I’ve actually never even considered affiliate marketing for my blog… You’ve definitely given me some things to think about. I definitely think My blog should be more established (more traffic, followers, etc) before I would want to make that kind of charge… I’m still learning so much, I don’t want to overdo it by taking my blog to another level. Plus since my traffic isn’t super high, it wouldn’t be beneficial to me just yet. Great info Margot!
The other monetization method is through the sidebar (and also at the end of every article) is education lead generation.  They are probably an affiliate of a number of different schools or other educational lead companies.  However, not only are they probably making good money with the site, but they offer great content on the site.  They allow users to search by state to find local salaries and much more information.  Content is important!

While the traffic estimates are lower than some of the other sites on this list, people in the baby gear niche are an important customer base because they definitely purchase products.  This is a big industry and I would guess that the conversion rate for this site is slightly higher than OutDoorGearLab.com.  Typically when someone researches a baby product, they are typically looking to buy that baby product.  If someone is researching a tent, they may just be looking around at different options that they can compare for their next camping trip – not necessarily to buy that tent.  Most of their traffic is organic, and continuing the trend of well ranked long form content, their top post is 8,800 words long (which is a beast of an article).  If I had to take a guess at revenue, it would probably be north of 30k per month for this site based on traffic. 

Truth be told, many marketers don’t give affiliate marketing the respect and attention it deserves. This is partially because many marketers believe it’s synonymous with referral marketing, which is something they’re likely already doing. But the two terms are not interchangeable, and the differences are better understood once you learn how affiliate marketing programs work.

How To Start 3 Different Online Businesses With Just 1 Idea: Sell Products, Start a Blog & Create Passive Income (Making Money Online, Entrepreneurship & small business, business marketing), this book provides readers with a great concept. Creating 1 business can offer you three different income streams. Online you can do 3 things to make money; sell products, sell services, and collect commissions. If you are smart you will capitalize on all 3. This book will show you how to do that for $9.99.
ClickBank allows you to join for free, and the approval process is virtually automatic, so it’s a great choice for people entering the affiliated game for the first time. ClickBank has a ton of information, including FAQs, walk-throughs, and videos available, so the barrier to entry is quite low. There’s also a (paid) program called ClickBank University with courses and assistance from experienced marketers.
Affiliate marketing programs typically work by having the merchant handle all the logistics involved in selling products or services, processing customer orders and payments, and shipping merchandise—all while the affiliate sits back and collects a commission for each agreed-upon action completed by the visitors the affiliate sends to the merchant’s website via an affiliate link. As long as the affiliate has done her homework and chosen a trustworthy affiliate program, she needn’t worry about non-payment.
No matter how good your marketing skills are, you’ll make less money on a bad product than you will on a valuable one. Take the time to study the demand for a product before promoting it. Make sure to research the seller with care before teaming up. Your time is worth a lot, and you want to be sure you’re spending it on a product that is profitable and a seller you can believe in.
Best Reviews is a website that does exactly what the domain name claims.  They offer extremely detailed and in-depth reviews of certain products, and make sure to showcase that their reviewers have their brand showcased to ensure the reader builds an established trust factor with the website.  This is a very smart move for any type of reviews based website.  If you can take your own pictures, and show your readers you have actual experience with the products, there's a good chance your reader will identify with your content and be more likely to convert to a buyer once they've gone to Amazon or another online resource to purchase their product.
Leanne, that was great stuff. I saw some interesting delineators I’d never seen before, like how many subscribers you have making a difference in whether you should start with affiliates, at what level, etc. I appreciate the “ethical” angle you weaved throughout this, too, because affiliate marketing can/does have a bad reputation due to the way it’s been abused in the past. Your article will help educate current and future affiliate marketers, much appreciated!

Ah, I see now, I was totally confusing the “competition” in Adwords with the low competition you talk about in your LongTail handbook. I actually used it as part of my screening criteria…oops. So I was looking for >1000 local searches, >$1.00 and Low Competition. I think I understand now to ignore the Competition column in the Adwords tool when searching for keywords. Thanks, guys!
On the other hand, the more appealing your niche is, the harder it is to break into. If you go too competitive, you’ll never carve out your space. This is why I abandoned my shoe niche! To continue our cooking example, a quick Google search tells me there are thousands of cooking blogs out there. I would need to identify a more specific cooking niche to stand out. It’s also easier to find your audience if you write for a niche that’s not so well-known. That way, you can rise through the ranks faster with less effort. 

Affiliate marketing programs typically work by having the merchant handle all the logistics involved in selling products or services, processing customer orders and payments, and shipping merchandise—all while the affiliate sits back and collects a commission for each agreed-upon action completed by the visitors the affiliate sends to the merchant’s website via an affiliate link. As long as the affiliate has done her homework and chosen a trustworthy affiliate program, she needn’t worry about non-payment.
Your first step is to head over to Quantcast.com. Quantcast has a great list of, basically, the most popular sites online. This is an awesome place to go when you’re in the brainstorming phase. Head over to Quantcast, scroll down, and click on the Browse Rankings link that’s right below the search field. What you want to do is, really, just look down the list and just see what is doing well online. Obviously, these are going to be a lot of household names, a lot of huge sites like Pinterest, Wikipedia, LinkedIn, and things like that. You’re not really trying to emulate these sites; you’re just looking at what people these sites tend to target.

