Affiliate Program Tutorial

(Please bookmark this affiliate tutorial. You'll want to return to it.)

This Affiliate Program Tutorial [Updated 2013] aims to give you a quick overview.

It's your road map to success as an affiliate.

I've been earning a good living from affiliate programs since 1998. Based on that experience, this tutorial tells you the 18 steps to take to generate a useful income from affiliate programs.

No tricks. No gimmicks. Just solid, reliable methods designed to work for years.

You have the choice of many different ways of earning affiliate commissions.

In my experience, you'll have your best chance of success if you do the following. Find a profitable niche and create a useful, interesting, content-rich, keyword-rich website on one topic and weave in affiliate links and AdSense ads.

This method - with the more recent addition of AdSense ads - has worked beautifully for me since 1998.

I urge you to master this basic method. It's a bit like serving an apprenticeship.

As part of your apprenticeship you'll learn SEO (search engine optimization) skills, copywriting skills and various other Internet marketing skills which will prove to be invaluable, whatever route you choose next.

With any luck, you'll have a bit of fun, too! I do.

I include Google's AdSense in this tutorial. Strictly speaking, AdSense is an advertising network. However, in many ways it's similar to an affiliate program. I think AdSense is fantastic. It's free to join, free to use and easy to use.

It's often much easier to earn good money from AdSense than affiliate programs, so it's essential that you include AdSense in your plans.

OK. Let's get started...

STEP 1: Set a goal

If you want to go somewhere, you need to know where you're going.

Let's start with a modest goal. Say you aim to earn a total of $300 (US) a month in affiliate commissions and AdSense revenue. Imagine what you could do with that money. A holiday? A better lifestyle?

I've kept the amount low, because it's important that you believe you can do this. Achieve small successes first, see the money in your hands or in your bank account, and then increase your goals.

Perhaps you have much larger goals. That's OK. Whatever your goals, I strongly recommend that you serve your apprenticeship by taking these 18 steps. They'll give you solid knowledge and experience on which to build your affiliate business.

NEXT STEP: Find your niche

UPDATED: September 12, 2013
January 28, 2006

Related Links

Comments (151)
Said this on August 20, 2006 At 10:16 am
Really Great article. Keeps anyone going. Thks Allan!
Said this on September 7, 2006 At 08:11 am
Hi Allan Lots of useful info here. There is definitely a shortage of solid books on Affiliate Marketing. Maybe an opportunity for you, or maybe someone you commission?
Grow by Learning More
Said this on September 7, 2006 At 09:12 am
Just don't bother about what Mr.Anonymous said (ref: #301 newsletter) we know you are good and he will also come to know one day.
Doug Kennard
Said this on September 8, 2006 At 11:46 am
Allan, Your materials are thorough, clear, helpful, and encouraging. As far as Mr. Anonymous is concerned, there are a lot of "wanna-bees" in every line of business who out of envy and laziness would rather spend their time tearing others down that constructively helping others.
Said this on September 10, 2006 At 11:43 pm
Allan, your 18-step affiliate marketing tutorial is one of the key items of information that got me started, thanks for such a useful resource, I read it every 6 months it seems like. By the way, I got my first ClickBank check this week. It wasn't stellar, but it was exciting (first time using one of the big affiliate networks).
Al Hughes
Said this on September 12, 2006 At 12:15 pm
It's unfortunate that people like 'Mr. Anonymous' are so closed to the possibilities of internet income. That's what it basically boils down to. Some just can't wrap their minds around the fact that you can make a great living from the net. I know it can be done because I've accomplished some small gains myself. And if I ever fully apply the vast amounts of information I've learned from my studies, I know I'd be able to leave my dull, boring day job and live quite comfortably, much like you, Allan. So to all the Mr. Anonymous's out there, stay skeptical. It leaves more available for those of us who will say 'yes' to opportunity.
Said this on October 2, 2006 At 04:14 pm
Much praise has been heaped on Sitesell's Affiliate Masters Course and the guide they give their own 5 Pillar affiliates (and rightly so), but when it comes to usefulness per word, I think this tutorial wins hands down.

