Can You Make Money from Affiliate Marketing? If so How?

This is a follow up article for the “How do I Start a Blog and Make Money Online” series that we have been publishing on this blog to help the newbie’s get started with a blog.

Before I start, I would like to make one thing clear:

I do not believe in easy money and there is no magical tips in this article that will help you get rich overnight. So if you are after easy money then this article is not for you.

This article mainly covers the following topics:

  • What affiliate marketing is and the different types of affiliate marketing
  • The advantages of being an affiliate marketer
  • Some tips and good practices to become a successful affiliate marketer

So, can you really make money from affiliate programs? Well yes and no; there is money in affiliate marketing but if YOU can make money from it or not depends on a lot of other factors such as your commitment, experience, site traffic etc.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

According to Wikipedia

“Affiliate marketing is a marketing practice in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate’s marketing efforts”

Basically, you as a publisher will be rewarded when you help a business by promoting their products or services. So for example, if you sign up for Tips and Ticks HQ’s affiliate program and promote it’s products then you will get a commission when the visitor you send from your site makes a purchase.

Affiliate marketing is probably one of the quickest and cheapest (not the easiest) ways to start making money online as you don’t have to create any products yourself. You simply link up a buyer and a seller, and you take a commission on the sale that has been referred by you.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

When you join an Affiliate program and choose the products that you want to sell, sellers provide you with a unique affiliate code that you can use to refer traffic to the target site. Most affiliate programs will offer ready made text links, banners and other forms of creative copies whereby you only have to copy the code and place it on your website to start referring traffic. When interested visitors click on these links from your site they get redirected to the product site and if they purchase a product or subscribe to a service you as the referrer make a commission.

The sellers can track your performance through your affiliate ID and the affiliate softwares (eg. WP Affiliate Platform) that they use. You also have complete, real time access to all sales and commissions stats.

You don’t need to sell products all the time to make a commission. Different affiliate programs can use different payment terms such as:

  • Pay per Sale: In this program a merchant pays you a percentage of the sale price when the purchase is completed.
  • Pay per Click: In this program you get paid based on the number of visitors you redirect to the Merchant’s website from your affiliate site, whether or not a sale is made.
  • Pay per Lead: You get paid once the referred visitors provide their contact information on the target site by filling out a simple contact form.

Why be an Affiliate Marketer?

Affiliate marketing is considered to be one of the world’s fastest growing and best internet marketing techniques to earn money online and I will explain why:

  • Cost effective: Marketing on the internet is cheap and you don’t have to worry about the production cost as the product is already developed by the seller. You don’t need a physical business location or hire employees either.
  • Global Market: Online marketing gives you the opportunity to reach people all over the world easily.
  • No Fees: You don’t need to pay anything to join affiliate programs.
  • No Storage No Shipping: You don’t need to worry about storage, packing or shipment of the product. They are all taken care of by the seller.
  • No customer support: You don’t need to provide any customer support or deal with consumer complaints as the Seller does that for you.
  • Passive income: A regular job can give you a fixed income as long as you continue to work. Depending on your marketing skill Affiliate marketing can create a steady flow of income even when you are not in front of your computer.
  • Work from home: If you make enough money then you don’t have to worry about going to work at the same time every day or getting stuck in traffic. You can work in the comfort of your own home.

Tips on Becoming a Successful Affiliate Marketer

After reading all the benefits of affiliate marketing if you think you will be rich over night by selling affiliate products online then you are wrong. Affiliate marketing is definitely an excellent way to make money online but it’s highly competitive too. In order to be successful in Affiliate marketing you need to know the market needs, learn how to promote products, what works and what doesn’t. The following are a few tricks on becoming successful in affiliate marketing that I have learnt over time.

1. Only Choose a Handful of Good Products

The first mistake a lot of affiliate marketers make is that they register with too many different affiliate programs and try to promote everything. Pursuing affiliate marketing down this path can become very overwhelming and you won’t be able to promote any product properly. All you need in order to be successful is a handful of good products to promote. Try to understand the market needs and look for products that align correctly with the topic of your site.

