Create A Hyper-Profitable Affiliate Business From Scratch

Be professional. When you submit a résumé, don’t type it in ALL CAPS and please don’t avoid the caps lock like the plague. Know how to use it without looking incompetent. Write in complete sentences with proper grammar. Of course, there will be exceptions, but even with the exceptions, you must keep it professional. You’re building their view of you.

If you're serious about making money online, start a blog. Blogging is one of the easiest and most sustainable income sources. As long as the blog is setup the right way, in the right niche, with the right content targeted at the right audience, and the offer is complementary to the content, you could make a tremendous amount of passive income from a blog.
Before you say it – no, true guest blogging isn’t dead, despite what you may have heard. Securing a guest post on a reputable site can increase blog traffic to your website and help build your brand into the bargain. Be warned, though – standards for guest blogging have changed radically during the past eighteen months, and spammy tactics could result in stiff penalties. Proceed with caution.

Okay, I’ll be honest, when I first started out, I found it surprisingly difficult to understand how to even generate links (and deep links). For a while, I legitimately thought I was stupid. In hindsight, stupidity may have been a small part of the cause, but the truth is the process is actually pretty confusing. SO, I’ve written some pretty boring (though helpful) step-by-steps on how to generate links on a few common programs and affiliate networks… So, for my fellow life-dummies, here’s:


Don’t go insane and join a million at once… think first about what would make sense for you to endorse. If you’re a travel blogger for instance, becoming an affiliate for hotels, tours and travel gear may be appropriate. Most companies will have an affiliate program, or be part of an affiliate network. Your best bet would be a quick Google: “company + affiliate program”. 
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The most basic and straightforward way is to use Google Analytics. And I'm not just talking about installing Google Analytics. I'm talking about using the UTM (short for Urchin Tracking Module, which relates to the old Urchin analytics system that Google acquired to create its tracking tool) variables that exist in Google's Analytics to ensure that you know where they're coming from.
I love your post. I keep coming back because you always have great content I can use in my business as well as share. Since I own my own Digital Marketing company I guess you would be one of THE influencers in Internet Marketing field. I just started my business and because most influencers on twitter are talking about Content Marketing, that is what I have been writing about. But my site is only about a month old so I will just stay consistent in my writing. I’m also in the process of changing my navigation bar so be know how to get to what they want faster. Which would be “what is SEO”, etc. Thanks and would love any advice you can give me.
Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission. Know that I only recommend products, tools and learning resources I’ve personally used and believe are genuinely helpful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to purchase them. Most of all, I would never advocate for buying something that you can’t afford or that you’re not yet ready to implement.

