Next, you’ll need to measure your success, and quite honestly, your failures, too (some of the best lessons learned are through our failures). First look at the success of your content. Are there certain pieces of content that had higher viewership and lead to more conversions than others? What made those different than the pieces of content that had less viewers? Once you understand that you can create more content that is successful. It’s possible to get a glimpse into this if you start searching for things in your niche. For example, “top lists” are extremely important such as “the top 20 ways to make your dog happy” or “the top 12 places to travel in Europe” and things like that. In other niche industries, “how-to” articles are huge such as “how to make your own garden” or “how to jump start a car” or things like that. Just look at sites like tie-a-tie.net. Even a site about properly tying a tie can be a success if done right! You also want to look at how your marketing campaigns have worked. Do your posts on Instagram drive more traffic than your Twitter updates? If so, you should focus more on marketing with Instagram. The more you measure your success, the more you will understand what is and what is not working for your business.
Now, truth be told, affiliate marketing does come with some costs. Fortunately, those costs are rather small when compared to starting other businesses. For example, if you want to succeed with affiliate marketing in the same way that I teach it, you’ll need a website. In order to have a website, you need to pay for “website hosting”. If you don’t know what website hosting is, don’t worry, we’ll get to that, but website hosting does cost a few bucks per month (generally under $10 / mo). If you have about $40 for startup costs and about $10 / mo for recurring expenses, this is entirely doable. There are many other optional expenses for affiliate marketing, which I will also get into, but those optional expenses are used more for speeding up the path to success (outsourcing, etc.) rather than a requirement for success. When I first started my affiliate marketing business, I had about $200 to my name.
Look for a gravity score of 30 or more, because these products have a proven track record of selling well for a number of different affiliates. Products, especially new products, with gravity scores under 30 may work but are more risky. Gravity scores of greater than 100 mean the product’s popular. You could have competition, but don’t worry about that. The important thing is that there’s lots of demand.
You can put up banners on your site, to promote your affiliate offers. Most affiliate programs will usually provide their own creatives when you sign up for their offers. All you have to do is insert the banner on a highly trafficked page (your affiliate tracking is usually embedded within the code). Banner ads in the right locations can do a great job of driving sales.  

Theme – you don’t need a special theme for affiliate marketing, you probably just need a blog. I recommend StudioPress themes since that’s what Yoast, Matt Cutts (from Google), and I use. Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress also recommends them. One of the biggest mistakes I made was using a theme from Themeforest… since they’re built by independent developers who may stop making updates to their theme. This happened to me and I hear horror stories all the time about people having to switch themes and redesign their entire site. I’ve been using the same StudioPress theme (Outreach Pro) for 3 years. Their themes are lightweight (load fast), SEO-friendly via optimized code, secure, and they have a huge selection of plugins for the Genesis Framework and an awesome community in the Genesis WordPress Facebook Group. They include documentation for setting it up and will serve you for many, many years.

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.

Make a content plan - Once you’ve scoped out your niche and have the keywords you know you want to target, build out a detailed content plan. This needs to cover both on-site content, and content you want to publish. Aim for 3 posts a week. Look at your competitors, and make your content is better. They wrote about the 10 best guitars in 2017? You write about the 20 best.


Great stuff here Sean – thanks for all of these insights and sharing some best practices when it comes to affiliate marketing. I’ve never been comfortable giving it a shot, but after reading this post and your perspective on how and when to do it, I may just have to give it a try. Especially considering I’m already mentioning and recommending services and products on my site, I’m just not getting the potential rewards associated with doing so. Thanks again.
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