How To Make Money With Affiliate Marketing (2020 Guide): I Hit $150,000 Last Year And Want To Show Other People How I Did It

Home » Affiliate Marketing » How To Make Money With Affiliate Marketing (2020 Guide): I Hit $150,000 Last Year And Want To Show Other People How I Did It

I never thought this would happen to me.

In 2 years I went from making $20k to $80k, then $150k in 2018 (see my income reports).

I did this by dropping all my SEO clients and tried making money with affiliate marketing (I write tutorials on SEO and website speed). 90% of my affiliate income comes from referring people to SiteGround, a hosting company who awarded me affiliate of the month in July, 2017.

So what do I do?

I basically write tutorials on how to make your website load faster while saying “hosting is the #1 factor of website speed and SiteGround was rated the #1 host in 34 Facebook polls. They’re also used by Yoast, recommended by WordPress, and they will migrate you for free. Many people have already migrated to SiteGround and posted faster load times on Twitter.”

This made my sales skyrocket.

No, this didn’t happen overnight. Yes, I was broke for a couple years while creating content. But it literally changed my life… I moved out of my parent’s house (sigh) into a nice studio in downtown Denver, bought my first car (a Mercedes c300), adopted 2 kitties, and my credit raised 45 points. I also donated $6,000 to GoFundMe campaigns. I’m a humble dude but in affiliate marketing, the numbers do the talking. So, I want to show you how I did it. Enjoy :-)

Table Of Contents

  1. Find Your Niche
  2. Sign Up For Affiliate Programs
  3. Learn The Different Types Of Programs
  4. Run The Numbers
  5. Setup A Blog
  6. Master SEO
  7. Master Video SEO
  8. Discover Your Content Strategy
  9. Rely On Contextual Links (Not Banners)
  10. Manage Affiliate Links With Thirsty Affiliates
  11. Nofollow Affiliate Links
  12. Add Affiliate Links To Images
  13. Bookmark Affiliate Statistic Pages In Your Browser
  14. Setup Text/Email Alerts Whenever A Sale Is Made
  15. SEO: Keyword Research
  16. SEO: Content Optimization
  17. SEO: Length Is Strength
  18. SEO: Use An HTML Table Of Contents
  19. SEO: Rich Snippets
  20. SEO: Avoid Common Affiliate Penalties
  21. Gather Unbiased Reviews
  22. Build Your Community
  23. Monitor Conversions Rates
  24. Write An Affiliate Disclaimer
  25. Avoid Google AdSense
  26. Mistakes I Made
  27. Donate To Charity
  28. Share Your Success Story
  29. My Affiliate Income Reports
  30. Frequently Asked Questions

*I have a quite extensive WordPress SEO guide and YouTube SEO guide – adding affiliate links to posts and video descriptions is easy, getting traffic is the hard part.

SiteGround-Affiliate-Sales

SiteGround-PayPal-Money

See my full PayPal activity, or income reports for all my affiliates.
Me and Natalie

I finally have the time/money to travel with my girlfriend (I know, she’s gorgeous)
 

Getting Started

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
You partner with a company selling products/services you would like to recommend to your audience. If they buy something using your affiliate link, you get a commission from the sale. There are other types of affiliate programs, but this is the most common – and is also what I do.

About My Blog

  • I write about SEO + website speed optimization
  • Hosting is the #1 factor of website speed optimization
  • I make money by referring people to SiteGround’s hosting
  • I’ve spent a LOT of time collecting social media evidence where they were #1 in 34 different Facebook polls, Facebook conversations that support this, and how migrating to them can improve page load times. I also have 100% scores in GTmetrix + Pingdom
  • I have about 2,500 visitors/day, 90% is from Google… adding affiliate links to your blog (or videos) is the easy part – getting consistent traffic to them (SEO) is the hard part
  • It took blogging full-time for many months with minimal income to see results, but now, I can (and have) stopped working for several months and still collect my affiliate income

About Me (Why I Am Writing This?)
I come from an unsuccessful background of web design/SEO. I blogged because I knew it was good for SEO, but my articles didn’t monetize. I took a leap of faith and dropped my clients to figure out blogging/affiliate marketing. I was good at website speed optimization and knew hosting was the #1 factor. After some research, I saw SiteGround was #1 in most Facebook polls and had a great reputation with generous affiliate commissions. So I wrote tutorials on website speed… how to configure WordPress cache plugins, hosting reviews, and other speed-related topics. Usually near the end of a post I would say “…and here’s why you should switch to SiteGround” with evidence on why they’re the best… polls, tweets, load time improvements, etc. That’s when things got good. Now I have 0 clients and the freedom to live how I want. I wrote this tutorial because I’m actually excited to help people do the same – without the BS.

Largest Factors

  • Choosing the right niche and affiliate(s) to refer readers to
  • Finding topics (keywords) where people would be interested in a product/service. You do NOT have to just write reviews!!! If you create a YouTube video on “how to connect a tv to a laptop”, drop an affiliate link to an HDMI cable. That’s just one example.
  • SEO: getting consistent traffic by writing AWESOME content about your keywords (there’s a phrase “length is strength” in SEO and this paid off big time for me). Maybe you’re doing videos or an eCourse, but I found blog posts WAY easier to update which means less maintenance. The biggest factor by FAR was the time I spent meticulously creating my tutorials… which eventually resulted in a sudden 3x increase in SEO traffic
  • Adding an HTML table of contents to EVERY article (encourages longer content, organization, and even a chance to get jump-to links in Google using named anchors).
  • Gathering Facebook polls, Tweets, other proof on WHY they should choose my affiliate
  • The patience it took to write content for many months even when I wasn’t getting paid

 

1. Find Your Niche

My career journey went like this: online marketing > web design > WordPress web design > WordPress SEO > WordPress speed optimization. Now I’m getting into affiliate marketing.

