One huge red flag is any company that promises you a “get rich quick” marketing strategy. Although affiliate marketing can be good money, it’s by no means instantaneous. Stay away from anything that sounds too good to be true. Also, stay away from any merchant that wants to charge you startup costs. Additionally, use established affiliate programs to find your merchants. Read reviews and ask around. You’re not the only person trying to supplement income with this marketing strategy, so there are plenty of other professionals with whom to crowdsource.
As all paths on the site eventually lead to reviews and affiliate links, most people will end up reading the reviews and click through to the recommended products. What this affiliate is saying is that if you happen to arrive at one of the content pages because it appeared in the search engines, fine - he can promote to you there - but the page that converts to sales best is the review.
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!
This twice-monthly publication is apparently full of "informative articles, a question and answer section, site updates and more." This affiliate will probably use this e-zine either as an additional place to promote affiliate products or to get his readers back to his website by providing snippets of new articles with a "read more" link. By getting readers back to his site he's able to expose them to more promotions.
With 2.1 million organic search hits per month, this site rivals some of the bigger media publications in the health and fitness niche.  They also appear to a broad mass of individuals instead of just bodybuilders or professional weightlifters.  Greatist.com articles feature content on food, basic fitness, strength training, marathons and more.  It's not as niched down as other health sites, but it doesn't pretend to be an expert in a specific niche.  Rather, they recruit experts in the industry to write for them about specific topics.  The sheer traffic volume alone that Greatist.com takes on each month leads me to estimate that this website is probably doing multiple six figures per month alone in display ad revenue.

TheAthleticBuild.com is a website that's covers a number of different fitness topics. It's probably safe to say that most of their content is geared towards men, and most of their revenue comes from either Amazon or their affiliate programs.  Based on the looks of the site, they have a few supplement reviews that are probably affiliate programs where they get paid a portion of each sale that a buyer makes.  Some of these affiliate programs have higher returns than other programs, but there are some right vs. wrong decisions you'll have to work through yourself if you are endorsing certain types of nutritional products, especially if you don't take them yourself.
The average commission rate is $58 per the Shopify website. Shopify’s commissions are paid according to different metrics. For instance, if a referral signs up for the Shopify Plus enterprise plan (the highest tier), the payout is a flat $2,000. Referrals who sign up for the standard plan earn a $598 commission. The payout for a Basic account is $58. Commissions are calculated as follows: you will earn two times the monthly rate but only two months after the user has been a paying customer.

