Always disclose your affiliate relationship. Most visitors will probably understand that graphic ads will lead to your getting paid, but if you write a review or use an in-text link as a recommendation, you want your readers to know that may lead to compensation as well. This ensures you retain transparency and trust with your readers, but also, it's required by the FTC's endorsement rules.

Continuing with the recipe blog scenario, I'd be comfortable with that because it has tons of potential to market a variety of products: pots, pans, cooking utensils (like particular measuring spoons or spatulas), kitchen appliances (like handheld mixers or crockpots), specialty foods (recommend a specific oil that is hard to find – link to it at Amazon), aprons, cookbooks, cutlery sets, bakeware – this list goes on and on. I love niches like this that have few limitations on what you can market and tons of potential merchants to partner with. I've already discussed how to make money from a blog once you can confirm there are things you can market.
Finding a good nich is a bit of a process. You can’t just choose a niche on a whim. Instead, you need to have specific research tools so that you know what people are searching for in search engines, along with how much competition there is for your niche. If you want to get into more advanced training, including all the tools you’ll need to perform niche research, I highly recommend this training program.
Once you do move forward, don't resort to simply throwing up a handful of banner ads and call it good. All successful content-driven affiliates will tell you that deep integration of your marketing into your content is the most successful strategy, most of which can be accomplished by looking for affiliate tools outside of the quintessential and tired banner ad.
The Wirecutter.com and TheSweetHome.com were sold a couple years back to the New York Times.  They were both Amazon Affiliate sites, and that's where most of their revenue came from then, and still comes from today.  When the sites were purchased, TheSweetHome.com was redirected to TheWireCutter.com as both sites had very similar content structures.  The WireCutter dominates organic search results for a lot of buyer-intent keywords, and is also a “verified expert reviewer” by Amazon.  The site gets huge amounts of organic traffic, and has gained massively in popularity and search positioning once it was purchase by the New York Times.  
Sometimes, individual entrepreneurs with great products are worth a look, although you should check them out first and do some research. Entrepreneurs or companies may run their own affiliate program and you can apply directly to them to promote their products and services. Finally, Amazon is always an option as you can be an affiliate for just about any type of physical product on their network.
The topic you choose must have enough depth that you can create a lot of content for it. This is important for building an authoritative site, for search engine optimization, and most importantly, for the end user. If you don't have enough content about a topic, you're not going to be taken very seriously as an authority on the topic and it's unlikely you can convince someone to make a purchase from you. 
Because 2Checkout exclusively sells software and digital products, it is best suited for established influencers whose target audience is interested in buying products in this niche. But while you won’t find any physical products for sale, 2Checkout is probably the market leader in selling software of every type, including very specific use case items (like software that can convert Microsoft Word documents to PDF, for instance). 

Great stuff here Sean – thanks for all of these insights and sharing some best practices when it comes to affiliate marketing. I’ve never been comfortable giving it a shot, but after reading this post and your perspective on how and when to do it, I may just have to give it a try. Especially considering I’m already mentioning and recommending services and products on my site, I’m just not getting the potential rewards associated with doing so. Thanks again.
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….
Matthew owns an internet marketing blog that has won many awards and has been featured on various big brand websites such as Entrepreneur and ProBlogger. Matt is known for producing outstanding high-quality content that sticks out from the competition. The blog specialises in producing high-quality tutorials and case studies that help with things like link building, social media and traffic generation.
The most popular gadgets at the moment always seem to revolve around the mobile phone. Even though a gadget may be trending today, then gone the following month – another invention always pops up to take its place. Manufacturing companies are always looking for ways to improve current designs or come up with completely new ideas to make our lives that much better.

FriendFinder is an adult-friendly network of dating websites that has a terrific affiliate marketing program, both in terms of customer service and commission rates. Because they rely heavily on affiliates to recruit new members, they treat their affiliates like true business partners. They have a solid reputation for payment and security, and have frequent special offers. Checking into your affiliate account at FriendFinder is always a fun experience, and often a profitable one.
SkimLinks is probably best for bloggers who want to write content around the affiliate link rather than add affiliate links to existing products. SkimLinks offers a lot of tools to compare commission rates and offers in order to customize your content to optimize your income. Once nice aspect of SkimLinks is that it offers lots of products for non-US creators, including popular UK brands like John Lewis and Tesco.

