Great post, Sean! I have been using Adsense for the most part for two years now and each year, due to great content, my income has doubled. Thanks for all the great content, and this is sure to open my eyes a bit more to the likes of Amazon, which, I will admit, I have been ignoring due to the way they treat their affiliates. But, maybe it’s just me being a turd….
There are many ways to do affiliate marketing. One way was the kind you learned, posting links and paying for ads. That can get super expensive if your links aren’t converting well! That’s why I recommend that you do “blogging”, e.g. writing articles as you mentioned. If you optimize your content based on search engine requirements (also known as SEO), you’ll rank on page 1 of Google. When someone searches a topic, your article turns up. They read the article, click a link, buy a product, and you make a sale.
People have different definitions of “cloaking and masking”. You are likely referring to the “bad” kind that is manipulative. However, most affiliate also refer to “cloaking” as changing a link to look pretty. Changing this link: nichepursuits.com/amazon/associate-20/123ma9/producta to nichepursuits.com/cameras. That kind of “cloaking” is just fine.
Affiliate marketing overlaps with other Internet marketing methods to some degree, because affiliates often use regular advertising methods. Those methods include organic search engine optimization (SEO), paid search engine marketing (PPC – Pay Per Click), e-mail marketing, content marketing, and (in some sense) display advertising. On the other hand, affiliates sometimes use less orthodox techniques, such as publishing reviews of products or services offered by a partner.