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!

“It is absolutely vital to provide them with real-time reporting. Obviously, this reporting needs to be 100% accurate with integrity. Some affiliates will be running 100+ different sources to your offer, and by offering them real-time reporting, they can quickly determine which sources are working and which are not. You save yourself money as well as your affiliates. This also helps scale quickly if you have a good performing offer,” he said.
As with many things in life, affiliate marketing benefits from quality over quantity. Having many affiliates that drive traffic can be seen as a good thing, but this may spread your team too thin preventing them from focusing on the quality affiliates that are generating the most conversions, especially since the strategy and marketing collateral most likely won’t be the same for each affiliate.
1: How much setup are you willing to do? Of the two, affiliate marketing requires less in the way of direct setup. You don’t need to contact suppliers, you just need to sign up for an affiliate network. You need to set up a website with both, but an affiliate marketer can use a simple blog, while a dropshipper needs a storefront. Dropshipping also requires more internal infrastructure to handle transactions and payments, including a business bank account to keep funds separate from personal funds.
After being putative into an affiliate program, marketers receive a unique URL that includes their affiliate ID. They share that unique URL with their subscribers, site visitors, and social networks via text links or ads. When somebody clicks on that link, affiliate software accounts that click and any resulting creation sales in the affiliate’s account. When directives reach a pre-determined verge, the associate is paid.

SkimLinks is primarily for established content producers (bloggers) who want to monetize their content. With a powerful WordPress plugin and scripts for just about any website type, setting up SkimLinks is very easy. And because you have access to all offers on their platform after you’re approved, SkimLinks is very well designed for affiliates who don’t want to spend a lot of time fiddling around with settings and other fine-tuning.


Unfortunately, the 2Checkout dashboard is a bit limited in scope, making it difficult to get any metrics on conversion rates or even sorting by commission payouts. The workaround is to go to the Avangate store, which does list their best-selling products, and then search for these on the affiliate dashboard. That being said, 2Checkout does offer products from more than 4,000 different vendors, making it the leading affiliate network for software and digital products.
While you have complete control over the type of products you can promote or keep in your store you can’t control shipping. That’s why many times people have complained that the products they ordered arrived late at their place. This happens because supplier ships the products as per his convenience and only tells you the shipping order ID – which you send to the customer to let him track his order.
Even if you’re in a super-tight niche, you probably write blog posts about more than one subtopic in your niche. For example, maybe some of your posts are about deep sea fishing in the Pacific and some are about deep sea fishing in the Atlantic. Or maybe some posts are about knitting with wool and some are about knitting with acrylics. No matter what the topics are, you can offer one lead magnet for each of them. Some marketers have doubled their opt-in rate with this technique.
As Target is the second-largest general retailer in the United States, their affiliate program is primarily for American bloggers or publishers who can route visitors to relevant products. Overall, the program works much like Amazon’s does in that publishers (bloggers) get a small commission on sales, but Target’s gigantic product base (over one million items) and high brand recognition make their affiliate program a great option for influencers.
An affiliate markets and promotes a product that a merchant sells. This could be a celebrity promoting a clothing line for a brand, or a fitness instructor marketing a merchant’s line of health foods. Instagram is a great platform to notice affiliate marketing in action. You can see the profiles of normal people posting images with branded products tagged to a store. When you click on the product you will be brought to a store unrelated to the person.
On the other hand, if your goal is to get people to promote your product or service, special offers, discounts and more through channels other than social media, then use affiliate marketing. Target bloggers, companies and publishers with content that complements or relates to your brand base. Understand your customers’ needs and their interests so that you speak to your target audience about what matters most to them. If you sell workout gear, then partner with health and fitness publishers that focus on weight loss, healthy eating and more. This approach of speaking to specific customers with specific needs works because affiliate marketing is designed to generate leads and help you grow your revenue.
Until you have cash, your king is content. The more you publish articles product reviews, visitor feedback and information on your website (or in your blog), the more chance you get visitors to your website. Search engines like to show newly written content. Therefore, we advise you to add new pages to your site at least every few days. Make sure your site is easy to find by visitors by using a good site navigation or site nap.
There are many different publisher types to work with and these relationships are facilitated by an advertiser joining the network and using the promotional tools available- these are owned by the publishers. In every case the publisher takes the risk of sending you traffic at no cost to you as you only have to reward them if their traffic completes a purchase- therefore, advertisers only pay out on results.
SkimLinks is primarily for established content producers (bloggers) who want to monetize their content. With a powerful WordPress plugin and scripts for just about any website type, setting up SkimLinks is very easy. And because you have access to all offers on their platform after you’re approved, SkimLinks is very well designed for affiliates who don’t want to spend a lot of time fiddling around with settings and other fine-tuning.
Until you have cash, your king is content. The more you publish articles product reviews, visitor feedback and information on your website (or in your blog), the more chance you get visitors to your website. Search engines like to show newly written content. Therefore, we advise you to add new pages to your site at least every few days. Make sure your site is easy to find by visitors by using a good site navigation or site nap.
The primary advantage of affiliate marketing over dropshipping is that you don’t really have anything to do with the product fulfillment process. You don’t have to connect with suppliers, you don’t need to handle transactions, you don’t need to collect money, issue refunds, or otherwise act like a store. All of that is handled by the actual store. All you do is, essentially, hand people your card, point them at the door, and say “tell ‘em I sent you.”
“Within our affiliate management system, we have notifications triggered to all affiliate managers when to reach out and schedule the next follow up call with the affiliate. We schedule monthly one on one meetings with our affiliates to take a deeper dive into their business and offer help where we can. This ultimately leads to them promoting our offers a lot more,” he said, and asked that you remember that “their success ultimately equals your success.”
“You want to find out how they are judging your relationship. Is it a certain commission amount, let’s say $5,000 per mailing? Or is it that they don’t get high unsubscribes? It could be that they measure their mailing on the basis of revenue per name on the list, or that they consider a successful mailing one that gives them a reciprocal back (a reciprocal you aren’t able to give because their product is not approved by your client, for example, which can lead to bad feelings if you don’t say that up front),” Spears explained.
Some advertisers offer multi-tier programs that distribute commission into a hierarchical referral network of sign-ups and sub-partners. In practical terms, publisher "A" signs up to the program with an advertiser and gets rewarded for the agreed activity conducted by a referred visitor. If publisher "A" attracts publishers "B" and "C" to sign up for the same program using his sign-up code, all future activities performed by publishers "B" and "C" will result in additional commission (at a lower rate) for publisher "A".

