Six Things I’ve Learned About Affiliate Marketing

I’ve written on this blog many times that I’m not the best affiliate marketer in the world. Well, I’d have to say that part is true, based on my history. However, what I can’t say is that I haven’t learned how to do any type of affiliate marketing, and if I decided to redo a few things, I believe I could actually start making some nice money at it. It would probably take some time to get to a point where I could be making enough to pay all my bills, but I actually do believe I could do it.

So, if I were going to start today with something brand new, what would I do, based on what I’ve learned thus far? Let’s look at my list:

1. I’d take time to think about a niche where not only could I write at least 100 articles about it, but that would somehow surround a product. I mentioned this in a comment on Sire’s blog once in response to a question someone else asked. I know someone who created a blog about hydroponic gardening, which means it was truly a small, defined niche. It was the only subject she wrote about on that blog, as it was new latest hobby. And, along with pictures she took herself, she had Adsense on her blog, but also had products related to hydroponic gardening. She was earning close to $1,000 a month on just that blog alone. She recreated that type of thing a few times, and was living fairly well. However, this wouldn’t only have to be a blog; a nice website might do the same thing.

2. I’d take more time to think of a domain name that people might actually know what it is they’re visiting for. With my Medical Billing Answers site, I did this very thing. It’s been making consistent Adsense money for me over the last five months, which is really nice. The problem is that there’s no consistent product that relates to it other than some books, and books aren’t quite a great seller, plus they have a low margin of return.

3. Set up internal linking from the beginning. When I started this blog, I had no real concept of internal linking. When I created my Reviews Of Everything site, I knew to create menus with categories, but I didn’t do a great job of setting it up for proper internal linking. Now I’m good at internal linking as it pertains to this blog, but I haven’t gone back to do it with my business blog, and I haven’t done it for most of my other sites. I have done it for my main business site, which has helped greatly, and I did it from the beginning with Top Finance Blog. I think if you create a niche site or blog, that will work wonders for you.

4. Join more than one affiliate program, but have an idea of what and how you want to market those items. I’ve only done this well for my Top Finance Blog, where I knew I would only market finance related items. With my medical billing site, I never thought about anything except for Adsense initially, and with my Services And Stuff site, I never thought out how to lay out my product advertising, so it’s a mish-mosh of stuff that just doesn’t work well. Even with my Reviews site, I have laid things out properly, but not matched up items well, which messes up sales greatly.

5. Research better. I’m supposedly the king of research, but when all is said and done, when I created the sites I’ve created thus far, each was more of a whim than any concerted thought of how I would market anything. Even with Top Finance Blog, I didn’t think about monetizing it until two months after I started it, and I wasn’t sure then how I was going to do it. My medical billing site was the best planned site of all of them, and it makes the most money, and, oddly enough, it was an industry I didn’t have to research because I know it pretty well. For my next site, you can bet I’ll research, then select a niche, then pick the right domain name, select products beforehand, then I’ll set it all up and go for it.

6. No matter how well you set things up, you still need traffic. The most perfect site in the world won’t generate anything without traffic. There are really only two ways to drive traffic. One, through search engines, which means you need to not only do great search engine optimization, but hope to have a niche that will drive either lots of traffic or has loyal readers who’ll buy because they like your information. Two, through efforts such as what we bloggers try to do, or email, or things like Adwords, or hooking with folks who will help to drive traffic.

I think that’s enough for now. Of course, add anything you’d like to the mix, because that’s what we do around here, we share information and ideas. And I could have added a seventh, though it’s more negative, that being that sometimes affiliates drop you because they don’t feel you’re making enough sales, as I’ve been dropped recently by Apple stores and Newegg, though Newegg dropped me because I’m in New York state; so, those two will never be mentioned around here again. PPC

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76 thoughts on “Six Things I’ve Learned About Affiliate Marketing”

  1. wow mitch this is a great post it is very helpful as well as beneficial for me. I did learn a lot from your post its very informational for anyone in the affiliate marketing world. I didn’t build any links in my internal pages as well i think i should start doing that now, you and i both made mistakes on that part.

    almir´s last blog post..Vital Tips That Can Aid Any Blogger

    1. Yes, but on this blog and one of my other blogs, I’ve easily made up for it. On my business blog, I’ll get through it all one of these days.