Nearly everyone knows that some 25% of all online sales, and for many book titles 50% or more of their sales [source] happen on Amazon.com. Amazon also ranks books by sales, and I thought it’d be interesting to go to the e-tail giant’s website, and see what are the top five books on affiliate marketing. If we go there, choose “Book” as category, and search for “affiliate marketing”:
Content is King – The more successful websites had content that was around 1,000 words per post. Google identifies this as better content and it’ll help your search rankings. It can’t just be gibberish though, it helps if you break up the content into 6-8 different sections so it’s easy for the user to navigate while still being lengthy. I used to think 300 words was good and 500 was above and beyond. I’ll likely spend even more time on articles and aim for around 1,000 words per article like my most popular article “Robinhood App Review” at 1,500 words.
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“Think of this as the way you promote advertisers on your site, or your general business model. Advertisers may view, sort, and download publishers by their classification,” reads its website. “In the world of affiliate marketing, an advertiser can be a company selling a product like electronics, airline tickets, clothing or car parts, or an advertiser could also be an insurance company selling policies. The most important thing to remember is that you are an advertiser if you are ready to pay other people to help you sell and promote your business.”
I know this from experience. Three years ago I was a struggling affiliate marketer, bouncing from offer to offer (playing a game of what I call “affiliate pinball”). Today I make a full-time income from diverse passive income streams: sales of affiliate products, sales of my own products, and Adsense revenue (my Adsense revenue alone topped $2,000 last month). And it’s all because I focus on serving the needs of a niche audience.
You should also make sure you aren't competing with your own affiliates for eyeballs. Any marketing channels you're using, such as search engines, content sites or e-mail lists, should be off limits to your affiliates. Put marketing restrictions into your affiliate agreement and notify partners immediately. It's your program--you set the rules. Or, if you prefer, you can let your affiliates run the majority of your internet marketing.

I love this piece of content because it’s not content as we think of it in any traditional sense, although seasoned link builders will probably recognize the angle here: creating a hyper useful tool that’s going to do very well in the context of a content marketing campaign. What makes this one of their top pieces of content, however, is that it also targets a very good keyword.
There is no shortage of products you’ll be able to promote. You’ll have the ability to pick and choose products that you personally believe in, so make sure that your campaigns center around truly valuable products that consumers will enjoy. You’ll achieve an impressive conversion rate while simultaneously establishing the reliability of your personal brand.

I am not sure how such an affiliate program would work, honestly. It sounds more like you'd be creating more of a marketplace. However, I would encourage you to be cautious about the extent of your "assignment help." In the US, most, if not all, universities (as well as high schools) have academic dishonesty policies. That means students who submit work they didn't do themselves are at risk of failing the assignment or the class, and depending on the severity, could even be expelled. Not only that, but many universities require students to submit their assignments to plagiarism checkers. So I would think carefully about the types of services you want to provide and who you would market them to, as well as any kind of staff you would employ.
When it comes to ranking well in Google, generally Google will give your site preferential treatment on certain topics, once it's figured out what your website is about. Sites that cover such a broad variety of topics don't tend to rank as well as sites that are niched down, unless you have an amazing backlink profile and a really big budget.  Since TheWireCutter is owned by New York Times, they have the budget to test new products, and have the authority to get linked to by any other web properties owned by the New York Times.  If you niche down to a specific audience, it's far more likely that Google will favor your content over a larger site when it comes to that audience.  OutdoorGearLab.com has done exactly that by only focusing on outdoor gear reviews.  I am guessing that they also have a large budget, and have built a very successful affiliate business as a result.  Plus it's a great looking site with lots of excellent information.  
Upselling is a sales technique where the salesperson encourages a more expensive purchase by a customer by persuading them to get an upgraded version of an item or to purchase add-ons. Remember our food processor example? That food processor could probably be best used with a book of recipes, which also can be purchased at the same company’s website.
The website has lots of affiliate links to Amazon. So, when people look at their reviews and go to buy something from Amazon, they earn commissions. In addition, they have for sure the highest commission rates from Amazon and from other partner sites because they have so huge volume. Top Ten Reviews also uses ads and I think they make a nice income with them as well.

