How to Make Money With Affiliate Marketing? Reality vs Illusion

Wondering how to make money with affiliate marketing

With the technique which I am showing here in this blog post
It will help you connect the dots together
I know you may have tried before and it didn’t work for you

There are few affiliate links, if you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you

I am here to explain why it is not working and
How to make money with Affiliate Marketing

how to make money with affiliate marketing

Why you don’t generate any income at all or
For good assumption you generate an income
That is not worth the effort you put in

When you read and visit blogs, hear stories for bloggers
Making 4, 5 and sometimes 6 figure income per month
Just from Affiliate Marketing (Is there 7 figure income per month? I've never heard of but may be there is)

You think to yourself according to your skills and knowledge
Does making money with Affiliate Marketing something hard and not suitable for you

That's why I am going to show you
How to make money with Affiliate Marketing
As shown in the table of contents below

What Is Affiliate Marketing

Well according to the definition by Pat Flynn

Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission
By promoting other people’s or company’s products.
You find a product you like, promote it to others and
Earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make.

But I would like to define it differently
Based on its very basic core
Once you understand it this way
You can secure the first step towards how to make money with affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is the word of mouth
For the traditional marketing one

Perhaps you may have heard this term for the first time

Think about it and memorize it well
If it doesn't resonate with you
Remember Avon when it started their direct selling program
With your words of mouth you refer your
Friends and family members and you get rewarded
Not once but lifetime when they buy their products

On a daily basis we use the words of mouth
Without even noticing it we are doing that
You try a product or service
You go and tell everybody you know about it

That's why companies started to cut out
The cost of their large sales team and
Share the profit with people who love their products

Does this mean that
You have to try the product before you talk about it?
Wait I will answer this question below

How to Start Affiliate Marketing

Theoretically Affiliate Marketing for beginners
Dictate the following steps to help you start
It looks very easy as follows

You will soon figure out that it wasn't that easy
You sprinkle your blog posts with affiliate links but
Nobody is clicking on your affiliate links or
You have few clicks but no sales at all

Now bear with me please
I know you are very curious to know
Why affiliate marketing is not working for you
But at least I have to lay down a detailed steps as the right approach to work with affiliate marketing

1) Choosing your niche

Make sure you choose a niche that is specific but not too specific
Like Dogs accessories (specific) vs Dogs pink Collars (very specific)
Your niche should have a steady demand by checking your niche on Google trends

2) Choose your reliable web hosting

Your success with how to make money with affiliate marketing is directly related
To your overall blogging experience that is directly related to your web hosting
That's why I recommend you read
How to choose a reliable web hosting

3) Choose your domain name

If you plan to work in one niche with no intention
To add another niche later
It doesn't matter if you choose keyword(s)
Related to your niche in your domain name

But if not sure go for domain name
That is memorable and generic

4) Installing WordPress

You don't have to worry about this technical part
I recommend you read installing WordPress

5) Configuring WordPress theme and plugins

I don't want you to invest money into
Buying new theme and premium plugins
When you are just starting

My reason is that, it will take you a long time
Till you see a significant effect
Controlled only by your time and effort

I recommend you read more about
Configuring your WordPress theme and plugins

6) Designing your WordPress Blog

This is the place where you add banners on the side or on your footer section
Although banners are not related to specific blog post
I highly recommend to add relevant banners to your niche
You will get very low conversion if you add fashion banner on your dogs accessories blog

Please read more about designing your blog

7) Writing your blog content

Your mission is to solve problems
When people search for problems like
How to choose a dog collar

You have to be on search engine
You need to apply basic SEO
People who search for problems are most likely to buy from you

While people on social media are not in the mood to make a purchase
They just waste time and less likely to buy anything

Anyway your approach for providing a solution should be thorough

You cannot have all your blog posts cluttered with affiliate links hoping to make a sale

Take dog accessories as example, although I don’t have a dog but I like this example

You talk about choosing a collar for your dog
Then you list all features that makes a good collar
Like texture, being resizable, material (leather or plastic)

