Making money while you sleep is something that we all dream of. But the fact is that it is actually possible.
And that’s where Affiliate Marketing comes into the picture. A report by Statista shows that affiliate marketing is a growing market. The industry was worth $8.2 billion in 2022, a 10% increase from the year before. It’s expected to jump to $14.3 billion in 2023 and reach $15.7 billion by 2024. According to a report by Astute Analytica, it’s going to reach a whopping $36.9 billion by 2030.
So, where do you begin? Amazon Associates is your low-lift hero. Its vast product range and consumer trust make it ideal. Promote it through blogs, YouTube videos, or social media – the platform is yours to choose.
But affiliate marketing isn’t just about Amazon. Entire websites can be built around promoting diverse products across the web.
Before you dive in, though, let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room: passive income isn’t overnight magic. Building a successful affiliate business takes time, effort, and a strategic approach.
Stay tuned! In this guide, we’ll explore:
- Top-notch Amazon affiliate sites: See how the pros do it and visualize your own earning potential.
- Beyond Amazon: Discover a world of diverse products to champion.
Let’s unlock the door to freedom and income!
1. Choose Your Platform And Strategy
The first step to becoming an affiliate marketer is to choose the platform on which you want to build your audience. Every affiliate marketer utilizes a different approach and uses a different platform. There are numerous affiliate marketing concepts based on various approaches from which to choose:
- Sites that specialize in a specific topic or provide reviews. These are affiliates that either review products for a specific audience or compare a product line to its competitors. To attract an audience, you must generate content linked to the review field and post on a regular basis.
- Content on the internet. Content creators include bloggers, YouTubers (vloggers), or social media influencers. They develop specialty material that appeals to a specific audience. The idea is to introduce specialized products that their target audience will appreciate organically. This raises the likelihood that they will purchase, and the person will earn an affiliate commission.
- Courses, events, and workshops. If you’re a teacher, you can incorporate affiliate partnership offers into your classes.
Regardless of which path you pick, the two most important aspects of affiliate marketing are authenticity and the potential to grow a loyal audience.
If you can’t connect with your audience organically, you won’t be able to convert them into affiliate sales.
To choose a platform and method, consider the following:
- What platforms do you primarily use anyway?
- Which platforms are you most familiar with?
Starting with a marketing platform that you are familiar with allows you to develop high-quality content. This can lead to a larger, more engaged audience, which can convert better.
2. Choose A Niche And An Audience
When it comes to choosing a niche, go for something you love and are knowledgeable about. This will make you seem genuine and be a reliable source of information to potential customers.
It also helps you in determining which products and brands to promote.
The niche you choose will determine how much time and effort you’ll need to put in to get it to the point where you can start seeing SEO benefits. Large blogging sites with even larger marketing budgets dominate SERPs for software, marketing, and healthcare. Finding untapped places where competition isn’t as fierce—and getting in there before others do—is the key.
As you share more content, you can use various affiliate marketing tools to discover who your actual audience is and what they like.
You must know your audience well enough that you understand why they follow you in the first place.
3. Discover Your Products.
To make money as an affiliate marketer, your audience should and must relate to what you’re saying.
The products or services you promote must be a true need for them. If you get this wrong, it can hinder your success and undermine your credibility—as well as that of your audience.
Don’t worry if you’re unsure where to find products or brands to collaborate with. There are numerous affiliate networks to start, such as:
- Affiliate Future
- CJ Affiliate
These are the world’s most known affiliate networks where you can find a wide range of products, from hosting packages to beauty supplies.
Another alternative is to check the websites of the products and services you use (and enjoy) to see if they run an affiliate program.
Large brands often have affiliate programs directly on their websites.
You can also use a more direct approach. Contact the owner of an excellent product you come across to see if they have an affiliate marketing scheme. If they don’t, they could be willing to work with you to make an arrangement, such as providing you with a special promo code to share with your followers.
The nicest prices are generally obtained when you are the first to inquire and have a suitable distribution channel, such as approaching a new fitness product vendor if you are a fitness or weight loss blogger.
Affiliate marketing programs will have TOS that you must meet, so read the tiny print carefully. For example, your link will typically have a cookie with a time limit, and some platforms will not enable you to purchase pay-per-click advertising containing the product or company’s name.
4. Choosing Your First Affiliate Product
The most important criteria to bear in mind while you brainstorm products or browse through affiliate platforms is that the product should be aligned with your audience or the audience you wish to build.
- Is it something your audience would find useful?
- Is it relevant to your area of expertise?
A food blogger, for example, is unlikely to promote tech gadgets products. But products such as cookware, recipes, gourmet ingredients, or even aprons would make more sense and appeal to the target audience who are all about cooking.
