I personally prefer to do it that way--you can create a more convincing review that's more likely to make sales. It's not always possible or practical, though; for example, would you break up with your significant other just to test a product for getting your ex back? ;-) In cases like that, or if the product is expensive, it's usually best just to use the vendor's affiliate resources instead.
Products and services in these evergreen niches are always in demand because people are always looking for solutions to specific problems in their day-to-day lives. You'll want to operate in one or two sub-niches, to begin with, because it is impossible to make meaningful offers in such gigantic broad categories. In the example above, "group fitness for women" is much more targeted than "how to lose weight". It's easy to tackle a sub-niche within a large niche then grow from there.

We are dedicated to providing the tools and information that are needed to become an affiliate marketer while simplifying the process and speaking in terms everyone can understand. Money is never the top priority; building relationships and trust are two of the most important aspects of any marketing campaign. Without the consumers and the companies that make these products, there would be nothing to market. Nothing to promote. Our goal is to accelerate an affiliate marketer’s success and enable them to see the positive and rewarding results that can come from a career in online marketing.
Hi Jamie, awesome content that is very helpful esp with the resources, links and the rich discussions. Want to start e-commerce and blog for money…selling others products, want to go full on with this, tired of the daily routine crunch working for others. I live in a developing country (PNG) that has high internet costs (work still in progress with getting rates down…) so will see how I go with your posts. Any advise? Don’t have a website yet, have to build one I guess….
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.
Joining our affiliate program is free and easy to get started. Since we have partnered with TUNE by HasOffers, which is a leading provider of affiliate links and program tracking, you will have access to all the tools you need to start earning through your partnership. Once you join the program, you will gain access to custom tracking links, in a single, simple line of code. You can add the pre-coded lines of HTML code to your website for simple creative banner tracking and use your custom tracking URL links by replacing your regular URL links with affiliate text links within your articles and social media posts. If you run into problems or have questions, you can contact your dedicated affiliate management team for support.
I'm never comfortable building a site in a niche where the potential revenue stream boils down to only a few avenues or merchants. A long time ago I created a site in a niche where there was only one affiliate program to monetize it with. When the affiliate program shut down, I was left with a site I'd spent time and energy on – that was ranking and had traffic – and I had no way to monetize it. Granted, this was before AdSense existed, but even if Adsense had existed, it being the only potential revenue stream should have sent me in another direction.
Affiliate marketing is commonly confused with referral marketing, as both forms of marketing use third parties to drive sales to the retailer. The two forms of marketing are differentiated, however, in how they drive sales, where affiliate marketing relies purely on financial motivations, while referral marketing relies more on trust and personal relationships.[citation needed]
Tom's Hardware pretty much started off as a forum.  They have expanded and re-designed and the website is now one of the most popular and heavily visited site in the PC niche.  The site is where hardcore PC enthusiasts go to discuss all different matters of PC parts.  Popular topics include CPU units, Memory, Motherboards, Overclocking, Systems, Operating Systems and New Build computers.  While the old format of strictly forum posts did well as a display ad revenue method (I remember when the site was mostly a forum as I used it for a PC build I did) – the amount of authority the site has lent itself very well to becoming a fully fledged content based site.
It’s so legit that I will likely be back to this site for future reviews for my purchases. It really gains your trust with the photos and videos even though you know they are making money through the affiliate commissions. Plus they buy all the products themselves and never accept any products from the manufacturer to maintain objectivity, but when you bring in 3.1 million visitors per month, you can buy a few items to review.

I have one affiliate website that I recently launched. SEO hasn't been done yet other than basic stuff. What I need is an expert to look at it and tell me whether I'm on track or need major changes. I don't know if you guys do that here or know of someone who does. (free or for a fee) The site is http://saveongolf.net . It's a site using datafeeds for golf equipment.
Interesting anecdote: On one of our “authority sites”…right now, we’ve gone the way of NOT placing ads on the home page, actually. We have images/categories on the first page that people click through to get to the content. Because of this we have an EXTREMELY low bounce rate…everyone who comes to the site (via the primary or exact match KW) has to make another click to get to the area they really want, which will contain ads. I think eventually we’ll blend in just a FEW ad placements above the fold on the main page. 

