17 Articles to Read Before You Start Affiliate Marketing

We’ll be covering some of the nuances of affiliate marketing quite a bit on MonetizePros, sharing some ideas for better monetizing an existing traffic base with these strategies. But before we dive in to some of the specifics of this approach, we thought we’d share some of the best articles and blog posts out there on the topic to lay a foundation for the monetization tutorials. If you’re brand new to affiliate marketing, you may wish to read our primer: What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Working your way through all of the articles below will take you quite a while, but you’ll end up with a complete understanding of the mechanics, opportunity, and challenges associated with monetizing a site via affiliate marketing. (By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; we’ll send monetization tips straight to your inbox each day.)

Affiliate Marketing Basics

If you’re just starting out in affiliate marketing, it will probably be helpful to understand exactly how the whole process works: who does what and when money is made (these are also good explanations for the more experienced affiliate marketers):

  1. How Does Affiliate Marketing Work? Affiliorama has one of the best answers to this complex and common questions, explaining just how the affiliate marketing ecosystem runs.
  2. How Affiliate Marketing Works – A Step By Step Visual. Rae Hoffman has a great visual explanation for how the affiliate marketing process works, from the initial signup to the paycheck delivery.
  3. A (Short) History of Affiliate Marketing. This feature from Skimlinks highlights the history of affiliate marketing, starting back before the days of the internet.
  4. Affiliate Marketing 101: Learning the Lingo. This article on Affiliorama gives a good rundown of the jargon you’ll come across in the affiliate industry.

Getting Started

Every successful affiliate marketer started at some point with little more than an idea and a domain name. Getting off the ground with that initial property and making that first conversion is a big deal, and a big challenge. Here’s some reading to help in that regard:

  1. How to Build Your First Online Asset in 48 Hours. Sean Ogle shares a detailed, 11-step guide for getting off the ground and putting up that first affiliate website.
  2. What to Do When “All of the Good Ideas are Already Taken”. Pat Flynn has some great insights into a common frustration and challenge of affiliate marketers. (Be sure to read the comments here as well; there are some great insights there as well.)
  3. Finding a (Good) Niche In Affiliate Marketing. Rae Hoffman shares an answer to a common question: how do you go about finding a good niche for an affiliate marketing site?

Affiliate Marketing Scams

To some, affiliate marketing has a clearly negative connotation as a sleazy way to make money online.

  1. The big, ugly affiliate marketing scam. The title of this one says it all. Be sure to also check out Sorry, affiliate marketing actually isn’t a (big, ugly) scam for a counterpoint to some of the issues raised here.
  2. Affiliate Marketing with Integrity (A Conversation with Pat Flynn). This one is actually a video (about eight minutes long) that provides some interesting insights into how Pat Flynn became a successful affiliate marketer.
  3. Avoiding Affiliate Marketing Scams. Rae also has some great insights on how to avoid getting scammed when starting off in affiliate marketing, as well as her suggested reading list.

Insights From Affiliate Marketers

The affiliate marketing industry is somewhat unique in the transparency of many of its members. There’s a general willingness to share experiences, including both successes and failures. Below are some of the most in-depth and useful interviews and tutorials put together by affiliate marketers who put in the hard work to build up a profitable affiliate operation (in some cases, more than once):

  1. Extra Money Answer. Shawn Collins has authored a fantastic multi-part series detailing his affiliate marketing success story.
  2. Pat Flynn Income Reports. Pat Flynn is a successful affiliate marketer who also happens to be one of the most transparent. Each month (sometimes a bit delayed) he published a detailed accounting of his business, explaining what factors were responsible for his wins and losses.
  3. The Rise of Ngo. This multi-part series from Charles Ngo is one of the most honest, in-depth accounting of an affiliate marketer’s successes and failures. Getting through all eight parts will take you a while, but is worth the time.
  4. An Interview with Super Affiliate Richard Bonner. Tyler Cruz and Richard Bonner offer up some candid thoughts on the volatility of the industry, a love / hate relationship with Facebook, and what a day in the life of a successful affiliate marketer looks like.

 Other Affiliate Marketing Reading

Below are a few additional articles that don’t fall into any of the previous categories but can be valuable reads for aspiring affiliate marketers:

  1. 25 Affiliate Marketing Questions Answered. This piece gives honest answers to common questions, from “can I get rich with affiliate marketing” to “why do affiliates typically fail” to “how can I knock competing affiliates out of my traffic source.”
  2. Largest Affiliate Networks. It’s difficult to come up with a list of the “best” affiliate networks out there since each site will be so unique in what types of offers and solutions work. But this list at least highlights some of the biggest players in the space. (Note however that the Google Affiliates program is no longer operational.)
  3. Affiliate Marketing on Facebook. Affiliorama has some good insights on using Facebook in affiliate marketing campaigns, including a step-by-step guide for setting up ads.
Bottom Line
Affiliate marketing remains a huge industry in 2014, and remains a viable career opportunity for those who are able to crack the code. It’s also an enormous challenge; breaking in and getting up to a critical mass of revenue takes a lot of hard work and a willingness to fail.

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