Actually, when it came out, I thought it was slightly too long. Now I sometimes think it could have been longer; so I suppose that means, most days, I think it's just about right. :-)
Olafur Johannsson
Said this on October 6, 2006 At 08:15 pm
I have been dreaming about information like this for a long time. I consider myself very lucky to find your webpage. I am from Iceland and I am new to this marketing concept and am very interested in working online. I am going to visit this webpage very often now :)
Thank you and best regards,
Olafur J.
Francois du Toit
Said this on October 8, 2006 At 03:32 pm
Hello Allan,
Great site and fantastic articles! It is amazing to think how much so-called "expert advice" is sold by other sites and individuals for a lot of money while you are probably giving some of the best advice available absolutely free of charge. Many thanks.
Francois du Toit

[Hi Francois, Thanks! Tell your friends. :) Allan.]
Said this on October 11, 2006 At 09:13 am
Thanks a lot for your expert advice. I tried it on our Online Classified Ads site and it has helped a lot.
Terri Seymour
Said this on October 12, 2006 At 07:30 am
Hello Allan,
I have been in this business for ten years and have always found it hard to find practical, usable, helpful information. Since finding your site and newsletter that is no longer true. Thanks much for all the real information and helpful strategies that can even help a ten year veteran!
Terri Seymour
Said this on October 19, 2006 At 06:44 am
Hello all,
I have just found this website and it is really informative and useful. I am in charge of doing marketing for our company website. I know that some webmasters can build 20 thousands of links from his website within 1 month. If anyone knows this could help me the way how to target links to my webiste. Your guidelines and help are greatly appreciated.

[John, To get 20,000 links to your site in a short time, you would need to do something very spectacular, or perhaps buy site-wide links from a bunch of sites, which would raise a red flag to Google. A good place to discuss this is on our affiliate forum. Allan.]
abdelkader medj
Said this on October 19, 2006 At 08:16 am
Hello Allan,
Thanks a lot for your expert advice, and all I can say is Great site and fantastic articles. Specially I have been dreaming about information like this for a long time. Your fantastic articles show to the newbies how to proceed in the ocean of the internet marketing.
Thank you
Said this on October 25, 2006 At 06:43 am
I'm somewhat new to online marketing been doing it for just over a year now and I am in a position where I am making 300-500 per month. Some sporadically mind you but still I am making money following what Allan says, so believe me when I tell you what Allan says works. Without exception I pretty much rely solely on Allan's tutorials. Youre not going to get better advice without being fleeced heavily for it.
Phil Dunk
Said this on October 25, 2006 At 03:32 pm
Hi Allan
I started my site in July 06. I wish I had seen your article then. I seem to have been stumbling along since then. I get hits but most of them are from search engines. My main page is listed on Google but my others are not, even though I have submitted a Google sitemap. I am running a site aimed mainly at affiliate links. I have included a few pages of useful articles but non of these are listed on Google. I will try and implement your advice into my site (I think I will have to re-do-it ). I have been looking for good advice that tells the facts without trying to sell me some quick fix guru program. I have found it in your article. Keep up the good work. I hope other novices find it before they make the same mistakes as me.
Thanks Phil
Said this on October 26, 2006 At 02:07 am
great article allan ... maybe you can write something on the compatibility of adsense with other affiliate programs ... i understand adsense has been really strict with what can & cannot be advertised within the same page where you have adsense ... a single mistake and you might be banned ... looking forward on your next article ...
Franck Silvestre
Said this on October 26, 2006 At 04:39 am
Allan, this article should be kept in a museum. I remember when I first started Affiliate Marketing: I stumbled upon your site (the oldest design which was not bad), and I clicked on this 18 steps tutorial. When I read I thought: "It's easy!" but after months, no commissions... Do you know why? I didn't get commissions because I didn't follow this Step by step tutorial. The reason? It was free, so I though it was not a good tutorial. Believe me guys, stick to this tutorial and you will be on your way to become a Super Affiliate.
Thanks for your help Allan. I remember when I reached my first Goal ($300 / month) the first time. What a feeling.
Kris Perko
Said this on October 31, 2006 At 02:44 pm
Nice site Allan, Completely Updated and Modernized since the last visit I made. It's like there's so much info it's almost overwhelming. I was just wondering if you have built any websites with Site Build It? and what the addresses are?
Kris Perko

