What is Affiliate Marketing? (Part 2)

Last time I tried to explain affiliate marketing in basic terms. Affiliate marketing is a huge topic! Here’s more…

what is affiliate marketing 2

PPC, CPM, CPA…huh?

When we’re talking about ads and affiliate links, there are different types of ads and sometimes, getting paid depends on which type of ad your site has. You will inevitably encounter a whole host of acronyms as you delve into the world of making money online — it’s enough to drive one batty! Let’s break it down…

CPA = Cost-Per-Action (sometimes referred to as CPL = Cost-Per-Lead)

Much of what I talked about previously would fall into this category. It works like this:

  • You put a CPA ad on your site. A reader clicks on it and is asked to complete some sort of action such as purchasing a product, signing up for a newsletter, providing an email address, printing a coupon or subscribing to something. You get paid when the reader completes the required action.

PPC = Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

Pay-Per-Click is different. As the name suggests, Pay-Per-Click works like this:

  • Each time one of your readers clicks on a PPC ad on your site, you get paid. The amount you are paid (CPC, or, the Cost-Per-Click) largely depends on your keywords and how much advertisers are paying for those keywords.

The most popular PPC program is Google Adsense which is a cinch to set up and use. You simply sign up, walk through the setup process and paste the provided snippet of code onto your site. That’s pretty much all that’s required from you. Google will then “read” your site, match the keywords it finds in your posts with advertisers that want to target those keywords and then ads will automatically pop up on your site accordingly.

CPM = Cost-Per-Mille or Cost-Per-Impression (sometimes CPI)

The “mille” here is Latin for 1000 and “M” is the Roman numeral for the same. So, some refer to this as Cost-Per-Thousand — thousand impressions or pageviews that is. It works like this:

  • You put an ad on your site and you get paid a predetermined amount for every 1000 pageviews on your site. So, for example, let’s say you are working with an ad network that pays $2 CPM. Every time their ad is shown 1000 times on your site, they pay you $2. Pretend your site gets 50,000 pageviews a month (and a particular ad shows up on every one of those pages because it’s in your sidebar). That means you will be paid $100 that month for that ad because $2 for 50 thousands (times it is “viewed”) is $100. Make sense?

When is PPC, CPM & CPA right for me?

Perhaps it’s obvious, but all of these advertising options work best for sites with high traffic since they are all dependent on lots of eyeballs seeing the ads and either clicking or completing actions. Then again, that’s the way it is with all advertising I guess. :)

Having said that, don’t be discouraged. My recommendation is to try all kinds and see which works best for you. All blogs are different and all bloggers have different levels of success when it comes to the types of ads they use.

What if I don’t have a lot of traffic?

Well, you have a few options:

  1. Increase your traffic.
  2. Use PPC, CPM and CPA ads as one of your many streams of income. Even if you don’t get a whole lot of money, a little is better than none. There’s nothing that says you can’t start advertising now, even if your traffic isn’t huge. In fact, it might be even better so you can work the kinks out of your system while your blog is still small.
  3. Do some research and find the campaigns which pay the most. For example, some CPC ads pay $.05 per click while others pay $10 per click. If you capitalize on the bigger ones, you’ll obviously make more.

How do I maximize my profit from affiliate marketing?

I hate to sound like a broken record, but again, it’s all going to be unique to you and your blog. But if you’re stumped and truly aren’t sure where to start, take a look at the bigger blogs in your niche. How are they utilizing advertising? What types of ads do they use? Where are they placed on the page?

Ask around. In my experience, if you establish a good relationship with other bloggers (and especially if you are giving more than you are taking in that relationship), most are more than willing to share tips and hints about what has and has not worked for them.

Never stop trying new things. For example, sign up with Google Adsense as I mentioned above. Then check out the Official AdSense Channel on YouTube for great tips, tutorials and info. Try other ad types as well. If you do, google “[name or type of ad] tips” or something similar and see what you can find.

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  1. says

    Amy, I really need some help. I am new to this and so confused. I have a website created using WordPress. I am approved by multiple companies to be an affiliate marketer. I copy the affiliate link they provide for each item I want to market. I create a post and paste the link. I’ve also drug a text widget to my primary or secondary sidebar bad past the link. It shows up but is not clickable. I am getting zero support from anyone. Please help me!

  2. Karyn says

    Hello Amy Lynn,

    I’m in the preparation stages of starting my first blog. The information in this post (and part 1) was so helpful! You answered all my questions and gave a blueprint for how to get started making “profit” with a blog. Thanks!

  3. says

    I am extremely unhappy with adsense. I had their ads on my blogger blog for a few months and made a small amount of $$. Then when my page views shot way up from being mentioned on some other blogs and I started making a little more money google disabled my account due to what they call ‘invalid clicks’. I followed their rules, I did not click on my own ads, I did not ask anyone to click on them. But they are google and they can do what they want I guess. Amy have you heard of anyone else having this happen? My sister had the same experience and said she had read online that google is rather notorious for this. How do you big bloggers stay with them? How do you ever get bigger with them? My google stats had more than doubled, the amount I was making wasn’t double but had gone up a little. I don’t know whether to try to go back to google and see if they will change their mind? And chitika does not pay much at all. My sister has had their ads on her blog for months and has not met the $10 requirement for payment. I don’t like the ads they throw on their – they are nothing much at all in the way of ads anyone would click on. Is there anyone else out there that we can try???