I did a lot of research to find the right one, and so I chose Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner (as I mentioned earlier). I figured it made sense to learn from the best, and with a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, I had nothing to lose. I chat WAY more in-depth about it in my review here, but this course was definitely a gamechanger for me.
If you haven’t used software like BuzzSumo to check out what your competitors are up to, you’re at a huge disadvantage. These services aggregate the social performance of specific sites and content to provide you with an at-a-glance view of what topics are resonating with readers and, most importantly, making the rounds on social media. Find out what people are reading (and talking about), and emulate that kind of content to bring traffic to your website.
21. Facebook – Facebook swap shops are great for selling things locally. It’s like CraigsList, but a little easier. You simply search for swap shops in your area and ask to join the group. Once you’re in, take a picture of the item, write a quick description with the price and post it. It doesn’t get much easier than that. You can generally expect to get about what you would get at a yard sale, maybe a little more.
Real estate can potentially earn you more money than the stock market. Over the long term, investing in the stock market will earn you an average annual return of 7%, adjusted for inflation, according to a number of studies. DiversyFund can’t guarantee how its investments will perform in the future — no one can — but historically, it has earned an annual return of 17% to 18%.
Need more ideas on how to make money online? Another strategy is using webinars to market your product, service, or course. I’ve done webinars to promote my financial planning practice and to drum up interest in my online course for financial advisors. With a webinar, you’re basically offering a lot of tips and advice for free — usually in a live format. At the end though, you pitch your paid product or service with the goal of securing a few deals.
While many shorter keywords may come up in your keyword research, it’s important to also pay particular attention to the long tail keyword opportunities. Often, these keywords are more specific. As such, they typically have less search volume and, as a result, less competition. That means it’s not only easier to rank for relevant long tail keywords, but it’s also easier to guess the searcher intent.
Need more ideas on how to make money online? Another strategy is using webinars to market your product, service, or course. I’ve done webinars to promote my financial planning practice and to drum up interest in my online course for financial advisors. With a webinar, you’re basically offering a lot of tips and advice for free — usually in a live format. At the end though, you pitch your paid product or service with the goal of securing a few deals.
A backlink is a link to your website from another website. Backlinks from complementary businesses or industry influencers will not only get your business in front of a larger audience, but it will also drive qualified traffic to your website. In addition, Google picks up on backlinks and will increase its trust in your business if it sees other trusted sites pointing to yours. More trust from Google leads to higher rankings, which leads to more traffic. Get noticed on Google for free with quality backlinks.
It’s important to choose a niche that you either know a lot about or are passionate about. If you come across as inexperienced or unknowledgable your visitors will likely go somewhere else – fast! An example of a product review site is consumerreports.org. This is also a good example of how NOT to start your own review site. Start by focusing only on a small portion of your market and not the entire enchilada or you’re going to be invisible to your prospects.
You'll also need ecommerce software, fulfillment software, worry about warehousing, customer service and refunds. But that's not all. You'll also need traffic. Think search engine optimization, Facebook ads, and other social media campaigns. It is hard work, especially on your own. You could opt for Amazon's platform, which might be an easier route. But, then again, at the end of the day, this is a serious business, which could produce significant profits. So you're either all in or you're not. 

Another way to utilize your talent and business skills is to run corporate workshops online. Businesses are always looking for unique ways to help educate their workforce, and if you can package your talents into a day or half-day long session, you can sell that to companies all over the world to make money online. Start by building a portfolio and then reaching out on LinkedIn to influencers at relevant companies to see if they would be interested in you teaching their team.
While with search advertising, you’re paying to show up in the top spot for relevant searches, with social media advertising you are paying to show up in relevant feeds. With both forms of advertising, you can specify the type of audience in front of which you’d like to appear, but with more psychographic data, social media offers superb targeting.
– Project Payday is one of those sites that has testimonials of people who have earned thousands of dollars by getting paid to get trial offers. I’m not saying you’ll earn thousands, but it is legit and you can earn some extra cash. They assume that by paying you to do a free trial, you’ll either like the product and purchase it, or forget to cancel the trial and get charged for it. If you can keep track and cancel before you get charged (if you don’t want the product), then this is a great site for making some money.
It’s a little silly how often people overlook this step. The simple math is, if you have more eyeballs on your affiliate links, the more likely you’ll make sales. Sure, that’s a bit of an oversimplification buuuut it still holds true that you should be trying to gain traffic on these posts anyway. So, remember the importance of promotion! It’s not enough to just write killer affiliate posts.
I did a lot of research to find the right one, and so I chose Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner (as I mentioned earlier). I figured it made sense to learn from the best, and with a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, I had nothing to lose. I chat WAY more in-depth about it in my review here, but this course was definitely a gamechanger for me.
It’s not the sort of online money making opportunity that’s covered in glory, but everyone needs a set of eyes to make sure the numbers add up at the end of the year. Every business and most individuals need someone to help prepare tax returns, especially time or resource-strapped small business owners. The Income Tax School provides an array of training programs that’ll certify you with tax prep in as little as 10 weeks, and once tax season rolls around you’ll be able to charge an average of $229 per return as a freelance tax preparer with this side business idea, reports CNBC.
If you have a fondness and talent for taking pictures you can make extra money online by becoming a stock photographer and selling your images to a stock photo company like ShutterStock or iStockPhoto. You’ll get royalties every time someone licenses an image you’ve submitted. To really be successful, build your own photography website to be able to showcase your portfolio and start getting higher-paid private corporate work.
Find an audience for your passion or hobby and you’re all set to make money online doing something you love via a niche website. That of course, is easier said than done. Creating a profitable niche website takes time and is not intended for the faint of heart. But, if you can hurdle the steep challenges and positively answer a few key questions on whether the website business idea you’re thinking about is profitable, then you can begin building it and eventually monetize through advertising, affiliates, or other relevant digital products.

