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.
In the Affilorama lessons, we cover loads of different ways of getting traffic! Some of these methods are paid, such as PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, and some are free, like SEO (search engine optimization) but take a little more time and effort on your part. You can find more information on both of these traffic methods in "introduction to PPC" and "introduction to SEO."
Email marketing tools offer a wide selection of ready-to-use templates. They can save lots of your time, and you won’t need to worry about how your email will display across different devices. You can also use a drag-and-drop editor in your email system to design your template. Add blocks like images, social media buttons or text blocks, customize styles and other elements.
The splendour of affiliate marketing lies in this - you don’t need to invest into the marketing and promotion of your product or service, someone else does it for you. The affiliate earns their commission, the company gets to sell their product without having to invest in its promotion and sales and the customer gets the product they desired. This makes Affiliate marketing one of the most inexpensive and value for money online marketing practices.
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]
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.
With affiliate marketing, payments are made based on the actual sales that you generate. The amount of money that you can make through affiliate marketing depends on a number of factors, including the size of your list, the relevance of the product or service to your list and the effectiveness of the marketing copy that you use to write a product. If you have a small list and are ineffectively promoting a product that’s not relevant to your list, you probably won’t make anything through affiliate marketing. If you have a larger list of highly-engaged subscribers that trust your recommendations and you can promote a product or service that’s very relevant to your audience, you can make tens of thousands of dollars per month through affiliate marketing. If you have a list of a few thousand subscribers, you will probably earn $100-$200 per month through affiliate marketing for the first several months. Your revenue will steadily grow from there overtime as your list grows and as you identify products and services to promote that are a good match for your list.
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!
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!

VigLink is an intermediary platform, so it can serve as a backdoor for affiliates who have previously been banned/suspended from working with other affiliate programs like Amazon. And while you can choose specific merchants or offers, VigLink can be set up to work automatically by scanning your published content and dynamically generating affiliate links, making it a great choice for established content producers who are looking for a simpler way to generate revenue via an affiliate program.

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Understand your demographics. Every affiliate will have their own target demographic. As the affiliate marketer, it's your job to understand your affiliates' demographics, and tailor your advertisements or reviews in such a way that that target demographic will be reached through your platform. Knowing, for example, the target demographic's age, interests, and average income range, will help you tailor your reviews and advertisements to that demographic.[43]
The hard part about dropshipping is setting up the infrastructure. You need product listings, either on a website of your own or on those other marketplaces. You need to make them attractive enough that people will buy them. You need to be more attractive than your competition, too. That sometimes means taking less of a profit per unit in an attempt to beat the competition in volume.

After you have found an advertiser that you want to promote and have signed up for their affiliate program through an advertising network, you will be given hyperlinks to use that will track any sales that you generate. They may also include an image tag that serves as a tracking pixel for you to include in your email. You will write a sales and marketing email to your audience as you normally would for one of your own company’s products and services. Use the hyperlink they provided you as the hyperlink in your call-to-action so that sales are properly tracked. If they provided a tracking pixel, place it in your HTML at the bottom of your email so that the number of times the offer was viewed can be properly tracked by the affiliate program.
It’s free to join the SellHealth affiliate program, though you do have to apply and be accepted before you can start promoting their products.  Once you’re accepted, you’ll have access to a number of tools, graphics, banners and more that you can use to promote SellHealth products.  The sales are actually made at company-owned Websites, which look professional and handle all of the selling. Commissions vary, but the base rate is 30% of all sales and upsells, and SellHealth says you can earn up to $350 per sale.
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.
Some of the products for sale through affiliate programs have multiple products in the sales funnel - known as upsells and downsells (sometimes side-sells as well). These are products that are related to the primary product and can help to make the use of the primary product faster, easier or more efficiently. A certain percentage of people who buy the primary product also go on to buy the extras which could account for the higher amount.
“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.”
“Initially, I don’t always look for the ‘perfect’ affiliate. I look for any partners who have an audience that might react positively to my offer. For example, if I have a financial investing offer, I might feel like I already know all the ‘big’ financial partners and can’t grow my affiliate program. However, that is far from the truth. I will start looking for other affiliates having a product or offer with a similar audience, like high-end watches, real estate or even a health offer. Yes, a health offer. You might be surprised. Get creative,” he encouraged.
Yada yada yada….for those o f us who know absolutely NOTHING about marketing, how to manually create a webpage/blog, understand terms like SEO and MANY others that you and others use….not to mention we have no real knowledge of what it takes to write a successful blog or the tools you need to make a good YouTube video (yes, you need a video camera and a GOOD microphone among other things to make a GOOD video); those of us who don’t know that it it
Email marketing has become a cutthroat game.  The best to stand out from the crowd is to send your subscribers top-notch content on a regular basis – Emails that really help the user.  When most of your messages give value first, you’ll increase authority AND trust in your niche.  This is the kind of relationship that’ll pay dividends for years to come.
Cost per mille requires only that the publisher make the advertising available on his or her website and display it to the page visitors in order to receive a commission. Pay per click requires one additional step in the conversion process to generate revenue for the publisher: A visitor must not only be made aware of the advertisement but must also click on the advertisement to visit the advertiser's website.
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.

