And don't forget, in order to truly make personal recommendations, you'll need to be a CUSTOMER as well. I see far too many affiliates making personal recommendations without even making the investment in the product or service they are promoting. Not only will you lose credibility when you do this, you'll be limiting your marketing potential by not knowing the product like you should.
A handful is fine, but a dozen or more cheapens the experience for your users. If you absolutely MUST promote lots of products and services, PERSONALLY RECOMMEND only a small number of them. Take your very best ONE or TWO affiliate programs and stick to recommending them as your staple. A premium service with a slightly higher than normal price tag and generous commission is ideal for this strategy. But be sure it is worth the price!

It will probably take a couple years to build a sustainable, passive income. That is the 1st car I have EVER purchased myself at age 29 (I was broke until then and leased from my parents). But the time committed to affiliate marketing and creating great tutorials and YouTube videos was worth it… I work for myself, there is virtually no limit on how much I can make, my schedule is flexible, and I collect enough passive income to live how I want.
Your autoresponder is the series of emails that go out to people who subscribe to your website in exchange for something they want. For example, if you sign up to my Author Blueprint at www.TheCreativePenn.com/blueprint you’ll get useful emails, articles and videos, some of which contain affiliate links, all for products that I have personally found useful.
In 1994, Tobin launched a beta version of PC Flowers & Gifts on the Internet in cooperation with IBM, who owned half of Prodigy.[6] By 1995 PC Flowers & Gifts had launched a commercial version of the website and had 2,600 affiliate marketing partners on the World Wide Web. Tobin applied for a patent on tracking and affiliate marketing on January 22, 1996, and was issued U.S. Patent number 6,141,666 on Oct 31, 2000. Tobin also received Japanese Patent number 4021941 on Oct 5, 2007, and U.S. Patent number 7,505,913 on Mar 17, 2009, for affiliate marketing and tracking.[7] In July 1998 PC Flowers and Gifts merged with Fingerhut and Federated Department Stores.[8]
Many affiliate programs will often run promotions with good discounts or giveaways that might be attractive to your audience. For example, if you're an Amazon Associate and the site have a big Holiday Sale, it would be the perfect opportunity for you to promote discounts to your website visitors. This is a great way to promote your offers while also providing good value to your audience. 
ps. collecting these Facebook polls is one of the main reasons I was able to get so many SiteGround sales. Yes, I’m suggesting SiteGround for your host, but this is also a strategy that can be used to collect unbiased reviews. Just go to Facebook and search “SiteGround poll” and you can dig up some great stuff – you can do this with lots of affiliate products/companies.

Focus on reviewing products that fall within your niche. Then, leveraging the rapport you have created with your audience and your stance as an expert, tell your readers why they would benefit from purchasing the product you are promoting. It is especially effective to compare this product to others in the same category. Most importantly, make sure you are generating detailed, articulate content to improve conversions.
Great post, I also liked your one on starting a fashion blog. Do you have a post on affiliate linking through social media? I’m pretty confused on whats acceptable, especially for Pinterest. It seems Shopstyle {Shopsense} and rewardStyle seem to work on Pinterest. I started my website on Weebly.. so I am making the oh-not-so-fun transition over to WordPress currently.
Since the emergence of affiliate marketing, there has been little control over affiliate activity. Unscrupulous affiliates have used spam, false advertising, forced clicks (to get tracking cookies set on users' computers), adware, and other methods to drive traffic to their sponsors. Although many affiliate programs have terms of service that contain rules against spam, this marketing method has historically proven to attract abuse from spammers.
A far more lucrative way to earn as an affiliate is to recommend high-quality digital products created by online entrepreneurs. The reason is simple: digital entrepreneurs offer as much as 50 percent commission — in fact, in many affiliate circles, 50 percent is expected. Many products created by individuals also sell at higher price points, anywhere from $19 to hundreds of dollars. That means you earn far more per sale.
Michelle, I’m so excited for your course but one thing I worry about is that after one full year of blogging I am still getting hardly any traffic. I am working my way through a class about how to increase your traffic and affiliate marketing sales through Pinterest so we’ll see if that works but yeah traffic remains o be a problem for me. Will you talk about that in our course?
Affiliate networks usually have hundreds, if not thousands of products for affiliate marketers to promote. Remember, 90% of affiliate marketers come to these networks to find a product to promote, so, with this in mind, if a product creator uses an affiliate network for their products, they have a higher chance of their products being found by affiliates to promote.
Michelle, I’m so excited for your course but one thing I worry about is that after one full year of blogging I am still getting hardly any traffic. I am working my way through a class about how to increase your traffic and affiliate marketing sales through Pinterest so we’ll see if that works but yeah traffic remains o be a problem for me. Will you talk about that in our course?
Remember: your audience is coming to you because they a) like you and/or b) find your content helpful/consider you an expert, or someone with more knowledge than them in a particular area that they’re interested in. They WANT to know what food, supplements, cleaning products, makeup, tech tools, knitting yarn, [enter your niche items here] you use… so don’t be afraid to share it with them!
Creating a unique tracking ID for an Amazon link is easy. Simply log in to your Amazon affiliate dashboard, click “Account Settings” at the very top on the right, then click “Manage Tracking IDs”. From there you can make a new tracking ID so you can track which web page/campaign sold what.  You can learn more about using Amazon’s Tracking IDs here.
Jump up ^ Shashank SHEKHAR (2009-06-29). "Online Marketing System: Affiliate marketing". Feed Money.com. Archived from the original on 2011-05-15. Retrieved 2011-04-20. During November 1994, CDNOW released its BuyWeb program. With this program CDNOW was the first non-adult website to launch the concept of an affiliate or associate program with its idea of click-through purchasing.
At the end of each month, we run a report to see how many affiliate sales were made. Each transaction is manually audited due to an increase in affiliate fraud. Assuming your affiliate commissions are valid (see "I Made a Sale but didn't get Paid" below), payments for the prior month will then be sent to your PayPal account by the end of the next month. For example, if you had three sales in September, you will be paid by October 31st. There is no minimum payout amount so every sale counts!

