1. What is Affiliate Marketing?
  2. Why Affiliate Marketing?
  3. How to Start Affiliate Marketing with Little Investment
  4. How to Know What Affiliate Program to Join
  5. What Becoming a Partner Can Really Mean
  6. What Most Affiliate Marketers Do
  7. What Advanced Affiliate Marketers Do
  8. Why You Need to Brand Yourself and what’s an easy way to get google reviews
  9. Affiliate Marketing with PPC
  10. Maximizing Your Marketing Campaigns
  11. Importance of Learning Copywriting
  12. Dominate Affiliate Marketing with Bonuses
  13. High-Ticket Affiliate Programs (Top-Tier)
  14. Affiliate Marketing vs. Creating Your Own Products

If you’ve been doing affiliate marketing for some time, or even if you’re a newbie read this ultimate guide to affiliate marketing all the way through. I’ve put months of research into this guide and want it to be an all-inclusive resource for all affiliate marketers.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a relationship between three individuals: the advertiser, publisher and consumer.

affiliate marketing, relationship between advertiser, publisher and consumer. source cj.com

Source: cj.com

The advertiser is usually the one who owns the product or service being sold. The publisher is the person actually promoting and bringing in sales for the advertiser. The consumer is the person who is completing the transaction of paying for the product or service.

Similar to referral marketing, affiliate marketing involves a third-party. Instead of the advertiser selling directly to the consumer, there’s a third party who’s the publisher. The way affiliate marketing is different from referral marketing is that it’s commission-based.

“In 2011 alone, Commission Junction tracked a total of over 3 billion website visits, 175 million transactions and over $6 billion in online sales.”

Basically affiliate marketing is this. Let’s say you create a product and, then you get affiliates to promote it. For each sale an affiliate sends you, they make a commission.

It’s a fairly easy marketing model. The advertiser is the one willing to pay someone (the publisher) to promote their product or service.

When something is rather easy to do, especially in our era, why not make software do it? Well whoever thinks like that about affiliate marketing is totally missing the point.

There’s just so much spam created on a daily basis around affiliate marketing. These are people using automated targeting software to generate thousands of posts on a daily basis to get a cut of the pie.

“According to eMarketer’s latest forecasts, worldwide business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce sales will increase by 20.1% this year [2015] to reach $1.672 trillion. By 2019, it will more than double to $3.551 trillion.”

I’m writing this guide to create a resource for people that want to start affiliate marketing the right way: building relationships. It will also serve more advanced marketers as a way to polish their skills and crush 2016.

Why Another Affiliate Marketing Guide?

Because a lot of the information I’ve found online is either too broad and does not provide actionable information. More importantly, it does not speak to the main reason one becomes an affiliate marketer: Your Why. I talk about this in the next section.

Most guides don’t show you how to do it right and profit from the beginning. I’ve found very little information online about this.

The majority of affiliate marketing training programs just paint pretty pictures and try to get you to imagine yourself on the beach with your laptop. They say it’s easy and anyone can do it. They also say it won’t take as much hard work and you just need to work smarter.

If this were all true, wouldn’t everyone be wildly successful with affiliate marketing? Of course they would but, the truth is they’re not. This is because successful affiliate marketing takes a lot of hard work.

This guide will have a focus on building relationships and how important this is for online marketing success in a general sense. I’m assuming that you’re the publisher looking to make money online with affiliate marketing.

cartoon illustration of advertiser and publisher shaking hands

Advertiser (left) and Publisher (right)

Why Affiliate Marketing?

Too many people want to start out with affiliate marketing because they see the success others have. Does seeing a doctor pull up in a Ferrari make you want to become a doctor? It’s fine if it inspires you but this should never be the reason to become a doctor.

You’d want to be a doctor so you can help people get and stay healthy. The Ferrari might come with the lifestyle but there are no guarantees, especially with the average annual income of a doctor in the United States being around $160-200K. If you factor in living expenses and an average family you should have a Ferrari (if you plan correctly) in about 10 years.

So you graduate high school, go to university and then medical school. By the time you become a doctor you’re very close to your thirties. Which means at 40 you should have a Ferrari if you plan financially. So you now have your Ferrari, now what?

Do you really want to be an affiliate marketer? Why?

The answer can’t be because you want to make a lot of money. Believe me, once you start out with affiliate marketing you’ll realize that it can take up to several years to see good money coming in.

Most people give up after just a few months with no results. Of course we need money to survive in this world so, you can’t do something full-time that pays you zero money.

Let’s say you recently graduated high school and are considering university but one day you come across a “make money online” opportunity with affiliate marketing. The only thing is you have to pay a few thousand dollars “only” to start. The truth is you don’t but I’ll talk more about that later.

So you decide to give-up on school and pursue your dreams of becoming an online success. This is a personal decision that a lot of people have made but very few have succeeded.

The truth is, it’s not easy to make money online and don’t believe it if someone tells you it is. If you’re willing to put in the hard work then you’ll succeed but it will take some time.

Overnight Success? How’s that Piano Class?

When learning how to play an instrument for example, can you really learn how to play the piano overnight? The answer is no. The same with anything that is closely related with success. It takes perseverance and consistent effort.

What I do recommend is that you keep a part-time job at least when starting out because you won’t make a full-time living right away. If you were planning on going to school like in the example above, then at least go part-time instead of not going at all.

Unless you’re going to totally live off of your parents for a while then I wouldn’t recommend going “all-in”. It’s not for everyone.

But, only when there are real consequences do people take real action. If you have to something to fallback on in your mind then you won’t put forth the effort needed to succeed online.

A Short Story About Creating Consequences

Create consequences for yourself. I learned this idea from Matt Lloyd, Founder of MOBE.

He gives the example of having trouble waking up early in the morning. A lot of people have trouble it with it, including himself. He says what consequences can he create to make sure he’ll wake up early?

One way for example, is he could make a bet with someone to meet up every morning at 7AM to go running. If he doesn’t show up or he’s late he has to pay that person $20. That might work but he says not for him. He knows he’ll need more then that because he’ll probably still sleep in.

So he goes on to say what if someone put a gun to his head every morning to wake him up, he would sure wake up. But, let’s not go that far or that extreme he says.

“How about if I install a sprinkler system in my room that goes off if I don’t get up and leave the room before 7AM. Would that work? Probably.”