Among those sites, I still found 50em.com to be one of the most superficial ones. As some would say, working as an affiliate is similar to that of an employee, in that if the company discontinues the products, or stop the affiliate programs, the money would stop coming in as well. The hypertarget focus of 50em.com is well appreciated and a great lesson though.


Affiliate Marketing is based on revenue sharing and is a type of incentives program. The goal of marketing is to build an alliance with a brand, product, service, or company, and market these services to people online. The Affiliated Marketing consultant shares in a percentage of the company’s profits in exchange for bringing them valued business and gained exposure. The same marketing advertising concepts used in television and print ads are applied here, only the platform that is used to entice and attract the consumers is on the internet.

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. 

Hi, Jamie! Very good list. I needed something like this for 2018 so that I know what to target in the future blogs I create. As for now, I’m comfortable using SiteGround affiliate network and it’s pretty good actually. Their hosting service is pretty much the best considered its price. I’ve tried others but SiteGround stands out. I’ll also try new affiliate networks, something from the list you have just provided. I think Amazon is too saturated at the moment, and I need a better network. 2018 will be interesting indeed.
As you can see the two types of programs are different. Even so, there are some similarities. The biggest one, as you can guess, is that incentives drive people to promote. Whether it be promoting a link in a piece of content, like in affiliate marketing. Or sharing a referral link with a friend, as with referral marketing. The incentive isn’t the only thing on the line, however…
This site will not get penalized because they are within Google Adsense guidelines for number of ads. You are allowed 3 block ad units (this site has 2 at the top and one in the sidebar). You are ALSO allowed 2 link units (in addition to the 3 ad units) – for a total of 5 adsense units total. The link unit on this site is at the top where a regular navigation bar goes. So in reality, this site could actually have 1 more link unit on their site that is not shown in this screenshot. Hope that helps.
As a result of their rapid growth, they've also got a stellar link profile.  It's a situation where because they rank well, they get more links, and the more links they get, the better all of their articles rank.  There are a number of reasons why this site has taken off, but overall it's an excellent site that has built a strong foundation on nothing but organic traffic.  I have no idea what strategy they used initially to get links and start getting the exposure that they did, but the growth that this site has experienced is extremely impressive to say the least.  I'd estimate their traffic figures to be between six and seven figures on a monthly basis. 

JVZoo’s strength is that it allows experienced marketers to gain access to product launches and a huge range of online courses while setting up sales funnels and customized landing pages. It’s definitely not for someone who wants to monetize a blog or earn money by having users click through and buy physical products. If you’ve carved out a strong presence online in the marketing space, JVZoo might be a perfect fit.
A U.K. based dating affiliate network that operates a number of mainstream and niche dating sites, including Cupid.com, Flirt.com, BoomerDating.com and PlanetSappho.com. You can promote any of these sites based upon the needs of your audience, and with so many sites to choose from, it’s pretty easy for most affiliates to find at least one or two that are a good fit. Commission rates at Cupid plc can be impressive, too, with $15 paid just for free sign ups, and up to 90 percent commission paid on paid memberships.
The network is, again, contested by some as to whether it’s truly a part of the affiliate marketing conglomerate. But for good measure, we’ll discuss it. The network is essentially the middle man used to manage this exchange. The network helps accomplish such tasks as payment processing, tracking technology, reporting solutions, and can serve as a repository of available affiliates.
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I'd say the content on this site is a little less “in-depth” when comparing it to LearnHowToBecome.org, but the content is still very good (hence the reason a 600 word article is ranking well for a high volume keyword).  While it's difficult to judge based on traffic estimates, I would make a guess that LawyerEdu.org is making over $10k per month based on lead sales.  If you remember, CPA/Lead sale programs can yield up to $50 or more per lead, and some professions and/or schools pay even more for them.  Overall this site doesn't have a ton of content, but the content it does have is super informative and hyper focused on one line of work.  It also has an excellent link profile, which is another reason it's ranking well.
Greatist.com is a health publication that was started in 2011.  The traffic growth over the last couple years is incredible, and the site has become a full fledged media resource.  Greatist.com has a larger staff, and has purchased a number of other online businesses.  The top keyword “healthy breakfasts” gets an estimated 62,000 searches per month, but the long tail traffic that Greatist.com gets is truly incredible.
Since the emergence of affiliate marketing, there has been little control over affiliate activity. Unscrupulous affiliates have used spam, false advertising, forced clicks (to get tracking cookies set on users' computers), adware, and other methods to drive traffic to their sponsors. Although many affiliate programs have terms of service that contain rules against spam, this marketing method has historically proven to attract abuse from spammers.
We are all influenced by fashion in some sort of way. Even for those of us who claim, “I’m not into fashion“. Something or someone must have influenced you to wear what you are wearing right now. Let’s face it – the fashion industry is always going to dominate. We are always going to be teased by the latest and most trending clothing gear and accessories on the market.

