3: How greedy are you? Affiliates depend on the sale price of the item and your percentage cut. On Amazon it starts out at 4%. If you’re selling a $10 item, 4% is not a lot; only 40 cents. Meanwhile, selling a $5 item for $10 on your dropship storefront will make you $5 profit on every item sold. You have more work and more infrastructure to build, but you end up with significantly higher profits for similar amounts of sales.
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.

These are the guys that were developing and using tracking scripts ( before Analytics and Woopra ), CMS scripts ( before WordPress and Drupal ), spy tools ( before SpyFu and MixRank ), and split testing scripts ( before Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer ) that we now take granted in our careers. The developments in these areas were all driven by money and ROI, and became the default tools and mindset of budding online marketers.
If you ever want to sell space in your email messages or offer solo emails, all that trust and engagement will mean even more. You’ll be able to offer great results to advertisers. That means you can charge more. Because you were so good to your list, peoples’ advertisements will do well in your emails. As a result, more people will want to buy space in your emails. Thanks to all that demand you’ll be able to charge even more. It’s a sweet little feedback loop.
Since you are simply referring people to someone else’s online store, you won’t be processing orders. You are not having to charge their credit card and their money is not going directly to your bank account. You don’t have to deal with a potential customer calling you and saying, “Hey, my credit card isn’t working.” That doesn’t happen because you don’t process the orders with affiliate marketing, making it one of the biggest benefits.

Paid Search Paid search, or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, typically refers to the “sponsored result” on the top or side of a search engine results page (SERP). You only pay when your ad is clicked. You can tailor your PPC ads to appear when specific search terms are entered, creating ads that are targeted to a particular audience. PPC ads are flexible, visible, and most importantly, effective for many different types of organizations. They are also contextual advertisements—ads that appear when a person is searching for a particular keyword or term.
I absolutely see the value in affiliate sales (and Pay Flynn is one of the masters at doing this authentically and openly), but I got really turned off it when I saw a lot of bloggers I read and respect writing junky “How to set up a blog” posts that didn’t seem relevant to their audiences purely so that the could get the sweet Bluehost commissions in.
Affiliates work to introduce their visitors to the merchant’s brand. They might write a post about a new product or promotion on the merchant’s site, feature banner ads on their site that drive people to the merchant’s site, or offer visitors a special coupon code. If people come from that affiliate’s site and make a purchase, that affiliate gets paid.
When you go out the first way, it becomes a steep learning curve. You should answer questions like how a website is made. Which products should you promote? How do you attract visitors to your website? When visitors come to your website, how can you convert these visits into sales? I always suggest you to find affiliate programs that have personal advisors who can help you make more money.
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.
You mentioned when you have an email that works, feel free to repeat the email in about a month. I have actually found success in the sending it out much sooner. If you have an email that does great, re-send it in 2 – 5 days. Just change the subject and set your segment to only send to people that did not open the original email. Give it a try and let me know if it works for you.

When a brand pays internet celebrities, subject matter experts or other influential individuals on an upfront basis to post promotional content on their own social media channels, websites or blogs or on the brand’s web properties, that’s influencer marketing. In many cases, brands make an effort to work with influencers who are already their enthusiastic customers, which makes that type of influencer marketing a fresh new internet-based twist on word-of-mouth recommendations.
For that reason, you're probably less likely to focus on ‘leads' in their traditional sense, and more likely to focus on building an accelerated buyer's journey, from the moment someone lands on your website, to the moment that they make a purchase. This will often mean your product features in your content higher up in the marketing funnel than it might for a B2B business, and you might need to use stronger calls-to-action (CTAs).
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.
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.
If you have a special offer or want to promote specific products or get your audience excited about an upcoming launch or campaign, use influencer marketing. Because influencers are in front of your target audience, the influence they have over their followers and the established trust have the potential to drive a great deal of awareness to your brand. The key to successful influencer marketing is to use influencers who believe in your product and don’t promote products that compete with it.

Thank you for your comments. My wife and I are interested in going the affiliate marketing route as well. What we need now are the specifics on how to set up and structure the affiliate marketing business relationships with vendors / sellers / manufacturers. What agreement(s) govern these relationships? What are the steps to going from where we are now, at square one and no current relationships with sellers, to having binding contractual relationships and receiving checks in the mail? Can anyone give us the play by play on this process?


Brands are using both types of marketing effectively. Both channels are useful for boosting a brand’s business and market share, so don’t feel as if you have to limit yourself to one or the other. If you aren’t already incorporating both influencers and affiliates into your marketing strategy, you’re missing out on some of the best possible opportunities to grow sales and brand awareness.
Individual sellers and companies offering products or services have to deal with their consumers and ensure they are satisfied with what they have purchased. Thanks to the affiliate marketing structure, you’ll never have to be concerned with customer support or customer satisfaction. The entire job of the affiliate marketer is to link the seller with the consumer. The seller deals with any consumer complaints after you receive your commission from the sale.
If your company is business-to-business (B2B), your digital marketing efforts are likely to be centered around online lead generation, with the end goal being for someone to speak to a salesperson. For that reason, the role of your marketing strategy is to attract and convert the highest quality leads for your salespeople via your website and supporting digital channels.
As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to both Affiliate Marketing and Dropshipping and there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding what to choose. It really comes down to your personal preference and what you want to achieve. With Dropshipping, the product is key and there are a lot of logistical headaches that I outlined. Affiliate Marketing, can run passively and can generate income for years to come. I may be a little biased.
Small blogger? I work with publishers of all sizes and bigger doesn’t necessarily translate to more commissions. Often smaller bloggers have more engagement from their audience compared to their larger counterparts. I’ve experienced this first hand too. Recently I was a top earning affiliate for a course launch – alongside bloggers with audiences 10-40x bigger than mine.
This is the #1 mistake affiliates make with email marketing. While it’s great to have a list to sell to, you don’t want to be selling all the time. Break up the stream of email sales offers with some content. Aim for about an 80/20 split. That would be four straight emails that give great content to your reader and then one email of take, which is the selling part.

Creating a unique tracking ID for an Amazon link is easy. Simply log in to your Amazon affiliate dashboard, click “Account Settings” at the very top on the right, then click “Manage Tracking IDs”. From there you can make a new tracking ID so you can track which web page/campaign sold what.  You can learn more about using Amazon’s Tracking IDs here.
×