If like me you’re interested in creating a rewarding website-based business, then this particular pathway can generate a lucrative income for relatively little investment of money or time, with the potential for eventual sale at a substantial profit.

Why this opportunity is so different

In a traditional commission arrangement, you sell something which isn’t yours and receive a commission from the owner of the goods or service. We all understand that. It goes without saying that you are actually working at some kind of job which provides the platform for this incentive-based remuneration.

But imagine if you had a set-up which produced automated online referrals to a seller, who then paid you a commission on anything that was sold as a result of your referral. You have no real costs entailed. You don’t own the inventory or pay the cost of the storage and delivery systems and you don’t have any accounting to manage. You just get paid for doing almost nothing.

The basic requirement is that you need to set up, or buy, an effectively functioning website that draws regular traffic. Once that’s been achieved, you’re well on your way to owning a potentially highly profitable ‘Affiliate Business’.

What is an Affiliate Business?

So what is an Affiliate (Advertising/Marketing) Business and how does it work? Well, Amazon Affiliate is only one of the many enterprises now operating in this space, but as it was one of the first and remains the largest let’s look at Amazon primarily.

Becoming an Amazon Affiliate business is as simple as registering with Amazon at no cost and then you begin promoting literally any of the products Amazon handles and you get paid a commission on all sales which emanate from your promotion.

How does it work?

The infrastructure for this is amazingly simple. You have a website which features products relevant to your audience. When a website visitor clicks on a product profile, created by Amazon with no work involved for you, this creates a 24-hour duration cookie. Now here’s the exciting part. You get a commission on anything at all that the visitor buys from Amazon in the next 24 hours, not only the items you were actually featuring.

Simply to illustrate, let’s say you have created or acquired a website that features boating and fishing tips, news and stories. On a current post, you have an engaging and informative article on how to choose the best fishing reel, having regard to the fact that these vary in price from around $40 to well over $1000.

Using an extremely simple process you embed Amazon’s own seller descriptions for some of these items, enabling your visitors to click through the links. That’s all there is to it. Tracked by the 24-hour cookie if they then buy anything at all on Amazon over the next 24 hours, including download services, you get the commission. This includes expensive high-end items totally unrelated to the direct content of your website.

Think of it as being paid by a business for your online version of a ‘word of mouth’ recommendation. The actual commission structure is quite complex and strongly rewards higher volume sales, with a peak commission of 8.5%. But even a single sale will earn you 4%.

Is Amazon Affiliate the only option?

No, not at all. There are numerous providers of Affiliate Marketing programs. It’s important to do the research and decide which will work best for you and your website niche. Whether you decide to hook up as an Amazon Affiliate or commit yourself to an alternative targeted ads partner like Google’s AdSense, it is obviously important to understand the commission structures and to do the due diligence so you don’t get caught not understanding the Terms of Service (ToS) arrangements.

For a beginner in this space, Amazon is a very safe place to start because it has massive inventory in virtually every market niche and has a very high level of customer trust when it comes to making an online purchase. You can always migrate to an alternative program later.

Some things to consider

Always carefully check and observe the Terms of Service provisions. While Amazon, for example, makes the setting up of the Affiliate Business arrangement pretty simple, they don’t hesitate to embargo you if you breach a condition, such as making sure to never state a product price or specification within your own website content. And once embargoed, it is close to impossible to be reinstated!

Setting up the relationship and commission payment arrangements is fairly straightforward, but because of stringent identity checking requirements, it takes a bit of effort – more than setting up an Airbnb host account, for example.

The real challenge is to have a website which will attract traffic of the right kind and in sufficient volumes. Amazon will require the details of your website/s as part of the initial registration, but there is no stringent website quality checking on their part. At the end of the day if your website doesn’t attract sufficient traffic to re-direct to Amazon products or services in any great numbers, then all that means for them is that they won’t be paying out much commission.

Naturally, you want your website to be of the highest possible quality anyway and to feature regular posts of interest to engage your target audience. The more clearly you can define this niche and then concentrate on developing quality content for that audience, the better.

Personally, I like this Affiliate Business model because it genuinely rewards the creation of high-quality websites, including blog/vlog sites, and provides monetisation rewarding the level of audience traction gained. All of this at no additional cost to you and with the potential for very substantial commission payments.

Initially, you may be covering only your website hosting costs, but once you create and sustain good quality content with precisely targeted affiliate ‘advertising’ you may be earning enough to pay freelance writers for a great range of engaging content. Eventually, there’s a real potential to earn more than a good salary and start paying off the mortgage at a stellar rate!

Producing high traffic to make your affiliate advertising take off

It’s essential to have a website in an area of genuine interest for you. Authenticity of interest will enable you to work effectively with commitment and enthusiasm and will provide sustainable motivation for the long-term, or until you sell your website at a good profit!

High traffic can be produced if your website is in an area of interest to a large number of people, for example, a site on pet welfare and nutrition. Think of the enormous range of relevant products you could be ‘advertising’ in this context. While more narrow interest areas may produce lower traffic, there may still be a very high level of potential buyer interest in higher-cost products that you have sourced and can promote.

If you have your website up and running already, then linking it in as an Affiliate Business with Amazon or another partner is a prospect really worth considering. Alternatively, you can plan and create a website in an area of authentic interest for you but intended from the outset to be pitched as an Affiliate Business.

Would I consider buying an existing website and turning it into an Affiliate Business?

Yes, this is an intriguing and genuinely exciting opportunity which I’m currently exploring for myself right now. It’s also worth considering the acquisition of an already existing Affiliate Business which is up for sale, if it’s currently operating profitably or better still if you can see it’s got high potential yet to be realised.

It’s true, there’s never money to be made without any effort at all. The trickiest part of the Affiliate Business model is choosing a website niche that genuinely suits your interests and developing it as an affiliate advertising platform. Generating high-quality content and managing your SEO is the key to high visitor traffic and conversion to the click-based commission revenue. Ultimately the yield will make the website profitable and self-sufficient enough to support paid content writing. That will free you up to start your next website in a different niche, working towards your ultimate goal of building an Affiliate Businesses portfolio.