In 2009, I originally published this post, the 3 Types of Affiliate Marketing Explained—and The One I Profit From. A lot has changed since then, and I’ve learned a ton along the way about affiliate marketing the right way. It’s now October 2018, and I wanted to share those new insights here, with a bunch of new takeaways for you to bring affiliate marketing into your own business!
If you are going to write a piece of content that has an affiliate link to a high-end DSLR camera, you need to be an expert in order to make it credible. Your whole website needs to revolve around the product and how to use it, rather than eyeing up the fat commission you can make if you dupe someone into using your link from that one piece of content.
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There’s also a very direct and logical tie-in for affiliates; these sites inherently cater to, and attract, visitors who are in the market for a product or set of products (ideally at a discounted rate). It’s the goal of the companies that make these products to get as many people as possible to clip their coupons and eventually make a purchase; so they make affiliate payments to coupon sites who are able to help them achieve this goal.
When it comes down to brass tacks, there are some important steps to be taken to succeed as an affiliate marketer, and an overall framework that needs to be followed. But before getting into that, it's important to get a lay of the land and look at the macro aspects of marketing and buyer mentality before being able to leverage any of that psychology to sell commissionable products or services.
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The affiliate marketing industry is somewhat unique in the transparency of many of its members. There’s a general willingness to share experiences, including both successes and failures. Below are some of the most in-depth and useful interviews and tutorials put together by affiliate marketers who put in the hard work to build up a profitable affiliate operation (in some cases, more than once):


Cost per click was more common in the early days of affiliate marketing but has diminished in use over time due to click fraud issues very similar to the click fraud issues modern search engines are facing today. Contextual advertising programs are not considered in the statistic pertaining to the diminished use of cost per click, as it is uncertain if contextual advertising can be considered affiliate marketing.
For more expert internet marketers, craft a sales funnel around your affiliate products you are promoting. This could be done via a 7-day bootcamp that you give away to your email list, or perhaps a cheat sheet that contains affiliate links. By creating a sales funnel and building an email list though with paid ads, you can seriously scale your business to the moon very quickly once you have a profitable campaign underway.
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
Any attempt by an Affiliate to manipulate, falsify or inflate Referred Customers, Qualified Purchases, or Commission Fees to intentionally defraud FatCow or any violation of the terms of this Agreement constitutes immediate grounds for FatCow to terminate the Affiliates participation in the Affiliate Program and will result in the forfeiture of any Commission Fees due to the Affiliate.

That’s just a general understanding of what affiliate marketing is, but let’s see how we can build a legitimate business with it. This business model can be fully automated and generate us anywhere to a couple of hundred dollars a month, to upwards of half a million a month. And yes, some people are millionaires from this and only spend a couple of hours a week managing everything. It’s basically passive income.
(v) You will not cloak, hide, spoof, or otherwise obscure the URL of your Site containing Special Links (including by use of Redirecting Links) or the user agent of the application in which Program Content is displayed or used such that we cannot reasonably determine the site or application from which a customer clicks through such Special Link to an Amazon Site.
For purposes of this Agreement, the Technology means the electronic access to programs, content and documentation, and Company's end user license agreement as it may be modified by Company for use in the Territory. The relationship between the corporate user and Company and/or its Affiliates shall be as specified in the applicable Company end user license agreement. Notwithstanding the foregoing, as between Company and MA, MA shall be responsible as defined for providing customer and technical support to end users in the Territory. MA will notify Company immediately in the event that it is unable to respond effectively to any end users’ requests.