2. Use Several Traffic Sources to Promote Products

Most affiliate marketers put up the ads only on their sites. There is nothing wrong with this approach but know that there are many other traffic sources that you can tap into and promote the products simultaneously. The more targeted traffic you can send to the sales page the more your chances are of making money.

Google Adwords can be used to drive targeted traffic to a sales page. You simply make an ad in your adwords account then use your affiliate link in the target page URL of the ad. Obviously, you will have to continuously measure the conversions and see if the campaign cost is less than the campaign profit in order to keep the campaign running but I am sure you get the idea.

3. Test, Measure and Track Your Affiliate Campaign

It is a very good idea to use different product promotion strategies so you can figure out what is working and what is not. Try to do split testing and measure the performance of each campaign then take actions accordingly. Changing a few things here and there can increase your profit dramatically. Make sure to place the banner ads on different areas of your site’s pages. Some positions will make the ads more noticeable than others.

Most affiliate programs will give you basic stats that you may need but there is nothing stopping you from using your own conversion tracking software too. There are many conversions tracking sofware out there that you can use to track your affiliate campaign.

4. Research the Demand of the Product

If you try to sell a product that is in low demand then chances are that you are not going to get many sales no matter how hard you try. So it is a good idea to spend a bit of time researching and finding out if a product that you are thinking of promoting is a product that your audience needs. If your site gets decent traffic then you can conduct an online survey and easily get input from your visitors.

5. Stay Current with New Methods and Techniques

Affiliate marketing is a very competitive field and people are always coming up with new techniques. Try to stay current with these new techniques and market trends otherwise you will fall behind.

6. Choose the Right Merchant

When you promote a product you also promote the person or the company who is behind the product so try to choose wisely. You don’t want your visitors to go and buy a product following your advice then come back unhappy. Do you think that this visitor will come back to your site and take your advice again? Most likely no; this can hurt your credibility in the long run. Usually, websites/company that offer good customer service will have better customer satisfaction so try to stick with promoting their products.

7. Use Helpful Tools

If you are serious about affiliate marketing then try to find tools that will help you be more efficient. There are many helpful tools out there. If you are using a WordPress powered site then consider getting a plugin similar to the Affiliate Link Manager.

Don’t just hope and pray that visitors will buy; setup everything correctly and make it happen! If you think that visitors will click on your affiliate links and buy just because you placed dozens of affiliate links on your website then you are wrong! You need to have a structured plan in place. Affiliate marketing is a business so you will have a much better chance of succeeding if you treat it like one.

I am sure I haven’t covered everything so please feel free to share your tips in the comment area below.

The affiliate marketing FAQ is also a good read for you.

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Comments (53 responses)

  1. Mark says:

    Thanks for the tips and advice as someone who has tried to get on in affiliate marketing and failed more than once it’s always useful to find information that helps point me in the right direction. As you mention, you need to be persistent in order to succeed. You must find and fix the things that aren’t working and build on the things that are.

    Also thanks for keeping this page updated, I notice that the earliest comments are a few years old now but the page seems to have been updated only a few months ago. It’s nice to find someone who seems to care about what they are writing and isn’t just pumping out the same old re-written junk.

    All the best,
    Mark.

  2. Ruby says:

    I appreciate this article very much. I am recently unemployed after 3 years in the same job where I was already working from home doing medical transcription for a large local hospital which is what I needed considering I have a disabled spouse and a toddler at home. I found this article to be very easy to follow and it explained things very well for me. I am planning to try to get into affiliate marketing because I was becoming unhappy with my job but still needed it to provide for my family which put me in a lurch when I lost it. I do hope that this is going to go well with me. I spend a lot of time on the internet and plan to try to choose affiliates that I have personally used their products so that I know I am promoting something that is quality like you recommended above. I plan to begin a blog based on being a mom and think that I need to promote things that are for children as the traffic will be mostly parents and I think it will work better. I do appreciate you taking the time to do this article. I am excited to try something new and know that you cannot get rich over night but thankfully I have a 401k and soon unemployment payments to help sustain my family as well as I also have a direct sales company that I started with in November to all bring in some extra income to replace some of what I lost with my job. Wish me luck and again, thank you for this article I found it very useful and very helpful.

