I offer a ton of free resources, tips, guides and tutorials here on my website that can help you get started in affiliate marketing – and help you find success with it. While there are plenty of paid training programs out there, you need to be careful. Some of the people who create these programs make their money by selling the dream and not through doing true affiliate marketing for products or services outside of selling you the dream. That's not to say there are not some good training programs out there - but buyer beware. For now, I'd recommend you start with my free information here on my website – and to sign up for my free weekly newsletter here.
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!
And remember, whether you decide to use paid advertising or a free blog to promote Amazon products through the Amazon Associates affiliate program, there will be a learning curve involved. Don’t expect success right away. But if you stick with it, you’ll find the exact formula that works for you and your target audience. After that, it’s like a cash machine pumping money into your bank account 24/7/365. So have fun and enjoy the process!!
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.
Any products you choose should also have acceptable prices and be available to purchase most of the time. Some products aren’t sold by Amazon, but through sellers only. These can sometimes have higher markups than the product sold elsewhere, which can be a turn-off for your audience. Items sold by sellers might run out of inventory fast, too, so look for products that don’t appear to have a history of this issue.

Smart Passive Income proves that being an authority in your niche is important. Pat Flynn is the creator of the site, and affiliate marketing and other forms of online income are not only where his expertise lies, but it’s also what he sells. Flynn recommends hosting, blogging tools, helpful books, and more resources to guide others toward making their own passive income with his expertise.


Many affiliate marketers start out with amazon.com through their affiliate program called Amazon Associates. Their commission structure is very low and can range from 4% to 10% only but you can also leverage their global selection of products and amazon’s popularity. You could also think of the places you have shopping from online and I am almost certain they will have some sort of affiliate programs that you can join for free.
In the broadcasting field, local televisions stations are often affiliates of larger national networks. In these agreements, stations will remain locally owned but will utilize both the national network's content and advertising. It is important to realize that an affiliate is not a part of the company that it is affiliated with, but rather, an independent contractor.
Hey Courtney, I haven’t had any websites impacted with the update actually. I also don’t really even think about or care about keyword density in my articles either. My recommendation is to remember that Google’s goal is to provide the best search results and if your goal is to make a website that is genuinely better than the website currently ranking in the first position that the rest will follow (particularly if you’re going after an authority website approach)
Security:  Each party shall implement and maintain all appropriate technical and organizational measures to protect any copies of the Personal Data in their possession or control from (i) accidental or unlawful destruction, and (ii) loss, alteration, or unauthorized disclosure or access (a "Security Incident") and to preserve the security and confidentiality of such Personal Data. Each party shall notify the other party without undue delay on becoming aware of any breach of EU Data Protection Law/Applicable Data Protection Law.
The Program Operator reserves the right to reject any affiliate application if, in the Program Operator’s opinion, that person or entity violates established laws or commonly held standards of decency. For example, we will reject applications from any person or company that promotes any form of violence, illegal activities, or from applicants who the Program Operator prefers not to be associated with.
Great article. Thanks for writing it. I am right now picking my theme and building my wordpress. I have my hosting and domain name. What I don’t get though from the article is whether you have to apply to Amazon to be an affiliate or if they accept everyone. How does that all work? Like if I build my site and post links to amazon’s products, they wouldn’t have my details to pay me my commission. Do the templates do all that for you automatically? I am finding it hard to choose one because I want one that automatically integrates the amazon products without making my blog look like a shop per se. I’m going to have a look on the amazon site to see if there’s any clues there. But I thought that was the finishing and crucial touch, which forgive me, seems missing from your well explained and detailed article.
2. Commissions – John writes that he’s not satisfied with a 4% commission. He’s right in some ways, 4% isn’t that much when you’re selling a $10 book – however when you’re selling a Get a Price on the $5000 Camera or a $25,000 Tractor (I know someone who does quite well out of ride on mowers and tractors) it certainly adds up. Not only that, the 4% rate that John talks about is the base rate. Unfortunately it is as high as it goes on consumer electronics – however on most other products there is a sliding scale where the more you sell the higher your commission goes to. Sell more than 6 items in a month and your commission goes to 6% – sell over 630 and you’re up to 8% (the rate I’m on). The 4-Hour work Week that John uses as an example earned me around $1 a book. Still not a lot – but I did sell 100 or so of them (after my interview with it’s author) which not only earned me $100 but also helped push the numbers of sales up for the month, moving me into the next earning bracket.