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.
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StudioPress itself is somewhat of a niche product as it is targeted to existing WordPress users who found setting up and managing a WordPress site too difficult or time-consuming. StudioPress prides itself on being easy to use, but their main claim to fame is that their hosted websites are “faster and more secure” than other WordPress hosting companies as well as using the “Genesis framework” which is supposedly more SEO friendly than other WordPress builds.

Upselling is a sales technique where the salesperson encourages a more expensive purchase by a customer by persuading them to get an upgraded version of an item or to purchase add-ons. Remember our food processor example? That food processor could probably be best used with a book of recipes, which also can be purchased at the same company’s website.


So, this site has picked what appears to be a good keyword, but could probably be monetized better.  In fact, they could probably generate education leads or something that pays more than Fastweb.  I think there is nothing wrong with turning this into a niche lead generation site, but the site is under-utilizing its potential right now in my opinion.

Building trust with your audience is paramount in affiliate marketing, and the quickest way to lose trust is to recommend products either you haven’t used before or that aren’t a good fit for your audience. Also make sure you never tell anyone to directly buy a product, you are simply recommending the product. The more helpful you are and the more you make quality recommendations, the more likely your web visitors will come back for your expertise. 
The site has a lot of links, and the long form content that the site showcases is one of the reasons why it ranks so well.  Most of the content on the site is extremely focused, and very informative.  It's pretty typical that an article on this site is over 2,000 words.  While longer content doesn't always mean better, Google does base some of its ranking factors on how much content is on the page that covers the topic in its entirety.  The more in-depth the article, the more likely the user is to find the answer they were looking for, which is why this website has so many articles that rank very well.  Each article is very complete and provides great information on the topic.  If I had to guess, the site is probably making over $20k per month based on traffic estimates.
JVZoo lets you both host and create landing pages on their own website, so it’s far better suited for professional marketers who want to flood the internet with offers, many of them for courses to make money. You don’t need your own website to participate in JVZoo, but you will need to know how to drive traffic to a landing or squeeze page in order to profit from being a JVZoo affiliate.
This is an older site (2003) with some heavy domain authority. That explains the crazy amount of content this site contains. It’s helpful though when you have 350+ employees. This isn’t a small enterprise, and they still utilize the Amazon Affiliate network to monetize their site. They use long and wordy articles to review products, maximizing the SEO of each page. The biggest difference from this site and others, is the amount of digital content these guys review. Their digital content ranges from Antivirus Software to Credit Card processing. This isn’t a typical Amazon product, but digital content can earn affiliate commissions through other sources than Amazon. Amazon is a great resource to monetize your site, but it’s definitely not the only way.

