I never thought this would happen to me.
In 2 years I went from making $20k to $80k, and am now hitting about $150k/year (see income reports). I did this by dropping all of my clients and tried making money with affiliate marketing.
So what do I do? My about page tells my whole story, but here’s the gist:
I write tutorials on website speed optimization while referring people to hosting. In my tutorials, I explain how hosting is the #1 speed factor and Cloudways was rated #1 in 18 polls. I provide evidence (migration results, Facebook conversations, and my GTmetrix report) to show people why Cloudways is a better choice than most hosts. You can see my full sales pitch there.
$150,000/year did not happen overnight. I was broke for a couple years while creating content. But it literally changed my life… I moved out of my parent’s house into a nice apartment in downtown Denver, bought my first car (a Mercedes c300), adopted 2 kitties, and my credit raised 45 points. I also donated $6k to GoFundMe campaigns and 6k to my parents. I’m a humble dude but in affiliate marketing, the numbers do the talking. Now I have 0 clients and 100% freedom. There’s a lot of BS out there on affiliate marketing – which is why I wrote this.
How to make legit money with affiliate marketing
- Find your niche
- Start a blog or YouTube channel
- Get traffic before sales
- Sign up for affiliate programs
- Learn how the affiliate program works
- Add affiliate links to your content
- Be careful with Amazon
- Be a “how to start a blog” YouTuber
- Leverage coupon codes
- Master SEO
- Create the perfect pitch
- Get involved in Facebook Groups
- Bookmark affiliate statistics in your browser
- Set up email alerts when a sale is made
- Build your community
- Avoid Google penalties
- Monitor conversions rates
- Use an affiliate disclaimer
- Mistakes I made
- Donate to charity
- Share your success story
- My affiliate income reports
- Frequently asked questions
About My Blog
- I write about SEO + website speed.
- Hosting is the #1 factor of website speed.
- I make money by referring people to Cloudways hosting (it used to be SiteGround).
- I’ve spent a LOT of time collecting Facebook polls, migration results with load time improvements, speed tests, and social media proof showing why they’re the best choice.
- I have about 3,000 visitors/day, 90% is from Google (I will show you some SEO tips!)
- 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.
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.
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 focusing on WordPress hosting.
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 and hosting 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 Cloudways in many guides. I added social proof like the Facebook polls where they were rated #1. Each tutorial was super detailed (like this one) 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 (Cloudways) 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 $150k.
Once you find a niche with high demand, little supply (do your Google research), and a reputable affiliate with high commissions… and you have patience to wait for financial results while creating your assets (I’m talking about content), you should take the leap!
2. Start a blog or YouTube channel
A blog and YouTube channel are completely different, not just because one is writing and one is shooting videos. But each of them are different in terms of SEO, conversions, time, and the cost.
Blogging vs. YouTube Videos
- Ownership – you own your blog, not YouTube.
- SEO Traffic – it takes longer to get SEO traffic to a blog than YouTube.
- SEO Difficulty – the SEO competition in YouTube is often less than Google.
- Cost – YouTube is free, blogs require domain, hosting, development costs, etc.
- Content Updates – it’s easier to update a blog post than to remake a video.
- Coupon Codes – YouTube is great if your affiliates let you use coupon codes.
- Time – it takes longer to set up a blog, (though Astra Sites have made it easier).
- Expectations – in your niche, do people prefer watching videos or reading articles?
Start A WordPress Blog (read my guide)
- Domain – GoDaddy or Namecheap.
- Hosting – Bluehost for cheap/slow, Cloudways for good/fast.
- WordPress – what I recommend building your website/blog on.
- Astra Starter Templates – WordPress themes most people are using. They look amazing, are mobile responsive, and are 1-click import. Just install WordPress in your hosting account, login to your WordPress dashboard, and download the Astra Starter Sites plugin. Pick a theme and import it in 1-click, then you’re ready to start customizing your blog!
- Have A Developer On Hand – to this day, I still pay Pronaya (my developer from Bangladesh) to do things I can’t. If it takes him 1 hour but it takes you 3 days to install your WordPress theme, just have him do it. He can be found on freelancer.com with username bdkamol. Here’s his profile link. I’ve been working with him since 2011, so yes, he’s legit.
3. Get traffic before sales
One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is focusing on money first.
