The concept of affiliate marketing on the Internet was conceived of, put into practice and patented by William J. Tobin, the founder of PC Flowers & Gifts. Launched on the Prodigy Network in 1989, PC Flowers & Gifts remained on the service until 1996. By 1993, PC Flowers & Gifts generated sales in excess of $6 million per year on the Prodigy service. In 1998, PC Flowers and Gifts developed the business model of paying a commission on sales to the Prodigy Network.[8][9]
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.
Do you constantly come up with witty one-liners? Do you dream of the days of Mad Men-style advertising? If you’ve got some branding chops or just come up with imaginative copy, there are lots of opportunities to make money online through company naming and slogan contests. If you think you have a knack for names check out the Squadhelp platform where you can earn a little extra money online by naming brands, services, products, company slogans and even help out on the logo design front if you've got the chops.
To make money from affiliate marketing, you need to ascertain that the product has a high demand. No matter how much efforts you make, you might make little or no sales, it totally depends on the demand of the product. You need to know if it is what your audience really needs. If you manage to get a reasonable amount of traffic on your site, then you can run a small online survey to get input from visitors.

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.
Mechanical Turk: Amazon's Mechanical Turk is a resource for doing human-intelligence tasks, or as the site commonly refers to them, HITs. You get paid a very small fee for any given HIT and you'll need a good deal of volume to make a substantial amount of money. But it is a resource you can use in your spare time to generate a small income online. 
There is a big difference between “information” and “instruction.” They did a good job providing information but terrible on instructions. Therefore it really isn’t for newbies as promoted. As a certified tutor I learned and practiced strategies like “peer to peer” mentoring, intellectual scaffolding and tackled the Zone of Proximal Development” for foreign or special needs students on a college level.

What struck me about Dr. Rose’s experience was how affiliate marketing attracts everyone — from those with no degrees (but with strong work ethics), to those who are fully degreed (and pedigreed), but who want to do their own thing. Dr. Rose stated in that post that her mission was to earn what she earned as a pharmacist in a year — in one month in affilite marketing/blogging.
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!
MaxBounty pride themselves on the diversity of campaigns offered to their affiliates. They have over 1,500 programs ranging from gaming, to finance, and dieting, with options to receive your commissions as CPA (cost per action like making a sale), CPL (cost per lead), mobile, or PPC (pay per call.) Allowing you to structure your promotions in a way that works best for you.
It’s important to know where your traffic is coming from and the demographics of your audience. This will allow you to customize your messaging so that you can provide the best affiliate product recommendations. You shouldn’t just focus on the vertical you’re in, but on the traffic sources and audience that’s visiting your site. Traffic sources may include organic, paid, social media, referral, display, email, or direct traffic. You can view traffic source data in Google Analytics to view things such as time on page, bounce rate, geo location, age, gender, time of day, devices (mobile vs. desktop), and more so that you can focus your effort on the highest converting traffic. This analytics data is crucial to making informed decisions, increasing your conversion rates, and making more affiliate sales. 
But don't make the mistake of thinking this will be a passive source of income—you're on call whenever you have a guest and you'll always need to keep the place clean for incoming visitors. On top of just renting on Airbnb, consider offering your guests paid add-ons, like Lauren Gheysens', Royal Day Out in London, England—where she gives visitors a local's only tour of the city, complete with bespoke 18th century costumes.

Developing and monetizing microsites can also garner a serious amount of sales. These sites are advertised within a partner site or on the sponsored listings of a search engine. They are distinct and separate from the organization’s main site. By offering more focused, relevant content to a specific audience, microsites lead to increased conversions due to their simple and straightforward call to action.
As search engines have become more prominent, some affiliate marketers have shifted from sending e-mail spam to creating automatically generated web pages that often contain product data feeds provided by merchants. The goal of such web pages is to manipulate the relevancy or prominence of resources indexed by a search engine, also known as spamdexing. Each page can be targeted to a different niche market through the use of specific keywords, with the result being a skewed form of search engine optimization.