While I was doing WordPress speed optimization I noticed lots of people needed it, but very few people supplied it (there were a lack of services and tutorials when I researched Google). I also knew hosting was the #1 factor of website speed factor and these companies paid up to $200/sale. Hosting is a competitive space but the commissions and lack of supply enticed me.

I expanded my SEO blog and started writing about hosting, cache plugins, and other relevant topics… while recommending SiteGround in each tutorial. I added social proof like the 34 Facebook polls where they were rated #1. Each tutorial was super detailed and tons of people found them helpful – many get 100+ visitors/day since great content = higher rankings.

Once I found my niche (WordPress speed optimization), a solid hosting company with a high commission affiliate program (SiteGround) and created tutorials around topics people in my niche would find helpful (and might want to change their host), that’s what got me to $130k.

WordPress Speed Optimization Guide

Once you find a niche with high demand, little supply (do your Google research), and a reputable affiliate offering nice commissions… and you have patience to wait for financial results while creating your assets (I’m talking about content), I encourage you to take the leap.

 

2. Sign Up For Affiliate Programs

Affiliate Marketplaces
(A place to sign up for multiple affiliate programs and manage them in 1 place).

  • ShareASale (recommended) – WP Engine, StudioPress, WP Rocket, more. Easy to get approved, create links, track stats, with a wide rank of affiliates.
  • ClickBank – LongTail Pro, SeoPressor, more.
  • CJ Affiliate – Overstock, GoDaddy, Zappos, Walgreen, Vitamin Shoppe, Verizon Wireless, Under Armour, TurboTax, TJ Maxx, Sears, Samsung, QVC, Priceline, Petco, Old Navy, Office Depot, Office Max, Nike, Newegg, Michael Kors, Intuit, Hotels.com, HelloFresh, Guitar Center, GNC, FedEx Office, AT&T, American Express, Vivid Seats, TeamViewer, Sunglass Hut, Ally Invest, more.
  • Rakuten Marketing – Udemy, Walmart, Macy’s, StubHub, Hulu, more.
  • Impact – ADP, Airbnb, AppSumo, Allstate, 1-800 Flowers, Avon, Constant Contact, Credit Karma Tax, Envato Market, ESPN+, Getty Images, Gravity Forms, Grubhub, Houzz, HostGator, InMotion, iQ, iStock, Kind, Kohl’s, Lending Club, Levi’s, LinkedIn Learning, Namecheap, Shutterstock, Southwest, Squarespace, StackPath CDN, Target, Turo, Uber, Uber Eats, Xfinity, more.
  • FlexOffers – Apple Music, Amore Beds, Mac Cosmetics, Wine Of The Month Club, DirectTV, Sketchers, Barnes & Noble, GameStop, SkyScanner, more.

Popular Online Retailers

  • Amazon – up to 10% based on category.
  • Ebay – 40 – 80% based on category (but only 24 hour cookie tracking).
  • Etsy – 4 – 8%.
  • Target – 4% on most categories.
  • Walmart – 4% on most categories.
  • Aliexpress – 3% for electronics, 7-9% for everything else.
  • Newegg – 0.5 – 1%.
  • Overstock – up to 6%.

WordPress Hosting

  • SiteGround – $50 – $100+/sale (tier program).
  • WP Engine – $200/sale + bonuses + $50 two-tier program.
  • Kinsta – $50 – $500/sale + 10% recurring.
  • Cloudways – $50 – $125/sale (tiered) or recurring revenues with lower initial commission – they were also #1 in many Facebook polls, have a very strong following, and I will be recommending them soon for managed cloud hosting

WordPress Themes

Email Marketing

  • AWeber – 30% recurring (on $19 – $149+ per sale).
  • Constant Contact – $105 per sale and $5 per lead (signs up for free trial).

Other Affiliates

  • SEMrush – 40% recurring (on $40 – $160/month).
  • StackPath CDN – usually $10 – $20 commission per sale.
  • MyThemeShop – 55% ($48 commission – $244 depending on plan).
  • ThemeForest – 30% of each new person’s first purchase.
  • WP Rocket – 20% ($10 – $50/sale).
  • Freelancer – fee of the project for first 100 days (usually 10% of the project).
  • Udemy – 20% on any course.
  • Refer WordPress – 20% for wordpress.com, JetPack, and WooCommerce.
  • OptiMonster – 20%.
  • LongTail Pro – 30% (and 30% recurring) on $219/year – $377/year plans.
  • Elementor – 50% of $49 – $199 depending on plan.
  • HelloFresh – $25 (maximum) on first sale.

