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Affiliate marketing is half art, half science. It's certainly more involved than signing up for a few affiliate programs and posting the links on your blog. The effort expended to learn successful affiliate marketing techniques is well worth it, as you can add to your online writing revenue and build a good stream of residual income this way.

There are two main ways to advertise affiliate products — paid advertisements such as Google adwords, and text-based affiliate links, usually in online articles. Some affiliate marketers are extremely successful with advertisment-based affiliate marketing, but this article won't go into the advertisment method, because it's a difficult way for beginners to start out and more costly. Instead, we'll will explore ways to succeed at affiliate marketing with little or no up-front cost.

Ten Affiliate Marketing Tips:

  1. Start small. Choose a few good products to promote without overwhelming yourself. Consider the price of the products, too, as a few mid-range items will likely bring in more revenue than selling tons of cheap ones.
  2. Sell relevant products. If you blog is about gardening, it's not the place to sell computer hard drives.
  3. Over-deliver with your content. Your readers will stay engaged, be more likely to try the products you reccomend and come to trust your suggestions if you give them more than they expect with your content. 
  4. Pre-sell your visitors. Your readers need to hear, subtly of course, why they need the product you're selling before they will buy it. Talk about the problem — difficulty of preparing garden soil — before presenting the solution: a good tiller.
  5. Only do affiliate marketing for items you believe are quality. Don't sell something you know is mediocre just to earn some money. The loss of credibility will kill your success.
  6. Use descriptive anchor text in your affiliate links. For example "Buy seeds here" just isn't as compelling to the reader as "Grow delicious tomatoes with heirloom seeds."
  7. Don't sell too much or too often. If your blog posts all have affiliate links, or multiple affiliate links, readers will get the feeling you're just trying to make a buck.
  8. Have text links or graphics on the sidebars of your website or blog that point readers to the most popular items you promote. That way, even if your current post is free of sales links, you're still exposing your readers to items they can buy.
  9. Keep your blog, website, or articles clean looking and uncluttered. Flashy pages induce the reader to click back to the search engine and ignore your links.
  10. Build up a good sub-affiliate team to increase your residual income. Some affiliate programs have a tiered earnings program, making it potentially lucrative to recruit affiliate marketers under you.

In short: To be successful, affiliate marketers need to pre-sell their visitors and over-deliver with quality content.

Curious what affiliate marketing programs pay the best? Personally, I've had the most success with, SiteBuildIt!, ComissionJunction, HostGator and eJunkie (also a great place to host ebooks). But there are countless products available with excellent affiliate programs, and there's doubtless a few perfect ones for each of your niches.