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.
This is especially important when you consider intent. If you use a hashtag like #instantpot when promoting the Instant Pot in an Instagram recipe post, there’s a good chance you’ll get exposure to fellow Instant Pot affiliates or people who own Instant Pots already. It's fine to include it, so long as it's just one in a long list of more relevant hashtags.
Sponsored posts pay affiliates marketers upfront to create content that promotes a specific product, service or brand. Once you have a following, sponsored posts can be very profitable. After all, you have to create content anyway, you might as well try to get paid for it. Even after the initial payday, sponsored posts can be money makers since you often can include ongoing affiliate links to the sponsor’s products within the post or in sidebar or banner affiliate ads.
If you are building a site that has the potential for information that will never age and remain useful for your audience, you have the opportunity to create what is known as evergreen content. It's important to carry out extensive keyword research before planning any evergreen content for a site like this, as your site could hugely benefit from the proper usage of keywords within such content. 

However, be aware that you need to submit an application to most of these networks to be accepted. Once you're accepted in, you're often required to apply directly to the merchant afterwards. So there are two layers or gates that you need to bypass. That's also why it's important to build up your platform and create that emotional bridge between yourself and your audience before attempting to promote anything to them.

Long-Tail Keywords – specific keywords usually with 3-7 individual words in a phrase. They are highly targeted and MUCH easier to rank for than broad keywords (all mine are long-tail). The lower your domain authority (check using OSE), the less competitive (more long-tail) your keywords should be. If you can get more specific and the keyword still shows up in Google Autocomplete, Moz Keyword Explorer and other keyword tools… choose the SPECIFIC one.
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There are two important links you need to make it easy. The first is the blog posting link which is at the bottom of the posting page of the blog software written as “bookmarklet”. Click on the link while holding down the mouse and drag it up to your Links toolbar on the browser you are using. This makes it possible to use a mouse click to blog a product.
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.
Hi Kate, on Pinterest, you can add the affiliate URL when you create the new pin on your account. If you already have the pin made and want to add the affiliate link, you can just “edit” the pin and change the URL. Hope that makes sense. In the book, Elise has a step by step tutorial with photos on how to add the URL to Pinterest in case you need more help.