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.

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.
If you’re writing reviews, you should 100% be using rich snippets (they add review stars to your search engine snippets and increase click-through rates). There are many WordPress plugins for this but my favorite is WP Rich Snippets. It’s $69/year (or $399 one-time) and I use it for every single review I write. They have tons of add-ons, settings, styling options, and looks nice. Free plugins like All In One Schema.org do work but lack settings, styling, and flexibility.
Last but not least, you can also earn money online by building an online community, although the monetization strategies you can pursue will vary a lot depending on your goals. You can build a community with a blog, for example. You can also build an online forum and charge people for membership. You could even build up a Facebook group and use your influence there to sell and promote products.
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.
Adam Enfroy is the Affiliate Partnerships Manager at BigCommerce. With 10+ years of experience in digital marketing, ecommerce, selling online courses, and web development, he is passionate about leveraging the right strategic partnerships and software to scale digital growth. Adam lives in Austin, TX and writes about affiliate marketing and building your online influence on his personal blog.
This domain can work for people in two ways. One is to get sudden bursts of income by selling a certain product. The second part is selling a service that gives you recurring fees. This course on Affiliate Marketing Strategy for Stable and Recurring Income can be very helpful if your objective is the latter. At 5.5 hours and 56 lectures, this is very extensive and useful for those looking at mastering this subject. Details are available here.
Developing and monetizing microsites can also garner a serious amount of sales. These sites are advertised within a partner site or on the sponsored listings of a search engine. They are distinct and separate from the organization’s main site. By offering more focused, relevant content to a specific audience, microsites lead to increased conversions due to their simple and straightforward call to action.

In April 2008 the State of New York inserted an item in the state budget asserting sales tax jurisdiction over Amazon.com sales to residents of New York, based on the existence of affiliate links from New York–based websites to Amazon.[40] The state asserts that even one such affiliate constitutes Amazon having a business presence in the state, and is sufficient to allow New York to tax all Amazon sales to state residents. Amazon challenged the amendment and lost at the trial level in January 2009. The case is currently making its way through the New York appeals courts.

If you are writing online your posts should be brief, clear, checked for spelling and grammar and consistent. Your blog may not have broad appeal if it has limitations in these, so your EBooks and public posts can benefit from a professional proof-reader, or extra classes in English, whether it is your first language or not. Whether you write a blog, a book or anything else, your only tool to deliver your message is language, and you should gain all the skills you can with it. If you don’t have time for this, use the services of someone with the best language skills you can find.

Here’s a good example of how lead sales can work in real life: My second website, Life Insurance by Jeff, brings in a ton of traffic from people who are searching the web to find answers to life insurance questions. While I used to have the website set up so I could sell these people life insurance myself, it was a lot of work to process all the different requests and clients. As a result, I started selling the leads I gathered instead.
One of the cool things about Google AdSense is that it's so easy to get set up. If you have a blog or website, you can sign up for a free Google AdSense Account. From there, Google will give you a unique code that you will paste onto your website. Google takes it from there, tracking your page views, traffic, and earnings on your behalf. There is no upkeep or maintenance to get this thing going, which makes it a no-brainer if you have a website already.
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
Leanne, that was great stuff. I saw some interesting delineators I’d never seen before, like how many subscribers you have making a difference in whether you should start with affiliates, at what level, etc. I appreciate the “ethical” angle you weaved throughout this, too, because affiliate marketing can/does have a bad reputation due to the way it’s been abused in the past. Your article will help educate current and future affiliate marketers, much appreciated!
Affiliate marketing currently lacks industry standards for training and certification. There are some training courses and seminars that result in certifications; however, the acceptance of such certifications is mostly due to the reputation of the individual or company issuing the certification. Affiliate marketing is not commonly taught in universities, and only a few college instructors work with Internet marketers to introduce the subject to students majoring in marketing.[36]
The next platform, which has created a great community of affiliate marketers and is a fantastic resource for a versatile and step-by-step affiliate marketing training program is Wealthy Affiliates. Over the years it has become one of the most reputable and highest-rated resources to teach you the ropes of digital marketing and online business for someone who has no or very little experience in the online and blog world.
I want to be honest. Affiliate marketing is not as easy as everyone makes it look. You have to find a good program & a strategy to actually make money online. And if you’re looking for best affiliate programs - BitDegree is one of them. My profit with BitDegree didn’t come very fast, but when it did - the earnings were higher than I’ve ever expected. They really have the best marketing material.
Beyond these great offerings, Wealthy Affiliate doesn’t demand high upfront fees. If you are just starting out and want to test the waters, you can sign up for free for their Starter Package to check them out. This was a big deal for me personally because after searching so long and seeing so many schemes, I was wary of investing my money into something that would not have any return. Then when you are ready to invest, their premium package is completely affordable and comes with 50 websites and higher payouts.
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.
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