In November 1994, CDNow launched its BuyWeb program. CDNow had the idea that music-oriented websites could review or list albums on their pages that their visitors might be interested in purchasing. These websites could also offer a link that would take visitors directly to CDNow to purchase the albums. The idea for remote purchasing originally arose from conversations with music label Geffen Records in the fall of 1994. The management at Geffen wanted to sell its artists' CD's directly from its website but did not want to implement this capability itself. Geffen asked CDNow if it could design a program where CDNow would handle the order fulfillment. Geffen realized that CDNow could link directly from the artist on its website to Geffen's website, bypassing the CDNow home page and going directly to an artist's music page.[10]


Hi, Jamie! Very good list. I needed something like this for 2018 so that I know what to target in the future blogs I create. As for now, I’m comfortable using SiteGround affiliate network and it’s pretty good actually. Their hosting service is pretty much the best considered its price. I’ve tried others but SiteGround stands out. I’ll also try new affiliate networks, something from the list you have just provided. I think Amazon is too saturated at the moment, and I need a better network. 2018 will be interesting indeed.


LinkConnector is something of a mixed bag, so it’s probably best for experienced affiliates who have become disillusioned with other networks and are looking to expand. LinkConnector’s bizarre mix of high-quality products and a low-quality dashboard make it hard to truly assess its viability, but their exclusive deals with some vendors can make it a true home run for publishers working in certain niches.
By putting in more time and effort upfront, you increase your chances of finding a profitble niche. I don't 100% buy into the "choose something you are passionate about" mantra, sure it may help you if you have issues with focus, however if you are serious about affiliate marketing then you need to treat it like a real business and be prepared to put in the time and effort.
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.
Thanks Nathalie! And glad to see you came over from AONC 🙂 When done the right way I think affiliate links in context are much less intrusive and offensive than having ads on your sidebar. The average non-tech reader probably wont even know its an affiliate link anyway. So just by doing everything you’ve already been doing, you can switch out links, and probably make a nice side income!
You may wonder if it’s worth adding affiliate links when your book review isn’t going to be flattering. My response is: sure, why not? Sometimes people’s tastes will be different than yours, and they may want to check out the book anyway. Or, they may click on the link to see if the reviews at Amazon agree with yours, at which point they may wander off and buy something else at the store. You’ll still get credit and make a percentage of the sale.
Let's pretend you love to cook and want to create a recipe blog. “Recipes” is a very competitive arena to build a brand new brand in. So you may want to narrow the focus a bit and choose a specific recipe style – low carb recipes, Paleo recipes, recipes portioned for one (AKA single people living alone), low-fat recipes, dessert recipes, holiday recipes, etc. Almost every broad niche has multiple sub-sects within it that may hold an opportunity for you. That said, I'd ensure the domain and brand you go with have the ability to expand into wider content and monetization opportunities as your brand grows.
Keeping tabs on what worked and what didn’t will help you decide not only how to strategize in the future, but which brands or vendors to continue doing business with. In the same way freelancers keep books and records of which publishers or editors they enjoyed working with, affiliates have the independence to reroute later on if they don’t end up enjoying certain brands or products.
If the above locations do not yield information pertaining to affiliates, it may be the case that there exists a non-public affiliate program. Utilizing one of the common website correlation methods may provide clues about the affiliate network. The most definitive method for finding this information is to contact the website owner directly if a contact method can be located.
Because 2Checkout exclusively sells software and digital products, it is best suited for established influencers whose target audience is interested in buying products in this niche. But while you won’t find any physical products for sale, 2Checkout is probably the market leader in selling software of every type, including very specific use case items (like software that can convert Microsoft Word documents to PDF, for instance).
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7. Using above methods, create a spreadsheet - or have a list somewhere you can track the communication between you and potential affiliates. This way if you never get a response after the first time, you can try to contact them again after a few weeks. Generally, this process may take a couple of months to get a response because many contacts are busy and they will not see your emails the first couple of times.
From just the one keyword, this websites is probably getting close to 20k hits per month.  I am sure they are generating just as much traffic from various other keywords as well.  When all is said and done, this website could easily be a $10k per month site.  Its hard to say – that prediction could be way high or even way low.  But I would not be surprised if this site is pulling in $10k or more per month.
With all that being said, this site definitely gets some decent traffic and even if they were just participating in display ads and Amazon Associates as monetization, I'm sure it would make a significant amount of income.  Like BabyGearLab.com – people researching supplements are usually looking to buy something, and health food decisions are often impulse buys.  That means that this niche may convert better than others, especially because the price points of a lot of these products is on the lower end.  For an income “guesstimate” – I would say that this site is probably making north of 20K per month between affiliate and display ad revenue.
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In the popular ‘An Hour a Day format’, this guide features a detailed, real-world, task-based approach to developing, launching, and managing a successful affiliate marketing program. It explores market research, determining payment models and reporting guidelines, recruiting affiliates, crafting appropriate communications, and much more. Affiliate marketing programs help boost marketing efforts without incurring excessive costs. This ‘Hour a Day guide’ provides everything merchants, business owners, and those charged with managing an affiliate program need to know.