Now comes the part that makes you list a leather collar
You recommend it for wide neck like husky you say that it is not good for tiny neck like chihuahua

People who read your post starts to get a sense of
This guy is not trying to make a sale as
You are eliminating those who have chihuahua

Your job as a blogger is to provide a free solutions to your readers’ problems no matter what
Then provide expensive product and cheap alternative
If the cheap alternative is suitable for most people (your commission will be low)
Be bald and encourage your readers to go for it

Also if this product is not suitable for everyone
List an alternative that suits those who don’t own Huskies

I hope now you started to feel
Why some or all of your blog posts are not converting any sales for you

I will continue below of what make your blog posts fit into affiliate marketing

How to Find Affiliate Programs to Join

Usually companies which are using affiliate marketing
Tend to list their products through what is called Affiliate Network
The reason for that is very simple
Who wants to take the hassle of hiring developers to code affiliate program to track sales for each affiliate
Also handling the payments and support issues
Joining affiliate network can lift all the hard work for them

I will list below some of the best affiliate network for you to join like

Skim Links

There are exceptions to the rule
Some companies have their affiliate programs running within their websites

If it happens that you come across a great product or service
Take a look on its website for affiliate menu or link on footer that shows you how to become an affiliate
If still no luck, go and search on google for the company name + “affiliate program” as shown below

search for company name + affiliate program in google

How to Evaluate Any Affiliate Program

Well keep in mind that no matter what you read below in terms of commission percentages and payout terms ..etc
You’ve got to focus on audience satisfaction
If it happens that you get a visitor who had a bad experience about specific affiliate program and
He/She finds that your blog listing it as top recommended product or service
You will lose credibility on the spot

Anyway these are the factors to evaluate your affiliate programs based on


It stands for Earnings Per Clicks and in fact it reflects the earnings if we send the affiliate offer to 100 visitors

So if Product A has an EPC of $1.75
This means if you spend less than $1.75 on bringing 100 visitors to your affiliate offer through advertising, you are in profit

Commission percentage

Always digital products like eBook or online courses pay up to 50% or 60% commissions
This cannot happen in physical products

Payout terms

This should not be a factor but I see some products or services make it tough
They condition to pay out their affiliate members based on high threshold amount
It is normal to see payout on or above $100
A payout of $50 is very normal
I remember I found a payout of $500
Can you believe it, you have to accumulate $500 to get paid

Advertising Policies

I know lot of people they don’t read any policies
Here it is not a joke
You can find out that you get banned
Because you sent affiliate link to your email list (what is wrong with that?)
Be very careful and make sure to read what you can and cannot do with your affiliate links
Some affiliate network in their sign up pages provide you with a clear picture of their big NOs and it applies for all their affiliate programs

Advertising Facilities

I really like affiliate programs that design banners and promotional materials to help you succeed

Although this factor cannot be decisive but it is nice to have

It starts when you get a visitor clicking on one of your affiliate links

Your visitor will be directed to the affiliate offer as known as landing page
Affiliate offer will send you a tiny cookie to your computer

This small cookie file indicates that this visitor has clicked on an affiliate link from this computer
Cookie usually has an expiry date like 24 hours some cookies have 30 days to expire
If this visitor made a purchase before this cookie get expired
You will get a commission

It is called sometimes link cloaking
Why you need to mask or hide your affiliate link
What happens is that there are affiliate malware being hidden in browsers
It tracks affiliate links and rewrite them replacing your affiliate ID with their own affiliate ID

Unfortunately you lose all commissions
That’s why you have to use affiliate cloaking
Also some affiliate networks have long affiliate URL
It is recommended to shorten them and be able to
Track your clicks on your affiliate links

To be able to do that If you are using WordPress
You have to install a plugin to mask your affiliate links
I use something called Thirsty Affiliate

How to track all affiliate data in one place

Right now you have Thirsty Affiliate or whatever WordPress plugins you're using

And it connected to so many affiliate network or as I called it earlier affiliate programs

To track all of your affiliate program, currently you have to log to each one and check your clicks and sales made against those clicks