This is bad for a few of reasons:
- No traffic = no sales
- Most affiliates require you to have some traffic
- Your authenticity is ruined if you’re too salesy from the start
But it definitely helps to have money in mind when you start. That way, once you get traffic and are approved by affiliates, you can easily add affiliate links to blog posts where you already mention your affiliate’s products/services. Don’t focus on money first, but have it in your plan.
4. Sign up for affiliate programs
Hosting and Amazon are by far the most popular affiliate programs.
Do the math – to make $300 in a day, I would need to refer about 2 people to hosting, 10 people to themes, or 30 people to plugins. Before deciding on a program, ask yourself a few questions. I personally have roughly 3,000 readers/day and make about 2-3 sales per day at $150 per sale.
- What commission will you get?
- How many sales will you need per day?
- How much traffic will you need to get those sales (roughly)?
(A place to sign up for multiple affiliate programs and manage them in 1 place).
- ShareASale – WP Engine, StudioPress, WP Rocket, 34,000+ programs total. Easy to get approved, create links, track stats, with a wide range 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. Sign up here.
- 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.
- Rakuten Marketing – Udemy, Walmart, Macy’s, StubHub, Hulu, more.
- FlexOffers – Apple Music, Amore Beds, Mac Cosmetics, Wine Of The Month Club, DirectTV, Skechers, Barnes & Noble, GameStop, SkyScanner, more.
Popular Online Retailers
- Bluehost – $65 – $150/sale and most popular, but not the best choice.
- Cloudways – $50 – $150/sale and not the most popular, but a great choice.
- SiteGround – $50 – $150+/sale and also popular, but have gone downhill since their price increases, CPU limits, worse support, and endless complaints in Facebook Groups. I used to be a super affiliate for SiteGround, but not anymore.
- WP Engine – $200/sale + bonuses + $50 two-tier program.
- Kinsta – $50 – $500/sale + 10% recurring, but expensive for the average person.
Why I Don’t Promote WP Engine For $200/Sale – WP Engine is $200/sale with no tier program to climb, but their reversal rates are 24%! Cloudways reversals are less than 10%. WP Engine is too pricey and not a great host, meaning less conversions and sales. Nearly every hosting company has an affiliate program. Take into consideration their price, commissions, user-friendliness, speed, support, reputation in Facebook Groups.
- StudioPress – 35% (usually on a $100 sale).
- ThemeForest – 30% of each new person’s first purchase.
- Elegant Themes – 50% on plans ranging from $89 – $250.
*Colorlib already dominates nearly every keyword related to WordPress themes.
- SEMrush – 40% recurring (on $40 – $160/month).
- StackPath CDN – usually $10 – $20 commission per sale.
- MyThemeShop – 55% ($48 commission – $244 depending on plan).
- 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.
5. Learn how the affiliate program works
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 get more sales.
Recurring Commissions – usually happens with subscription services… you continuously receive commissions as long as people are signed up. AWeber and SEMrush are examples.
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 (e.g. contact form fill-outs) you send to a business. Be sure to set up 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 – affiliate programs that are located on their website.
Affiliate Marketplaces – ShareASale 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.
WordPress Affiliate Programs
If you’re in the WordPress industry like me, I have accumulated a solid list of WordPress affiliate programs. I excluded those I found unsuccessful or paid too little to make a profit from, specifically ThemeForest, Creative Market, and low quality themes like Template Monster. These are the programs I would personally focus on depending on what your content is about.
- Bluehost – if your audience is looking for cheap, easy hosting.
- HostGator – if your audience is looking for cheap, easy hosting with coupon codes.
- Cloudways – if your audience is more advanced and looking for faster, better hosting.
- Astra – most popular WordPress themes.
- Elementor – most popular WordPress page builder.
- SEMrush – analytics on keywords, rankings, traffic, etc.
- WP Rocket – #1 cache plugin in Facebook polls to speed up your blog.
6. Add affiliate links to your content
Step 1: Sign up and get approved. You usually need a decent amount of traffic (or a history of sales) before getting approved. If you have a large following somewhere else (i.e. YouTube), you may be able to convince affiliates to approve you. Otherwise, you need to generate traffic first.