So you get the idea. Sometimes we have to create these consequences for ourselves to make sure we get things done.

A way of doing this could be posting on social media that you’re going to do something like write your first book by next month or post a video everyday.

You would ask your following to hold you accountable. Every time they see that you’re not reaching your goal they would call you out. Believe me this works.

Tweet: We as human beings can be lazy and if we don’t create a situation where success is the only way out, we may never reach that goal.

So once you’ve figured out your why be sure it’s something you’re passionate about. Create or setup consequences for your self, enough to ensure a consistent path towards to success.

Now all you have to do start! “But, I don’t have any money”, you say? You can setup a blog for just a few dollars per year and get started today.

Further Resource: See a MOBE case study: Raena Lynn

advertiser, publisher and consumer relationship creates cashflow, ultimate guide for affiliate marketing success

Advertiser (left), Publisher (middle) and Consumer (right).

How to Start Affiliate Marketing with Little Investment

Get affordable WordPress hosting with a free domain and most importantly, tap into your self-awareness. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on your strengths. This is easier said then done. If you have no idea what these are then start by doing a few things of interest.

A blog is one of the best ways to start with affiliate marketing. When you publish a blog post, it lasts forever. Many of the top bloggers will tell you that they still make money from posts they published several years ago, with no extra effort.

Start in a smaller niche then expand out strategically. For example, instead of starting another architecture blog get more niched and start an ecological architecture blog. Then later you can expand and add in bigger topics. In this example, you can always write about architecture in a general sense as well.

Focusing on smaller niches will result in faster growth. This technique is a growth hack so you can build an audience quickly and become an authority.

The reason you’ll become an authority quick is because no one else is really writing in that niche. If you do your due diligence, research, gather data, interviews and write a lot quality content then you’ll be viewed as the (only) authority in that niche.

“The riches are in the niches.” – Pat Flynn

Instead of choosing a lot of niches and seeing which one works better choose only one to start.

Stick with this one until you’ve reached results that you’re satisfied with. Which might mean anywhere from six months to two years or even more. If you focus on too many different niches and make several websites none are going to succeed. Put your efforts into one and laser focus on that one.

When choosing your niche make sure you can provide value for at least several blog posts and pages. Also, research and see if there are people already interested in that niche. Those will most likely be the ones visiting your blog. The point here is to find a hungry audience.

Once you’ve done that is when you should really choose your domain name and create your content strategy.

According to Matt Cutts, the best way to get your content seen is simply to create great content:

What are your audience’s needs? How can you better serve them? What problems have you identified in this niche and what solutions can you provide? Either with your own products or with affiliate products. You want to analyze your audience and see what content/solutions they are already looking for.

Internet marketing is all about building relationships with your audience by providing as much value as possible.

Choosing A Niche

If you’re completely lost on choosing a niche it helps to do some research and look at the top sites. A good resource for this is Quantcast. There you can browse the top sites in the world that are getting the most visitors.


As you move down the list you’ll see that the topics get more and more niched. Choose a topic that interests you.

Then go to a site like Quora or Yahoo Answers and type in the topic. Sites like Quora are based on a crowd answer format. You ask a question and get answers from people that are already interested in that topic or are experts in it.

What you want to do is type in your topic or niche keyword in the search bar on Quora and Yahoo Answers.

For example, apartmenttherapy.com is #285 on the list. You would then search for something like “apartment” to see the top questions with the most answers. You ‘ll then find things people are already talking about and possible problems they’re having within that topic or niche. This will give you insight for blog posts and categories.


Once you’ve found a topic or niche that interests you and see that people are talking about it, the next step is to research monetization. Are you able to monetize this niche?

One of the most popular affiliate marketing platforms is ClickBank. The marketplace on there is a great resource to find the top selling products in the affiliate marketing world.

ClickBank is just one resource to see if there are products you can promote in your niche. You can also go to Commission Junction or Rakuten.

You can also repeat this same process using Google search to find offers websites in your niche are already promoting.

most used affiliate marketing networks, affiliate wire, shareasale, etc.

Source: Affstat 2015 Affiliate Marketing Benchmark Report.

How to Know What Affiliate Program to Join

If you’re focused on building relationships you’ll be successful with affiliate marketing. When thinking about what products to promote think about it like this: Would you refer your best friend or spouse to this product? If not, why?

You want to always buy the product first. That’s the first step to becoming a successful affiliate marketer is buying the products you’ll be promoting. Not only will you know if they’re quality but, you’ll be able to write and answer questions about them.

Therefore, you must align your choice of affiliate program or product to the place you’ll be promoting it. Treat those products like they’re your own.

Pat Flynn, founder of Smart Passive Income has created several successful affiliate marketing websites. With one of them his goal was not to make money with it but to create a resource for people that wanted to pass the LEED exam (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design). He was one of those people.

The Green Exam Academy provides links to study guides; practice exams and classes that will help people pass the LEED exam.

Pat Flynn studied architecture in university so it wasn’t a long shot for him to become an expert in this field. He knew that if he offered products that were already being sold like LEED exam study guides, he could make some money.

When searching for the right affiliate program it can be tempting to just look for the ones that are easiest to join like Amazon and Commission Junction. What you actually want to do is look for the products or programs that will best fit your website and then check if they have affiliate or partner programs.

A lot of companies don’t openly share this information on their site so you may have to email or call them to ask about it. Pat Flynn mentioned having to create affiliate programs himself within companies he saw were good fit for his websites. In fact, he did this with his Security Guard Training HQ site.

Other times companies will already be using software that offers an affiliate program but they just haven’t turned it on yet.

affiliate marketing graphic, graphs, mobile, email, etc.

Affiliate Marketing Economics

You want to think of choosing the right affiliate program like choosing the right business partner. On this note, when choosing a business partner economics is a very important factor. Just because an affiliate offer might pay a larger commission doesn’t mean the offer will convert well.

A higher-converting offer will usually bring you more sales but lower commissions.

  • 30% Conversion Rate with $10 commission
  • 3% Conversion Rate with $50 commission

For example, let’s say you get 100 clicks to your offer. If it converts at 30% and has a $10 pay out then you’ll make $300 but if it converts at 3% then you’ll make $150.