Coupon Codes

  • A2 Hosting + HostGator – these affiliates let you create custom coupon codes which is a huge bonus if you’re doing YouTube videos. Tyler’s Moore’s video on how to make a WordPress site has 4.5M+ views and he refers people to HostGator using his coupon code. This means he gets credited for the sale if they use the code (even if they don’t click his affiliate link). If you’re doing YouTube videos, coupon codes can result in a lot more sales than dropping links in video descriptions and hoping people click on it. He’s made a fortune.

 

3. Learn The Different Types Of Programs

One Tier – get a commission when a sale is generated from your affiliate link.

Two Tier – get a commission when you refer other affiliates and they start making sales (think multilevel marketing). An example is WP Engine’s program where I tell my readers about their WordPress hosting, they start making sales, and I earn $50/sale from each sale they generate.

Climbing Tiers – increased commissions as you make more sales.

SiteGround-Affiliate-Program-Tiers

Recurring Commissions – usually happens with subscription services… you continuously receive commissions so long as people are signed up. AWeber and SEMrush do this.

Sitewide Commissions – get a commission no matter what people buy on the affiliate’s website. Amazon’s affiliate program does this.

Pay Per Lead – get a commission based on the number of leads (eg. contact form fill-outs) you send to a business. Be sure setup your analytics to track this and have a solid, written agreement with your affiliate. You don’t want to spend tons of time and get burned, like I have.

Cookies – amount of time after people click your affiliate link you will receive a commission if a sale is generated. Usually 30-90 days but shouldn’t be a deal breaker when choosing affiliates.

Individual Affiliate Programs – this is where you sign up through their website.

Individual-Affiliate-Program

Affiliate MarketplacesShareASale and ClickBank have thousands of merchants to choose from. It’s nice to login to 1 place and check the performance of multiple affiliates without going to each individual portal on each website. Many programs aren’t part of a marketplace though. I’m a big fan of ShareASale – there are so many companies and industries you can choose from.

Shareasale

Amazon Affiliate Program
Amazon’s affiliate program is the most popular of them all. I don’t participate myself (yet) but the majority of affiliate marketers I know use Amazon because… it’s Amazon. You can review products you have used or write tutorials (eg. how to connect computer to TV) and drop an affiliate link to an HDMI cable… just a couple examples. You may want to build relationships with the manufacturers so you can get products before they’re released – giving you time to create a review before the product is launched and capture sales during peak buying times.

  • Up to 10% commissions
  • Commission % based on categories
  • Sitewide commissions (if they buy anything using your link, you get a commission)
  • Super high conversions
  • Create a custom affiliate link to any product

Amazon-Affiliate-Commissions

Amazon-Autocomplete-Keywords

You can create affiliate links for any Amazon product, then drop it in the video description:

Amazon-Affiliate-Links

WordPress Affiliate Programs
If you’re in the WordPress industry like I am (whether it be design, development, or SEO) I have accumulated quite the list of WordPress affiliate programs. I excluded those I found unsuccessful or pay too little to make a profit from, specifically ThemeForest, Creative Market, and low quality theme stores like Template Monster. Hosting pays well and I wrote a tutorial for SiteGround’s affiliate program and StudioPress themes which are my 2 highest paying affiliates. Those tutorials have tons of screenshots/social proof especially for SiteGround.

  • SiteGround –  my main hosting affiliate with a solid reputation on social media (which I use to my advantage). They pay $50 – 100+/sale and award custom commissions based on your performance and whether you’re selling more expensive hosting plans.
  • WP Engine – $200/sale with a two-tier affiliate program ($50 for each two-tier sale)
  • StudioPress – known for being the most quality WordPress themes built in Genesis
  • Elegant Themes – high quality themes with generous affiliate program (50% of sale)
  • StackPathCDN with 31 additional data centers (Cloudflare has 200+ data centers, but more data centers = faster content delivery). I get around $1,000/month by referring people to StackPath in my cache plugin tutorials. StackPath recently bought MaxCDN and their affiliate acceptance rate is much lower (depends on your potential volume) but most cache plugins converted to StackPath as their recommended CDN
  • Freelancer – refer people to developers, designers, and other freelancers you’ve worked with and make 100% of Freelancer’s project commission for the first 90 days. I get a lot of people requesting WordPress speed optimization services… so I refer them to my developers with a freelancer affiliate link and make $125/month in passive income. You can’t use affiliate links to link to specific freelancer profiles, so I direct people to the homepage via affiliate link and give people my developer’s usernames.

 

4. Run The Numbers

High Commissions, High Conversions, Low Reversal Rates
Of course you want affiliates with high commissions, but they should also have a solid reputation with high conversions and low reversal rates (you get $0 if people cancel after signing up). If they’re part of an affiliate marketplace like ShareASale or ClickBank you can see some numbers there. Companies likes Amazon/SiteGround are safe bets, otherwise do your research (or track your affiliate links so you can monitor their performance). Avoid affiliates offering huge commissions since this probably means they’re struggling to acquire/retain customers naturally. This will hurt your numbers (specifically your conversions/reversal rates).

Why I Didn’t Promote WP Engine For $200/Sale
I could have promoted WP Engine (hosting company) for $200/sale with no tier program to climb – sounds pretty good right? But when I checked ShareASale I saw their reversal rates were 24%! Just to give you an idea SiteGround’s reversals are less than 10%. WP Engine starts at $29/month while SiteGround’s is $6.99/month, plus SiteGround has a better reputation. I had to climb a tier program to higher commissions with SiteGround, but it paid off long-term.

