The Beginner’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing: Active, Passive, and the “Hydra” Method [Part 8]

There is unlimited potential to build a business around affiliate marketing but confining yourself to promoting other people’s products leaves you with the dreadful possibility that everything may come crashing down once your products fall out of favor and relevance (because they will).

Sure, you can shift your focus on new products and services but if you’ve built your business heavily dependent upon a particular set of promotions than you could be at the end of your business life if you haven’t looked toward the future and learned to adapt.

You see, the best affiliate marketers are on the edge; they’re constantly rolling out new campaigns, products, and promotions. They know how to adapt and will be there for the long-run because they don’t give up the when they see a dip in their performance – they see these as a moments of clarity and opportunity because where others fail and fall to the wayside – they see an open road.

In my opinion, the best approach to affiliate marketing isn’t affiliate marketing at all.


The game of affiliate marketing is evolving at a rapid pace. You can build a very successful business promoting other people’s products but why limit yourself especially when you’re building a brand and authority? In essence, if you’re not maximizing than you’re leaving money on the table.

The best for your business is to incorporate a variety of income models both active and passive.

This final post of the Beginner’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing will take you through a variety of strategies to expand your affiliate business beyond the basics. You ready?

Going Active with your Online Income

Active income, in the terms we’re talking about, is the set of actions of earning an income by trading time for money – it’s the basic work approach.

There are many active methods of revenue, such as:

  • Selling services
  • Consulting or coaching
  • Doing evaluations
  • Tutoring
  • Site or campaign management

Each of these can be broken down into a wealth of niche opportunities such as doing SEO work for small businesses or maybe just installing WordPress themes for individuals; it’s anything someone is willing to pay you for.

In affiliate marketing, a lot of your time is going toward creating content, launching marketing campaigns, analyzing your data, networking, and managing your assets. You’re trading your time to operate but you only have a limited amount of work hours each day.

When you add in services, you’re further limiting your ability to grow your website (in terms of its management) but you’re directly earning money from your efforts so it means your business sees growth.

However, don’t scoff at active income (which seems to have been given a bum rap in the world of affiliate marketing). Active income methods, especially services, can be very lucrative if you have built a valuable brand; there will always be people that need services because they either don’t understand a topic or they don’t have time to learn a new trade and that’s where you fit in.

Integrating Freelance Services

Every affiliate marketer should introduce services to their affiliate marketing business.

This can be anything that I mentioned above or whatever you feel would make a great fit in your brand.

Calculate what your time is worth by measuring how much you would need to live comfortably; break it down into an hourly figure or pair it to a larger project. You can use freelance marketplaces to get a good idea of where to start in your pricing or use a freelance calculator.

With that out of the way, develop individual pages or each of your services and interlink them through your website (but don’t overpower your affiliate promotions since this is most likely your main money-maker at this time).

In addition, I would recommend that you start a secondary website specific to offering your services (this works well if you buy up your name as the domain name). You don’t need to do much on this website besides build it like a portfolio and allow people to get in touch; it becomes another asset that sends leads to your freelance services on autopilot.

That’s it.

Simply find out what you’re good at, calculate your rates, and leverage your affiliate marketing business (and any of its assets) to promote your services.

The best part is that you don’t need to operate as a freelancer – constantly seeking new clients – because you’ll have built a great income through your affiliate marketing already. The clients that come in as a result of digging into your services become bonus income to your business.

One final note: Your clients may also become your most powerful allies in your affiliate marketing business because you will form a professional relationship which may present opportunities to promote one another’s work, website, and products – its win/win for everyone.

Kickin’ Back for the Passive Income

Everyone wants the passive income lifestyle.

Do a search for “Passive Income” and you’ll see a massive spike of interest in the term and thousands of blogs constantly popping up to cover the subject.

Let’s get this out of the way: passive income is a pain in the rear.

Operating under the guise that you’ll make passive income, eventually, is very much like the startup mentality whereas you build something, for free, and hope that it pays off.

What’s wrong with this picture?

You’re dumping valuable time and resources in hopes you eventually earn passive income rather than taking action on things that will make you money this day.

That’s not to knock at passive income because, quite frankly, affiliate marketing is very much in tie with the passive income model.

