Some merchants run their own (in-house) affiliate programs using dedicated software, while others use third-party intermediaries to track traffic or sales that are referred from affiliates. There are two different types of affiliate management methods used by merchants: standalone software or hosted services, typically called affiliate networks. Payouts to affiliates or publishers can be made by the networks on behalf of the merchant, by the network, consolidated across all merchants where the publisher has a relationship with and earned commissions or directly by the merchant itself.

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.
With affiliate marketing you typically have a website, like the World of Warcraft Black Book site you can see below. Now you don’t actually need a website – there are loads of different ways to do affiliate marketing and some of them don’t even involve owning a website – but most affiliates prefer to have their own digital real estate. It’s also the method we teach here at Affilorama, because there's so much more potential to build a brand, and grow an affiliate strategy that will profit you in the longer-term.
To know if affiliate marketing is profitable or not you must know that it is a great way to earn passive income. You will have to figure out how to market your affiliate products, but otherwise, it doesn’t require full-time activity from your side. In fact, most people are earning a huge passive income just by affiliate marketing. One of the most prominent ones is Pat Flynn.
The approach you choose should also depend on how much you’re willing to spend. A larger budget allows you to partner with larger influencers who can get you as much exposure as possible. However, influencer marketing is known to be expensive. Another option is to target micro-influencers in your niche who don’t have millions of followers but have thousands of highly engaged followers.
“I found some informational articles that walked a beginner affiliate through making their first sale, step-by-step, and emailed them to her. Most likely, this person will not do too well in affiliate marketing, and it is important to recognize the difference between them and the ‘big fish,'” she said, and recommended you ask potential affiliates the following questions:

For example, say you want to sell tablet cases for the new iPad. You find a distributor willing to sell them to you for $10 each. You take them to your storefront and make a product listing for that product at $20. You go about doing the marketing, the outreach, and the customer engagement necessary to make people aware of your site and your storefront.
No matter how good your marketing skills are, you’ll make less money on a bad product than you will on a valuable one. Take the time to study the demand for a product before promoting it. Make sure to research the seller with care before teaming up. Your time is worth a lot, and you want to be sure you’re spending it on a product that is profitable and a seller you can believe in.
Here is something that I didn’t think about before if you are selling informational type products. If you want to make a lot of money very quickly you will need to build a list of names and email addresses. The larger the list the better. That way when someone has a product that you can sell as an affiliate you can just send out an email message to your email list and people will start buying from you that day or in the very near future.
Love your article on drop shipping vs. affiliate marketing. I joined the WA community in summer of last year and while I haven’t made any real money yet besides a little bit from google Adsense I am enjoying the journey. I have been looking into ways to expand and looked at drop shipping. It certainly does seem to be more “hands on” than what I was wanting to do, especially since I keep myself pretty busy and am stretched to post a few blogs a week to continue to try to build my website.
Products are now put in a category. The commission will be based on the category each product has been placed in whether or not the category is correct. For instance, I had a sale for a child riding toy tractor. Instead of it being in toys category which would have only earned me 3%, it was actually placed in lawn and garden category which I then actually earned 8% instead.
Sometimes, if you don’t use a link shortener, people can hover over the link and see that it’s an affiliate link. As a result, they may assume that it costs more to buy through the link. Most people do not understand that you only receive a commission on a sale. Thus, people may choose to manually go to the website you’re recommending directly without clicking your affiliate link. Since they didn’t click on the link, the merchant gets to make 100% of the profit. Thus, making your marketing efforts less successful. Many people are skeptical or dislike affiliate marketers. They feel like they’re being scammed, even when the truth is they’re not. It can be hard to convince people to trust you and click your link. In some countries, you need to disclose to your audience that the links you’re providing are affiliate links. Thus, making it even easier for a person to avoid clicking the actual link.

While affiliate marketing is great for starters who don’t want to mingle with customer support, I believe dropshipping is a much more lucrative option. Running an online dropshipping store can make you more money than an affiliate marketing website. You can easily market your products through Facebook Ads and Google Ads. Further, if your store is providing great quality of products, you will soon start to get a consistent stream of orders.

