Most publishers know about advertising, sponsored posts, and getting paid directly from brands, but many publishers are not fully monetizing their sites. Affiliate marketing is a way to earn more money and promote many different brands without having to go out and  form new relationships. Chances are you are already promoting products and linking to them. With affiliate marketing, you can earn a portion of the sales you refer.

There are many ways to be an affiliate. Most publishers sign up with an affiliate network because it’s a one-stop place to find many programs to join. You apply to the network and then apply to individual programs in the network. They give you special links to use or banner ads that track clicks and sales. You can link to a website or to a specific product. When someone clicks on your link or ad and makes a purchase you make a percent of the sale, usually around 10%. Some programs give you a percent of any sales from their website from someone who came from your link,  up to 30 days or longer.

The advantage of joining a network is you manage many different businesses and get paid from the network, rather than getting individual checks and logging onto different sites. You usually get paid once a month and you can log in and see your sales and what you’re making at any time (remind you of Monumetric?).

When you apply to be an affiliate, you are called a “publisher”. The brand or business is called the “merchant”. Some of the signup processes are not very user-friendly, but they all involve filling out an application and getting approved by the network. Once approved you can search for merchants to promote. Once accepted, the merchant provides links and creative you can use on your site.

There are many ways to be an affiliate, here are some examples:

Be an Event Affiliate
Many conferences or events have affiliate programs. It can be as simple as a discount code that if someone uses you code, you’ll make money to a more formal setup. Eventbrite makes it easy to set up affiliates because it’s easy to create a signup code and then track when someone uses that code to sign up. Then the conference organizer will pay you a percentage of the total sales.

Earn Money Promoting Free Products
You can be an affiliate for free things like free ebooks, downloads, coupons ( has an affiliate program), free trials, etc. There are also affiliates who get paid when someone fills out a lead form, such as applying for a credit card.

Every publisher can create a page of their favorite resources and use affiliate links in the post (be sure to disclose that they are affiliate links though).

Example: the Lemons for Lulu blog has a post that shows the camera, web hosting, WordPress theme, books and other things she uses and loves. See

Create Helpful Posts and Use Affiliate Links
You could do a post about your favorite plugins and include affiliate links to any paid ones. Many affiliate programs will allow you to promote products directly on social media. We’ve seen fashion bloggers directly link to buy pages on Facebook, for example.

Here’s a post with an affiliate link:


Post about how to start a blog in your niche and link to the web hosting company where they buy a domain, link to the paid theme you recommend, etc.  This blog post from Pinch of Yum tells how to start a food blog and includes many affiliate links:

Another way to get started is to go see what your most popular posts are and see if there are ways you could use affiliate links in the post. For example, if you have a recipe that goes viral on Pinterest, you could monetize that post. You can create a box that lists all the ingredients or supplies needed and then link to stores that carry those products. You can link to either Walmart, Target or Amazon in most posts. If you’re higher end you might link to Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, or other retailer. Don’t just think about food, think about the tools, dishes or other parts of your post. If someone ever asks, where did you get that platter, that’s an opportunity for you.

The good news is, you will get paid on the entire order, so if someone buys anything because of your link, you make money.

To get started, look at the major affiliate networks:  

Commission Junction
This is one of the largest affiliate networks. Here is the sign-up page:


Amazon – (find the associates link in the footer to apply)
Amazon pays less than a lot of programs but it has a huge selection and user-friendly tools. The name of the game here is to sell quantity because the margins are small. Still, there is a lot of brand trust and many people, especially those with Amazon Prime, prefer to order from Amazon.

Share A Sale
This network has many small and mid-sized businesses, including niche products and brands you might not already know.

This program carries information products and ebooks. Since there is very little cost once the product is created, you can get very high commissions. Some offer to 75% commissions on products. Commissions are paid weekly, and direct deposit is available to its affiliates.

AvantLink –
This network has cutting edge tools and more advanced features such as data feeds.

We hope that this helps you understand how affiliate marketing works enough so that you can get started. Please let us know if we missed anything! To inspire you, here’s another post from Pinch of Yum that breaks down how much they make from different revenue streams, including affiliate marketing.

Do you have any questions about affiliate marketing?

2 Responses

  1. Great article for introducing affiliate schems to newbies. Unlike some blogs I have seen, you give reviews of some of the major affiliate companies and point out the pros and cons of each one.

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