Step 2: Get your affiliate links. Login to your affiliate dashboard and grab your affiliate links. With most individual affiliate programs, they assign you an affiliate ID which you can add to any URL on their website to turn it into an affiliate link. In affiliate marketplaces like ShareASale, they preassign affiliate links but also have a custom link generator. Use these to add deep links.
Step 3: For blogs, install an affiliate link management plugin (I use Thirsty Affiliates) and add your affiliate links here. This lets you organize, track, cloak, nofollow, and add affiliate links.
Step 4: Configure the Thirsty Affiliate plugin settings.
- Choose a link prefix (I use /go/)
- Enable statistics in the “Modules” setting
- Use nofollow + sponsored (recommended by Google)
- Consider Thirsty Affiliates Pro if you want automatic keyword linking
Step 5: Add affiliate links to posts. If you’re using the classic editor like me, use the Thirsty Affiliates button to add affiliate links. When you do it this way, all the attributes you configured in the settings (cloaking, nofollow, sponsored, etc) are automatically added to the affiliate link.
Step 6: Use your affiliate dashboard to track sales, statistics, and get to know your affiliate dashboard because it can be very helpful (especially when trying to increase conversion rates).
Banners – banners don’t work well. 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 control sidebar banners using a plugin like Widget Logic.
AdSense – It’s easy to throw up AdSense on your blog, but good luck making decent income. It is NOT personalized whereas affiliate links involve people taking YOUR recommendation on very specific things. AdSense makes your site slower than a turtle. Not good for monetization.
7. Be careful with Amazon
Be careful with Amazon’s affiliate program.
They have a long history of reducing commissions and writing content that competes with affiliates (and most people go directly to Amazon). I don’t recommend being an affiliate for any monopoly. You could very well end up getting trampled on, like most Amazon affiliates have. However, if you get lots of views, many affiliates are making “how to do something” YouTube videos and listing their equipment in the video description. A million views can make it worth it.
Notes About Amazon’s Affiliate Program
- Commission % is based on categories
- You can create custom affiliate links to any product
- Sitewide commissions (if they buy anything using your link, you get a commission)
- Create “how to” tutorials instead of reviewing products (Amazon already has reviews)
Let’s take a look at some examples:
How he makes money – at 1m26s he focuses on his video equipment. The video description includes links to geniuslink.com. This is a website that showcases different stores (e.g. Amazon) where people can buy the equipment (using his affiliate links). Genuinely helpful video though.
How she makes money – at 40s you will see the video is sponsored by Skillshare and she also uses an affiliate link in the video description, as well as affiliate links to Amazon for the video equipment she uses. Another person recommending video equipment (that’s a hint for you).
How he makes money – he found a keyword on YouTube “best gadgets on Amazon” which has a lot of searches. People are searching this on YouTube (not Google or Amazon) which means they’re looking for a video review of the best gadgets, otherwise they would have gone directly to Amazon. His Amazon affiliate links to each of the gadgets are found in the video description.
Conclusion: a lot of people are making money by referring people to video equipment they use.
8. Be a “how to start a blog” YouTuber
Want to know why this topic is so popular?
- Refer people to hosting = $$$
- Refer people to WordPress theme = $
- Refer people to Elementor products = $
- Total income if one person signs up for all three: $200+
The bad news: the industry and keywords are super competitive.
The good news: the amount of people looking to start a blog is enormous. You just need a slice. Many hosting companies pay up to $150/sale once you start generating a good amount of sales.
People are also searching for how to start a food, fashion, and lifestyle blog. You don’t have to limit yourself to 1 single keyword. Learn about hosting, self-hosted WordPress, and Astra Starter Sites. I could literally start a WordPress blog in 10 minutes. Show people how to do that.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
How he makes money – at 66s, you can see they created their own domain search on their website. When people search, it’s followed by a “get hosting” button which leads to GoDaddy.
How he makes money – he begins his hosting pitch at 4m34s, but at 9m31s he presents his HostGator coupon code which not only saves viewers money, but it credits him for the sale (without people even having to click any affiliate link). That’s why coupon codes are so powerful for YouTubers. Don’t use HostGator though; they’re cheap but a slow/terrible hosting company.
How she makes money – she begins her hosting pitch at 4m48s for Bluehost, but only uses an affiliate link in the video description (no coupon code, no domain search on her website, and no timestamps to help people navigate the video). She could probably increase sales if she did one of these, but Bluehost doesn’t let affiliates create coupon codes so an affiliate link is necessary.