In April 2008 the State of New York inserted an item in the state budget asserting sales tax jurisdiction over Amazon.com sales to residents of New York, based on the existence of affiliate links from New York–based websites to Amazon.[45] The state asserts that even one such affiliate constitutes Amazon having a business presence in the state, and is sufficient to allow New York to tax all Amazon sales to state residents. Amazon challenged the amendment and lost at the trial level in January 2009. The case is currently making its way through the New York appeals courts.
Targeting – Digital marketing enables marketers to dial in a targeted audience like never before. Online marketing takes full advantage of the information age using specific consumer analytics (age, location, likes, dislikes, political leanings, religious beliefs – just name a few) that allow marketers to find the prospects most likely to buy from them. 
Affiliate marketing has contributed to the rise of many leading online companies. Amazon.com, one of the first significant adopters, now has hundreds of thousands of affiliate relationships. It is not uncommon to see industries where the major players have affiliate programs–often structured in a similar manner and making similar competitive changes over time.

As a business model, dropshipping allows anyone to sell products from suppliers on their own website. There is no need to carry any inventory at all. When someone purchases a product from the dropshipper’s website, they place an order with the supplier. The supplier then packages and ships the product to the customer. Dropshipping is a great business model for a first-time ecommerce entrepreneur or people who want to test categories of products on their audience. Ecommerce entrepreneurs have even been known to run their ecommerce stores while studying, or working full-time.


Hi Jamie, awesome content that is very helpful esp with the resources, links and the rich discussions. Want to start e-commerce and blog for money…selling others products, want to go full on with this, tired of the daily routine crunch working for others. I live in a developing country (PNG) that has high internet costs (work still in progress with getting rates down…) so will see how I go with your posts. Any advise? Don’t have a website yet, have to build one I guess….
In the case of cost per mille/click, the publisher is not concerned about whether a visitor is a member of the audience that the advertiser tries to attract and is able to convert, because at this point the publisher has already earned his commission. This leaves the greater, and, in case of cost per mille, the full risk and loss (if the visitor cannot be converted) to the advertiser.

Look to see what others say about them. I was looking at one dropshipper which had what I thought was some good products. But checking them out it turned out the products were crap and their customer service was appalling. Once they got the customers money they did not give a damn. And if you're dropshipping their product it is you who has to deal with them and will get it in the neck from your customers. And did I mention they were charging £125 per year for you to dropship their goods.

The truth is much more complicated. It’s true that affiliate programs can be sources of phantom revenue and off-brand promotion. But managed properly, they can also make up 5-15 percent of online revenue and have an ROI among the highest of any online channel. CMOs are realizing that affiliate marketing can be an important part of their arsenal and are integrating the channel into their overall marketing strategies.
A content marketer, for example, can create a series of blog posts that serve to generate leads from a new ebook the business recently created. The company's social media marketer might then help promote these blog posts through paid and organic posts on the business's social media accounts. Perhaps the email marketer creates an email campaign to send those who download the ebook more information on the company. We'll talk more about these specific digital marketers in a minute.
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.
“For an affiliate partnership to be successful, the offer needs to be tested and optimized to endure a strong customer value across multiple networks. If an offer shows inconsistent results, we continue to test and optimize internally. As a result, once an offer is opened to a new partner, it is sure to return value to the affiliate and they can put their resources in helping gradually scale the offer,” Taherivand said.
An affiliate marketing business is a great business to have as you can become very successful without incurring much cost. There are many advantages of this business model. But the disadvantages are heavily weighed around money you could lose by relying on other businesses. For this reason, even if you continue with affiliate marketing, having a dropshipping element is a good idea. It can help ensure a steady flow of income for your business. Running an online store makes you more money for the following reasons:
Day by day, more and more companies participate to using this marketing method to create their own business web-site. This partnership is a low–cost model; because it is paid only when sales are completed. For instance, most affiliates pay 5% commission for every visitor who purchases a product suggested by its affiliate marketing platform. (Generally another web-site) Although commission is a very small percentage, the partnership allows affiliates to benefit from brand awareness by providing a continuous level of sales to the company.
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