Matt Forney
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How to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is by far the easiest way to make your blog or website into a profitable endeavor, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. In this video, I explain the right way.

Remember to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more updates. Video transcript by Eve Penman.


Hello there once again. In this video I want to talk a bit more about affiliate marketing and how you can use it to make money online. Now, affiliate marketing sounds a bit complex but it’s a pretty easy concept. Basically, affiliate marketing is when a company pays you to promote its products. Not like in advertisements. In affiliate marketing you only get paid if you refer a customer to this website or whatever and that customer actually buys a product. The company will then give you a percentage of their profits to thank you for sending over that traffic.

For example, the most popular affiliate program out there is Amazon’s associates program, Amazon Associates. If you sign up for the Amazon Associates program and you use their special links, they’ll give you special links that leave a cookie on the computer of anyone who clicks on them. Any customers you send over who click on those links, Amazon will give you a percentage of the profit of whatever they end up buying. Say you read a review of a book that costs $10, someone clicks on it, buys the book, Amazon will give you I think—they have a variable percentage rate, I think it starts at six percent and then it goes up to eight percent depending on how much you sell in a month, but you get six percent of that $10, which is I think 60 cents, something like that. You get a slice of what they offer.

Now, affiliate marketing is very powerful because you’re basically getting paid to review stuff that you already use, the stuff you buy every day. I can give you an example of books. You read books, you write book reviews, you use affiliate links in those reviews to encourage people to buy the book. You’re making money off of something you’re going to do anyway; you were going to read those books anyway.

Or, say, nutritional supplements. One of my most popular, one of the most lucrative articles I’ve written so far in terms of affiliate marketing is an article I wrote on Suntheanine. It’s a special form of l-theanine; it’s purified and it is twice as effective as regular l-theanine. For those of you who don’t know, l-theanine is a nootropic that makes you calmer. A lot of guys will combine it with caffeine, like a cup of coffee, and that’s called the People’s Stack because you get energy from the caffeine but the l-theanine takes the jittery edge off and you just feel calm and serene. I wrote an article, a review of Suntheanine and tons of people have just bought it by clicking through my links and I’ve made a lot of money off that.

So basically, you’re going to be using products anyway, you’re going to be using nutritional supplements, you’re going to be reading books, you’re going to be playing video games, you’re going to be seeing movies. If you use affiliate marketing you can get paid basically to enjoy—you get paid for doing stuff you enjoy doing and you were going to do anyway.

Now, there are a number of tricks to using affiliate marketing. You can’t simply say, for example, one rookie mistake I see a lot of people doing—I see people doing this with my own affiliate programs. For those of you who don’t know, I write books, Confessions of an Online Hustler and many others, and I sell them through my own independent bookstore, I have my own affiliate program there; there will be a link to it in the description.

Basically if you sign up for the affiliate program and promote my books, if anyone buys any one of my books by coming from your site, you get a 60 percent commission. If someone buys a copy of Confessions of an Online Hustler, which is 10 bucks, I give you $6. Pretty good deal in context of how affiliate marketing usually works. But what was I saying. God, I lost track of what I was going to say, but basically—oh, here’s what I was saying.

I see a lot of people who sign up for the affiliate program but what they do is that they will take the raw affiliate link and they’ll take the image of the book that they’re promoting and they’ll put it in the sidebar of their blog and that’s it, and they expect it will sell that way. No. That’s the absolute worst way to do affiliate marketing.

There’s really only two ways to do it right. The first is to actually write a review of whatever product you’re endorsing. That means you actually have to own it or you had to have used it or liked it or whatever. Because remember, affiliate marketing is not like advertising; you will only get paid if your readers actually buy the product. So in order to get them to buy the product you need to convince them to buy it, usually through a review of some sort.

I do book reviews, one a week. If I just put up a link that said “buy so-and-so book,” no one would bother. But because I go to the effort of reading these books, analyzing them and describing them in great detail, people are more likely to buy them.