Affiliate marketing currently lacks industry standards for training and certification. There are some training courses and seminars that result in certifications; however, the acceptance of such certifications is mostly due to the reputation of the individual or company issuing the certification. Affiliate marketing is not commonly taught in universities, and only a few college instructors work with Internet marketers to introduce the subject to students majoring in marketing.[41]
You can iron out the details of how you will go about your PPC ads for the merchant once you’re granted permission to run paid ads on their behalf. Ask about advertising guidelines (some companies are strict when it comes to advertising and their brand), prohibited keywords, and expectations from each other. Talk to the merchant’s marketing team so you can maximize resources instead of replicating each other’s efforts.
3. Alignment with your current services. It is important to have a strategy in mind, one that will help you accomplish your goal fast. This is why you should make sure that, first and foremost, any service you choose to promote has something to do with you current offering. For example, if you are a blogger and your following is mainly aspiring bloggers, it makes sense to promote a hosting service or an email marketing platform.
Create a website. In order to work as an affiliate marketer, you'll need your own platform (a personal website or blog) on which to post links and advertise for your chosen products or services. If you already have a website or blog, you can use that platform to begin earning additional income as an affiliate marketer. If you do not yet have a website or blog, you will need to create one.
Pat Flynn (www.smartpassiveincome.com) is a great example of someone that does affiliate marketing properly through email, his website and his podcast. He has established himself as an online business experts and recommends tools, products and services to his audience that can help them build their online businesses. He only promotes products that he can personally recommend and is always transparent when he receives an affiliate commission for promoting something. He has built such a large audience and has gotten so effective at affiliate marketing that the commissions he generates through affiliate marketing have become far larger than the actual revenue he makes from his other online businesses. It’s not uncommon for Flynn to generate between $50,000 and $100,000 each month through his affiliate marketing efforts.
A relative newcomer to the affiliate space, MaxBounty was founded in 2004 in Ottawa, Canada. MaxBounty claims to be the only affiliate network built specifically for affiliates. MaxBounty is exclusively a CPA (Cost Per Action/Acquisition) company that doesn’t deal with ad banners or the like, just customer links that the publisher (blogger) chooses where to place on their website.
“Cost of goods changes from time to time, product prices drop, etc. One mistake I made was not re-calculating all commissions to determine they were set correctly. After doing some digging, I realized that commissions on a few of our products were way higher than what they should have been. One way to fix this is to re-adjust commissions each year,” she explained.

