Great post , I do read a lot of the Nichehacks articles and this one is so true. At the moment I am in a niche I'm passionate about and yes although I am primarily using Amazon to monetize my site, I will be branching out to use other methods very soon. It frightens me to think the plug can be pulled at any time! I intent to use other affiliate programs as well as Amazon, maybe Google Adsense, I'm not sure yet, some digital products and also to build an email list.
The benefits of affiliate marketing are location independence and the ability choose which products to promote. Also, your investment of time and energy directly correlates to the return you see. Depending on your availability and what you hope to gain from the enterprise, you can choose to be the type of marketer who sets up shop and passively waits for customers to come, or you can proactively spread the word about your favorite merchandise from prominent brand affiliates.
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).
You can start figuring out your target audience by focusing on reading the reviews in your niche. You can also spend some time on forums and read the comment section on blogs that cover your niche topics. If you notice some unanswered questions emerging over and over again, write them down. Your audience needs them answered, and you can do it for them. Or you can do an online search for best niche blogs and see how they are structured.
These add review stars to snippets and increase click-through rates. I have tested many rich snippet plugins over the years and my favorite (and what I use now) is the WP Review Pro Plugin by MyThemeShop (view the demo). It’s fast, looks great (here’s a page I use it on), comes with 16 pre-styled designs, supports user reviews, and is well-supported by the developers at MyThemeShop. I was previously using WP Rich Snippets but the developer abandoned the plugin and hasn’t updated it for 2 years, and All In One Schema lacks customization options.
Okay, I’ll be honest, when I first started out, I found it surprisingly difficult to understand how to even generate links (and deep links). For a while, I legitimately thought I was stupid. In hindsight, stupidity may have been a small part of the cause, but the truth is the process is actually pretty confusing. SO, I’ve written some pretty boring (though helpful) step-by-steps on how to generate links on a few common programs and affiliate networks… So, for my fellow life-dummies, here’s:

Besides your images, keywords are the other major make or break factor for your pins. Spend some time to identify 2-3 relevant keywords that people would use to search for the problem you’re solving. Focus on just one target keyword phrase that you absolutely want to rank for. Then add one or two other related keywords. To figure out what keywords to choose, put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. What would they search in order to find a solution to the problem your affiliate product solves?
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.
I live in Jamaica and I’ve tried and become miserably frustrated with affiliate marketing. “They” always made it seem so easy yet it can be quite an uphill struggle. I’m quite fascinated with the prospect of making passive income especially after earning my first $20 (which i still havent collected lol) and Your post has been very informative and encouraging; Thank you. I’m definitely gonna get that course you recommend when I begin again. Thanks a million for being so real and all the best with blog!
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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!
Whether you are a brand or an influencer, creating a good Instagram profile isn’t as easy as it sounds. In principle it’s simple - take a good photo, upload it, add a filter and upload it. However, some of the most successful accounts have taken steps to make sure their Instagram stands out from the crowd so that they can gain more followers, and if they are an influencer, it paves the way for big brands to want to work with them to reach a wider audience.
Of course you want affiliates with high commissions, but they should also have a solid reputation with high conversions and low reversal rates (you get $0 if people cancel after signing up). If they’re part of an affiliate marketplace like ShareASale or ClickBank you can see some numbers there. Companies likes Amazon/SiteGround are safe bets, otherwise do your research (or track your affiliate links so you can monitor their performance). Avoid affiliates offering huge commissions since this probably means they’re struggling to acquire/retain customers naturally. This will hurt your numbers (specifically your conversions/reversal rates).
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.
Access more than a hundred courses on various aspects of affiliate marketing and related domains on Skillshare, by simply subscribing to the platform for nearly zero cost. The best part is that you are not charged until a few months, so you can test things out and cancel subscription at any point if you want. The courses here include techniques on how to drive traffic to your website for free, how to use Instagram for promoting offers, how to set up an Affiliate Business and a lot more.
A practical way to generate affiliate commissions through IG is to add a link to your website or blog. Many affiliate marketers use IG as a traffic source. As traffic flows to your site, visitors will discover your content and stumble upon affiliate links. You might even create a unique URL and welcome page for your IG traffic. For example, chadtennant.com/instagram. Your welcome page could acknowledge your presence on IG and provide a brief intro about you and your offerings. For example,
Take advantage of affiliate program freebies when available. Many affiliate programs provide free printables, guides, webinars or other lead magnets designed to get potential customers in their sales funnel. As an affiliate, you can share these freebies with your audience using your affiliate link so if they eventually make a purchase, you’ll earn a commission, but if they don’t they still get value upfront.
Don’t Buy Fake Followers – Although brands might be impressed at first glance with your follower numbers, it won’t take long for them to realize that your audience isn’t worth paying for. A few clicks to check on engagement levels and how your followers have responded to your posts will tell them that you have bought your followers, not organically grown your audience. This isn’t the type of audience that will get results for businesses, and consequently, people won’t want to pay you to promote their posts.
1. EasyAzon flat-out didn’t work, and their customer service was the absolute worst. 2. Genius Links worked, but often the same products wouldn’t be available on other Amazon sites, and the link would redirect to another product or a search page full of irrelevant products… not ideal. Plus, I was getting more clicks, but not enough international conversions to justify the $9 a month [seriously guys, Amazon does not pay well haha]. Long story short: this is a complication to be wary of!

