an affiliate marketing program requires that someone be monitoring affiliates and enforcing the rules. In exchange for that effort, however, a company can access motivated, creative people to help sell their product or services to the world.
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