  2. Hi Mitch,
    Last summer Cait and I took the 30 Day Challenge and learned how to do keyword research and drilling down to somewhat of a ‘micro niche’ before we set up a blog. We also learned some SEO and link building to help get a new blog going. I was amazed at how fast a blog that is set up for a niche can get PR and traffic if done right.

    I do find a niche blog very boring. Since the niche you pick is normally for traffic and the ability to beat the competition, it is not always a fun topic.

    We also applied as much as possible to our original ‘everything’ blogs and I saw an immediate difference in sales for 1 company I have on mine. I did just simple editing, linking, pinging…

    I think everyone has to have a few mistakes for their learning curve. At least I can see my mistakes and understand how or what to fix. I do not think I could have done that if I was making my 1 st blog even with the lessons. I just would not have ‘gotten it’.

    Sheryl Loch´s last blog post..Google Docs Survey

    1. Thanks for your comment, Sheryl. You’re right, no one comes into this game knowing how to do it all, or how to do it right. I’m not sure that most people even think about reading much about it before they jump into it, and I’m not only talking about blogs. I know I read some things, but overall, I just jumped in and did it.

      Good thing I’ve learned some things over time, but I have a long, long way to go.

      1. Interestingly enough, Sire, you have two blogs that are niche blogs. Your photography blog and your science blog are definitely niche, though you don’t do all that much with the science blog. But if you monetize both properly, those could bring you some nice cash.

      2. Now Sire, this is me you’re talking to. And I know a bunch of photographers. I’m betting that you have a wealth of photographs of tons of things that you could put together and showcase on your site. Heck, I bet you have lots of photographs that you could sell on a site like Imagekind of you so chose to do. That’s what you shutterbugs do, you take lots of pictures, then store them up.

        Now I wish I had that kind of eye; I see things that I think would make great pictures, but I don’t have the equipment or the eye for the lighting to make it come out as I see it live.

      3. Actually no. Strangely enough I didn’t take that many photos of Adelaide until I started the blog. I have heaps that I could use for my other photo blog but I am not as passionate about that one. Passion is important to keep the quality up.

        I used to have the time, but as you know things have changed and now my blogging time has been reduced.

        Sire´s last blog post..The 10 Stages Of A Twitterer

      4. Oh, I didn’t know that. Too bad about your other photography blog; you know Darren Rowse has gone in that direction also now, right?

      5. He has, but supposedly only started pushing it more late last year, from what I was reading. I’ve never been there, though.

      6. wow I was reading the conversation that you and Sire had, I noticed you said that Darren Rowse has a photography blog.

        almir´s last blog post..Vital Tips That Can Aid Any Blogger

      7. Yup; if you go to his site, he talks about it all the time, so he probably links to it as well.

  3. Excellent points. I’ve done some posts on affiliate marketing and will be doing more. Remind me to link them in if I don’t do it right away?

    You’re always welcome to drop by and leave links to your related posts in any of mine. That way when I update them I can move them up into the reference section in the body of the post. That is supposed to be better for SEO and it ensures more people will see them.

    Internet Strategist´s last blog post..New Type of Scraped Comment Blog Spam

    1. Thanks IG. Actually, since you have CommentLuv, you probably will see something related at some point when I come to comment. However, I want to ask you about your CommentLuv links, because I notice all of yours are actually feeds rather than links, like everyone else’s is, including the link that’s come up here on my blog from you. Are you doing that on purpose, and if so, how’d you do it, and why?