I thought I would just bring something else to your attention; I did take a second to look at your site; you know why I left within just one second? EXACTLY! You have less then 3 seconds to make your first impression on visitors; if your visitors are bouncing off your site at the speed of light, they either found your site by mistake, or they were not impressed with your site, and left, which means? right, they did not trust your site!!! What happens if you have a high bounce rate? right, you can certainly lose rankings! Is google going to keep sending you traffic if you have nothing to offer? nope! I can not say this is your problem, or you could have multiple problems going on at the same time to cause you to lose rankings. I can tell you one thing for sure by just taking a 1 minute look at your link profile; You have quite a few links, and you have almost no authority, what does this mean? This most likely means you are spamming your link to poor quality sites. You also have a massive amount of do-follow links which does not look natural vs your no follow links, and with your site having low trust flow, do you think your site deserves that many do-follow links? I wonder what google thinks? at first glance, your anchor/link diversity does not look to bad, so your anchor/text does not look over-optimized, but whoever is building links for you, consider firing them immediately, as you are getting all the wrong links. I am going to assume at this point google has certainly given you a penalty; Your next move to to hire someone to audit your site, and start disavowing/removing bad links from your portfolio, over time, your rankings may come back, and that may depend on other factors also, but at this point, it certainly looks like you have link issues. Just a little bitty research goes a long way. good luck.
This is real informatic information. I found this one real meaningful, wow! you truly showing the way affiliate works. I agree ad monetize can be passive income theme while affiliate can be our primary hope…I read so many articles but feels like something is hidden..but found this one real insidefull. This is showing us how our 100 bug can be harvested from from small sources. Because newbies might want to give up blogging as they are not going to earn because they thought it’s one shot income source. Thanks Sean it will really encourage every new entrepreneurs.
To refresh your knowledge you might remember that context ads earn you money for each person who visits your site and clicks on the ads. The ad network automatically generates the ads and you insert them into your site just by copying a small piece of code. The biggest context ad network is Google AdSense, so a lot of people (including us!) will use the word "AdSense" when they're really talking about "context ads" in general.
Hi, Nice article. I am not sure about the process though. I can understand, finding a niche. But, when it comes to affiliate programs I get a little lost. Would I be promoting someone else's products? If so, no problem. I know I need to research high end products with gravity, are these products ones in certain stores, or companies, etc.?? If so, do I need to get permissions to be on an affiliate program with that company? Also, if it is products with a company, then how do I offer promotions on their products since they are not mine? Thank you, Nanette Vlahusich
Although it has a dynamic and well-designed website, PeerFly has a limited range of offers at any given time (around 8,000). On the upside, it does offer good commission/payout rates, lots of FAQs and educational information, and regular contests and reward programs that can substantially increase your bottom line. Based on online customer reviews, Peerfly enjoys a very high reputation amongst participating affiliates.
If this were 2002, I'd have laughed at that advice. I've always joked that I can learn to love anything that makes me money. The first niches I competed in were telecom, weight loss and satellite TV – and they certainly weren't “hobbies” I was passionate about, LOL. But that was before the “blog era” when an affiliate site could easily survive as an anonymous presence without a face behind it on the web – and in Google.
If this were 2002, I'd have laughed at that advice. I've always joked that I can learn to love anything that makes me money. The first niches I competed in were telecom, weight loss and satellite TV – and they certainly weren't “hobbies” I was passionate about, LOL. But that was before the “blog era” when an affiliate site could easily survive as an anonymous presence without a face behind it on the web – and in Google.
These figures demonstrate that Harsh has fully optimised his site for affiliate marketing. It also shows that when you’re first starting out with an affiliate marketing website, you can focus on just that. You don’t need to worry about monetising your website through any other means just yet. After you start generating a decent income from affiliate marketing then you can look at introducing other ways of making money.
- What do you mean, or what do you take into account when you say "local traffic" for a specific keyword. Is it a country, a state, or maybe the language speaking in that area. I mean, If I choose Luxembourg, for example, with a population of 540,000, then the traffic of minimum 1,000 to a keyword would be OK. But what about if we choose to take into account as a local traffic Australia, for example, with a population of 24,000,000+. Would it be the local volume of minimum 1,000 o.k. as well?
Good point about reviewing online courses before you promote them to protect your reputation. However, I would like to point out that the level of attention the course creator gives you (the endorser) and what they give to a random customer might be very different. There are so called marketing gurus out there who are extremely skilled at making false promises and not delivering on them. Once they have the endorsement of a few reputed marketers and some ‘lucky’ customers, they can easily get away with ripping other people off with hyped up money making guarantees. I have had a personal experience with this as a customer, but lets not mention names! The point is, when we are promoting someone, we need to do an in-depth due diligence. Only going through their course is not enough. It would be great if there was some kind of a course review site -something like tripadvisor. This is something that the industry really needs – something to make people accountable. A lot of people are losing faith in these online courses. I am staying away from promoting people unless I am very certain of their integrity.
