Awesome article! This is jam packed with great info. I am just starting a personal finance blog with my fiance and we were a little confused about how to start monetizing. We were initially thinking about using Google AdSense but between this post and another blog I read I am surely convinced that’s not the correct route. I’m really happy you have shared this information because it’s provided an excellent starting point for creating income.
If your audience is looking to launch an online business, migrate their ecommerce platform, or simply interested in ecommerce content, we encourage you to apply for the BigCommerce affiliate program. Our team will carefully review your application. Once approved, you will receive access to support, tracking, reporting, payments, and have your own unique affiliate link to track every referral you generate. BigCommerce is committed to the success of our affiliate partners.
According to Forester, Instagram has the highest engagement rate of the many social media platforms. This is precisely why affiliate Instagram marketing via Influencer (aka Influencer Marketing) has become a one billion dollar industry today, and the entire Influencer Marketing segment overall is predicted to become a ten billion dollar industry by 2020.
Banners – after testing them out I decided to take down my banner ads since they looked salesy and weren’t working like my affiliate links did. They’re easy to throw up, but distracting and probably won’t get great results. If you try them, be sure to show specific sidebar banners based on the type of content people are reading on your blog (for posts that fall under my SEO category I would show a banner related to SEO, and for posts under my website speed category I would show a different banner). You can do this using a plugin like Widget Logic.
You’ve probably heard this a million times, but it’s worth reiterating. I still see square pins all the time on Pinterest. With affiliate pins, I make my pins longer than usual so that they stand out. My pins are typically somewhere between 735 x 1250 and 735 x 1400. I also experiment with smaller pins (600 x 900), and they do well too. There is no set rule for the exact dimensions your pins should be. Just make sure they are vertical. I use both PicMonkey and Canva to create my pins. PicMonkey has an edge over Canva in terms of features. 
Writing good advertising sales copy (copywriting) is the other important skill for internet marketers. The good news is that when it comes to affiliate marketing, many vendors will provide you with copy to use for your blog posts, websites ads, etc. They'll give you the emails to send, the banner ads to display, and even posts you can use on social media (such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.).
The easiest way to get a lot from your influencer partners in your affiliate program is to set up a compensation plan with them where they’re paid a flat amount of money in exchange for promoting your products or services on their feed. Most influencers do not like working on a commission basis. They would much rather get cash upfront. If your brand were willing to do this, this would be the best way to get their attention. You could even work out a zero commission deal with them where they don’t earn commission from the sales they refer at all. If the influencer is really powerful, you might even come out ahead despite the upfront risk.
Spam is the biggest threat to organic search engines, whose goal is to provide quality search results for keywords or phrases entered by their users. Google's PageRank algorithm update ("BigDaddy") in February 2006—the final stage of Google's major update ("Jagger") that began in mid-summer 2005—specifically targeted spamdexing with great success. This update thus enabled Google to remove a large amount of mostly computer-generated duplicate content from its index.[33]
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 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.
Great post, Sean! I have been using Adsense for the most part for two years now and each year, due to great content, my income has doubled. Thanks for all the great content, and this is sure to open my eyes a bit more to the likes of Amazon, which, I will admit, I have been ignoring due to the way they treat their affiliates. But, maybe it’s just me being a turd….
If your audience is looking to launch an online business, migrate their ecommerce platform, or simply interested in ecommerce content, we encourage you to apply for the BigCommerce affiliate program. Our team will carefully review your application. Once approved, you will receive access to support, tracking, reporting, payments, and have your own unique affiliate link to track every referral you generate. BigCommerce is committed to the success of our affiliate partners.

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.

That’s a great tip Sean, thanks! I was thinking about what you said in your post about some companies not putting that they have affiliate links and you having to do some digging and there are couple of companies/authors who made products I love and keep using, but I’m not sure how to go ahead and ask about the affiliate link. I read the post you linked below about asking for guest blogging, which I thought was a must-read, and so, if you think of doing a follow-up on this one, would love to read some of your tips and do’s and don’t about this. Thanks again, Sean, you’re doing some very inspiring work here!
Once you know which product you are going to promote and who your target audience is, you have to answer one more question. What are you trying to convey about that service or product in particular? A website has to allow users to get more connected to the product you are promoting. You’ll need high-quality photos, reviews, tips and tricks and all that packed in an attractive design.
Pinterest employs an algorithm to automate the selection of pins users will see in their feed, similar to many social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. The algorithm uses several factors in its calculations, but the presence of an affiliate link is not one of them. Affiliate pins are treated just the same as pins with regular URLs in both the Pinterest feed and in Pinterest’s search functions. Additionally, if a pinner wants to give an affiliate pin extra visibility, they can promote the pin through Pinterest’s Ads Manager, just like other pins.
To think you guys scrambled and re-invented the wheel in 5 days is absolutely amazing too! I am glad you produced this thorough resource on how to hopefully abide by the Amazon TOS; play it on the conservative/safe side is the message here. You people are so knowledgeable in your business, and even you guys got a knock on the door from Amazon Associates.
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?

