Is Affiliate Marketing STILL a Viable Way to Earn Extra Money as a Freelance SEO Writer in 2015?

One of the things I love about knowing the ins and outs of search engine optimization is that it teaches you how to market online. As I detail in this post, I have four income streams, and I owe most of my success to the knowledge I acquired on my way to becoming a SEO writer because …

Quite frankly because when you learn how to write SEO content, you’re learning so much more. You’re learning how to market online. This is the main reason most people don’t make money online — they don’t know the rules of the game. As an SEO copywriter, you will. And, this will allow you to make money in so many ways. 

In a nutshell, knowing how to effectively market online is what SEO is all about. I would even argue that unless you have dumb, blind luck (or a ton of cash to put into marketing), without some knowledge of SEO, it’s practically impossible to succeed long-term selling anything online. This brings me to today’s topic, which was inspired by the following email I received a couple of weeks ago. This freelancer wrote:

Questions from a Freelance Writer about Affiliate Marketing

HI Yuwanda! Hope you are well. Question for you, as this topic has been on my mind a lot.

First of all, is affiliate marketing [AM] dead? Has the ship sailed? The reason I ask is because I am working with a team of VAs now and thought I could use one of them to help me jump into the world of AM. Then one of my long time clients, when I reached out to him to discuss whether he’d be successful with it, said he had never made any money from it. So question one: still worth getting into? I have both your books on the subject.

Second, how do you choose products to promote besides your own? I have heard people say “just pick a clickbank product” but there’s got to be more to it than that, right? Each one needs to have a minisite, right?

I know this is a lot. Just wondering if it’s worth trying to create another stream of income with AM or not. It’s been awhile since your initial resources were published, so figured I’d better ask the source.

If You Know SEO, Making Money as an Affiliate Marketer Is So Much Easier

My Answers

I sent her back a quick a couple of days after receiving the email, saying:

Yes — definitely worth it to invest in affiliate marketing. BUT, it requires a lot of work. I’ll answer in a detailed post next week, ok?

So here’s my more detailed answer. Let’s take the questions one by one, many of which I’ve answered before, so I’ll link out to those.

1. First of all, is affiliate marketing [AM] dead? Has the ship sailed?

No, absolutely not. Affiliate marketing is not dead. This is an evergreen answer by the way. As long as people invent products and services, and want other people to promote them by offering them financial incentives to do so, then there will always be a way to earn money in affiliate marketing.

As an aside, many people write in asking me the same thing about SEO writing, and self-publishing. These are evergreen products and services people. All blogs and websites need content (they always will, hence the need for SEO writers.

Books have been written and published for thousands of years. In fact, the first books you could argue were self-published (writing on walls in caves). Self-publishing is just the latest twist on how the words get out there.

And that’s something to keep in mind, rules, regulations, mechanisms, policies and procedures may change around things like SEO writing and self-publishing, but you will ALWAYS be able to make money doing these things – just like in affiliate marketing.

2. Second, how do you choose products to promote besides your own?

These days, I don’t do much promoting of products that are not my own. Over the years, I’ve just found that I don’t enjoy working to promote the products/service of others as much as I enjoy promoting my own.

I think the reason is, when I’m working on an article, blog post, ad, social media campaign, etc. for that other person’s/company’s product/service, a little voice in my head is going, “This is time you could be spending promoting your own stuff.” But that’s just me.

Here are the rules I use to select affiliate products and services to promote. This hasn’t changed. But again, this is just me. Your criteria might be different. As an aside, one evergreen service I find pretty easy to promote is web hosting. Here’s a really good post that details why this is such a lucrative service to promote as an affiliate marketer.

FYI, I’m an affiliate for HostGator. I use them; am happy with them and can honestly and wholeheartedly recommend them. Here’s why.

Another product I’m an affiliate for is AWeber. Again, I use them (noticing a theme here) and am for the most part happy with them (their formatting can be wacky, but they’re reliable and again, I use them, so can honestly recommend them).

Note: More related posts about choosing affiliate products to promote.

3. I have heard people say “just pick a clickbank product” but there’s got to be more to it than that, right?

Of course, but again, it depends … on your goals, your marketing ability, your marketing budget, the time you have to devote to marketing, etc. I tend to choose products and services that:

(i) I know a lot about;

(ii) I actually use;

(ii) I have an intense interest in and/or am passionate about; and

(iv) Have a decent payout.

The reason is, I have to be able to write knowledgeably and/or from first-hand experience about them. People can sense phoniness – even online. You can’t fake truth and sincerity, so for me, these are musts. And, it must be worth my effort. It really is as simple as that.

FYI, here’s a really good post on how to choose affiliate products from someone MUCH more knowledgeable than I am. He earns $8,000 to $9,000 per month from a series of eight blogs. Over half of that is from affiliate marketing. It’s one of the reasons I chose to link to this blogger’s post, ie, many freelance writers already have blogs were affiliate products can easily be integrated into them. And he’s not earning outrageous amounts like $30,000, $50,000, $100,000, etc. per month or more, like some top affiliate marketers (eg, John Chow).

4. Each one [affiliate product] needs to have a minisite, right?

No, not necessarily. As I explain in this post, you can use the affiliate program operator’s website. When you choose a product on Clickbank, for example, all you have to do is enter some code in any traffic you drive to that site and that sale will be attributed to you.

So no, you don’t need to build a minisite. In fact, I don’t suggest that you do unless/until you know this is a product/service you’re going to invest in for the long haul.

By the way, another option is to use free sites like weebly and blogger to set up a web presence if you want. That way, you can test the viability of a product/service before investing money in things like hosting and design before setting up a permanent web presence. Learn more about why NOT to use free platforms in affiliate marketing.

Bottom line: Only use free sites as testers. Once you’re sure you want to add a product/service to your affiliate marketing stable, get off free platforms and onto one you have complete control over by getting your own web hosting provider.

Note: In the ebook on, I discuss some factors to consider when trying to determine whether to start a website or blog (Page 14). There’s a time factor involved, as well as other monetization options (eg, Google AdSense), so you want to get this right initially.


Affiliate marketing takes effort – like any other form of online marketing if you want to make money doing it. I haven’t poured much into it these last couple of years because my interests have changed (I’m into my romance writing these days, which is what I want to do long-term).

BUT … writing this post has made me realize that I could be a bit more proactive about promoting the few products I have stuck with over the years. Hmmmm …. 🙂

P.S.: Get the SEO Knowledge You Need to Start a Freelance Writing AND Affiliate Marketing Career. Click link below for details.

SEO Copywriting Course Online

P.P.S.: Remember, when you learn how to write SEO content, you learn so much more than this one skill because it gives you the knowledge you need to take control of your financial future.