I found recently a new WordPress plugin called WeCanTrack where you can track all of your affiliate data in one dashboard

I recommend you to use it to save time and be efficient

This is known as deep linking
Some companies have a wide range of products like Amazon
It is recommended to link to a specific product(s) highly relevant to your context
You will still get a commission if they buy any Irrelevant product p
So do a deep linking and increase your chance for getting a sale

Why a Disclosure and How to Write One

FTC (Federal Trade Commission) mandated that you should inform your visitors
That you collect commissions for any sales that happen through your affiliate links

To write a Disclosure

There are so many sites that generate free Affiliate Disclaimer
All they need from you is the link the leave at the end of their disclaimer pointing back to their website
I generated my disclaimer using

There are so many ways to write a blog post
That works well with affiliate links
Regular blog post also converts
Assuming you add relevant affiliate links to your context
But these blog posts are designed to convert better


I am very skeptical when it comes to writing reviews
Usually people became very cautious
Not to believe any review they read online

That’s why if I write a review
I will make sure that the product has 90 to 95 percent Pros
At the same time I list all the 5 percent cons
Doing it this way because I am sure the pros outweighs the cons

How To

I consider the How To one of the easy method to convert sales in Affiliate Marketing industry

Problem with How To
It requires lot of effort to write step by step tutorial
Some bloggers they go with creating a video or set of videos
For me nothing is better than creating videos and then writing How To blog post extracting headlines from your videos
While inserting these videos in your blog post itself

Resource Page

In my opinion, I cannot prove it
Resource page is the last page visitors go to before exiting any website

Visitors will be curious what tools you used
Especially if they fall in love with your blog
Make sure to add your affiliate links categorized by their functions

I have seen some bloggers add PDF guides on the resource page
These are good location to add your affiliate links within the context
Also you can send a PDF link in your autoresponder when they first sign up

How to apply Affiliate Marketing effectively?

All your blog posts should imply the following
Context – Authority – Trust (CAT) concept
I will refer to it as CAT below


It is when you stay very focused in
Your blog posts to only the products or services that are
highly relevant to what you are trying to solve for your audience

My friend is a dentist so money is not an issue for him
He and his wife they eat outside a lot
Trying all different kind of restaurants

If I need to take my wife to a nice restaurant
He will be the first person to ask him for the best place
I can even ask him for a restaurant that suits my budget or
Specific type of restaurant like Italian, Chinese or Vietnamese

If he replies back to me with buying cook from frozen Pizza
Do you think he was relevant to what I asked him for

Think about your audience mindset
When they search for a solution to their problems


It is how your audience see you
When my friend recommends a restaurant, I listen
Because he tried every restaurant in town

What makes your blog an authority site
From your readers' perspectives is the way
You took to handle your niche

If you decide to cover dogs' accessories only
You have a chance to have an authority blog
Better than if you go with Pets' accessories or
Adding other things related to dogs on top


It is something similar to Authority
But it complies with the way you handle
Your affiliate links to show your readers that
You really care about them and not about your sales

People can really feel it those days
Very few bloggers manage to write honest reviews
They pretend to be listing the real cons
After the pros section
You can really tell if they fake it and
Obviously if they really tried the product or not

Affiliate Marketing and Buyers Lifecycle

Think about the buyers Lifecycle as something

what is the reality of affiliate marketing

that goes together with the CAT technique this will help you understand how to make money with affiliate marketing

Buyers Lifecycle stages are
Unaware, Aware, Consider and Purchase

I will explain them below based on something
Happened with me recently last summer

I live in Canada so it is damn cold in Winter but you rarely see insects
In Summer, I noticed incredible amount of house flies
I remember I killed 60 flies in one day


This stage you are not aware of the problem
I was not sure what was wrong so I went to search for
Why are there so many house flies in my home


This stage I became aware of a duct problem
A high chance that a bird or rodent died inside my duct
This attracted the house fly and most probably laid its eggs there

Also I reviewed free methods to get rid of house flies
Like ripened fruits in almost closed plastic bags
That can easily let house flies in but not out


