Affiliate marketing is when you promote a product or brand and are paid or otherwise rewarded when a user purchases or take a specific action based on your promotion. Pretty simple. Back in the day, offline, it might have even been called referral marketing. “I like what you do so I’m going refer people to you with the understanding that if they buy what you sell, I’ll get some sort of kick back.”

That business model has transferred to the internet quite well as affiliate marketing. Last year, with hardly any effort, I managed to pay an entire month’s rent with the payments from just one vendor’s payments to me as their affiliate (HostGator, in case you’re wondering). Everyone finds their way to affiliate marketing in different ways, so I thought I’d tell you how I found my way into the strange, but intriguing world of affiliate marketing. I want to share this with you so that you can understand how I found this small stream of passive income in my niche, and that affiliate marketing programs exist in just about every niche out there, so chances are you can find one that works for you, too.

When I first started designing websites a few years ago, I used GoDaddy for domains and hosting (I didn’t know any better). Everytime a client needed a website, and hosting, I told them to go buy a GoDaddy account first. And they did. One day, I called in to tech support to ask a question on behalf of a client, and in the course of the conversation the tech asked if I was an affiliate. I didn’t know what he meant, so he went on to explain that for every client who purchased hosting through my own link, I could earn millions of dollars. Or $40. I can’t remember which. Either way, I said sign me up.

Later, I went on to move my clients to HostGator simply because they are fantastic hosts, and found out they, too, had an affiliate program. For every person I referred through my link, they would pay me $50. That might not seem like a lot, but at the time, my husband we had just gotten back from Iraq, my husband was working a temporary job, and every extra $50 I could bring in was a godsend. With HostGator’s affiliate program, the more you refer, the more you make.

At first, all I did was have my existing clients register with HostGator. I would have done this anyway, because I love HostGator and use them myself. Then, I placed their ads on my websites and gained a few sales here and there just from the ads. I occasionally teach WordPress classes and recommend HostGator at the classes. I can give out a specific coupon code rather than a link, and if a customer uses that coupon code, I get credit for the sale, too. So, I grab a few sales every once in awhile after a class, too.

Admittedly, I am not very aggressive with my affiliate marketing efforts thus far. There are LOTS of people who earn their entire living simply from affiliate marketing or from managing an affiliate marketing business. I’m not sure I want to be that person, but I can think of some really exciting things to do with affiliate marketing (mostly related to local businesses).

Some common places to search for products to promote in your niche are ClickBank.com, E-Junkie.com, Amazon.com. There are lots more, and many of your favorite retailers have affiliate programs already.

Can you think of a product your readers or customers would like that you could look for, to promote as an affiliate?

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