I think there are a couple main reasons why the research aspect is so overlooked in affiliate marketing. The first reason is, people are just lazy. Most new affiliate marketers are only thinking about making money in the shortest period of time, so they simply choose a niche and build a site in their first day. Then, months go by with little to no website traffic and they proclaim that affiliate marketing no longer works. Considering affiliate marketing is a multi-billion dollar per year industry driving about 20% of all online sales, that of course isn’t true. Most people just don’t do the research necessary to truly find a profitable niche that is in demand without too much competition.
To succeed in affiliate marketing, a publisher needs to deploy thousands of links in multiple places to increase the number of clicks and conversions. On IG, the only place to put a hyperlink is in one’s bio. Links anywhere else are not clickable, for example, links in posts. Many affiliates include links in the hopes that people will copy and paste them into their browsers, but that’s a terrible strategy. So, what is an affiliate marketer to do?
No matter how good your marketing skills are, you’ll make less money on a bad product than you will on a valuable one. Take the time to study the demand for a product before promoting it. Make sure to research the seller with care before teaming up. Your time is worth a lot, and you want to be sure you’re spending it on a product that is profitable and a seller you can believe in.
To learn Affiliate Marketing, the first thing that you should know is the difference between an Affiliate Marketing Merchant and an Affiliate Marketer. The product creator or seller in Affiliate Marketing is known as Affiliate Marketing Merchant, while on the other hand Affiliate Marketer helps in marketing those products by using different platforms.
I just LOVE your writing style, Christina! I recently purchased the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course, but have yet to really dig in. I had NO idea all of those crazy complications with Amazon! I’ve already been rejected once 😛 But luckily, though my ego was bruised, I pressed on and am now on round 2 (with no success so far..lol) Hopefully with this post and the course I will make something in the next 90 days!

The easiest and most common way to start building an audience for a website is via social media. Depending on your niche and industry, you can choose from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and several other niche and location-specific networks. Building up an engaged and interested following on social media is a great opportunity to build relationships and once you have their trust, promote your products and services to them. 
If you use WordPress to run your affiliate site, you’ll eventually hear about Amazon affiliate plug-ins. These are third-party programs that streamline adding Amazon affiliate links to your website, provide advanced display tools and help with overall performance management. This sounds enticing, but many blogging pros warn new bloggers that relying on plug-ins can be risky.
Don’t Buy Fake Followers – Although brands might be impressed at first glance with your follower numbers, it won’t take long for them to realize that your audience isn’t worth paying for. A few clicks to check on engagement levels and how your followers have responded to your posts will tell them that you have bought your followers, not organically grown your audience. This isn’t the type of audience that will get results for businesses, and consequently, people won’t want to pay you to promote their posts.
I hated Math way back in primary school until college. But I did't realize that it is the most important subject I should learn because I'll be using it for the rest of my life. I read this book just in time that I was thinking of what to do with my life. I don't wanna work because I don't want to have a boss. I want to be "The" Boss. I should say this book really helped me a lot in gaining confidence that I can do business on my own. If it won't succeed, at least it's worth the shot.
Banner and sidebar ads: Virtually every affiliate program provides a wide variety of ads that you can insert into the sidebars, header and footer sections of your WordPress website. Some of these affiliate ads promote a flat-fee product like the Amazon Prime free trial. Others automatically update with features products and items from your affiliate partner. Either way, if your reader clicks on one and makes a purchase, you get paid.