There’s a good reason why ClickBank is still a strong contender, however it does tend to focus more on digital products which may be of questionable quality. Yes, the review process is more professional these days, but it’s still primarily focused on selling digital products, especially “how to make money” courses and the like. That being said, there are some genuinely high-quality products on offer, and few affiliate programs are bigger than ClickBank, especially in selling (primarily digital) books.
That's right, my blog NichePursuits.com is a successful Affiliate website!  While I don't make as much as some other bloggers, it's been my passion and my voice that lends itself to my brands and to my software product businesses that I know my readers can use.  While I don't publicly reveal the income I make from my businesses, you can go back and see from my prior income reports exactly how much NichePursuits makes each month.  My income from NichePursuits.com is only a portion of my online income because of all my other businesses I'm a part of.
Same here, this post kind of fell from the sky at such a great time. Been building a great community of readers over the years but reached a point where I’m losing money maintaining the site and newsletter. As you said, the ads don’t bring much -ironically I use Adblocks too but affiliate marketing always seemed like a weird and opaque subject. I’ve read many of Chris Guillebeau’s books in the last few months (this is how I discovered your site actually!) and I didn’t realize he had affiliate links for instance. Your post opened up a new window of possibility for me. Still need to process everything and do the work behind but a big thank you to you Sean!
Thanks for the great info and many examples. If a picture is worth 1000 words, 17 excellent examples are worth gazillions!! BTW, your use of “persona” was 100% correct. While a persona can be fake or deceptive (eg, “she adopted a meek persona every time he was around, but in reality, she was anything but…”), but it in no way implies that person behind it is not real. The more general meaning of the term is any character or personality presented outwardly, as to an audience or the public, and that is precisely how you used the word here. 

As all paths on the site eventually lead to reviews and affiliate links, most people will end up reading the reviews and click through to the recommended products. What this affiliate is saying is that if you happen to arrive at one of the content pages because it appeared in the search engines, fine - he can promote to you there - but the page that converts to sales best is the review.
Hi, Nice article. I am not sure about the process though. I can understand, finding a niche. But, when it comes to affiliate programs I get a little lost. Would I be promoting someone else's products? If so, no problem. I know I need to research high end products with gravity, are these products ones in certain stores, or companies, etc.?? If so, do I need to get permissions to be on an affiliate program with that company? Also, if it is products with a company, then how do I offer promotions on their products since they are not mine? Thank you, Nanette Vlahusich 

We don't really have any dedicated Amazon Affiliates training program. It's a little bit different than the sort of affiliate marketing training we normally provide, because we usually focus on just a few key products in specific niches, not the many, many items available through Amazon. Setting up your site will be similar in many ways, at least on the technical side of things. How you approach content and your overall marketing strategy may be different, though.


Thank you so much! You've been an inspiration throughout. The way you wrote about TIWIB, and how they drive insane traffic from social media is mind blowing. I am amazed that even going viral on a social site like pinterest for one day can build our brand identity huge. Am I correct? Now I need to get going with my first affiliate site, come up with a unique idea and learn how to drive traffic from each source. I feel Adsense is not so rewarding.
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.
Do you remember 1997? That’s when this website was created. You could maybe tell from the website homepage that looks more like About.com than a review website, then again they have over 1.5 million pages indexed. Don’t make the same mistake I did, this isn’t a door and sink hardware company, this is computer hardware for hardcore nerds who build their own computers. I’m sure this site is at the forefront of every build-it-myself computer geek out there (I’m one ). The site is now owned by Purch, the same people who own TopTenReviews. These guys have really got a good handle on successful Amazon Affiliate Websites.
Many affiliate programs run with last-click attribution, where the affiliate receiving the last click before the sale gets 100% credit for the conversion. This is changing. With affiliate platforms providing new attribution models and reporting features, you are able to see a full-funnel, cross-channel view of how individual marketing tactics are working together. For example, you might see that a paid social campaign generated the first click, Affiliate X got click 2, and Affiliate Y got the last click. With this full picture, you can structure your affiliate commissions so that Affiliate X gets a percentage of the credit for the sale, even though they didn’t get the last click. 
Interesting anecdote: On one of our “authority sites”…right now, we’ve gone the way of NOT placing ads on the home page, actually. We have images/categories on the first page that people click through to get to the content. Because of this we have an EXTREMELY low bounce rate…everyone who comes to the site (via the primary or exact match KW) has to make another click to get to the area they really want, which will contain ads. I think eventually we’ll blend in just a FEW ad placements above the fold on the main page.
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.
Sure, you’re not the brand itself, but you are employed by various brands, and I’m sure you want to see success in this industry. For that reason, it’s important you take control and learn about your audience while trying to form connections. Take cues from your competitors or other affiliates. What kind of advertisements are they utilizing, and do they seem to be working?

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.

TheAthleticBuild.com is a website that's covers a number of different fitness topics. It's probably safe to say that most of their content is geared towards men, and most of their revenue comes from either Amazon or their affiliate programs.  Based on the looks of the site, they have a few supplement reviews that are probably affiliate programs where they get paid a portion of each sale that a buyer makes.  Some of these affiliate programs have higher returns than other programs, but there are some right vs. wrong decisions you'll have to work through yourself if you are endorsing certain types of nutritional products, especially if you don't take them yourself.
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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