  3. Ilyas says:

    great article currently trying to understand affiliate marketing really interested to start my own website not expecting high returns straight away but wants to experience and if possible put some hard work behind it to make it successful,any comments suggestions welcome:)

  4. Chester says:

    I appreciate your honesty by showing the disclaimer at the beginning of this article:
    “So if you are after easy money then this article is not for you.”
    I am well aware that affiliate marketing is not a way to get rich quick. I don’t think that most people who first enter affiliate marketing realize this. What I do realize about affiliate marketing is, it takes a lot of work, and a lot of time. I have found that the money does come, but it is a slow process. But once it starts, it’s just a matter of staying with it and remaining consistent.

  5. swaraj nandedkar says:

    I loved your disclaimer at the starting of this article “I do not believe in easy money and there is no magical tips in this article that will help you get rich overnight. So if you are after easy money then this article is not for you.”

    This is truly right that earning money from affiliate marketing needs lots of hardwork and patience. You need to gain huge traffic and trust of the visitors.

  6. jan says:

    In the comments one person said he had 16 websites. Just checking on affiliate marketing Why would he need 16 websites Also do u have to have a blog page before u get into this thanks for help

  7. nathan sturley says:

    To make a good living doing you really have to get loads of traffic and this is either by been top of Google for high competition keywords (nearly impossible) or to simply have thousands of sites and PR’s and videos.
    I worked for around 2 years to achieve this non stop work just tied to the PC. But it is there forever after making it worthwhile as a passive income. It is possible but the work you need to do is simply too much for most people and it is brain numbingly dull too. But then once you have finished you no longer need to do anything again so that is the option in my opinion.

  8. Charles says:

    This is one of the best articles I have read on affiliate marketing. Many of the mistakes that beginners make are ones that I can identify with, because I have made them. For example, I have been guilty of signing up with every affiliate program under the sun. When you mentioned near the end that I must have a “structured plan in place”, I realized that this is something that I have not been doing. This article has fortunately motivated me to go back to the basics. There is one question that was not answered however. This question is, “Is it necessary to have a separate domain name for every affiliate product that is promoted?” I would like to promote a handful of affiliated products with one website. The reason is, I can name each page whatever I want, instead of struggling to find a unique domain name that is probably not available.
    Sorry for the long comment, but I am taking this affiliate marketing serious.

  9. Craig says:

    Great article, especially the point about limited your choices. Far too many people end up trying to promote lots of products as opposed to a few well.

  10. Christian says:

    I have been doing affiliate marketing for about 2 years now. It has it’s ups and downs, but on the whole I enjoy it as with each website I build I start to learn more about this industry. It is hard in regards capturing your required audience but once you master that with unique content and good products, sales will come.
    I am not quite their yet but I understand it is not a get rich quick scheme and blogs like this one are really helpful for newbies and established marketers alike for encouragement and tips.
    Keep up the good work!

  11. Vic Little says:

    Great article… I’ve been contemplating whether to venture into affiliate marketing.
    Your article provided some sound advice and direction. Thanks

  12. affiliate kid says:

    Dear author,

    Wonderful blog.

    I have been following this blog for sometime now. Your blog teaches even a novice about affiliate marketing.

    Now this is what I did,

    I created a website. Nowadays this is not tough nor expensive. I went to hostgator and signed up for their hosting.

    Then I signed up with clickbanks,amazon and flipkart affiliate programs and started promoting their products. Believe me initial 1 to 2 months I got no commission. I thought this is crap. Suddenly I noticed slight improvement and small amounts flowing in. Now I have a steady earning. Wont say I can buy a villa with that.. But I am getting a decent income and this is my part time job now :) I have 14 websites now with reasonable traffic and I earn more than I earn with my regular job.

