How To Make Money With Affiliate Marketing (2021 Tutorial): I’ve Been Hitting $150,000 Each Year And Want To Show You How I Did It

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 has 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 that Cloudways was rated #1 in 18 polls taken from Facebook Groups. I provide unbiased evidence (migration results, Facebook conversations, and my GTmetrix report) to show people why Cloudways is a better, faster host compared to cheap (shared) hosts like Blushost, SiteGround, GoDaddy, Hostinger, and others. And since core web vitals will be a ranking factor soon, reducing TTFB (time to first byte) is key.

This guide includes a comprehensive list of 50+ affiliate programs

$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.

Cloudways Affiliate Commissions
See my full PayPal activity or income reports from all my affiliates
Me and Natalie
I finally have the time/money to travel with my girlfriend (she’s hot, I know)

About My Blog

  • I write about SEO + website speed.
  • I make money by referring people to hosting, themes, plugins, CDNs, etc.
  • I’ve spent a LOT of time collecting Facebook polls, migration results with load time improvements, and speed tests to show why the things I recommend are good choices.
  • 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!

Best niche for blogging

 

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.
Astra Starter Templates
Astra Starter Templates are top-rated pre-designed sites you can import in 1-click

 

3. Sign Up For Affiliate Programs

Hosting, Amazon, and affiliate programs related to “making websites” are very popular.

Websites – if you’re in the “how to make a website/blog” industry, I’ve accumulated a list of affiliate programs for WordPress, hosting, themes, plugins, SEO, email, CDNs, and services. Remember that to get approved, some companies require you to be somewhat established.

Affiliate ProgramCategoryCommissionRecurring2 Tier
A2 HostingHosting$55 - $125

x

All In One SEO ProSEO20%

x

x

AstraThemes30%

x

x

Asset CleanUp ProPlugins20%

x

x

AWeberEmail30%

x

Beaver BuilderThemes25%

x

BluehostHosting$65+

x

x

BunnyCDNCDN$20 credit

x

x

CloudwaysHosting$50 - $150+

Convert ProPlugins50%

x

x

Constant ContactEmail$105

x

x

DiviThemes50%

x

x

ElementorThemes50%

x

x

GeneratePressThemes30%

x

x

GoDaddyHosting15%

x

x

GreenGeeksHosting$50 - $100+

x

x

GridPaneHosting1 free month

x

x

KadenceTheme20%

x

x

Hello You DesignsThemes20%

x

x

HostingerHosting60%

x

x

HostGatorHosting$65 - $125+

x

x

JohnnyVPSHosting2x monthly price

x

x

KeyCDNCDN100% of 1st payment

x

x

KinstaHosting$50 - $500

x

LearnDashPlugins35%

x

x

Long Tail ProSEO30%

x

MailChimpEmail$30 credit

x

x

NameCheapHosting35%

x

x

NameHeroHosting$50 - $125+

x

x

Ninja TablesPlugins20%

x

x

NitroPackPlugins20%

x

OceanWPTheme30%

x

x

OptiMonsterPlugins20%

x

x

PerfmattersPlugins20%

x

Pretty LinksAffiliate25%

x

x

Rank MathSEO30%

x

x

Refer WordPressOther20%

x

x

Restored 316 DesignsThemes20%

x

x

Scala HostingHosting$50 - $200

x

x

Schema ProSEO30%

x

x

SEMrushAnalytics$200

x

x

ShortPixelPlugins30%

x

ServerPilotControl Panel$25

x

x

SEOPressSEO20%

x

x

SiteGroundHosting$50 - $100+

x

x

SpinupWPControl Panel$25 credit

x

x

StackPathCDN$20+

x

x

StudioPressThemes35%

x

x

ThemeForestThemes30% of 1st payment

x

x

ThemeisleThemes55%

x

x

Thirsty AffiliatesAffiliate30%

x

x

TubeBuddyOther30% - 50%

x

UpCloudHosting$50 credit

x

x

WhitesparkSEO20%

x

x

WP CouponsAffiliate40%

x

x

WP EngineHosting$200

x

WP JohnnyOther25%

x

x

WPXHosting$70 - $100+

x

x

WP RocketPlugins20%

x

x

Affiliate Marketplaces – these have hundreds 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 their site. Many programs aren’t part of a marketplace though. I use ShareASale and Impact.

