Ahmad, Great post and great information. I have some more specific questions for you relating to my personal company and how affiliate programs can tie into it. Is there a chance we could talk sometime soon? I think you may have the answers to several of my questions on whether affiliate marketing is what I am looking for or not. And if it’s not what I am looking for I think you can direct me in the direction I need to go.

Over time, you’ll gain a much deeper understanding of what resonates with your audience. You’ll learn important details such as the retailers and type of products they like, what price point works well, and whether a discount or sale motivates your followers. You can even start to understand when your audience likes to shop, honing in on specific seasons, months, weeks, days, and even certain times of the day.
He is the co-founder of NP Digital and Subscribers. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.
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.

Thanks Miles. I’ve always shied away from a lot of the typical internet marketing strategies that are all about how to make as much money as possible with little regard for actually building trust and engagement with your audience. Totally agree with you, it should be audience first, profit second. And over time if you do that, you’ll come out way ahead.
Join affiliate programs: As your audience grows, you can begin joining affiliate programs. One thing that I need to mention as part of this affiliate marketing for beginners article  is that you don’t need to join all the affiliate marketing programs that are out there. What I like to do is to join programs that I have previously used. Of course this is not a prerequisite but doing so is helpful in that even as I blog, I am very aware of what I am talking about. And my readers can actually tell that this is not an article that was written by someone off a company’s website, but one that was written by a user of a particular product. I have already noted that I use Shopper Approved for online reviews. I am also an affiliate for this company. And the content that I have produced on the subject is in-depth and contains relevant examples. As a result, I have been very successful in my affiliate marketing efforts for this company.
If you work with clients who might need to hire a freelancer for marketing, design, or tech skills, or you write a blog for entrepreneurs and want to promote Fiverr Learn, you might want to consider partnering with Fiverr. The popular site, with over 5.5 million users, offers affiliates a dashboard to manage and monitor campaigns, and creative assets to help you promote their services. Of course, commission varies depending on the service you want to promote — take a look at their full offerings here.
After you find an affiliate network with merchants that match your niche, the next step is to make sure you can earn high commissions from your sales. Remember, average affiliate commissions (depending on vertical) range from 5-30%. When you scan the list of merchants, do some math on potential earnings and product prices so that you maximize your revenue.
On one hand, long and ugly affiliate tracking links are a straight giveaway to people that you want to sell them a product (and people may be uncomfortable clicking on them). Therefore, making your link shorter and "nicer" looking will it give a more professional appearance. One of my favorite plugins for making links look "pretty" is the Pretty Links WordPress plugin.

It’s free to join the SellHealth affiliate program, though you do have to apply and be accepted before you can start promoting their products.  Once you’re accepted, you’ll have access to a number of tools, graphics, banners and more that you can use to promote SellHealth products.  The sales are actually made at company-owned Websites, which look professional and handle all of the selling. Commissions vary, but the base rate is 30% of all sales and upsells, and SellHealth says you can earn up to $350 per sale.
As a blogger (I write about digital marketing), I’ve always been more drawn to in-house affiliate programs. Recently, I got into squirrly’s program (they got me with the 70% in commissions out of all sales, I have to admit it). But with all the new stuff I learned from this post, I’m seriously considering expanding. Thanks a lot for the useful tips.
Earning income via Target affiliates, however, requires a bit of work. Cookies expire in just seven days, and commissions can be as low as just one percent, so you’ll need to be operating a high-traffic website in order to make serious cash with this program. But with Target’s much-beloved brand reputation and vast catalog, relevant product links can be a big earner for established influencers.
Flexoffers is another huge affiliate marketing network. They pay you (the affiliate) a lot faster than others in the industry. It has more than 10 years of experience in the field. While they do not offer anything that is neither groundbreaking nor revolutionary, they do provide a solid array of tools and features that will surely aid you in your campaigns. In addition to the fast payouts, Flexoffers lets you choose from thousands of affiliate programs to promote, offers various content delivery formats, and more.
Many affiliate programs will often run promotions with good discounts or giveaways that might be attractive to your audience. For example, if you're an Amazon Associate and the site have a big Holiday Sale, it would be the perfect opportunity for you to promote discounts to your website visitors. This is a great way to promote your offers while also providing good value to your audience. 
Hi Jamie, awesome content that is very helpful esp with the resources, links and the rich discussions. Want to start e-commerce and blog for money…selling others products, want to go full on with this, tired of the daily routine crunch working for others. I live in a developing country (PNG) that has high internet costs (work still in progress with getting rates down…) so will see how I go with your posts. Any advise? Don’t have a website yet, have to build one I guess….
Of course, this is a generalization, and there are some programs that have made themselves exceptions to the rule. For example, I’ve seen many affiliate programs that offer low commission rates on products that are worth very little. I’ve also seen a few programs with items priced into the hundreds or thousands of dollars that offer commission rates of 20-30%.
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!