    2. Hi IG I noticed you became a follower of mine that’s pretty cool.

      almir´s last blog post..Vital Tips That Can Aid Any Blogger

  4. Getting the traffic is certainly a major hurdle. I’ve just started up a software site, with my own domain and all, and the major problem is to get it to rate on the search engines. I actually haven’t done anything about it yet and don’t know when I will be able to. I’m not too fussed as the domain was under $10 and I reckon I still have a few years ahead of me.

    Sire´s last blog post..The 10 Stages Of A Twitterer

    1. I think, Sire, that interestingly enough this post of mine kind of tells you a lot of things, in a way. It seems that having a strategy for doing all those things beforehand is the best way to go to maximize one’s effort. You don’t worry all that much about it, but for anyone else who’s trying to make nice bank off it, that part would behoove them to do before just putting something up and running with it.

      1. That’s only because we don’t invest much money online, but believe me it’s a different story out in the real world where a business can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. You can’t take the chance of not doing your research when a mistake can ruin your life.

        Sire´s last blog post..The 10 Stages Of A Twitterer

      2. you do have a point their Sire I couldn’t agree anymore with you which is why starting up an online business is the better option, a couple of sales can have you in automatic profit mode for your business.

        almir´s last blog post..Vital Tips That Can Aid Any Blogger

  5. Good point, Dennis, but I think it doesn’t hurt to join a few, then figure out the one thing at a time and go for it. As I sit here now, I know I’ve figured out Adsense pretty well, and I’ve at least made some money with CJ, but I don’t get Clickbank at all, and that’s going to drive me nuts until I do.

    1. I’m going to need to look into that Dennis. This is the first I’ve heard of “5 sales from 5 countries before payment”. If that’s the case I better find another affiliate program.

      Brian D. Hawkins´s last blog post..ClickBank Niche Sites – Quick and Easy DIY

    2. It’s looking like a “dog” of a program from where I’m sitting. I just might scrap it entirely; we’ll see.

      1. Ha! I finally beat you at something. I scrapped ages ago but didn’t say anything cos I thought I was too dumb to work it out LOL

        Sire´s last blog post..The 10 Stages Of A Twitterer

      2. Maybe Sire, but let’s look at this. My blog is just over a year old, and it’s the first marketing of products like this I’ve ever done. How many years have you been doing online marketing of some type? I think that still favors me in the end. lol

      3. I liked your argument Mitch it was pretty funny especially with your comeback, So how many years was Sire marketing online.

        almir´s last blog post..Vital Tips That Can Aid Any Blogger

      4. I’m going to let him answer that one, but as far as being online period, if this means anything to you, he also used to run a bulletin board back in the 90’s.

      5. Tell you the truth Mitch, whilst I’ve been around awhile, I haven’t done any online marketing other than to place links or banners on my sites. I don’t think you can classify that as marketing, or am I wrong, again.

      6. Heck Sire, I’m classifying it as marketing because you at least put something up, hoping someone would see it, click on it, and generate some income for you. It might have been passive, but it’s marketing nonetheless.

        And you’re not wrong, just,… literal. 🙂

  6. Hi Mitch,

    I think traffic it is the most important of all, and maybe the most difficult and time consuming unless you have lots of money and pay a SEO expert co. that delivers you Adwords traffic with tons of your money, but if you are like the rest of us, we cannot afford too much paid traffic. Maybe that´s why we focus on search engine traffic cuz it is free.

    To earn some money from clickbank I guess it is a hassle because of the ways they have for the payout, its not only to sell but to sell to 5 different people and some strange things that make you take sometime to redeem your money.


    1. Luis, you’ve just told me something I didn’t know, though, in retrospect, I guess a part of it makes sense. I didn’t know the “5 people” rule, but to get your money, you probably have to make at least 5 sales to begin with, even when those folks say they’re paying you 50% – 75% commissions. I’m going to have to give serious thought as to whether I’m going to keep trying to market a lame duck program.

      1. How could anyone reasonably expect someone else to have to make 5 different sales in 5 different countries? That literally makes no sense.