 

5. Setup A Blog

WordPress – what I recommend building your website/blog on.

This next section summarizes my entire “sales pitch” for SiteGround. I use this exact section on every single tutorial on my blog relating to website speed optimization. Crafting your sales pitch and explaining why people should use your affiliate (eg. social proof) is so important!

HostingSiteGround is used by Yoast, myself, and recommended by WordPress. They are #1 in nearly every Facebook poll and give most people major load time improvements especially if they were using mediocre hosts: GoDaddy, Bluehost, HostGator, InMotion, Dreamhost, EIG.

Yoast-on-Twitter-We-just-switched-to-Siteground

I use their semi-dedicated GoGeek plan which comes with 4x more server resources than shared hosting. Click through my pages to see how fast they load, check out my GTmetrix report, or see people who migrated and posted new load times. They also do free migrations.

How To Check If Your Hosting Is Slow
Run your site through Google PageSpeed Insights to see if reduce server response time is in your report. Google recommends it should be <200ms. Anything above 1 second is not good. You can also check your TTFB (time to first byte) in GTmetrix’s Timings tab or bytecheck.com.

Reduce Server Response Time

Here are the polls:

2019 Hosting Poll

2017-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Elementor Hosting Recommendations

July 2019 Hosting Recommendation

WordPress-Host-Poll-Aug-2018

Shared-Hosting-Poll-2017

2019-Hosting-Poll

Go-To-Hosting-Company

WordPress-Hosting-Poll-2017

Managed-Hosting-Poll

WooCommerce-Hosting-FB-Poll

2016-Web-Hosting-Poll

Best-WordPress-Hosting-Provider-Poll

Best-Web-Hosting-2019-Poll

WP Friendly Hosting Poll

2016-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Favorite Hosting For Elementor

2018 Hosting Recommendations

WordPress Hosting Poll Sept 2018.png

Managed-WordPress-Hosting-Poll-2017

2019-Hosts-Poll-1

Hosting-Poll-For-Speed

WordPress-Hosting-Poll-June-1

SiteGround-Recommendation

2014-Managed-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Best-Web-Hosting-Provider-Poll

Hosting-Poll-Feb-2019

Hosting-Recommendations-Poll

Bluehost vs SiteGround

WordPress Web Host Poll

SiteGround is recommended by WordPress:

SiteGround-Recommended-WordPress-Host

A few happy customers (this is my social proof):

Godaddy To SiteGround Migration

EIG-To-SiteGround

SiteGround-Migration

SiteGround has 3 plans:

SiteGround-Hosting

Higher plans include more server resources (#1 factor in the WordPress optimization guide). Here’s the full comparison chart, but GrowBig gives you about 2x more server resources than StartUp, and GoGeek is semi-dedicated hosting which gives you even more. GrowBig and up comes with a free migration, staging, advanced caching, and ability to host multiple websites. GoGeek comes with priority support. Their cloud hosting is quite the price jump at $80/month.

You can see this on their features page:

SiteGround-Server-Resources-Comparison

I use SiteGround because:

  1. My GTmetrixPingdom reports speak for themselves
  2. My pages load instantly (click through them if you want)
  3. Fast speed technology (PHP 7.3, NGINX, SG Optimizer, Cloudflare)
  4. Recommended by Yoast, WordPress, Ivica from WordPress Speed Up
  5. Free Let’s Encrypt SSL, easy to use cPanel, and features for eCommerce
  6. WordPress support is unbeatable even without GoGeek’s priority support
  7. GrowBig comes with staging, more storage, and more server resources (scroll down to “we allocate the resources you need” and hover over the server tab)
  8. GoGeek comes with even more server resources, storage, priority support
  9. Free migrations, migrator plugin, and a 30-day money back guarantee
  10. Plenty of praise on Reddit, Facebook conversations, Twitter, TrustPilot
  11. Tons of praise on Facebook: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7#8, #9, #10#11
  12. Many people already migrated and posted results on Twitter: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6#7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23, #24, #25, #26, #27, #28, #29, #30, #31, #32, #33, #34, #35, #36, #37

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for SiteGround with my affiliate link I will donate a good chunk at no expense to you. Each year I donate $3k to GoFundMe campaigns (2018 was to feed the hungry in Denver, 2017 was to Red Cross at Hurricane Harvey). Your support helps and I genuinely appreciate it. I try to make my reviews unbiased and backed by evidence in the form of Facebook polls, tweets, and real conversations. If you don’t want to use it, here’s a non-affiliate link to SiteGround. Either way I truly believe they are a stellar WordPress host and your site will run faster/smoother… do your research on Facebook groups + Twitter and you’ll find most people say the same.

OMM-On-SiteGround

People usually migrate because their speed technology can cut load times in half:

Switching To SiteGround

SiteGround Load Time Migration

Bluehost to SiteGround GTmetrix

HostGator To SiteGround

SiteGround GTmetrix

SiteGround Google PageSpeed Insights

100 Perfect Score On SiteGround

SiteGround Genesis

Speed Delivered By SiteGround

SiteGround GTmetrix Report

Reduced Load Times With SiteGround

New SiteGround Response Times

HostGator To SiteGround Migration

SiteGround Response Times On Joomla

Switched To SiteGround Hosting

SiteGround Rocket Imagify Combo

Joomla GTmetrix On SiteGround

SiteGround PageSpeed Insights

SiteGround On Joomla

SiteGround Reduced Load Times

SiteGround Speedy Hosting

New Pingdom Results On SiteGround

New SiteGround Response Time

SiteGround Response Time Improvement

Get hosting from SiteGround

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.