  4. says

    Okay, I have signed up with adsense, but I haven’t gotten an email saying I’m approved. I, however, do have an account that I can see has $0. I’m trying to figure this out, but do I have to put an add on my site before I am fully approved? Also, when signing up for the adds it says “name.” What is supposed to go there? I’m so sorry. I’m trying to find a tutorial, but I haven’t been successful and clearly this is out of my league. :)

    • Amy says

      Hi Johanna, check out this video tutorial which walks you through setting up an ad. (This is the official Google AdSense channel on YouTube and there are a lot of videos that are helpful so look around.) Also, there’s a lot of helpful information about signing up etc. here.

  5. says

    Hi, Amy! I’m using Blogger and just set up an Amazon affiliate account. If I’m blogging a book review and want to highlight the title and my readers to be able to click that link and go straight to the book at the Amazon store to purchase it, how do I paste the code Amazon gives me? Usually if I link to something I just highlight the address of where I want the link to take them and paste it into the link’s address box. Love all your hard work!

  6. says

    Hi again Amy! I’ve got an affiliate banner in my side-bar, but I can’t figure out how to do a text link to a specific product. Is that something I need to ask the company, or should I be able to do it the same way with all affiliates?

    • Amy says

      Ideally you would be able to create a custom link to that specific product so I’d check with the company to see if/how you can do that.

  7. says

    Hi Amy! I have followed your site from the very start of my blog and am now ready to add adsense on – I installed the easy peasy adsense plugin and am trying to add the code to a text widget in the sidebar – but it doesn’t seem to be working… any tips or better plugin to use with atahualpa? Thanks so much – I LOVE your blog and help advice!

    • Amy says

      How about just copying and pasting the code right into your theme without using the plugin? That’s always my preferred route. (Don’t like so many plugins which slow things down.) :)

      • says

        So enter through a text widget? I don’t see an ad but understand it can take up to 48 hours? Or should i have entered the code I copied elsewhere? I am speaking of AdSense. My affiliate codes appear to be working just fine!

        • Amy says

          Not sure I’m trackin’ with ya, but once you grab the code when you set up your AdSense ad, paste that code directly into a text widget. It can take a while to show up, but it usually appears in a few hours (or minutes) for me.

  8. says

    I think Brittany asked this in your first of these two posts, but where do I paste the html text for my affiliate banners? I pasted mine in my widgets sidebar, but they are unclickable there. Where should I paste them to make them clickable?

    • Amy says

      Yes, you would paste them in a widget but make sure are pasting the right code. If you want to create a link in your sidebar, you need to have the < a href="AffiliateURLHere" rel="nofollow">Link text here< /a >
      If you’re linking to an image, for example, you would need to include the img tag as well like so:
      < a href="YourAffiliateLink" rel="nofollow">< img src="ButtonURLhere" >< /a >
      I hope that makes sense.

  9. Sherri says


    I would probably disagree with not putting up the ads right away. I don’t see a “down side” to have the ads there while you are learning. I just started my blog last week but I have made a tiny bit of $$ (emphasis on “tiny”!).

    Also, you will have time to work out the bugs and learn the best way to post your links before a ton of people see you making goofy mistakes :)

    I have not yet figured out how to file all of my links so that I can find which text links I want to use in posts. Gotta stick them in a spreadsheet, I believe.

    Curious if there are any contrary opinions and if so, why.

    Best wishes,

    • Amy says

      Also, you will have time to work out the bugs and learn the best way to post your links before a ton of people see you making goofy mistakes :)

      Thanks a good point, Sherri.

      My only caution is to make sure your ads don’t outweigh your solid content which can be the case when you’re just starting.

  10. says

    I’ve read on quite a few blogs that it isn’t a good idea to put up ads until you have established a good amount of traffic, but no one seems willing to put a number on it.

    Do you have an opinion on this? I’m close to 100 views a day. Should I throw some ads up there, or keeping plugging along trying to build readership?

  11. says

    Great post. I’ve kind of taken a break with “promoting” my affiliates as I investigate to see which ones are going to be best for me. I need to narrow it down to just one or two, and maximize on those. Having too many has caused confusion and disappointment on my part. I need to do better with keeping up with the tutorials and tips on how to better work my Adsense. It’s taken me almost three years to get a payout on that one. Again, great post. Thanks.

    • Amy says

      Well, first I should say I don’t have any personal experience with CPI/CPM networks, so you’ll have to do a little research and asking around. There are some things you should be aware of before you “sign on the dotted line.” :) First, it’s likely you’ll have to sign a contract and you may have to apply to get into the network. You also may be limited in other ads you can accept on your site as well as limits on giveaways. So, make sure you understand all that it entails. CPM networks work very well for lots of people and they are pretty easy to use, so check it out!

      Anyway, here are some CPM networks you might check out:
      Blogher, Glam Media, Juice Box Jungle, BurstMedia, FoodBuzz, ValueClick, Lijit

  12. says

    Amy, thanks for the great info on monetizing. I have followed your step-by-step guide and although it’s taken me a month to launch, I am up & running! I was confused about Adsense because I couldn’t find any ‘campaigns’ like there are on Logical Media, but your post explains it now, that it’s automatic. Thank goodness Google looks at content to find ads relevant, and I also learned Adsense has filters you can place on certain types of unwanted advertising.

    Looking forward to reading more from you!

  13. says

    Thanks for clearing that up. I’m a bit new to affiliates, I’ve only been blogging for 3 years….yes, I’m a dork! Just never got into making money with my blog. I always ‘made’ stuff to sell to make money. Wow, I missed out on a lot!

    Thanks for the info! :)

  14. says

    As always Amy, you are a great help to all of us. You explain things in an understandable way so we can all grow. I hope you know how much we all appreciate your sharing all your knowledge with us.

    Thank you so much for defining the affiliate marketing terms so eloquently.