Also, be sure the product or service you’re offering is appropriate for the platform you’re promoting it on.
Makeup and clothes, for example, are particularly suited to image-heavy platforms such as Instagram. However, suppose you’re pushing more in-depth purchases, such as affiliate software. In that case, your conversion rates may be greater on longer-form attention-retaining platforms, such as a blog or a YouTube channel.
5. Promoting Your Affiliate Offer
As previously stated, affiliate marketing earnings can eventually become a sort of passive income, but you must do some hard lifting in the beginning. The quality of your products’ reviews will determine your success.
It’s best to go personal while writing a review. Share your experience. If you’re writing a review, give your honest opinion based on your personal experience with and knowledge of the product. The more candid and open you are, the more authentic you will appear to the audience. People will be more likely to regard your advice if they believe they can trust you.
People must trust in you enough to act on your recommendation. Therefore trust is essential in your affiliate marketing efforts. The level of trust required to make affiliate sales varies by business and product—for example, being an effective affiliate for a $1k course requires more trust than being an effective affiliate for a $5 phone case.
Aside from sharing your experiences, you can develop trust by limiting the number of affiliate offers you promote or by only being an affiliate for products you personally use and sticking to the area of your narrow expertise.
1. Affiliate Site Examples
The world of affiliate sites is diverse, with each variety catering to specific products and programs. Some affiliates partner directly with individual companies, service providers, and vendors, often focusing on niche areas like web hosting or SAAS solutions.
Others collaborate with major retailers and merchants like Amazon, Walmart, or Target, offering a broader range of consumer goods. Let’s delve into some concrete examples to explore this fascinating landscape.
Amazon Affiliate Site Examples
Looking for the most versatile affiliate program? Amazon Associates might be your answer, boasting a vast product catalog suitable for nearly any blog niche. To spark your inspiration, let’s dive into three real-life examples!
The first two sites are open books – perfect for studying, analyzing, and replicating their success. Third, well, that’s a secret sauce I can’t divulge 😉 However, to pique your curiosity about the earning potential, I’ll reveal the performance of one of my own Amazon affiliate sites.
Example: Let’s say you are promoting an App that costs $200 and your commission is 60% on each sale
and you promoted this product and you are able to get like 50 sales each month.
50 * (200*0.8) = $6000 per month. Nice! And let’s say that your advertising costs are $3000 then you earn $3000 every Month.
BUT you will need to promote every month, pay for advertising every month, effort and Time every month!!
Per Year: 3000 * 12 = $40K
NOW, Let’s change the scenario. You are promoting a product that costs $200 . Your commission is only 40% now and not 60%.
But what is different here, is that the product you selected gives recurring commissions, so you will get 40% every month without promoting again and again.
simple calculations for 50 sales per month:
50 * (200*0.4) = $4000 and your advertising costs are $3000 then you earn $1000 for the First Month Only then $4000 for the next months without any advertising or efforts (It’s recurring!)
So the next month you will earn $4000 without paying anything!
Per year: 1000 + ( 4000 * 11) = 45K
1. The Wirecutter
In the vast landscape of online reviews, The Wirecutter stands out as a shining beacon for tech and gadget enthusiasts. Founded in 2011 by publishing veteran Brian Lam, it quickly ascended to become a trusted source for insightful product recommendations and buying guides.
In 2016, The New York Times recognized its immense value, acquiring both The Wirecutter and its sister site, The Sweet Home, for a cool $30 million. This hefty price tag speaks volumes about the site’s reputation and influence.
So, what makes The Wirecutter tick? What sets it apart from the countless review sites vying for your attention? Here are a few key differentiators:
1. Independent Testing with Skin in the Game: Unlike many review sites that rely on free samples from manufacturers, The Wirecutter takes a refreshingly independent approach. They purchase every single product they review, putting each gadget through its paces in real-world scenarios. This investment ensures unbiased evaluations, free from potential favoritism or pressure.
2. Expert Voices, Masterful Storytelling: The Wirecutter’s team of writers isn’t just a bunch of tech geeks (though they definitely are that!). They’re seasoned journalists with a knack for translating complex features into compelling narratives. Their reviews are informative, engaging, and, dare I say, even entertaining to read.
3. Conversion-Craft: Guiding You to the Perfect Purchase: The Wirecutter understands that a great review isn’t just about singing a product’s praises. It’s about guiding readers towards an informed buying decision. Their reviews are meticulously structured, addressing common concerns, highlighting potential drawbacks, and ultimately guiding you towards the product that best suits your needs and budget.
