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…
I agree with most of your sentiments except on the issue of paying a membership fee. Legitimate manufacturers and distributors DO NOT charge membership fees. At most, a nominal $3-$5 service charge if your order is under a certain amount. Rarely is it a good idea to deal with a supplier that is charging any type of monthly or yearly membership fee because they are middle men and you're not going to get as great a wholesale price as you would from the manufacturer or distributor. Ideally, it's smart to contact suppliers that do not advertise drop shipping on their website, then once you become an approved Reseller ask them to drop ship for you. Many of the manufacturers that I work with offer the same product price whether you use drop shipping or arbitrage. .
Always disclose your affiliate relationship. Most visitors will probably understand that graphic ads will lead to your getting paid, but if you write a review or use an in-text link as a recommendation, you want your readers to know that may lead to compensation as well. This ensures you retain transparency and trust with your readers, but also, it's required by the FTC's endorsement rules.
Honestly speaking, both dropshipping and affiliate marketing requires hard work to start. Most people enter online marketing thinking that they can easily get rich by making the website and streams of income will start popping out in no time. That is a grave mistake. Whether it is dropshipping business, affiliate marketing, or any other online business, it requires consistent effort to grow the business.