Although it differs from spyware, adware often uses the same methods and technologies. Merchants initially were uninformed about adware, what impact it had, and how it could damage their brands. Affiliate marketers became aware of the issue much more quickly, especially because they noticed that adware often overwrites tracking cookies, thus resulting in a decline of commissions. Affiliates not employing adware felt that it was stealing commission from them. Adware often has no valuable purpose and rarely provides any useful content to the user, who is typically unaware that such software is installed on his/her computer.
Dropshipping definitely seems to be more involved as far as getting all the pieces of the puzzle working for you and advertising and managing shipping, etc. If you are not a good writer or like writing, dropshipping may be more your cup of tea. Affiliate marketing is a great option but you must be willing to do a lot of writing. If you can handle the writing, then affiliate marketing is a much better option. I chose to get started in affiliate marketing and have learned a ton since!

The ninja message is best used with an email list that trusts your recommendations.  When people have come to “know” you, it doesn’t require a lot of work to promote a product – Especially one with a great sales page.  On the other hand, I advise you to use the ninja on rare occasions.  This is the most spammy email in your entire arsenal.  Use it sparingly – No more than once a month.

Think about this. If you are the person that processes that order, again you are making more money the first time you process it. Yes, there is a little bit more work, but you also own that customer data. So if you want to sell a box of 10 pens as an upsell or if you want to sell them new notebooks or if you want to have a huge Black Friday sale, you are the one that’s marketing to that same person.


The primary advantage of affiliate marketing over dropshipping is that you don’t really have anything to do with the product fulfillment process. You don’t have to connect with suppliers, you don’t need to handle transactions, you don’t need to collect money, issue refunds, or otherwise act like a store. All of that is handled by the actual store. All you do is, essentially, hand people your card, point them at the door, and say “tell ‘em I sent you.”
Its a great article. I was pondering with pros and cons of “Drop Shipping” Kindly add 2 points: 1) It also provide positive cash flow, you have window period cash received and cash paid to manufacturers. 2) You do not want your child school admin to know his father profession is an “Affiliate”. Affiliate is not a career, it is not even a business but a part time income model. I diversifying contract manufacturing and drop shipping to raise profits more then affiliate programmers. You can not affiliate 25 million inventories but can trade as drop shipping. Correct me if I wrong. Thanks for the post.
If that’s all you’re aiming for, then you shouldn’t have any problems. As long as you choose a market with enough consumer interest. The poll represents mostly CPA arbitrage affiliates. To earn the big money, paid traffic is your best friend. But yes, $1000/day is a pretty standard target for CPA affs. You have to set your targets high because the business is so volatile.
Fortunately, the answer is no. Most folks – upwards of 95% of Americans – are sales-averse, i.e. they don’t like pitching goods to others AND they don’t like being bombarded with high-pressure sales tactics. However, they are willing to consider offers from people they know, like and trust. This is where you and your subscriber list come in. You might have heard the old saying, "people hate to be sold but they love to buy".

In 2006, the most active sectors for affiliate marketing were the adult gambling, retail industries and file-sharing services.[21]:149–150 The three sectors expected to experience the greatest growth are the mobile phone, finance, and travel sectors.[21] Soon after these sectors came the entertainment (particularly gaming) and Internet-related services (particularly broadband) sectors. Also several of the affiliate solution providers expect to see increased interest from business-to-business marketers and advertisers in using affiliate marketing as part of their mix.[21]:149–150
In effect, VigLink works as the middleman between a publisher (blogger) and merchants by scanning the publisher’s content and automatically creating links to publishers that are chosen “in real time” based on their payout/conversation rates. This makes VigLink a very hands-off affiliate program for publishers who prefer to focus on content instead of managing their affiliate links.
I was able to make my first online dollars through Amazon Affiliate sales… It was never much and in the beginning I was just excited to make $10 in a month, which was enough for a free ebook or two. With regular updates and link inclusions in my posts over time I was able to grow the number up to like $300 a month–which I was pretty happy with. Of course the payout rates are paltry compared to a sale of an info product like one from Unconventional Guides, etc. Thing is, people seem to be more open to purchasing physical products rather than information products…
×