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This is Simon, thank you for your post, it is very helpful for me. However, we are a lighting company, and we are plan to try the Affiliate Website to increase our sale. But it seem that there are many different Affiliate website to be chose and some of them also need pay some fee to begin, so as we just begin to do this, which website is your recommend ?
GOOD - Affiliate Links to all products are in the description of the video. TechDeals often refers to their video description links, pointing users in the direction of where they can get their hands on the products. He even uses NewEgg Affiliate, to give users a price comparison between the same product- but still earning a commission on either site.
Plus, consumers are more likely to rely on a trusted source for brand information than they are an advertisement. In the current state of influencers and rampant review sites, we’re looking to real people’s opinions more than we are static advertisements or TV commercials. With your affiliates comes the trust of networks they’ve previously established.
I will NOT be looking specifically at the competition levels for these keywords – but rather how much traffic is coming in for some of the larger volume keywords. Most of these sites are targeting fairly high competition keywords – but that is not the focus of this post today. I want to focus on the volume and CPC of the keywords, the domain names, and the website layout, content, and monetization methods.
Affiliate marketing allows you to make money online, even if you don’t have blog, website, or any products of your own. Following a few simple steps can get you up and running within hours and earning your first commissions right away. Affiliate marketing really is one of the fastest and easiest ways to make money online and should be a part of every online business owner's portfolio.
The other monetization method is through the sidebar (and also at the end of every article) is education lead generation.  They are probably an affiliate of a number of different schools or other educational lead companies.  However, not only are they probably making good money with the site, but they offer great content on the site.  They allow users to search by state to find local salaries and much more information.  Content is important!
While the traffic estimates are lower than some of the other sites on this list, people in the baby gear niche are an important customer base because they definitely purchase products.  This is a big industry and I would guess that the conversion rate for this site is slightly higher than OutDoorGearLab.com.  Typically when someone researches a baby product, they are typically looking to buy that baby product.  If someone is researching a tent, they may just be looking around at different options that they can compare for their next camping trip – not necessarily to buy that tent.  Most of their traffic is organic, and continuing the trend of well ranked long form content, their top post is 8,800 words long (which is a beast of an article).  If I had to take a guess at revenue, it would probably be north of 30k per month for this site based on traffic.
Market research/networking — When you become an affiliate marketer, you are hoping to establish yourself as a voice of authority in that specific industry or niche. In order to do so, you need to have a good grasp on who you’re talking to. Who are you trying to sell these products to? What kinds of copy or advertisements do they respond to? Do they prefer email marketing over social media marketing, or vice versa? Market research is a part of any advertising strategy.

Affiliate marketing programs typically work by having the merchant handle all the logistics involved in selling products or services, processing customer orders and payments, and shipping merchandise—all while the affiliate sits back and collects a commission for each agreed-upon action completed by the visitors the affiliate sends to the merchant’s website via an affiliate link. As long as the affiliate has done her homework and chosen a trustworthy affiliate program, she needn’t worry about non-payment.
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.

He is the co-founder of Neil Patel Digital. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.

Affiliate Marketing is based on revenue sharing and is a type of incentives program. The goal of marketing is to build an alliance with a brand, product, service, or company, and market these services to people online. The Affiliated Marketing consultant shares in a percentage of the company’s profits in exchange for bringing them valued business and gained exposure. The same marketing advertising concepts used in television and print ads are applied here, only the platform that is used to entice and attract the consumers is on the internet.
Finding a good nich is a bit of a process. You can’t just choose a niche on a whim. Instead, you need to have specific research tools so that you know what people are searching for in search engines, along with how much competition there is for your niche. If you want to get into more advanced training, including all the tools you’ll need to perform niche research, I highly recommend this training program.
This is extremely helpful information for somebody who is a newbie blogger! I’ve been looking for an all inclusive “guide” to explain affiliate marketing and this is the best I’ve found. Quick question for you – when you talk about the cookie expiration date, is that from the date that you post your review/recommendation or from the date that the reader clicks on the link? For example, the affiliate links you posted in this post are well over 90 days old but if I click on one of them now and buy that product, do you still get paid? Just curious how that works.
While these models have diminished in mature e-commerce and online advertising markets they are still prevalent in some more nascent industries. China is one example where Affiliate Marketing does not overtly resemble the same model in the West. With many affiliates being paid a flat "Cost Per Day" with some networks offering Cost Per Click or CPM.
I’ve actually never even considered affiliate marketing for my blog… You’ve definitely given me some things to think about. I definitely think My blog should be more established (more traffic, followers, etc) before I would want to make that kind of charge… I’m still learning so much, I don’t want to overdo it by taking my blog to another level. Plus since my traffic isn’t super high, it wouldn’t be beneficial to me just yet. Great info Margot!
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