This stage I found many solutions but
I chose very simple one like the sticky sheets
That attract house flies due to its scents


This stage is when you decide what to buy
You have to look for the best deal

Keep in mind that in all stages
There are different keywords
The most competitive keywords are the one
That have “Buy” + ‘the keyword” itself

That's why if you are not able to rank for buying keywords
You can apply all the above stages in your blog post

Not everyone will take a quick decision
But at least few of them will do
Don't expect someone will buy a $1100 blender through your affiliate link
Unless you show that you are really covering all customers' concerns and answer all of their questions
You have to apply the four stages properly and use CAT to demonstrate
Why the $1100 blender is the best choice for a group of people

why affiliate marketing is so hard

The problem is that we assume that a specific product is good for everyone
While in fact specific product is only good for few buyers
Who completed their due diligence comparing it to other products
Again if you can have a comparison with other competitive products on your blog
Then you have a high chance that buyers finish the Consider stage and ready to buy

How to write the best affiliate product review post

What I am suggesting here does not guarantee every visitor to make a sale but at least it will establish credibility – trust and a high chance of increase in affiliate sales

So when you write a review, consider the below as a checklist to make sure you have everything below covered in your review post

  1. Headline/Title : obviously you have to add a high relevant title, some bloggers say prefix words like Honest review or the complete truth about, say whatever you want but keep in mind, readers won't trust your title till they go on through your review
  2. Summary : why you want readers to go through your entire review to come with a conclusion if this product/service is good for them, you have to do a summary of how you feel about this product/service – I know what you think, if the review is to get people to click on my affiliate link so all products/services summaries will say positive summaries, big no because you can have a negative summary about a product/service and list another product/service that you believe is a perfect fit, you see it can work both ways
  3. Introduction : you can list what challenges you faced before finding this product/service
  4. Authority : under this section, why you are the right person for all readers to listen to what you are saying, you can say I have been doing SEO for 5 years and I was not able to an easy course like the one you recommend to teach beginners how to do SEO like professionals – keep in mind at any point, you cannot fit a product/service to all audience at least some people will get discouraged to buy it
  5. Review : the real pros and cons and let the users decide if it is the right fit for them, don't be pushy and respect users' mentality
  6. Alternatives : list alternatives especially if the product is on the expensive
  7. Conclusion

Is making money from Affiliate Marketing a myth

Maybe the concept of how to make money with affiliate marketing used to work a decade ago and
Now it is completely impossible to make a profit out of it

Well Affiliate Marketing still works even more than before
With more of well known brands joining affiliate networks daily
There is more than enough room for everyone
So It is not dead and it will never be

Why is Affiliate Marketing so Hard

Making money with affiliate marketing is not hard
You just don’t stick with
Context – Authority – Trust (CAT)
If you promote a shady products or services
Due to its lucrative commission
You convince yourself that you will write an honest review
If you write a really honest review
Then nobody should buy it

A good product promotes itself
Any affiliate product with high sales volume
It doesn’t mean that it is a good product for you to promote

Remember there is a huge difference between lack of features and cons
If you buy a laptop with a very small hard drive
It can be good for someone who wants to Browse the internet and install few applications on it

What if this laptop heats up and has a high fan noise
This is what you have to report under the cons

It can be up to the buyer to decide
I would say an honest reviews for multiple items listed next to each other
Where you compare the pros and cons In a comparative way
Like Highest – Moderate – Lowest fan noise

This can lead to making few sales for the moderate and lowest fan noise
That’s because they were listed beside the worst one

I would like to write an equation below
Traffic + Best Customers’ Experience = Sales

If your Sales number still the same while you added double the contents and
Your traffic increased according to Google Analytics
Then this is a good indication that you are not following the CAT technique fully on your blog

Can You Really Make Money With Affiliate Marketing

Yes you can but keep in mind
When you start a new blog
You almost have no content
It will be very hard at this level
I would say the best traffic like Google organic search
With almost few contents on your blog will not convert to sales

That's why you have to be very patient
This industry requires patience as a talent