Commissions are paid once per month by payment processor, a minimum of 30 days after the sale is completed.  Commissions will be paid on or about the 31st day of the month for sales made from the first through the last day of the previous month, and are paid by the Program Operator.  (Commissions earned during March 1-31st would be paid around April 30th-May 1st.)
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.
(b) Influencer Page. This Influencer Program may include an Amazon Site influencer page registered through Amazon and assigned to you (“Influencer Page”). With respect to Special Links that direct customers to your Influencer Page, the related Session will be measured as beginning when our customer clicks through to your Influencer Page. The Influencer Page is a “Service Offering” for all purposes under the Agreement. With respect to any text, pictures, compilations, lists, comments or other data or content you submit to Amazon in connection with the Influencer Program (“Influencer Content”), you will not submit such Influencer Content if it violates any standard included in Section 1 of the Participation Requirements.
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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.

(g) include any trademark of Amazon or its affiliates, or a variant or misspelling of a trademark of Amazon or its affiliates in any domain name, subdomain name, in any “tag” or Associates ID, or in any username, group name, or other identifier on any social networking site (see a non-exhaustive list of our trademarks listed on our Non-Exhaustive Trademark Table); or


Links that Dynamically Generate Products: Certain types of links that we may make available to you dynamically generate particular Products to display based on a contextual analysis of the page on which they appear. Amazon will crawl or otherwise monitor your Site and store gathered content to implement these types of links and to improve dynamic generation and the Associates Program. If you implement mechanisms that prevent us from crawling or otherwise monitoring your Site, you agree that these types of links may not function properly, and you will be solely responsible for any such malfunction.
I went from making $20k in 2016 to $100k in 2017 by dropping my web design/SEO clients and doing affiliate marketing/blogging full-time. 90% of my (passive) affiliate income comes from SiteGround, a hosting company who awarded me affiliate of the month in July, 2017 when I made $9k in 1 month. Since then I’ve continued to hit numbers like this – the screenshot below is from March, 2018 when I made $14.5k in 1 month (just with SiteGround).
Unlike an Amazon affiliate business model, affiliate marketing tends to be more lucrative in terms of the profit margins you can earn per sale. This makes paid advertising easily profitable, so it can be a valid choice to grow your website. Many affiliate marketers focus almost 100% on paid traffic. They create a landing page, a sales letter, and off they go with Facebook ads or Google Adword campaigns.
Effects of Expiration/Termination.  Expiration of this Agreement, and termination of this Agreement: (i) without cause by us,(ii) by you with cause, (iii) by you according to the ‘Termination for Agreement Changes’ section, shall not affect our obligation to pay you a Commission, so long as the related payment by the Customer Transaction is recognized by us within thirty (30) days after the date of such termination or expiration and provided that in no event shall you be entitled to payment of Commission under this Agreement if you are eligible to receive a revenue share payment under the Sales Solution Program Agreement, Sales Referral Program Agreement or Agency Partner Program Agreement. We will not pay you fees on Customer Transactions recognized by us after thirty (30) days after the date of such termination or expiration set out above.  Provided however, in the event of termination without cause by you, or for cause by us, our obligation to pay and your right to receive any Commission will terminate upon the date of such termination, regardless of whether you would have otherwise been eligible to receive Commission prior to the date of termination. Except as expressly set forth in this section, you are not eligible to receive a Commission payment after expiration or termination of this Agreement. Upon termination or expiration, you will discontinue all use of and delete the Affiliate Tool that we make available to you for your participation in the Affiliate Program. Upon termination or expiration, an Affiliate Lead is not considered valid, and we may choose to maintain it in our database and engage with such a prospect.

Whatever you choose to do with this monetization and marketing technique, take time to plan your strategy. While it is very easy to get started and to add Amazon affiliate links to WordPress, the key to success is in how well you execute those links and promote them to your visitors. Affiliate marketing takes time to excel at, so be patient and don't give up!