StudioPress-Themes

Website Development Help – need help setting up your theme? I’ve been working with the same 2 developers for 3+ years. To hire them, sign up for a Freelancer account, post your job (WordPress theme installation) then invite user i333 or bdkamol to your project. If you want, contact me and I will introduce you to them via email. Both are great developers with reasonable rates, speak fluent English, and I outsource all my programming work to them.

Pronaya-Kumar-S-Reviews

 

6. Master SEO

If you don’t do everything from my WordPress SEO Guide, at least do these:

  • Find a specific (long-tail) keyword in Google Autocomplete that is 3+ words long.
  • Research the keyword’s competition to make sure it’s not too competitive (broad keywords with high monthly searches are always more competitive). VidIQ, Keywords Everywhere, and MozBar Chrome extensions are great tools for this, but it’s best to manually research how strong the content is (in the top results) – the biggest indicator.
  • Create in-depth content (videos should be 10+ minutes long, blog posts should be 3,000+ words long. Create an HTML table of contents to keep long posts organized.
  • Craft a nice title (that people will click on) ideally with your keyword in the front of it.
  • Craft a nice description (referring to your video description, or meta description for blog posts which you can do in Yoast, the plugin I recommend if you’re on WordPress).
  • Don’t obsess over keyword density, it barely matters. The most important places to use it are your title, description, and if using Yoast, your SEO title and meta description.
  • Use some links in your content – internal links are a natural way to build links to your own website, and external links are like citing sources to Google. Both are important.
  • Use multimedia – whether it be videos, infographics, or audio clips – people love them!
  • Use a solid WordPress theme + hosting (eg. StudioPress + SiteGround) which can save you loads of trouble in terms of website speed, compatibility, security, and built-in SEO.
  • Use a rich snippets plugin (I use WP Review by MyThemeShop) to get ‘stars’ in Google.
  • Configure Yoast’s SEO plugin, Google Search Console, and WP Rocket (cache plugin).
  • When using WordPress, use ‘post name’ permalink structure in Settings > Permalinks.
  • Always label images (on your computer) BEFORE uploading them to WordPress, and use a plugin to automatically use the image file name as the image alt text (saves time).
  • Don’t go nuts with WordPress plugins. Many of them hurt speed or aren’t maintained.
  • Add your blog post’s publish date to search results (makes your content look fresh)!
  • Make your website load blazing fast – use Cloudflare’s free CDN, optimize images (eg. ShortPixel), avoid external resources like Google AdSense, Google Maps, and high CPU plugins. Make sure you’re running PHP 7+ (in your hosting account), and clean your database frequently with WP-Optimize or WP Rocket. Avoid EIG hosting at all costs.
  • Use SSL (Let’s Encrypt is free) and review Google’s national and local ranking factors.

 

7. Master Video SEO

And if you don’t do everything from my YouTube SEO Guide, do these:

  • Find a specific (long-tail) keywords in YouTube autocomplete that is 3+ words long.
  • Research the keyword’s competition by looking at how many views, likes, comments, and other signals the top videos have (the vidIQ Chrome extension is great for this). Broad keywords have more searches but are more competitive (always start long-tail).
  • Cover the topic extensively – aim for 10 minutes and be concise (scripts/editing)!
  • Label the video file (on your computer) as your keyword, and upload it to YouTube.
  • Craft a nice title that entices people to click your video, with your keyword in front.
  • Write a long description with timestamps, links, and use keyword in first sentence.
  • Review the transcript automatically generated by YouTube, and make corrections.
  • Upload a custom thumbnail (1280px by 720px) that gets people clicking the video.
  • Always respond to comments, and embed the video on your blog if you have one.
  • Incorporate your video in your blog, email, social media, other marketing channels.

Otherwise, it’s as easy as adding a link to the video description and asking people to click on it. Coupon codes are a huge bonus (if your affiliate offers this) since often times, you can give people a discount using your custom code, while crediting you the sale, without them even having to click your affiliate link. This results in higher conversions. (Tyler Moore does this).

Amazon Affiliate Links

 

8. Discover Your Content Strategy (Blog vs. Videos vs. Course)

Blog Posts – in many tech industries like mine, there are lots of technology changes which requires me to update content. It is MUCH easier to update a blog post than to completely redo a video. Videos are good, but posts can last much longer (called evergreen content).

Videos – add affiliate links to YouTube descriptions and tell people you left a link there. You can’t edit a video once it’s uploaded though, so I had a hard time keep mine up-to-date. It requires more maintenance than posts especially if there’s a lot of change in your industry.

eCourse – same thing as videos where it’s hard to keep them up-to-date, though I’ve never done an eCourse. Udemy is probably your best bet though.

 

Affiliate Links – adding affiliate links in your content (text/images/buttons) is the only strategy I use and is the most popular. People who actually read your stuff are the ones likely to buy something you recommend – they’re probably not going to click on a distracting banner ad.