Despite its older origins, email lists are still a viable source of affiliate marketing income. Some affiliates have email lists they can use to promote the seller’s products. Others may leverage email newsletters that include hyperlinks to products, earning a commission after the consumer purchases the product. Another method is for the affiliate to cultivate email lists over time. They use their various campaigns to collect emails en masse, then send out emails regarding the products they are promoting. 

Mistake #3: Giving your friend’s product a glowing review without actually being familiar with your friend’s product. This happens a lot in the affiliate marketing (and book marketing) world unfortunately. It’s a “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” type of situation. By all means, give your friend a glowing review, but if you haven’t actually read their book or taken their course or tried their product, don’t talk about it as though you have. Readers deserve honest recommendations! (Here’s an example of me helping to announce the launch of my friend’s book while being clear I hadn’t read it.)
Every Tuesday, we send out an email called Favorite Finds where we recommend ONE, SINGLE affiliate product or service that we’re currently loving. It could be a new offer that one of our affiliates is promoting, or a tried and tested affiliate that we love and recommend on a regular basis, or a new affiliate so we can gauge our audience’s interest.

Mistake #5: Promoting a lot of affiliate products instead of just a few. Once you start affiliate marketing, you realize how easy it is to share affiliate links. Instead of becoming an affiliate for a lot of different products and sharing them liberally, I recommend concentrating on just a few and sharing them intentionally. It doesn’t seem as spammy, plus you can be sure the products you do promote are closely aligned with your brand and message. Deep is better than wide.
One of the main reasons why most newbie affiliate marketers give up after 3 months is the fact that they can’t build up traffic to their affiliate website. It’s a thorn in most marketers’ sides, but one that can be easily resolved if you put the effort in. Below I have covered a few areas that will get you good targeted traffic to your affiliate deals.

In 1994, Tobin launched a beta version of PC Flowers & Gifts on the Internet in cooperation with IBM, who owned half of Prodigy.[6] By 1995 PC Flowers & Gifts had launched a commercial version of the website and had 2,600 affiliate marketing partners on the World Wide Web. Tobin applied for a patent on tracking and affiliate marketing on January 22, 1996, and was issued U.S. Patent number 6,141,666 on Oct 31, 2000. Tobin also received Japanese Patent number 4021941 on Oct 5, 2007, and U.S. Patent number 7,505,913 on Mar 17, 2009, for affiliate marketing and tracking.[7] In July 1998 PC Flowers and Gifts merged with Fingerhut and Federated Department Stores.[8]

