The phrase, "Affiliates are an extended sales force for your business", which is often used to explain affiliate marketing, is not completely accurate. The primary difference between the two is that affiliate marketers provide little if any influence on a possible prospect in the conversion process once that prospect is directed to the advertiser's website. The sales team of the advertiser, however, does have the control and influence up to the point where the prospect either a) signs the contract, or b) completes the purchase.
Yes is the short answer. Any time you are planing on generating money, you should have a plan. No plan means no real focus. There may be some 1/1000 percent of a chance you will succeed, but I haven't met them yet. If you have already started and have generated an income, record how. Doing so will give you material for use in expanding your business faster.

My name is Jamie Spencer and I have spent the past 5 years building money making blogs. After growing tired of the 9-5, commuting and never seeing my family I decided that I wanted to make some changes and launched my first blog. Since then I have launched lots of successful niche blogs and after selling my survivalist blog I decided to teach other people how to do the same.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect on May 25, 2018, is a set of regulations governing the use of personal data across the EU. This is forcing some affiliates to obtain user data through opt-in consent (updated privacy policies and cookie notices), even if they are not located in the European Union. This new regulation should also remind you to follow FTC guidelines and clearly disclose that you receive affiliate commissions from your recommendations. 
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you only promote one merchant’s products, you are stuck with their commissions, their landing pages, and ultimately, their conversion rates. It is important to work with many different merchants in your niche and promote a wide range of products. This affiliate marketing strategy will diversify the amount of commissions you make and create a steady stream of revenue when building an affiliate website. 
LinkConnector imposes a very rigorous and lengthy screening process, so you’ll need to prove that you have a high-quality website and established audience before being accepted. Despite its somewhat schizophrenic approach, LinkConnector does have some very happy long-term affiliates. And their “naked links” allow for direct connection to the merchant website without having to be rerouted via LinkConnector, which will give your website an SEO boost.

Because 2Checkout exclusively sells software and digital products, it is best suited for established influencers whose target audience is interested in buying products in this niche. But while you won’t find any physical products for sale, 2Checkout is probably the market leader in selling software of every type, including very specific use case items (like software that can convert Microsoft Word documents to PDF, for instance).
Testimonials, case studies, and examples found on this page are results that have been forwarded to us by users of "Enter Product Name" products and related products, and may not reflect the typical purchaser's experience, may not apply to the average person and are not intended to represent or guarantee that anyone will achieve the same or similar results.
ShareASale — ShareASale provides access to more than 3,300 separate merchant affiliate programs in many vertical markets, including food, apparel, and home and garden. The network has smaller brands than most of its competitors, but many affiliate partners offer high payouts: The stationary company Tinyprints offers 10% commission on sales, or $5 per lead; while PerkStreet Financial Commissions offers as much as $50 a sale. The Affluent Blogger’s Aiden Clinton speaks highly of ShareASale’s intuitive web interface, asserting that it is particularly convenient for companies that run multiple websites. ShareASale also offers referral bonuses for signing up new affiliate marketers.
Hi, Jamie! Very good list. I needed something like this for 2018 so that I know what to target in the future blogs I create. As for now, I’m comfortable using SiteGround affiliate network and it’s pretty good actually. Their hosting service is pretty much the best considered its price. I’ve tried others but SiteGround stands out. I’ll also try new affiliate networks, something from the list you have just provided. I think Amazon is too saturated at the moment, and I need a better network. 2018 will be interesting indeed.
Commission Junction — This site serves as a clearinghouse for thousands of companies and small businesses looking to get into the affiliate business. It offers myriad affiliate programs, but you must apply separately to each one. Payout rates vary wildly, up to 50 percent, and some commissions are based on leads or clicks vs. sales. Frustratingly, Commission Junction deducts $10 from your accrued earnings for every month in which you don’t actively earn commissions; if you let your account lapse, your income could get wiped out.

