As many of you know, I am a big believer in the power of personal development work. If you want to be the best, you need to learn from the best. Take an online course, watch YouTube videos, go to seminars, or research and review successful affiliate blogs. By investing the time and energy into building your skills, and doing the hard work to master the game, you will set yourself up for success much faster.
Over the last 20 years, I have seen lots of training courses. I agree with most of your experts. Site Build It was the first good training course I took shortly after Ken Envoy launched it. I have gone the Affiliorama route and thought it was a good program for beginners. At the time I took the course, there weren’t many options for niches. I have heard good things about Chris Farrell’s program but personally have not taken it. Wealthy Affiliate is by far the best program. Members learn to build an online business regardless of the niche(s) they select. Wealthy Affiliate also has a very strong support system in place. The active community of members means people can get their questions answered quickly.
Let no one tell you that email marketing is dead. An email list is crucial for every affiliate marketer. You can start building up your email list with a lead magnet (like the information products mentioned previously) or even just by encouraging your audience to sign up for your updates. You can then push your content to this audience via email and also direct them to your affiliate offers. Don't be sleazy about the sales, but if you build up enough trust with your email audience; when the time comes, they will not mind purchasing a product from you. 
This is the easiest way to gain experience because you get exposed to other affiliates. You can meet people by joining a discussion forum or an online community. The good thing is that they are free to join and you get very good advice there. Examples of such online communities are ABestWeb, Digital Point, and Warrior Forum. Apart from getting advice from more experienced affiliates, you get the chance to network with other marketers.
Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for SiteGround using my affiliate link I will donate a good chunk at no expense to you. This year I donated $3,000 to feed the homeless in Denver. In 2017, I donated $3,000 to American Red Cross at Hurricane Harvey. Your support helps and I genuinely appreciate it. I try to make my reviews unbiased and backed by evidence in the form of Facebook polls, tweets, and real conversations. If you don’t want to use it, here’s a non-affiliate link to SiteGround. Either way I truly believe they’re the best host and that your site will run faster/smoother… do your research on Google and Facebook groups and you’ll find most people say the same.
Hey Tom, thanks for this tutorial – it’s a good thing to get a tutorial like this from a trusted person like you and not from the thousands of (sometimes) confusing articles about passive income/affiliate marketing/clickfunnels and what not that I come across from time to time, I am making a living as a web designer and I have been thinking of pivoting from design and creative work to focus on passive income but didn’t know where to start. This is the perfect foundation article I have seen so far and I ‘d like to ask if you have any further reading/guides/videos on affiliate marketing that you’d recommend. I like to do my deep research before starting :) One more thing, there are some broken or missing images in this article, it could be my browser but check from your side too because there are quite a few images (e.g your Mercedes) that are missing. Thanks
People are visual creatures, and we equate poor design with poor products. Putting a little more time and money into making your work streamlined can, quite literally, pay off. Visitors will view you as more professional and will essentially trust you and your recommendations much more, making it far easier to become successful as an affiliate marketer.

In February 2000, Amazon announced that it had been granted a patent[13] 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.[8]
Create a website about the topic that you have chosen. The key to succeeding with affiliate programs is to build a content-rich website with useful information built around a specific theme. Don't just lazily throw up a quick site or blog and string a bunch of affiliate links all over your pages. You have to start by building credibility, and the best way to do that is to write about something you know a lot about.
In simple terms, affiliate marketing means selling another person’s or company’s products and services. It’s like a referral service. You set up a website or blog and join affiliate programs that are relevant to your audience. You can connect to these programs through affiliate networks that provide you with a link that you include on your site. When someone clicks the link and purchases the product or service you’re marketing, you receive a percentage of the sale proceeds as a commission. 
Many affiliate programs will often run promotions with good discounts or giveaways that might be attractive to your audience. For example, if you're an Amazon Associate and the site have a big Holiday Sale, it would be the perfect opportunity for you to promote discounts to your website visitors. This is a great way to promote your offers while also providing good value to your audience. 
Over the last 20 years, I have seen lots of training courses. I agree with most of your experts. Site Build It was the first good training course I took shortly after Ken Envoy launched it. I have gone the Affiliorama route and thought it was a good program for beginners. At the time I took the course, there weren’t many options for niches. I have heard good things about Chris Farrell’s program but personally have not taken it. Wealthy Affiliate is by far the best program. Members learn to build an online business regardless of the niche(s) they select. Wealthy Affiliate also has a very strong support system in place. The active community of members means people can get their questions answered quickly.

Some good tips. I fully agree that it’s all about trust and it is always good to recommend an affiliate product that you have actually used. Why risk your reputation on a product you don’t know if it’s any good or not? If people buy one dodgy product from your site, they will probably never make that mistake again. That it why my blog strongly advocates ethical affiliate marketing. It’s the best long term stragey for affiliate marketing success.
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.
I come from an unsuccessful background of web design/SEO. I blogged because I knew it was good for SEO, but my articles didn’t monetize. I took a leap of faith and dropped my clients to figure out blogging/affiliate marketing. I was good at website speed optimization and knew hosting was the #1 factor. After some research, I saw SiteGround was #1 in most Facebook polls and had a great reputation with generous affiliate commissions. So I wrote tutorials on website speed… how to configure WordPress cache plugins, hosting reviews, and other speed-related topics. Usually near the end of a post I would say “Oh, here’s why you should switch to SiteGround” with evidence on why they’re the best… polls, tweets, load time improvements, etc. That’s when things got good. Now I have 0 clients and the freedom to do live my life. I wrote this tutorial because I’m actually excited to help people do the same – without the BS.
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