9. Leverage coupon codes
It’s a huge bonus if your affiliate lets you create coupon codes.
Since your coupon code is attached to your affiliate account, you get credit for the sale if anyone uses it. So in YouTube videos, people don’t even need to click your affiliate link – just give them your coupon code to save them money, and you will get your affiliate commission.
10. Master SEO
Most affiliate marketers get most of their traffic from SEO (or Pinterest which I admit to knowing nothing about). But I do know SEO is a more popular way to get consistent traffic.
The key steps to SEO are:
- Researching a keyword, it’s search volume, and competition.
- Creating in-depth content that is better than whoever’s in the top results.
- Making content user-friendly (YouTube timestamps, table of contents on blog).
- Using your keyword in the right places (title, description, content, video file name).
- Increasing click-through rates (titles, custom thumbnails, Google’s featured snippets).
Researching A Keyword – find a keyword in YouTube’s autocomplete dropdown (or Google Autocomplete for blog posts). You can use the underline character _ to fill-in-the-blank. Broad keywords have more searches but are more competitive. The best keywords are broad (lots of volume) with weak content in the top results. vidIQ helps you learn a keyword’s competition in YouTube and MozBar helps you learn competition in Google. I find the competition in YouTube is much less than Google, so choose broad keywords for videos and specific keywords for blogs.
Review Keyword Examples
- Apple MacBook Pro 16 review
- What is the best WordPress hosting
- SiteGround WordPress Hosting review
Solution Keyword Examples
- 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)
Creating In-Depth Content Around The Keyword – 10+ minutes for YouTube videos and 1,500+ words for blog posts depending on how extensive the topic is. Extensive yet concise! If your content is long, make sure to include timestamps in your video descriptions or create an HTML table of contents for blog posts so viewers can jump to specific sections of your content.
Making Content User-Friendly – the two easiest ways are to use timestamps in video descriptions and an HTML table of contents in blog posts (see below). Get a good camera, invest in good hosting to make your site faster (for blogs), and design nice, crisp graphics using Canva.
Use Your Keyword In The Right Places
For YouTube videos, use your keyword in the:
- File name (before uploading)
- Video title (find a balance between using the keyword and making it catchy)
- Video description (about 2-3 times), the description should be decently long
For blog posts, use your keyword in the:
- Post title
- SEO title (in your SEO plugin)
- Meta description (in your SEO plugin)
- Content body (about 2-3 times, once in the first couple sentences)
Increase Click-Through Rates – for YouTube videos, it’s all about catchy titles and thumbnails. For blog posts, it’s all about a catchy SEO title and meta description (in your SEO plugin), getting in Google’s featured snippets (photo below), and using rich snippets like review stars and FAQs.
Featured snippets can be achieved by answering a question keyword in a very concise way (usually with a paragraph or list from the content). Lists are usually pulled from your table of contents or h3 subheadings. To get a featured snippet for my keyword “how to make money with affiliate marketing” Google will likely use my TOC or maybe (let’s see), this paragraph:
To make money with affiliate marketing, set up a blog or YouTube channel and find relevant products/services to refer your readers to. Sign up for affiliate programs, create affiliate links to products, and add them to your content. Most affiliates rely on SEO or Pinterest to get traffic.
Designing a nice image with your exact keyword helps too!
How To Rank YouTube Videos:
- YouTube SEO relies heavily on engagement signals.
- Find a keyword in YouTube autocomplete with good search volume.
- Research the keyword’s competition by looking at the amount of views, likes, comments, and other signals the top videos have (the vidIQ Chrome extension is great for this).
- 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, then 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.
How To Rank WordPress Blogs:
- Use SSL from the start, most hosts have free Let’s Encrypt SSL.
- Choose a fast hosting provider and solid WordPress themes (Cloudways + Astra).
- Use post name permalink structure in WordPress under Settings > Permalinks.
- Install and configure the Yoast’s SEO plugin, but don’t obsess over green lights.
- Create content around keywords from tools like Google Autocomplete.
- Add rich snippets (review stars + FAQs) especially when reviewing products.
- Learn about image optimization, internal links, lightweight plugins, Yoast OG images.
