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Six Ways To Make More Money As An Affiliate

Posted By Darren Rowse 7th of November 2009 General 0 Comments

By Johnny B. Truant

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that affiliate marketing is the easiest way to make money online. You don’t have to create a product or develop a service, you don’t need huge amounts of focused traffic the way you do with AdSense, (I started using AdSense a year ago and just recently passed the $100 minimum payout), and you don’t need to do a ton of advertising or SEO to make it work.

All you really need is an audience to whom you can refer products and services.

Of course, the above statement is true in the same way it’s true that you only need food, water, and shelter to live. It’s technically accurate — but personally, I’d like to have Netflix and a few Twix bars, too.

I made around $20,000 in my first six months from affiliate marketing, and the following are a six tips I’ve found that will take you from bare bones to a legit affiliate income.

1. Establish trust

Technically, you can make a few bucks here and there even by tossing out links to people who don’t know and/or like you. I think of these as “cookie toss” sales, because most affiliate setups dictate that each time a person clicks on an affiliate link, that affiliate’s cookie (which identifies the customer as “belonging” to that affiliate) overwrites any previous cookies on the customer’s computer. If you’re on Twitter during a launch and toss out a bunch of affiliate links for the product that everyone is promoting, there’s a chance that your link will be the last link someone uses before buying. You didn’t really refer the sale; you lucked into it.

A far better way to go is to actually have some credibility with your readers, audience, and peers. If you have a blog, work on building bulletproof trust with your readers. If you’re on Twitter, tweet with some integrity, and be a real person rather than a selling drone. If your people like and respect you, they will believe you when you say a product or service is worth buying.

2. Promote only products you honestly believe in

Don’t be a shill. Once you start promoting as an affiliate, you’ll quickly discover how many things are out there to promote. If you hop on every one, your people will turn away because they’re always being sold to. Worse, they won’t believe that your recommendations have any merit because you’ll recommend anything. There are plenty of good things out there, so be a true “raving fan” of a product you like rather than a hawker.

3. Don’t promise the moon (i.e. tell the truth)

No product or service is perfect, so don’t pretend it is. There is a strong tendency (especially in online marketing) to oversell. Everybody’s course will triple your income in two days; every program is guaranteed to whiten your teeth and wax your new Ferrari while filling your hot tub with supermodels. People are smarter than to believe the BS, so don’t feed it to them. (And as a bonus, if you tell the truth, you’ll sleep better at night.)

If you want to go really nuts with this principle, you can take the contrarian’s approach like I did when I promoted a course by pointing out its foibles and the fact that you may well totally fail online. (By the way, I ended up being the top-selling affiliate for that course.)

5. Disclose your affiliate relationships

This really isn’t a bonus item anymore, actually. The Federal Trade Commission is now saying that bloggers must disclose that they will make money if people buy through their affiliate links.

The good news is that disclosure can be a good thing if you’ve established trust already. Loyal readers won’t care that you’ll benefit if they believe that your praise of the product is honest, or if they were planning to buy anyway.

6. Offer bonuses

This is a great one. Recently, I offered to give my $297 Zero to Business program to anyone who used my affiliate links to buy Copyblogger’s Teaching Sells course, which I honestly think is spectacular. Because my course added almost $300 in value to their purchase, customers loved it. And because the commission for Teaching Sells exceeded the price of Z2B, I loved it.

I think the biggest, simplest key to affiliate marketing is honesty and integrity. If you lie, yes, you may make sales — but those people who were lied to will never buy through you again. If on the other hand you build relationships and tell the truth, affiliate marketing results in a natural synergy. You refer people to good products that they will enjoy and benefit from. When they buy, you benefit, too. And when they benefit, they come back to thank you from the referral. In all likelihood, they’ll trust your future recommendations in the future — and then everyone benefits again.

Hey, it beats a plain old “food, shelter, and water” existence, right?