With that said, it’s ultimately important that you know where your time is going.

You could spend a hundred hours creating content for your website with the intent to earn a few affiliate sales or those 100 hours could have gone toward creating a premium product.

The big thing you need to focus on, when trying to build passive income, is not actually focusing on passive income. You never truly know when you’ll earn through a passive model. The important thing is that you know what you need to be doing that increases your chance of earning passive income and business success.

Passive Income Methods

We have affiliate marketing which is promoting other people’s products and services; it’s very broad in definition but you get the idea of it because you’re using your website, social media, and brand as a vehicle for delivering your marketing message.

There are all kinds of strategy for building passive income with your online business:

  • Writing in-depth reviews about affiliate products
  • Utilizing Squidoo and Hubpages as alternative platforms for marketing
  • Launching a podcast that regularly mentions products on your website
  • Using video marketing to promote products and services
  • Making money through referral systems which you promote
  • Creating list and round up posts about great resources for your niche

To be honest, you know this stuff. You’re far enough in this series to realize the basics of affiliate marketing so, for the most part, you’re very much attuned to passive income.

If there is anything you should focus on with passive income is that you use as many platforms as you possibly can – get your message as far as you can reach. Don’t limit your message to just your website – expand into your email marketing, online advertising, social media platforms, guest posting, and more.

It’s all about the exposure to your affiliate links.

The “Hydra” Income Strategy

Greek mythology tells us of a seemingly unstoppable creature called a hydra; it has a serpent-like body with multiple, dangerous heads and when one is lobbed off, two more take its place.

Though, this isn’t a lesson in mythology – just a simple image to keep in mind when you’re building an affiliate marketing business.

You see, you’re by no means limited to a single vehicle for your business. You can incorporate any number of income generating methods if you please.

In fact, like the old saying goes, “never keep your eggs in one basket”.

A single income model will work magic when you first begin with affiliate marketing but, in time, it’s vital that you grow (horizontally and vertically); you must use your knowledge to create new streams of income (both active and passive). Doing so will stabilize your business and prevent wild rides if your income method sudden takes a beating (like in an event where your website drops out of search engines).

Need an example of the “hydra” income strategy? Try going with this:

  • Regularly publish reviews for premium products on your website
  • Include a resource or getting started page that collects your highest recommended products
  • Use series and in-depth guides to promote affiliate products
  • Create and sell your own information product
  • Begin listing and promoting your skills and services
  • Launch an affiliate program (or use an affiliate network) to build an affiliate army
  • Network with the businesses you promote and leverage into drop shipping
  • Host offline events and conferences
  • Create new ventures based on your existing, well-performing campaigns
  • Allowing paid advertising on your websites

The kicker is that most of the outcomes come as a result of your continuous efforts to improve and expand your business.

For example, your website will grow which means your affiliate income will reflect your increase in visitors (since you’re increasing the chances of making the sale). You can then use your analytical data to identify key segments of your market and create a premium product that isn’t present on the marketplaces. With your new established authority in the niche, you could begin offering services or do speaking events.

Considering all this – it’s very important that you take the steps to validate your business ideas. It’s very important that you test and use feedback to understand whether you have a viable product or service. Be ready to shut down a project if it doesn’t have a return on its investment; remember, it’s not a failure, it’s a learning opportunity.

In time, you’ll grow your list of assets and it’s that moment that you’re potential to grow, as an entrepreneur, truly comes to light.

A Message for Moving Forward

First, I want to thank you for sticking with me as we’ve gone through this series on affiliate marketing. I know there is a lot to digest and implement but I believe I’ve given you more than enough to hit the ground running.

Second, affiliate marketing is tough. There are thousands of  players in this game that will jump on an opportunity within seconds. From all these years of doing online work, I would like to say that the best way to capitalize on your ideas is to just go with it. Don’t over plan things, don’t get caught up with trying to learn every last piece of detail – just start working.

Implement just one new thing at a time. Own your work. Network, network, network.

You can build authority regardless of the competition if you deliver exceptional value. Great things take time and require some sacrifice but it’ll be worth it.

I don’t know if you want to completely replace your existing job or just start up a side venture – whatever it may be, I wish you the best of luck and hope that you stick around to learn new, exciting strategies for your affiliate marketing.