Plus, it can be especially tempting this time of year to “catch the wave” of holiday shopping excitement and—as we talked about earlier—start promoting products you don’t know well and haven’t even used personally. While that may lead to some extra sales in the short term, in the long run you risk your audience’s trust by promoting products you don’t know and can’t stand behind.
CharlesNgo.com – Charles Ngo, a well-known and respected Internet marketer, shares affiliate marketing strategies that help people work smarter, not harder. His blog posts cover how to launch an affiliate marketing campaign, why offers aren’t converting, how to get things done in a distracted world and much more. He suggests the best books to read on the subject and provides his own advanced training called the AFFcelerator Program.
I would have one partner create a separate page/contact form specifically for the advertiser – so only people who see that contact form are people who were referred to by the advertiser. The advertiser would use that page as their outbound link. I know you can track outbound clicks in Google Analytics events and Contact Form conversions (usually through most contact form plugins) but that is the best way I think. Never done it, but this is how I see most affiliate programs like that work.
Next, on your Facebook page, select Shop > Add Product. Here you can add product images as well as the name, price, description, and the URL for the product page or checkout page. Don’t skimp on the description here, as these are the details your audience will see on Instagram when they tap for more information on the product. The more information you provide, the more likely Instagrammers will click through to your site and make a purchase.
Of course, you could continuously change that link every time you post about a new affiliate product, but how annoying + time-consuming is that?! Plus, changing the link in your bio to a new affiliate link every time you post won’t allow you to drive traffic to any previously posted links, so this method isn’t super effective at increasing commissions.
When the giveaway ends and it’s time to send out your product to the winner, make sure you communicate directly with the winner themselves and try to get some additional marketing goodwill from this. You can ask the winner to post about their winning on their own social media pages so that their friends and family learn about your brand. You can also incentivize the winner to refer friends and family by providing them with additional discounts for doing so. If you’re not keen on giving away your product for free you could also host a contest that allows the winner to purchase your product but at a significant, one-time discount.
Wow. Thank you for parting the mists of the mystery of affiliate marketing. I was drowning in vagueness and confusion for a few weeks there and now I feel like I have enough information to at least create a strategy around when I might want to start. I had no idea that it was so country-specific, which is important because I get just as many hits from European countries as I do the U.S.
Always fill out the comment box to “sell” your platform. If you are given the opportunity to explain why you are interested in a program, do it! Use the space to highlight why you would be an asset to the program. Talk about how your audience is their audience. Talk about the size of your mailing list (if it’s significant). Talk about your success with similar programs. Talk about where and how you will promote (hopefully you’ve done a bit of research so you know what they’re hoping for). Don’t sound desperate and certainly don’t lie about anything, but be upfront and honest about how this will be a win for them.
Long-term success depends on doing two things well: building content that delivers value to readers and using that content to market affiliate products to convert those readers into buyers. There are many different types of content and affiliate link combinations you can try, and Amazon Associates reports and Google Analytics both help you measure success and fine-tune your efforts.
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.
The second step in your journey is to create a diversified platform. Why diversified? Well, when Henry was flying high with his Google search results, then suddenly knocked down to beyond page 10 after an algorithm update, he tells me that he wishes he had diversified. Instead of focusing solely on the blog, he tells me he should have been building a Facebook Group, online forum and other ways that he could stay connected with people.
Partners that sell services generally pay a flat fee when a user signs up. Sometimes, partners pay if a user signs up for an email newsletter or free trial. Others only pay if the user pays for a service. Typically, the higher payouts are things that are harder to sell. For example, website hosting can be a harder sell than various Amazon services. So, hosting affiliates tend to pay more, but you may not sell as many plans per month as Amazon services. That all depends on your audience and content.

We already touched base on this, but we’ll mention it again. Affiliate marketing is one of the most important sources of income you can use because it’s accessible to almost anyone and is so effective when it comes to generating revenue. You don’t need tons of traffic or a strong social media presence to get started. You only need great, high-quality content as well as products and services to promote.

