Affiliate Program Guide for People trying to make it online

This blog post will answer three often repeated questions, when it comes to affiliate programs:

  • What are the best affiliate programs?
  • How to find the best affiliate programs?
  • Which affiliate programs pay the most? 

First of all, if you are looking for affiliate programs that pay well you probably already have a blog or you are thinking of getting one and thinking about monetizing it.

/*This guide will not contain any affiliate links and is not monetized in any way. My only intention is to help. And to provide information for people who have chosen the very-hard road to making a living online.

Welcome to the ranks of people making (or trying to make) a living online!
You are in for a tough ride. Tighten you seat belt and prepare for the journey of your life.

In this guide I make two assumptions about you: 

  • You don’t have tens of thousands of $ to invest in your website and hire a digital marketing agency(ies) to get your blog to the top for you
  • Your final goal is to make a living online from your websites and make that your full-time job

In order to understand how to find the best affiliate program we need to do some “mythbusting” first:

There is NO best affiliate program(s)! you need to stop looking for the best/highest paying affiliate programs.

Instead you have to look for the best affiliate program for you!

Why? It’s all about the money, the percentage they pay after each sale/subscriber and the best affiliate programs are the highest paying affiliate programs. – you might say

Allow me to explain:

The first most important thing when choosing the best affiliate program

If you are starting out and you intend to monetize your blogs you need to work your ass off. If you are starting out and you are blogging/working on your website while working full time: you have no idea what you are in for.

There is no healthy work-life balance for you in your first two years (usually it takes that long to start making some serious money with your blog, $ 500+ per month and you need multiple very popular blogs to be able to quit your full-time job).

You need to devote yourself entirely to your goal. ALL your free time, which is not spent working at the your workplace needs to be devoted to your blog (say goodbye to social life! or any other hobby). Or you won’t succeed.

And this is exactly why a simple percentage becomes irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

Choose an affiliate program based on your interests, not percentages

And this is why it is important to choose affiliate programs not based on percentage but based on your interest.

You need to choose something that won’t make you throw up just by hearing or reading about it after two years of blogging – two years of blogging without making any significant money from blogging.

Instead of choosing an affiliate program based on percentages you need to ask yourself:

  • What are my interests?
  • What do I like to do or read about outside of my work/profession ?

/Choosing something not-work related is recommended. Imagine you are working 9 hours only to go home and blog about the same stuff 1-2 hours each day and all weekend.
You will burn out sooner, than you could say: “Fuck this!” :)/

You don’t have to be an expert of the niche in the beginning. Being interested in the niche is enough, in two years time you will be a self-taught expert.

You will explore, research and by the end of the second year you will become a self-taught expert of every facet of the niche you have chosen (of course, only if you take it seriously). And I guarantee you, that you will hate whatever niche(s) (remember you need multiple popular blogs, not just one if you intend to make a living from blogging) you have chosen.

After the first few months of the initial rush of motivation it will be really hard to create useful content, which is interesting and helps people.

And you can only succeed by providing: highly useful content, which is interesting and helps people. Now wonder as much as 90% of blogs get abandoned after a year.

The competition is extreme already, and is constantly growing in every niche. If you are thinking of making a living online and you only start in 2020 you are quite the late-comer.

In short: You need to choose something that you can blog about for two years+, research it and bring something new and fresh to the table.
Money follows success and the more interest you have in whatever you are blogging about your motivation will increase and you will be more often inspired (even after working 9 hours at the office and you are dead-tired).

Being inspired is paramount to create astounding content, which performs well. (kick-ass content is the only content worth producing, because the competition is already so high, filler content will get next to no visitors).

The second most important thing when choosing the best affiliate program

Life-time revenue share or subscription share affiliate programs >single-sale affiliate programs.

Single-sale affiliate programs: Pays after each successful sale coming from your blog

Life-time revenue share: Pays after each successful sale coming from your blog and each successive sale made by the same customer

For example:You blog about golf clubs and you have affiliate banners on your blog, which pay 50%  if someone buys a golf club at the store you advertise.

It might sound good on paper and 50% is indeed quite high. However making and maintaining a successful blog is hell of a lot of work, a lot of time.
And time is money.

With a single-sale, non-lifetime revenue share affiliate program your acquisition cost per sale can quickly become unsustainable and unprofitable and you will be less interested in return visitors to your site.

With a single-sale affiliate program:

If a new visitor arrives at your blog post and clicks on a text link or banner link on your blog, then that’s it. No matter how many times they are returning and clicking on ads of the golf club company they are not going to generate any more money for you.
/Of course there are cross-selling opportunities (i. e.: golf balls) . But there is a limit on how much ads you can put on your website before you start to look like a spammy, thin affiliate site./

If you only have single-sale affiliate links on your blog, then you can not make the assumption, that a growing number of visitors to your website will lead to an increased revenue!