In this case, these people who are trying to promote my books through affiliate marketing, what they should be doing is instead of using the straight affiliate link in the sidebar they should be linking to the review that they wrote of my product, and that will increase sales of my books and increase their affiliate commissions by proxy.

Number two: you have to write an honest review. You can’t be a shill because your audience is not stupid, they can detect shills. So whenever you review a product, you need to discuss its good points and its bad points in equal measure. You need to go over its flaws, what’s good about it, what’s bad about it, and when you do that people will be more likely to trust your review.

Now, I don’t want to toot my own horn too much, but most of my reviews are positive because I tend not to spend—the vast majority of when I review books are stuff I pay for out of my own pocket and I’m not going to spend money on something I know I’m going to hate, but I have written negative reviews in the past of stuff. Sometimes I get pleasure out of it, sometimes I don’t, but I am not going to put my stamp of approval on a piece of shit just to get a few affiliate pennies out of it.

I am going to be honest with my readers about whether something is worth buying. If something is not worth buying I’m going to say it’s not worth buying; if it is, then I is, and whatever. I think that’s helped me a lot, because I’ve more or less become a sort of go-to literary critic in this part of the Internet. I have published novelists, guys like Andy Nowicki and Ann Sterzinger who come to me for literary opinions because they know I’m going to give them the straight dish. I’m going to say here’s where it’s good, here’s where it’s bad, and I’m going to be able to draw something out of this literary text and try and elaborate on it a bit more. I don’t just say, “Hee, hee, this is a good book, go buy it. Hee, hee, this is a good book, go buy it.”

So when it comes to reviewing something, anything, whether it’s a book, a nutritional supplement, a film, a video game, you should discuss it as honestly as possible.

Number three: you should pick your affiliate programs carefully. Now, as I mentioned in the beginning, Amazon Associates is probably the obvious starting point for affiliate marketers because Amazon is wildly popular, everyone trusts Amazon, but there are two downsides to Amazon. Number one, they don’t pay a whole lot. As I mentioned before, they pay out a variable rate starting at I think, like I said I think it starts at 6 percent at the beginning of the month, and they incrementally increase it depending on how many products you sell.

But here’s the rub: it resets after every month. So let’s say you start at six percent one month, you sell enough products to get up to I think an 8.5 commission rate, but it doesn’t roll over. So the next month after that, you’re back down to six percent. So you need to move a huge volume of products in order to make any decent bread. I make anywhere from about $100 to $200. I was making $250 affiliate marketing in about a month, but this took me a long time to get there.

Then you get some other affiliate programs like, for example the one I run on, or my friend Roosh who has his own affiliate program for sale for hocking his books at Now, these affiliate programs typically pay out a larger percentage. I pay out 60 percent, Roosh pays out 75 percent, I believe. But because or doesn’t have the cache that Amazon does, fewer people are going to buy. So you have to weigh these carefully.

And, number two, depending on what state you’re in, Amazon Associates may not even be available. There are a lot of states, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, North Carolina I think is one, Colorado, where the Amazon affiliate program is effectively banned because those states have instituted Amazon taxes. And Amazon, wisely not wanting to be caught on the hook for enforcing the tax codes of 50 separate states, chose to pull out and terminate all their affiliate contracts in those states rather than deal with this massive clusterfuck, this legal clusterfuck of tax forms. So, if you live in those states you’re pretty much shit out of luck when it comes to Amazon Associates.

These laws are unconstitutional. They’re a blatant violation of the Constitution. The Constitution makes it clear that only Congress can regulate interstate commerce, but until the Supreme Court or whoever lands down on the side of the people we’re just going to have to deal with these fucking idiots in state governments trying to tax us to death.

Those are the big things you need to know about affiliate marketing. If you want to learn more, you should check out my book Confessions of an Online Hustler, which also talks about making money in many other ways, how to get readers for your blog, and more importantly how to become a better writer; how to learn how to expand your horizons, how to become a better person, how to best utilize your talents to make money. Check that out.

Illegitimi non carborundum: don’t let the bastards grind you down. I’m Matt Forney and I am out.

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