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!
From what I’ve observed, most of the “programs” you’ve listed are networks, and most of them support dozens, hundreds, even thousands of merchants – in a huge variety of niches. Amazon is not technically a network, unless you factor in the presence of about a dozen entities like Zappos, Woot, Endless and the like. With very few exceptions, networks are diversified. Performance-Based.com focuses on eco and green merchants. Some support a particular locale – European merchants, for example.
So combine a review site and something people everyone loves, like babies. Imagine all the confusion new parents have when they bring a new baby into the world. What do they do, what do they need, what is the best? BabyGearLab solves that by reviewing baby stuff and helping parents understand it and buy it. This site has been around since 2011 helping parents through the impossible decisions of what is best for your baby.
Jump up ^ Shashank SHEKHAR (2009-06-29). "Online Marketing System: Affiliate marketing". Feed Money.com. Archived from the original on 2011-05-15. Retrieved 2011-04-20. During November 1994, CDNOW released its BuyWeb program. With this program CDNOW was the first non-adult website to launch the concept of an affiliate or associate program with its idea of click-through purchasing.
Over the course of 6 months I’ve made $1300 with Amazon Affiliates alone with the majority of that coming from about 15 different posts. Each month I am seeing a steady and slow increase in my affiliate earnings as I continue to create content that recommends helpful products, even when my traffic is lower. My DA is at 39 and I average about 100,000 page views every month.
TheSpruce.com is an interesting website for several reasons.  It started taking off in early 2017, specifically as a kitchen + food website.  The traffic growth is massive, and the website now ranks for millions of rather competitive keywords.  They have a small staff, and early on, focused on producing recipes, with high quality pinnable images (Pinterest) and even some very detailed videos that showcase how to cook or decorate parts of your home.  They accept contributor posts, but not unsolicited guest posts – and because of the domain authority, I'm sure there are food bloggers lining up to provide them extremely valuable content for free as long as they are featured on the site.
Hi Rae, I think the right niche is the most important step in affiliate marketing. If you choose the wrong niche, you can be doomed from the very beginning. Need a buying niche not just one where people are looking for information. Also you only mentioned it briefly at the end, I think promoting something you know about or is your passion makes the process a lot easier. Great post though, Tom.
While digital marketing channels like blogs and social media make it easier for businesses to connect with their audience, it can be incredibly difficult to reach them in the current competitive atmosphere. Gary Vee's book shares his best advice on how to use social media to stand out from the crowd, build a large following, and engage your target audience.
This site is ranking very well for a very competitive keyword.  They are primarily monetized by adsense as outlined here; however, in the navigation bar, I also boxed a link that takes the visitor to another website owned by the same person/company.  Its obvious as there is quite a bit of interlinking between these 2 sites and actually several other websites as well. The Adsense placement is good on this site.  Its above the fold and within the content.  This probably gets a pretty good click through rate.
It offers a modern, real-world, step-by-step guide to researching, launching, managing, and optimizing a successful affiliate marketing program. It covers social media, creating policies, working with feeds, coupons, widgets, and video, creating compelling content, handling partners who are not meeting goals, and much more. ‘Affiliate Program Management: An Hour a Day’ is the do-it-yourself guide to planning and maintaining a successful affiliate program.
1. To become an affiliate marketer, you should strongly consider focusing on recurring revenue; this means that the flow of income can be routinely predictable from month to month instead of sporadic and in small and short bursts spread over several months. Recurring revenue, or residual income, is money that is continuously earned while no work is currently and presently being accomplished. All of the time has already been invested; this is good when trying to eliminate the guesswork when it comes to being able to maintain a steady income.
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.
Affiliate marketing is commonly confused with referral marketing, as both forms of marketing use third parties to drive sales to the retailer. The two forms of marketing are differentiated, however, in how they drive sales, where affiliate marketing relies purely on financial motivations, while referral marketing relies more on trust and personal relationships.[citation needed]
If you are new to building niche websites (or even if you are more experienced), you are probably interested in seeing some specific examples of successful niche websites – even if it's just to get some proof that you can still make a living online.  Well, that is what I am going to review today – 22 updated examples of sites that are crushing it in monthly traffic.  Now just to be clear – THESE ARE NOT MY WEBSITES! I don't know who owns all of these websites or how much money they make. However, I am going to explain what I think they have done right and why I think they are most likely doing well as far as income is concerned.
Although it has a dynamic and well-designed website, PeerFly has a limited range of offers at any given time (around 8,000). On the upside, it does offer good commission/payout rates, lots of FAQs and educational information, and regular contests and reward programs that can substantially increase your bottom line. Based on online customer reviews, Peerfly enjoys a very high reputation amongst participating affiliates.
I have far better luck when I incorporate affiliate links into the body of a post. For example, if I’m writing about editing tips, I’ll mention that I use Grammarly and include a link like this one so that readers can try it out for themselves. However, you don’t want to be too spammy about this, which is why I think it helps to focus on products that you know and use and think will be of value to your readers. 