Affiliate MarketplaceNumber Of BrandsPopular Brands
ShareASale15,200+Hewlett Packard, Sears, LovePop, Grammarly, Daily Harvest, NameCheap, WP Rocket, WP Engine, Envira Gallery
CJ Affiliate3,800+ Overstock, GoDaddy, Zappos, Walgreens, TurboTax, QVC, Newegg, Hotels.com, HelloFresh, TeamViewer, Guitar Center
Impact800+Airbnb, AppSumo, Constant Contact, Envato Market, HostGator, InMotion, Lending Club, Levi’s, Squarespace
Rakuten Marketing50,000+Udemy, Walmart, Macy’s, StubHub, Hulu
Best Affiliate Network
Source: Bloggers Passion Facebook Group

Other Online Retailers

  • Ebay – 5 – 7% (roughly) based on categories, only 24 hour cookie tracking.
  • Etsy – 4 – 8%.
  • Target – 4% in most categories.
  • Walmart – 4% in most categories.
  • Aliexpress – 3% for electronics, 7-9% for everything else.
  • Newegg – 0.5 – 1%.
  • Overstock – up to 6%.

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)?

 

4. Be Careful With Amazon

Amazon’s commissions are based on categories are you’re only making 0-5% unless you’re referring people to Amazon games, Luxury Beaty, or Amazon Explore. Otherwise you will need a lot of sales to actually making a living and will likely need to refer people to big ticket items (video equipment on YouTube is a big one especially if you’re into cameras, lenses, lights, etc).

Amazon Commision Rates

But 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.

Amazon Slashes Commision Rates

Here are examples of people making money with Amazon:

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.

 

5. Learn How Affiliate Programs Work

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.

SiteGround-Affiliate-Program-Tiers

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.

Individual-Affiliate-Program

 

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.

Cloudways Affiliate Dashboard
Add your affiliate ID (mine is ?id=262128) to any URL on their website to create an affiliate link
Custom Affiliate Link
Custom link generators are found in some affiliate programs/marketplaces like ShareASale

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.

Affiliate links
Import your affiliate links into the Thirsty Affiliates plugin

Step 4: Configure the Thirsty Affiliate plugin settings.

ThirstyAffiliates Settings
Configure the Thirsty Affiliate settings

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.

Add affiliate links to WordPress
Use the Thirsty Affiliates button to add affiliate links
Amazon-Affiliate-Links
Or add them to YouTube video descriptions

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).

Affiliate Commissions
Take advantage of features/statistics in your affiliate dashboard

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 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.

How to start a blog searches

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.

how to start a blog keywords

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.

 

8. Use 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.

Coupon-Code

 

9. 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.

Building blog foundation before money
Source: Blogging Newbs Facebook Group

 

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 chapters, 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)

Amazon-YouTube-Keywords

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.

WordPress Word Count

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
  • Permalink
  • 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!

Paragraph-Featured-Snippets

List-Featured-Snippets

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 Rank Math Pro and learn how to use it for schema.
  • 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.
  • Create content around keywords from tools like Google Autocomplete.
  • Learn about image optimization, internal links, lightweight plugins, 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 track rankings, CTR, impressions, etc.
  • 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!

Most hosting recommendations are garbage and I suggest joining the WordPress Hosting and WP Speed Matters group to get unbiased feedback because let’s be honest, we’re all affiliates.