The Program Operator may also terminate this agreement at any time, and for any reason, by writing to affiliate at the email address listed in the affiliate’s Profile, with 30 days notice. the Program Operator may transfer this agreement to any party whatsoever, at any time, and this agreement shall remain in full force and effect, without notice to affiliate. However, if this agreement should terminate for cause due to violation of this agreement or the Terms and Conditions, this agreement shall terminate immediately and affiliate shall forfeit all right to any commissions then due.
Building on last year’s inaugural edition of The Awin Report, the first, global definitive guide to the industry, this new and updated version for 2018 provides a fresh take on the market as it stands. Utilizing data and insights tracked across our 15 different markets, over 100,000 affiliate partners and 13,000 brands worldwide, this amounts to an invaluable guide for the modern marketer on affiliate marketing’s DNA.
We periodically update these terms. We might also choose to replace these terms in their entirety if, for example, the Affiliate Program changes, ends, or becomes part of an existing program, including our partner programs. If we update or replace the terms we will let you know via electronic means, which may include an in-app notification or by email. If you don’t agree to the update or replacement, you can choose to terminate as we describe below.

Referred Customers who buy FatCow Products and Services through our affiliate network are deemed to be FatCow Customers. FatCow’s Terms and Conditions, rules, policies, and operating procedures will apply to such customers. We may change our policies, pricing, and operating procedures at any time. For example, FatCow determines the prices to be charged for FatCow Products and Services sold through the affiliate network in accordance with our own pricing policies. Prices and availability of FatCow Products and Services may vary from time to time, from affiliate to affiliate, and from region to region. Because price changes may affect products that you have listed on your Affiliate Site, you may or may not be able to include price information in your product descriptions. We will use commercially reasonable efforts to present accurate information on our website, but we cannot guarantee the availability or price of any particular FatCow Product or Service.


3.4 The number of New Players per individual household computer is strictly limited to one. Our measurements and calculations in relation to the number of New Players and Gross Revenues shall be sole and authoritative and the same shall not be open to review or appeal. We shall make the number of New Players and the relevant Gross Revenues figures available to you through our Affiliate program information site. To enable accurate tracking, reporting and commission accrual you must ensure that the Links between your site and the Sites are properly formatted at all times throughout the term of this Agreement.


Time Is Your Enemy – I say this because writing a compelling and captivating article is not easy let alone writing everyday filling your website with valuable information so that you can market or promote your product. But guess what, people are doing it and they are succeeding in their own rights. It is doable no doubt but you also have to set your own expectation and goal in a manner that are achievable in bits and pieces. It took me 3 hours writing this article you are reading right now but I know I am a slow writer and this is my website so it is nice to call it my own.
Hey Chris, ok I have an affiliate site with 2000 products. Is their a plugin or something to let me know if a product is no longer available. Or is their a plugin that checks links everyday automatically to let me know if their is a problem. Nothing worse than clicking a link to find out the page is no longer available. I’m not about to click all my links to check either.
For Tracy E. Robey, who runs the beauty blog Fanserviced-b, the impact was more stark: a pay cut. With the affiliate cut for a typical purchase dropping from 8 to 6 percent, she anticipates that her checks from Amazon will go down by as much as 20 percent. For Robey, her blog is still more of a sideline than a job, but as she looks to expand her growing business, she says that drop could have real consequences.
I always add an HTML table of contents to posts to make sure they are long and structured. This has been a HUGE help for me (and my readers) and there are tons of benefits: better chance of getting “jump to links” in Google (see below), increased average time on page, decreased bounce rates, and it makes it easier for readers to navigate through your content.
Amazon has been my second-best earner after Adsense. I am still in the start-up stages of IM in general but I do get a check from Amazon every month. I agree fully with the reasons you give and I have found that the small commissions is far outweighed by the points you list above. I make far more with Amazon than I do with any other affiliate program though they might have higher commissions.
Once you complete an application to become an Affiliate, we will review your application and notify you whether you have been accepted to participate in the Affiliate Program, or not.  Before we accept an application, we may want to review your application with you, so we may reach out to you for more information. We may require that you complete certain requirements or certification(s) before we accept your application. If we do not notify you that you are accepted to participate in the Affiliate Program within thirty (30) days from your application, your application is considered to be rejected.

As to the issues in IL… there are plenty of ways to avoid having your business closed up by an idiotic Governor including like moving your business to a neighboring state that’s actually business friendly. There are ways around the issues and I know I wouldn’t let Amazon shutting the program down in my state stop me. I can’t legally advise you what to do, but I’m just saying there are ways around it.


i. You will use Product Advertising Content only in a lawful manner in accordance with and within the express scope of the terms of this License. You will not use PA API, Data Feeds, or Product Advertising Content with any site or application, or in any other manner, that does not have the principal purpose of advertising and marketing an Amazon Site and driving sales of products and services on an Amazon Site.

