Affiliate marketing is referral marketing in a sense, but instead of using word of mouth, every referral is automated online. Where referrals usually come from friends or family, sales that come from affiliate marketing may have no personal relationship with the person who referred them. That’s because anyone can click a link and be directed to a product on your site without the affiliate’s knowledge.
There's no max volume, but you do need to consider the competition. Generally keywords with very high search volumes are very general keywords and the giants of the internet (Wikipedia, WikiHow, domains with the primary keyword, etc) dominate, and so trying to rank for it would be very, very difficult if not nigh impossible. However, if you find no one else is properly optimizing for that keyword and it has monetization potential, go for it! Just make sure you understand how that keyword fits into your overall strategy. Don't optimize for it simply because of volume.
Tom's Hardware pretty much started off as a forum.  They have expanded and re-designed and the website is now one of the most popular and heavily visited site in the PC niche.  The site is where hardcore PC enthusiasts go to discuss all different matters of PC parts.  Popular topics include CPU units, Memory, Motherboards, Overclocking, Systems, Operating Systems and New Build computers.  While the old format of strictly forum posts did well as a display ad revenue method (I remember when the site was mostly a forum as I used it for a PC build I did) – the amount of authority the site has lent itself very well to becoming a fully fledged content based site.
Maybe you have already done this, but if you haven’t, you should first make a list of your top 10 topical interests and passion areas. Starting an online business isn’t easy and more than likely early on it is going to test you. Especially if you are a first time online business owner, it is important to work in an area you care about. If you don’t, the odds of you quitting will greatly increase. You may not find the absolute perfect fit, but if you are passionate about some aspect of running the business, you are more than likely stick with it. If you don’t care about the chosen topic, you probably will not find the drive within yourself to persevere.
Now you should have a pretty good idea of what niche you are going to get involved with. It is possible that you haven’t narrowed the list down to a single topic area, but you probably have found a few ideas that you feel real good about. Now at this point, it’s important to get an idea of how much money you can potentially make in your chosen niche. ClickBank is a great place to go to that search. First you browse top products in your category. If you don’t find any offers, that is not a good sign. It could mean that no one has been able to monetize that niche.

Through our global affiliate network, we empower marketers to engage shoppers across the entire consumer journey. Affiliate success comes down to partnerships — we connect advertisers with publishers to reach new audiences and influence repeat purchases. Our solutions create a holistic strategy that delivers proven incremental revenue and is continually optimized for performance.
Affiliate marketing has now invaded Hollywood? We know it invaded US politics in Washington as some politicians (current and retired) are silent affiliate marketers or in MLM. Maybe we can look forward to hearing in the next few years about more celebrities going from actors and actresses to home-based affiliate marketers. Wouldn’t that be something?