Is Affiliate Marketing Worth The Effort

Yes it is worth it, it is like a snow ball
Once you get the snow ball rolling
It is getting bigger while rolling and nobody can stop it
Usually people quit before they see any result
Why, because if you require let's say 100 epic blog posts
each take around 25 hours of work effort
Then you need 2500 hours equivalent to a year and one quarter

Assuming you work 4 hours on your blog daily
Then you will see significant result in two years and half
Since your mind will fight against your will
You always quit before your reach your goals

Is Affiliate Marketing Saturated Due to Competition on the Internet

I believe competition is way less than affiliate products demand
There is still room for everyone
I will prove to you there is nothing called affiliate marketing Saturation

Assume we have 20 products for specific niche using Affiliate promotion
These 20 products are distributed between
Physical and digital products like eBooks and eCourses

promoting affiliate products or services

If each blogger takes between 5 to 10 products out of 20 products to promote
Assuming they all promote on Google organic search only

I will take the lowest number from screenshot above and
I would say you have 15504 chance of comparing and
Reviewing different set of products together

Product assumption

Assuming we have only 20 products
Which is way less than reality and also assuming that no other
New product that comes to market (which is theoretically impossible)

A real life example happened to me
I was looking to buy a very strong vacuum
It happened that I heard about Dyson
I found only within Dyson around 20 different models

First I decided I will not compare other brands vs Dyson
It will be very distracting, I eliminated my search within Dyson
To filter between the price between $300 and $400
Plus the cordless feature can last around 30 minutes
That was enough for my needs

Imagine going through different models vs Dyson
Comparing different features beside being cordless and price
You end up in almost unlimited combinations of ideas
Who can cover all of that under one roof (Blog)

You just have to be persistent and choose the best affiliate products
Work on them from different angles to show your audience
Why these products can be the best fit for them to buy

How to Become a Successful Affiliate Marketer

This question by itself can be a separate long blog post
Since it is inside the context of other affiliate marketing questions
I will just write down rules as list items with little description
Where I discussed them earlier so I don't want to be redundant

Rule 1

Affiliate Marketing cannot live without Traffic
Nobody comes to your blog by chance
They must have shown an interest
That's why they followed your link to your blog
Successful bloggers strive to impress every visitor

Rule 2

Build your blog to get traffic to it
When you build your blog
Make sure you define your audience
When you keep your audience in mind
Every visitor should stick somehow to your blog

If you manage to pinpoint their problems and concerns
The other platform which I don’t see it as a replacement to your blog is to build a YouTube channel
If you manage to have a good presence on YouTube which requires a lot of effort
Why don’t you build a blog too

Rule 3

Start building your email list as soon as possible
I will not say from day one of launching your blog
At least I would say after you managed to add the first 5 blog posts
You capture some of your visitors
You can start to tag or segment them based on their specific behaviors
This will give you a competitive edge to laser target them with the right affiliate marketing product

Rule 4

All traffic are not created equal
You have to understand that part of your conversion process completely depends on your source of traffic
SEO is way superior than any other sources
People are actively half way ready looking to solve their problems
If it happens that you show up to them
You have a high chance for getting a conversion (if you do it right)

Rule 5

Use all other traffic sources to build your email list
SEO is the best source of traffic for conversion but
That doesn’t mean that all other traffic sources are useless
You cannot expect from Pinterest users to buy through your affiliate link on the first visit to your blog but at least
You have a high chance of getting lot of email subscribers

Rule 6

Don’t judge affiliate marketing programs based on their payout terms
Some affiliate network or affiliate programs by themselves pay every certain period of time or
Sometimes they pay you when you accumulate certain amount
Don’t take the payout terms as a way to filter out the good affiliate programs

I know everyone wants to get paid instantly
Some programs pay like $20 as a commission while their payout is $100
If you are just starting, it will take you long time to convert 5 sales to reach the $100
Think about how you are serving your audience by introducing them to the best of the best

It wouldn’t be a nice experience if you lose your audience forever because of an average affiliate product
You should spend a lot of effort on delivering the best content
Not only on your blog but also extending your blog to the affiliate offers