    Again thanks a lot for this blog… else I would not have even known that there is something called affiliate marketing.

    Thanks,
    An enlightened affiliate :)

  13. gary says:

    Great information on affiliate marketing!

  14. Ron D Grossesse says:

    Hmmm .. excellent article, good for new comers. I have been with affiliate marketing for 5 years. I did many mistakes and learned lot. I would say Traffic is the currency of affiliate marketing. The more traffic you’re able to drive to your affiliate page, the higher your chances of making a sale.

    There are several ways to drive traffic to a website. But not all of them will be interested in your offers. To increase your likelihood of making sales, target relevant platforms on which your potential clients frequent. Even though targeted traffic is vital to affiliate marketing success. The problem is that people don’t buy instantly when they first land on a website. They may want to weigh their options to ensure that they purchase the right product or service that can help solve their problems.

    Thanks a lot,
    Ron D Grossesse

  15. Gurtej singh says:

    Guys, saw all the comments, one thing i want to say is that nothing is easy in this world, and to earn good money you have to put some smart work. One tip from my side don’t do different things but do the things differently, success will kiss your feet.

  16. Afrasiab says:

    It is a very helpful tip for Affiliate Marketing Thanks!

  17. lee says:

    hi really informative for me as i have just got my site ranked and was toying with which was the best way of getting some advertising income coming in.will now go and have a look at what there is on offer through affiliate marketing in my field.

    so for great info thanks lee

  18. Philip Harper says:

    This is a really interesting post, I’m just looking into Affiliate Marketing as a way of monetizing my photography and this post as given me some really interesting ideas. Thanks, maybe there could be a part 2?!

  19. Danielle says:

    I have been making money with Affiliate Marketing for over 2 years now. I must admit, it has not been easy, especially in the beginning. But it takes time and it is worth the wait. Affiliate Marketing is one of the best ways to make Passive Income from home, and who doesn’t want Passive Income?

  20. FROMiVC says:

    i’ve been affiliate marketing for over 3 years, and it’s not easy as i still need to make a sale. i realised i have not been consistent with my marketing efforts. i need to pay more attention to my blog posts or maybe change my writing style. i also think that i am concentrating more on wanting money than actually putting in the work. So i’ve come to conclusion that Affiliate marketing does work providing You treat it like a real business. Anyone can get started, just don’t give up and Keep at it, I Am…

  21. Victor says:

    Great article ive been in this business for a couple of years..and these are all great to start with..i also highly recommend to start a list..thats where the money is…instead of driving your paid traffic to the sales page send them to your opt in page so you can get their email…then send them to the sales page..it works for me..

  22. JohnD says:

    Thanks for the great articles and tips you presented in you blog. It does a lot of sense and looking forward to coming back again to check your latest post.

  23. omalitcha says:

    Thanks for taking time to explain.Your article is really quite detailed.
    It has proved an eye-opener for me.I just signed up for affiliate marketing
    now I know much more about what there is to be done.Thanks again.

  24. Mike says:

    Good article, gave me some fresh ideas too. I have done affiliate marketing for a year now, and I’m enjoying surfing around the Internet and searching and creating stuff for my niche.
    It’s true that sometimes we have to wait longer to see the results, sometimes they come more easily- most important, I think, is to stay motivated and not to start panicking.
    Thanks for good share!

  25. Von The "No BS" Guy says:

    Great Article but I believe that the reason most fail at Affiliate Marketing is because they over-complicate the process. Three Steps to Making Bank as an Affiliate: First: Connect Yourself with a Proven Successful Product which others are currently using to make big bucks. Second: Promote, Promote, and then Promote some more. Use every possible tool at your disposal to promote your affiliate link (i.e. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.). Finally, Don’t Quit! The difference between the winners and losers in the Affiliate Marketing Industry is simply this: Those who just keep doing it tend to be the ones who actually make money at it! I believe a Google Search of the Top Ten Affiliate Marketers will reveal that each of them has been in the business for years! With the right opportunity, it’s just a matter of time… Period.