      2. Is that how it goes or is Dennis just pulling your chain?

        almir´s last blog post..Vital Tips That Can Aid Any Blogger

      3. Actually, when I responded to Almir on this one, I thought he was responding to a different comment of yours. That’s what I get for not verifying it first. lol

      4. Mitch,

        It seems then I will never be able to redeem my money from CB, I have about 200 dlls sitted there but my main market is the US and Canada and I dont know where those sales came from. So what I suppose to do? Wait the next century to see if I can make it.

        The worst of all is that my main plugin sale uses CB, I guess I will ask them to change from program, CB its a waste of time unless you are a SuperAffiliate. But that will take some time from me.

        What a turn-off. At least Google gives you your 100 dlls thru your bank account. I guess this makes me appreciate Google, at least just for this, lol.

      5. Hi Luis; thanks for stopping by. Man, I can’t believe Clickbank won’t give you your $200; that’s just theft to the nth degree. No sir, I can’t see myself extending them much more if that’s how it’s going to go.

        At the same time, at least you’ve made money. I know people have clicked on some of the things I’ve been marketing, and not only have they not given me credit for the couple of bucks I know I’ve made, they don’t even give me credit for clicks. Nope, more and more it sounds like it’s time for a change.

  7. This is great timing Mitch. I have many parked domains that I want to monetize. I’ve been considering different options including WordPress blogs. I run out of time with the blogs I have now so that’s a huge factor. I hate those automated blogs and I don’t want to use private label articles so I can get a little search rank.

    I’m thinking about asking for guest bloggers like Yan did so I can still maintain what I have going and work more on niche domains, not to mention visiting and commenting on friend’s blogs. I’m way behind there too.

    Brian D. Hawkins´s last blog post..ClickBank Niche Sites – Quick and Easy DIY

    1. Hi Brian. I don’t know how many domains you have, or what their names are, but if it were me, I’d probably turn most of them into niche websites of some type, and make the rest blogs of some type. That is, if the domain name fits it.

      My thought is that a webpage probably needs at least 20 static pages of information to start generating some money, and oftentimes one starts and then realizes that something there could create another page, and you’re off. What’s what I did with my medical billing site; I started with topics, and things blossomed from there.

  8. I still have not figured out which affiliate marking company to go forward with. I’ve spend a lot of time looking into Commission Junction and Clickbank, but have not pulled the trigger on either one. I am launching a fully functionally web site soon to sell yoga products. I’m hopeful that it is going to be the ticket for future online growth.
    Thanks for the article Mitch!

    1. No problem, Brandon. If I may make a suggestion, you go with Commission Junction and Google Affiliate Networks, because those two have “real” companies with “real” products that you could put on your site that are yoga related. Also, if you’re going to have a book and tape section, you can find that on either of these programs also, though CJ will give it to you in a form template, whereas you’d have to create your own, or at least your own links, with GAN.

  9. Great helpful post you have here Mitch. I think traffic is the most important of all, without it nothing really works well online. Experimenting is also another factor. See what works, what doesn’t, try this, try that and when you think you got it right this time, try again!

    Salwa´s last blog post..Traffic Monday: Driving Traffic Using Article Marketing Techniques

    1. Thanks Salwa. Traffic is important, but not as important as having a product. At least if you have a good product, you can always try many things in getting traffic, whereas if you go after traffic first, you may never get any of those people back once they feel they were burned the first time.

      1. Dennis, I think it depends on what someone’s aim and goal is, as well as their needs. If one can survive not trying to make sales early on, then your way works fine. If not, or if their main goal is to make money online, then it doesn’t, and they’d better get the product, or service, correct up front.

      2. Point is, you can’t negate things either way. Most business models, and we’re not talking internet business, is to create the product first, then market it. You can’t create buzz then decide to start making a car. Same with online stuff for the most part; you create buzz without having something, somewhere, substantive, it means absolutely nothing.