  • the value of returning visitors is very low compared to new visitors
  • as the websites ages, the percentage of returning visitors compared to new visitors will increase

You will end up absolutely dependent on an influx of new visitors and you will end up disregarding your return visitors in favor of new visitors.

The biggest problem with this model  – if you are intending to make a living online from your website –  is that it is unsustainable. As your website gets bigger and bigger, the amount of time just for maintenance will grow and your expenses will grow as well.

Not to mention, what will you do if every potential buyer/customer have seen your blog already? (It can happen if you choose a very small niche) You will bring in un-targeted visitors with 0.0001% conversion rate?

The key to making a living online from your website is growth focusing on quality and by providing useful content and sustainability. This will inevitably leads to return visitors. So it is key to monetize return visitors.

With a life-time revenue share affiliate program: 

With a life-time share program you will be interested in growing the number of return visitors. The best way to do that is focusing on quality and by providing useful content, which you have to do anyway if you intend to be successful.

You will still have cross-selling opportunities. Therefore it is safe to say, that single-sale affiliate programs offer no advantage over life-time revenue share programs.

If you are planning to make a living online life-time revenue share affiliate programs are your best choice.
In time you can build up a big portfolio of customers, who will generate passive income for you (the holy-grail of affiliate marketing).

With single-sale affiliate programs you can never get passive income because you always have to work to bring in new visitors.


This is how you find the best affiliate program: 

  • find out what interests you
  • look for a life-time affiliate program in that niche

If there is no life-time revenue share affiliate program in the niches you are interested in (which I doubt, you can find life-time revenue share affiliate programs in almost every niche), then you won’t be able to make a living from your blogs and make that your full-time job.

niche you are interested in + life-time revenue share affiliate program= the best affiliate program for you

By choosing the right affiliate program you can monetize your blog(s) and become successful and the more successful you are the more you can make with you affiliate program.


This article is a follow-up of my previous article. I highly advise you to read it before continuing with this one, otherwise you might get lost.  You are right to ask after reading my previous article, that why exactly is it bad if I just appeal to the lowest common denominator of my potential visitors. Well people with lower IQ are known to have shorter attention span (from content marketing perspective it’s important because of the time spent on the webpage) and are less affluent (important for conversion rate) and are less likely to convert into loyal returning visitors, not to mention your comments section would look like a 4chan board! Nobody wants that. You want the marketing of quality.

What not to do

If your website is accurately described by the following, then you are doing something wrong. As discussed by in the previous article optimization for lowest common denominator or “dumbing-down” is in my opinion only a short-term traffic boost at best. Your fluctuating traffic and non-existent returning visitors make long-term planning impossible. Your conversion rate will suffer too and as we all know, that is much more important than the traffic itself. You dumbed down hoping for more traffic, which worked for a while but then you had to repeat it and again and again creating a “perpetuum mobile” of continuous stupification. You probably have your website  and one domain and astonishing number of sub-pages within it. You might wonder whether is it a good thing from an SEO perspective. That’s a very interesting question. I would definitely not do it.  This is  however a very complex subject and requires it’s own discussion, as usual I will link that article here , when it’s done. UPDATE: It’s done:  ”Domains, Subdomains, Subfolders, SEO and The Human Mind“ For now I only say, that if you have an already established high PR domain, ranking for many keywords then stick with it but if you are just creating your new site then definitely create separate domains for each separate specialized category. I will elaborate on this of course.

The right way, the marketing of quality

This brings us to the right way to increase your traffic, while avoiding the trap of perpetual dumbing-down. Specialization is the key but you have to specialize in many different niches and then interlink between the different websites on separate domains. Creating a mini “online empire”. Organic traffic here we go!  The way on how to connect your websites and whether you should create a “mothership” website is case-dependent but I will elaborate on it in the upcoming article. There is tremendous opportunity in controlling your own website park, which you should aim for in all cases. This solves all the major problems of bad or lazy content management.

  • Specialized websites: Say goodbye to the hordes of consumeridiots and welcome your new sophisticated, intelligent, polite visitors, a dream come true for every website owner. You offer value to valuable people, who also contribute and take part in content creation. Cool things are possible here. The sky is the limit and your website can even become a hotbed of innovation and the envy of all your cyber neighbors.
  • Stability: We all know that seasonality is unavoidable but a stable stream of visitors make it easier to plan long-term no to mention makes you attractive for potential advertisers if your website happen to have ads on it. This is really great for your social activity since a stable stream of visitors helps creating and helps to maintain discussions.
  • High conversion rate on all the websites: The holy-grail of online marketing will not be automatically yours but you are definitely one step closer to reaping the rewards of hard-work and determination.
  • Myriad of cross selling opportunities: And also up-selling opportunities but the real and obvious advantage is the cross selling opportunity between complementary niches and specialized websites. Imagine someone searching for fried chicken online and ends up on your website, which delivers fried chicken however you happen to have a pizza delivery business on the side as well and you simply place a small banner linking to it on your site. BAAM! Cross selling, complementary niche, high conversion rate, satisfied consumer effortlessly.