You’ll need twice as many clicks (it doesn’t always work out so easily though. You’ll most likely need a lot more clicks to get that 3% conversion rate.

So, don’t only go by the pay out amount of an offer or even the earnings per click (EPC). You also want to measure click-through rate (CTR), which means how many people are actually clicking through to the actual offer and/or getting to the purchase page. Here’s a short example:

earnings per click resource

Source: monetizepros.com

The most important thing when choosing an affiliate offer is relevancy. If your website is about lawnmowers then you don’t want be reviewing self-help books.

Focus on one thing to start, and then later you can always branch out by adding another section to your site. In my case, I talk about design and marketing a lot so, in the future I want to segment my site into these two sections.

Remember as I mentioned before, you want to be sure you can provide value for that particular niche. Even if you’re not an expert, you can always leverage other people’s expertise and quote them appropriately. You can also always become an expert. There is so much information and resources online about content creation.

“I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.” – Warren Buffett

What Becoming a Partner Can Really Mean

When you become an affiliate you’re basically becoming a partner. This means that you have to know your product and purchase it yourself. Therefore, you can say for yourself that it’s a good product.

You don’t want to be promoting a product that’s not good or that you have no idea about. When you promote an affiliate offer you’re endorsing it. If you promote something that you’ve purchased it will only help in the building of your brand and reputation online.

Make the effort of opting-in to an offer and moving through their sales funnel. Buy every upsell if you can, so you can see each and every detail in their sales process. Upsells are additional one-time-offers that come after you’ve clicked on the “buy now” button.

This not only teaches you the importance of sales funnels and follow-ups but it also allows you to preview the process your visitors will go through. Are you going to be receiving too many emails from this offer? What other offers will appear in your inbox?

By becoming a partner you’re ultimately building a relationship with the company. If you bring them a lot of sales they’re going to like you. This can lead to other opportunities. Like asking for a higher commission.

You can write a case study about specific campaigns and then ask them to share it on their site. Or you can request to guest post on their blog. Depending on the offer you’re promoting, doing these things can lead to a lot of traffic.

You want to think about affiliate marketing from the advertiser side. The advertiser being the product creator or owner is looking for affiliates to help in their marketing efforts.

If you were a product creator, would you just add any random affiliate to your team? Would that maximize your campaign efforts? Most likely no.

So what approach would you take instead? Find someone who knows exactly what they’re doing and has good results in the past marketing similar products. As the publisher (affiliate marketer) it’s important to build relationships with both the advertiser and the consumer.

Joint ventures are another good way to partner with a business. A good resource for this is JVZoo.com and JVnotifypro.com.

most affiliate marketers stay in their comfort zone

What Most Affiliate Marketers Do

Most affiliate marketers just join any program they see fit and copy and paste their links everywhere. You see it all over social media and used to see it a lot on pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements. Google and Facebook have blocked a lot of these people throughout the years causing them to take a more strategic approach.

What usually happens is they create an ad that sends people straight to a sales page or capture page created by the company they’re promoting. These pages are more than likely being used and abused by hundreds, maybe thousands of other affiliates online.

  • Traffic => Vendor Offer

While these pages may have good design and great copy, more than likely they’ll need a lot of traffic to convert into sales.

These new affiliates focus on selling, selling, selling instead of the #1 rule for content creation online: provide epic value. I’ll talk more about this later.

Another approach most affiliate marketers take is placing affiliate banners on their websites. Think about why this is so common. How easy is it for you to place a banner on your site? It takes less than a few seconds to copy and paste banner code to your WordPress site.

How many people use banners on their site and for how long have banners existed? How long have billboards existed? When driving, do you even look at the billboards anymore? Or are you looking down at your phone instead? What is banner blindness?

banner blindness definition & wireframe

Banners are also sending your precious traffic to another website. I’ll talk more about how today’s top marketers are approaching this problem in the next section.

So, if all you’re doing is sending your hard earned traffic and leads to someone else’s sales funnel then you’re doing it wrong.

How do you convert traffic into leads (list of prospects)? By having a way to follow-up with them to build a relationship. The first step in this process is getting emails from your visitors, hence the reason why you need a build your own landing page or capture page.

Source: emailanswers.com

According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing has a return on investment of 4,300%. So what you want to be doing is building your email list.

The money is in the list.

Capturing an email before sending traffic to your affiliate offer is a more advanced approach. You could even use an email list verifier to aid your email marketing.

super affiliate cartoon-business-email capture-affiliate marketing

Super Affiliate

What Advanced Affiliate Marketers Do

According to one of the world’s top bloggers, Ray Higdon, the following tip is a $5,000 training all on it’s own. If this is all you get out of this guide then it’s worth $5K for you.

Instead of sending paid or organic traffic straight to an affiliate offer’s sales page you capture emails first.

Why is this so important? First of all, it’s part of building your brand and your email list. You can then follow-up with people with an autoresponder series. An autoresponder series is simply a series of 7-10 emails that go out automatically to your subscribers once they sign up.

  • Traffic => Capture Page => Autoresponder => Build Relationship => Present Offer

This series of emails allows you to build a relationship with your subscribers by offering them something of value like an email course, for instance. The number one answer to “how do I get people to take an action on my website” is: provide epic value. There’s some strategy involved though.

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” – Albert Einstein

Offer a free eBook or guide in exchange for an email. Offer a free course, video, audio or webinar, which is even more advanced.

This type of offer is usually called a lead magnet. Don’t just offer anything for free though. You want to be sure what you’re offering is solving a specific problem for your visitors. As mentioned before, doing research first helps.

Before creating a lead magnet look at what other sites in your niche are already giving away. Look for common problems those sites are solving with their content. See what kinds of posts in your niche are getting a lot of engagement on forums and question/answer sites. Then create something that’s better using the skyscraper technique, created by Brian Dean.

Another idea for a lead magnet is a content upgrade. Meaning at the end of a blog post you offer a PDF or guide that helps people implement what they’ve just learned in your post. One of the most popular blogs that does is CopyBlogger.

copyblogger content upgrades

While you’re writing your lead magnet it’s a good idea to get some feedback from your network. Place a pop-up on your site with a survey letting visitors know what you’re working on and you’d love their feedback. Do the same on your social media networks.