      3. That’s always the second step, isn’t it? Thing is, if one plans these things out, hopefully that’s part of the plan. For instance, at this point I get pretty good attention on this blog, but I didn’t start off with any kind of direction whatsoever. That may have hurt me initially. With my medical billing site, I started off with a direction and a plan, ran an Adwords campaign for about three weeks, and it does pretty well with Adsense. Thing is, I planned that one well, but I never thought about incorporating other advertising into it, other than books, which haven’t sold at all. So, if I try it again, I’ll be thinking about that also.

        Still, I believe one has to have a foundation of some sort. If your foundation is traffic, and it ends up garnering you lots of sales later on, then that’s a good thing. If someone else has a foundation that’s a product, or a specific line of products, and they can run with that, then that’s fine also. In some circumstances, “build it and they will come” actually does work. But it will take more work after the fact to make it grow even bigger.

  10. hi Hammer (aka Mitch),
    I’ve done too many things based on a whim too, with little planning. Somehow, most of them seem to work out anyway. 🙂
    All your points are spot on. I’m impressed by the person with the hydroponic blog and what she is making. That’s a great example.
    Anyway, just wanted to use that “hammer” nickname one more time!
    ~ Steve, the whimsical trade show guru

    Trade Show Guru´s last blog post..Trade Show Booth Display Design Secrets

    1. You must have remembered my one video post from last year with Hammer performing Too Legit 2 Quit, always one of my favorites, and motivational also; I need to pull that bad boy up again.

      You picked a tough niche, that’s for sure, as talking about trade shows has to not only not bring you much ancillary money, but it’s got to be hard coming up with lots to write about at a certain point. Then again, maybe I just don’t know; is it?

      1. Hi Mitch,
        My nickname Hammer for you is based on a recent quote you made in a comment reply:
        “I make my point, expound on it, then try to hammer it in there again.” – Mitch, April 17th, 2009
        I hadn’t thought about MC…
        And you’re right, there’s only so much one can write about trade shows…
        I am due for another niche or two. 🙂
        Steve, the trade show guru

        Trade Show Guru´s last blog post..Trade Show Booth Display Design Secrets

  11. yeah domain name is important still good domain names are not available these days.SO sad there should be some rule against domain squatting

    1. Gagan, there are for famous people, but for the rest of us, well, we snooze, we lose unfortunately.

    2. I am sorry but i don’t agree with you dennis . Like what you mean by a perfect domain name it should be short and generic right . Do you think such domain names are still available 🙂 just check yours or any other you can’t find a prefect domain name not even in 1000 USD these days

      1. you are right .But what I don’t agree is that you can’t say it a perfect domain name . its keyword optimized but its not perfect 😉

      2. Clever but philosophical answer LOLZ yeah be satisfied what you get 😉

  12. What I hate about Tip number 6 is the fact you have your ups and downs when it comes to your traffic. You may get several thousands of visitors or you may get several hundred it’s always a numbers games, the better the numbers the better your odds are.

    almir´s last blog post..Vital Tips That Can Aid Any Blogger

    1. That’s when it behooves you to not only have quality content, but to always update your content to keep people’s interest in some fashion.

  13. #1 was always the hardest for me. I mean once you start it just works almost by itself. But to start you need some good idea and those are not that easy to come by.

    1. Hi Nieru. Ideas always come easy for me, but deciding to go ahead and do it is what stops me sometimes. I know that if I’m not passionate about it that it’s going to be even more work than I’m ready for, and thus I hold off.

  14. Good morning, Mitch.

    I think you have done a good job covering the bases in this post.

    Researching and finding a topic where you can provide top-quality, original content on an ongoing basis is one of the real keys to affiliate marketing.

    If that niche is focused on a hobby, so much the better, because people invest time and money on their hobbies.

    If you are knowledgeable and active in that hobby, even better.

    Another good niche is children’s activities. Parents spend lots of money on things for their children to do.

    The absolute worst niche is “how to make money online.”

