What’s your passion? The subject that you talk, write and read about day-in and day-out is a good contender for your passion. It doesn’t have to be overly broad like wine reviews. A sharper focus, say West Coast Wine Reviews, can be a better place to start when learning how to affiliate market. In fact, a narrow focus can help your site appear high in the search engines and stand out in social media, which we’ll get to later. For now, start by listing the topics that interest you, starting with the ones you’re knowledgeable about.
You can use social media to share your blog content with affiliate links, or you can directly share your affiliate links. Note, that you should give an indication that the link is an affiliate link when you post to be transparent and not annoy your followers. People don't want to be sold to all the time, so posting affiliate links should be interspersed with non-affiliate and non-sales posts.
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!
Thirsty Affiliates tracks, cloaks, and categorizes your affiliate links. Once you’ve signed up for your program(s) grab your affiliate links and add them to this plugin. This can take time if you will be linking to multiple pages on your affiliate’s website (which in many cases, you should). The pro version comes with statistics but I don’t even use it and I’m quite the analytical person.
Don’t set-it and forget-it — Affiliate marketing is a great way to create a relatively passive income stream, but you can’t launch it, see a little success, then expect it to grow on its own. You need to work regularly — at least weekly — to create fresh content, market via social and email channels, and keep your promotions current, on-trend, and seasonally appropriate.
Once you’ve got a topic and possibly some products to promote, the next lessons you’ll want to go through are ‘Finding and Registering a Domain Name’ and 'What to Look for in a Hosting Provider.' These will give you a hand with setting up your own domain name and hosting, and then you should have some help from your hosting provider to install WordPress. 
Amazon’s affiliate program is the most popular of them all. I don’t participate myself (yet) but the majority of affiliate marketers I know use Amazon because… it’s Amazon. You can review products you have used or write tutorials (eg. how to connect computer to TV) and drop an affiliate link to an HDMI cable… just a couple examples. You may want to build relationships with the manufacturers so you can get products before they’re released – giving you time to create a review before the product is launched and capture sales during peak buying times.
“Affiliate marketing is split across many different channels,” says Shawn Collins, co-CEO of Affiliate Summit, a global affiliate marketing conference. So, once your home base affiliate marketing website is set up, it’s time to explore others ways to reach readers and build your audience. This is another ongoing task for beginner and seasoned affiliate marketers alike since online, social, and mobile marketing is an ever-changing field.
Videos also make it easier to build a relationship with your audience; you can talk right to them, and they can hear your voice (and see your face, though that’s not always necessary). Plus, not only are you sharing what the product looks like and how it works, since you’re the one who’s showing your audience how it works, you’re also building your authority with them as an expert they can trust.
Alternatively, to find niche affiliate programs, a basic Google search will suffice. Then simply sign up with the individual affiliate programs you like the look of and take it from there. There is no limit to how many affiliate programs you can sign up with, but make sure the products you are going to promote are high quality. If you promote products that aren’t up to scratch, you will lose the trust of your Insta-followers, and quickly lose your audience.
This is a HUGE one! A lot of people register for Amazon Associates at the beginning of their blogging career because they assume it’s just good to “get it out of the way”. Don’t!! *foams at the mouth* I repeat: don’t register until your blog is reasonably established and you’re quite certain someone out there will buy something off of your link. If you don’t net any sales within your first 90 days, your account will get shut down. You’re welcome to apply again, but by then, your fragile ego will be in ruins.
Let’s say I’m a photographer who teaches digital photography to beginners. I use Photoshop to edit my images and mention it frequently on my blog. I even post full-length tutorials using the software regularly. This makes Photoshop a great contender for my affiliate marketing strategy. It’s a product I trust and provide information on how to use regularly. So, I search for “photoshop affiliate program” on Google and come across Adobe’s affiliate program.

Mistake #3: Giving your friend’s product a glowing review without actually being familiar with your friend’s product. This happens a lot in the affiliate marketing (and book marketing) world unfortunately. It’s a “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” type of situation. By all means, give your friend a glowing review, but if you haven’t actually read their book or taken their course or tried their product, don’t talk about it as though you have. Readers deserve honest recommendations! (Here’s an example of me helping to announce the launch of my friend’s book while being clear I hadn’t read it.)


