What Is An Affiliate And Can I Make Money?

by Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] on May 30, 2012

in How To Use The Internet,Info Sites,Mama Likes,The Internets

So you think you want to make money on the internet.

Like my favorite reality competition show, So You Think You Can Dance, just without Cat Deely, sexy dancing, and getting warm in my pants over my boyfriend, Hok, everyone wants to know how to dance like a hummingbird and make money on the internet.

Over the past few weeks, several friends have asked me about what it means to be an affiliate and if it’s worth the time to understand it. I figured it was time for another entry into the worldwide sensation, Pangie Guides You Through The Internet, so today’s lesson answers the questions, “What is an affiliate?” and “Can I make money?

Is it easy to make money on the internet? No.

Does it take time, effort, research, reading, and educating yourself? Yes.

Am I here to guide you through the internet? Yes, and you’re welcome.

What the heck is an affiliate?

If you’ve been around the internet for longer than half a millisecond, you’ve seen this word: affiliate. But like (the arbitrary statistic of) 95% of the people who spend time here in the series of tubes we call the internet, you probably don’t know what being an affiliate means and how it can make you money.

An affiliate is a person or a business who earns a commission from a purchase made by someone who has clicked on a link to an online store.

How do affiliate links work?

Example: My current obsession is smut books. I’ve written about smut books and given my opinions on the books. When I write about the books, like I did in the Kindle of Ill Repute posts, I include a link to the books on Amazon.com. The links I use to the books on Amazon have an embedded code that tells Amazon I get a commission from that purchase if someone buys the book. The purchaser doesn’t even know the transaction was made, nor does the purchaser pay any more for the book.

Essentially, Amazon is paying me for sending you to their site and giving them your business.

How much money can I make being an affiliate?

Being an affiliate doesn’t just mean getting a banner, slapping it up in your blog’s sidebar, and watching the riches roll into your bank account. Unless you’re one of the <1% (another arbitrary statistic) of the bloggers whose websites have over 1 million pageviews per month, you’re not going to make money with a few affiliate banner ads. And even for those bloggers, they depend on their readers to actually click on the banners and then buy something from the store for them to make any money.

I’m all about honesty, so I’ll be open and tell you how much I have made by being an Amazon affiliate in the last few months.

During the shopping holiday season (mid-September through mid-December), I made over $450 from Amazon affiliate linking. That’s some good paper from just linking to stuff I was already going to talk about.

How do I use affiliate links?

Most of what I link to with affiliate links are things I’d already talk about or share because I like it (smut books) or want it (an iPad). Granted, there are some things that I’ll link to just because I think other people will like it, but that’s the nature of marketing.

Many affiliate gurus (yes, there are such people) say that inner-content text links work best for successful affiliate marketing. Inner-content text links are just like those I used in the previous paragraph: affiliate code-embedded links to a product or store that leads directly to that product or store.

How can I become an affiliate?

Though it may seem like this post is one big advertisement for Amazon Associates affiliate program, but it’s not. I don’t get a kickback from Amazon by you signing up to be an affiliate. (There are affiliate programs that will give you a bonus if someone signs up to be their affiliate with your links, but Amazon isn’t one of them. SCOUT by Bungalow is, so if you want to try out another affiliate program, sign up with them.)

Oh, and hey! Speaking of SCOUT by Bungalow, they’re having a sale now through May 31st: 25% off all items on the site with code SUNNY25. PLUS, when you use that coupon code, you get a $10 coupon for your next order.

If you’re new to being an affiliate and want to try it out, I suggest you get started with Amazon. It’s the biggest online store and Amazon’s affiliate program, Amazon Associates, is by far the simplest to understand and has the most tools to share product links.

Do I have to disclose that I’m using affiliate links?

Yes. According to the ambiguous and highly debated guidelines set forth by the FTC in 2009, you must tell your readers that you are an affiliate. How and where and why you do this is what is debatable. Go ahead, read the 81-page document, and I’m sure you’ll be even more confused at what will get you thrown in jail and what is acceptable to do. Yay, government!

I have a statement in the footer of my blog that tells readers that some links are affilate linked. On my Pinterest page, I include a disclosure that some images are affiliate linked. What you do to disclose is entirely up to you, which is the ambiguous part of the FTC’s guidelines. Just be sure you disclose that you use affiliate links, and read about what you think that means to you.

Are you scamming me, Pangie?

Nope. I’m just doing my best to share the love of making money doing what I love: spending endless hours on the internet under the guise of making money.

Disclosure: I’m not an affiliate professional; I just play one on the internet. If you are an affiliate professional and see that I’ve made incorrect statements, feel free to call me out on them so we can all learn from my mistakes. 

Have questions about being an affiliate? Ask me. I’ll laugh at you only if it’s a stupid question.

Diddy image source unknown

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 alimartell May 30, 2012 at 2:14 pm

You are so sweet to write a post just for me. 🙂
It’s ridiculous how little I know about how the internet works.
An Awesome post on alimartell´s blog … The Curious Case of Insomnia, Vegetarianism, and Hair Color. I’m a Mixed Bag


2 Corey Feldman May 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Can’t say I have made much with affiliate links. But I don’t do a lot of reviews, so the few I have done have made me a few dollars here and there. I do better with google adsense.
An Awesome post on Corey Feldman´s blog … Tuna gets lost


3 Gilbert Rollins May 31, 2012 at 1:43 am

I have never thought of using affiliate links on my site before. But after reading your article, I am willing to give it a shot. It looks like a really good deal.
An Awesome post on Gilbert Rollins´s blog … Kim Kardashian Apologises To Humphries’ Family


4 Erin@MommyontheSpot June 1, 2012 at 9:06 am

Great post! You cleared up a lot of questions I had. Maybe you should do a ROYO at BlogHer. . .


5 Sarah Rose June 2, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Thank for this! I’m new to the whole blog scene so info like this is awesome! I know you’re part of the Curvy Girl, you should post your internet knowledge there too! Spankyou very much!
An Awesome post on Sarah Rose´s blog … Kalua Pork Slow Cooker Style


6 make money online July 28, 2013 at 1:24 am

I’ve been surfing online more than three hours nowadays, but I never found any fascinating article like yours. It is lovely price enough for me. In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers made excellent content as you did, the internet will likely be a lot more helpful than ever before.
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7 Eli November 17, 2013 at 1:00 am

This is really helpful. Thank you so much 🙂


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