When doing a comparison between dropshipping vs affiliate marketing, the biggest disadvantage of affiliate marketing is you’re paid on commission. You might’ve just spent $100 in ads only to make $50 back in commission fees. The payout for affiliate commissions is generally a lot lower than dropshipping. Even if your commissions are several hundred dollars, odds are the cost of the product is higher. This means finding the right people will cost more as well. Also, you don’t have the opportunity to set the price. For example, if people are interested in the product but feel the cost is too high, you can’t lower it to meet the demand of your audience. In addition, since you can’t set the price of your earnings, you’ll likely make a lot less than if you were the merchant.
As an affiliate, the sky is literally the limit. Since we are not constrained by how many orders we can process in a day, or how many customers we can deal with in a day, our income potential is limitless. Assuming we pick the correct niche and get good SERP rankings, we are golden. Of course this is easier than it sounds, but when you get traffic, it is free, except for your time. (We don’t use pay per click, so we rely strictly on organic search engine rankings to drive traffic.)
Shopify is a very popular site building platform for people interested in building eCommerce stores. It has been around for the past few years and seen significant growth in its user base over this time. You can earn a staggering 200% per sale for every new customer you refer to them, which means that there is up to $2400 per new customer on offer.

William Harris is leading content at Sellbrite and is also the Founder & Growth Marketer of Elumynt, LLC., VP of Marketing and Growth for a top 700 online retailer and former head of Marketing for When I Work, a VC backed SaaS company. William is also a contributor to leading publications like The Next Web, Search Engine Journal, Social Media Today, and Sellbrite and a speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, search engine optimization, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding. Follow William on Twitter (@WmHarris101), LinkedIn, and Google+.
That’s a great tip Sean, thanks! I was thinking about what you said in your post about some companies not putting that they have affiliate links and you having to do some digging and there are couple of companies/authors who made products I love and keep using, but I’m not sure how to go ahead and ask about the affiliate link. I read the post you linked below about asking for guest blogging, which I thought was a must-read, and so, if you think of doing a follow-up on this one, would love to read some of your tips and do’s and don’t about this. Thanks again, Sean, you’re doing some very inspiring work here!
When you dropship goods, you’re building an asset – your brand. With dropshipping, you’ll have your own professional website. You’ll make enough money to invest in advertising, content and other traffic and money generating techniques. In a year from now, if you decide you want to move onto another niche, you can sell your business to someone else. However, not all affiliates have their own assets. Some affiliates make their money by creating YouTube videos. Yet, you’re not allowed to sell your YouTube channel. Between dropshipping vs affiliate marketing, you’re better off with dropshipping.
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,[41] or suggest strategies no longer endorsed or permitted by advertisers.[42]

Most people think of email as a simply a tool for communication. We use email on a daily basis to keep in touch with loved ones, communicate with coworkers, and interact with companies when we want to learn more about a product or service. Affiliate marketers can use email to earn money through targeted campaigns, but it isn’t as simple as just sending out a few emails a day. Success through email marketing relies upon a few earning secrets, which we’ll discuss in this post.


With the boom in subscription boxes, unboxing videos have become quite popular. If your audience spends a lot of time on YouTube, then partner with an influencer who can showcase your product. The benefit of influencer marketing is how personal it is. Think about how powerful your campaign will be when followers feel as though they’re experiencing the unboxing along with the influencer. They’ll likely be receptive to clicking the link the influencer shares in order to learn more about you and your products.
Aim for quality over quantity. Having a vast network of affiliates will not necessarily help you earn more money. According to some experts, the key to successful affiliate marketing is to find the right affiliates that will drive the most results for your platform. Those affiliates may be big sites, small sites, or a combination of the two, but the most important thing is to build and maintain strong relationships with your chosen affiliates.[40]

Most importantly, you need to take action. The most successful affiliate marketers are those who do, rather than those who think about doing. Take what you learn from Affilorama and start working hard. You might not get it right the first time, but the experience is what really counts when you are learning affiliate marketing. You will hone your skills and abilities over time, so don’t sweat the fine points!


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As a marketer, you have to always engage and interact with your audience. Relationships are important in affiliate marketing, especially if you work as an individual. People trust those they like, and if you faithfully answer questions about the merchant or product, they will most likely move further into the sales funnel, increasing your conversions.
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.
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.
There is serious competition in the affiliate marketing sphere. You’ll want to make sure you stay on top of any new trends to ensure you remain competitive. Additionally, you’ll likely be able to benefit from at least a few of the new marketing techniques that are constantly being created. Be sure you’re keeping up to date on all these new strategies to guarantee that your conversion rates, and therefore revenue, will be as high as possible.

The links fit anywhere a normal anchor link would go. But, in this case, the traffic is tracked by a network or software and the content creator gets a cut. You probably have plenty of products around your home that came about as a recommendation after watching a cool YouTube video – it’s very likely they sent you to the site through their affiliate link!

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