For example, if I talk about how cool a product is, and then you find out that I’m an affiliate for them, wouldn’t you as a conscientious observer become skeptical as to whether my information is biased, if perhaps I’m only saying how cool something is because I can get paid for it? Wouldn’t that make you question my integrity with other things I say as well?
I hope you found all of this to be helpful. Learning affiliate marketing for free is actually easy to do. There are lots of people teaching affiliate marketing for free. The problem is learning from the right people and knowing who the right people are. The above information should help show you that you really can learn from successful affiliate marketers at no charge. Those videos in your free account speak for themselves.
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.
I do find the rejections strange sometimes, and you are SO right that often there doesn’t appear to be a good reason. Just yesterday I got a rejection from a program I applied to months and months ago citing that “my site wasn’t a good fit”, but I had actually been accepted to them through CJ Affiliate when I first applied and have been generating pretty consistent sales haha. Oh well! Guess we’ll never know the “inner workings” of it all, but thanks for reading Robert 😀
Based on my research, I chose ‘affiliate marketing on Pinterest without a blog’ as my main target keyword. This what they call a long-tail keyword, a phrase that conveys a specific idea. It’s important to use long-tail keywords because then you’ll be giving users exactly what they’re looking for. If you use just ‘affiliate marketing’ as your keyword, you’ll be competing against everyone on Pinterest who has ever written anything about affiliate marketing. Thanks to proper keyword research, the first and seventh pins in the search results below are my own.
It's especially true now that the big media players are finally waking up to affiliate marketing (NYTime buying WireCutter and SweetHome) and BestReviews (which was already an epic product review site in it's self due to the fact they built their own 10,000 sq ft testing lab) being acquired by Tronc (owns the LA Times and half a dozen more publications).

Target 1-2 Keywords Per Article – until you can successfully rank for 1 keyword for an article, don’t try targeting 2. Once you get the hang of it and are ready to write an article around 2, choose a secondary keyword that is a synonym of your primary keyword. An example would be “Slow WordPress Site” and “Why Is WordPress Slow.” Then craft your article title/SEO title/meta description to mention individual words of each – while making them read nicely.
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.
Coupon codes have always been an effective way to get people to buy something. Influencers like @cassieandrewsstyle has a product photograph, and in the blurb she includes a coupon. If it is an exclusive coupon code, then it has more draw because the discount is better than a normal coupon code. Not all coupon codes require a click to be tracked by an affiliate network, which is great news for these affiliates who want to promote an exclusive code but don’t want to include a link.

Plus, leverage Instagram Stories, as they are known to be an effective business tool. They allow placing the links of the promoted products on a video. If a customer taps on the affiliate link, they will be redirected to the advertiser’s website where the products are available to buy. Don’t forget to add the location and hashtag stickers to raise the discoverability of your Instagram Stories.  
You’ve no doubt encountered affiliate marketing on the Internet without even realizing it. Lots of popular blogs and websites write about particular products and then link to Amazon or an online store. They receive commission money when you click on the link and buy the product. As an affiliate, the blog receives a little ‘tracking code’ from the product creator that enables them to know if you have bought the product.
The best way to find suitable brands to promote is by simply using a search engine using: '[Brand] + Affiliate Program'. Some companies run in-house affiliate programs however, this is a very specialist area. Therefore, most companies opt to employ an 'affiliate network' which has already built a large base of affiliates and gained years of experience in running successful programs for clients.

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.