For example, if I talk about how cool a product is, and then you find out that I’m an affiliate for them, wouldn’t you as a conscientious observer become skeptical as to whether my information is biased, if perhaps I’m only saying how cool something is because I can get paid for it? Wouldn’t that make you question my integrity with other things I say as well?


Affiliates were among the earliest adopters of pay per click advertising when the first pay-per-click search engines emerged during the end of the 1990s. Later in 2000 Google launched its pay per click service, Google AdWords, which is responsible for the widespread use and acceptance of pay per click as an advertising channel. An increasing number of merchants engaged in pay per click advertising, either directly or via a search marketing agency, and realized that this space was already occupied by their affiliates. Although this situation alone created advertising channel conflicts and debates between advertisers and affiliates, the largest issue concerned affiliates bidding on advertisers names, brands, and trademarks.[39] Several advertisers began to adjust their affiliate program terms to prohibit their affiliates from bidding on those type of keywords. Some advertisers, however, did and still do embrace this behavior, going so far as to allow, or even encourage, affiliates to bid on any term, including the advertiser's trademarks.
Also, you wrote a review on WA and on your recommendation I joined them, did not do anything with it and re-joined them a few years later again! Some months ago i was reading your website again and came across your reviews in particular “Proven Amazon Course” by Jim Cockrum. Consequently, I purchased his book and shortly thereafter I purchased the ‘PAC’ course! (You should have received — I hope — some commissions from all of these!?)
If your audience is looking to launch an online business, migrate their ecommerce platform, or simply interested in ecommerce content, we encourage you to apply for the BigCommerce affiliate program. Our team will carefully review your application. Once approved, you will receive access to support, tracking, reporting, payments, and have your own unique affiliate link to track every referral you generate. BigCommerce is committed to the success of our affiliate partners.
Thank you so much! I’m so happy you liked this post and the ideas in it. Yes, putting your affiliate post on a separate page is something I like to do but I’ve also just posted on my blog a new affiliate post and that’s good too! I feel if you’ve been blogging for a year or more and THEN start affiliate marketing, it might be a good idea to ease your audience into this by placing your affiliate post on a separate page!

Thank you Yuwanda for this encouragement and information! My website is nowhere near finished yet but another blogger had recommended starting to get affiliate approval as soon as possible so I gave 2 of them a shot and was turned down today – but then stumbled upon your great post so I think it was all meant to be. I feel like it takes a lot of failures to achieve a small amount of success so this is just helping me to get to there… but patience is sometimes hard. I appreciate your excellent words of wisdom.

If I have a blog that is getting 100,000 page views a month that means that I’m probably getting at least 50,000 people to the site (most blogs will do between 1.2 to 1.4 pages per session). That means I have to try and get some small percentage of those people to buy something from me if I really want to do well. If I can’t get them to buy something then (in some cases) I have ads running on the site that will make me money anyways.


Working from home takes a lot of self-discipline. Before you become a remote worker, make sure you have a good system for keeping yourself organized and on task. Use whatever works for you – make a bullet journal, organize your duties on Trello, keep a detailed Google Calendar with Calendly for setting meetings. Just make sure you have a self-management scheme that keeps you going. I really like the new Focused Collection from Erin Condren.
Travel blogging is a hard industry to break into. However, the rewards can be worth it, and let’s face it, who doesn’t want to be paid for traveling around the world! There are numerous ways to monetize a travel blog, but affiliate marketing should predominantly be your focus. On your blog, promote hotels, tours, equipment hire services, flights, and anything else travel related. Then take a cut of the proceeds as your audience books their holidays based on your recommendations.
1. I’m no longer a solopreneur. If I was a solopreneur who netted $5K from a website I ran on my own, that would be pretty darn good. But I don’t do everything myself. Instead, I run a company that has a lot of expenses. My team manages a number of blogs, and I pay six team members each month, as well as dozens of writers who contribute to our blogs, plus a tech-support team. That $5K goes into company revenue, not directly into my pocket.
Affiliate marketing is commonly confused with referral marketing, as both forms of marketing use third parties to drive sales to the retailer. The two forms of marketing are differentiated, however, in how they drive sales, where affiliate marketing relies purely on financial motivations, while referral marketing relies more on trust and personal relationships.[citation needed]
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