The affiliate marketing model allows you to sell other peoples products and services online and collect a handsome commission for doing so. You don’t have to buy any of the products yourself, store inventory, do fulfillment, ship merchandise or even do any customer service. The company you are selling for handles all of those tasks so all you do is just sell and collect your commissions.
First off, I’m a blogger so it seems wrong not to mention it, but more importantly, it’s a legitimate way to make money. It’s quite possibly the least straight-forward way on this list, but it’s very doable and it’s also quite possibly the funnest way on this list. I love blogging and I know hundreds of bloggers who feel the same. So let’s talk about making money blogging and what it really means.
YouTube is a great resource for driving free organic traffic to your website. Maybe it's because Google loves YouTube, and considering that it's the second most popular search engine in the world, gaining exposure on YouTube could be huge. Create useful tutorials and videos that add an immense amount of value and be sure to link to your content through the description.
My next self-funded business hit $160,000 in revenue in its first year alone. After that first taste of self-made success, I’ve gone on to sign consulting contracts worth tens of thousands of dollars with startups like LinkedIn and Google, launch profitable online courses, and grow my blog to over 400,000 monthly readers and $50,000/mo in side income.
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.
It’s sometimes hard to comprehend just how much people love t-shirts. And with the right niche, marketing and tools, you can create an online t-shirt business that makes you extra money online while you sleep. (Even Bloomberg and Forbes feature stories from entrepreneurs who’ve done just that.) Services like TeeSpring make it easier than ever to create a t-shirt drop-shipping business where they handle the sales, printing, and shipping, and you’re only responsible for design and marketing. Or you can even buy into well-established franchise businesses like Rhea Lana that sell fashionable, affordable kids clothing and get the backing of a proven organization to fuel your online sales. For more tips, check out this simple guide to launching and marketing an online clothing store by my friends over at Selz.
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Excellent post Brian. I think the point about writing content that appeals to influencers in spot on. Could you recommend some good, manual strategies through which I can spot influencers in boring niches *B2B* where influencers are not really talking much online? Is it a good idea to rely on newspaper articles to a feel for what a particular industry is talking about? Would love to hear your thoughts on that.
Competitions or drawings. I’ve worked with companies to send out postcards inviting people that have shown interest in the business/industry to enter to win. We’ve brought them to a unique page for the contest, and after entering, ensured that we had a CTA in the Confirmation that pushed them to the main site. Resulted in a 30% bump in traffic during the contest period and a 5% bump over time.
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If you want to clear some space out in your house and have a big stack of books you’ve been holding onto for too long, you can make money selling your books and textbooks online. Stores like Half Priced Books and others will give you cents on the dollar for each of your current books while you can check what your book is worth by simply entering the ISBN number on Book Scouter.
A lot of people don’t realize this, but you can’t just become an affiliate – it’s a process that requires an application. Even once you’re part of an affiliate network, you’ll still need to apply for individual brands within those networks. There are times when you’ll be declined… usually there’s a reason why (lol like that time I applied to hundreds of clothing retailers in anticipation for all the packing lists that I still have not written). Other times, you’ll feel like a good fit and they’ll reject you anyway. That’s the way this cookie crumbles, so remember to put a little effort into your applications and really pick companies that fit your blog.
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Starting a podcast, like making a YouTube channel or blog, comes down to telling interesting stories and building an engaged audience. I’m probably sounding like a broken record by now, but you need a niche that you’re interested in and there’s already a demand for. Come up with a list of topics you’d like to talk about and then search iTunes charts, Google Trends and other podcast research sites to see what’s currently out there and popular.
It’s quite amazing how I keep stumbling on fresh information every day even with my expertise. This is indeed a great piece! Unfortunately, it would have been a lot more useful to me when I was starting out a few years ago. I should probably check out some of these Affiliate programs that I’m yet to join. It could add a few extra bucks to my earnings, who knows? Coincidentally, I actually just published a comprehensive tutorial on this a few days ago……
29. Videos – This could be an entire section on it’s own. Many people have made money by creating YouTube videos. Evan of EvanTube is a kid and he has made millions by creating reviews of products that other kids his age would use. It’s not easy to get views into the millions, but once you do, you’ll start seeing some cash come in. Many bloggers have completely turned to videos to get their point across by starting a video blog.
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9. Don’t Follow The Latest Domain Name Trends. Trends come and go and your goal should be to make your website relevant and timeless. One trendy example I can remember is when everyone was buying domains such as best”insert-your-market-or-product-here”.com sites. That trend worked well in the search engines for awhile until Google sniffed it out and put an end to it just like they will the next trend.
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On the other hand, they may need longer to think about it. Perhaps they’re waiting for payday, or they’re not quite sure yet whether they prefer the blue one that they also spotted while browsing around the advertiser’s site. They may go away and come back in a couple of weeks’ time, no longer able to resist the urge to blow their wages on a better board.
Ah, my favourite section. SO, by now, you guys should know that I hate crappy advice. Wellll, I feel like the Internet really let me down with affiliate marketing, because there’s so many small considerations and details that people rarely mention in the beginner guides. SO, here are some sad truths to be wary of (that I had to learn the hard way):
Just be sure to put a lot of care into your product listings. Everything from the titles you use, to how effective the description is at convincing potential buyers your product is better than the rest, and even taking care to shoot high quality product photos can have a dramatic impact on your sales. I recommend using photo editing tools like Fotor, which gives you the ability to edit your images, create captivating graphic designs and more.