- Add publish dates to blog articles to make content look fresh and increase CTRs.
- Use multimedia – whether it be videos, infographics, or audio clips – people love them.
- Set up Google Search Console and use it to add your Yoast sitemap and monitor rankings.
- Make your WordPress site load fast (Cloudways, WP Rocket, Perfmatters, TinyPNG).
11. Create the perfect pitch
This next section summarizes my entire “sales pitch” for Cloudways. I use this exact section on almost every tutorial on my blog relating to website speed optimization. Crafting your sales pitch and explaining why people should use your affiliate (real proof) is super important!
I’m using Cloudways Vultr High Frequency and usually have a 150ms TTFB + 1.4s fully loaded time in GTmetrix (the post tested also has 50+ images and 600 comments). Feel free to click through my site to see how fast it loads. Vultr HF and DigitalOcean are two of the most popular hosting plans in the WordPress Hosting and WP Speed Matters Facebook Groups. Cloudways is monthly pricing and includes a free migration which makes them easy to try out. Hosting is by far the #1 factor in the WordPress optimization guide and they even recommend DigitalOcean.
Be careful with other hosting recommendations:
- Matthew Woodward pushes WPX but uses Kinsta on his own site.
- Darrel Wilson pushes NameHero but his GTmetrix report is a mess.
- Hostinger writes fake reviews and was banned from Facebook Groups.
- They also push SiteGround when Backlinko says their TTFB is slow (I stopped recommending them and changed my review to outline all SiteGround’s problems).
- WP Engine, GoDaddy, Bluehost, HostGator, and EIG brands are obviously not good.
I switched from SiteGround to Cloudways in 2019. My response times were 2x faster, I was paying 1/2 the price of what I was on SiteGround, and had no CPU issues or high renewal prices.
Cloudways is usually #1 in recent Facebook polls (click thumbnails to enlarge).
People who moved to Cloudways and posted their results:
NameHero’s Turbo Cloud plan is also a solid choice. It uses NVME, LiteSpeed servers, the LiteSpeed Cache plugin, and QUIC.cloud CDN which supports HTTP/3. All 3 tools have excellent reviews and were specifically designed to work together for faster speeds. They are different from Cloudways: NameHero is more beginner-friendly with cPanel, everything is built-in to their hosting (no need to pay for WP Rocket or email hosting), and support is A+. The biggest con is you pay 1-3 years upfront, then higher renewal prices kick in. My NameHero review shows you how to setup LiteSpeed Cache + QUIC.cloud (I was able to get a 61ms TTFB). Obviously an Astra Starter Site is smaller than onlinemediamasters.com, but it was impressive nonetheless. They also do a free migration and Ryan (CEO) has some awesome YouTube videos.
Affiliate Disclaimer – yes, I’m an affiliate for Cloudways and NameHero, but I’d rather make a living referring people to better, faster hosting than other garbage out there. I try to backup recommendations with real evidence. You can see conversations in FB Groups, how Cloudways is recommended by Adam (WPCrafter), and other feedback.
That’s my pitch :)
12. Get involved in Facebook Groups
My conversion rate went from 2.5% to 8% just by including Facebook polls where Cloudways was rated #1, along with a few Twitter screenshots of migration results and conversations from Facebook Groups. Whether it’s Amazon reviews or Facebook polls, you NEED to include unbiased reviews. That’s why I don’t like collecting reviews on my website – they look biased.
There’s a Facebook Groups for everything. For me, I mainly use the WordPress Hosting, WP Speed Matters, and WP Speed Up Facebook Groups to keep track of the web hosting industry.
13. Bookmark affiliate statistics 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.
14. Set up email alerts when a sale is made
This only works if the affiliate sends you an email when a sale is generated. Any time I make a hosting sale, I get a custom notification on my phone. It is very 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 set up 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 Cloudways, SiteGround, others. It makes your day better :)
The only emails I get on my phone are affiliate sales:
15. Build your community
Respond To Comments – some of my articles have 400+ 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 especially respond to YouTube comments because they are a ranking factor and encourage even more people to leave more comments.
Build That Newsletter – I use Mailchimp and can’t stress how important it is to build your email list from the start (it’s free until you reach 2,000 subscribers). Once you create an account, add an email sidebar on your blog or create a dedicated newsletter page where people can sign up.