Best Reviews is interesting for different reasons though.  They are interesting because they pay for a ton of their traffic based on findings through SEMRush.com.  They average about 300k visits every month because of their Google Adwords advertising spend.  This means they are bidding on keywords and paying for traffic on top of the organic traffic they already get.  It's possible that buying this additional traffic has helped them gain additional links because their content is very good.  The purchased traffic is just helping them get in front of an audience that's actually looking for their product, just like SEO.  If conversion rates are lower, you will end up making less money than you spend to buy traffic, but because of the authenticity of the Reviews, it's likely that BestReviews.com converts researchers to buyers at a higher rate than other affiliate sites.  While it's tough to know exactly, I would guess that this site makes 6 figures per month or more in Amazon Affiliate revenue due to their traffic numbers.
When you’re looking at affiliate sites like this one (and, indeed, when you’re planning your own affiliate site) ask yourself what the affiliate is trying to make you do (or what you want your own visitor to do). Question what desired action the affiliate is pushing for: do they want you to read their articles? Sign up for their newsletter? Click on their ads? You’ll often find yourself being gently directed towards a certain action in one way or another. This will be what the affiliate determines to be the course that will eventually get him or her the most money!

The best review sites (like BestReviews.com buy them all independently and test them without bias) but anyway, you could always review products you already own and use (recommended) or just not focus on product reviews at all, it's just one of 1000's of ways to make money as you should be able to see from the post that shares endless examples of ways people make money other than reviewing products.
The network is, again, contested by some as to whether it’s truly a part of the affiliate marketing conglomerate. But for good measure, we’ll discuss it. The network is essentially the middle man used to manage this exchange. The network helps accomplish such tasks as payment processing, tracking technology, reporting solutions, and can serve as a repository of available affiliates.
Where they make their money is when someone picks a school to get information about.  There are companies (like Quinstreet) that allow you to get paid “per lead” for education content.  Some of these leads can payout anywhere from $20 all the way up to $50 per lead depending on the institution.  There are plenty of affiliate sites in the education niche that get paid using these types of leads.  I'm not sure if LearnHowToBecome.org uses Quinstreet or another CPA network, but the fact is that there is definitely big money in the field for education affiliates.  It used to be that these were some of the most profitable CPC adsense earning niches you could be in (see our sites from 2012), but lots of them have completely shifted to the lead based model when it comes to monetization.  If I were to guess, LearnHowToBecome.org is probably making multiple six figure monthly income due to ranking for a number of excellent education focused keywords.
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If you are building a site that has the potential for information that will never age and remain useful for your audience, you have the opportunity to create what is known as evergreen content. It's important to carry out extensive keyword research before planning any evergreen content for a site like this, as your site could hugely benefit from the proper usage of keywords within such content. 
Keeping tabs on what worked and what didn’t will help you decide not only how to strategize in the future, but which brands or vendors to continue doing business with. In the same way freelancers keep books and records of which publishers or editors they enjoyed working with, affiliates have the independence to reroute later on if they don’t end up enjoying certain brands or products.
While your site is still new, it's a good idea to start capitalizing on someone else's audience. Continue focusing on building your own content, but also considering writing content for a few big, high-traffic blogs that are relevant for your niche. By writing content for a bigger site, you are able to get in front of another audience and showcase your expertise on a particular topic. This will eventually lead to more traffic to your site, as well.  

Yaro Starak is the founder and writer of Entrepreneurs-Journey.com. Since 2005 through this blog, his email newsletter and in training programs under the EJ Insider Membership, Yaro has taught thousands of people how to make a full time income from blogging part time, how to buy and sell blogs and websites, and how to successfully launch an information product business. Follow Yaro on Twitter at @YaroStarak.
Nick Loper is a veteran affiliate marketer, author, and a lifelong student in the game of business.  His latest role is as Chief Side Hustler at SideHustleNation.com, a growing community of part-time business owners. Need a leg-up in getting your biz off the ground but short on time? Grab Nick’s free "Cliff’s Notes"-style guide to the world’s best business books here. Follow Nick on Twitter at @nloper.
These are essentially media companies. They have big, significant staff – staff writers, editors, directors, HR departments – and they are big ass companies. With a budget, you could grow a smaller site into a big site fast. But as you’ll see in the examples, you’ll need to have the skills to hire and manage a team. The big sites were founded by people that worked in the media industry – they’re Professionals and know exactly what they are doing.
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