By providing solutions to your visitors’ problems you’ll start building your traffic and authority online. It’ll even increase your SEO. This is not a guide about SEO (search engine optimization) but giving some of your best content for free has a lot of benefits. I’ll explain why.

Social media sharing and backlinks are crucial for SEO. Think about what kind of content people share or link to the most? Content they think will be valuable to their network. So people will naturally link to your content, which will make your site appear higher in the search engines.

That’s one of the reasons why millionaire entrepreneur and investor Neil Patel spends $30,000 to create content and gives it away for free.

“It’s a marketing experiment, right?” he says. “I like learning and the quickest way I learn is by spending money.” – Neil Patel

Invest in yourself. Invest in your content. If you don’t have too much of a budget for content creation then invest your time.

Choose the method of content you’ll be focusing on. Will it be mostly blog posts and a few social media channels? Or will it be mainly videos (vlogs) or a podcast?

Pat Flynn has a great podcast I recommend looking at: The Smart Passive Income podcast, especially if you’re thinking about starting your own. It’s also recommended that you invest in services to assist with promoting your podcast due to podcasting being a competitive market as more and more are being produced.

A great example for a Vlog, which recently launched this month, is the Daily Vee by Gary Vaynerchuk, founder of Vayner Media.

Although he’s not an affiliate marketer he is an investor and mentions a few of his investments on his Ask Gary Vee Show, which already has 170+ episodes.

The idea here is: you want to create content around the business you’re promoting as an affiliate or partner. This builds trust and informs people about that particular business. Make sure your content provides the actual solution to a problem like a one-click software (with your affiliate link of course).

People will then have plenty of reason to come to your website and get to know you and your brand. If you brand yourself as someone who gives a lot of value without expecting anything in return, you’ll naturally become the go-to expert.

The number one thing most successful people remember are the people that helped them when they were just starting out. You can be that person.

Problem: Banner Blindness. Opportunity: Custom Banners

Two ways to beat banner blindness are content marketing and retargeting. These techniques require far more than just placing a banner on your site.

The reason Google Adsense works is because it leverages both of these things. In essence, Adsense is a black box that serves banner ads according to the content on the page and the person visiting the site.

For example, if you visited an acupuncture website looking at what they offer, you’ll probably see their ad again somewhere else online. That’s retargeting. I’ll talk more about retargeting in a bit.

More and more blogs are also using banner space to promote their own products. Like Neil Patel and Jeff Bullas, who are top marketers, they’re not even using Adsense or selling advertising space.

They do a lot of blogging so content is extremely important for them. They also create a lot of informative, high quality and long form content. You can easily spend more than 10 minutes reading one of their posts. Meanwhile, there’s a banner in the sidebar with one of their products/services.

neil patel website banner

Not only does this create brand awareness but it also reminds the reader how they can compensate the blog owner. Remember people naturally want to give something in exchange for value.

By promoting your own products/services in your sidebar you’ll be keeping traffic on your domain.

Affiliate programs usually provide you with banners and other marketing resources. You want to stand out from the crowd though and show your dedication to promoting your partners. So, after you’ve partnered with a particular business and achieved some results you can design a custom banner.

Jeff Bullas has done exactly that with Blue Host and the LinkedIn Success Summit. By putting your photo or illustration on a banner like this you’re endorsing the affiliate offer and creating trust in your visitors.

jeffbullas blog sidebar2

John Chow, a top affiliate marketer has been able to get custom landing pages designed by some of his partners. Such as Host Gator.

He’s partnered with them to send those who want to start a blog to purchase hosting plans. This landing page is on the Host Gator domain. They’ve created a custom landing page for John Chow because of the amount of sales he sends them.

john chow - hostgator

These custom approaches are a lot like native advertising, where the ad becomes natural for the visitor. Like Facebook’s News Feed Ads.

native advertising

An advanced advertising method to use with banners is retargeting, which has been getting a lot of attention lately. Most of the world’s top marketers are using this method.

All retargeting does is place a pixel (piece of information) in each visitor’s history that says they’ve visited a specific page. This page can be your website home page, a landing page for an affiliate offer that you’ve created or it can be a thank you page after they’ve subscribed to your email list.

Everyone with that particular pixel will then be automatically added to a retargeting list. You can then serve follow-up ads to that list.

For example, let’s say they were thinking of purchasing a product but they abandoned the check out page. You can then retarget them on Facebook for instance, with an ad that might say, “Forgot to Check-Out?” This kind of targeting with banner ads is far more effective.

According to Quicksprout.com, “Banner advertisements perform better when shown to audiences who’ve already expressed interest in buying your product.” A retargeting campaign can look something like this, first you find yourself looking around the Nordstrom site:

quicksprout-online marketing

Source: Quicksprout.com

As you can see in many of the above examples, several advertising methods are being used to increase brand awareness.

For instance, the colors used in the banners are the ones also in their logos etc. All part of their brand. Retargeting is extremely effective for establishing your brand because it gives the perception of a larger company.

Further Resource: How to setup a retargeting campaign in Facebook:

Why You Need to Brand Yourself

There are more businesses doing online marketing then ever before. There are also more and more affiliate marketers every day. How can you stand out from the crowd? By branding yourself. Just look at how much data is created online by the time you finish reading this paragraph:

60 seconds online graphic

Source: clt.vtc.edu.hk

Most of these things are noise. Establishing your brand is the first step to cutting through the noise. It’s also a crucial aspect to building trust.

Think about Facebook only. When you post a status update, do you know how long it stays in the “News Feed” for? A very short time and it depends on a lot of different factors, all controlled by the Facebook algorithm.

News Feed has gotten smarter and only shows posts to people that will actually interact with them. Meaning if you’ve interacted with that person in messaging, they’ve “liked” a similar post in the past or commented on it etc. How is this smart?

Well, why do you buy from one business over another? Why do you even share or comment on someone’s post? Would you share someone’s post you knew nothing about? Would you buy something from someone you knew nothing about? At least I wouldn’t.

Facebook’s algorithm knows how people build relationships. People share your stuff when they like and trust you.

A short example. If a door-to-door sales person led with: “Here’s why this product is good”, versus, “Here’s how this product has helped my kids and can help yours too.” A huge difference there. You get to know something straight off the back from the second phrase. If you have kids you will empathize with the sales person.

