I think affiliate links are the second things bloggers turn to, behind only ad networks. Because they are often implemented so early, and by new bloggers, many times they aren't used as effectively as they could be.
I know when I got started I would throw in a bunch of “You can buy this now!” links in random places on my website and hope for sales. I definitely had some success, but I’ve found much more effective ways to do it now. My affiliate payouts have gone from a few hundred dollars a month, to often breaking a thousand or more. Here’s a few of the areas I attacked to accomplish that.
Equipment or Ingredient Reviews
I found affiliate income really started to take off when I would use it in equipment or ingredient reviews. This is mainly because you are writing about a product, preferably one you like, and then provide links to purchase it. The review should have your audience’s interests at heart, but if it is truly a product that would help them, sharing it with them is doing them a favor.
Our reviews range from 500 word “quick hit” reviews to 5,000 word super-in-depth reviews. They are all effective in their own right, and for some products we actually do both.
The affiliate link just needs to be displayed prominently at the top and bottom of the article, and sometimes sprinkled in throughout, if it is a longer review.