These issues have not seen much discussion within the online marketing community, certainly not as much as SEO, content marketing, PPC and other marketing channels. We read online that many companies over the past decade have relied on affiliates to produce sales for their brands. We also read that affiliate marketing has continued to grow, and the most recent figures on the industry from research conducted by the IAB concluded that $16.5 billion worth of sales was driven by the affiliate channel, while advertisers spent $1.1 billion on affiliate marketing in 2014, 8% more than in 2013.


Affiliate marketing is a practice that involves a publisher or third party referred to as an “affiliate”, who promotes a merchant’s product online and gets paid only for actual conversions. It makes use of various tools depending on the approach or marketing model used: pay per click (PPC), search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, social media marketing, e-mail marketing, etc.
When you’re looking for affiliate programs to promote, you’ll want to choose ones that pay out a good commission fee. When I first started out, I started promoting products that I really liked and that my audience liked, but they only paid out 10 percent of the total sales. Well, figure the average order size was $65.00, this means that I only made $6.50 per sale. It would take a lot of orders for this to amount to anything substantial. So depending on what your audience’s comfort zone is in relation to price point, you’ll either need to promote products that have a high price point, or that offer a high commission rate. Do your homework and search around – there are tons of affiliate programs out there. I personally like working with companies that pay per lead.
If you’re writing reviews, you should 100% be using rich snippets (they add review stars to your search engine snippets and increase click-through rates). There are many WordPress plugins for this but my favorite is WP Rich Snippets. It’s $69/year (or $399 one-time) and I use it for every single review I write. They have tons of add-ons, settings, styling options, and looks nice. Free plugins like All In One Schema.org do work but lack settings, styling, and flexibility.
That’s because the affiliate program works by setting a browser cookie when someone clicks on an affiliate link and tracks any purchases made at the destination before the cookie expires. After that, the affiliate program pays out a small commission. Thus, it’s possible to make a little money or even make a living off of affiliate marketing, but only if you can convince people to click on your links and buy your affiliate partner’s products.
A perfect example of this would be if you were trying to rank for something like “blogging” or “how to make money with a blog”. The two search phrases are similar but completely different in nature. There is no way to know what someone wants when they search for “blogging”, however if someone is searching for “how to make money with a blog”, it’s quite obvious.
I eventually learned the best model (for me) was to copy what Yoast did… charge a flat free for SEO Audits. People were always super happy with my audits. I still have my SEO audit templates (one for local SEO, national SEO, etc). Sometimes it would only take me 4 hours to write an audit and I would get $750, sometimes more if they wanted a more thorough audit. Maybe I undercharged?
I would then get a hosting provider (a place to put the website on the internet) and a domain name (the name for the website), and then install WordPress so I could start playing around with the look of my website. I’d browse some free ‘themes’ (pre-designed ‘looks’ for websites) if I was tight on cash, or I might buy a high-quality one if I had the money. 

Banners – after testing them out I decided to take down my banner ads since they looked salesy and weren’t working like my affiliate links did. They’re easy to throw up, but distracting and probably won’t get great results. If you try them, be sure to show specific sidebar banners based on the type of content people are reading on your blog (for posts that fall under my SEO category I would show a banner related to SEO, and for posts under my website speed category I would show a different banner). You can do this using a plugin like Widget Logic.


