Affiliate Link Secrets: How I Made $14,500 Overnight, the Good, Bad, and Ugly

I'm going to share a bit secret with all of you, I potentially just made over $14,500 with a single blog post. I'm going to share with you exactly how I did it, the product, the source, how I choose my niches, the traffic sources, conversion rates, and more importantly the psychology behind it all. There is a ton of money to be made in affiliate marketing, and more and more businesses are using it as their primary way to acquiring new customers. With the growing trend, you also get scammers, greedy pricks, and even flake blogs posts and articles written just to make money.

Some people hate affiliate links and run away from them like they're the plague. In every facebook post where someone shares an affiliate link, you'll have someone who is a genius at spotting them calling out the person posting it. In this post i'm going to share with you how to spot affiliate links, how to create and share your own, and why affiliate marketing has both serious pros and cons. If you hate affiliate links or refuse to share them because of principle, you're missing out on a lot of money and also potentially missing out on helping a lot of people as well. Here is everything you need to know about affiliate links whether you hate or love them.

What is an Affiliate Link

An affiliate link is a unique URL that contains the ID or username of the affiliate which is used by the advertiser or business to track leads and conversions. The reason why businesses use affiliates to promote their products is because:

1. It costs $0 to advertise.  Since the business only pays the affiliate based on performance, it's a simple profit share after the fact verses upfront money to advertise like with commercials, traditional ads, or sponsored posts.

2. Word of mouth is powerful. In the ideal situation, the affiliate would be using their personal circle of trust and influence to recomend your product or service, which means, the product is being personally vouched for.

3. It's trackable: The biggest problem with traditional advertising is the fact that it's very hard to track. When a company spends $1 million on a super bowl ad, they really have no idea how much direct return on investment they made back.

The Product I Promoted

Last week I saw a friend share his referral link for a new credit card offer that potentially gives 3% cashback on all purchases. He signed up himself, shared his link, with the simple caption of "interesting" and when I saw it on my facebook wall, I was intrigued enough to watch the video and join the waitlist which gave me the a spot in the queue of #7,659.  It then gave me the option to share my link on facebook and twitter to potentially get ahead in line as well as qualify for the 3% cash back tier straight away.

As an even bigger bonus, you also get $100 for every referral you make after you qualify for the top tier.

But here's the secret. Before blindly sharing the link, unlike other people I did my due diligence. I looked up the company to make sure they were legit, then read through their FAQ, terms, and fine print to make sure it's something I'd recomend to friends or family as well as use myself.

Building trust by only making earnest recommendations and only sharing what genuinely works is a huge key to my success with affiliate marketing.

I never share or promote anything that I don't personally use or believe in. It takes months if not years to build someone's trust, and only seconds to break it forever.

Look at my recommended resources page for some of the other things I promote.

The zero financial link I shared to earn $14,500 overnight.

The $15,000 Affiliate Link

Here's how to spot an affiliate link. Even though "EARLY9961" is very clearly disguised verses it being my name, it's my unique tracking ID.

With an amazon product my link may be something that looks like:

Key ways to spot an affiliate link is looking for terms like "Ref", "ID", "aid", "Aff",  "Click" or "Affiliate" in the URL. You can also redirect a link from a custom domain name or with a slash like

But here's the thing, it doesn't matter. What matters is the intent behind sharing the link. If someone is promoting a crap product or bad information, it doesn't matter if they are getting paid for it or not, they shouldn't be sharing that product in the first place. On the flip side, if someone is sharing genuinely good information or a product that truly works and will benefit the reader, I don't care if they are getting an affiliate commission or not. In fact, I want them to get credit for referring me.

The Scarcity Mentality: He's using an affiliate link, therefor he is only recommending it because he is getting paid to do so. By him getting compensation, the product must be bullshit.

The Abundance Mentality: Wow i'm so glad this product is giving him credit for taking the time to review the product and spread the word as I never would have heard about it if he didn't have an incentive to share.

Incentive and Compensation

You might think that if someone truly wanted to share great products, courses or services that they would do it without getting compensated or paid. I actually know some people who will purposely share links with (not an affiliate link) as a disclosure so people know they are "genuine" and being honest. Well here's the thing, if you have an abundance mentality, you would want them to use an affiliate link as you'd want to give them credit for telling you about such an amazing product.

If I trust a someone's judgement and character, I could care less if they are profiting from the link or not. If anything, I want them to get paid for it as it rewards their time and energy and allows them to have more time to share great things with me. As an example, I have one friend who has shared a link to a course that he's a paid member of and has a generous affiliate program. But instead of using his affiliate link, he linked directly to the homepage which doesn't give him any credit. In his mind, doing so would show his friends and readers that he was sharing it simply because the course really did work and he's made tens of thousands of dollars from what he learned in it. And maybe it worked.