The problem with affiliate marketing, like many other home business options, are the so-called gurus and get-rich-quick programs that suggest affiliate marketing can be done fast and with little effort. Odds are you've read claims of affiliate marketing programs that say you can make hundreds of thousands of dollars a month doing almost nothing ("Three clicks to rich!"). Or, they suggest you can set up your affiliate site, and then forget it, except to check your bank deposits.
Affiliate marketing is when you promote other people’s products and services, earning a small cut of the revenue for every resulting sale made. It’s incredibly popular, with 81% of surveyed brands using affiliate marketing in one study. And the benefits of tapping into this market are numerous. It’s a largely passive income stream, for example, and has a low barrier to entry.
Finding a WordPress theme for your site is one of the fun parts of launching an affiliate marketing business. Themes drive the look and functionality of your website and, with WordPress, it’s easy to try out different themes until you find the perfect design for your site. There are plenty of themes to choose from and many are free. Find out more about using themes in our WordPress themes guide and check out Envato Market and MyThemeShop for great-looking themes — including many free options.

Hands down I’d say the best thing you can do is research 1 primary keyword, craft an enticing article title that includes your keyword (though it doesn’t have to be an exact match), spend time writing your search engine snippets (SEO titles/meta descriptions), and by far the most important is making your content as VALUABLE as possible through videos, nice graphics, table of contents, bold/colors/styling, etc. Small things like keyword density barely matter.


A common influencer marketing advertisement is where the brand sends the influencer a photo or ad and asks them to repost it on their feed. This is effective with getting a specific message out to that influencer’s followers; however, it’s not personalized at all. This specific influencer has built up their following because they like the posts that he or she puts on their feed. They aren’t as likely to engage with a random ad. That said, if the influencer themselves was in this ad then they may be more likely to engage. This is where free products come in.

Before you can start exploring Amazon affiliate marketing opportunities, you need to have a blog or website where you can publish content that markets Amazon products. WordPress is the top choice among affiliate marketers many reasons. It costs just $2.95 per month with our recommended provider, Bluehost, has a quick learning curve, and has unlimited design and content creation capabilities. Enter your domain name below to launch your Amazon affiliate website on WordPress today.
Virtual store pages: An affiliate virtual storefront lists products on your website just like a standard ecommerce store, but the “buy” button sends shoppers to the affiliate partner site to complete the purchase. You create this using a product feed that you populate with affiliate items, and then insert as a page into your website. Most affiliate marketplaces offer this feature. You can also use an affiliate storefront WordPress plug-in like WooZone to build a store using Amazon products.
When it comes down to brass tacks, there are some important steps to be taken to succeed as an affiliate marketer, and an overall framework that needs to be followed. But before getting into that, it's important to get a lay of the land and look at the macro aspects of marketing and buyer mentality before being able to leverage any of that psychology to sell commissionable products or services.
If you already have an eCommerce shop, or sell products on platforms like Etsy or Amazon, then using the ‘Shopping on Instagram’ feature to increase your revenue is a must. Shopping on Instagram has suddenly made it much easier to sell products and make money on Instagram. So let’s find out more about Shopping on Instagram, and how to set it up on your Instagram account…
I always add an HTML table of contents to posts to make sure they are long and structured. This has been a HUGE help for me (and my readers) and there are tons of benefits: better chance of getting “jump to links” in Google (see below), increased average time on page, decreased bounce rates, and it makes it easier for readers to navigate through your content.
Thanks for all the information I am slowly working my way through your list of do’s and donts! ! I’ve been approached by a website that wants to develop editorial content for my blog featuring home improvement tips from their”national client” and pay me $40 a year for reviewing and publishing their content. Boy, I am just not sure how this all works? Any words for when we are approached by others to write for our blogs?
The phrase, "Affiliates are an extended sales force for your business", which is often used to explain affiliate marketing, is not completely accurate. The primary difference between the two is that affiliate marketers provide little if any influence on a possible prospect in the conversion process once that prospect is directed to the advertiser's website. The sales team of the advertiser, however, does have the control and influence up to the point where the prospect either a) signs the contract, or b) completes the purchase.
You create an account with one (or both) of these services and provide information about your business as well as your payment information so you can receive payouts for commissions. Once you’re all set up, you can browse each service’s advertiser library and apply for various affiliate programs. You can see the dashboard displays the commission rates each advertiser offers. Payment is handled by the service themselves, so you won’t need to send and keep track of invoices.
Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission. Know that I only recommend products, tools, services and learning resources I’ve personally used and believe are genuinely helpful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to purchase them. Most of all, I would never advocate for buying something that you can’t afford or that you’re not yet ready to implement.
Thats a great point, and I’ve definitely seen my fair share of those “how to start a blog” posts. That’s always been a good fit for people at Location 180, and if they do a good job on the post (truly make it useful) that’s one that doesnt bother me as much – solely because I know how valuable starting a blog can be for your life and goals. So if it’s some personal finance blogger that creates one and you start a blog from that by following their tutorial – all the better!
Most businesses require startup fees as well as a cash flow to finance the products being sold. However, affiliate marketing can be done at a low cost, meaning you can get started quickly and without much hassle. There are no affiliate program fees to worry about and no need to create a product. Beginning this line of work is relatively straightforward.