What to do if you are heading for the wrong direction?

Let’s say you are for many of your own reasons poorly optimized  and you want to change it. The bad news is that you may have to start from scratch and it is a very difficult situation, entirely dependent on your particular case and your current situation. At times like that I strongly advise calling an expert since this is an equivalent of a car engine malfunction. You probably can replace a  dead battery but it is not advisable to tinker with an engine. Some things need to be handled by experts.

Keeping these simple instructions in mind you too can become a sorcerer of web traffic and can do magical things.

The Prostitution Of Content: Is dumbing down the repercussion of good marketing?

Are you looking for quality content? Originality and fresh new perspectives? Well then, you should be looking for things that are unpopular and hard to find. Things that you do not normally find on the first Google search result page.

Popular things are usually lacking depth,and may even be stupid and simplistic: here is why.

In this article I will not talk about alternative measurements of Intelligence and I will accept IQ as a somewhat reliable assessment of one’s mental acuity. I know this is not entirely true but that’s a discussion for another time.

Lowest common denominator, the science of stupid

First of all we have to understand what constitutes as average IQ.

According Wikipedia: “Approximately 95% of the population have scores within two standard deviations (SD) of the mean. If one SD is 15 points, as is common in almost all modern tests, then 95% of the population are within a range of 70 to 130, and 98% are below 131. Alternatively, two-thirds of the population have IQ scores within one SD of the mean, i.e. within the range 85-115.”

-Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence_quotient#Modern_tests

Therefore the mathematical average of the IQ is by definition 100.

However, reality is not a mathematical equation. Economic factors strongly influence intelligence and most people are living in developing countries.

Developing countries also have the highest fertility rate, and many developed countries are actually experiencing negative population growth. Therefore the expected Bell curve of global IQ distribution is distorted and skewed. Currently the mean IQ of the world is 88.49 ! – Source: http://www.fourmilab.ch/documents/IQ/1950-2050/

Most of my visitors  at the website and most of my clients are from developed countries, generally from North America and Europe. Therefore their average IQ is more than likely to follow a normal distribution: on average slightly over 100 IQ.

If one of my average visitors was to have a cup of tea and a friendly chat with a man with the mean IQ of the world, he would undoubtedly find him charming but naïve.  He would definitely notice, that this man is not the brightest apple in the bunch with an IQ of 88.5.

You could say that the average man on the planet does not have internet access and therefore it does not matter, when we are talking about the digital population.

You are right, for now.

Currently the global internet penetration according to the International Telecommunication Union shows the following distribution:

World population6.6 billion7.0 billion
Fixed subscriptions5.3%8.5%
Developing world2.3%4.8%
Developed world18.3%25.7%
Mobile subscriptions4.0%17.0%
Developing world0.8%8.5%
Developed world18.5%56.5%
.-Source: International Telecommunication Union http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics/at_glance/keytelecom.html

Not too bad, and it means that you, as an internet participant, are part of a much more elite and intelligent community than the offline world.

/As hard it is to believe considering all the trolls and youtube comments/

But by the time half of the developing world will be wired (sometimes before 2020; the date varies depending on the source and the different methods of calculation) the average IQ will sink to an astounding 92 on average, online!

Significant decrease indeed. It is only a rough estimate, since the Flynn effect predicts that the global IQ will constantly increase. However such an increase is only observed so far in developed countries and, even more specifically,  in urban areas. Whether this changes over time remains to be seen. Therefore I did not calculate with it.

Business of stupidity, blog management rethought

This is when its importance to business comes in! Imagine you are the marketing manager of a busy website, which publishes content in many categories and appeals to a wide audience. You are tasked with increasing traffic.

You have quality content, written by educated intelligent writers and contributors and you have high standards.

The logical step in this case is to try to find the lowest common denominator of your target audience, since specialization in a niche would result in significantly less traffic. If you have an English website you have to adjust your content to a global audience. Right now the average IQ of the online global audience is: as discussed 95.

From a mathematical point of view if you want to maximize the potential visibility of content you have to engage in the “prostitution of content”. You have to go one standard deviation below the average IQ so that 95% of your visitors will fall into the defined category. This makes sense mathematically (statistically) speaking and it is true if the sample size is large enough.

This gives us a target score of 80, which is just 10 points above mental retardation! And by 2020 the target score will be 77.

How scary is that?

If you want to increase traffic (for simplicity’s sake let’s say revenue is proportional with traffic), you had better get your articles written and proofread by less intelligent people. This is not a joke.

