Using Affiliate Programs to Make Extra Money

You can easily make some extra money online by joining affiliate programs and promoting other people’s products.  First let’s use a simple example to explore how affiliate programs work.


Make a business arrangement with affiliates to share profits.

Joe invents a widget and is trying to sell it for $20 profit per widget.  He approaches his friend Bob and says “Hey Bob, if you get people to buy my widget, I’ll give you 50% of the profit.”  Bob thinks this is awesome, so he proceeds to tell everyone he knows about how Joe’s widget is the coolest invention on the planet.  A few days later, a customer approaches Joe.  The customer says “Hey, Bob told me about your widget.  I want to buy one.”  Joe sells his widget, keeps $10 for himself, and gives $10 to Bob.

Notice that Bob earned $10 and he didn’t have to do anything other than tell his friends about the widget.  He didn’t have to invent the widget, he didn’t have to process the sales transaction, or anything else.  He made 50% profit just by promoting Joe’s widget.

Sounds like a sweet deal, right?  Well, it’s pretty easy to get started with affiliate programs online.  Online affiliate programs use special hyperlinks to track where each sale is coming from.  When you join the affiliate program, you will get special links related to your account.  If someone clicks on your link and then buys a product, you get credit for the sale and earn a percentage of the profit.  It’s the equivalent of having the customer say “Hey, Bob told me about your product.”

So, if you do any kind of writing online – blog, email newsletter, eBooks, Twitter, or whatever – you have an opportunity to post these affiliate links and make some extra money.  It’s not going to be a magic ticket to getting rich, but it might help you make some extra cash.  If your writing does have a large following, you could actually make pretty good money.  I know some Internet marketers who are earning a lot from affiliate programs.

Look at Amazon’s affiliate program (they call it Amazon Associates) for an easy example.  You can earn money by promoting products on Amazon.  So for example, you could join the affiliate program and get a special link for a certain book.  Then you can go on Facebook and post a message saying “Dudes, you have to read this book.  It is so good!” and post your special affiliate link to the book on Amazon.  If any of your friends follow your link and buy the book, you’ll earn a percentage.

Here’s the catch: you must disclose (by law) the fact that you will benefit financially from your affiliate links.  This might make some people not want to follow your links, so you have to come up with a good way to disclose this.  I personally think the best way is to include a note on your web site or your terms of service, and then to only promote products you are familiar with.  Don’t just promote any product to try to make a quick buck.  Build some trust with your readers by promoting products that you personally believe in.  Your readers will respect you for it and will be willing to use your affiliate links.

Again, this probably won’t make you rich or anything.  But if you are already writing online and have a following of readers, you should include some affiliate links to try to make some extra money from your writing.  To get started, go look at and to find some products to sell.  Good luck!

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