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.
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.
Unfortunately, the 2Checkout dashboard is a bit limited in scope, making it difficult to get any metrics on conversion rates or even sorting by commission payouts. The workaround is to go to the Avangate store, which does list their best-selling products, and then search for these on the affiliate dashboard. That being said, 2Checkout does offer products from more than 4,000 different vendors, making it the leading affiliate network for software and digital products.
I was able to make my first online dollars through Amazon Affiliate sales… It was never much and in the beginning I was just excited to make $10 in a month, which was enough for a free ebook or two. With regular updates and link inclusions in my posts over time I was able to grow the number up to like $300 a month–which I was pretty happy with. Of course the payout rates are paltry compared to a sale of an info product like one from Unconventional Guides, etc. Thing is, people seem to be more open to purchasing physical products rather than information products…
Nearly everyone knows that some 25% of all online sales, and for many book titles 50% or more of their sales [source] happen on Amazon.com. Amazon also ranks books by sales, and I thought it’d be interesting to go to the e-tail giant’s website, and see what are the top five books on affiliate marketing. If we go there, choose “Book” as category, and search for “affiliate marketing”:

Tradedoubler was founded in 1999 by two young Swedish entrepreneurs. They have offices in the UK and multiple countries throughout Europe, including Sweden, Germany, France, Poland and Spain. Their focus has always been to provide smarter results for both clients and affiliates through technology. In 18 years, they’ve amassed an army of 180,000 active publishers, connecting them to over 2,000 merchants in Europe and the UK. Many of these merchants are household names.
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. 

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.


Great post – I’m a bit late in seeing this it seems!I have a question around how you assess the metrics and in turn success of these websites. It’s obvious where the money is coming in for most of them but Im wondering how you assess 50em.com? Its a great looking site but it has around 350-400 organic views a month and does not rank 1st, 2nd or 3rd for most keywords – not even its main target keyword -ontraport vs infusionsoft. Are you assuming its successful because of the high commission rates for these products and they might make 20 sales a month or is there other signs you see that indicate its a profitable site (or do you know the owner!)?
Thanks for a nice job. I am currently promoting some of the affiliate programs listed here and making a few dollars from them. But I must say that making money from affiliate programs is not rocket science; it requires hard work and perseverance. Affiliate marketing keeps evolving daily and any serious affiliate should be ready to change tactics and invest time and money in order to beat the competition.
Hi John! "Flow" refers to the way visitors move through a website. Assuming they don't hit the back button or close their browser, where do they go next? A skilled marketer guides them closer and closer to a sale--for example, from the helpful article they found on Google, to a review of an affiliate product, and finally to their affiliate link. Every part of your site should be designed to make new visitors flow closer and closer toward buying your affiliate products.

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.


Designing and developing your blog / niche site – When it comes to themes and designing your blog/website, if you want to go big, and get real pro right out of the gate, I suggest you look into the Rainmaker Platform, which is what THIS website is built with. To keep things a little more simple, once you’ve got started with Bluehost, you can visit StudioPress to get your site looking pretty.
Alot of ppl are still in the dark about this line of work. They still rely on their day jobs and unwilling to take a risk. Donald Trump took a risk by running for president. Why can’t other people who are unsure about Entrepreneurship lead by example and take a risk online in getting started in affiliate marketing and work from home? Truth is, most people are afraid of getting out of their emotional comfort zone and don’t want to explore the unknown. There’s a bundle of money to be made in this industry by faithful people who do the transformation business work and get started out of inspiration. 

generic keywords tend to have high search volumes, but they also tend to have high competition or low buyer intent. They're good to target as part of your overall strategy (just don't try to compete on PPC campaigns). Long-tail keywords, like "Fat loss for mothers" are generally more specific, have higher buyer intent and could be effective drivers of traffic to your site. =) They should be the primary focus for your SEO and marketing.
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.
File-Sharing: Web sites that host directories of music, movies, games and other software. Users upload content to file-hosting sites and then post descriptions of the material and their download links on directory sites. Uploaders are paid by the file-hosting sites based on the number of times their files are downloaded. The file-hosting sites sell premium download access to the files to the general public. The websites that host the directory services sell advertising and do not host the files themselves.
Hey, thanks for the great post. I’ve been following Pat Flynn and love his “give and it shall be given unto you” attitude..my perception anyway. At 50, with a high school education, I’m trying to learn affiliate marketing from information online. What I’ve gleened so far is to focus on giving the best, most honest information, like your Parents would give you. In exchange for your efforts rewards will come.
I have highlighted with red boxes how they are monetizing the site.  First I will point out how professional the site looks – it has a custom logo and a very clean look and feel to the site.  This helps build trust right away.  Secondly, I like how they have the salary data that searchers are looking for right away on top.  Then they have the adsense ads immediately following (still above the fold).
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. 