We’ll be covering some of the nuances of affiliate marketing quite a bit on MonetizePros, sharing some ideas for better monetizing an existing traffic base with these strategies. But before we dive in to some of the specifics of this approach, we thought we’d share some of the best articles and blog posts out there on the topic to lay a foundation for the monetization tutorials. If you’re brand new to affiliate marketing, you may wish to read our primer: What Is Affiliate Marketing?
First thing to pay attention to, once you decide to go ahead with “good” affiliate marketing, is the affiliate offers themselves. Affiliate offers can come and go. I mentioned above that there is more link management involved with affiliate marketing versus Amazon affiliate sites because of this. If your affiliate link is pointing towards an offer that an affiliate network is no longer offering, you’re missing out on all the commissions you could be earning.
(f) You will not (i) interfere, or attempt to interfere, in any manner with the functionality or proper working of PA API; (ii) compile or use Product Advertising Content for the purpose of direct marketing, spamming, unsolicited contacting of sellers or customers, or other advertising activities; or (iii) remove, obscure, alter, or make invisible, illegible, or indecipherable, any notice, including any notice of intellectual property or proprietary right, appearing on or contained within PA API, Data Feeds, Product Advertising Content, or Specifications.
(f)You will not bid on or purchase keywords, search terms, or other identifiers, including the word “amazon,” Kindle,” or any other trademark of Amazon or its affiliates or variations or misspellings of any of these words (“Proprietary Terms” and you can see a non-exhaustive list of our trademarks in the Non-Exhaustive Trademarks Table) or otherwise participate in keyword auctions on any Search Engine if the resulting paid search advertisement is a Prohibited Paid Search Placement (as defined in the Fee Statement). You may purchase paid search advertisements and submit links to Search Engines to appear in response to a general Internet search query or keyword (i.e., in natural, free, organic, or unpaid search results), so long as you comply with the Agreement and those paid or unpaid search results send users to your site and not directly, or indirectly via a Redirecting Link (as defined in the Fee Statement), to an Amazon Site.
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Hi I’ve tried to make money on Amazon. Had a great looking website but had no hits or anything in two months and when I called them to see why I’m not getting any hits they said to me do you have a domain name and I said no you guys never told me I needed one. So I closed my site and never tried again. I’m thinking of trying again maybe I might do it this time
You are only eligible to earn Commission Fees on Qualified Purchases occurring during the Term. Commission Fees earned prior to the date of termination will be eligible for commissions only if the orders for the related FatCow Products and Services are not cancelled within (30) days and comply with all of the terms of this Agreement. We may withhold your final payment of Commission Fees for a reasonable time to ensure that all Qualified Purchases are valid and payment from Referred Customers are legitimate as determined by FatCow in its sole discretion.
These strategic buys can lead to new insightful data as well. You will see other products within your niche that the audience is prone to buy, which can help you in deciding to launch your next product. Also, each of these sites can become little satellite sites that can collect emails for your overall brand. This strategy is not at all new, and Jon Haver from Authority Website Income has already written a detailed post about the concept here.
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.
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.[29]
But this “old school” method of making money online is still going strong because of all the benefits it offers to small-scale, solo internet entrepreneurs. And it’s an especially powerful business model to those without much experience doing business online. Many successful online business owners make their first dollar online with affiliate marketing.

When you build a business around an engaged audience and your first priority is to create value, I think your best consumers will actively want to help your continue and grow your business. It seems like the Internet has supercharged the opportunity for a business to grow a loyal audience, where members actively look to support the company because they feel part of the tribe.
I can’t answer that question for everyone – I won’t pretend that it works brilliantly on every blog but I know quite a few bloggers making significant earnings each month from the program. Blogs with a strong product focus can do quite well through the program if links to Amazon are well integrated into posts (see some of the links below for tips). I would advise moderation in using the program – don’t place them in every post you write unless they are relevant. Links placed in genuinely helpful reviews do better than links and banners in sidebars.
Knowing this, many affiliates using the Amazon Associates affiliate program simply use the sales of cheaper items as a way to boost their commissions on the larger items they promote. You won’t be able to sell nearly the number of high end digital cameras as you can e-books, so the e-books simply help to raise your commission percentage when you do happen to sell a $1,000 camera.

But this “old school” method of making money online is still going strong because of all the benefits it offers to small-scale, solo internet entrepreneurs. And it’s an especially powerful business model to those without much experience doing business online. Many successful online business owners make their first dollar online with affiliate marketing.


