Looking to make passive income with affiliate marketing?
This tutorial shows you exactly how I make roughly $12,000/month in affiliate income.
I did this by writing guides on website speed optimization while recommending products and services that make people’s site load faster: SiteGround hosting, StackPath, and WP Rocket.
I use Facebook polls to do the selling for me. For example, hosting is the #1 factor of website speed and SiteGround was rated the #1 host in 26 polls (that’s basically my entire sales pitch).
I’m no millionaire, but I get 3,000 visitors/day through SEO and make $400/day in passive affiliate income. This lets me work when I want, where I want, and travel with my girlfriend.
Table Of Contents
- Find Affiliate Programs
- Setup A Blog Or YouTube Channel
- Sign Up And Grab Your Affiliate Links
- Drop Affiliate Links In Your Content
- Use An Affiliate Link Management Plugin
- Gather Unbiased Reviews
- Add Rich Snippets To Blog Posts
- Level Up Your Content SEO Game
- Don’t Just Target “Review” Keywords
- Avoid Affiliate Penalties
- Avoid Google AdSense
- Write An Affiliate Disclaimer
- My Income Reports
1. Find Affiliate Programs
Do a Google search for “affiliate programs for” and check for lists for your industry.
Affiliate Marketplaces – a place to join/manage multiple affiliate programs, get links, and track commissions. ShareASale and CJ Affiliate are the two most popular. The cool thing about these is you can see stats on each affiliate like their EPC (earnings per click) which is a good indicator on how much you can make with them. The higher the number, the better. For example, WP Engine, StudioPress, and WP Rocket all have a high EPC since most people know about them, they offer great products, and they have a solid reputation. This means more potential sales.
Individual Affiliate Programs – some companies aren’t part of affiliate marketplaces but run their own program which you can find on their website (or Google it). You won’t see any stats about the program (like EPC) but that doesn’t mean you should cancel them out. SiteGround’s hosting runs their own affiliate program and I have made the most money with them by far.
- Elegant Themes
- Constant Contact
- Refer WordPress
- The most popular affiliate program
- High conversions because it’s Amazon
- Commissions depend on product category (see below)
- Millions of products to choose from (you can create custom links to them)
- If someone clicks your link and orders (almost) anything from Amazon, you get a commission (see their policies)
WordPress – if you’re in the WordPress industry like me, I created an extensive list of affiliate programs for WordPress including WordPress hosting, themes, plugins, SEO, and much more.
Types Of Affiliate Programs
- Tiers – you make more money as you get more sales.
- Flat Commissions – you get a flat commission per sale.
- Two Tier Commissions – you get a commission when you refer another affiliate and they make a sale (kind of like multilevel marketing, but I wouldn’t fully rely on this).
- Recurring Commissions – usually offered with subscription services.
- Coupon Codes – amazing perk if you’re doing videos. This video on how to create a WordPress site has 3M+ views and the first step is to sign up for domain/hosting. Tyler (the guy who made the video) gives viewers his custom coupon code for HostGator. So instead of dropping an affiliate link in the video description and hoping people will click it, viewers get a discount on HostGator while using Tyler’s coupon code (still giving him credit for the sale). Even though HostGator is not a great host, I’m sure he only chose them because the coupon codes fit into his YouTube strategy. He’s made a fortune.
Things To Consider
- Reputation of your affiliate
- EPC (earnings per click)
- Don’t be afraid to climb tiers – it can be a long-term investment
- Affiliate links are better (and more customizable) than banners/advertisements
- What kind of promotional materials they offer (custom links, coupon codes, etc)
Do not choose affiliates solely based on their commission rate. Before deciding which hosting company to promote, I dug through Facebook Groups and researched which one is best. In the process, I took screenshots of the polls where SiteGround was #1 and showcased these in my tutorials. Once I showed people the polls, my sales/conversions roughly tripled.
2. Setup A Blog Or YouTube Channel
Most affiliate marketers have one or both. I prefer blogging since my industry constantly changes and articles are easy to update (less maintenance). But, do you like writing or creating videos? I’m very introverted and hide behind my laptop, but there are pros/cons to both.