Here’s the deal… If your chosen niche keyword has a certain amount of competition, more than you would usually be happy with, but you are super passionate about the niche you’re thinking of getting involved in, go for it! In my mind passion will always overcome plain old competition. It’s the passion behind Zappos that’s made them the driving force behind shoe sales online – even though there are a ton of people selling shoes online.
Affiliates discussed the issues in Internet forums and began to organize their efforts. They believed that the best way to address the problem was to discourage merchants from advertising via adware. Merchants that were either indifferent to or supportive of adware were exposed by affiliates, thus damaging those merchants' reputations and tarnishing their affiliate marketing efforts. Many affiliates either terminated the use of such merchants or switched to a competitor's affiliate program. Eventually, affiliate networks were also forced by merchants and affiliates to take a stand and ban certain adware publishers from their network. The result was Code of Conduct by Commission Junction/beFree and Performics,[31] LinkShare's Anti-Predatory Advertising Addendum,[32] and ShareASale's complete ban of software applications as a medium for affiliates to promote advertiser offers.[33] Regardless of the progress made, adware continues to be an issue, as demonstrated by the class action lawsuit against ValueClick and its daughter company Commission Junction filed on April 20, 2007.[34]
If you try to sell a product that is in low demand then chances are that you are not going to get many sales no matter how hard you try. So it is a good idea to spend a bit of time researching and finding out if a product that you are thinking of promoting is a product that your audience needs. If your site gets decent traffic then you can conduct an online survey and easily get input from your visitors.
This is an Amazon Affilaite Website that has really niched down into specifically, as the name implies, kids tablets with Wifi. These are high priced items that produce high commissions in a huge market, children. What is the best tablet for kids? Do you give them an ipad? What if it breaks? Is there a cheaper option? These are all questions that this site helps with. It runs like a blog, but with a relatively simple design. It’s hard to tell if they have produced much new content because they don’t include dates with their blog posts. However this site is just one blog, with three additional pages for “Best Tablets for Kids”, “Kids Tablet Reviews” and “Kids Tablet Comparisons” all of which are likely keyword researched names. It’s likely the niched down keyword research to bring in the traffic, because the content while good, is relatively short with 300-500 words per post.
Adam Riemer is an Affiliate Veteran and leading Outsourced Affiliate Manager.  He builds content sites as an Affiliate and the programs he manages only works with content sites and value adding partners.  His company is known for removing adware, trademark bidders and coupon sites that poach from merchants and other Affiliates by ranking for url + coupons and then growing a value adding program ethically and responsibly. Follow Adam on Twitter at @rollerblader.
Have a plan — As an affiliate, you aren’t entirely responsible for the sales of this company, but you are responsible for the success of your affiliation with that company. If you want to do well, prepare. Have a professional-grade website. One consumers trust with their contact information. Have a strategy for the content you produce and how you promote posts or products.
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Do you have any opinions about sites that got hit with Google Fred for having too much affiliate content? I think one of your other sites got hit (not TYS) and I saw you add a lot of new content but it’s not going up much. The same thing happened to me; I had too much affiliate content and got penalized; added more content but it’s not helping. I am thinking of just starting a new site and redirecting links to the new site. I feel like this penalty is unrecoverable….
Because the site is ranking #1 in Google for this (and probably ranks very well for other related terms), they are probably making great money.  This is probably easily a $100 to $200 a day website.  That's right, I would not be surprised if this site was pulling in $3k to $6k or more each month.  In fact it could be more, but its hard to guess without knowing all the traffic they are receiving. 

LearnHowToBecome.org is an education website that provides information to prospective students.  They have a lot of great content and cover just about every type of education field you can think of when it comes to finding out the best college path in a given profession.  A quick look at backlinks shows that they have tons of major educational institutions that they work with, which is a significant portion of their backlinking strategy.  The content is top notch, and the website is specifically designed to keep the users interacting with the comparison grids and searching through the best possible schools for their given topic.
Leadpages claims that its affiliate program is not exclusively for affiliate marketers, which is true, but the narrow focus of this niche means that only professionals affiliate marketers will ever be able to earn significant income from the program. Leadpages’s affiliate program does offer quite a lot of different options (webinars, videos, blog posts, free marketing courses, etc.) to send referrals to, which can lead to higher conversion rates if done correctly.
It’s really simple and plain websites like this that make me happy! If something this plain can bring in so many visitors, than someone creative and design oriented like me can do better, right? CarSeatAnswers focuses on keywords like “Car Seat Answers” and “Car Seat Guide” and “Which Seat is Safest for a Baby’s Car Seat” then writes 700-1,000 word articles with no photos except for the Amazon Products sold throughout the article. This is one of the simplest example, but it still brings in visitors even with a small amount of domain authority. It gives you hope though, that you can easily create a successful website, right?
Hi Jay. Love the examples of profit making websites! For anyone who has been banging their head against a wall trying to make a few bucks, these sites show exactly how it’s done which is crucial when you are starting out. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed checking out lots of other sites that may look great but may not necessarily be making money. I also get those Amazon emails all the time. I think I’ll take a closer look and see if I can find a new niche!
That’s the reason for their explosive growth in terms of content and links, they already started with several thousands articles which existed on the web for years and already had a great link profile. And they are backed by a huge media conglomerate, they are not by any means a small team since they have access to the about.com contributors that provide the articles, as there are over 50,000 articles on the website.

Many thanks for your open words. Maybe online marketing / business really is not for all of us out there - at least not for exactly those hard working people mentioned by you, as these usually don´t have so much time beside their full time job and the family. So much about the countless promises from certain online marketers suggesting otherwise, saying everyone can do it - of course with some "help" - i.e. their very own products.

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