[Yes, we own a bunch of sites built using SBI. We've written case studies about two of them. So when we recommend SBI, we're talking about a suite of tools we ourselves use. Here are the two case studies: Allan.]
David Alan Gathercole
Said this on November 14, 2006 At 01:34 am
Hi friends. My name's David, I'm a British national currently living in Thailand. I have been interested in the concept of marketing for some time now, only to be held back by lack of knowledge. A very close friend of mine has been marketing for about 4 years (He's close but not close enough to let out his secrets!!). He's just been whacked by "Google's Slap". Allan's 18 steps is simply just the ticket i've been looking for, so lucky to have found this website in such a short time.
Pete Fisher
Said this on December 7, 2006 At 07:04 am
Hi Allan, I'm 51 years old and I've had my own bricks and mortar business in retail for over 20 years. I have been interested in internet marketing for a long time and done the usual casual research regarding affiliate programs etc. I must have spent hundreds of hours searching round the internet for clear and concise information. You know the sort of thing, that mix of information gems that spur you into action because you understand how it works and you can see yourself doing it. Well, the other day I had my eureka momment; I discovered your Associate Programs. You have turned the light on, I feel my future is now secure financially because I now understand and I can implement my new found knowledge.
Bless you.
Pete. F
Mohamed Rihan
Said this on December 10, 2006 At 10:51 am
People sell these for $5-100 here it is totally free, amazing I missed before buy those ebooks. Thank you very much.
abdel fari
Said this on December 13, 2006 At 01:01 pm
Hi Allan
thank you for all the free informations really give me an idea i am now starting to look for a niche for my next web site thank you again
Said this on December 16, 2006 At 11:27 am
"The problem newcomers have is they try everything all at once." I agree with this. You have an awesome, information-packed site here, but when a "newcomer" tries to read your advice, you have so many links within the body of your text, (they, I) get sent off to another topic or site altogether and never even get the chance to finish your column or even read what your advice was.

[Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated! What I set out to do was teach someone to build a successful affiliate business in one article. However, the topic is too large for one article, so I added links to more info. Why not try reading the whole thing through the first time without clicking on any of the lnks? Then go back and explore further, as you need the extra info. Allan.]
Irmy Laufer
Said this on July 9, 2012 At 05:03 am

@Terri Allan´s answer seems to be the only way to read his lessons once. I think I will often read the same and check what is the next step. My first website is still in my mind and I am so happy a good friend told me about Allan. Never found such a good tutorial. Thanks a lot to Allan...Let´s get started

Peter Nolan
Said this on January 7, 2007 At 12:40 am
Hi Allan
I consider myself fortunate to have found your site, I am a complete newcomer, and in the past few weeks I have fallen prey to one get rich scheme and perhaps one genuine "free site give away". This is just to say thank you for the mountain of advice you offer on your web site. It is very much appreciated, it's a minefied out there!!! Keep up the good work.
Thank you very much again.
Best regards
Peter N (Australia).
Chaney Alulis
Said this on January 9, 2007 At 12:05 pm
Hi there Allan,
Thank you so very much for sharing this valuable information regarding affiliate programs with me and certainly lot of other internet marketers. I am elated and you have definitively elevated my spirits to a new height, and I truly have hope again ... that this Internet thing just may work to where I can make a decent income while working-from-home. I just could not believe what I was reading and to think that you were wlling to share this vital information for FREE! The "Affiliate Program Tutorial" is superior to any other affiliate info I have ever received. Thank you again from all of us. My motto from this point on is that "I will and I must SUCCEED".
All the best,
Chaney Alulis