Rule 7

Keep good mix of different price range for affiliate products
When you first start your promotion
You don’t really know which offer converts the best
Sometimes the price can be a good factor
While some other times they are the landing page themselves
So a good mix of different prices can increase the chance of good conversion

Things to Avoid in Affiliate Marketing

Consider the below as some advice
If you follow them you still have to read and understand this blog post
They cannot guarantee your success in affiliate marketing but they will add up to the overall effort of your blog

Avoid being like a salesman

With content creation
Speak to your visitors as if
You speak to your friends and family
Don't try to be like a salesperson
You are in fact selling something
Make it like a recommendations

You found Product A very beneficial to you
You explain why without showing that
If they don't buy it, their life will be miserable
Watch out your tone of writing

Avoid irrelevant banner

Don't display a banner
Inside of your context
That is completely odd

It applies to anything
If you manage to display
Ads to earn some income
Don't over do it and don't
Clutter your blog with Ads
You are repelling your visitors

Avoid popups at all cost

Your readers should have a very nice reading experience
Imagine yourself in their position
While in the middle of reading
You get a popup that is hard to get rid of

Make your blog a mobile friendly

Most of the people browse from mobiles
If found that 86% of my visitors are coming from mobile devices
You have to use a mobile friendly theme for your blog

Affiliate Marketing Reality vs Illusion

Finally I will reach a stage
Where I believe it is my duty to lay down
Everything about making money with affiliate marketing
Between Reality and Illusion
I will always list the Illusion first

Illusion : Affiliate Marketing requires working few hours per day

Reality : Nobody is going to dictate to you how many hours you need to work per day or week
Making money with affiliate marketing in general requires a lot of work
A kind of work that requires you to sit in front of your laptop
Writing blog posts/articles CONSISTENTLY

It can be a tedious job to a lot of people
You have to love what you do
Remember my example above about
If Affiliate Marketing is worth the effort

Illusion : Once I am satisfied with my level of income
I can have it on Autopilot

Reality : If you don't work consistently on your blog
Your income will decrease back to zero
It will take long time to go back to zero
But it is inevitable as making money with affiliate marketing requires consistent hard work

Illusion : This Affiliate Marketing training or course will definitely secure my success

Reality : I am not against buying any Affiliate Marketing course or eBook
These materials give you lot of ideas
You may not be aware of
The challenge here is the actions from your side
Again it will take you long time to learn and practice everything yourself

Illusion : Steve, made $11,372 from Affiliate Marketing on his first month blogging

Reality : Steve is a fictional name, and so is the amount he made
It doesn't matter here
Do you know Steve in person
Maybe Steve has 10 years of making money with affiliate Marketing and blogging experience

Please don't believe the exaggeration
That you can start earning money on your first month
I am not trying to be negative
If it happens then it will be few dollars amount

Making money with affiliate marketing on your first month only happens when you have long experience
You really know what you are doing
You planned/created your content ahead of time

Even at this stage
your Income will come from different sources
Search engines will take some time to find your new blog

Illusion : You can make affiliate profits by advertising your affiliate offer

Reality : Very hard and takes a lot of learning and practice
In fact, to connect your affiliate offer to an AD on Facebook or Google Adwords
You have to expect to spend some money to optimize your AD till it starts making profits

When advertising your affiliate offer
Usually professional bloggers do this way
They connect visitors to their blog post
Where they add signup form with enticing report or guide
Then you keep emailing your list
This will increase your chance for making sales


Making money with affiliate Marketing is a very long journey that requires patience and perseverance
Usually most beginners who start blogging fail before see any significant success
Either you are on the right track for achieving affiliate marketing success but you need to wait a bit longer or

You are off track for so many reasons like writing little or no value content, writing about many niches and not focusing on one niche, not getting enough traffic to evaluate your contents from visitors’ perspective…etc

Doing affiliate marketing

Finally if you learned how to make money with Affiliate Marketing, please share it with your friends using social media to the left hand side or bottom (mobile)

Michael launched Wealth of Geeks to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.