Johnny B. Truant writes about online business, turkeys, and occasionally SpongeBob SquarePants’ pet snail at JohnnyBTruant.com. He invites cool folks to join his laid-back Jam Sessions call series and to connect with him on Twitter @johnnybtruant.

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About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. I think title of this post should not be Six ways to make more money … this one basically contain the building of relation only

  2. Are their any international standards on how to disclose that you will make money through an affilate link? Should their be a universal standard?

  3. I have just started to master adsense – well nearly traffic is key lol and thats search engine traffic – I will look into affilate marketing once I am happy with my adsense earnings 20k in six months wow evan a 3rd of that would do me lol

    Great Post Keep It Up


  4. Great article. When I first got into making money online, affiliate marketing always seemed like the hardest part to do. Now that i know a little more, I realize how easy it is. Like the author said you don’t even have to create a product.

    A lot of these points hold true for direct selling also. There’s a lot of good information here. I have a site that goes over the blending of direct marketing and online marketing (the link is in my username).

    In fact, I like this post so much I think I’ll even link to it when I write my post about affiliate marketing.

  5. I’m really taking to your articles, Johnny. I like the way you lay things out with economy and wit without missing anything important. Thanks for yet another beaut outing. Best regards, P. :)

  6. Our original products make 15 times what our Google ads and affiliations make. You need so much traffic to make money with ads and affiliate links. Creating your own product is the way to go, but takes allot more work than adding a link.

  7. Hmmmm…ethical selling? What a concept! This post reminds of the Geof Gitomers approach; customer’s need and wants come first. Quick sells vs. long term trust.

    We all need to reread this post once a month.

  8. I find it very interesting that your main point here is honesty and integrity. Isn’t it strange how we have to make a point of saying that integrity is the key to being successful?

  9. Affiliate marketing is something I’ve been trying to get into for the past two years but being rather afraid of crashing and burning is the main reason I’ve not become involved.

    Articles like this with tips seems to make it look easier.

  10. Step by step instructions to increase old posts visibility. I haven’t actually implemented this on my blog. But that is something I will include for sure within few days.

  11. The best way I think is to use forums and social networking. On the forums, you get to show everyone who you really are, and build relationships. These relationships help out alot in the long run. They may or may not conduct business with you, but may direct friends to you..

  12. I have putted affiliates in my blogs and I have to say this sadly I didn’t earn anything yet from it. I don’t know what’s going wrong and how can I earn more..

  13. Clicking on an affiliate link on a website where you don’t trust the owner is like buying life insurance from a fly-by-night salesman.

  14. very nice to read this thanks for sharing this valuable information with us. i appreciate the effort you make.

  15. I promoted a couple of affiliate links way back in 2001, but removed them due to low payback and the problems they regularly caused. Their servers would regularly slow down the loading of my pages, and of course my visitors thought it was MY site that was slow, so I removed the ads.

    I recently started blogging, and am considering adding affiliate links again to see if they can bring in a little income this time without the other problems.

  16. Great post. I’ve been trying my hand at affiliate marketing for about 5 months now and have only made a little over $100 but I truly believe in its ability to put some serious money in a person’s pocket.

    I will try to institute some or all of your tips in my affiliate marketing business. I’m expecting to see some very positive results.

    Again great job.

  17. Thanks for sharing this useful information and I will follow what you said.

    Thanks again.

  18. Useful post Daren, will take these points into consideration
    again it seems that being trusted as a person is the key to success in affiliate marketing

  19. @Missoula Carpet Cleaning – I love Jeffrey Gitomer!

  20. i am still earning with adsense.

    i never tried these affiliate products. soon i will search and find some best products and starts earning by them

  21. I do think honesty play the most important role in selling an affiliate product. Don’t just mention the advantages; Do talk about what can be improved too.

  22. December 1st is fast approaching…..read and re-read #5.

  23. […] Six Ways to Make More Money as an Affiliate […]

  24. Great and useful post, thanks for sharing.

  25. Thank you .I recently started blogging, and am considering adding affiliate links again to see if they can bring in a little income this time without the other problems.

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