[Thank you! I appreciate your comments. Just make sure you do something every day to improve your business. Allan.]
lyall mullaney
Said this on January 16, 2007 At 07:27 pm
Great job, but what really pisses me off is no matter where we go it costs us money, like your 18 steps, you know what these ebooks say that you're trying to sell us that are linked into these steps of yours, but you just can't give up the info free. We got to go there and buy, and maybe even be redirected to some other site to buy something else. When does it end and when will we find someone who is not trying to bleed us for money every time we turn around? I mean you make money out there on the net. Why not cough up some help that we don't have to pay for for a change? This business is like one big chain letter, with the more you get people to hope this is going to make them some money they will read on and click and buy and click and buy. Thanks lyall mullaney.

[Lyall, I understand how frustrating it is when you're starting out. Look at this way. You're planning a business. Buying an instruction manual is a sound investment. However, here's a place where you can get advice free. I've spent thousands of hours answering affiliates' questions on our free affiliate forum, and I'm not the only one. The forum has many friendly, helpful members. Also, if you subscribe to my free newsletter you get a free ebook, "77 Ways to Get Traffic". Nearly all of them are free, too. If you explore this site you'll find I give a heck of a lot. Allan.]
Al Boz
Said this on January 18, 2007 At 12:08 am
Og wow, this is so great, thanks a lot sir.
Said this on February 1, 2007 At 10:46 am
Great stuffs over here. Anyone can learn a lot from your articles. Keep it up!
annette husted
Said this on February 12, 2007 At 08:25 am
just wanted you to know that i have learned a lot of great stuff by reading your articles. i have been earning nicely myself the past 2-3 years and still i learn a lot from you and you give me new ideas i didn't know about before. I have started my own article site based on my own knowledge and experience because it IS a great way for newbies to get started.
Annette H
Said this on February 19, 2007 At 10:11 pm
Thank You Allan. You gave us a very valuable info here. Good Luck and have a successful affiliate.
Said this on February 26, 2007 At 07:11 pm
I start learn about making money here 1 year ago. Now i start to earn around $100-200. Although it's lower but it is still in my targeted earning.
Said this on March 7, 2007 At 11:19 am
It's useful. i hope (or must) i can do what you've told in your article.
Said this on April 11, 2007 At 01:05 am
I'm currently "enjoying" information overload, however, this clears up quite a bit of the fog. Thank you!
Bithia'h Sseri
Said this on April 16, 2007 At 02:00 pm

I've read the tutorial a while ago, and although I don't remember everything at the moment, that doesn't matter right now, because I get usually stuck right during the first page reading. It says there approximately), one just has to build a very good website with lots of good and interesting articles (information), a.s.o., a.k.: one has to know a lot about the subject, and has to be an author/writer by profession and/or talent. On the other hand I read your (positive) review of Myleena's salesletter (software), where she claims one shouldn't choose a niche by what one knows or likes, as these niches might be either very competitive or not profitable, and she's of course right; if the niche isn't profitable, then what's the use of marketing there? Now I would like to ask a question on this (I hope it's o.k. to ask this here inside my comment):

How is one supposed to be (or become) an author/writer for a niche that's profitable, but one knows nothing or little about, and build a really good and interesting website for it, and on top of it has difficulty being an author/writer generally speaking (and no money to hire somebody to do the work for him/her), but needs urgently to create enough income through a home based IT-network marketing business? Otherwise I'm happy there's such a thing like this free tutorial; it's probably good enough, but I personally have no idea if I can really implement it, as I'm a person who usually needs the human factor while getting taught something new and (at least for me as a computer, tech- and IT-dummy) rather complicated (even phone call possibility would be better than only on-line contact). Any advice for the above mentioned "niche-know nothing" and "author/writer" problem? TIA!