As Target is the second-largest general retailer in the United States, their affiliate program is primarily for American bloggers or publishers who can route visitors to relevant products. Overall, the program works much like Amazon’s does in that publishers (bloggers) get a small commission on sales, but Target’s gigantic product base (over one million items) and high brand recognition make their affiliate program a great option for influencers.
LinkConnector has struggled to stand out from the pack but nonetheless has managed to sign some exclusive deals with big name brands, including Writer’s Digest, the Disney Store, Ironman, Hats.com, and Everly. Their strictly controlled screening process for both merchants/advertisers and affiliates/publishers means that you can always rely on the quality of products on offer.
And while that may sound like a tall order, just remember that all you need to do to be unique is act like yourself as you write reviews or provide readers with blog posts and articles full of interesting information. The important part is to keep up the volume since the longer you wait between articles, the further your website will fall in the search engine rankings.

You need to cover a subject that people are interested in. Platforms such as Facebook allow you to create Pages on which you can cover various topics. Let’s say, as an example, that you are interested in Science Fiction novels. You can talk about that on your normal Facebook Profile. You can even join Amazon Associates and begin promoting Science Fiction books to your friends and family. But, how many are going to buy anything? Well, not many. What you need to do is to create an audience that is composed of people who share the same interests. Using the above example, you can go to Facebook and create a Sci-Fi Lovers page. You can call your page whatever you want. From there, you then need to promote your page to make sure that you get a lot of people following it. Once you have increased your following to thousands, you can then begin promoting Sci-Fi books from Amazon using your affiliate links.
A relative newcomer that was only founded in 2014, ConvertKit has taken the world of email marketing by storm. According to the company, they now have nearly 20,000 active customers of their email services. Their affiliate program works by paying existing customers a lifetime 30 percent commission for referrals that subsequently become ConvertKit customers or who sign up for ConvertKit webinars and other digital products.
The affiliate companies you’ll be signing up with have powerful website creation tools that can get you up and running in no time, although a big part of the reason it can set up so fast is because it’s based heavily on some basic templates. As such, while you can move things around and change the icons and images to emphasize your chosen interest, you may still feel like the website has a certain generic quality to it. That may not bother you at all, but it’s something you’re free to change if you know html code. Learning how to start affiliate marketing also means learning how to build a website.
StudioPress is a WordPress hosting service and framework that is designed to make setting up and running a WordPress site much simpler and easier. StudioPress comes with its own unique themes and SEO tools, collectively known as the “Genesis framework.”. Their affiliate program is solely for referrals to pay for a StudioPress framework account or buying a StudioPress theme. Previously, the affiliate program also included web hosting, but this is now managed separately by StudioPress’s owner, WPEngine.
You need to keep your audience engaged. Social media is all about engagement and this is something that you need to keep in mind if you are to use it for affiliate marketing. Post interesting content, and people will keep checking your out. As an example, you can produce content that’s useful to your audience as a way of promoting engagement. Using the above example, you can write a “Latest Sci-Fi novels,” post to make sure that people stay abreast with what’s happening in the field. Keep refreshing this content and you can be sure that people will  keep coming back.

I would personally agree with linkshare.com as a great affiliate marketing platform to join as a publisher. Here’s why. Back in 2005 when I knew nothing about affiliate marketing and was using blogger.com as a free blogging platform without any experience whatsoever and joining Walmart.com as my first official affiliate program, I was able to insert Walmart affiliate in its in my blogger blog and earn a $72 commission. I was onto affiliate marketing for life from there.
Also I don’t believe the way they make more commissions each time your referral happens to refer to others, and the referral’s referrals and so on. It means the part of the job is about educating others to sell. If you love that kind of stuff, then perhaps that’s what it is, but I don’t personally recommend it, just like I don’t recommend jobs that I’m not interested, for example working for a call center.
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.
I absolutely see the value in affiliate sales (and Pay Flynn is one of the masters at doing this authentically and openly), but I got really turned off it when I saw a lot of bloggers I read and respect writing junky “How to set up a blog” posts that didn’t seem relevant to their audiences purely so that the could get the sweet Bluehost commissions in.
Thanks Nathalie! And glad to see you came over from AONC 🙂 When done the right way I think affiliate links in context are much less intrusive and offensive than having ads on your sidebar. The average non-tech reader probably wont even know its an affiliate link anyway. So just by doing everything you’ve already been doing, you can switch out links, and probably make a nice side income!
the idea that you can "get content" is dangerous… This by definition means that you're going to be scraping, copying, etc. You need to create content that is 100% unique based off of your research, experiences, trials and errors, etc. I started making money online in 2003. I went full-time as a digital marketer online in 2010. I started teaching into thousand and 16… Meaning I had 13 years of experience and six years full-time experience for ever trying to teach. This is what I pull from when I teach… I'm not researching an idea in order to teach you, I have been working with every aspect of digital marketing and online entrepreneurship for 15+ years.
There’s a ton of organic traffic you can get from search engines if you do SEO properly. The days when Search Engine Optimization was about cheating Google are gone. Today, it is about making your website better for visitors. People naturally look for information online. That’s why you should learn the basics of on-page SEO, keyword research and link building to be the information source they find first. Who wouldn’t want to rank #1 for terms such as “best product” or “product review” in Google?
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