Use calls to action. Ask your readers to get involved. If the readers feel like the site owner is interested in them, they will be more likely to continue coming back. Calls to action engage the reader, and helps keep them on the page. Calls to action may include asking the reader to write in with responses, sound off in the comments, or visit a site.
Sign up for a reputable affiliate network: Aside from Amazon, there are dozens of top affiliate programs for bloggers and even large reputable affiliate networks, such as Share-A-Sale, Clickbank, and Skimlinks, that specialize in connecting you with merchants who are looking for affiliates to sell their products. They charge relatively low commission fees for the privilege of connecting you with merchants, and the merchants on these sites tend to offer much higher commission percentages or set dollar amount payouts.
This information hits the mark. “If you want your content to go viral, write content that influencers in your niche will want to share.” I love the information about share triggers too. I’m wondering, though, if you could share your insights on how influencers manage to build such vast followings. At some point, they had to start without the support of other influencers. It would seem that they found a way to take their passion directly to a “ready” world. Excellent insights. Thanks for sharing.
If you’ve got a way with words and expertise in a niche, there are plenty of sites that will pay for articles and content you write. Think of the sites you read regularly. What can you contribute to them that would be interesting? Research your niche and then look for ways to pitch articles. Many sites will simply have a submission or contact link in the footer. To get started, check out my full guide to becoming a freelance writer on the side and then submit your articles to places like Listverse, A List Apart, International Living, FundsforWriters, and Textbroker.

Brian, great post as always! Question: Do you consider authority sites (industry portals) a form of “influencer marketing?” e.g. guest blogging, etc? In some niches there are not so many individuals who are influencers (outside of journalists) but there are sites that those in the industry respect. I am in the digital video space and for me one site is actually a magazine that is building a very strong digital presence. Thanks, keep up the good work!


Double check yourself, before you double wreck yourself. Make sure everything you send to a company, whether a résumé, an email or a portfolio, is good to go. Double check your grammar and wording, and for God’s sake use spell check! This is especially important when it comes to the company’s name. Don’t spell their name wrong and be sure to type it how they type it (e.g. Problogger, not Pro Blogger).

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. 

Many affiliates struggle to make enough profit from the sales they make to allow them to reinvest that money into more content or marketing. Once you do find a product that people can and will buy online, make sure it offers enough commission per sale to make it worth your while. There’s little sense in promoting light bulbs for 1% profit per sale.
Hi Brian, I’m so glad I found Backlinko! I’m downloading all the free guides you’re offering and taking notes. I started a blog last year, and I’ll just call it my “learning blog.” You help me understand that I need to change how I think about content creation (think keyword and topic, research it, THEN create content). So that will be the first strategy I implement for the new blog I plan on launching in the fall.

Satrap is not a financial advisor & MoneyPantry.com is for entertainment & educational purposes only. Material shared on this blog does not constitute financial advice nor is it offered as such. As mentioned in our Disclosure page, MoneyPantry may have a financial relationship with some of the companies mentioned on this site, including Credit Card providers, and as such it may be compensated with a referral/commission fee. All trademarks, registered trademarks and service marks mentioned on this site are the property of their respective owners.

Master the art of ‘repurposing’ your content. Look into your website. Do you have long-form articles that you could perhaps transform into eye-catching infographics? Or maybe analyze the visitors to your website, and check out how to get traffic to your website by breaking down your existing content into many chunks, so that you have a better chance of giving them what they want.


