In April 2008 the State of New York inserted an item in the state budget asserting sales tax jurisdiction over Amazon.com sales to residents of New York, based on the existence of affiliate links from New York–based websites to Amazon. The state asserts that even one such affiliate constitutes Amazon having a business presence in the state, and is sufficient to allow New York to tax all Amazon sales to state residents. Amazon challenged the amendment and lost at the trial level in January 2009. The case is currently making its way through the New York appeals courts.
Websites consisting mostly of affiliate links have previously held a negative reputation for underdelivering quality content. In 2005 there were active changes made by Google, where certain websites were labeled as "thin affiliates". Such websites were either removed from Google's index or were relocated within the results page (i.e., moved from the top-most results to a lower position). To avoid this categorization, affiliate marketer webmasters must create quality content on their websites that distinguishes their work from the work of spammers or banner farms, which only contain links leading to merchant sites.
Before I talk about some of the methods for making money online, I wanted to address the role of pain versus pleasure. Every decision that we make in life is weighed on a pain-versus-pleasure scale. We will always do more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure, plain and simple. However, this is also what holds us back from succeeding in any endeavor.
Multi-vendor marketplaces, like ThemeForest, can be very successful. Chose a niche and create a vendor website for it. Your marketplace could be anything, from a platform for local artists to sell their work on, to an online digital product store. Once set up, invite people in that industry to sell their products on your site. You take a percentage of their profits when items sell.
If my piece of content is so unique and valuable around hiking backpack recommendations, that other reputable outdoor websites are willing to link to it and build the page’s authority, then I’d have a very real opportunity to rank high in organic search for these search terms (meaning, my page will come up first when someone searches for hiking backpacks).
Some businesses may be interested in adding other types of paid content to your website. This could include videos, podcasts, or any other material that would work with your site and help a business market itself. Always make sure that paid content isn’t too promotional. It needs to add value to your audience first and foremost, and not just present as an advert.
While these models have diminished in mature e-commerce and online advertising markets they are still prevalent in some more nascent industries. China is one example where Affiliate Marketing does not overtly resemble the same model in the West. With many affiliates being paid a flat "Cost Per Day" with some networks offering Cost Per Click or CPM.
Some merchants run their own (in-house) affiliate programs using dedicated software, while others use third-party intermediaries to track traffic or sales that are referred from affiliates. There are two different types of affiliate management methods used by merchants: standalone software or hosted services, typically called affiliate networks. Payouts to affiliates or publishers can be made by the networks on behalf of the merchant, by the network, consolidated across all merchants where the publisher has a relationship with and earned commissions or directly by the merchant itself.