Building a brand is the equivalent of building relationships. – Pat Flynn

Branding is not only the colors you choose or graphic designer you employ it is everything that makes your business stand out from the rest.

For example, if you run a restaurant business that has dirty bathrooms. Even if your food is amazing, customers will know your place as the one with the dirty bathrooms.

So branding is not just a logo or your social media cover photo. It’s everything that people can use to identify with your business. According to Melissa Simkins, president of brand consultancy Velvet Suite, “Branding is everything”,

Branding truly is creating a mark of value that says, ‘I have to have this.’

As mentioned in the previous section, bringing as much value as possible free of charge to your audience will shape your brand. It’s a way to stand out from the noise of marketing.

Do you watch the CNBC show The Profit? If yes, then you’ve seen what it takes to take a brick and mortar business to the next level. It’s the same for an online business.

A huge part of the transformation small businesses go through is refining their brand. Some businesses get a full renovation of their store for a fresh start and the brand now stands out.

Some of the outstanding characteristics of these brands are that they:

  • Have a clean and professional look
  • Are selling a high-quality product
  • Have people that are not only happy to work there but are also happy to serve customers
  • Pay close attention to what customers want

Your brand is ultimately the experience that you provide for your customers. If you focus on giving people the experience they want, then you’ll know exactly what products to promote or create.

Tweet: Your brand is ultimately the experience you provide for your customers. @onelfri http://ctt.ec/XfWbU+ Your brand is ultimately the experience you provide for your customers.

Don’t Rely On A Single Income Source

Another important reason to brand yourself is, what if one of the affiliate programs you promote shuts down one day? And, worse what if that was your only source of income? Ouch! Then you’ve got to start all over again.

That’s why you have to brand yourself so the partners you promote are not identifying your brand. By branding yourself you’re building your own business and not someone else’s.

People buy from people. By creating a personal brand for your affiliate marketing business you’ll be building for the long term. People will know you as a brand that gives value and refers great products that solves their problems.

You don’t want to refer too many different products though. Once you’ve got a few products that will be your main offerings, the way to scale is by going for higher commissions. You can do this by negotiating with partners or finding new partners/products that offer higher commissions.

I talk more about this in the high-ticket section.

cartoon-business people-magnifying glass-search marketing

Affiliate Marketing with PPC

Up until now everything I’ve mentioned in this guide applies to affiliate marketing using a website or capture page. You can also apply all of this when doing any kind of PPC (pay-per-click) strategy.

I have already written a post on how to get started with PPC.

The number one thing about paid traffic is that it’s much faster then organic traffic. What I recommend is doing a bit of both, either way they require investment: time or money.

Further Resource: WordStream PPC University

Search traffic is extremely competitive and has gotten a lot more difficult in the past few years. Places like Google AdWords are not honoring affiliate websites as they used to even if the site is considered authoritative.

Here’s an ad I found on Google AdWords for the keyword: “make money online”:

make money online search

The ad then leads to this article:

make money online landing page

The article leads you to click on a link that’s a capture page:

cpa lead capture page

Those are the series of pages a visitor clicks through.

What’s been working for PPC today in the affiliate marketing space are blog posts, giveaways and live events. Meaning the landing page you send traffic to is:

  • A blog post with your affiliate link, which then captures their email.
  • Giving away a book in exchange for an email.
  • Getting people to register for an event/webinar.

According to Vince Reed, founder of My Internet Traffic System the first step for search traffic success is knowing customer demand:

  • Are people searching my keywords?
  • Are my keywords buying or shopping keywords?

Buyer keywords are words people type in when they’re looking to purchase something. Some examples are: best selling books 2015, buy food online, best price for camera, coupon code for web hosting, etc. The list can really go on and on.

Further Resource: 220 Buyer Keywords

Another effective approach is using brand names as keywords and even your competition’s brand names.

Use tools like Similar Web and Spyfu where you can see the actual keywords specific sites are using in their campaigns and even the exact ad they’re using.

Here’s what Similar Web has to offer for the above AdWords example:

similar web keywords sfdaily

There are several tools available online that can generate tens of thousands of keywords in a few seconds. I talk a bit more about them in my post on PPC Marketing.

“To operate on the massive scales necessary to make a living as an affiliate marketer, you need to practice ongoing, iterative keyword research.” – WordStream

After you’ve done some in-depth research for buyer keywords it’s very important you know your numbers. What’s your click-through-rate (CTR)? Conversion rate? Cost per lead? Cost per acquisition?

Depending on the type of conversion you’re tracking, let’s say you’re capturing emails. To figure out your conversion rate you would divide the number of emails collected by number of visitors to your page.

Emails/Visitors = Conversion Rate

Knowing these numbers will help you achieve your goals. If you’re set out to make $5,000 then you need to know how to get there. How many leads does it take for you to make a sale? Know this and you’ll know how many leads and even how many clicks you need to get to $5K.

Let’s say figure out you need 25,000 clicks to make $5,000. How much does it cost to get 25,000 clicks? Once you find out how many clicks you need to make a sale, that’s your customer acquisition cost.

You’ll then know how much you can afford to pay to acquire a customer. In other words, you’ll know how much you can invest into paid advertising. If you make $500 per sale, how much would you be willing to pay to acquire that customer?

If you’re selling an informational product, let’s say a series of training videos and, your profit is 100% then you can afford up to $500 to acquire that customer. You should be able to do this because the lifetime value of that customer will be greater then $500 if they purchase other products in the future.

To really know your numbers you have to track and test. I talk more about this in the next section.

A lot of people start their affiliate marketing business with PPC, here’s a video for those just getting started and are thinking of quitting:

One of the dangers about PPC marketing is that anyone can copy exactly what you’re doing with your ads so you’ve got to stay ahead by testing and optimizing.

Further Resource:

ppc mistakes infographic - digital marketing

Maximizing Your Marketing Campaigns

Testing and tracking are crucial to maximizing your marketing efforts. It’s how you can track the source of each and every sale you make.

If you just use the same link everywhere you post then you’ll never know what’s bringing you results. By knowing what’s bringing in results then you can scale that result.

For instance, tracking can tell you a certain headline is bringing you better results and you can learn from that. Or if a specific page is bringing you more sales then you can scale it by running ads to that page.