Banners – after testing them out I decided to take down my banner ads since they looked salesy and weren’t working like my affiliate links did. They’re easy to throw up, but distracting and probably won’t get great results. If you try them, be sure to show specific sidebar banners based on the type of content people are reading on your blog (for posts that fall under my SEO category I would show a banner related to SEO, and for posts under my website speed category I would show a different banner). You can do this using a plugin like Widget Logic.

 

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.

Thirsty-Affiliates-Link-Management

Cloaking – adds /go/ or another link prefix to your affiliate links. Anytime you use an affiliate link you should use the cloaked version (eg. www.onlinemediamasters.com/go/siteground)

Use Deep Links – these are pages on your affiliate’s website that AREN’T the homepage. For SiteGround’s hosting I link a lot to their speed technology page as an affiliate link. If you’re doing Amazon’s affiliate program you just want to gather a list of products you will be recommending to readers, create an affiliate link for each one, and import them to the plugin.

Thirsty Affiliates Settings – go through the plugin settings and tweak whatever is needed. I left everything as the default but changed my link prefix (the cloaked URL version) to /go/.

Thirsty-Affiliates-Settings

 

11. Nofollow Affiliate Links

You don’t want search engines following affiliate links. If you add them to content using Thirsty Affiliates, it will do this automatically. Otherwise select “Nofollow” when adding affiliate links.

Nofollow-Affiliate-Links

 

12. Add Affiliate Links To Images

Just a quick reminder to do this – it can increase clicks especially on mobile.

 

13. Bookmark Affiliate Statistic Pages In Your Browser

Go to your affiliate dashboard(s) and bookmark the “statistic” page so it saves to your browser. This saves time especially if you’re someone who likes to constantly check sales/performance.

Affiliate-Bookmarks

 

14. Setup Text/Email Alerts Whenever A Sale Is Made

This only works if the affiliate sends you an email when a sale is generated. Any time I make a SiteGround sale, I get a custom notification on my phone. It is ENCOURAGING to get these.

Create custom alerts on your phone for affiliate sales – if you use GMail, go to your settings and create a filter so all emails with “SiteGround Affiliate Sale Generated” in the subject line go into their own folder (tweak the subject line to match whatever email notification your affiliate sends you). Then setup a custom alert on your phone using the GMail app so anytime you generate a sale, you get a custom alert (here’s a tutorial for Android and here’s one for Apple). I have different notifications for SiteGround, StudioPress Themes, etc. Makes your day better :)

Custom-GMail-Filter

The only emails I get on my phone are affiliate sales:

Affiliate-Sale-Notification

 

15. SEO: Keyword Research

The 2,000+ visitors/day I get through SEO is a huge part of my passive affiliate income. My SEO strategy is all about content which starts with keyword research (topics you write about). I suggest reading that article since keyword research/content optimization is mandatory.

Long-Tail Keywords – specific keywords usually with 3-7 individual words in a phrase. They are highly targeted and MUCH easier to rank for than broad keywords (all mine are long-tail). The lower your domain authority (check using OSE), the less competitive (more long-tail) your keywords should be. If you can get more specific and the keyword still shows up in Google Autocomplete, Moz Keyword Explorer and other keyword tools… choose the SPECIFIC one.

Long-Tail-Keywords

Target 1-2 Keywords Per Article – until you can successfully rank for 1 keyword for an article, don’t try targeting 2. Once you get the hang of it and are ready to write an article around 2, choose a secondary keyword that is a synonym of your primary keyword. An example would be “Slow WordPress Site” and “Why Is WordPress Slow.” Then craft your article title/SEO title/meta description to mention individual words of each – while making them read nicely.

Google Autocomplete – go to google.com, start typing a phrase and look at the dropdown autocomplete results. You can use the underscore character “_” to have Google fill-in-the-blank. Just make sure the last character you type is an underscore. Try using plurals and change the word ordering to see different results. This is how I find 90% of my keywords.

google-autocomplete-keywords

YouTube Autocomplete – if you’re doing videos you can find keywords here.

Youtube-Autocomplete-Keywords

Moz Keyword Explorer – this tool is similar to Google Keyword Planner only it’s completely free. You can also group similar keywords so you’re not browsing through the same ones…

Moz Keyword Explorer

Click on keyword suggestions –> see all suggestions.

Moz Keyword Suggestions

MozBarMozBar is a Google Chrome extension that lets you Google any keyword and see how competitive the search results are. The higher the DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority) the more competitive the keyword is. However you still want to click on the top results and browse the content to make sure you can creating an article/video that is better than whoever’s in the top results. That is really what “researching the competition” is all about.

Mozbar Keyword Competition

Avoiding competitive keywords:

Keyword-Competition

Review Keywords

  • Yoast SEO Premium Review
  • Shark ION ROBOT 750 Vacuum Review
  • SiteGround WordPress Hosting Review

Solution Keywords

  • How to do yoga at home (recommend a yoga mat)
  • Why is my website slow (recommended faster hosting)
  • How to connect laptop to TV (recommend an HDMI cable)

 

16. SEO: Content Optimization

If using WordPress, check out my Yoast SEO Plugin tutorial (specifically the green lights section) since this is an extensive topic. Backlinko’s infographic is also a good starting point.