[For your first website, it helps enormously if you already have a keen interest in the topic you choose. However, it is possible to BECOME keenly interested in something new. You'll often find that the more you delve into a topic, the more you become interested in it. It helps hugely if you have good writing skills, but many affiliates who don't write well still succeed. They succeed because their genuine enthusiasm for the topic shines through. You can research topics online, in libraries and by reading magazines and books. You can also interview people who do have the knowledge you want. You can do this by phone or email. You can succeed without having tech skills, especially if you choose the Site Build It! option which I recommend. You can also team up with a friend or neighbor to discuss things or join a computer club and ask questions on our affiliate forum. You can look at the hurdles and say "It's too hard" but you'll never really know unless you make an attempt. Don't expect to earn good money very quickly. It takes time to learn and build a business. Our affiliate forum is a good place to discuss such things. However, don't make the mistake of analyzing things to death and never actually taking the first step. You won't know if you succeed until you try. Allan.]

kailyn morgan
Said this on April 23, 2007 At 02:51 am
Hi, I came across your articles today morning and have skimmed through every piece posted there. I must admit that it has been a very infomative experience for me to go through comprehensive information. You seem to have indepth knowledge in the field of Affiliate Marketing and since I am still very new to this field i draw great inspiration from what you have posted for reference. Congratulations on the same.
kailyn morgan
Said this on May 2, 2007 At 01:56 pm
I think many of us looking to set up an online business come upon almost the same kind of information, only they are worded differently - because the basics of making money are the same, the difference is in increasing the income, tweaking, tracking, etc. And in the beginning we all make the same kind of mistakes, the main one being the inability to focus. I have created a pdf file about the mistakes I used to make, it can be downloaded for free at
Jim Vowles
Said this on May 20, 2007 At 12:19 pm
Allan, Why have I not been to your site before? Just this morning I sent an email to someone selling another program, telling them what I thought they were missing in their plan. As it turns out, what you listed on your main page was almost word for word what I wrote in
that email! Talk about timing. I am presently going through your18 step tutorial. Who knows what I'll end up with?
Said this on May 21, 2007 At 07:20 pm
Allan, thank you for being there and help me not to give up. I do not feel ashamed to say that i study hard all my free hours and I cannot understand how to interprete the number in order to say " i found a niche". I am an SBier but the system inside does not work for me. Please show me another way, or i think i am gonna become crazy, but this time, could you please give an example step by step with simple tools and interpretation criteria????? I know SBI is perfectly complete. But it is exhaustive trying to find the answers in the forum every time a detail stand in your way.
Please, help me.
Thank you very much again.

[Hi Zulma, SBI gives you an incredible amount of help. If you can't succeed with it, I think you'd struggle to succeed with any other system. I suggest you go through the SBI Action Guide very slowly and take notes as you go. Do this several times. You'll find that new things sink in each time. You can also read the following article I wrote on our affiliate forum:
Analyzing keyword supply and demand
Choosing a niche certainly can be frustrating. Sometimes you reach a stage where you decide you've done enough number crunching and it's time to do what your instincts tell you. Allan.]
Jackie Anderson
Said this on May 21, 2007 At 07:49 pm
I found this article to be very informative for the newbie (such a person as myself). I'm still learning this business. It's such an awesome business and it's good to know that are people of your caliber that will take the time to show us the ropes.
Keep up the good work. Thanks again.
Jackie Anderson

[Thanks. No matter how long we've been in business online, we're all still learing. Allan.]
Said this on June 1, 2007 At 05:50 am
Your site is always my first port of call for information on any problems or questions I may have. I have been hearing things about a web based program that is supposed to make marketing a breeze (Don't they all?). But I must confess it has got me interested (Probably more down to good marketing copy than anything else).
It is called CMSInfusion. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Many thanks