  • SiteGround has a slow TTFB, CPU limits, support went downhill, among other issues. Unethical considering their community manager (Hristo) is an admin for this Facebook Group, and the TOS (sec. #9) prevents affiliates from using ‘SiteGround’ in bad reviews.
  • Hostinger writes fake reviews, votes for themselves in polls, also unethical.
  • GoDaddy is like my ex-girlfriend: lots of promises, but absolutely no delivery.
  • WP Engine used to be good, but most people left them and speed/support are awful.
  • EIG brands (Bluehost + HostGator) cram too many websites on slow, shared servers.

SiteGround Slow TTFB

Regardless if you use my aff links, please don’t support unethical companies.

I use Cloudways (Vultr HF) who has always given me a fast TTFB and great GTmetrix results even on huge posts. You can click through my posts (most of them are very long) and they will load instantly. LiteSpeed is also popular which you can get through NameHero or A2 Hosting. I like NameHero’s Turbo Cloud plan which includes more RAM, NVME storage, and is still cheap.

Both have different setups. On Cloudways, I use WP Rocket + BunnyCDN. On NameHero or A2, you would use the LiteSpeed Cache plugin + QUIC.cloud CDN. They’re both great setups and should give you a fast TTFB, especially if you use my WP Rocket or LiteSpeed Cache guide.

You can read my Cloudways review or NameHero review. NameHero is easier (cPanel, A+ support, email hosting) while Cloudways is a little “techier” but gives you better control of your server and has way more data centers in the US, India, UK, etc. Cloudways has monthly pricing with a free migration while NameHero has a 30-day refund policy and also does free migrations.

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 Shoutout

When in doubt, check recent Facebook polls and migration results (view more here).

Cloudways Black Friday Sale 2021
Get 40% off your first 4 months of Cloudways with code OMM40

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.

WordPress-Hosting-Facebook-Group

 

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.

Affiliate-Bookmarks

 

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 :)

Custom-GMail-Filter

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

Affiliate-Sale-Notification

 

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.

Respond to 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.

Google Affiliate Guidelines
 

17. Monitor Conversion 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!

Affiliate-Conversion-Rates

 

18. Use An Affiliate Disclaimer

Here’s mine:

Affiliate Disclaimer

 

19. Mistakes To Avoid

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 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.

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

 

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.

Harvey-Donation

Feels good to give back :)

Mom-and-I-scaled-e1586227774941

Arizona-Road-With-Dad

 

21. Share Your Story

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

Top Viewed Pages

 

22. Promote Black Friday Deals

This is going on now (see my Black Friday page).

Many companies have Black Friday + Cyber Monday deals (usually for about 2 weeks) and you can easily make 3x your normal sales during this time if you promote it right. I’ve made $2,000 in a single day during Black Friday season. You can make a “Deals” page but what I like to do is use the Better Search Replace plugin to bulk update all pricing screenshots to a screenshot of each company’s new Black Friday prices. Then when Black Friday is done, I just run another search/replace to change the screenshots back. Doesn’t take much time, but it’s very effective.

Black Friday (1)

 

23. 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).

PayPal-Report-Cropped

Cloudways (just 2 days):

Cloudways-Affiliates-Commissions

SiteGround (my best month back when I was promoting them):

SiteGround-Affiliate-Sales

I almost made $400,000 with them, but they’re not a good choice anymore.

SiteGround-Sales

These emails feel goooood.

January-SiteGround-Affiliate-Sales

Got affiliate of the month back in July, 2017 :)

SiteGround-Affiliate-Of-The-Month

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 with 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 Cloudways, WP Engine, 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.

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 affiliate marketing journey and I genuinely hope this guide was super helpful :)

Cheers,
Tom

About Tom Dupuis

Tom Dupuis 2017Tom Dupuis writes WordPress speed and SEO tutorials out of his apartment in Denver, Colorado. In his spare time, he plays Rocket League and watches murder documentaries. Read his bio to learn 50 random and disturbing things about him.

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