    In the past, I did well with selling items through LinkShare and CommissionJunction, but I’m moving away from both of them. With many thousands of impressions and quite a few thousand clicks, I’ve sold exactly zero things in the last year.

    I do much better with private affiliate programs, especially those that have a dedicated manager and which offer residual income.

    It’s very hard to build a business on commissions on one-time sales.

    As I update all my sites this year, I’m paring some of them way down to refocus on what’s working for me now, versus two or three years ago.

    I’ve stopped promoting products through ClickBank, but still have some links to find and remove. I earned a few checks from them, but not enough to contend with all the junk that’s available on their site.

    I used to be a huge fan of, but no longer. It’s not working for me now.

    However, if I were writing about digital photography or electronics, it may still be worthwhile. Some people are earning thousands of dollars per month.

    No matter what you do, however, you have to have steady, and hopefully repeat, visitors to the site.

    Without traffic, you don’t have anything.

    That’s why it’s so important to pick a niche where you can stand out from the crowd.

    Of course, this is a case of “do what I say and not what I do.” I’ve learned a lot in the last couple of years that I have not had time or energy to implement, yet.

    Act on your dream!


    1. Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment. You’re right, making money online is a horrible topic at this point. And, what I keep seeing is that everyone writes the same exact thing on the topic, almost as if they’re copying from each other, which is why I go the way I do. No one can seriously ever accuse me of being like everyone else. lol

      You mentioned private affiliate programs; not looking for specifics, but how would you define that better?

      Traffic is always a very important thing, and you’re right, drive by, non-recurring traffic doesn’t help much unless you’re getting millions of visitors a day, which most of us will never get.

      Odd question for you, and I’ll toss Dennis in here also. At this point in your internet marketing career, if you needed $500 more in a week than normal, couldyou earn it for sure?

  15. Good afternoon, Mitch.

    When I say “private affiliate program,” I mean a stand-alone program managed by a single company that is not part of any affiliate network.

    The best example, for me, is Sitesell’s 5 Pillar Affiliate Program. It’s private, two-tier, and offers lifetime customers. Just last month, I earned several hundred dollars in residuals, which is more than I earned from several other affiliate programs, combined. And, many of this year’s new sales will lead to next year’s residuals, and so it grows.

    Another example…

    At one time Cognigen was an MLM company marketing telecommunications services for a number of vendors. Last year, they went through a massive reorganization and morphed into Commission River, which is now a two-tier affiliate program that also offers residuals on many services.

    I’m not interested in selling cell phones, which is now their primary product, but they offer other services I do enjoy promoting.

    The nice thing about the transition is that all the old Cognigen links still work, or are redirected to new Commission River pages. has a private affiliate program. Unfortunately, they offer one-day cookies and no residuals. Plus, everyone knows about them now, so why click on our links?

    CafePress used to have a private affiliate program, but they closed it and transitioned to Commission Junction. I was doing pretty well in commissions before the change, and then they just dried up.

    As far as being able to earn an extra $500 in a week for sure, the short answer is no.

    In a month, maybe.

    Good question.

    Act on your dream!


  16. I wouldn’t say everyone, Sire, but at least half the people do. And, well, you’ve been doing it much, MUCH longer than most of us, so there you go. lol

  17. Come now Mitch, there would be more than half and you’re making me sound like I’ve been blogging for ages and it’s only been for a few years 😉

    Sire´s last blog post..The Differences Between Male And Female

    1. I’m just deferring to you and your star power, Sire, as someone with extensive internet experience. lol

      1. Yeah, that’s it. No, Sire, you’ve been around for a very long time. As you said, back in your BB days, people knew you as Sire, and you ran your own. You’re a legend of sorts; run with it. lol

      2. Thanks Dennis, although it’s hard to consider Sire all that old when I’m relatively close to him in age. lol

  18. Hi,

    I have not yet started affiliate marketing but the easy adsense marketing. Your post is very important to me, as I am planning to do it soonest. Thanks a lot.

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