Blog (Pros & Cons)
- Cost (domain/hosting is around $50/year).
- Getting traffic takes time (you need to learn SEO, increase your blog’s authority with Google, and learn to create amazing, optimized content which people want to link to).
- It’s something you own and can potentially sell in the future.
- Easier to maintain (updating blog posts is easier than redoing videos).
- Good if you are introverted or just enjoy writing more than creating videos.
- I recommend WordPress.org, SiteGround’s hosting, StudioPress themes, StudioPress plugins, these WordPress SEO plugins, and these WordPress speed plugins. You can hire developers on freelancer.com if you need help (I work with bdkamol and i333).
Videos (Pros & Cons)
- Easier to setup.
- Takes less time to gain traction (a good first video can get thousands of views).
- Adding affiliate links to video descriptions is one of the only ways to monetize videos (you used to be able to add affiliate links to annotations, but they discontinued those).
- Videos are great for SEO: they can rank in both YouTube + Google and you can embed them on your blog which amplifies their views while improving your blog’s content.
- Good for outgoing personalities, but don’t be discouraged if you’re introverted like me – my first videos sucked but they got way better and some now have 50,000+ views.
- Online course
Signing up for programs and adding affiliate links to content is easy. The hard part is selecting the right niche/affiliates, finding topics (keywords) where people would be interested in making a purchase, and driving consistent SEO traffic by creating high-value content that ranks in Google/YouTube. Leveling up your content skills (the most important part of SEO) is a must.
3. Sign Up And Grab Your Affiliate Links
Sign up for your program(s) and login to your affiliate dashboard. You should be able to grab your affiliate links, create custom links to specific pages, and track statistics on your links.
4. Drop Affiliate Links In Your Content
You can add them to:
- YouTube video descriptions
Don’t Stuff Affiliate Links In Content – too many affiliate links can get you a Google penalty and makes content look spammy. My tutorials are usually 3,000 words with 5-10 affiliate links.
Don’t Always List Affiliate Products First In “Lists Posts” – Google knows if you’re always listing affiliate products first, and if you do this in all your posts, they may penalize you for it.
5. Use An Affiliate Link Management Plugin
If using WordPress, I recommend the free Thirsty Affiliates plugin. This lets you add, cloak, and manage your affiliate links. The pro version includes statistics, otherwise you can try Shortlinks. Both have options to let you nofollow affiliate links, which you should always do.
6. Gather Unbiased Reviews
These 26 Facebook polls where SiteGround was rated the #1 host has made me a fortune. You can do this with Amazon reviews, Facebook polls, tweets from customers, and unbiased reviews (not reviews on your own website that have been moderated). These Facebook polls increased my sales by about 2x and are honestly the best idea I’ve had in affiliate marketing.
I use them and here’s my GTmetrix report:
7. Add Rich Snippets To Blog Posts
If you’re writing reviews, you need to add rich snippets to your blog.
They give you review stars (and other data types) in Google which look nice and may also increase click-through rates. I have used multiple rich snippet plugins and settled on WP Review Pro by MyThemeShop (they also have a free version). Other alternatives are All In One Schema (free but too minimal with limited customizations) and WP Rich Snippets (which was abandoned by the developer and not updated for 2 years). WP Review is kept updated by reliable developers and the pro version comes with pre-styled templates that look great.
8. Level Up Your Content SEO Game
My content optimization and Yoast tutorial are great places to start if using WordPress. Keyword research and content optimization are by far the most important parts of SEO.
Content SEO in a nutshell:
- Find long-tail (specific) keywords in Google Autocomplete
- Use other keyword research tools to find even more topic ideas
- Google your keyword and analyze content in the top results
- Avoid competing with authority content and authority websites
- Add videos, infographics, or helpful graphics/tables (not just text)
- Aim for 3,000+ words (there is a phrase “length is strength” in SEO)
- Craft headlines, SEO titles, and meta descriptions people will click on
- Optimize images for speed and SEO (here’s an extensive tutorial I wrote)
- Customize snippets to increase CTR by adding rich snippets, publish dates, etc
- Make sure your content does a better job (than the top results) at covering the topic
If there’s only one video you should watch, it’s this:
9. Don’t Just Target “Review” Keywords
The internet is overpopulated with affiliate reviews.