There’s no getting around it, making less money directly translates into a less valuable business. The valuations will go down, in some cases quite significantly as is the case for technology sites earning all their revenue from the Amazon Associates program. Again this clearly depends on the category of the site – some sites might see a slight increase in their earnings, but those are definitely in the minority.
The reason why this type of affiliate marketing is so attractive to many is because no presence or authority is needed! It takes time to build up a reputation and trust with certain groups of people online, and many people are just too scared to commit to working on a blog or website, or just don’t have the time. For many, this is their only option.
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Although he had tried countless times in the past, he had failed to quit. But this time was different. His frame-of-mind had changed. And something inside of him clicked when he realized he could use electronic cigarettes to actually ween himself off the "real thing." He implemented a system where he used a low-quality gas station brand, and went from strong to medium then mild over a multi-week period.
Blogging is the most obvious type of website that fits into the affiliate based business model because it lends itself so naturally to the process. When you consistently write articles on a blog, your opinion becomes respected over time as your audience sees you making good recommendations. If someone recommends something to you, and it turns out to be a really good thing, your respect for that person’s opinion is naturally going to be elevated. Blogging about a new product, book or service is a perfect because it allows you to explain in depth about the product, the benefits and how it helped you or improved your life.
Excellent written article, I only recently started delving into Amazon affiliate sales and have been following what you recommend with links in posts and reviews converting better. One question I had which you don’t show in a screen shot is how many sales are through product link clicks and how many are through “all other items ordered”. I am curious to know what # of sales are from products not directly listed, but just taking advantage of the Amazon cookie and getting percentage of those sales.
Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing the insights. Would you mind throwing some light on not your product itself but the competition your product had prior to you entering. For example – I sell essential oil in the geated beauty category and since the competition is so fierce, I’m struggling to make organic sales. Indeed, sales and reviews seem to be the mantra for AMZ algo. I’m currently trending at 31 reviews and should hit the 50 review mark in 2 weeks hopefully. I’m truly hoping things start to change then.
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You are solely responsible for the development, operation, and maintenance of your Affiliate Site and for all materials that appear on your Affiliate Site. Such responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the technical operation of your Affiliate Site and all related equipment; creating and posting product reviews, descriptions, and references on your Affiliate Site and linking those descriptions to our website; the accuracy of materials posted on your Affiliate Site (including, but not limited to, all materials related to FatCow Products and Services); ensuring that materials posted on your Affiliate Site do not violate or infringe upon the rights of any third party and are not libelous or otherwise illegal. We disclaim all liability and responsibility for such matters

Yes is the short answer. Any time you are planing on generating money, you should have a plan. No plan means no real focus. There may be some 1/1000 percent of a chance you will succeed, but I haven't met them yet. If you have already started and have generated an income, record how. Doing so will give you material for use in expanding your business faster.

You’re absolutely right about that time. Never give up. Content marketing is a hard job but you got to look at it like this. The internet and side hustles are here to stay. It goes Way Beyond making money online. We both know there’s no more traditional job security in America today. These narcissist employers are nothing nice. They will hire you 1 minute. Harass you on the job. Steal your commissions and laugh at you behind your back while you continually work hard and put more money in their pocket, then try to enslave you into making more money for them and continually disrespect you to your face. This is the Ironclad indicated it’s time to walk away and start your own business online by working part time on your side hustle weather to Philly at marketing, blogging, or selling your own product service online. There’s billions of dollars to be made in the affiliate marketing industry. With that said, it’s a good thing to know the side hustle is here to stay to those who dedicate themselves to creating quality content on blogs and websites and taking a side hustle to the public nightstep. Agree? :-)
This is for the ones who don’t like to build a website. Winston Wee promises to teach you to earn through CPA Affiliate Amazon Marketing through ‘legal hijacking’. He says $50 a day is not impossible, and the best part is that you don’t need a website or a mailing list to make his formula work. 1500 + students have enrolled for his course and many have proclaimed great outcomes.
It can be time-consuming to find product images to use when promoting Amazon, the same thing goes for adding links. With EasyAzon I can add images, links, product info boxes and more by the click of a button directly from my own site. Super simple and it saves time and helps maximize earnings. If you monetize with Amazon take a look at EasyAzon here.
I’ve been an Amazon Associate since 2007 and from the first day I signed up and started earning, Amazon had their previous “volume-based” affiliate commissions structure in place. This made for a VERY nice affiliate income stream (you can see examples of my Amazon affiliate daily earnings here). This new commission structure is bound to have an negative effect on my monthly earnings.
Are they biting the hand that feeds them? Possibly. We will have to wait and see. Maybe Amazon gave the higher commission %’s to the products that have the highest markup…? i.e. their Amazon coins. I do believe tho they have reduced the incentive their own “affiliate employees” previously had to push their products-and maybe, just maybe this new commission structure will not last long.
With the global market creating opportunities for affiliate marketers, Nele Sharp from CJ Affiliate by Conversant touched on a number of ways publishers could capitalise on their global presence - such as identifying local consumers and finding relevant advertisers to work with while also doing your research on the location/region you’re targeting, including any laws or privacy disclosures.
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