Beginners guide to affiliate programs

Brief description: You send people to a web site. They buy something, or sign up for something, and you are paid a commission.

Affiliate programs are revenue sharing arrangements set up by companies selling products and services. As a web site owner, you are rewarded for sending customers to the company.

For example, by February 1998, one of the affiliate marketing pioneers, had attracted more than 30,000 webmasters giving wonderful publicity in exchange for a small commission on sales. (By 2004, it was over the 900,000 affiliate mark.)

These pay-per-sale or pay-per-lead programs are usually remarkably easy to join.

After carefully reading the terms and conditions, which vary from program to program, you place a link from your site or newsletter to the vendor. When someone clicks on the link and buys a product or service from the business, you earn a commission.

Harness your passion

I laugh when I see "experts" proclaiming that THEIR way is the way to make money on the Internet. There are dozens, hundreds - maybe even thousands - of different ways for imaginative people to launch an Internet business.

One way which works well for many people is to concentrate on a small niche. Choose a topic in which you are passionately interested, and create a website around that theme. Then select affiliate programs which closely fit the theme of your site and blend them into the site, using text links.

If possible, write about the products from first-hand knowledge, so that you become a respected, credible source of reliable information.

The more targeted your traffic, the more likely it is that people will buy.

The huge advantage of basing a business on a topic in which you are passionately interested is that you will enjoy running your business - it will be much more like a fascinating hobby than a job.

Select your target

Here's what the professionals do. Before they do anything else, they decide WHO they are going to sell products to. (I know that's not strictly grammatical, but "to whom" sounds awfully stuffy.)

DON'T select the product first. Select your target audience first.

Be precise. Zero in on a group of people with a particular interest or problem. Now ask yourself: Where do they gather? What magazines or ezines do they read? What websites do they visit? What email discussion groups do they subscribe to?

How can you approach them?

Is it easy to get in front of their eyeballs? You're looking for an easily identifiable target. There's no sense in building a website and then trying to figure out how to attract your audience. Do it the other way round. Decide who your audience is and then build your site.

Become interested in a hot topic

Here's another choice. Instead of setting up a site based on your favorite hobby, delve deeply and become a specialist in a subject which is hot right now.

You'll find that as you immerse yourself in the topic, delving deeper and deeper, you'll become intensely interested in it. The more you learn, the less your business will seem like work.

Here are some hot topics you can choose from:

You can choose almost ANY topic to be the theme for your site. However, before you begin, look in the directory and make sure there are suitable affiliate programs which fit your theme.

Aim to be the most knowledgeable person on the Net in your small niche. If you build a really useful site, people will recommend your site and link to it, giving you wonderful free publicity. For us, this began to happen only a month or so after we launched

Promote products which are in high demand

It sounds so simple, doesn't it? In fact, it's so simple it's very easy to overlook. Sell things that people want.

Information products are good to sell because that's mainly what people use the Internet for - to seek information.

Digital products have high profit margins and often have high commissions.

Bargains are always in demand. Coupon sites which offer the latest bargains are labor-intensive but have proved profitable. This is a highly competitive field now.

Jumping on new products and the latest fads can also reap rewards for the agile.

An Ernst & Young study found that the most popular products bought online are:

  • Computer related products (40%)
  • Books (20%)
  • Travel (16%)
  • Clothing (10%)
  • Recorded Music and Subscriptions (6%)
  • Gifts (4%)
  • Investment (4%)

Get paid - without sales

In some cases, your visitors don't even have to buy anything. If they fill out a survey, ask for a free report, ask for a free sample or perhaps download software to try, you get paid. Some affiliate networks have dozens of such offers you can promote. You're sure to find some that suit your site's theme. These are pay-per-lead programs.

Good networks providing pay-per-lead offers include:

You can find more good affiliate networks in our list of affiliate networks.

You need lots of traffic

If you already have a busy site and the product you choose to promote is attractive to your visitors, you should start earning money straight away. If you have a new, low-traffic site, you have a lot of work ahead of you.

Several times I've seen suggestions that to make reasonable money from a website you need at least 500 unique visitors a day. That seems about right IF you have a very tightly targeted audience - and also have a newsletter which gives you more income and helps remind people about your site.

Some website owners laugh at the 500-a-day figure and say you need at least five times that figure. (My websites attract thousands of visitors every day.)

Numbers alone aren't enough - you need to build trust and credibility.

