Introduction to the Extra Money Answer

Hi, I am Shawn Collins, and I got my first computer in 1994. I was a year out of college and on the hunt for a “real” job.

Shawn CollinsAt the time, I was working in an administrative position for $10 an hour and no benefits. That was the most I'd made since getting my degree. Previously, I worked at a hotel front desk for $5.50 an hour and later as an assistant manager at a Blockbuster store for $7.50 an hour.

I wanted something more, and hoped a computer would help me get it. This was before I knew of Internet access at home, so I essentially got the old desktop clunker to write and print resumes and cover letters.

A couple years after buying the computer, I got an account with America Online. That was when it all changed. My computer evolved from a word processor to a life transformer, but I wouldn't realize that for quite a while.

One day, when I was playing around on AOL, I stumbled on a tutorial for HTML, which is code to create a website. I thought it would be fun to create a site, so I went through the lessons.

My first site was a single page about New York City and things I liked to do there. My HTML skills were limited and the page was pretty horrible, but my friends started visiting. That gave me the inspiration to keep it updated with my latest antics.

I can't remember quite how I got there, but I ended up at the affiliate program in mid-1997. The program would pay me a commission for referring sales to them. This was wonderful – I was underemployed and newly married, so the chance to make a few extra bucks was huge.

After I joined up with the Amazon affiliate program, I put up some links on my AOL website for people to buy books about New York City, and I waited for the riches to roll in.

Back then, you had to wait a good, long time to find out if you sold 250 books or nothing at all, because there was no online reporting. They would send a quarterly email with sales figures and commissions.

When my first commission statement came through, I was really anxious to open it. My eyes scanned down to the part about the money I earned, which was a total of $0.00.

But I didn't give up. I couldn't. I was so sure this could work, and it was just a matter of figuring it all out. The problem was that I couldn't find any resources to help me. This was way before the days of blogs, podcasts, magazines, and conferences on affiliate marketing.

It was a constant state of trial and error. I started focusing on reviewing new books about New York, and I was getting more pushy about having my friends and co-workers check out the site. When I got my second commission statement, I'd earned nearly $20 for the quarter.

Now, that sounds pretty horrible for three months of work, but it was proof that there was potential here. And it was a time when I really needed more money. My wife Vicky and I were making modest incomes and really wanted to buy our first house.

At a time that we were pinching pennies, I asked her if she was cool if I spent $70 to get a domain name for two years. It was a lot more expensive to get a domain back then, and that was money we didn't have to spare for a silly hobby.

She said no. I was sure I could get to the next level if I could just step it up and move my site to a real domain. I asked again and again. Finally, she couldn't take it anymore and agreed it was a good idea (or she figured her sanity was more valuable than that $70).

I felt totally reinvested with a domain name,, and I studied the code on every site I liked to improve how mine looked. The site became my obsession, and I would work on it evenings and weekends when Vicky was taking graduate school classes.

The next time an Amazon commission email came through, I'd gotten up to $75 for the quarter. My domain investment was covered and I'd seen a big increase from the previous quarter. I was finding that more time and effort was equaling more money. What if I could keep doubling or tripling those amounts?

Well, it was more like I had to double and triple those amounts, because I was still earning a meager salary, and Vicky recently got the good news that she was pregnant. She wanted to stay home after the baby was born, and I wanted the same. But that meant we were going to have a third member of the family and less than half the income.

After privately freaking out a bit, I started brainstorming ways to make my site better and get more readers. Up until this point, I thought Amazon was the only affiliate program in the universe. But one day during my commute to work, I read about a website called that was a search engine for affiliate programs.

There were hundreds of affiliate programs listed, and I was able to really broaden the products I could offer and make them even more relevant to the stuff I was writing. The next commission email from Amazon revealed that I was over $300 for commissions, plus I was making money with other affiliate programs I'd recently joined.

Affiliate marketing was paying the phone, cable, and water bill. Then it was covering the car note, and later the mortgage. I was making real money and moving from making ends meet to being comfortable financially.

This didn't happen overnight, and it wasn't easy, but it happened, and I started expanding what I was doing. Since I was in baby mode, I bought as my second domain, and made a portal for new parents. Then I bought another domain and another. I was finding that it was really fun and satisfying to write about stuff that interested me and paying the bills.

All these years later, I am still an affiliate. But I no longer work for other people. I walked away from spending my days in a cubicle in 2004, and I haven't looked back. Affiliate marketing is a lot different these days from when I got started. It's easier and cheaper to break into it. I have over 150 domains, and I work on my sites daily.

There are big opportunities for anybody to make from a few extra bucks to a living online. You don't have to be a computer programmer or a writer or marketer. You just have to bring commitment and passion to the table.

I'll take it from there. This site is the site I wish I could have read in 1997. it contains the lessons, tips, mistakes, failures, and successes of mine along the way.

This site will take you from having no clue about making money online to applying concrete advice to put more money in your pocket. I'll explain a lot of things, such as how to brainstorm ideas to earn cash working on something you love; start a new website in 30 minutes; test ideas to maximize profits; and scale your online business to increase revenue.