You can always test different versions of ads, landing pages, headlines and almost anything. A business that is constantly growing is always testing and iterating, meaning applying what you’ve learned each time.

Iteration is a term used in software development where updates are rolled out as feedback and tests are ran. A new iteration in this case is a new version of the software.

Split testing or A/B testing is when you split your traffic to test two different versions of a page:

The one that yields higher conversions is the winner. A/B testing can really boost your conversions and is useful in several different applications. For example, if you’re having a difficult time choosing a book title, here’s some advice from prolific author Tim Ferriss,

“If bloggers should spend 70% of their time on the post headline, writers should spend – not 70% of their writing time, of course – but at least a few weeks on the title and title testing, if needed. I set up Google Adwords campaigns to test the “headlines” (titles) and “ad text” (subtitles) that worked best in combination.”

When you test you should gather enough data, make a solid conclusion and then apply it to your next test. You can do the same with Adwords:

testing ad text AdWords

Always be testing. To know how and what to test see this further resource: A/B Testing Mastery.

Keeping track of your tests requires tracking links. For a more robust tracking service see ClickMagick.

Another benefit of using tracking links is that they look better then affiliate links. In the case where your affiliate link is 100-200 characters in length you can always shorten it with a tracking link. Let’s say you’re doing some video marketing and need to share your link on the screen, which will look better?




If you have a WordPress blog then Pretty Link is a good, free option but has limited tracking functions. The benefit is you can use as many links as you need.

My Pretty Link Stats

A lot of people also use goo.gl and tinyurl.com to shorten their links as well.

Further resource: Importance of Sales Funnels in Your Business

Another way to maximize your marketing campaigns is to make sure that the links you’re using will get you a commission no matter the country your visitors are in.

For example, with Amazon your links (you may not know this) only work according to the country you’re in. If you live in the United States and someone from Russia purchases through your link, you don’t make a commission. Unless, you use a resource like prourls:

prourls amazon links

Always make sure the link you’re using will get you a commission no matter the country your audience is in.

Google Analytics is another great resource that’s free, where you can track conversions and increase your traffic. This can only be done if used correctly.

Further Resource: 6 Advanced Google Analytics Tricks That All Site Owners Should Know

Importance of Learning Copywriting

Copywriting is effective communication. If you can learn to write good copy then people will consume your content and purchase your products.

When I first started blogging, I asked myself “how do I get people to read my content?” I already knew I had to create the content and promote it too. Creating the content was the first step so, I wondered how do I create content that people would read? The answer is copywriting.

It’s a skill that takes a very long time to learn and I’m learning every single day. I’ve taken a few great copywriting courses by award winning copywriters such as Ray Edwards and Dan Kennedy. I also got to see the legendary Joe Sugarman speak at a mastermind for about three hours.

Joe Sugarman shared his secret to writing great copy: “Every element of copy has just one purpose – to get the first sentence read.” The purpose of the headline is to get the first sentence read. The purpose of the first sentence is to get the second sentence read. And so on.

“Your readers should be so compelled to read your copy that they cannot stop reading until they read all of it as if sliding down a slippery slide.”

So the first step to being a good copywriter is to write great headlines. A good way to start if you’re new to copywriting is to look at the templates, the tried and tested formulas.

Further Resource: 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work

Don’t overthink it with the headline. Just start writing and do it fast. Write as much as you can as fast as you can. Don’t worry about it being perfect. You should dedicate at least 20 minutes to your headline.

Once you’ve got your headline then write your introduction out, without stopping, you can always go back and edit it later. The best copywriters will tell you that the secret to writing good copy is rewriting it to make it better.

A reason you should write without stopping is because you want your readers to read without stopping. You want to a “slippery-slide” all the way to the sale.

In your intro you must build expectation. Include something that will make the reader read all the way to the end. Here’s an example of an intro paragraph from an ad that sold 20 million pairs of sunglasses:

Who wouldn’t read to the end of an ad with an intro like that? Sometimes simpler is better. No one will ever complain about your writing being too simple.

An interesting story I read in one of Dan Kennedy’s books was about when he started teaching marketing to chiropractors. He took on the first job right away, without knowing a thing about the practice. So what did he do? Become an expert.

In his words, “I became a serious student of the chiropractic profession. I subscribed to the profession’s journals, I got and read books, I visited offices, I went to seminars, I asked questions of doctors. In a few months, I knew enough and sounded so much like a chiropractor, that we had to continually correct doctors who called me ‘Dr. Kennedy’ and convinced themselves I was one of them.”

To write good copy about a product you need to become an expert on that product. Being knowledgable on a product makes you the authority and people will buy from you.

Advice from Joe Sugarman is, “technical explanation builds confidence.” Presenting technical details put’s people at ease and gives them assurance that you’re an expert.

Further Resource: The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joe Sugarman

One of the highest expenses of successful Internet marketers is getting a good copywriter. If you can learn this highly-paid skill then you can outsource a lot of other things. A good copywriter can cost you tens of thousands plus royalties from your business. Grab Joe Sugarman’s book and start learning if you haven’t already.

Writing good ads is what’s ultimately going to get people to purchase. The product or service has to be good, there’s no doubt. But, if you have a great product with bad marketing copy then it’s not going to sell.

Sell a concept not a product. More advice from Joe Sugarman. His most successful ads focused on a concept around the product. Like a smoke detector being a “nose” instead of just a smoke detector. The headline for this ad was just: “The Nose.”

The reason selling a concept works because a concept speaks to emotions. A smoke detector is boring but a “Nose” that sits on your ceiling to sniff the air is pretty cool. Copy should be an outpour of emotion. Buying is an emotional experience.

Be transparent. Don’t use hype. Use data and real case studies to prove your claims. Don’t just say “Learn how I made a million dollars”, show it. People are smarter. It’s about to be 2016.

“Market like it’s the year we’re in.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

The consumer is tired of being tricked and lulled by emotion only to find out the offer is nothing like it seemed to be. That’s why we as marketers need to be transparent.

Show proof in creative ways. What are other people saying about your business? Leverage that instead of just saying “We only adhere to the best practices in our industry.”

To be transparent means to share your failures and shortcomings. Show how you’ve grown from those failures and adjusted accordingly.