Whenever we see a blog post catch on in search for one of the blogs we manage, we celebrate, because it will probably send lots of traffic to the site over time. Unless you have a massive email list or rely entirely on Facebook shares like BuzzFeed-type sites, you should aim to get a good portion of your traffic from search. (Though a massive email list and lots of Facebook shares are pretty great too, and will help your site catch on in search… so all of these traffic-generating activities feed into one another.)
I have to agree with you that affiliate income is very worth while to pursue. My niche site project has a big emphasis on generating affiliate income but also has physical products that I sell on the site and very recently have listed them on Amazon. We’ll see how this does. I do about $30,000 in annual revenue on my PL products; HOWEVER, you can’t count that as income because of the selling fees, inventory cost, etc., to run a PL business. Affiliate income is far more passive (but products are so fun!).
Some good tips. I fully agree that it’s all about trust and it is always good to recommend an affiliate product that you have actually used. Why risk your reputation on a product you don’t know if it’s any good or not? If people buy one dodgy product from your site, they will probably never make that mistake again. That it why my blog strongly advocates ethical affiliate marketing. It’s the best long term stragey for affiliate marketing success.
Thirsty Affiliates tracks, cloaks, and categorizes your affiliate links. Once you’ve signed up for your program(s) grab your affiliate links and add them to this plugin. This can take time if you will be linking to multiple pages on your affiliate’s website (which in many cases, you should). The pro version comes with statistics but I don’t even use it and I’m quite the analytical person.
Electronic Devices & Electronic Accessories (Laptops, Computer Accessories,Small Entertainment,Cameras,Camera & Accessories,Tablets,Wearable Smart Devices,Computer Software,Mobile Accessories,Tablet Accessories,Automation & Robotics,Gaming Consoles & Accessories,Audio,IOT (Google Home Mini & Huami Smart Watches),Apple Macbook Air Laptops,Asus Laptops) 4% 4% 4% 4%
Thirsty Affiliates tracks, cloaks, and categorizes your affiliate links. Once you’ve signed up for your program(s) grab your affiliate links and add them to this plugin. This can take time if you will be linking to multiple pages on your affiliate’s website (which in many cases, you should). The pro version comes with statistics but I don’t even use it and I’m quite the analytical person.
Great article, Zach. The one question I have is about hyperlinking the brand name with your affiliate link. Isn’t it a little annoying for the reader if the brand name is hyperlinked throughout the article? It may even seem obvious to the reader that the blog is promoting an affiliate product. In an article with 1000+ words, a brand name may be mentioned at least 10-15 times. Do you suggest hyperlinking the brand every time?
The phrase, "Affiliates are an extended sales force for your business", which is often used to explain affiliate marketing, is not completely accurate. The primary difference between the two is that affiliate marketers provide little if any influence on a possible prospect in the conversion process once that prospect is directed to the advertiser's website. The sales team of the advertiser, however, does have the control and influence up to the point where the prospect either a) signs the contract, or b) completes the purchase.
Theme – you don’t need a special theme for affiliate marketing, you probably just need a blog. I recommend StudioPress themes since that’s what Yoast, Matt Cutts (from Google), and I use. Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress also recommends them. One of the biggest mistakes I made was using a theme from Themeforest… since they’re built by independent developers who may stop making updates to their theme. This happened to me and I hear horror stories all the time about people having to switch themes and redesign their entire site. I’ve been using the same StudioPress theme (Outreach Pro) for 3 years. Their themes are lightweight (load fast), SEO-friendly via optimized code, secure, and they have a huge selection of plugins for the Genesis Framework and an awesome community in the Genesis WordPress Facebook Group. They include documentation for setting it up and will serve you for many, many years. 

I went from making $20k in 2016 to $100k in 2017 by dropping my web design/SEO clients and doing affiliate marketing/blogging full-time. 90% of my (passive) affiliate income comes from SiteGround, a hosting company who awarded me affiliate of the month in July, 2017 when I made $9k in 1 month. Since then I’ve continued to hit numbers like this – the screenshot below is from March, 2018 when I made $14.5k in 1 month (just with SiteGround).
There will be NO commission payments paid on PERSONAL USE Sales of the Product - meaning, if the only purpose in joining this affiliate program was to get a commission on a sale for Personal USE of Click Funnels, that's not cool. We do track and reconcile every sale – and in cases where an affiliate has a single sale to themselves, a commission will NOT be paid on that sale. That's simply NOT FAIR to the affiliates who have promoted in good faith only to have one of their prospects join the affiliate program to get their own commission and cut the original affiliate out.
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