Of the many key reasons these sites are so massively successful, one stands out in particular: they are genuinely helpful to their visitors. When you need to renew your car insurance, do you seriously go filling in forms on every individual provider’s website, or do you instead just fill in the one form on a site like Comparethemarket to get all the quotes you need at once? If you think about the answer honestly, you’ll realise exactly why comparison websites like this are so genuinely useful to a visitor.
There are many SEO tactics you can perform on each of your website pages to increase their rank in search engines and get more visitors. This includes producing high-quality content that your audience is searching for, and writing concise meta descriptions for your pages. The meta description appears below your URL in search results. Knowing what a page is about and what will result in a click makes users much more likely to do so. On-page SEO tactics such as these are free, but do take some time. For more help with on-page SEO, check out this blog post: Google Ranking Factors: On-Page vs Off-Page SEO.
Pinterest Promoted Pins have been the number one source of traffic to my new website, and they’re far cheaper than Facebook Ads for my audience. A small $5–10 per day budget has resulted in 1,127 clicks to my website in the last 30 days. The best part? Even once I stop running the promotions, my pins will still show where people have pinned them, so they’ll continue to drive traffic to my website
22. Advertising – This is definitely the most old-school way of earning money with a blog. It’s also starting to become the least common way. You can sell advertising spots directly on your site or you can sign up with a company like Google AdSense or Media.net. Either way, you won’t see a whole lot of money from ads until your views are well into the thousands each day.

18. CraigsList – Some things don’t ship very well. Other things may make you feel uncomfortable to sell to someone across the country. Anytime you’re selling a large item or something you just don’t want to ship, Craigslist is a great place to go. It’s simple to list your item (again, take good pictures!). If you don’t like the idea of putting your phone number out there, the interested individual can send you a message to your inbox without even getting your email address.
Go to clickbank.com which is the holy grail of digital information products. I say that because they really are the largest and most profitable digital retailer in the world. Their marketplace is loaded with tens of thousands of products that you can sort by market, popularity, price, longevity, etc. If you’re not making money on clickbank right now you need to get started… now
I believe that once you choose a market you should look for untapped opportunities within the niche you’re exploring. Drill down into sub-niches of your target market to find aspects of it that are unexplored or barely touched. Think specialization and focus on becoming the expert on a particular issue or topic. Your goal should be to become the go-to marketer in a particular segment within that niche.
Like you I am a scientist and like you did in the past, I am currently working on translating great scientific literature into tips. In my case it’s child development research into play tips for parents. I can already see that the outcome of my experiment is going to be the same as yours. Great content but who cares. I hadn’t even thought about my key influences. I know some important ones, but don’t see how they would share my content. I thought I was writing content for my potential customers. Is your SEO that works course the same as the content that gets results course? Sorry if I sound a bit dim asking that question.
I really enjoyed your post, im building my own business from the ground up making custom furniture, lighting, and home decor. it took me a year to launch my website and now im trying to invite more traffic and ways for clients and interested parties to share my content and start buying my product. I liked the idea of Share triggers… im going to be incorporating that into my social media strategies. Any advice would go a long way. thanks again Brian
25. Products – You can create your own product, such as an ebook or computer software. You would then use your blog as a promotion tool to get people to buy your product. As long as you create a legitimate product with a whole lot of value, you should be able to get some buyers, but like everything else with a blog, you’ll need the traffic to get the sells.
Now, it’s time to plan out your show. If you’re doing an interview-style show, you’ll now want to start getting some guests involved. You can use your existing social network to reach out to people you already know or are connected with on Twitter or Facebook. You can also head to Medium or Amazon to find authors or experts on topics specific to your niche.

You probably visit at least a few sites that are relevant to your business on a regular basis, so why not join the conversation? Commenting doesn’t necessarily provide an immediate boost to referral traffic right away, but making a name for yourself by providing insightful, thought-provoking comments on industry blogs and sites is a great way to get your name out there – which can subsequently result in driving more traffic to your own site. Just remember that, as with guest posting, quality and relevance are key – you should be engaging with other people in your niche, not dropping spam links on unrelated websites.
Be professional. When you submit a résumé, don’t type it in ALL CAPS and please don’t avoid the caps lock like the plague. Know how to use it without looking incompetent. Write in complete sentences with proper grammar. Of course, there will be exceptions, but even with the exceptions, you must keep it professional. You’re building their view of you.
The easiest and most common way to start building an audience for a website is via social media. Depending on your niche and industry, you can choose from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and several other niche and location-specific networks. Building up an engaged and interested following on social media is a great opportunity to build relationships and once you have their trust, promote your products and services to them.
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