If you’re scratching your head wondering what affiliate marketing is, no worries! I, too, had never heard of affiliate marketing until about 9 months ago. Now, it’s one of my main sources of income. In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is when you promote the products of other companies to earn a commission on sales. Let’s say you love MAC Cosmetics and run a makeup blog. You can sign up for MAC’s affiliate program and get a unique link you’ll use to promote your favorite foundations, brushes, lipsticks, and so on. If someone purchases some lipsticks through your link, you earn a percentage of the sale. Affiliate commissions typically range between 3%-40%.

Some good tips. I fully agree that it’s all about trust and it is always good to recommend an affiliate product that you have actually used. Why risk your reputation on a product you don’t know if it’s any good or not? If people buy one dodgy product from your site, they will probably never make that mistake again. That it why my blog strongly advocates ethical affiliate marketing. It’s the best long term stragey for affiliate marketing success.
Many top-tier online brands list their affiliate programs right on their website so you can find them easily. Some are self-administered, others are run through an affiliate marketplace, but you can sign up from the brand’s website. Like marketplaces, these large affiliate programs are free to join and easy for affiliate marketing beginners to navigate.

If I were a member of a group board called “Beautiful Home Decor” that was created for bloggers to share their blog posts, I would feel free to pin an image from a post of mine called “10 Beautiful Couches that Won’t Break the Bank.” Of course, that blog post would contain affiliate links. But, I would never pin an image of a couch with my affiliate to a group board called “Beautiful Home Decor” that I am a member of, since that is not the purpose of the board.
Cost per action/sale methods require that referred visitors do more than visit the advertiser's website before the affiliate receives a commission. The advertiser must convert that visitor first. It is in the best interest of the affiliate to send the most closely targeted traffic to the advertiser as possible to increase the chance of a conversion. The risk and loss are shared between the affiliate and the advertiser.
When you visit an affiliate company, you’ll be able to choose between a free plan or one that comes with a monthly cost. The premium membership comes with more support, more websites, and a stronger connection to the affiliate marketing community, but if you’re at the point where you’re just dipping your toe in the water to see what it’s like, the free membership option comes with some support for the first week and enough freedom and tools to quickly create a basic website and get going.
Before we proceed, I’d like you to hop over to this page and sign up for a free account. It doesn’t cost you a thing to sign up, but when you do, you’ll get access to a bunch of stuff that will really help you. After signing up, you’ll see some options for premium accounts and paid services, but you can just ignore that. We’re only going to be using the free stuff that you get.
Contact the company directly. If you use a product or service and want to recommend it but you can’t find evidence of an affiliate program, consider approaching them and asking if they are willing to set one up (maybe with your help). Highlight your audience and the value of your recommendation. Explain that an affiliate program is simply rewarding happy customers (you!) for promoting, and they don’t have to pay until a sale is made.
Once you get your basic website set up, your affiliates all arranged, and you start producing content that other people might want to see, it’s time to learn how to market yourself so that people will start visiting your site and finding out what you have to offer. If it’s good, word of mouth will bring others to see your website, and that (along with more marketing and SEO) will slowly but surely grow your audience. But to learn more about that, you should read some of the other articles on this site.

You will see that I created a simple image with some selling features, noting the SALE, warranty, RETURNS and a big SWIPE UP which was pointing to my http://bit.ly/amazonferrariwatch URL I created from the Amazon Associates Affiliate Offering code (yea it’s a mouthful) but it’s the big long messy URL in the image below (which is from Bit.ly dashboard). This is an amazing officially licensed Ferrari watch backed with a 2 year warranty and FREE returns. It doesn’t get any nicer of a “sell” than offering all these things to an automotive enthusiast following like I have!
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you only promote one merchant’s products, you are stuck with their commissions, their landing pages, and ultimately, their conversion rates. It is important to work with many different merchants in your niche and promote a wide range of products. This affiliate marketing strategy will diversify the amount of commissions you make and create a steady stream of revenue when building an affiliate website. 
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.
As you can see, Instagram offers some genuine opportunities to make money online. Whether you want to become an Instagram influencer, sell physical products, photographs, or affiliate products, or become an Instagram expert in the freelancing field, there are possibilities for everyone. Whatever route you choose to go down, make sure you persevere, as the financial rewards can be more than worth it.

Amazon’s language: “… you will not engage in any promotional, marketing, or other advertising activities in any offline manner, including by using any of our or our affiliates’ trademarks or logos (including any Amazon Mark), any Content, or any Special Link in connection with an offline promotion or in any other offline manner (e.g., in any printed material, mailing, SMS, MMS, email or attachment to email, or other document, or any oral solicitation).”
Despite its older origins, email marketing is still a viable source of affiliate marketing income. Some affiliates have email lists they can use to promote the seller’s products. Others may leverage email newsletters that include hyperlinks to products, earning a commission after the consumer purchases the product. Another method is for the affiliate to cultivate email lists over time. They use their various campaigns to collect emails en masse, then send out emails regarding the products they are promoting.
The second place where honesty is crucial is in how you represent your affiliate links themselves. I always recommend being honest with the fact that you can earn a commission when people use your affiliate links to purchase a product. In fact, the FTC requires that you disclose when you’re using affiliate links, but beyond even that, it’s just good practice to let people know that you’ll make money when they purchase via a link on your site.

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!


