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.

Too much too soon. Stick to one website to begin with. Don’t get distracted by shiny new niches. This will only dilute your efforts. It’s absolutely not a waste of time to spend hours on end researching the very best niche for you to enter into. The commission, cookies, product and even the advertiser’s website all have to be excellent. The last thing you want to do is invest money in creating your own site only to send visitors to an advertiser’s site that barely converts a single sale. Would you buy from the advertiser’s site? Question everything before you spend a single penny on building your new site.


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Review sites: If you offer a product or service that is more expensive or niche, it's likely that most of your buyers need to conduct research on that topic before purchasing — if that's the case, it might be a good idea to research the top review sites related to your product or service, and reach out to the business or writer who published the piece, asking whether they'd be interested in providing an affiliate link to your product or service in the text. 

Wirecutter's affiliate program might make you doubt the legitimacy of Wirecutter's recommendations -- but, in fact, it's quite the opposite. Wirecutter only makes commission when a reader purchases a product from an affiliate retailer and doesn't return the product. Wirecutter, then, has no incentive to promote inferior products -- if they did, they'd make less money and turn away readers.
Search affiliates: With this program, you'll have freelancers or entrepreneurs pay their own money to promote your offer on search results or other online advertising platforms like Facebook Advertising. While you'll want to ensure your partner is following search and advertising guidelines, this could work in your favor if your partner has an SEO background and wants to A/B test to see which ads result in the most referrals for you — and most ROI for them.
Additionally, you'll receive promotional materials, a tracking dashboard, and personalized support to help you succeed with the affiliate program. Constant Contact is used by major brands including Facebook, WordPress, and Shopify. If you believe your clients or prospects could benefit from email marketing tools, this is a good partnership to consider.
The reason you need to understand this before you learn how to start affiliate marketing is because you need to choose your interest (or interests) wisely. You’ll be spending a lot of time researching and writing about your chosen topics, and so they need to be something you’re passionate about, not just something you think is popular and will get you a lot of traffic. You may be right, but you’ll quickly burn out as you either run out of things to say or you begin to hate your topic instead. 
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