As difficult as it may be, it’s important not to get affiliate marketing confused with sponsorships. Affiliate marketing is not a direct endorsement of your brand or content from a company. It’s a simple arrangement that allows you to earn revenue for referring new customers to that company. You aren’t paid unless you refer traffic or new customers to them. This arrangement is often available to anyone regardless of web traffic, social media following or list size, as previously stated.
Most affiliate networks these days offer an option to set a specific coupon code as “forced exclusive” to a specific affiliate publisher. This means that any time that coupon code is used, even if no affiliate link was clicked previously, the specific affiliate which the code is tied to always gets commission for sales where customers use that code. This is especially helpful if customers happen to visit a coupon site or a different bottom funnel affiliate before making their purchase when the Instagram influencer was the true referrer for the sale and deserves the proper credit.
With all of my blog posts, I have the consistently scheduled to share on social media and on Pinterest. This keeps the content in front of my audience. I use the social media scheduling tools Post Planner and Tailwind for this. Many affiliate programs also have great affiliate managers that will send out information with special promotions that you can share. If there isn’t a big sale or promotion going on, I will still try to feature certain high-converting posts on Pinterest, to my email list, etc.
While any “regular” job requires you to be at work to make money, affiliate marketing offers you the ability to make money while you sleep. By investing an initial amount of time into a campaign, you will see continuous returns on that time as consumers purchase the product over the following days and weeks. You receive money for your work long after you’ve finished it. Even when you’re not in front of your computer, your marketing skills will be earning you a steady flow of income.
Now, each product promoted on Instagram can have a direct link to its products page either on Etsy, Amazon, an online store or somewhere else. This makes it easy for Instagrammers to immediately purchase something that has caught their eye as they are browsing their feed. And it makes it much much easier for eCommerce stores to drive traffic and sales from their Instagram posts.

Know when to wait. Some affiliate programs require a certain level of traffic, subscribers, etc. If that’s the case, I say it’s better to wait to apply for that program instead of applying and hoping for the best. You risk being labelled the person who can’t follow guidelines and you might also risk not be allowed into the program when you do meet the qualifications.
Yes! You may be confused because affiliate links were effectively banned from Pinterest back in 2015. But on May 12, 2016 Pinterest announced that affiliate links are once again allowed on Pinterest. Pinterest said in part, “In the past, we removed affiliate links from Pinterest because spammers were abusing them. Now that our spam detection system is so much stronger, we’re ready to allow affiliate links again. To make way for these changes, we’re making minor updates to our acceptable use policy. We’ll start rolling out all affiliate networks today and over the coming weeks.”
Creating blog content is a very useful and effective way of consistently building content on a site. When creating blog posts, it's a good idea to do some keyword research to figure out what it is that your audience is interested in and searching for online. Also, be sure to research competitors, forums and social media to narrow down on topics for your blog. 
I found the course extremely helpful especially as i am a beginner. Lisa is excellent at explaining which is important when you are starting out. She has made me understand the importance of finding the right niche and that to me is where most of us go wrong. I am extremely grateful for a course like this and would like to take this opportunity to thank you Lisa for creating a course that helps others! – Michelle
First, you should feel free to pin relevant affiliate content to your EXISTING personal boards that are filled with mostly substantive content from other blogs. For example, I will pin a beautiful rug from Target to my personal board called “Rugs and Windows.” That board contains mostly DIY tutorials from other bloggers, but certainly the people who follow it are interested in rugs and window treatments, so they will likely also be interested in rugs that are available for purchase.