In short, The Wirecutter isn’t just another review site. It’s a trusted resource, a knowledgeable friend, and a savvy shopping companion all rolled into one. If you’re looking for gadgets that make your life easier, smarter, and more enjoyable, The Wirecutter is your one-stop shop for informed buying decisions.
2. Outdoor Gear Lab
Outdoor Gear Lab is a trusted resource for outdoor enthusiasts looking for unbiased reviews of camping, hiking, and sports products. Founded in 2010 by Chris McNamara, the site began as a gear review section on a rock climbing website and has since grown into a comprehensive destination for outdoor gear knowledge.
One of Outdoor Gear Lab’s core principles is its commitment to independent testing. Like The Wirecutter, Outdoor Gear Lab purchases all of the products it reviews, ensuring that its opinions are not swayed by manufacturer discounts or free samples. This dedication to integrity has earned Outdoor Gear Lab a loyal following among outdoor enthusiasts who value honest and reliable product evaluations.
The site’s user-friendly design makes it easy to find the information you need. Product comparison tables are a standout feature, allowing you to quickly compare the features, ratings, and summaries of multiple products side-by-side. This makes it easy to identify the gear that best meets your needs and budget.
Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or just starting out, Outdoor Gear Lab is a valuable resource for finding the right gear for your next outdoor adventure.
3. Secret Site: Project Go White Hat
Ever wondered how much an Amazon affiliate niche site can really earn? While I can’t share my own project due to its competitive nature, I can offer a fascinating case study from the archives: Project Go White.
This site, launched in late 2014, consistently raked in a staggering $8,700 per month, proving the potential of targeted affiliate marketing. But the goal wasn’t just sustenance – it was a lucrative exit.
Knowing buyers favor “white hat” link building for long-term stability, I embarked on a meticulous transformation. The initial “gray hat” strategies, though effective, needed to be replaced with squeaky-clean guest posts and the like.
It wasn’t a quick swap, but the effort paid off. After meticulous link cleanup, the site went live on the market with a price tag exceeding a quarter million dollars.
Intrigued by affiliate site success stories? Head over to my YouTube playlist for deeper dives into various models and strategies. And for another inspiring example, check out Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, a super affiliate who’s cracked the code for working directly with top brands.
2. Where To Find Affiliate Programs
Target, Shareasale, Rakuten etc. Don’t sign up for any of them before your site hits at least 100 page views per day. Amazon doesn’t pay an awful lot these days, but you get commission for the entire basket, which I like.
I think it still deserves a look even though it’s received quite a bad wrap over the years for cutting commission rates. I used to earn at a decent rate of 8% pre-2020, but then disaster destroyed everything for everyone. I earn at 3%, which isn’t great but definitely not nothing.
Here are some of the biggest players in the game:
- Amazon Associates: The OG of affiliate programs, it lets you monetize almost any blog or social media account with the vast Amazon marketplace.
- Walmart Affiliate Program: Amazon’s brick-and-click rival is making major waves online, and their affiliate program is following suit.
- ShareASale: This network boasts over 3,900 merchants and practically any product under the sun. Commissions tend to be higher than Amazon or Walmart, but conversion rates might be lower.
- ClickBank: A veteran in the digital realm, ClickBank specializes in promoting ebooks, courses, and other downloadable goodies.
- Expedia Affiliate Network: Travel bloggers, rejoice! Expedia offers a fantastic way to earn from wanderlust-fueled clicks, with Hotels.com as a popular choice.
But the affiliate universe extends far beyond these giants. Networks like Impact Radius, Commission Junction, and PepperJam offer access to diverse product ranges, and many individual vendors have their own programs too.
From your favorite hosting company to that niche site course you adore, chances are they have an affiliate scheme waiting to be tapped.
The best way to unearth hidden gems? Think about the products you love and use everyday. Reach out to their companies – you might be surprised to find a program lurking behind the scenes.
And remember, authentic enthusiasm for the products you promote is key to success. So go forth, explore, and turn your passion into profit!
3. What About the Downsides of Affiliate Marketing?
While affiliate marketing boasts exciting potential, it’s crucial to acknowledge the flip side. One major drawback lies in the power dynamic: affiliates don’t hold the reins. This means program terms, including commission structures, can change at the company’s discretion.
Take Amazon’s 2017 revision of its commission rates. For years, affiliates thrived on a progressive system rewarding high sales volume. Then, boom, the game shifted – commissions became category-based.
This move disproportionately impacted affiliates like myself, who saw a 35% revenue dip across two high-traffic sites. My average rate plummeted from 8.5% to 5.5%, a stark demonstration of how program tweaks can significantly impact affiliates.