Hands down I’d say the best thing you can do is research 1 primary keyword, craft an enticing article title that includes your keyword (though it doesn’t have to be an exact match), spend time writing your search engine snippets (SEO titles/meta descriptions), and by far the most important is making your content as VALUABLE as possible through videos, nice graphics, table of contents, bold/colors/styling, etc. Small things like keyword density barely matter.

Brief explanation of content optimization using Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin…

Yoast-Content-Analysis

 

17. SEO: Length Is Strength

Generally, the longer the post, the higher it will rank. It makes sense since you are covering the topic extensively which gives your post substance and people are more likely to give you a share/link. It increases average time on page + average time on site, which Google measures.

Don’t hold yourself to a word count – Google your keyword, view the top results, and make sure your content is more detailed/valuable than everyone else. Videos should help with this.

WordPress Word Count

 

18. SEO: Use An HTML Table Of Contents

I always add an HTML table of contents to posts to make sure they are long and structured. This has been a HUGE help for me (and my readers) and there are tons of benefits: better chance of getting “jump to links” in Google (see below), increased average time on page, decreased bounce rates, and it makes it easier for readers to navigate through your content.

Jump-To-Links

Google says

Ensure that long, multi-topic pages on your site are well-structured and broken into distinct logical sections. Second, ensure that each section has an associated anchor with a descriptive name (i.e., not just “Section 2.1”), and that your page includes a table of contents which links to individual anchors.

How To Create A Table Of Contents With Anchored Subheadings
Table Of Contents HTML looks like this…
<ul>
<li><a href=”/your-permalink-here/#item-one”>Item One</a></li>
<li><a href=”/your-permalink-here/#item-two”>Item Two</a></li>
<li><a href=”/your-permalink-here/#item-three”>Item Three</a></li>
</ul>

Each subheading’s HTML should look like this…
<h3 id=”item-one”>1. Item One</h3>
<h3 id=”item-two”>2. Item Two</h3>
<h3 id=”item-three”>3. Item Three</h3>

You can also use a jump to table of contents link…
<li><a href=”/your-permalink-here/#table-of-contents</li>

 

19. SEO: Rich Snippets

If you’re writing reviews on your blog, you need to be using rich snippets.

These add review stars to snippets and increase click-through rates. I have tested many rich snippet plugins over the years and my favorite (and what I use now) is the WP Review Pro Plugin by MyThemeShop (view the demo). It’s fast, looks great (here’s a page I use it on), comes with 16 pre-styled designs, supports user reviews, and is well-supported by the developers at MyThemeShop. I was previously using WP Rich Snippets but the developer abandoned the plugin and hasn’t updated it for 2 years, and All In One Schema lacks customization options.

What rich snippets do…

Rich-Snippets

How the WP Review plugin looks on your site:

Rich Snippets Markup

What All In One Schema.org looks like (plain and boring):

All-In-One-Schema.org-Rich-Snippets-Plugin-Markup

 

20. SEO: Avoid Common Affiliate Penalties

  • Avoid short, thin pages with little value
  • Don’t always list affiliate products first – Google knows!
  • Don’t overuse affiliate links in your posts, drop them where it counts
  • Avoid too many “list posts” where you just list a bunch of affiliate products
  • Consider writing a review of your affiliate’s product/service and linking to that post (instead of using an affiliate link) to reduce the amount of affiliate links on your site
  • Write an affiliate disclaimer in the beginning of your post and simply ask people to click on it (see this example) which also reduce the amount of affiliate links you need to use

 

21. Gather Unbiased Reviews (Social Proof + Testimonials)

My conversion rate went from 2.5% to 8% just by including Facebook polls where SiteGround was rated #1, along with a few Twitter screenshots and Facebook conversations. Whether it’s Amazon reviews or Facebook polls, you NEED to include outside opinions – that’s why I don’t like collecting reviews on my website – they look biased. But you can use WP Review Pro to do this, allowing people to review the product/service on your site and get those review stars.

2018 WordPress Hosting Poll

 

22. Build Your Community

Respond To Comments – some of my articles have 300+ comments. It’s hard to keep up sometimes but this is a key part of building a community and allowing readers to ask you questions and leave their feedback. You should respond to YouTube comments especially because they are a ranking factor and encourage even more people to leave more comments.

Build That Newsletter – your most loyal readers will subscribe. They’re also the most likely to purchase things you recommend. A simple sidebar widget on your blog is a great start (if you’re using StudioPress themes or the Genesis Framework, I use Genesis eNews Extended).

Be Open, Not Salesy – I hold back zero information on my blog, don’t recommend anything I don’t truly believe will help my readers, and try my best not to recommend hosting on every single post I write (only where it makes sense). Valuable information first, affiliate sales after.

Get Them Involved – leaving reviews about your affiliate product/service, sharing a post, entering email subscribers into a drawing… whatever you want to do to get them interested.

 

23. Monitor Conversions Rates

The way you endorse a product/service and the social proof behind it (eg. Facebook polls or maybe reviews from other customers) are the main reason I was able to go from 2% to 8%+. If you don’t see these in your affiliate dashboard, use Thirsty Affiliate’s pro version to see them.

SiteGround-Conversion-Rates

You Don’t Need To Track Affiliate Links To Improve Conversions – you will always hear people telling you to track affiliate links. But for me, I generally use the same content about SiteGround on all my speed optimization articles… it is very important it converts well. Change your approach on how you recommend your affiliate product (it’s perfecting your sales pitch).

