In February 2000, Amazon announced that it had been granted a patent on components of an affiliate program. The patent application was submitted in June 1997, which predates most affiliate programs, but not PC Flowers & Gifts.com (October 1994), AutoWeb.com (October 1995), Kbkids.com/BrainPlay.com (January 1996), EPage (April 1996), and several others.
You may have heard of ClickBank, one of the oldest and most popular affiliate networks. A billion-dollar company, ClickBank specializes in digital products like e-books and software, as well as membership sites. If you are comfortable selling information and don’t want the management and administration hassles of “real” businesses, this may be a good starting point. Its commissions can be anywhere from 10% all the way to 75%.
Affiliate marketing is a tricky subject, I’ll admit it. I know a lot of people who are sceptical towards it even though it’s just another way to make money online. I have been an affiliate with a lot of companies but when I found BitDegree… let’s just say I didn’t need to affiliate for other companies because of the profit that I started making. I think it says it all.
Building trust with your audience is paramount in affiliate marketing, and the quickest way to lose trust is to recommend products either you haven’t used before or that aren’t a good fit for your audience. Also make sure you never tell anyone to directly buy a product, you are simply recommending the product. The more helpful you are and the more you make quality recommendations, the more likely your web visitors will come back for your expertise.
If the answer to each of these questions is a resounding yes, rather than jumping to conclusions immediately, take time to research whether or not others are out there making a sustainable affiliate income from products and content in this niche. In a sense, competition is a good thing here—it'll help you validate your idea and prove that it's worth of building a business around.