Insurance comparison sites are fulfilling a need. People don’t want to spend hours looking for insurance, and they don’t find it fun. If you’ve ever found anyone who enjoys this kind of activity, they could possibly be a little crazy. Both Compare The Market and Gocompare.com have not only made the tedious process of finding a policy infinitely faster, they’ve also made it fun. (Think of the free meerkats and the Gocompare man you love to hate.)
Find your niche partners, collaborators, and champions: As you’re creating your course, look for notable people who are also creating content in the space. Look at how their businesses operate and incorporate that into your own plan. You can also reach out to any influencers and make them affiliates for your own course. This way, they’ll be incentivized to share your content with their own audiences (which can be a major way to generate your first sales—it helps if you’re using one of the best CRMs for small business—and start building your own community!)
The days when internet browsing was done exclusively on desktop PCs are long gone. Today, more people than ever before are using mobile devices to access the web, and if you force your visitors to pinch and scroll their way around your site, you’re basically telling them to go elsewhere. Even if you have a basic website, you still need to ensure that it is accessible and comfortably viewable across a range of devices, including smaller smartphones.
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Thanks for a this timely article. If I understand it correctly, are you saying that we would better be off looking at market data in our niche and make an article of that for influencers to share rather than actionable tips that the target clients would be interested in? Shouldn’t there be a double strategy – articles for the influencers to share and articles for the users to enjoy?
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.
Not sure exactly why, perhaps I used a number too big and since my page is about classifieds, it probably seemed too much to browse through 1500 ads, I assume? Somewhat like you would post 800 tips for better ranking? Don’t know, will try to change things a bit and see how it goes, but you really gave me some new suggestions to go for with this article. Thanks again 🙂
Hi Christina, quick question about amazon affiliates? I recently signed up for amazon.com as 45% of my readers are from US and I was only with UK amazon. However, my 90 days is almost up for the uk version. Do you know if the 90 day resets for each country you sign up to? And if someone buys something with my UK link, does that count for my 90 days with the US version as well?
Thanks Brian for your article. I am in the healthy living niche. I want to team up with bloggers in my own niche where we can share material it makes sense to me. But I have my own unique message and that is what I have been devoted to! Dah! I see now that my focus should be on what is popular among my peers and add to this. I think I’m finally getting the picture! I am specifically into FOOD MEDICINE perhaps I should start writting about the dangers of a Gluten free diet! Not for everyone!
I live in Jamaica and I’ve tried and become miserably frustrated with affiliate marketing. “They” always made it seem so easy yet it can be quite an uphill struggle. I’m quite fascinated with the prospect of making passive income especially after earning my first $20 (which i still havent collected lol) and Your post has been very informative and encouraging; Thank you. I’m definitely gonna get that course you recommend when I begin again. Thanks a million for being so real and all the best with blog!
Ahh thanks for the kind words. Glad you found the post helpful. I would focus on building up a good base of content first before adding affiliate links, because like you said, some programs might not accept you if your blog is still so new. 2 posts is a nice start, but I’d definitely work your way up to 10-15 posts, enough to “fill up” the blog before you apply for affiliate programs. That’s just my opinion though! The other thing about starting too early is that you haven’t really established authority or a solid audience that trusts you yet, so the odds of readers making purchases through you is much lower as well. Focus on content first, then programs! The good thing is, you’ve taken Michelle’s course, which I thought was super helpful in terms of getting in the right mindset for affiliate marketing. Now that you know what sort of content works, you can get a good strategy set out from the beginning. 🙂 Best of luck!
In a very crowded, noisy space – entrepreneurs and small business owners with a ton of “experts and influencers.” How do I get “above the noise?” I have built up a great brand and, I think, some great content based on a boatload of practical, real-life experience. I also have some products and services that I’m trying to sell, but I remain, “all dressed up, with no place to go.” Thoughts?
Equally important to the money is the fact that your email list is one of the few elements of your online business that you’ll have 100% control over. Marketing to your own private list of customers, fans, and followers will always be under your control. That’s not necessarily true with traffic generation methods, affiliate offers, social media platforms, and SEO.
Giving away a free informational product such as an e-book, an email series or a mini-course is a popular tactic many affiliate marketers use. Usually, your readers will have to provide their email addresses to receive the product from you. You can then use this to sell to them via email marketing. Additionally, an informational product can generate interest in the actual product you're trying to sell. If your product is popular enough and brings enough traffic to your site, you could also monetize the traffic in other ways, such as AdSense.
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.
Use clean backgrounds. The background textures and color you choose have the ability to drastically affect the overall appeal of the website. Lots of texture and graphics in the background can be distracting. If you are going to use a color on the background, you should make sure there is significant contrast between the background color and the text. Be careful when using brighter and darker colors such as red or yellow. They cause visual fatigue (temporary loss of strength and energy resulting from hard physical or mental work) and the reader will lose their focus on the text.
17. Amazon – Have you heard of FBA? It stands for “Fulfilled by Amazon” and it’s getting pretty popular. Basically, you buy products (in bulk is best) and ship them to Amazon for them to store. When your products sell, Amazon packs them up, ships them out and sends you the money (after taking their cut). There are people making a full-time living from FBA, while others just do it for some extra money.
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