My Worry Reduction Buttons- Affiliate Marketing

I Want to Talk About Affiliate Marketing

Mostly, I want to talk to you about affiliate marketing for your own benefit, because I think it can be helpful to you, especially in this down economy.

Affiliate marketing. It gets such a bad rap from some. Just the other day, someone likened it to “getting kickbacks,” as if it weren’t an overt and obvious transaction. I’m not even 100% sure I like the Wikipedia definition. Essentially, I see affiliate marketing as this: promoting a product or service that someone else has created to your community with the hope of providing benefit to that community, and to be compensated for that promotion. (I could probably come up with something less wordy, but that’s a decent description).

This is an industry that was a reported $13 Billion industry in 2009. Most every major brand you know has an affiliate program already. It’s just part of the marketing mix for many companies, including several of our New Marketing Labs client partners (though we don’t manage affiliate marketing projects). If you want to learn more about the industry overall, I’d recommend attending Affiliate Summit, put on by Shawn Collins and Missy Ward. I’ve gone twice and had a blast both times.

Why I Want to Talk About This

My motivation in talking about affiliate marketing with you is, as I said above, that I think with these tough economic times on us, many of us could use a few extra bucks. When done ethically, and with full disclosure, I feel that affiliate marketing is a great way to make some additional income.

The methods I describe below are how I do it as a blogger/content maker. They’re not perfect at all. In fact, the best post where I learned a lot about how I might do it better in the future comes from SugarRae’s site (note: she tells it like it is). But hey, this is what I did and how I did it, as a starting reference.

My Beginnings

The first affiliate programs I started with were Amazon. The reason is simple: they make it really easy to link to books (and other products) and I like that I could share things with people easily. It’s not exactly the best money-making tool out there, but that didn’t dissuade me. If you want some good tips on getting more out of it, here are some Amazon Associates tips from Darren Rowse of

When I got my first check from Amazon, I actually thought it was just a refund from some returned merchandise or something. It was for around $117 or so.

Now, it’s not a TON more, but it’s around $400- $500, and if you think about it, that’s enough to make a car payment and/or maybe take someone out to dinner once or twice a month.

My point in sharing this is to say that I’m certainly not getting rich off Amazon, but every little bit adds up. Will your mileage vary? Yes. I get over 200,000 unique visitors a month, so I have more traffic to work with. But just like you, I started somewhere.

Oh, and I added Google Adsense to my RSS feeds, down at the bottom. That makes me a couple hundred bucks a month, which again, is nothing to scoff at, as it adds up.

Then I Start Figuring It Out

And by “I,” I mean that Brian Clark worked with Chris Pearson to release the Thesis WordPress theme (affiliate link). This was where it started to really make sense. Here’s why:

I loved Chris Pearson’s work. Had for years. Now, he was selling a theme that not only looked good, but that had strong SEO benefits, and several other design benefits. It wasn’t an easy “out of the box” theme to use, but instead a great template/starting point for designers to work from.

Selling this theme was a no-brainer to me. I love the theme, love what it does for my site, and stand behind it. So, the references to Thesis all over my site encourage people to buy it for their own WordPress projects.

That one program is my worry-reduction-button. Know why? It pays my mortgage. Yep. That one affiliate program is worth the price of knowing I’ll have a roof over my head month to month.

That’s Why This Is So Worth Thinking About

Affiliate marketing isn’t for everyone. Not every program is for everyone. But when there’s an opportunity to bring something of value to your community and make some money for your efforts, then you’re looking at what I think of as a great opportunity.

What does the community get from this? (I was asked this before, and have been thinking about my answer.) First off, in a sea of clutter, you hear a testimonial about something that I find of value, and you get the opportunity to evaluate it for yourself. Second, you get the chance to equip yourself with some of the same tools I use for my own efforts. Thus, I’m trying to share what I value, and give value with what I share.

This all only works, in my estimation, if I’ve shown you enough trustworthy behavior, and if the things I promote are vaguely of interest to my community. I’m not the right affiliate marketer for weight loss pills or whatever. It’s not what we talk about here. But blogging tools, hosting, ebooks, courses, SEO tools? Yeah. That stuff makes sense.

Start Somewhere

If the idea of making a few hundred extra dollars a month appeals to you, then this is one way to start making that happen. I wrote about escape velocity before, and this is part of what I was talking about. You need support and backing to make moves some time. This is one tool to accomplish that.

You might not get the same results immediately. You might not have the same volume. But if you’re working on improving your content, if you’re working on building audience and turning it into community, then you might as well evaluate whether there are any related and worthwhile programs that would appeal to your community.