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.
Over the course of 6 months I’ve made $1300 with Amazon Affiliates alone with the majority of that coming from about 15 different posts. Each month I am seeing a steady and slow increase in my affiliate earnings as I continue to create content that recommends helpful products, even when my traffic is lower. My DA is at 39 and I average about 100,000 page views every month.
Find a program — As we discussed earlier, many affiliate marketers find their merchants, vendors, or brands through affiliate programs. It’s important you determine your niche prior to finding a program, as some programs are geared toward certain types of products. If you’re interested in a particular affiliate program, look into what kinds of products it offers and whether it has any data on the success of its affiliates.

This is one the cleanest designs I’ve seen of an Amazon Affiliate Website. It has a very professional look for a review website, but they don’t overcrowd you with product reviews right off. This site really sets itself apart with their actual videos and reviews inside of their test center. You know these testers are actually testing the product rather than copying a review from another site or making things up. It’s so legit that I will likely be back to this site for future reviews for my purchases. It really gains your trust with the photos and videos even though you know they are making money through the affiliate commissions. Plus they buy all the products themselves and never accept any products from the manufacturer to maintain objectivity, but when you bring in 3.1 million visitors per month, you can buy a few items to review.


I have far better luck when I incorporate affiliate links into the body of a post. For example, if I’m writing about editing tips, I’ll mention that I use Grammarly and include a link like this one so that readers can try it out for themselves. However, you don’t want to be too spammy about this, which is why I think it helps to focus on products that you know and use and think will be of value to your readers.
Education occurs most often in "real life" by becoming involved and learning the details as time progresses. Although there are several books on the topic, some so-called "how-to" or "silver bullet" books instruct readers to manipulate holes in the Google algorithm, which can quickly become out of date,[37] or suggest strategies no longer endorsed or permitted by advertisers.[38]
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!
What do you think about when you hear the phrase, “most profitable niches“? Surely you’re thinking about products with a high-value price tag, right? So that’s why we have included the category, expensive hobbies in our list, and not just any hobbies in general. These are hobbies that can involve golfing or even flying drones – where the equipment are pretty pricey, and so your take-home commission will make you smile from ear to ear.

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”:
Thanks for another great post. Would mind elaborating just a little on, “you also need to be willing to publicly associate yourself with that niche…”. Should every affiliate site therefore have the author’s name and bio on an About page? What if the author is unknown in that field? Is it just a trust issue, that putting your name somewhere on the site gives people comfort that there is a real person on the other side?
Where they make their money is when someone picks a school to get information about.  There are companies (like Quinstreet) that allow you to get paid “per lead” for education content.  Some of these leads can payout anywhere from $20 all the way up to $50 per lead depending on the institution.  There are plenty of affiliate sites in the education niche that get paid using these types of leads.  I'm not sure if LearnHowToBecome.org uses Quinstreet or another CPA network, but the fact is that there is definitely big money in the field for education affiliates.  It used to be that these were some of the most profitable CPC adsense earning niches you could be in (see our sites from 2012), but lots of them have completely shifted to the lead based model when it comes to monetization.  If I were to guess, LearnHowToBecome.org is probably making multiple six figure monthly income due to ranking for a number of excellent education focused keywords.
An influencer is an individual who holds the power to impact the purchasing decisions of a large segment of the population. This person is in a great position to benefit from affiliate marketing. They already boast an impressive following, so it’s easy for them to direct consumers to the seller’s products through social media posts, blogs, and other interactions with their followers. The influencers then receive a share of the profits they helped to create.
 The idea behind the book is to build a lifestyle business by using the right strategies. You'll learn how to identify the parts in your business that generate the most results, automate almost every aspect of your business, and how to outsource almost every task. It will give you a unique perspective on how to approach your online business by working smarter, not harder.
These are some of the best books on affiliate marketing. Each one of these books have something to offer in regards to building your affiliate marketing business. They walk you through the basics of the affiliate business model, provide strategies on how to use various strategies like SEO and social media, and teach you how to think like an entrepreneur.
This site is an example of what many sites are doing these days.  They are “niched down” into brackets of certain products, and creating an online multimedia experience in the form of an online magazine style site.  There's lots of large pictures, some videos, and it looks like a true media property.  Chances are that you'd need to hire a designer to get a similar look and feel for your own website if you were to attempt it.  From a revenue perspective, this site is more than likely doing more than six figures in total revenue if I had to take a guess, just based on their organic traffic numbers.
On the other hand, the more appealing your niche is, the harder it is to break into. If you go too competitive, you’ll never carve out your space. This is why I abandoned my shoe niche! To continue our cooking example, a quick Google search tells me there are thousands of cooking blogs out there. I would need to identify a more specific cooking niche to stand out. It’s also easier to find your audience if you write for a niche that’s not so well-known. That way, you can rise through the ranks faster with less effort.
LinkConnector is something of a mixed bag, so it’s probably best for experienced affiliates who have become disillusioned with other networks and are looking to expand. LinkConnector’s bizarre mix of high-quality products and a low-quality dashboard make it hard to truly assess its viability, but their exclusive deals with some vendors can make it a true home run for publishers working in certain niches.
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!
An influencer is an individual who holds the power to impact the purchasing decisions of a large segment of the population. This person is in a great position to benefit from affiliate marketing. They already boast an impressive following, so it’s easy for them to direct consumers to the seller’s products through social media posts, blogs, and other interactions with their followers. The influencers then receive a share of the profits they helped to create.

