The affiliate marketing industry is growing steadily. An independent survey commissioned by Rakuten Affiliate Network found that affiliate marketing is set to reach $6.8 billion by 2020. Ninety percent of advertisers included in the survey said that affiliate programs were important or very important to their overall marketing strategy, with the majority of publishers reporting that affiliate partnerships drove more than 20% of annual revenue.
Affiliate Marketplaces – ShareASale and ClickBank have thousands of merchants to choose from. It’s nice to login to 1 place and check the performance of multiple affiliates without going to each individual portal on each website. Many programs aren’t part of a marketplace though. I’m a big fan of ShareASale – there are so many companies and industries you can choose from.
You should also make sure you aren't competing with your own affiliates for eyeballs. Any marketing channels you're using, such as search engines, content sites or e-mail lists, should be off limits to your affiliates. Put marketing restrictions into your affiliate agreement and notify partners immediately. It's your program--you set the rules. Or, if you prefer, you can let your affiliates run the majority of your internet marketing.
Theme – you don’t need a special theme for affiliate marketing, you probably just need a blog. I recommend StudioPress themes since that’s what Yoast, Matt Cutts (from Google), and I use. Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress also recommends them. One of the biggest mistakes I made was using a theme from Themeforest… since they’re built by independent developers who may stop making updates to their theme. This happened to me and I hear horror stories all the time about people having to switch themes and redesign their entire site. I’ve been using the same StudioPress theme (Outreach Pro) for 3 years. Their themes are lightweight (load fast), SEO-friendly via optimized code, secure, and they have a huge selection of plugins for the Genesis Framework and an awesome community in the Genesis WordPress Facebook Group. They include documentation for setting it up and will serve you for many, many years.
Start by thinking about your audience. What kinds of products or services are they most interested in? Which products or services are you currently using that you would feel comfortable recommending to your readers? You can add links to any affiliate program to your site, but if you want to market them with authenticity, it’s best to stick to companies with which you already have some kind of connection.
Upselling is a sales technique where the salesperson encourages a more expensive purchase by a customer by persuading them to get an upgraded version of an item or to purchase add-ons. Remember our food processor example? That food processor could probably be best used with a book of recipes, which also can be purchased at the same company’s website.

*Yes: As you may have guessed, the link above is my two-tier affiliate link. There are a few of these links on this site to pay me a small commission and allow me to keep this site free instead of a monthly membership site. Using my two-tier affiliate link will not affect the amount of commission paid to you with this or any other program. My commissions are paid out of the vendor’s cut, not yours.
Affiliate marketing is often touted as a "get rich quick scheme" by shady sites offering pyramid schemes that promise quick cash for little effort. Make no mistake—successful affiliate marketers like Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income put in a lot of effort toward building an audience and creating quality content that will bring in sustainable passive income. Expect to do a lot of legwork up front—but if you play your cards right, you can build a solid source of revenue over time.
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