Merely attracting traffic isn't enough. You have to learn how to encourage people to click on the links and buy something. So make sure you promote really good products.

For tons of good traffic-generating tips see Ken Evoy's Make Your Site SELL! (Update: Now FREE!)

January 16, 2003

Comments (18)

Said this on December 27, 2006 At 01:48 pm
This is really great information. Thanks so much!
Reggie T Martin
Said this on March 2, 2007 At 08:41 am
This was some really helpful info. This site gave me some really good ideas.
Patrick Kallie
Said this on May 12, 2007 At 02:26 pm
You are right on the money.
Said this on August 8, 2007 At 12:32 pm
Thanks for the great tips!!!
Said this on April 26, 2008 At 10:38 am
I don't quite understand. First you say, create a website based on your interests. Later you say that you should select your audience first, then create a website based on them. Which is it?

[There are many different ways to choose a website niche. The two extremes are chasing the money and following your passion. When you're just starting, it's extremely helpful if you already have some knowledge and enthusiasm for the topic you choose. Whatever niche you choose, you always have to consider what other people are searching for. Choose your niche and then picture a typical person in that niche, and write with that person in mind. Help solve that person's problems. Help provide the information and products they're looking for. Ken Evoy goes into much more useful detail about how to choose a niche in his free Affiliate Masters Course. I strongly recommend you read it. You can get it here: . Allan.]
Said this on June 23, 2008 At 07:32 pm
I found the information very helpful. The suggetion that the market or niche selection become the primary focus was insightful. Offering quality products, services, and information is how I will make money. If I have the former targeted to the niche and the credibility to speak to it, the sales will come. Thanks.
Said this on October 18, 2011 At 02:33 pm

Web Hosting Affiliate programs related are the best paying affiliates programs is what I think.

Said this on October 30, 2011 At 10:32 pm

Quantities of business owners tell things like: "Why should I use the bookmarking submission services?", or "Which way can it help wesite?" The answer is easy! Bookmarking submission stuff provided by specialists can generate more traffic at your site.

Said this on December 16, 2011 At 07:14 pm

Wow.. what a great tips in affiliate marketing I would surely used this on my affiliate marketing career...

Said this on December 22, 2011 At 08:18 am

To really make money from affiliate marketing, sign up for top notch affiliate networks such Commission Junction, Clickbank and Amazon Associates to name a few. Usually, big name merchants are the best paying so try to stick with promoting their products. Also aim to build high amounts of quality web traffic and provide quality, relevant, valuable and engaging content to your visitors. That valuable content will encourage your visitors to take action and convert them into buyers. And the more traffic visitors you get, the more money you could potentially make.

Said this on April 9, 2012 At 07:21 am

There are different ways to earn money online and affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to earn money on the internet.

Said this on April 29, 2012 At 03:31 am

Like the gentelman above explained,In this kind of business things dont happen overnight.It takes time and experience to build up a steady income or even more, a 6 figure income.
I believe that with todays technology Its more easy to beginner affiliate to start up their own home affiliate marketing business.Some do it the old fashind way, and some see the technologic advancment and use it for their advantage by using target oriented software. They one I am using right now Is "Commission Breakthrough" Its an amazing software and you should just see for your self, check out their site where they explain all the detail you need to know,     

Said this on May 8, 2012 At 04:07 am

thank u so much for the information. i am a beginner from indonesia.

Said this on May 21, 2012 At 02:48 am

it is really a good guide to start affiliate and earn money through online..

Said this on January 6, 2013 At 05:45 am

I think this guide will be useful for beginners. There are many affiliate website and you can easily get affiliate link to sell product and you can get good revenue from affiliate programs.


Said this on January 31, 2013 At 03:10 pm

I couldn't agree more about finding products or services in high demand. I started out as an affiliate selling website hosting, website design, SEO and other Internet marketing services and realized how much demand there was. So I started my own website hosting and Internet marketing company called Big Hook Hosting and started my own affiliate program. Talk about cabin boy to captain!

Said this on July 27, 2013 At 08:43 am

Thanks for the great post! I'm more or less doing the same above steps so it's good to know I'm getting something right :) The thing about Clickbank is it's not the only affiliate marketplace. There's a few private affiliate networks out there that pay more than clickbank does. just a friendly fyi

Said this on November 6, 2013 At 09:42 am

Dear Allan

Just wanted to let you know that you are doing an amazing job!




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