In early May, Pinterest lifted its ban on affiliate links in pins—huge news for publishers and advertisers alike. Pinterest emerged as an online destination for consumers looking for new trends and products since its creation in 2010, and with over 100 million monthly active users and worldwide reach, it represents a massive opportunity for players in the affiliate space.
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!
Style, trend and new releases posts: Styles, trends and new release content applies to much more than fashion. Style, hot finds and new release content can cover all topics, from tech, home decor and camping equipment to cooking, boating and horseback riding. Stay on top of the latest and greatest products within your topic and feature them in recurring posts.
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.
What you should do is consider products and services that would help your readers the most and pass over the trust you have in those companies. Consider the products and services you already use in your niche, and see if they have affiliate programs by searching for “[product/service name] affiliate program” or search for it on their websites by adding “/?s=affiliate program” to the end of their URLs.

A lot of people don’t realize this, but you can’t just become an affiliate – it’s a process that requires an application. Even once you’re part of an affiliate network, you’ll still need to apply for individual brands within those networks. There are times when you’ll be declined… usually there’s a reason why (lol like that time I applied to hundreds of clothing retailers in anticipation for all the packing lists that I still have not written). Other times, you’ll feel like a good fit and they’ll reject you anyway. That’s the way this cookie crumbles, so remember to put a little effort into your applications and really pick companies that fit your blog.
From what I’ve read, and from what Tasha has answered in other comments above, it seems like Amazon themselves give contradictory information. In one of Tasha’s previous answers she says, “Hi Tim! I’ve talked to Amazon about this as well, as have many other bloggers I know personally. Each one of us is getting different answers. It’s VERY frustrating. Many have been told as long as their Pinterest account is listed in their profile, it’s fine. For those that haven’t, I’ve pointed out during my calls to Amazon that you can pin Amazon affiliate products directly to Pinterest from the rewardStyle interface, so it’s silly for them to tell anyone that they can’t do it directly from their Amazon Associates account. But of course, with Amazon giving different bloggers different answers, you have to do what you are comfortable with. Or, if in doubt, pin Amazon products via rewardStyle if you are a member 🙂 Hope that helps.”

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.)
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!

Firstly, pick a topic that you’re interested in that also has a lot of market potential. Think of something that you like, and consider whether there would be many products associated with it, or much of an audience. You can find a topic (or “niche,” as affiliates call it) with a little research. You’ll find lessons to help you with this process in the market research section of Affilorama’s free lessons. 

Although it differs from spyware, adware often uses the same methods and technologies. Merchants initially were uninformed about adware, what impact it had, and how it could damage their brands. Affiliate marketers became aware of the issue much more quickly, especially because they noticed that adware often overwrites tracking cookies, thus resulting in a decline of commissions. Affiliates not employing adware felt that it was stealing commission from them. Adware often has no valuable purpose and rarely provides any useful content to the user, who is typically unaware that such software is installed on his/her computer.
Don’t go insane and join a million at once… think first about what would make sense for you to endorse. If you’re a travel blogger for instance, becoming an affiliate for hotels, tours and travel gear may be appropriate. Most companies will have an affiliate program, or be part of an affiliate network. Your best bet would be a quick Google: “company + affiliate program”.
The site owner actually had a telephone conversation with an Amazon account manager who said that, if the email service provider was located in certain states and the emails went from there, it was fine to use them in emails…so we continued. Bookbub still do it I believe, although they have a shit-ton of subscribers so maybe have some special deal.
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.
When a site visitor clicks on one of these links or ads, he or she is sent to Amazon. If they complete a purchase there, the site owner — called the “affiliate” — is paid a percentage of the sale. Amazon affiliate commissions range from 1 percent to 10 percent of the item’s selling price. These percentages are based on the category the item is listed under on Amazon.

Since Instagram started in 2010, influencers have flocked to the platform to increase their audience, traffic, followers and engagement. With 29% of Instagram’s top posts coming from influencers or brand ambassadors, they are dominating the game when it comes to user generated content, and with statistics showing that Instagram has over 700 million monthly users it is now over twice the size of twitter. This isn’t something that should be ignored, especially for brands when they are looking at Instagram affiliate marketing strategies.
Affiliates may only post affiliate links on social media feeds they operate in line with their website URL, such as Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Affiliate links are prohibited on some social sharing sites, such as Pinterest and Tumblr. When posting content outside of Etsy, it is the Affiliate’s responsibility to follow each site’s policies on affiliate link
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