Hi Rae, I think the right niche is the most important step in affiliate marketing. If you choose the wrong niche, you can be doomed from the very beginning. Need a buying niche not just one where people are looking for information. Also you only mentioned it briefly at the end, I think promoting something you know about or is your passion makes the process a lot easier. Great post though, Tom.
Should you attempt to get into the Financial niche?  Personally, this isn't a niche that I would consider.  Financial niches are extremely competitive, and while they are very lucrative if your site ranks, it's going to cost a lot more time and money to get your site in a place where you are making a consistent income.  With that being said, if you are a certified financial expert, or you already have a social media following for financial topics, it may be “easier” to start a site, get backlinks and hit the ground running.  If you are strictly going to start a website about student loans, or buying a house – expect there to be lots of competition.  I have no doubts that NerdWallet is making over 7 figures per month.
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.

This is one the cleanest designs I’ve seen of an Amazon Affiliate Website. It has a very professional look for a review website, but they don’t overcrowd you with product reviews right off. This site really sets itself apart with their actual videos and reviews inside of their test center. You know these testers are actually testing the product rather than copying a review from another site or making things up. It’s so legit that I will likely be back to this site for future reviews for my purchases. It really gains your trust with the photos and videos even though you know they are making money through the affiliate commissions. Plus they buy all the products themselves and never accept any products from the manufacturer to maintain objectivity, but when you bring in 3.1 million visitors per month, you can buy a few items to review.
When using affiliate links, the blogger also has control over where these links appear and how they look. Brands that offer affiliate partnerships typically provide a range of banners and titles for affiliates to use and contact affiliates when they have new creative to promote special offers, events and sales. However, you can also include simple text links on your site and EDMs and direct links in your social media posts. 

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.
Affiliate marketing allows its marketers, or “affiliates,” to take their income into their own hands. This strategy is, in some instances, referred to as a form of “passive income” for those who endorse products. By this, we mean affiliates aren’t always actively selling to make money. They put their strategies in motion and any sales that come through their site drive income.

Now is your chance to team up with The Home Depot and share in the continued growth of the most successful nationally-known home improvement retailer. By joining our affiliate program, you can start earning a profit on every qualified sale you refer to homedepot.com. It is a simple process, and the more customers you have purchase - the more you earn!

In addition, we spent thousands of hours interviewing hundreds of today's most successful affiliate marketing masters. This book is a compilation of their secrets and proven successful ideas. Additionally, we give you hundreds of tips and tricks to ensure your website is optimized for maximum search engine effectiveness, which will drive business to your Web site and increase sales and profits. You will find actual case studies from companies who have used our techniques and achieved unprecedented success. If you are interested in learning hundreds of hints, tricks, and secrets on how to implement affiliate marketing, optimizing your website for maximum search engine effectiveness, developing a cost-effective marketing campaign, and ultimately earning enormous profits, this book is for you.
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