Overall, don’t just be transparent with your copy, make transparency your business model. Make your business transparent. That’s the reason why businesses with tall and transparent glass storefronts seem a lot more inviting then others that don’t.

Further Resource: The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk!

Dominate Affiliate Marketing with Bonuses

Offering a bonus is good strategy to get people to buy from your affiliate link. It’s also a more advanced approach.

If you’re promoting a $300 course and are offering a bonus worth $900, you’re adding extra value to the offer. Making it a no-brainer for people to purchase.

People love getting something for free. I’ve often bought products just to get something for free.

“When you’re giving bonuses, you sell the product, and you give away the bonuses for free. You DO NOT sell the product and bonuses as a packaged price.” – Derek Halpern from Social Triggers

People have been getting smarter and know that you’ll make a commission if they buy from your link. Since they’re giving you something, they expect you to give something in return. A good question to ask yourself as an affiliate marketer is: What can I do to give more value to my visitors?

Further Resource: The Ultimate Guide to Adding Bonuses to Your Products (That Help You Convert More Customers)

Bonus can vary from 1-on-1 coaching, video courses, audio training etc. You want to pair something that matches the affiliate offer and is not just an add-on product. For example, if you’re promoting a Facebook PPC course then you could have a weekly inner-circle webinar where you review PPC ads.

When there are people on the fence considering your product, a bonus can give them the nudge they need to purchase. In order to do this successfully the bonus must do one of the following:

  1. Address any objections that may be keeping your ideal customer from purchasing
  2. Be of practical use after they’ve purchased the product you’re promoting

In the above example where you’re selling a Facebook PPC course, the first bonus could be a swipe file of the winning campaigns you’ve ran in the past for proof. The second bonus could be how to use Facebook Pixels to track engagement in each step of your sales funnel.

If you’ve never created a bonus before, then it would be a great idea to invest in a product bonus creation course. This will set you aside from 99% of affiliate marketers.

If you haven’t created your own product just yet much less a bonus, another strategy is promoting someone else’s launch. In this case you would just be creating the bonus.

Although this is a good strategy when starting out, it is much more profitable to create your own products and bonuses. I talk more about this in the Affiliate Marketing vs. Creating Your Own Products section.

Promoting Other Launches

A great website for finding out about other product launches is jvnotifypro.com. Here you can find out about product launches in many different niches.


What you want to do is look for products in your niche and see when they’re launching. You can get on a list to be notified when these launches are about to happen.

It’s good to start out in advance, about four weeks before the launch. Because you want to give yourself some time to create the bonus. Also, because most products have a pre-launch stage.

  • Choose a product in your niche (4 weeks in advance, make note of shopping cart open dates etc.)
  • Start creating your own bonus (buy a domain “www.productbonus.com”)
  • Create an email marketing follow-up strategy:
    • Pre-launch (don’t mention bonus yet, give free content)
    • Shopping cart open (“It’s Live” + fast action bonuses)
    • Shopping cart close (use real scarcity)
    • Shopping cart re-open (optional)

Remember these launches can get really competitive especially when “super-affiliates” are involved. You can offer guarantees to out-bonus everyone else.

Follow the above steps for a successful launch campaign. For a more detailed breakdown with 7 modules of video see the Affiliate Bonus Domination course.

video marketing graphic-laptop-bullhorn

Stay Ahead with Video Marketing

I’m sure you already know YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world.

Video has been an emerging trend in the world of online marketing. In 2016 if you don’t have a video marketing strategy you are sure to suffer. I’ve been doing too little video myself and am planning to increase my efforts in the coming months.

The reason why video marketing is so effective is because people like entertainment and storytelling. Creating something like a video case study speaks about a product way more than a blog post can.

Here’s an idea. You can document the use of a specific software through videos and screen recordings, showing the results you’ve obtained from it. Taking this further, you can even compare it to similar softwares. This will be a video case study that provides a lot much more value then any article can.

Bonuses can be product how-to or walkthrough videos. It’s an effective way of providing extra value for your visitors. So, instead of just mentioning that you use Aweber for email marketing, offer a bonus video walkthrough of how to setup your first email campaign.

Then share one or two videos as a teaser on your YouTube or Facebook accounts, giving a taste of what your bonus is like.

Another great strategy I’ve seen before is giving beginner level videos for free and then advanced video content for a one-time fee. You can create an advanced video course as a bonus if people buy from your link.

Here are some more ideas for videos within an affiliate marketing strategy:

  • Product reviews (i.e. books, music albums, apps, software etc.)
  • Behind the scenes product access and un-boxings
  • Testimonials
  • Success stories
  • Product comparison
  • Videos of people using the product being promoted
  • Record 1-on-1 coaching sessions
  • Lifestyle (“A day in the life…”)
  • Product owner interviews
  • Top earner interviews
  • Customer interviews
  • Affiliate check openings (commissions review)
  • Live daily questions
  • Webinar Replays/Hangouts
  • Live marketing event recaps/reviews
  • FAQs and tutorials

“Video users enjoy 41% more web traffic from search than non-users.” – Aberdeen Report

Videos can be used in several different ways and should be integrated at different points of your sales funnel. In fact, the same way you create content targeting prospects at different stages of the buying process, is how you should do video too.

Meaning you create a video strategy that:

  • Increases brand awareness
  • Generates leads
  • Converts leads to customers
  • Keeps customers coming back

These are four categories of videos that you can focus on to grow your customer base. Video content is proven to yield higher conversions so, it can turn visitors into customers a lot faster. Every affiliate marketer should be using video in 2016, especially when creating bonuses.

The Internet marketing space runs on bonuses, especially those created by the product owner. You usually won’t see bonuses on low price items. You do see a lot of bonuses when the price is higher. I’ll be talking about high-ticket items next.

how to make $$$ money while you sleep ZZZ

Make money while you sleep with high-ticket

High-Ticket Affiliate Programs (Top-Tier)

What’s the fast way to grow your business? The answer is very simple actually. And it’s not sell more products or get more customers. The answer is raise your prices.

With reason of course. Don’t just go raising your prices just because you want to make more money. What good is it to raise your prices if no one sees the need for your product/service? Or, no one is going to pay more for the value you’re providing?

By increasing the value of each customer you’re scaling your business. People will pay more if there’s more value, this has already been done for many, many years.