The sting doesn’t end there. Companies can even pull the plug on their affiliate programs entirely. While preparing for the worst is impossible, acknowledging the potential for change is key.
Get Started With Affiliate Marketing
1. Decide what niche you want to “play” in. Super important, this. If you get the niche wrong, it really doesn’t matter what else you get right, unless you have really deep pockets to build links and hire expensive technical people (SEOs).
Tip: stay away from any niche that seems dominated by very big sites such as wirecutter.com and all the rest of them. Baby niche comes to mind.
How do you research a niche? Say you want to sell hiking boots. Head over to Google and type in something like: Best Hiking Boots for Summer, or for winter, or for large hikers, or whatever.
The more specific the “test” search query, the better. Hit Enter and see who Google surfaces. If you can’t see any blogger-style sites on page #1 of Google, it’s gonna be almost impossible to rank in search and make money.
Or do what I did. Go to Amazon and spend some time looking at stuff people buy. Explore different departments and see if you like any of the popular products there. You might find that people buy lots of a particular product, and you can build a site around that and related products.
I’d not heard about the main product my site sells lol, but I love the damn products because my readers love them and buy them. Find something you’re interested in, or at least something you could easily understand and become a sort of authority in.
2. Buy a domain on Namecheap or wherever. This is simply the name of your website. Let’s call it: hikingmafia.com.
Tip: Try to check if there’s any other site with a similar name online or if there’s registered names similar to the domain name you’re considering.
I once had someone cancel a transaction because the name of my site (a part of it) is a registered trademark. Not a really big deal, I suppose, but something that warrants some attention nonetheless.
Domain Cost: $9 to $18 depending on who you buy from.
It seems to me that Google likes sites whose domain names don’t leave it in doubt as to what the site is about. I manage someone’s site (1k-1.6k page views a day), and they seem to rank for some pretty competitive search queries even if they have a zero link building or seo budget.
If money isn’t an issue for you and you can hire the finest folks around, ignore this domain name advice and build what’s called an authority site, one that covers everything under the sun, from widgets, beanies, and ATVs to hunting bows and laser tags e.g. wirecutter.com or Consumer Reports.
3. Build a simple website, preferably a WordPress one. You can build it yourself for free (watch YT videos on how to set up an affiliate type WordPress site).
Theme: A theme is the face of your site. And beautiful sites are nice, but not if they’re not ranking and helping you make bank.
So, get a light, easy-to-use theme. I recommend Generatepress or Astra. I don’t know of any other themes that are lighter than these.
If you have coding skills, you can definitely build your own theme and make it as light as you want.
4. Do keyword research. Find 30-50 easy-to-rank keywords manually or using a tool such as the Keywordchef.com. I like the kind and competent dude behind this tool, and he’s always available to answer questions if you have any. You can also sign up for an Ahrefs trial. It’s great for finding easy to rank keywords FAST.
You sure can find keywords without a tool. Simply go to Google and type “Best Hiking Shoes for| and let good ol Google auto suggest possible content ideas. I’ve found a bunch of really nice ($$$) keywords this way.
Then, plug the keywords you find into the KGR Keyword Research Method. Google up Doug Cunnington’s KGR method and rule of 63, pretty easy stuff to understand.
This keyword research method can teach you a thing or two about gauging how competitive a keyword is. Some people say it doesn’t work anymore, but it’s the exact same keyword research method I used to find bankable keywords at the beginning of my affiliate marketing career in 2018.
5. Write damn good content. Google and searchers like calling it helpful content. You’ll likely struggle with getting some of your content indexed no matter how good you think it is. Things seem to have changed a lot since 2018.
I’d say stay away from AI content writing tools of any kind, including ChatGPT. That’s my opinion, and I’m sure I’m not the only person who believes writing content “manually” and not “robotically” is best.
Can’t write or just don’t have time for the tough grind? Hire someone on places such as Problogger, Indeed, Upwork, or wherever. I’ve also seen a few affiliate marketers who sell affiliate content at decent prices, like $0.04 a word. But tell you what? The finest writers are rarely the cheapest.
Tip: start with informational articles and later “money” posts. How to Prep for a Hike in Montana (info). Best Jackets for Cold Weather Hiking (money). I suggest a 70:30 ratio.
6. Build links and do branding. I’ve not done this yet, but I’m pretty sure it helps loads. I suspect it’s what differentiates the really big guys from little guys like me here.
Affiliate marketing programs are one of the best ways to expand your brand reach and test the markets with very low risks.
Businesses can see what resonates with niche audiences without having to spend upfront costs. You can achieve your desired results for less and reach a wider audience while avoiding wasting time on micromanagement, even with millions in traffic volume.