  26. Gina LaBarbera says:

    This is a great article that explains how affiliate marketing works. Good old fashioned SEO works for getting people to your page.

  27. susan says:

    This is well put together article ,affiliate marketing does take a lot of work.

  28. Kevin Yeaman says:

    Lim Shi Fu:
    This article shows something very important – it is not easy to make a living online despite what many people wrongly believe, and to do so requires a complete understanding of the mechanics behind the different models. Hopefully this clears up the misconceptions people have about web marketing.

  29. Kevin Yeaman says:

    This is definitely an article containing some great tips for anyone interested in getting started in affiliate marketing. One thing to note is that if done correctly, affiliate marketing is a win-win situation for both sellers and buyers, as well as the marketer.

  30. GW says:

    Right you are. Getting started sure can be difficult. I made every possible mistake a person could make but advice from you has given me some ideas that will help me.

  31. admin says:

    Most affiliate programs will send you a check or pay the commissions you earned to your PayPal account.

  32. Elaine Phang says:

    I am a newbies. I want to promote affiliates marketing on my web. My question is, how do I receive money from the affiliate programs?

  33. bank blogging says:

    For me, every single Clickbank Internet Marketing product is overly hype. Not sure why they like to hype things up. Maybe it works?

  34. Pamela says:

    This is awesome info! I think affiliates should also beware of promoting overly hype products. Plus affiliates should also set their selves apart from other affiliates by writing their own ads and use the marketing materials the vendors give you only as a guide not in their ad campaigns. This will help affiliates in the long run because other affiliates more than likely will use these same ads and prospects can find out especially if the visitors do their own research.

  35. E.Padro says:

    Excellent post, very detailed and informative. I’m an affiliate marketer myself and and understand the importance of a good promotion campaign to get targeted traffic. Also affiliates who are new in this market will benefit immensely from your post. Thank you for taking the time to share this info with us.

  36. Mully says:

    Asif,

    Thanks for the tips but I appreaciate more if you can go deeper into the sub-content. For example, item 4, ‘Research the Demand of the Product’. For a newbie like myself, I certainly wanted to get more details but do not know where to look for.

  37. noel says:

    i like this article, i am web designer and i started with affiliate programs one year ago. In the begginin i was not able to redirect one person, Now i get traffic on my blog and i update my blog most of the time.
    I think you have to get a best space with good design to publish your add and talk very good about the product so that people will be happy to click on your add and come back again.
    Thx a lot.

  38. Santhosh says:

    Decent collection of tips, I just started . It is the first time that I noticed my Blog RSS come automatically below in comments. Just started of with Affiliate marketing in my site and looking to promoting products. I am seriously promoting Amazon products but not able to sell a single one till now.

  39. zivi says:

    thanks for tips. i was in affiliate for three month and one thing i learn is [trust is best way for long run] because this is what we normaly forget when we get to hungry or when things dont work too good

  40. john says:

    Thanks for the affiliate manager tip. I will be sure to check this out and add to my own site to help me. Thanks again.

  41. admin says:

    You can give this free affiliate link cloaker plugin a go:

    http://www.wordpress-ecommerce.com/?p=851

  42. Olivia says:

    Does anybody know about any WordPress plugin which can be used to cloak affiliate links?

    thanks

  43. admin says:

    @Raymond, good point… article marketing is definitely a good option to exercise.

  44. Madison says:

    A great list of tips. Cuts down my time in scouring the web looking for helpful affiliate marketing resources.

    Thanks

  45. Joshua says:

    Nice post… I agree that affiliate marketing is hard to do, and most of the time those getting into affiliate marketing give up way too soon. You need to stick with it, monitor your statistics, watch to see what is working and what is not and make changes when necessary.

  46. Raymond says:

    Good article but you forgot to talk about article marketing which is IMO the most effective way to get started with little or no budget.

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