If you’re in the WordPress industry like I am (whether it be design, development, or SEO) I have accumulated quite the list of WordPress affiliate programs. I excluded those I found unsuccessful or pay too little to make a profit from, specifically ThemeForest, Creative Market, and low quality theme stores like Template Monster. Hosting pays well and I wrote a tutorial for SiteGround’s affiliate program and StudioPress themes which are my 2 highest paying affiliates. Those tutorials have tons of screenshots/social proof especially for SiteGround.
I started my first blog back in June 2012 and that was the start of my fascination with making money online. In early 2015, I took a position as a collaborations manager for a small business coordinating their influencer marketing. During my time with them, I learned a lot about influencers as well as affiliate programs and how many of them were actually able to make full-time incomes from home via affiliate marketing. It blew my mind!
Hayes says a few plug-ins are closely vetted and offer reliable options for bloggers that need advanced design and linking features. “AAWP is by far the most useful and trusted plug-in we have worked with,” says Hayes. “It adds a lot of versatility to our articles and gives us a range of dynamic design options improving the visual design and bolstering the trustworthiness of our reviews.”

A landing page is often used to collect email addresses and sell products, but you could create a landing page containing numerous links to direct your IG traffic. Alternatively, you can use IG-centric services that provide templates to feature various links, for example, LinkTree, Lnk.Bio, and SHORBY. Their goals are to solve the one-link IG dilemma. LinkTree states, “You only get one chance to link in Instagram. Make it do more.” Lnk.Bio reads, “Multiple links for your Instagram bio, the new way to improve your Instagram experience.” These tools are easy to set up. You connect your IG account, pick a template, add links, and you’re ready.

If you haven’t already checked out my NEW free Wolf Millionaire Webinar I suggest you take the time to join and watch it. I outline and explain all the different ways you can make money using Instagram. Almost all of them DON’T require you to have a business, product or service in order to make money! At the end of my webinar I will send you a link to my updated FREE 35 Page Instagram guide.
I had that experience as well. Getting high monthly page views doesn’t necessarily translate to more traffic. You also need to focus on the conversion rate of your pins. For each pin, divide the number of clicks by the number of close ups. That gives you the conversation rate. You want that number to be at least 50%. Make a note of the pins that have the highest conversation rates and see what design elements they have in common. They create more pins like them. Hope that helps.

ZacJohnson.com – Zac Johnson’s blog contains more than 1,000 articles based on real-life experiences that exemplify lessons from the affiliate marketing industry. In recent posts, he gives tips on staying relevant, transitioning with a changing market to maintain a steady income flow and being successful in the travel marketing niche. Johnson’s blog also contains links to his recommended resources for marketers.

High Paying Affiliate Programs Blog – Bill Burniece runs this blog and keeps it up to date with new posts every few days about making the most with online marketing. One of his blog categories focuses on the benefits of targeting the affluent market, but he also gives tips for getting started with affiliate marketing. Burniece’s blog was named the Affiliate Summit’s Top Affiliate Marketing Blog of 2013.
Email marketing: Email is a proven winner for many affiliate marketers. As an affiliate startup, you can start a free email account with MailChimp, Drip or another email marketing service and gather email addresses on your website and use email marketing to send informative affiliate content and targeted product promotions to subscribers from day one.
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.
Affiliate marketing pulls together marketers who want to advertise and publishers, sometimes called influencers, who want to promote products and services and get paid to do so. Publishers place customized links to things they want to promote within their website or social media content. Then, they get a portion of the sales as a thank you for their promotion.
Then, came the dreaded Google algorithm updates. After ranking number one for "electronic cigarettes" and "electronic cigarette reviews," which were steadily driving massive amounts of traffic to his blog, his rankings fell off of a cliff. He tells me had made a huge mistake by solely relying on Google for traffic and not leveraging it to build an audience elsewhere.
Choose products carefully. Don't promote something you wouldn't buy or don't like just to make money. It will backfire and cause you to lose credibility with your website visitors. People are more likely to buy products you personally recommend. If you don't have experience with the product, be sure to check out reviews to see what other people's experience with it is.
Is the space crowded? The exercise to spot influencers will help you judge how crowded your topic is. Some competition is fine, don’t let a few influencers with heavy followings discourage you. It’s highly unlikely you’ll stumble upon a topic that doesn’t have competition. However, if you see page after page of blogs in the search results, you’ll have a hard time breaking into the top search results, which can hamper your efforts and your profits.
Cost per mille requires only that the publisher make the advertising available on his or her website and display it to the page visitors in order to receive a commission. Pay per click requires one additional step in the conversion process to generate revenue for the publisher: A visitor must not only be made aware of the advertisement but must also click on the advertisement to visit the advertiser's website.
A sound product strategy is a must for new affiliate marketers. Ideally, you should choose a niche that you can make money online with and has a lot of product vendors. This will give you a wide selection of products to offer your online community. However, limit yourself to two or three products at a time, so that you become the expert others turn to and trust when reaching for their wallet.

Don’t forget to post your affiliate pins to your OWN personal boards! When I share my affiliate pins, I start with my own relevant boards because they’re better optimized for SEO than my group boards. I carefully write my board descriptions to optimize them for keywords. Technically speaking, you don’t even need to share pins to group boards if you have well-optimized personal boards with high repin rates. The advantage of group boards is that they help you expand your reach.
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