Take advantage of affiliate program freebies when available. Many affiliate programs provide free printables, guides, webinars or other lead magnets designed to get potential customers in their sales funnel. As an affiliate, you can share these freebies with your audience using your affiliate link so if they eventually make a purchase, you’ll earn a commission, but if they don’t they still get value upfront.

I eventually learned the best model (for me) was to copy what Yoast did… charge a flat free for SEO Audits. People were always super happy with my audits. I still have my SEO audit templates (one for local SEO, national SEO, etc). Sometimes it would only take me 4 hours to write an audit and I would get $750, sometimes more if they wanted a more thorough audit. Maybe I undercharged?
Thank you Yuwanda for this encouragement and information! My website is nowhere near finished yet but another blogger had recommended starting to get affiliate approval as soon as possible so I gave 2 of them a shot and was turned down today – but then stumbled upon your great post so I think it was all meant to be. I feel like it takes a lot of failures to achieve a small amount of success so this is just helping me to get to there… but patience is sometimes hard. I appreciate your excellent words of wisdom.
Many affiliate programs run with last-click attribution, where the affiliate receiving the last click before the sale gets 100% credit for the conversion. This is changing. With affiliate platforms providing new attribution models and reporting features, you are able to see a full-funnel, cross-channel view of how individual marketing tactics are working together. For example, you might see that a paid social campaign generated the first click, Affiliate X got click 2, and Affiliate Y got the last click. With this full picture, you can structure your affiliate commissions so that Affiliate X gets a percentage of the credit for the sale, even though they didn’t get the last click. 
On one hand, long and ugly affiliate tracking links are a straight giveaway to people that you want to sell them a product (and people may be uncomfortable clicking on them). Therefore, making your link shorter and "nicer" looking will it give a more professional appearance. One of my favorite plugins for making links look "pretty" is the Pretty Links WordPress plugin.

For a slightly different take on the subject and figuring out how to get targeted traffic onto your promoted links, you must have a look at Affiliate Marketing: Instant Traffic to Affiliate Links. A quick look at the reviews will help you decide if this is the exact course you are looking for. Sometimes the right approach is what is required to make a campaign work, this one might just work for you.
When you promote a product you also promote the person or the company who is behind the product so try to choose wisely. You don’t want your visitors to go and buy a product following your advice then come back unhappy. Do you think that this visitor will come back to your site and take your advice again? Most likely no; this can hurt your credibility in the long run. Usually, websites/company that offer good customer service will have better customer satisfaction so try to stick with promoting their products.
Be sure to check what kind of customer support you can expect from your affiliate program once you have signed up. Do your research online and if possible, speak to other sellers using the program to get their thoughts. Can you speak to someone via phone or Skype or do you have to wait 72 hours for email responses? Be clear on this because trust me, you will need support at one point or another. 
Since the emergence of affiliate marketing, there has been little control over affiliate activity. Unscrupulous affiliates have used spam, false advertising, forced clicks (to get tracking cookies set on users' computers), adware, and other methods to drive traffic to their sponsors. Although many affiliate programs have terms of service that contain rules against spam, this marketing method has historically proven to attract abuse from spammers.

Affiliates are most successful when the products they promote match the interests of their followers and subscribers. In addition, many successful affiliate marketers advise recommending and promoting only products that the affiliate is personally familiar with. That’s because familiarity with the product, program, or service helps build trust between the affiliate and end-user.
I will give you a very simple example. Let’s say you build up an audience of 50,000 readers and out of that 50k you have about 1% that trust you (1% of people that trust you online is actually very huge), so that equates to 500 readers. Out of that 500 readers you will have about 10% that will buy your eBook and other affiliate products, so 50 people total. So, if you are selling your eBook for $10, you will make $500. Of course it doesn’t stop there, those people that buy the eBook and like it will most likely recommend it, and you will have a snowball effect where more people keep buying your book and other affiliate products. This is just a rough example that shows you some realistic numbers. Do not ever think that if you build up a huge number of readers that they will all trust you and buy the products that you promote; if it was that easy everyone would be a millionaire by now.
Let’s say you have a promotions page where you’re promoting a product via affiliate links. If you currently get 5,000 visits/month at a 2% conversion rate, you have 100 referrals. To get to 200 referrals, you can either focus on getting 5,000 more visitors, or simply increasing the conversion rate to 4%. Which sounds easier? Instead of spending months on blogging, SEO, and social media marketing to get more traffic, you just have to increase the conversion rate by 2%. This can include landing page optimization, testing your calls-to-action, and having a conversion rate optimization strategy in place. By testing and optimizing your site, you’ll get far better results with much less effort. 
Forms of new media have also diversified how companies, brands, and ad networks serve ads to visitors. For instance, YouTube allows video-makers to embed advertisements through Google's affiliate network.[17][18] New developments have made it more difficult for unscrupulous affiliates to make money. Emerging black sheep are detected and made known to the affiliate marketing community with much greater speed and efficiency.[citation needed]
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.
What kind of commission do they offer? One-time commissions or recurring commissions? For example, many programs pay you one time for sending a customer. On the other hand, some programs like membership sites or SaaS (software as a service) programs will pay you a commission as long as the person you referred is a paying customer. Recurring commissions are great when you can find them!
Once you've protected your prospecting pool, maximize your affiliate program by working with the best and leaving the rest. As the old 80/20 adage implies, most of your revenue will come from a very small percentage of your affiliates. Because it can be time-consuming to manage a larger affiliate network, consider selecting only a few companies initially, and interview them before signing them on. Affiliates are an extension of your sales force and represent your online brand, so choose partners carefully.
There are SO MANY training programs out there all promising to make you rich online with as little effort as possible. Well, first of all, a good program will never promise you overnight success or millions of dollars. The fact is that it takes an average of 18 months to 2 years to build a successful affiliate marketing company online, and though there are some extreme examples where people make millions of dollars a year, most successful affiliate marketers earn a comfortable living. I highly recommend you check out the following two articles:
Once you’re financially stable, I hope you start giving back. It feels good and people like the idea of supporting a good cause (they will be more likely to click your affiliate link in your disclaimer). This also means you don’t have to use as many links in your content and risk getting a penalized. Last year I donated $3,000 to Red Cross At Hurricane Harvey.
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Thanks for all the information I am slowly working my way through your list of do’s and donts! ! I’ve been approached by a website that wants to develop editorial content for my blog featuring home improvement tips from their”national client” and pay me $40 a year for reviewing and publishing their content. Boy, I am just not sure how this all works? Any words for when we are approached by others to write for our blogs?
I literally went from $20k/year to $150k/year in 2 years – see my 2018 income reports. I did this by dropping my web design/SEO clients and tried to make money with affiliate marketing (I write SEO/speed optimization tutorials). 90% of my affiliate income comes from SiteGround, a hosting company who awarded me affiliate of the month in July, 2017 when I made $9k in 1 month. Since then I have continued to hit numbers like this – the screenshot below is from March, 2018 when I made $14.5k in 1 month (just with SiteGround). I have other affiliates too.
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