Education occurs most often in "real life" by becoming involved and learning the details as time progresses. Although there are several books on the topic, some so-called "how-to" or "silver bullet" books instruct readers to manipulate holes in the Google algorithm, which can quickly become out of date,[41] or suggest strategies no longer endorsed or permitted by advertisers.[42]


is there a way to do this same process but 100% free? I am really strapped on cash right now, but really want to be able to copy your process and start making money right away! If you know of any other websites/alternatives that I could use to do this, I would really appreciate it if you would share them with me. I understand if there isnt a way around having to pay though, and just want to thank you either way. I thank you for your time and your help. ~ Cassie


Another way to find this information is to do a simple Google search. For example, one could place the following phrase into Google Search:  “(product name) + affiliate program”. (Replace “product name” with the name of the product you are promoting.) There is an interesting chrome addon called Affilitizer is available which makes this process easy.
Leadpages claims that its affiliate program is not exclusively for affiliate marketers, which is true, but the narrow focus of this niche means that only professionals affiliate marketers will ever be able to earn significant income from the program. Leadpages’s affiliate program does offer quite a lot of different options (webinars, videos, blog posts, free marketing courses, etc.) to send referrals to, which can lead to higher conversion rates if done correctly.
Great overall look at the current state of things. Was a little surprised to see a “possibly sleazy” mention for CJ, but NOT Clickbank… there are TONS of fairly sleazy products on Clickbank from my last look compared to CJ. Commissions are super high on CB (digital/info) products, of course, but the quality on offer there can be far lower than most items on CJ and others.
Most Popular Affiliate Programs 1. Amazon Affiliate Program 2. ShareASale 3. Impact 4. CJ5. ClickBank 6. 2Checkout 7. WarriorPlus 8. JVZOO 9. VigLink 10. Rakuten LinkshareWordPress Themes Affiliate Programs 11. StudioPress 12. Envato MarketHosting Affiliate Programs 13. SiteGround 14. A2Hosting 15. BluehostSEO Tools & Services Affiliate Programs16. KWFinder17. SEMRush 18. SEO PowerSuite19. The Hoth CPA Networks20. AdCombo 21. PeerFly22. vCommission 23. MaxBounty 24. FlexOffers 25. ClickDealer26. ClickBooth Email Marketing Affiliate Programs 27. AWeber 28. ConvertKit 29. GetResponse 30. Thrive Leads 31. OptinMonster Misc. Affiliate Programs32. Shopify 33. Teachable ConvertKit Trial – Free 30 Days Trial
Not necessarily, but a blog is really the best promotional tool. With that said, you can always use methods such as PPC or advertising to promote a product. This is another popular method to grow in affiliate marketing. For me, the best way to make the most out of  affiliate marketing opportunities is to have a blog. Learn how to start a blog here.
I clicked on a number of products to see where it took me. It does appear that the products are connected to Amazon but one would never know it since the product that shows is not the same as the listing on Amazon.. I have started a site using Amazon Affiliate products and when a visitor clicks on a product on my site it takes them to the product listing on Amazon which looks totally differenet than the Gear Patrol listings.
First off, thank you so much for this insightful blog post, it's exactly what I needed. But, my software vendor's affiliate program has a funnel of their own, requiring the prospect to sign up with their email address. Is it appropriate for me to collect the prospects email in the Opt-in page, and then expect the prospect to submit their email a second time in order to signup for the product free seven day trial? If appropriate, do you have any advice for how that should be structured?

MaxBounty works exclusively with digital products, usually about giving one’s email or signing up for a newsletter. MaxBounty has CPA, Pay-per-call, and CPL campaigns that you can choose from. MaxBounty is involved in a large number of verticals, including market research, real estate, social games, finance, dating, and diet, but is primarily designed for marketers seeking to acquire new leads.


Two-tier programs exist in the minority of affiliate programs; most are simply one-tier. Referral programs beyond two-tier resemble multi-level marketing (MLM) or network marketing but are different: Multi-level marketing (MLM) or network marketing associations tend to have more complex commission requirements/qualifications than standard affiliate programs.[citation needed]
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