[It isn't being sold yet. We did extensive research and weren't able to find a "perfect" content management system. We ended up paying a programmer to meld various scripts together, and we're still working on it. A CMS is definitely not something you want to leap into without careful research. I'd say wait, and then talk to people who have been using it for a few months. Allan.]
Leona Lo
Said this on June 6, 2007 At 11:43 am
Dear Allan
Your website is a treasure trove of information - I've spent every night pouring over and researching into the tips that will help me refine my website for aspiring transsexual women entrepreneurs and motivational speakers. Thank you for helping me "see the light".
Best Regards
Leona Lo, Singapore
Said this on June 11, 2007 At 06:49 am
Hello Allan,
Many THANKS for your awesome knowledge base, I must recommend your website to my list members..
Keep the good job,
All the Best
Garry Woods
Said this on June 11, 2007 At 09:26 pm
Dear Allan,
Hi just a few lines to say yes I want to express my concerns about all the hype going on over the internet, where so many so called guru's, say do this do that and you will make this and that $$$$$$$$ amount of dollars, I myself have been sucked in many times, and wasted big money, and purchased but for nothing in results. So I have come to the end of being able to purchase any more programs, now till I can see value for money. I have watched Allan's Associate Programs by email subscriptions, now I have cleaned my computer hard drive out of all other programs, and stuff that are just collecting dust as the saying goes.

Now As a newbie who knows nothing, all I know is how to surf the net send an email, to friends, and receive emails, but know nothing of how to build websites, But now are looking to start a fresh with Site Build it, with the help of Allan and his professional help as i'm an Aussie with a Disability, but can overcome that with help to learn step by step on this program So here I am Allan Reporting for duty, "YES SIR." Regards Garry Woods.

[Garry, you've made an excellent choice. You'll find LOTS of really helpful people on the private SBI forum. Allan.]
Rosalie Hernandez
Said this on June 17, 2007 At 03:49 pm

I need to make money relatively quickly. I understand content sites are the way to go. Since time is of the essence, should I concentrate on building a blog, or a full-fledged site. From what I understand, blogs are easy to build, and they are essentially web sites. What is your take on this? Thanking you in advance for your assistance.

[Yes, blogs are websites. Yes, they are often relatively simple to create and run. However, building something quickly is only part of the challenge. There are two factors which are much more important than your choice between a website or blog. 1. Will your blog/website be search engine friendly? 2. If your blog/website is not search engine friendly, do you have other strategies to attract traffic to your site? There are millions upon millions of websites and blogs which linger in the doldrums, almost never seen by anyone. Whichever path you choose in affiliate marketing, you must learn how to get targeted traffic to your site and how to achieve sales and/or AdSense revenue. Allan.]

Said this on June 20, 2007 At 02:18 pm
I wish I would have read this before I started my website:
It would have come in handy when I first started.

[Beware of using trademarked names such as "AdSense" as part of your domain name. You could lose your domain and your work in creating the site be all wasted. Many large companies have taken legal action to protect trademarked names. Allan.]
Said this on June 22, 2007 At 01:48 am

This is nothing but a rehash of what everyone else is selling. Get a life!

[I have a life, thanks, and it's a very good one because of my experience in affiliate marketing. Allan.]

Said this on July 22, 2007 At 12:44 pm
Hi! Allan,
I'm a very new member (less than 3 weeks to be precise)in this affiliate programs. I found that your tutorial is very interesting and motivating in the sense that you keep it simple and straight forward, that means to say for a person like me who has limited knowledge, this tutorial is really "user-friendly". And furthermore you hv personally brought up from yr own vast experiences in this field which i found insightful and encouraging.
Thanks for sharing with us.
"May God Bless Thy"
Aaron Rivera
Said this on August 2, 2007 At 01:53 am
Good article it is purely a note on how to take the Internet by the hand and not think you own it. I feel that if your a good enough Internet marketer you should be able to teach as well as preach," to completely master mind Internet Marketing as a hold; you the Internet marketer must be smooth and effective in order to target your own online presence. it's all about sharing online and that's what makes the Internet a really fun place for everyone. This is my approach to the Internet," I my self would not be successful if I did not comply with my very own words of generosity.
best of luck to all! please visit for more Internet Marketing notes.
By: Aaron Rivera Internet Marketing Consultant 8-1-07
D Maind
Said this on August 13, 2007 At 03:03 am
Its just great article, but for intermediate level webmasters you must have to enhance

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