I am not a researcher or journalist. I have actually done all of this stuff, and I'll tell you how to do it yourself.

There are some people who shouldn't read this site… those who are already affiliates and know their way around creating a site, as well as anybody who wants to get rich quick. If you fall into either of those categories, don't read further. Click the back button now. Seriously.

For everybody else, read on and begin your path as an affiliate marketer.

Start with Chapter 1 – Pick a Topic for Your Site.


  1. Shawn, I hope you have the time to continue this series. I’m looking forward to reading it. Good job at the Internet Marketing Party, btw. Twitter’s a great marketing tool.

  2. Hi, Shawn.

    I’m just getting started with affiliate marketing for myself (I learned of the world of affiliate marketing while representing CSN Stores, via Share-A-Sale, several years ago). I was so inspired, at the time, by all of these people earning a living doing what they were passionate about.

    Everything in your introductory post here struck a chord with me. Thank you for offering your expertise to me. I am really looking forward to learning from you!


  3. Corey Jackson says

    Shawn, Looking forward to your no nonsense guidance and advice here. I have come across your name in the past and had only “happened” upon this new blog. You are truly providing a real value (free is nice) and it is much appreciated. Learning, Earning and Returning. Thanks !

  4. I’m so excited to have found you thanks to @MissyWard.

    I’ve spend lots of money trying to learn how to do this, but there were always gaps. I don’t know yet how much you teach, or how many details you give, but regardless: I am thrilled to have the hope of a guy who may teach me what I need to know.

    If you’re great at this, I sure hope you have something I can be an affiliate for! Thanks so much.

  5. $70 for a domain name is insanely huge amount. Of course, at that time even the personal computers were quite expensive. But one thing I have learned is never to give up. Many people tend to jump from one product to another in search of that secret which will make them rich quickly. But it all boils down to how much you learn about the business and implement vigorously.

  6. Greetings Shawn
    I’m so happy I’ve found your blog. I just recently kicked off my first site (HotJazzGuitar) just recently. I know there’s much work to do on it and need to continue adding more interesting content and then figure out how to make some income from it.
    I know now I’ll be checking out your site often and learning new tips and reading through the other interesting comments from other readers.
    Thank you Shawn

  7. Hey Shawn – kudos for doing this. I hope you get many people – young and old – to follow your steps and I urge them to post their results.

    One suggestion – on the home page near the bottom have a call to action: make a link to the first step which is to begin with reading this introduction page. It may seem obvious but why not make it easy?

  8. Thank you for your very informative website and videos. The information is very valuable, and is grounding me. I have made $6.00 so far and have put in a lot of work. The funny thing is that this is not stopping me, it actually is encouraging me to learn more so I can get better at this.

    Thank you.

  9. Hi Shawn,
    I am familiar with you through the Instrument Pro affiliate program, so I knew anything you were writing I wanted to read. My blogs are just beginning to make some money through my affiliate programs. So I am hoping to study your information and be more successful. Thank you for offering this free, as I know you put in a lot of hard work to get where you are.

    • Thanks a lot – let me know if you have any questions.

      • ken j mastro says

        i want to get in to affiliate marketing. The only thing, if you do not have a good following then you will not be approved to be a marketer. So, my next question is, how do you get a good following? i wanted to affiliate for amazon but was declined . I was trying to be an affiliate for nba, mlba and once again i was declined. A nice gentlemman that declined me gave me your url to start affilate marketing.

  10. Very well written blog, I like your attitude here. The key to success is never give up. I’m also trying to make money online and I think I can also make money with constant efforts…

  11. Your blog is so beautiful and natural all are like your blog everyone appreciate your blog. Whenever We will see your blog every time we get something new about your blog 

  12.  Shawn you are living my dream. I just want to produce extra income right now and I want to be using most if not all the products I promote. I have a WordPress website. I just have to set up. I am Doris Marks and I am just getting started. I like your approach already. My site is about self improvement. I want to know what other resources do you recommend to get my site looking  like it should?  I hit you tube already.

    • Hi Doris –

      Best of luck with building up your site and generating some income with it. Have a look at for a number of free resources we provide through Affiliate Summit.

  13. HEY SHAUN…I have altimers…I can type (slow)  and I can click, BUT I don’t have any money  I live with my son and he pays all the bills I  CAN’T work a regular job and I CAN’T GET DISABILITY   I have  looked at MANY  “affiliate” programs  MOST ask for some money…or if you DO get into their “system” its SO COMPLICATED…EINSTEIN couldn’t figure it out…SOME SAY GET YOUR OWN WEBSITE…POST ADs and your making money  BUT I CAN’T BUILD A WEBSITE…I feel TOTALLY LOST.

    • It sounds like you may have come across some MLM programs, which are a different thing from affiliate programs.

      You don’t pay to be an affiliate.

      But it does take a lot of work and patience to make money as an affiliate. I have simplified it as much as I can if you follow my instructions here. There is nothing to buy from me – you would have to get a domain name and web hosting at vendors of your choosing.

    • Leslie Weiss says

      This is great opportunity for beginners. They provide website for you withing 24 hrs of joining and it runs itself. And its free!