Since I do not live in the U.S., I would have to get paid by check or gift certificate. Obviously only getting paid in gift certificates isn’t that great, so that leaves the check. However, checks are not used here in Sweden at all basically, so cashing one comes with huge fees, I think maybe 30-40USD for a check. So my question is, can you choose to “save up” the money you make at Amazon and only get a check sent when you want to, or is it automatically sent at certain amount? I know Adsense has/had a feature that let you “block” payments until you released them. If Amazon has a feature like that, it’d make the check-fee less of a problem.
In a nutshell, affiliate programs pay you for referring clients their way. All you have to do is include recommendations for specific products on your site, and you’ll earn a small commission on any sales generated by people who click on the links you provide. Affiliate programs provide you with an easy way to monetize your site, especially if it’s aimed at a niche audience that is likely to be interested in specific kinds of products.
Excellent article Chris! This will help me out a lot. I am a new author through amazon and my book is also being sold through KDP Select (The kindle option worldwide) but regardless of my advertising on my Facebook page, which cost money, I do not seem to be getting anywhere. With Amazon Associates, is it totally free and no cost to you or do you pay a fee over a certain amount of time. Also if you have any tips on how to get a book out there that would be excellent. My book is being sold at Books a Million, Barnes and Noble, and Alibris. I plan on doing a book signing at Barnes and Noble in hopes it will raise awareness of my book.
The Program Operator reserves the right to reject any affiliate application if, in the Program Operator’s opinion, that person or entity violates established laws or commonly held standards of decency. For example, we will reject applications from any person or company that promotes any form of violence, illegal activities, or from applicants who the Program Operator prefers not to be associated with.
If you’re in the WordPress industry like I am (whether it be design, development, or SEO) I have accumulated quite the list of WordPress affiliate programs. I excluded those I found unsuccessful or pay too little to make a profit from, specifically ThemeForest, Creative Market, and low quality theme stores like Template Monster. Hosting pays well and I wrote a tutorial for SiteGround’s affiliate program and StudioPress themes which are my 2 highest paying affiliates. Those tutorials have tons of screenshots/social proof especially for SiteGround.
(b) The Local Associates Products will be made available for Amazon customers to purchase through a specific page on Amazon.com assigned to each Local Associate (such page, the “Recommendations Page”). The Recommendations Page will include either a general Amazon.com search bar or a selection of Local Associates Products curated by you. Amazon reserves the right to modify the Products included in the Local Associates Products on any Recommendations Page. You must direct all Local Associates Program marketing to the Recommendations Page to be eligible for Qualified Purchases.

You further represent and warrant that: (i) you will ensure that you are compliant with any trade or regulatory requirements that may apply to your participation in the Affiliate Program (for example, by clearly stating you are a HubSpot Affiliate on any website(s) you own where you make an Affiliate Link available); (ii) you will accurately provide in the Affiliate Tool all websites and domains you own where you intend to use Affiliate Links to generate Affiliate Leads; (iii) you will not purchase ads that direct to your site(s) or through an Affiliate Link that could be considered as competing with HubSpot’s own advertising, including, but not limited to, our branded keywords; (iv) you will not participate in cookie stuffing or pop-ups, false or misleading links are strictly prohibited; (v) you will not attempt to mask the referring URL information; (vi) you will not use your own Affiliate Link to purchase HubSpot products for yourself.
An affiliate marketer is someone who is running the actual ad campaigns or content marketing campaigns in hopes of making affiliate commissions from the program. An affiliate manager or AM is someone that manages the various affiliates in a network, so they sometimes have the ability to give you special deals if you can prove to them it’s worth their while to do so.

Jason – so happy to hear the tutorial is helping! Affiliate marketing was a huge break for me and I’m sure it can be for your son too. Whatever products/services he ends up selling, just make sure he is excited about the industry he is – it takes a long of time creating content and it will keep him motivated especially when he gets his first sales.
Absolutely. Affiliate marketing is a viable and legitimate way to monetize your blog or website. Tens of thousands of merchants run affiliate programs and will pay you a commission for sending them sales. However, there are some scams centered around affiliate marketing. You'll find information on how to spot affiliate scams – and avoid them – here.
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