Part of the reason I recommend diversifying is because, as we talked about earlier, Amazon commission rates tend to be lower than they are from other affiliate income sources. I’ve seen this in my own affiliate marketing, where my commission rates and overall income from Amazon are not as high as they are for many of the products and services I promote on other platforms and from other companies.


Merch by Amazon – If you use Merch by Amazon then you don’t need to set up your own online store – all products are simply displayed on Amazon’s website. Simply upload your artwork to your Amazon Merch account, and add the product information and price. Amazon will then create a product page for your work, and when you receive orders they will print and ship. (Merch by Amazon only prints onto T-shirts and is only available in the US).

Give it all a try yourself: As a hopelessly stubborn person, I understand that sometimes you just want to try things out for yourself. No stress, friend! All these resources will still be around later, so if your gut tells you that it’s not time to buy a course or eBook, don’t force it. Test the waters for yourself and then see later whether or not you need the extra boost.
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. 
Without doubt that was by far the best summary of “Greatest Tips” I have read to date. It is so confusing out there…I want to help my son who struggles with cranky bossy managers to empowering him and havening him live life on his terms. I know affiliate marketing is the way out but where to start?? Do we set up on Shopify and offer other people’s products? Do we set up a blog with a few good links? Do you go to clickbank and peddle the China trinkets etc? Its a tough one to sort but this tutorial was an easy to understand read and you have my word that any of the hosting or other services offered I will use your affiliate link to thank you for sharing your knowledge and your mistakes. Sincerest thanks Tom!
Hey Tom, thanks for this tutorial – it’s a good thing to get a tutorial like this from a trusted person like you and not from the thousands of (sometimes) confusing articles about passive income/affiliate marketing/clickfunnels and what not that I come across from time to time, I am making a living as a web designer and I have been thinking of pivoting from design and creative work to focus on passive income but didn’t know where to start. This is the perfect foundation article I have seen so far and I ‘d like to ask if you have any further reading/guides/videos on affiliate marketing that you’d recommend. I like to do my deep research before starting :) One more thing, there are some broken or missing images in this article, it could be my browser but check from your side too because there are quite a few images (e.g your Mercedes) that are missing. Thanks
First, let me emphasize that I feel strongly that bloggers should not go overboard when sharing affiliate links on Pinterest. Think about it… When you scroll through your Pinterest feed, do you want to only see products for sale? Probably not. So exercise your judgment and make sure that affiliate links are a small percentage of the content that you share on Pinterest.
You can create a free account and get an overview of the dashboard and access some initial knowledge without any payment. However, live events, research features, and the level 2 - level 5 series of courses, walking you through the process of creating and growing a business within the niche that you want, are limited to premium members. Membership costs $19 a month, or is priced at an individual rate. But it’s absolutely worth it when you take it seriously and want to invest in yourself.

Hi Christina, quick question about amazon affiliates? I recently signed up for amazon.com as 45% of my readers are from US and I was only with UK amazon. However, my 90 days is almost up for the uk version. Do you know if the 90 day resets for each country you sign up to? And if someone buys something with my UK link, does that count for my 90 days with the US version as well?

Don’t just hope and pray that visitors will buy; setup everything correctly and make it happen! If you think that visitors will click on your affiliate links and buy just because you placed dozens of affiliate links on your website then you are wrong! You need to have a structured plan in place. Affiliate marketing is a business so you will have a much better chance of succeeding if you treat it like one.


Keep in mind that it’s important to promote affiliate product links authentically. Refrain from being salesy and remember that your primary job is to help readers or customers find products that are useful, inspirational, and beautiful. Focus on sharing products that make your audience members’ lives easier, and you’ll naturally increase clicks and sales.
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