Caution: it’s important to keep heaping value upon value into what you’re creating on your site. Don’t become a salesperson only, as the appeal of your site will quickly diminish. We talk about how human business works here, and part of that is to respect and value the people spending time with your material.

Not for Everyone

Not everyone will want to share any affiliate marketing programs. Not all of your community will like your posts about such programs. It’s okay. We get all antsy about this online. We think that blogs can ONLY be one thing or another. After 11 years of blogging, I’ll tell you this: it’s not one size fits all. Work with the people you have. Work on the goals that you have. Work towards making it all worthwhile for everyone at the table. And beyond that, do your best.

Signing Up for Programs

There are plenty of places to find affiliate programs to sign up for: Commission Junction, Share-a-Sale, LinkShare, and many more similar sites exist. You can find from those sites any advertisers that might appeal to your tastes in selling. There are also many programs that run straight from the company in question’s site. Oh, and don’t forget that Google launched their own Affiliate Network, too.

It can be overwhelming. Take it slow, if you want.


I honestly don’t know TONS about affiliate marketing. There are much better teachers out there than me. But I’m learning, and as I do, I’ll share what I know with you. In the interim, we talk about affiliate marketing as one of many channels of marketing over at Third Tribe, so feel free to pop your head in there and ask, too. runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • Brigitte Mehr

    You are right on Chris, the kick backs I get from my affiliate links just on my blog are a very nice addition to my marketing budget. The best thing about this is that it is toally passive income – no effort required at all :)

  • Tim Holmes

    affiliate marketing is a great way to grow your business! you can also read Commandments of Affiliate Marketing at
    to find out more on the same

  • build a niche store

    affiliate marketing is a good way to promote products and earn money online because there are few competitors yet.’-;

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  • Chris

    Hey there Chris.

    I've been off and on about affiliate marketing. I don't want to sell my community up the river for $11 bucks. That's more important to me than anything else, really.

    But, I recommmend Aweber to my existing clients, and I got a check for $270 yesterday…and I'd recommend them anyway.

    What I guess is my standard is that I've paid them money on my own, and intend to continue to do so, and recommend them only for the benefit of my customers…that's tough, but we don't want to dissipate the trust that people have in us….

    How do we know we're doing things for the benefit of our community and not our own?

  • Bigjobsboard

    I started affiliate marketing last year and so far I am earning well with my time. it is kinda fulfilling when I get to sell products and services and get a little compensation out of it. I think Affiliate marketing will still get a long way in the industry.

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  • Chris Brogan

    That's actually something only you can answer. I know where I stand on it. Believe me, there are some GREAT affiliate programs that would be like printing easy money, but they're not for my audience (yet). So, I don't do them. Beyond that, I just wrote a new post that might appeal to you:

  • Sara viator

    I also don't see anything wrong with affiliate programs as long as it is a valid recommendation. I think they get a bad name from those who abuse them.

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  • Promotional

    very great idea thanks to share ,Very useful icon sets, tweeted and saved on Delicious.

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  • Louis Vuitton speedy 30

    The biggest discernible difference in business communications between b2b and b2c groups is the justification of purchases.

    There. Am I wrong?

    Yeah,you’re right

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  • cheftony

    Affiliate marketing will be how business gets done forever….

    Assuming that someones problem with the idea is that you as an affiliate might recommend something that you don’t believe in (now we’re talking personal values)..

    Is this not the same issue that a door to door salesman would deal with “back in the day” …that may not have believed in his product 1000%? Does EVERY salesperson in this world believe that their product is the PERFECT most awe inspiring product ever created? Some do, some do not.

    So affiliate marketing is no different, you can pimp products out for no reason, or…. find products you use, books you’ve read, or services you like and recommend them (you probably would anyway) and get paid a little. or a lot :)

    Great post, keep up the great work.

  • B2256

    Hello Chris,
    It’s nice to know someone nearby is actually doing OK with affiliates. I am in Livingston and am trying various things in the slim Montana market. Due to the tough times, I was starting to get much less enthused and thought about giving up on a niche with a #1 google rank! Thanks for the encouragement, maybe I do need to take another run at it.

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  • sultans1005

    Yep….with you on this one Chris. I am in the dreaded clan as well and not ashamed to say I love it.
    It can be hard work and long hours for very little return until the light bulb goes off and you link up with some real people to learn from. Great post. Thanks for the open support to our industry.

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    Its a good way to make some extra income Chris and I think everyone here wants to earn that. Affiliate marketing is for people who very well know the target audience. You just need to recommend them a product or book or services you like and you are paid few bucks as commission.That’s great.Thanks Chris !

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