Based on my experience, as much as 70% of all the content published on online blogs is written by a team and not by a sole individual (despite claims to the contrary and Google authorship). Most likely that team has at least one smart marketing professional. One smart marketing professional, who knows about this issue of worldwide IQ, or at least suspects it.

So next time you are reading a website, if you think to yourself, “This website feels like it was made for idiots” –  you are probably right.

Feeding the monster, long-term repercussions of good marketing

If this wasn’t enough, it is suspected that higher IQ individuals experience a temporary drop in IQ if they are within the company of lower IQ individuals for a long period of time.

So one long-term consequence of good marketing/content management/blog management is the possibility that the worldwide horde of imbeciles will not understand your content. And these people will continue to multiply, perpetuating stupidity. A thought too scary to contemplate.

I believe one of the biggest challenge of blog management and content marketing is how to solve this conundrum. How to be successful without dumbing down.


There is a solution.

For a marketing professional trying to make money online, things are not as easy, but you probably used to it by now. I will write an article detailing ways on how to get more traffic while still avoiding this trap of dumbing down, the trap of the lowest common denominator.

Stay tuned!


I promised a follow-up and a deeper look at the SEO implications of domains, subdomains, subfolders and how you should build up your online empire in my previous article “Quality over Quantity, The Marketing of Quality and Content Marketing”.  You have to mimic the cognitive processes of the human mind itself. Sounds fancy? Well it is easier than you think and Google tries it’s best to do it for years now(They are pretty good at it btw. Knowledge graph anyone?). When it comes to domains we need to look at the cognitive process of conceptualization and how the human mind builds concepts and makes generalizations. First of all let’s start with the basics:


In my case the root domain is http://adultsblogging.com and I have a 301 redirect on it to : http://adultsblogging.com/personal/ as we discussed it here.  Technically http://www.adultsblogging.com/personal/ is not the same domain however I also have a PHP canonical redirect set up for the website so for all practical purposes we can treat them as the same.

Subdomain, Subfolder

In my case the subfolder is http://adultsblogging.com/personal/ but I’m experimenting with this however. I’t s really interesting
and if you are interested in my little experiment with redirects and multiple separate installations of WordPress (not Multipress) on the same domain in different subfolders just drop me a line in the comments and I will elaborate. For now it is not important. A subdomain would be http://adultsblogging.personal.com but I don’t have any.  What’s really important is that currently: Subfolders and subdomains from SEO perspective are the same! (According to Matt Cutts http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_MswMYk05tk  31.10.2012) The only difference right now is that Google will show a maximum of two URLs on a given search results page from a subdomain but may show more from a root domain if it has multiple subdomains.  So really just use whichever is the easiest to set up on your CMS (content management system).

Separate domain

It’s just a separate domain a microsite perhaps or your other Blog. It does not benefit from the root domain’s Pagerank the same way as a subdomain or subfolder and the only benefit is a backlink (if you give it any) and has to establish it’s own reputation\Pagerank .  By the way microsites. I will talk about them in detail, when to use microsites and when not to  in a future article. Generally speaking I’m not a fan but they have their uses but you must have a very specific reason and you must do your research.

Now, that we have the basics behind us let us analyze what is behind this and why is this like this, so that you will know how to deal with complex and unusual situations as well.

Conceptualization and SEO

Let’s use the example we used in my previous article and take that example to the next-level:

“ Imagine someone searching for fried chicken online and ends up on your website, which delivers fried chicken however you happen to have a pizza delivery business on the side as well and you simply place a small banner linking to it on your site.” 

Different types of trees used to illustrate the process of generalization. The first row showcases different types of trees an each points to a generic tree in the second row,symbolizing conceptualization/generalization.

In this case you have two separate websites on two separate domains optimized for “fried chicken” (possibly other long-tail keywords too)  and “pizza delivery” (possibly you need some long-tail specialization like “Chicago Deep Dish Pizza”because it is really hard to rank for a highly competitive keyword)  they are all sub-domains or sub-folders of a main food delivery website. You can easily see how they are logically connected and the vertical slope of conceptualization.  The cognitive process of concept building is at work here. The concept is “food delivery” and the specific foods are “pizza” and “fried chicken”. This is how the human mind thinks and if you apply this you will know what to do even in complex cases. On the picture you can see the same only with trees.

Good Web Architecture is Human Thinking Translated into Websites

Really, that’s all it takes you just have to know how to translate natural human cognitive processes into websites, into website structure/architecture. Google invests Billions into figuring out how to do this and how to translate and code human thinking but you don’t have to(unless you are a spambot). You only have to think in websites and interactions and interrelations between websites. If your websites have conceptually overlapping content or overlapping optimization then you should connect them and the degree of connection and type of connection should reflect how closely related and overlapping they are.