Disclaimer: In no way is this thread complete. I haven't even proof read it yet. I just wanted to get some basics up fast for the guys who requested it. Please know that I am not claiming to be an expert affiliate marketer, I just happen to know quite a bit about the industry.

A few members have asked me some questions about getting started in Affiliate Marketing. This is a really broad and general question. Affiliate marketing encompasses a lot of things and a lot of strategies. Affiliate marketing can mean anything from spamming CPALead content locking pages to building to setting up a strong brand and dominating a certain niche to curating a weekly email list to buying PPC traffic from Bing. Its big, its broad, and there are an infinite number of ways to succeed and fail.

The Basics

There are advertisers, publishers, and consumers. Advertisers have a product or service and they want help selling it. Advertisers are ready to pay affiliates to help them sell their product. (Note: sometimes 'product' just means information about a consumer -- a lead). Publishers are individuals or companies that promotes an advertiser’s product or service in exchange for earning a commission. The consumer is the poor bloke who the publisher is after. Through some method and medium the consumer is taken from the publisher’s website to the advertiser’s to complete the action. The action may be a sale, or an opt-in form, etc. When the consumer completes this, the publisher gets a conversion... and gets paid.


Affiliate Networks

There are affiliate networks for loads of different things. Many companies have their own dedicated affiliate network for their product or service. But there are also sites that are purely dedicated to affiliate marketers.

CPA networks, like Peerfly, focus on cost per action offers which are often just information leads. Email and zip submits can earn you up to $2 each! Do you think you can get 100 people to submit their email for the new Playstation 4? Well, if you can (without incentivizing the offer), you'll earn over $100. There are a zillion CPA networks, just do some research.

Incent CPA Networks - If you've ever done an offer on a GPT site, this is how you can get to the source of the offer you got paid for. CPALead is a website that I still get checks from that I set up years ago. These networks encourage you to give people some incentive for completing an offer. On the downside, you'll get paid a lot less for an incent offer vs a non-incent offer. Peerfly might give you $1.60 for a Pokemon Go offer that is non-incent while an incent offer for Pokemon Go might only pay out $0.60.

CJ.com - Commission Junction -- is one of the oldest affiliate networks. As the name suggests, you'll earn commissions -- so this network is based upon sales.

Amazon -- Make sure to read up on the TOS, but Amazon as an affiliate program where you'll make commissions. You'll get a tracking cookie when someone clicks your link, and you'll get commissions for their cart at checkout.

The list goes on...

How to make money in affiliate marketing

Its a broad term and I want to identify some of the biggest subsections within AM.

Traffic Arbitrage

The first subsection of AM is traffic arbitrage. This used to be extremely popular when AdWords was just starting out, and other PPC companies were just getting started. Traffic arbitrage is buying traffic from somewhere and sending it to your affiliate offer. Now, don't go thinking this is all about PPC. You can buy ad space on zillions of websites. You can approach websites that use AdWords and offer to buy that adspace for a little more $. The point to get across here, is that you're paying for visits and hoping to make more money than you're paying for the traffic.

There is a LOT of optimization required here. Its best if you know how to do some graphic design so that you can make your own creatives. This is hugely popular in the dating CPA. Buy adspace on Plenty of Fish and send those horny suckers right onto another sign-up for a dating site.

You can also buy pop-ups. Take a glance at TrafficVance or 50onRed.

Monetizing Websites

Other people get into affiliate marketing because they've got a popular website and they want to make some money from it. Google AdWords isn't paying them jack squat and they want to do better. Making money with a website has unlimited possibilities. You can sneak in hyperlinks into your posts that lead to affiliate sites. You can make banners. You can send out links through your email list. Etc. Etc...

Spamming

Yeah, its unavoidable. You can get a content locking page over something people want (free Microsoft points) and spam that link everywhere and people will do the offer and you'll get paid. Its not as sustainable as either of the first two, but you can make some quick money.

YouTube comment spamming, Yahoo answers spamming, Twitter spamming, etc.

So, how do you 'get started?'

It all depends on what you want to get out of it. Do you want quick cash? Do you want to immediately start making a little bit of money online -- more than GPT sites, but not an 'income?' Or do you want to start building a brand in an affiliate niche and eventually build it into your own company.

I usually suggest going the 'monetizing websites' route. You can always send PPC traffic to your own site, or to a landing page for an offer. But I think that having a niche that you're passionate about helps. The alternative is just picking a good looking offer and starting to experiment with PPC. You'll have to get quite a few profitable campaigns up and running. If you love the game, then good for you! But, for starting out, I'd advise that you first get your hands dirty promoting your own website.

My advice would be to choose a niche. First things first you need some kind of direction. You need to pick something that you're passionate about AND that has money behind it. You need to love it, be good at it, and know that its going to pay. This can take a while, but make sure you do some research before you start out. Make sure you read about being a brand.

Start writing some good content and make sure your site looks good. Get a logo, get a somewhat unique design, make sure your load speed is fast, etc. Once you look established, check out the traffic threads. Its a really obvious 'duh,' but traffic is the key to making any money.

Traffic

If you look at our Building Online Assets category, you'll notice that the three most important categories are:
  • Traffic
  • Webmaster
  • Affiliate Marketing

Chat about anything website oriented or technical on the Webmaster forum, learn more about the industry in the affiliate marketing forum, and start making money by sending visitors to your site/offer through the Traffic section. I've got several threads going about Traffic to get you started.

I truly believe that automating certain channels of traffic is going to be one of the best ways to make money with bots.