“Real businesses are created from repeat customers buying from you over and over again.” – John Chow

Before we get into the high-ticket affiliate model, let’s talk a bit about the traditional affiliate model.

Typical affiliate programs like Amazon for instance, usually pay a maximum of 8-10% commission. Depending on what items people buy through your affiliate link, it’ll take a lot of commissions for a nice monthly income.

That doesn’t mean it’s not possible to make a good income with such programs. A lot of top bloggers do it but, they also get a ton of traffic. They don’t just run a blog, they run a business with several employees and/or virtual assistants (VA’s) all around the world.

It takes Neil Patel 1-hour to write a 2,000 word blog post because someone else is doing the research for him and, another person is doing the editing after he writes it. He’s very knowledgeable on the topics he writes about and is always reading and learning too. It shows that it’s really not possible to reach top blogger level without a team.

Most people don’t have the time and resources to build a successful blogging business. So they start out on their own and have to do everything. Once they get some income going then they start outsourcing a few things here and there because it’s impossible to do it all on your own.

The difference between the traditional affiliate marketing model and the high-ticket affiliate marketing model is the commissions are bigger. Therefore, you don’t need to sell as much to make a good income. Would you rather make $1,000 off one sale or have to make hundreds of sales to get to $1,000?

From selling drones to law and medical programs, there are a lot of high-ticket affiliate programs out there. In fact there’s a whole website dedicated only to that:

Further Resource: www.highpayingaffiliateprograms.com

Again I recommend doing your market research first and aligning your choice of program with your passion. Meaning you can wake up each and every day and write great content because you actually want to and enjoy doing it.

If you’re going to be dedicating time to blogging then why not promote a high-ticket program? You’re already going to be putting the time into affiliate marketing, so you can add a high-ticket offer in the mix.

I do recommend learning how to be a good affiliate marketer first before getting into high-ticket, it’ll only help you succeed. Because if you can’t sell a $20-30 eBook then it’ll be very, very hard for you to sell a $2,000 product.

Learning how to sell anything at large scale will take time. More than likely it’ll take you the same amount of time to sell low-ticket items at scale then to sell a few high-ticket items.

Affiliate Marketing vs. Creating Your Own Products

Affiliate marketing is simple. You don’t have to go through all the work it requires to create your own products. You don’t have to get a programmer, designer, copywriter and so on, which all costs tens of thousands of dollars. Some will even charge royalties when helping in the creation of your product.

The highest return on investment (ROI) you can get is from selling your own products because you’re not the affiliate here. You create a book, course or software and you pay off the programmers, designers etc. but, you’re the one who’s going to be making the most money in the long run.

I have created a few eBooks myself and although it takes time it’s all worth it. You get 100% of the profits. If your offer is converting well then you can put it on a marketplace like ClickBank to get other affiliates to promote it.

After you’ve gone through all the work of creating a product and bonuses it can be nice to have someone else do the promotion for you. I highly recommend you make your own products and promote other products too. Even if you don’t make your first product right away, you should at the very least plan to do it in the future.

startup cartoon

Just because you go through the trouble of research, testing and launching your first product doesn’t mean it will sell like hot cakes. Most of the best marketers will tell you that their first launches fell way short of their expectations.

It’s worth spending more time on the planning and research stages instead of rushing through to get to the launch. Because if your product doesn’t solve a problem it won’t sell.

Products Should Solve Problems

The business of product creation is the business of looking for problems. There are so many problems that exist today. Pick one and begin creating a solution. The more specific you can be the better.

Tweet: Practice problem finding. @onelfri #marketing #entrepreneur

If you’re in the Internet marketing space, don’t try to create a product that will solve huge marketing problems. Start with the small problems first.

“The less clear you are about who your product or service is for, the worse it will sell. If you say your product/service is for everyone, it’s really for no one.” – Grant Baldwin

Bryan Harris of VideoFruit.com says, doing real life testing is the best way to know the type of product to create. He gives the example of making a content upgrade. A content upgrade is a PDF download you put on a blog post in exchange for an email address.

Bryan goes on to say, “a content upgrade should help your audience implement the first step of what you just taught them. Add a content upgrade to all of your most visited pages as per Google Analytics. Then see which one gets downloaded the most. This is how you know what products to create.”

This way of surveying your audience is a brilliant way to get content ideas. Bryan does the same with his email list. That’s the same model he uses for ideas and product titles.

It’s common to see this kind of approach, Grant Baldwin (mentioned above) has summarized the product creation process in five steps:

  1. Solve a specific pain
  2. Get validation (real transactions)
  3. Set a deadline and stick to it
  4. Focus on version 1.0
  5. Test it

As you can see he’s also included being specific and getting real validation. These two things will save you a lot of money and time especially when creating your first product.

By making your planning and research as real as possible, where people are actually buying what you haven’t even made yet, you won’t be building something you think people want, you’ll be building something people actually want.

business-marketing-cartoon-implement user feedback

Don’t spend too much time in the initial stages of product creation. Make a deadline and do what it takes to reach it. Get focused. Get help. Outsource.

Once you’ve launched your product you can always make changes with future upgrades.

All of the top affiliate marketers also promote their own products. There’s a reason why. They’re making good supplemental income from it. So you why don’t you start today?

Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Marketing (Conclusion)

When I first started with affiliate marketing I was completely lost. I knew I had a lot to learn but didn’t know where to start. So I bought a few programs and courses and actually completed the majority of them. Although I took action on most of what I had learned, very little of what I did got me real results.

I did gain something from all of those courses and applied it as I moved forwards. It was with hard work, dedication and faith that that got me to where I’m at today.

The reason I created this Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Marketing is to have a place where all affiliate marketers, new and experienced can come and learn how to do affiliate marketing the right way and/or brush up on their skills.

The recurring theme of this guide is building relationships. Whether it’s choosing a partner, building a sales funnel or creating your first product, cultivating healthy relationships is crucial to your success.

In fact there was a 70 year study done by Harvard that proved the common ingredient for a happier life was healthy relationships. Why not apply this to the way you do your business and marketing?

The future of marketing is heading in this direction, where solid relationships have become crucial to success. In this guide I addressed the importance of using advanced affiliate marketing approaches and how to build trust with your brand. I also talked about why you should be creating your own products.

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