But here's the thing. I've never seen him take the time since to share it again, write a detailed review about it, answer questions from people who are on the fence, or offer to help others get started with their stores. It's not because he's not a good person, because he is. It's not because he doesn't believe in the product, because he does. It's because he's too fucking busy working a job, trying to replace his online income with his store, and paying bills to be going on podcast interviews, creating youtube videos or writing reviews and guides.

If it wasn't for me potentially earning $100 per referral, I would have stopped talking about Zero Financial after I got my first 5 signups and qualified for the 3% cash back tier. Hundreds of people who would have loved to get in early in the wait list for this would have missed out.

My affiliate commission is now potentially over $20,000!

Case Study: Zero Financial 

Some of you may be thinking, wow thanks Johnny! I'm going to go take out facebook ads or start spamming all of my friends and start making $100 per sign up!

Well here's the thing, there's a ton more to being successful at affiliate marketing than to just finding a hot offer with a high payout. First you need to fully understand the terms of both the product and the affiliate program. If your audience can't benefit from the product, there's no point in promoting it no matter how good the payout is. One of the reasons why my link did so well is because the product is a perfect fit for my audience. I have thousands of people on my email list who have some type of online business where they are spending a lot of money each month fulfilling orders for their dropshipping store, or taking out google ads, all of which they'd happily earn 3% cash back on.

You'll also want to look at how you get paid. For this particular startup, if it wasn't for the fact that I wanted to share this anyways regardless if I got paid or not, I never would have spent much time or energy promoting it as the chances of getting paid are both really far in the future as well as slimmer than usual. First of all, it's a financial tech startup which means there's a small chance they'll never actually take off. And second the way I would actually get paid is if someone who went through my link actually went through with applying for the card when it comes out, and used it for two months afterwards. The $20,200 payout is only if everyone actually signs up and uses the card when it comes out, but even if only 10% of the people go through with it, I'll still make over $2,000. The good news is, I didn't write these posts or share the link just to get paid for it, I actually really enjoy recommending cool stuff. That's a big secret to success.

Another big secret is that fact that I could chose to endorse anything, I could link to any product or service with a high paying affiliate commission and easily make a few thousand dollars. But I choose not to because I don't want to recomend crap I don't believe and things I'm not personally excited about using myself.

Here are the metrics. I shared the link on my twitter page (1,850 followers) my facebook page, (1,332 friends) through this blog post, (3402 pageviews) and through email (1,100 opens).

Case Study: DJI Mavic Pro

I wish that an affiliate would have shared their link with me to buy the new DJI drone as I could have gotten on the preorder list weeks ago. It wasn't until today that I saw how freaking amazing this little thing is but now I'm a week behind in queue and can't get it in time for my trip back to the U.S. later this month. Instead i'm going to have to order it to a friends house and have him bring it to me when he comes to Chiang Mai in November.

If someone I knew would have been an affiliate for DJI and used their Mavic Drone Link so I could pre order it when it first came out, I would have knew sooner and been able to start making awesome drone videos during my trip to Hawaii instead of waiting a month to get it after my trip will be already over. By knowing they can earn $50 every time someone someone buys a drone through their link, they would have made it a priority to post early and often about the launch and how cool it is that it's now this tiny, foldable drone that's even cheaper than the original.

I would have happily used a friend's affiliate link to order it as the drone would cost me exactly the same, and I would know that my friend or whoever I was following had gotten paid for their recommendation. So if you knew about the new DJI Mavic coming out and didn't bother to review it, share it on social media, you just did me, your friends and your extended social circle a huge injustice. Your excuse might be might be that you were busy, you were at work, or that you assumed it wasn't your job to share it and that I would find it myself. Well this is why I wish you were an affiliate and getting paid to go promote cool shit.

The top DJI affiliate has made $116,602

Cons to Affiliates

So now that we know how earnest recommendations are beneficial for everyone involved, it's time to address the people who share crappy products just to make a buck. The problem with financial incentives is the fact that some people will think short term and just want to make a quick buck. These people will share any shit product that pays a big commission. Most of them won't ever buy or use the product first themselves as they know it's crap and wouldn't waste their own money on it. 

Here's the thing. There will always be greedy pricks out there that only care about making a quick buck. The good news is, most of these people will stop blogging or spamming links after a few months when they realized they've burned all of their bridges and trust and are now just wasting their time. Unfortunately, every day there's someone new who pops up promoting garbage through an affiliate program or a multi-level marketing scheme. I can see why some people get so outraged online and assume everything is a scam as once burned, twice shy. But here's the truth, you need to be smart enough to see through what is real and what is bullshit. As harsh as it sounds, it comes down to you. If you get an email from some unknown person saying you've earned $40 on Empowr when you've never done anything to deserve it, you should be smart enough to know it's a scam.