Just like everyone should be split testing, they should also be running their best campaigns on different networks and traffic sources as well. A great example of this would be if you were running an offer on Google Adwords that’s been profitable for quite a while. Since you already know which keywords and landing pages are working best, it wouldn’t be hard for you to take all of that same information and create a new PPC campaign through Bing.
I loved the landing page idea. This would be very effective in one case ONLY. If you are promoting a product or a an eBook this would work very fine OR increasing an Email list by offering something for FREE. You know in this life “Nothing is for FREE”. So you are giving your visitor for an example “A guide to how to install a blog template in wordpress or blogger” or “how to monetize your blog?” a FREE guide will drive this visitor to type his email and hit the subscribe button right away. But if the visitor a PayPal Button he just click the MAGIC X button on the top of his browser. Landing pages are very effective when you know how to use them.
Website Development Help – need help setting up your theme? I’ve been working with the same 2 developers for 3+ years. To hire them, sign up for a Freelancer account, post your job (WordPress theme installation) then invite user i333 or bdkamol to your project. If you want, contact me and I will introduce you to them via email. Both are great developers with reasonable rates, speak fluent English, and I outsource all my programming work to them.
Even though commissions can be very high, affiliates still want to negotiate the best deal. This is where impression counts get in the way of sales. While cost-per-actions (CPA) and cost-per-lead (CPL) deals can be risk-free for brands because they are based on performance, they are not always ideal for affiliates, which prefer to get paid per impression (CPM).
The best way to market your affiliate website is actually free! You want to rank highly in search results where people will find your site and visit at no cost. Preferably, these visitors will be highly targeted and “ready to buy” visitors that you can refer to earn commissions. The best way to promote your site in search engines is to use something called SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization. However, you shouldn’t just rely on search engines to bring you traffic. There are tons of ways to diversify traffic sources and while search engines are probably the best, other methods work well, too. The most popular is through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, but you can also look into things like Google Adwords and the Yahoo Bing Network located at Media.net. While paid advertising can be a bit risky and expensive, a working paid advertising campaign can make you a ton of money. In order to sell the affiliated products, you need to have readers one way or another. Attracting readers requires a lot of dedication and is as important as creating high quality content. My highest recommended way to achieve a huge number of website visitors over time is to use the CTPM process.
Just as important as connecting with consumers is the fact that social media can improve your search engine rank. All search engines, Google included, use social media output in their ranking algorithms. The tweets and Facebook posts you have, the better your ranking will be. Think of it this way. If you can get people to tweet about your site, they are not only directly spreading information, they are also boosting your search rank. It’s a two-for-one deal!
Outsourcing is so crucially important because that is how you will take your affiliate marketing business from just a small business that makes you a few extra bucks per month to a 5 or 6 figure monster that earns you a passive income. While one site is being outsourced and making you money, you can build a second one. While those two are outsourced and making you money, you can build a third one, and so on. So many new affiliate marketers take their first commission checks and just spend in on themselves. If they re-invested that into outsourcing instead, the returns would be much bigger. My business didn’t truly start taking off until I learned about the power of outsourcing.
I personally prefer to do it that way--you can create a more convincing review that's more likely to make sales. It's not always possible or practical, though; for example, would you break up with your significant other just to test a product for getting your ex back? ;-) In cases like that, or if the product is expensive, it's usually best just to use the vendor's affiliate resources instead.
Many affiliate marketers use paid advertising to generate additional traffic to their site and drive more sales. Paid advertising on social media is often a good place to start, as these networks tend to be more affordable.You may also want to consider taking out inexpensive banner ads on small niche sites. Depending on your niche, Google AdWords could also be a good option to drive some paid traffic to your site.
I’ve read this post and I truly appreciate the information and honesty you have provided. The problem I have is that I’ve done ALL of this and more and yet I have a hard time generating traffic. I think that is one thing that is never emphasized in these posts and don’t genuinely express that it is just that (traffic) and lots of it, that brings in any kind of interest, little own an income. I don’t know what else I could be doing at this point besides not continuously working at the marketing, but I am. If someone could shed a little light on this because this post makes it sound so easy so I wonder what I’m doing wrong or what is the information that is missing in these posts? Either way thanks for the candid guidance!
2) I understand this can be difficult. My solution is, like any skill, you have to practice, practice, practice! Set yourself a task today to find 10 markets that show growing demand in Google trends. Just the broad market, eg. running. For the next 10 days, each day find 10 niche’s for 1 of the markets, eg. ultra marathon running. After 11 days you will have over 100 niche markets to explore for products. Go from there.
MozBar – MozBar is a Google Chrome extension that lets you Google any keyword and see how competitive the search results are. The higher the DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority) the more competitive the keyword is. However you still want to click on the top results and browse the content to make sure you can creating an article/video that is better than whoever’s in the top results. That is really what “researching the competition” is all about.
If you get THAT clear and believe in some product, go ahead. Your audience trusts your word. But most folks need to use or experience before they can get clear, because they have a fear: the fear of using trust. I am slowly losing that fear but still use what I promote, before I promote it. I also just sell my stuff mainly. Since I have quite a few products and eBooks and services to sell.
If your domain is your address, hosting is like the actual house within which your site will live. It's your own little slice of the internet — the place where all your website files live. Hosting is very affordable these days, so don't unnecessarily scrimp on costs. Go with a reputable, reliable provider because your affiliate marketing business depends on it.
In addition, you should always know who you’re getting your information from. There are far too many “guru’s” out there who really have no idea what they are talking about. When you sign up for your free account, you’ll be learning directly from Mark Ling and Simon Slade who are both affiliate marketing MILLIONAIRES. They’ve also helped to hand select some other successful affiliate marketers for their training videos. About a year ago, I had my own free training videos right here on this site, but I realized after a while that I just can’t create the type of quality training that Mark Ling and his crew have already put together and continuously update.
My conversion rate went from 2.5% to 8% just by including Facebook polls where SiteGround was rated #1 (here’s last year’s poll) plus Twitter screenshots and Facebook conversations. Whether it’s Amazon reviews or social proof, you NEED to include outside opinions. You can also use WP Rich Snippets to allow people to leave a review about the product/service on your site and get those review stars in Google (you will want to use their front end submit add-on).
You’re not just “starting a blog” or “building a website”. You are starting a business! You have to go into it with this mentality if you are serious about succeeding. It’s fine to “test the waters” so to speak and see if this is right for you as the risks are extremely low. However, if you are truly serious about earning a full-time living through affiliate marketing, you must treat it as a business. No business is quick or easy to build and affiliate marketing is no exception. There are plenty of people who will tell you that it’s easy to make money with affiliate marketing, but I’m not that guy. Is it possible? Yes, but it’s going to be hard work.
This is wonderful book on Affiliate Marketing. Affiliate marketing is to partner your website with affiliates to promote their products and services, especially if those products and services are linked to your particular niche. This book tells you how do you get into it, and also how you can make money from it. It is purely a process of earning commission by promoting. There are also benefits of affiliate marketing is described in this book.
This literally changed my life… I moved out of my parent’s house (sigh) into a nice studio in downtown Denver, bought my first car (a Mercedes c300), adopted 2 kitties, and my credit raised 45 points. I also donated $3,000 to Red Cross at Hurricane Harvey. I’m a humble dude but in affiliate marketing, the numbers do the talking. So… I want to show you how I did it :)
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!
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