  14. Your “chapter index” on the right sidebar needs titles. “chapter one, chapter two, chapter three” does not tell us anything of what content it covers. The Roman numerals are enough to tell us the chapter number in the chronology. Know what I mean? Cool.

  15. John#14157 says

    I know a lot about being obsessed with a domain and marketing plans.
    Your story is good because you stayed in the game.

  16. I love the way you stayed with it, after so many setbacks and disappointments.

  17. Shawn,
    I really enjoyed the information that you have shared with all of us….I have learned a great deal! Thank you!

  18. Hello Shawn,

    The 2nd of the three advices, when I started into your blog,you state people can make extra money of $50/100 a month.You mean $50/100K?
    Doing a lot of work and time for charity or for hobby doesn’t make too much sense!
    Thanx, Fausto P.

    • Hi Fausto –

      The $50/$100 was absolutely correct. A small percantage of people will make great riches with affiliate marketing, but I created this site to give the average person a realistic expectation of where they can go with affiliate marketing as a part time thing.

      That’s why the site is called “Extra Money Answer” – creating a site as I describe is the answer to making some extra money… not a salary.

      Too many systems and programs lie to prospective affiliates about the ease of making tons of money, and I wanted to set the record straight for people who think this is the way to save their house, pay off massive debt, etc.

  19. HI there Mr Collins.

    First off id like to say that I am really excited by this program. I am currently extreemly underemployed with dreams of Improving the lives of my family and of course my own. I wont go into my story or anything but I have to say that it seems like you have one of the first legitimate programs going here. I hope to get a degree in marketing and I feel this program will help me finally go to college. Of course I have many questions and would love to have your opinion on how to get things running smoothly as soon as possible. Lets just say college isnt the only thing I need to pay for. Thank you for the work youve one here and for yoyr time reading this.

    • Hey Travis –

      I look forward to hearing how it’s going. One thing to consider is that a degree in marketing isn’t required to work in marketing.

      I never took a single marketing class, but I’ve been working in it for 15 years now.

  20. Hi Mr Collins

    my blog is, i go through your site and i need suggesions how to get my site popular. I am happy to hear your great success.

  21. Pamela LeMaster says

    what happened to my question………..

  22. wow………….you do answer LOL…………I dont know how to do affiliate…………I did do a website……….supose to be published??? but would like you to look at it, if you will………..please?……….intuit

    • Hi Pamela – I spent a lot of time writing over 18,000 words here to explain how to create, promote and monetize an affiliate site. Sorry, but I don’t have the time in the day to give one on one advice for sites.

  23. This is perfect. I came across the ideal of affiliate marketing but like you said there are so many get rich schemes and these software programs and I sense they are for people who want a quick profit. I actually have a passion for creating a blogs that cover all my interests and strengths. I want to stop working in cubicles myself. I know I have the passion and driven skill to master this. I am thankful for your site ! Extremely informative.

  24. Nice post! However, I think the amount of money made per month as an Affilliate can easily skyrocket past the amount you mentioned when combined with the proper affiliate marketing education. It baffles me that people are willing to spend $100s of thousands of dollars on a college education but shy away from the $3-5K most online coaches are asking for to teach you how to successfully run an online business.

    • I think people have reason to be wary of many coaches out there, because there are lots of charlatans out there, who haven’t succeeded themselves in affiliate marketing, who are trying to sell costly services on how to succeed.

  25. I agree there are plenty of charlatans! I personally have never been coached but I do know of a few that I would recommend. The failure rate is so high amongst new internet startups because most people don’t realize that an internet business requires the same level of attention and commitment you would give to a brick and mortar business. I started online about the same time you did and have been grinding away with several big wins and big losses so just like any business you have to roll with the punches…

  26. Realy nice post thanks .

  27. Hi shawn, I have been treating my sites like a hobby I think it’s time to settle in and get down to business.
    I am finding out, that no matter how much I think I know, I am always finding new things to learn about afilliate marketing

  28. This is an amazing resource for all beginners in the affiliate marketing industry. Thanks for sharing your knowledge Shawn.

  29. Thanking you so much for your love and being open minded to everyone. I had been struggling to affiliate with adsense but alway denied the access that traffic are not enough to start with, I will follow all the step you showed me. Where do I open a free website as a beginer? To buy domain name is it advisable to pay for web builder and security?

    • Most hosts will enable you to install WordPress in one click – I would suggest using WordPress to build your site. If you do, you can limit the expenses to the monthly hosting and the cost of a domain.

  30. Sajeeth Nair says

    Dear Shan , you are really empathetic towards newbies like us..Thank You

  31. Anytime you see somebody glaring in the spotlight of affiliate success, the first thing to think is how lucky these people are! It’s only after reading their stories that you know the struggles they went through. And that serves to empower we the struggling ones, that tomorrow certainly will be better.

    Thanks for sharing this story Shawn. Everything about you shows that you are one helpful guy and may you ahve the strength and the desire to continue.


  1. […] Extra Money Answer. Shawn Collins has authored a fantastic multi-part series detailing his affiliate marketing success story. […]

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