I make a few hundred dollars a month from affiliate programs. Just to show you how lucrative it can be, I was just checking my affiliate statistics at Amazon and saw that someone had just bought over US$200 in camping gear through an Amazon third party.

None of my sites have anything to do with camping! It’s just that someone clicked on an ad for a book which saved a cookie on that person’s PC and then they went on to buy some camping gear for arctic conditions. I only get $9 for the sales, but if you think of some of the bigger sites with huge amounts of traffic you can realize how profitable affiliate marketing can be.

If you don’t know what Affiliate Marketing is, it is basically where you advertise a company’s products on your web-site. If someone clicks on the advertisement and buys the product you receive a percentage of the sale. Percentages range from anything from 5% to 50%. Some people are able to make a whole living from this alone, even making enought to need online tax software for April. I have to admit I am a long way from this myself, but the above example shows that how it is possible to make some extra money, even if it is enough to treat yourself to something that you wouldn’t normally buy. With Amazon you can receive credits to buy books, or receive cheques for your income.

How do I start?

First you need to apply to an affiliate program through the companies web-site. You can usually find a link titled “Affiliates” or “Webmasters” down the bottom of the page. Click on the link and sign up. Most programs approve you automatically. You will be issued with a unique affilate id which you use to post on your web-site.

How do you get paid?

The main forms of payment, include by cheque, wire-transfer to a bank account and Paypal. Personally I like using Paypal for its convenience, even if the charges are a little expensive. Sometimes it is difficult to cash US cheques, outside of the US, or the bank fees dig too much into your profits.

When do you get paid?

Usually there is a minimum amount you need to earn before a company will pay you. The amount is usually around US$100. For sites just starting out it can sometimes take a while to reach this amount. Try as many different programs as you can. If you can’t generate at least one sale in a month, I would say try a different program.

Does it cost anything?

If a company wants to charge a fee for you to join, do not join the program! It is probably a scam. You only need to pay for the hosting of your own web-site, a domain name and any advertising you might do.

Zero sales?

For new sites it will probably take a while to get your first sale. If you are in it for the long-term keep working on your site and trying to improve your traffic. If you have an existing site, which gets good traffic, try changing to another affiliate program. Click through rates usually average 2-5% and you should be able to get at least 1% sales from this. More traffic = more sales!

I don’t have a web-site

Get one! However, even if you don’t have a web-site you can actually just post links with your affiliate id to bulletin boards, or you could just email people and include affiliate links in the email, or your email signature. Remember spamming is now an illegal activity. However, sending mail to a mailing list to people who have requested information about a topic, is perfectably acceptable.

Suggested programs

Every site is different and an affiliate programs success will depend on this. Some profitable areas are: financial services, dating, porn, gambling and medical products.

Friendfinder.com has several different programs and you can be sure never to miss a cheque from them. You can receive a few cents per click and $1 for every man and $2 for every woman that signs up for free.

Click Bank

ClickBank offers 1000s of products. All of the products are “soft” products and include computer software and e-books. Commissions are fairly generous, but quality of the products varies. Anyone can advertise their e-book – there is no QA or review process for products.


Amazon was one of the first affiliate programs on the net. Their program is so popular that their payouts have become of the lowest. You earn from 5% on every sale. Although the percentage increases with more sales you generate. Amazon sell a lot more than just books, so you could also do well with higher priced items. The other drawback is that they only pay quarterly.

Commision Junction

One of the most popular programs on the web. They have 1000s of products to advertise in many different product categories. The advantage is that you can advertise as many different company’s products as you want, using just one account. One of the most time consuming tasks for affiliate marketers is having to check the stats for every different program they belong to. Commision Junction can save you a lot of time this way.

Making money hint: I have never tried it myself but with Commision Junction you can find the companies that are performing the best and achieve the best sales. All you have to do is find a couple of companies that pay out well and build a site around them. If you have no money to advertise use SEO methods to build traffic for free. If you have some money you could also invest in some advertising – perhaps an Adwords campaign.