If someone tries to sell you some bullshit "viral blogging software" through the Empower network promising you that you can press a button and it'll do all of the work for you, it's also a scam. It's the same with weight loss pills, big dick pills, or any other get rich quick overnight type product. 

It's unfortunate that in this age you can't even google "is ___________ a scam" as all of the top sites themselves are bullshit scam review sites that are either trying to promote the product you searched for or a competitor's product, usually their own. 

There are both good and bad people in the world.

The Solution

Use some common sense, and ask yourself, does this even make financial sense for the product producer? If not, don't try to pull a fast one on them, life doesn't work that way.

Don't listen to any sites whose sole purpose is to "expose scams" 

Get to know the person who is recommending you products either through their videos, podcast, books, or interviews and decide for yourself if this is someone worth listening to.

Do your part in being an affiliate yourself, and combat the crap information out there with earnest recommendations. 

If you bitch and complain about things not working or things being a scam but you don't do your part to promote what genuinely works, then you are part of the problem. If your excuse is that you don't have the time or energy to create blog posts, or video reviews you're not helping the problem or adding value to the world. This is why affiliates should get paid and that it's ethical to get compensated for your efforts as long as you are earnest in your recommendations.

It's taken me two full days to write this post and honestly it's more trouble than it's worth as it's thousand times easier just to ignore people who ask stupid questions like "this is an affiliate link huh?" or "how much are you making for sharing this?" but I knew this information needed to be out there so I hope you share it. 

I created the Earnest Affiliate course to help people want to earn a living blogging, podcasting or otherwise recommending products and services they believe in to an audience but don't know where to start, how to build a blog, how to get traffic, or how to get approved by affiliate programs. 

I honestly don't care if you join the course or not as I make 20X more money as an affiliate promoting other people's products (ones that genuinely work) than I do teaching my course. Also if you think I spent the last two days writing this long ass article just to have a single link to sell you my course, you need to scroll back up and figure out which side of the mindset chart you're on. The course is there so anyone who genuinely wants to learn has an option and some guidance.

I hope this post clarifies the misconceptions about affiliate marketing. There is both good and evil in the world, it's up to you if you're going to be good, if you're going to stand back and watch the bad guys win.

Warm Regards,

Johnny FD

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Post a Comment

  1. Hi Johnny, great post! Thanks for taking the time to write it! I saw your link for Zero Financial the other day and signed up and I'm also sharing it to my circle because it's a great product. I also especially love your information contrasting the scarcity mindset vs the abundance mindset. It's so true! Keep inspiring with your success!

    1. Happy to share the info Antoine! I'm a huge believer in the abundance mentality. I'm glad people are picking up on it!

  2. Hey Johnny, I also signed up for the card through your link because I think it has great potential. But make sure you read the fine print: you only get $100 if the person make two purchases AND makes two qualifying direct deposits to their Zero account. Personally, I don't have enough confidence in a new company to make it my primary deposit account for my paycheck. Other people may feel the same so You may only end up getting a few hundred bucks

    1. Hey Paul, I also think the card has a ton of potential. I don't know how many people will switch their direct deposit over to a new card or company so it may end up being a much much smaller referral commission than the potential, but oh well, I didn't share it just to make a commission anyways which is kind of the bigger point of the article. =)

  3. A bit off topic but I thought affiliate links were against facebook's T&C. Or is that just in facebook ads and regular posts are okay?

    1. Hey Kathryn, in general facebook is fine with affiliate links. Otherwise people wouldn't be able to share things like "Recommend Uber to a Friend." They are more strict with their facebook ads landing on affiliate links, but there are ways around it like having it go to a blog post first with affiliate links there for an example.

  4. Spot on, and I love your candidness about this subject. I once told one of my family members about how I run a niche affiliate site selling pet grooming products, and he flat out called me a crook and compared me to a car salesman. LOL. What the fuck? Again, the site promotes pet grooming products - hardly anything to write home about. The site actually does really well and the average conversion rate for 2016 so far has been ~22%, so I don't see how I could be a "crook" for promoting/reviewing things I personally use to OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE LOOKING FOR GOOD PRODUCTS (at no additional cost to the consumer). Anyway, thanks for the perspective, I'll have to share your Scarcity/Abundance Mindset graphic on my site someday.

    1. Hey Whitney, glad you're doing well with your grooming site. Maybe you should be sharing the Abundance graphic with your ignorant family member. =)

  5. Hey Johnny,

    empowr is a social economy built to provide opportunities to people all around the world through a social networking platform that is easily accessible. It is a place where people can share content, advertise, sell products or services, and teach others how to use the site while gaining monetary compensation. empowr is most certainly not a get rich quick scheme. You won’t be able to join, put in minimal effort, and take home a big paycheck.

    If you have any questions about the empowr platform, please feel free to reach out to us, as we are more than happy to answer them!


    empowr support team


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