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Behind every successful blogger is an effective affiliate marketing strategy. Online affiliate marketing allows bloggers to take their websites to the next level by marketing specific products to their readers and capitalize on market trends. But what exactly is affiliate marketing?

Wikipedia defines affiliate marketing:

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts. The industry has four core players: the merchant (also known as ‘retailer’ or ‘brand’), the network (that contains offers for the affiliate to choose from and also takes care of the payments), the publisher (also known as ‘the affiliate’), and the customer.

So for example, a blogger may write a review of the new Fujifilm X100T camera that they purchased a few months prior. The blogger includes a link to the camera on Amazon. This link also contains a tracking ID, which lets Amazon know that your readers came to Amazon because you directed them there (click here to see what the tracking ID looks like). If someone happens to purchase that camera through your website, you get commission. Let’s say Amazon is offering you 6 percent commission on cameras and this camera costs $1,200, then you would receive $72 for referring your reader to Amazon.

There are many different affiliate marketing programs and many different rules and restrictions on each platform. Some offer more commission, some will allow you to receive commission on all purchases on their site– even if it’s not the item you linked to. There are a lot of ways to be successful with affiliate marketing, but it requires a thoughtful strategy.

According to Darren Rowse at Pro Blogger, affiliate marketing accounts for more than 35 percent of his daily blogging income– with the rest being mostly advertising. Rowse breaks down affiliate marketing into three categories: low commission, high commission and really big commission affiliate products. Low include items that earn affiliate marketers about 40 cent per item, which would require a lot of sale to add up to a substantial income. High commission are items that earn marketers about $10 per sale, which can include ebooks. Really big commission may include training courses or high-end electronics (like the Fuji camera we talked about) and would only require one or two sales a day to make a solid income.

Each blogger is different. So if you’re new to affiliate marketing, it’s best to explore which affiliate programs you want to use and which products that you want to market. Of course, simply creating a site with links to different products will not translate to success, because you wouldn’t be offering anything of value to your readers. So make sure you create a blog that you would want to read, market products that you are knowledgable about, and stay tuned to Variety Investor. We’ll continue our discussion on affiliate marketing in the future– breaking down the best programs and the best strategies.

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For more information on affiliate marketing, consider checking out these books:
Affiliate Program Management: An Hour a Day
Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: Simple, smart and proven strategies to make A LOT of money online, the easy way
How to Make Money Online: Learn how to make money from home with my step-by-step plan to build a $5000 per month

Barry Falls Jr
Barry is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he studied sociology, journalism, and business entrepreneurship. He has over five years of experience working with small web-based startups to assist them with growing their engagement and creating online communities around their brand. He's the editor of Frontier Desk.

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