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!
Websites consisting mostly of affiliate links have previously held a negative reputation for underdelivering quality content. In 2005 there were active changes made by Google, where certain websites were labeled as "thin affiliates".[34] Such websites were either removed from Google's index or were relocated within the results page (i.e., moved from the top-most results to a lower position). To avoid this categorization, affiliate marketer webmasters must create quality content on their websites that distinguishes their work from the work of spammers or banner farms, which only contain links leading to merchant sites.
Third, go through any shopping guide posts and/or room reveal posts that you may have on your blog. Of course you want to continue pinning whatever “pinnable” graphic you have created for the post, but I also recommend pinning images of each individual product recommended in your post and swapping out the blog post url with your affiliate link to that product.
In simple terms, affiliate marketing is when you earn commissions for recommending products/services to readers (or people you know). This is done by joining affiliate programs, where you get unique links (tagged with your personal ID) that tracks whenever your links convert to a sale. If someone out there buys something through your link, it rains money. Or, well, usually a smallll percentage of the sale, but it’s a start!
This is so well put together, thank you! I’ve been spinning my wheels trying to figure out what affiliates to work with in my niche. My target audience is bloggers, and much of my content is free knowledge on how to grow a blog, but pushing a sale is just not what I want to do. But with this list I can really see that there are a lot of options to choose from. I do have an account with shareasale already, so I’m going to start there and see what other companies will work for my audience!
Interested in knowing how to start affiliate marketing? It can be overwhelming when you first start out, but learning all about affiliate marketing and how to start is actually fairly easy. Affiliate marketing is an exciting alternative to the traditional means of making money through advertising on the internet. While professional media sites often resort to increasingly intrusive popup ads and video ads that sometimes play full audio whether you want them to or not, affiliate marketers can afford to be less aggressive and yet still make a living off of advertising revenue.
Ideally, you should take photos of yourself holding the product. You may also want to create posts that show the effect of the product. If you’re an affiliate marketer for makeup, you might post a before and after photo of what you look like before and after you put on the makeup. There are a ton of ways to do this – how you choose to market the product or service is completely up to you.
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
Use your personal words & experience with the product. Your own content, or photos & videos of yourself using the product are always the most effective. For example, many affiliate programs provide swipe copy to their affiliates which is pre-written emails, post material or social media posts. These can be helpful as a guide, but they often scream swipe copy, aren’t written in your voice (the one your readers know!) and if a lot of affiliates are using it, are overdone.
It’s a little silly how often people overlook this step. The simple math is, if you have more eyeballs on your affiliate links, the more likely you’ll make sales. Sure, that’s a bit of an oversimplification buuuut it still holds true that you should be trying to gain traffic on these posts anyway. So, remember the importance of promotion! It’s not enough to just write killer affiliate posts.
Affiliate marketing is commonly confused with referral marketing, as both forms of marketing use third parties to drive sales to the retailer. The two forms of marketing are differentiated, however, in how they drive sales, where affiliate marketing relies purely on financial motivations, while referral marketing relies more on trust and personal relationships.[citation needed]
While I was doing WordPress speed optimization I noticed lots of people needed it, but very few people supplied it (there were a lack of services and tutorials when I researched Google). I also knew hosting was the #1 factor of website speed factor and these companies paid up to $200/sale. Hosting is a competitive space but the commissions and lack of supply enticed me.
Hey Jan, glad it made you think. As you've found out it's not easy to rank #1 on Google especially when so few people will link to your product reviews. You need to tackle a specific niche with a focused target audience as a whole and build a community of like minded people around your site in order to make any significant income online sustainably and for the long term.
Many affiliate programs will often run promotions with good discounts or giveaways that might be attractive to your audience. For example, if you're an Amazon Associate and the site have a big Holiday Sale, it would be the perfect opportunity for you to promote discounts to your website visitors. This is a great way to promote your offers while also providing good value to your audience. 
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Google Autocomplete – go to google.com, start typing a phrase and look at the dropdown autocomplete results. You can use the underscore character “_” to have Google fill-in-the-blank. Just make sure the last character you type is an underscore. Try using plurals and change the word ordering to see different results. This is how I find 90% of my keywords.
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.
I would then get a hosting provider (a place to put the website on the internet) and a domain name (the name for the website), and then install WordPress so I could start playing around with the look of my website. I’d browse some free ‘themes’ (pre-designed ‘looks’ for websites) if I was tight on cash, or I might buy a high-quality one if I had the money. 
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.
I’ve learned so much with this course! KC Tan is an excellent instructor. He covers all the bases. Also, his facebook group and email list have both been a great value for me. I’ve made money using this method, and I’m hoping to start making even more by learning list building details in another of his courses that I just started. So glad I came across his courses. – Maya Brown

Will my target audience realistically buy this now, or at a different time? Be sensitive to sales cycles and seasons. Maybe you should avoid holidays (when people are away from their computers, like July 4 in the U.S.) or maybe you should target holidays (like the day after Thanksgiving), but know the difference. Again, know your audience. Plan your content accordingly.


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!
Always make affiliate links nofollow. Google’s goal is to provide its users with the best possible search results to their search queries. One of the main ways they figure out which webpages are the best is through links. The Google bots crawl the web, reading text. When they come to a link, it’s like an open door. They follow the link (walk through the door) and explore the site you linked to.
This is fascinating to me….. never, ever, ever in a million years would I have thought I’d even *consider* starting a blog but in recent years I have also dreamt of staying home with my kids (I’m also a nurse!!) AND being financially set (and then some?!). The problem is that this whole concept is so foreign and terrifying to me. This post is awesome and seems to have an incredible amount of step by steps instructions. But, I do have a few questions. What was your (or a realistic) timeline from when you very first started your blog to when you could financially do that as your “real job”? And now that you’re established I understand you have passive income but what does your schedule look like? How much time do you have with your kids? I picture having to be at the computer for 6 hours a day?!?! I just wish I could actually see what someone like you does to create your posts and “work” 😉. Thank you, and I’m sorry this comment was so long!!
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