I've been an affiliate for a long time, trying different ways and many different sites to make money. When I first started there were many things I didn't know and it seemed like I was banging my head against the wall just to make a few dollars... and sometimes just a few cents... but over time I learned a few tips and tricks.
1. One website isn't enough. When I first became an affiliate, I had one website; a site for women that featured recipes, articles, a shopping section, and more. I put affiliate ads on every page, but the shopping section was exclusively affiliate advertising. I spent more than a year submitting this site EVERYWHERE, constantly. I never made more than 20 dollars a month. To profit from affiliate advertising, you need many websites. Do you think having multiple sites is too much to maintain? Once you get them set up and get the hang of it, you will only spend a few hours a day on them, especially if you use BLOGS instead of the standard html sites, as mentioned below in the next tip.
2. BLOG! There are some advantages to having blogs and using them for your affilate advertising. You don't have to know html. Blogging has been made so easy that you just click here, copy and paste there, and you're done. Blogging can be FREE. Many sites such as blogger.com offer you a free blog. Blog articles get picked up VERY quickly at Google and other search engines, especially if you allow people to comment to your posts. If you get a blog, add to it every day, and put your affiliate advertising right into your article. The more blogs you have the better. I have a blog for coupons and savings, one for personal articles, one for news articles, one for just jewelry, one for coupons, one with a punk theme, one for poker, and one for internet chat logs, and I'm always trying to think of new blog ideas. They all link to each other and they all have affiliate advertising on them. In fact, my friends and I are working on building a blog empire!
3. One affiliate company isn't enough. In the beginning I was only signed up at linkshare.com. Sure, I was an affiliate at 100s of online stores through LinkShare, but I didn't realize how much I was limiting myself. You need to also sign up at Commission Junction (cj.com) and ShareaSale.com, and maybe one or two more. Many merchants only use one affiliate site. For instance, if you want to be a Macy's affiliate you'll need to be a member of Linkshare, but if you want commissions from Liz Clayborne, it's Commision Junction you'll need. Don't limit yourself!
4. Coupons and Sales. Many merchants offer coupon and promotional codes to their affiliates. Look for them and take advantage of them. Advertise the sales, too! People love saving money! Have you ever shopped online and then at the checkout you saw a box for coupon or promo code? Did you then open another browser and go try to find a coupon code for that site? I've done that a few times, as many people have. If you have a blog article entitled "Perfume.com coupon code" and then list the code as an affiliate link in the article with "click here to redeem", someone shopping at perfume.com WILL find it. When they see the box at the checkout for coupon code, many people will go to Google, type in "perfume.com coupon code," and find your article listed near the top. Like I said earlier, blog articles get into the search engines very quickly. Of course, my coupon blog, percentsavings.com, is filled with nothing but coupon codes and sales from 100s of online stores, and it's all affilate advertising.
5. Don't just add a link. Tell a little about the store/company and what they offer. If they were proudly founded in 1930, say so! If your link goes to their apparel section but they also offer bedding and kitchenware and dog collars, say so in your post! When you become an affiliate, you become a salesman. If you want commissions, make the merchant sound great!
6. Submitting isn't just for search engines. In addition to the search engines, submit your blog to forums sites that list blogs. Every incoming link helps, no matter where it is! For the sites that list blogs (bloggerinity.com, technorati.com, bloglines.com, etc.) you'll be required to link back to them, but that's a good thing! You should spend at least an hour a day just finding new places to submit to.
7. Consider Pay-Per-Click. Not to your site, but to the merchant's site, with your affiliate link as the URL. For instance, I use Google AdWords to advertise single sites I'm affiliated with, or even single products. Because of the Terms of Service I agreed to, I can't use the word "ZALES" as one of my keywords. But when I was notified by the affiliate company that ZALES was having a sale on children's jewelry, and I was given an affiliate link that landed on the sale page, I started a Google pay-per-click ad for it. I used the URL they gave me as the landing page so that it would have my affiliate tracking link in it, but I used "Zales.com" as the URL that shows up in the results, so that when it's clicked on in Google it goes to Zales but I still get a commission if they purchase. My search terms were Children's Jewelry, and Children's Jewelry Sale. I set it to 5 cents per click, and my entire Adwords campaign stops each day after I've spent $1. I kept this ad running for the duration of the sale. With the small number of clicks the ad got, I only spent about $6, but one purchase of an expensive item of jewelry gave me a commission of $34. Keep in mind, I'm using affiliate advertising, in this case, without ever having the link on any of my websites or blogs.
8. RSS. RSS feeds are becoming more and more popular. I subscribe to several blogs' RSS feeds, myself. It's just so much easier to get new articles to all my favorite blogs all in one place (I use Mozilla Thunderbird), and I know people who subscribe to RSS feeds appreciate seeing an RSS button on my site. It's very easy to implement, too. Just add a link on your blog to "http://yourdomain.com/?feed=rss2" and then anyone with an aggregator can subscribe to it. If you want to give them the option to subscribe to your blog's comments as well, the url is "http://yourdomain.com/?feed=comments-rss2." If you have a blog similar to my coupon site, RSS can really help you by sending your new items directly to a subscriber's aggregator, without you having to do anything at all!
9. Email signatures. For your email signature, use links to all your sites that have affiliate advertising on them. Family, friends, clients... anyone can be enticed to click on your ads!
10. Don't give up, and POST POST POST! It can become frustrating but NEVER give up! It takes time! Just keep working at it and you WILL start seeing some commissions eventually. My first blog was online for a few months and being added to daily before I started seeing commissions. Just be sure to post articles to your blogs constantly! Never miss a day!