Okay, the “competition” shown on the Google Adwords keyword tool is for Advertiser competition. This is TOTALLY different from the competition levels of the natural search results in Google. When you are trying to determine how hard it would be for your site to rank in the top 10 of Google, you look at the natural search results and the level of competition there (which is determined by the top 10 ranking sites for your keyword). You want low competition here. On the other hand, the advertiser level of competition is shown in the adwords tool is something different. This shows you the NUMBER of advertisers bidding on this keyword. The more advertisers there are, the more likely that more money is being spent (hence the more you can make per adsense click). So, here you want to see HIGH competition levels because it means you are more likely to make more money per click. Does that make sense now? Sorry for the confusion.
The downside is that Shopify is only appealing for people who have physical or digital products to sell and have a need to set up a Shopify store, including site hosting, payment processing, and all the other services offered by Shopify. This can significantly narrow the appeal for this affiliate program. But if you can distinguish yourself by educating people on how to use Shopify, how it can benefit their business, and/or make them money, you could potentially big money via the affiliate program. Add in the 2 x monthly fee commission rate, and landing just a few sales of their mid-tier and top-tier products can result in significant earnings.
Upselling is a sales technique where the salesperson encourages a more expensive purchase by a customer by persuading them to get an upgraded version of an item or to purchase add-ons. Remember our food processor example? That food processor could probably be best used with a book of recipes, which also can be purchased at the same company’s website.
Awesome article! This is jam packed with great info. I am just starting a personal finance blog with my fiance and we were a little confused about how to start monetizing. We were initially thinking about using Google AdSense but between this post and another blog I read I am surely convinced that’s not the correct route. I’m really happy you have shared this information because it’s provided an excellent starting point for creating income.
The outdoors is a great escape for most of us who are stuck in the urban lifestyle for most of our days. It is a means of relaxing and getting back to nature. And so you will find that people have an increasing interest in products relating to activities such as camping and hiking. Therefore, we thought it was important outdoor survival as one of the most profitable niches for affiliate marketing. As it’s important to remember – if the interest is high – then the products will sell.

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.
Many thanks for your open words. Maybe online marketing / business really is not for all of us out there - at least not for exactly those hard working people mentioned by you, as these usually don´t have so much time beside their full time job and the family. So much about the countless promises from certain online marketers suggesting otherwise, saying everyone can do it - of course with some "help" - i.e. their very own products.

Baby Gear really go that extra mile by actually buying every product that they review. Now, obviously this is a lot of work and cost but the payoff is extreme credibility and great content. This just isn’t possible for a lot of blogs, either because of the cost, or the time involved or simply the niche they are in. However, the thing to take away from this is that customers value credibility.
I see most successful affiliates are operaitng in advice and review space which is linked to affiliates. I haven’t seen much operators providing business / industry information content, business case studies, etc. I happen to have quite a bit of unique content, like quite a bit on such topics and am wondering what to do with it. Like what online / affiliate business I can start with it?

That’s our latest guide to help you find the most profitable niches to get involved in with affiliate marketing. By no means do we expect you to delve into all eleven businesses. However, if you are unsure which of these spaces would suit your personality and you’d find most fun to join – then we suggest that you have a go at each of them. Afterall, you will never know your favorite flavor until you have tasted the whole selection of ice creams, right? 

Good article! I think there are a lot of hopeful “wannabes” who want to get everything without doing the work. You don’t have to have 10+ years of experience or be the all-knowing guru at the top of the mountain, but you do have to be willing to invest in the effort that is required to be successful. However, I have made good headway into a number of niches by going against the grain. If they say you should post a lot on your current activity, I don’t. I tell my audience why I don’t, I make sure that they understand that I am different. Sometimes, however, to establish trust and rapport with your audience, you do need to offer some kinds of proof or authority. Its very difficult to fake these and its better if you know something about what you’re doing. Once you have more experience, it becomes easier to enter a niche and position yourself as an expert. It’s funny but you tend to get smarter and absorb more information as you move up in the internet marketing world. Thanks for the great information!
If you want more proof that affiliate marketing works, look no further than some of the best affiliate programs on the internet. Ebay, Target, Jet, and Walmart all offer handsome rewards for directing online sales, with Target’s potential rate topping off at a whopping 8% for apparel items. Most of the top paying affiliate programs are tiered, which means your rate will depend on categories (baby, shoes, household, etc) and the number of sales you’re responsible for in a given time period.
LearnHowToBecome.org is an education website that provides information to prospective students.  They have a lot of great content and cover just about every type of education field you can think of when it comes to finding out the best college path in a given profession.  A quick look at backlinks shows that they have tons of major educational institutions that they work with, which is a significant portion of their backlinking strategy.  The content is top notch, and the website is specifically designed to keep the users interacting with the comparison grids and searching through the best possible schools for their given topic.
The premise of the site is basically that it’s a tool for people who want to build their own computers ( usually gaming computers). If you’ve never done it, the difficult part about building a computer is almost always the research. New computer parts are coming out constantly, so you have to find the latest parts that also fit your budget and that are also compatible with each other.
- What do you mean, or what do you take into account when you say "local traffic" for a specific keyword. Is it a country, a state, or maybe the language speaking in that area. I mean, If I choose Luxembourg, for example, with a population of 540,000, then the traffic of minimum 1,000 to a keyword would be OK. But what about if we choose to take into account as a local traffic Australia, for example, with a population of 24,000,000+. Would it be the local volume of minimum 1,000 o.k. as well?
This twice-monthly publication is apparently full of "informative articles, a question and answer section, site updates and more." This affiliate will probably use this e-zine either as an additional place to promote affiliate products or to get his readers back to his website by providing snippets of new articles with a "read more" link. By getting readers back to his site he's able to expose them to more promotions.
NomadicMatt.com is similar to MuscleForLife.com in the fact that Matt Kepnes took his passion and turned it into a legitimate business.  If you plan on starting a site in the travel niche, Nomadic Matt's blog is probably a resource you'll be taking a look at pretty frequently when you are analyzing your content.  He has capitalized on his traffic by self-publishing a number of books.  He's gained credibility by several media appearances, which I'm sure helps his book sales, and helps him get really high-quality and Natural Links.
This doesn’t mean you only sell one product. This means you build out a brand by selling varying yet adjacent products. Over time, your consumer network might consider you a go-to for which type of vacuum they should buy. Additionally, some industries pay more than others. Especially if the product is a harder sell, affiliates may get a higher cut than they would for a product in higher demand.
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.
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