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for SiteGround using my affiliate link I will donate a good chunk at no expense to you. This year I donated $3,000 to feed the homeless in Denver. In 2017, I donated $3,000 to American Red Cross at Hurricane Harvey. Your support helps and I genuinely appreciate it. I try to make my reviews unbiased and backed by evidence in the form of Facebook polls, tweets, and real conversations. If you don’t want to use it, here’s a non-affiliate link to SiteGround. Either way I truly believe they’re the best host and that your site will run faster/smoother… do your research on Google and Facebook groups and you’ll find most people say the same.


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.
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!

Even if you already have a good grasp of the affiliate marketing business model, I highly recommend you check out this primer section in your free account. Check out the article, but more importantly, make sure you watch ever video at the bottom of that page. Those videos are filled with a wealth of information from very, very successful affiliate marketers.


However, as I stated before, the single best source of highly targeted website traffic is from search engines. For that reason, you will wan to pay particular attention to these training videos covering SEO (search engine optimization). That’s where you’ll learn all about how to rank your website at the top of certain search phrases deliberately. You get to pick and choose what you rank for if you follow those steps.
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.
Perhaps most importantly, though, successful affiliate marketing on Amazon is built on the same foundational principle that all affiliate marketing, and all online marketing and business, is based: trust. In the end, Amazon is another tool that helps you help your audience and build their trust further, by promoting products that will help them achieve their goals.
Affiliate Marketing Blog by Geno Prussakov – Geno Prussakov is the founder of AM Navigator, an affiliate management agency, as well as a consultant, author, blogger and international speaker.  His blog delves into industry fundamentals and facilitates discussions about top customer acquisition strategies, creating content, managing affiliates and other topics. He also offers information about upcoming affiliate marketing events, conferences and tradeshows.
Another great way to get the most out of Instagram influencers in your affiliate program is to host a product giveaway with them. Influencers love running giveaways because they receive excellent engagement from them and gain a lot of new followers in the process. When you structure the giveaway with the influencer you do want to make sure that it’s not one sided and you get some new followers for your social media accounts as well. At the end of the day, it’s a great way to get some new followers and get some great marketing out there for the cost of your product, which is usually a brand’s preferred currency.
Google Adwords can be used to drive targeted traffic to a sales page. You simply make an ad in your adwords account then use your affiliate link in the target page URL of the ad. Obviously, you will have to continuously measure the conversions and see if the campaign cost is less than the campaign profit in order to keep the campaign running but I am sure you get the idea.

Every single network or merchant will provide you with specific links that you can use to promote whatever it is you're looking to sell. Be sure to scrutinize the details of any offer that you decide to partake in. Then, build out your affiliate links and ensure that the sales and clicks are registering your to your account. You can use URL shorteners like Bitly or Google's own shortener to make the links more manageable in terms of length.


That might be why many people liken marketing anything as an affiliate to more like waging a war than living on easy street. The truth is that it isn't easy by any measure. It takes time. And you can't buy into all the hype. However, by keeping a few principles and steps in mind, you too can dominate in the world of affiliate marketing and earn money while you sleep. The trick? Stay persistent and don't give up.
While there’s probably a part of luck, the way you present yourself also counts. I just corrected a bunch of mistakes in your comment before approving it and I can imagine if your email to Amazon looked the same, they did not take you seriously. Consider using the free version of Grammarly when you write online. That will do a lot for your credibility (and that’s coming from a non-native speaker that also makes a bunch of mistakes and has to spellcheck a lot of what he writes).

Adam Riemer Marketing – Adam Reimer’s blog is easy to navigate and full of fresh ideas about affiliate program management, blogging, adware, monetizing your website and mobile advertising.  After more than a decade of working in online marketing, Reimer writes, he started the blog to respond to questions he receives regularly from affiliates, search engine marketing professionals and bloggers. He has published an ebook titled “How to Make Money Blogging” that is available via his blog.


As another example, I’m planning on writing a blog post comparing the Blue Yeti USB Microphone to the Blue Snowball iCE Condensor Microphone. I have both and use them for client video calls, livestreams, and creating courses. However, the Blue Yeti is twice as expensive. I’m sure a lot of people wonder whether they investment is worth it (the answer is “yes,” by the way). I can help people make their decision and earn a bit of affiliate income in the process.
Since your pin is going directly to a seller’s site and not your blog or review, make sure that the title and description of each pin is informative and straight to the point. You can use two to three sentences and always, always, always disclose. Remember that these titles and descriptions are what help Pinterest users find you when they do a search. The better your description is, the more sales you will get.
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