Broad keywords like “SiteGround Review” are super competitive and almost impossible to rank for. I couldn’t even rank on the 1st page for a long-tail keyword like “SiteGround WordPress Hosting Review.” Of course, if there aren’t any great reviews out there and you create an amazing review in the form of a blog post (or video, or both), you may have a chance. Sometimes, review keywords are just too competitive as it’s the first thing everyone thinks of.
Non-Review Keyword Examples:
- how to clip dog nails (refer them to a nail clipper)
- how to connect a laptop to a tv (refer them to an HDMI cord)
- how to paddle board (refer them to the paddle board you use)
- how to speed up your wordpress website (refer them to fast hosting)
10. Avoid Affiliate Penalties
“Our Webmaster Guidelines advise you to create websites with original content that adds value for users. This is particularly important for sites that participate in affiliate programs.”
You may think “too many affiliate links” is most dangerous, but it’s actually thin content.
Because too many affiliates are so focused on selling stuff, they forget to create content that actually helps people.
Of course, helpful content also means more people will link to you, share your content, buy things you recommend, and all the positive things a successful affiliate website will usually have. In fact, you shouldn’t even consider it an affiliate site. Mine is an SEO blog. What’s yours?
11. Avoid Google AdSense
Bottom line, it doesn’t work well.
It’s not personal, nobody clicks them, and you won’t make much money. Affiliate links all day.
12. Write An Affiliate Disclaimer
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.
Many people have also been using Cloudways, Kinsta, and WP Engine. These 3 (and SiteGround) are the overwhelming favorites in WordPress-related Facebook Groups. Cloudways is great for pure speed, starts at $10/month, but chat support isn’t great. Kinsta and WP Engine are great at everything but start at $30/month and $35/month.
Why You Should Have One:
- People like transparency
- People will reward transparency by using your affiliate link (pair it donating to charity and they will gladly use it – I get many comments/emails and confirming this)
- If you have a disclaimer with an aff link, you don’t have to stuff it in your content
13. My Income Reports
Here is how much I make from my affiliates. It sucks I have to show this for people to believe me, but I know there are tons of scams and fakes out there.
PayPal activity (here’s my full activity report for 2018)…
My recent activity with SiteGround’s hosting:
My best month with SiteGround:
Got affiliate of the month in July, 2017 :)
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.
ShareASale (selling WordPress themes and WP Rocket’s cache plugin for WordPress)…
Freelancer.com (referring people to my developer who does website speed projects)…
I have a few other affiliates but these are the main ones.
Final Thought: It’s A Long-Term Investment
Honestly, it will probably take a couple years to build a sustainable, passive income that you can actually live off of. But it’s totally worth it. I work when I want, where I want, and have the time to do whatever the hell I want. The freedom is real, and I encourage you to take the leap.
If you have any questions whatsoever, I seriously enjoy helping people get started. Just leave me a comment or use my contact form. I’m not here to sell you anything, just show you what worked for me and try to get more people into affiliate marketing, as it changed my life.
Frequently Asked Questions
💰 How did I make $12k/month with affiliate marketing?
I blog about website speed optimization and recommend hosting in the process. My readers get their website to load faster and I make money from the sale. It's a win-win.
💰 How do most successful affiliates make money?
Most affiliates make their money through hosting and Amazon's affiliate program. However, Amazon cut their commissions and these people are having a hard time now.
💰 Is Amazon's affiliate program any good?
I wouldn't recommend it. Amazon has a long history of changing commission rates and writing content that competes with their own affiliates (often outranking them). They're already an enormous company, and I recommend promoting companies who have more potential to grow.
💰 What affiliate programs are best?
SiteGround, Cloudways, and SEMrush are some of the most popular and highest paying affiliate programs. Bluehost is popular too, but I don't believe they are a good host.
💰 What is the hardest part of affiliate marketing?
Getting SEO traffic is the hardest part. Putting affiliate links on your blog is easy; traffic is not! You need to become a master of keyword research and on-page SEO. Learning how to choose the right keywords and create awesome content is the foundation for more traffic.
Good luck :-)