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.
16. Avoid Google penalties
- Follow Google’s guidelines for affiliate marketing.
- Avoid short, thin pages that offer little value to readers.
- 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.
- Write an affiliate disclaimer (you’ll see mine at the very bottom of my blog).
- 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.
17. Monitor conversions rates
The way you endorse a product or service and the social proof behind it (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.
This is from 2017 when I started hitting it hard. Look at that CR (conversation rate) increase!
18. Use an affiliate disclaimer
Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for Cloudways with my affiliate link or use code OMM25, thank you!! I try to recommend solid hosting instead of typical garbage affiliate stuff. I also donate to charity ($6,000 to GoFundMe so far) and your support is really appreciated. If you need help getting started on Cloudways, follow these steps.
19. 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.
- Don’t hire a sketchy link builder to boost rankings.
- Get links from great content or hire someone who knows what they’re doing.
- Don’t skimp on a free WordPress theme, cheap hosting, or use bloated plugins.
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.
20. Donate to charity
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). This also means you don’t have to use as many links in your content. In total, I have given $6,000 to GoFundMe campaigns and $6,000 to my parents who let me live in their house while I worked on my blog.
Feels good to give back :)
21. Share your success story
This is now the #1 visited post on my blog! I knew I could outrank all the fakes.
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’re passionate about.
22. My affiliate income reports
Keep in mind I started promoting Cloudways instead of SiteGround just recently (that’s why most of my income is coming from SiteGround, but it will soon be transitioned to Cloudways).
Cloudways (just 2 days):
SiteGround (my best month back when I was promoting them):
I almost made $400,000 with them, but they’re not a good choice anymore.
These emails feel goooood.
Got affiliate of the month back in July, 2017 :)
I have a few other affiliates but these are the main ones. If you really want to see them, you can dig through my PayPal report.
23. Frequently asked questions
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is when you refer people to products or services from a merchant who agrees to give you a commission whenever a sale is made through your unique affiliate link.
How do I make money from affiliate marketing?
The most common ways are to set up a blog or YouTube channel, grow your audience, then sign up for affiliate programs that make sense to refer your viewers to.
How fast can you make money with affiliate marketing?
It can take anywhere from a couple months to several years to make consistent money with affiliate marketing. It depends on your ability to drive traffic, build trust, and successfully promote your affiliates.
What are the highest paying affiliate programs?
Web hosting programs like SiteGround, Cloudways, and Bluehost typically pay $150/sale once you start making a lot of sales. That's why the space is so competitive.
Is affiliate marketing passive income?
Affiliate marketing income is not 100% passive income. You still need to create content, keep content current, and adapt to your industry while monitoring sales and conversions.
How much money can you make with affiliate marketing?
Some affiliates make a couple hundred dollars per month while other super affiliates make $10,000+ per month. You will get there quicker if you make it your full-time job and create awesome content on a consistent basis.
How do you get paid in affiliate marketing?
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.
How can beginners make money with affiliate marketing?
If you're a beginner, you can make money with affiliate marketing by setting up a YouTube channel and teaching people how to start a blog while referring your audience to hosting. This is the most popular way beginners start making money.
What are the best affiliate programs to make money?
Amazon and hosting companies are two of the best affiliate programs to make money. Amazon is the most popular online retailer, and hosting affiliate programs offer some of the highest commissions. Bluehost, SiteGround, and HostGator are a few examples.
How do I make money with affiliate marketing without a website?
Setting up a YouTube channel is the easiest way to make money with affiliate marketing without a website. It's free, easy, and you can start creating videos instantly. Once you grow your audience, sign up for affiliate programs and promote products on your channel.
Is affiliate marketing worth it?
Yes, affiliate marketing can be well worth your time. But you need to have a plan on where you will promote products, which companies and products you will promote, and a strategy for getting traffic. Traffic is where most affiliate marketers fail.
How do YouTube make money with affiliate marekting?
Most YouTubers add affiliate links in the video description or mention promo codes in their video which credit them the sale.
Final Thought: It’s A Long-Term Investment
This 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.
It’s no lambo, but I did buy a c300 Mercedes with my affiliate income.
Me and the cats (Valencio on the left, Sonic on the right).
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 affiliate marketing journey and I genuinely hope this guide was super helpful :)