 

24. Write An Affiliate Disclaimer

Here’s mine which I include on every post where I recommend SiteGround:

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for SiteGround with my affiliate link I will donate a good chunk at no expense to you. Each year I donate $3k to GoFundMe campaigns (2018 was to feed the hungry in Denver, 2017 was to Red Cross at Hurricane Harvey). Your support helps and I genuinely appreciate it. I try to make my reviews unbiased and backed by evidence in the form of Facebook polls, tweets, and real conversations. If you don’t want to use it, here’s a non-affiliate link to SiteGround. Either way I truly believe they are a stellar WordPress host and your site will run faster/smoother… do your research on Facebook groups + Twitter and you’ll find most people say the same.

 

25. Avoid Google AdSense

It’s easy to throw up Google AdSense on your blog – but good luck making decent income from it. It is NOT personalized whereas affiliate links involve people taking YOUR recommendation on very specific things. It also makes your site slower than a turtle. Not good for monetization.

 

26. Mistakes I Made

In my Google Analytics graph you’ll see a sudden drop in traffic followed by a long flatline in 2015 and 2016. These were rough years for me and I hope I can save you from making a few bad mistakes I made, which resulted in years of financial hardship. Here are a few simple tips…

Google-Analytics-Organic-Traffic

Don’t set a goal to write 3 blog posts a day… set a goal to write 1 blog post a week and make that post super helpful, long, and filled with information that is so valuable you will say “yeah, people will link to that.” 90% of my traffic/affiliate income comes from just 20 tutorials, many of which are 5+ years old. But I am constantly updating them to make the content better.

Do this and you should see consistent “small spikes” in your Google Analytics.
 

Once you’re financially stable, I hope you start giving back. It feels good and people like the idea of supporting a good cause (they will be more likely to click your affiliate link in your disclaimer). This also means you don’t have to use as many links in your content and risk getting a penalized. Last year I donated $3,000 to Red Cross At Hurricane Harvey.

Harvey-Donation

 

28. Share Your Success Story

This is now the #1 visited post on my blog! Hehe, I knew I could outrank all the fakes.

Top Viewed Pages

Bottom line: when you’re excited about something you’re doing, and you’re trying to help people, it is really easy to create amazing content about something you are passionate about.

 

29. My Affiliate Income Reports

I’m sharing my numbers because I know there are tons of BS claims/scams out there.

PayPal activity (here’s my full activity report for 2018)…

PayPal-Activity

My recent activity with SiteGround:

SiteGround-PayPal-Money

SiteGround’s hosting (my best month)…

SiteGround-Affiliate-Sales

Here are some emails…

January-SiteGround-Affiliate-Sales

Got affiliate of the month in July, 2017 :)

SiteGround-Affiliate-Of-The-Month

SiteGround conversion report…

SiteGround-Affiliate-Conversions

MaxCDN (bought by StackPath who delayed launching an affiliate program), but when they did I started making even more. They are part of Impact, an affiliate marketplace.

Impact-Radius-Affiliate-Sales

ShareASale (selling WordPress themes and WP Rocket’s cache plugin for WordPress)…

ShareASale-Affiliate-Payments

Elegant Themes…

Elegant-Themes-Affiliate-Payments

Freelancer.com (referring people to my developer who does website speed projects)…

Freelancer-Affiliate-Earnings

I have a few other affiliates but these are the main ones.

 

30. Frequently Asked Questions

💰 How much money can I make with affiliate marketing?

Most affiliates make a couple hundred dollars per month while other super affiliates make $10,000+ a month. You will get there quicker if you make it your full-time job and put out awesome content on a consistent basis.

💰 How long does it take to make consistent income?

It can take anywhere from 6 months to several years to make consistent income, depending on your ability to drive quality traffic and promote affiliate products. As you get more traffic and increase conversions, sales will increase and become more reliable. You will not become a millionaire overnight.

💰 How do affiliates get paid?

Most affiliates get paid through PayPal or directly to their bank account. Typical affiliate programs make payouts each month or once you reach a specific amount in commissions.

💰 What are the most profitable affiliate programs?

The most profitable affiliate programs are usually related to web hosting. These companies offer some of the highest commissions, but the space is very competitive.

💰 Is affiliate marketing passive income?

Affiliate marketing income is not 100% passive income. You still need to create content, keep existing content current, and keep an eye on your website traffic and conversions. But, you should be able to walk away for a 2-week vacation and maintain your income. If your affiliate makes changes to their products, you will also need to reflect those changes on your own website.

💰 How do I create an affiliate link?

To create an affiliate link, sign up with an affiliate program, login to your affiliate dashboard, then create an affiliate link to a specific landing page on their website.

 

Final Thought: It’s A Long-Term Investment

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 the life I want.

Take the leap and devote more time to it :)

My-Mercedes

It’s no lambo, but I did buy a c300 Mercedes with my affiliate income.

Me-And-The-Cats

Me and the cats (Valencio on the left, Sonic on the right).

Riding-Elephant

Affiliate marketing gives me the time/money to travel the world.

If you have any questions or need help getting started, I am more than happy to help with whatever I can. Just leave a comment below and I promise to respond as soon as I can! Best of luck in your in your affiliate marketing journey. Hope this was super helpful :)

Tom

 

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