URL masking: Often, you’ll find that affiliate links are a real, million character eyesore. It’s likely that your links will look like Merchant.com/dlfjlfjlfjdskljdfgimmeallyourmoneyalajdlkaf2131032klfjfdjldsjf. And let’s be honest, few people are going to want to click on that. URL masking is therefore when you create a prettier, cleaner “vanity URL” that makes your links more clickable. Some people use bit.ly, which has tracking purposes, or the WordPress Plugin Pretty Link.
How established is your site/blog/social media following?  Do you already have an audience of 1 million or are you just getting started?  Early on in your affiliate marketing journey you will probably want to have multiple options to make sure you can cover a broad field. You might want to become an Amazon Associate as well as joining one of the networks so you will have a product link to drop into any posts you do.  An easy place to start is to promote the services you are using if you are enjoying their product - web hosting or email management systems like Aweber.

The concept of affiliate marketing on the Internet was conceived of, put into practice and patented by William J. Tobin, the founder of PC Flowers & Gifts. Launched on the Prodigy Network in 1989, PC Flowers & Gifts remained on the service until 1996. By 1993, PC Flowers & Gifts generated sales in excess of $6 million per year on the Prodigy service. In 1998, PC Flowers and Gifts developed the business model of paying a commission on sales to the Prodigy Network.[8][9]

This is the most popular payment offered by most of the affiliate programs. Under this program, the affiliate marketers earn commissions from the merchant each time they will send a client to the merchant website, and that client makes an actual purchase. Various affiliate programs offer a specific percentage of the sale as commission while others will pay you a fixed rate for every sale.

One great traffic driver for me has been my new Travel Resources page. I put it up less than a month ago, created some pretty pins for it and it has done superbly well on StumbleUpon and Pinterest (racking up over 1.5k repins). This boost in traffic has helped substantially increase my conversions for Amazon, which was not a huge earner for me before. So, traffic + affiliate links = happy money dance.
Affiliates discussed the issues in Internet forums and began to organize their efforts. They believed that the best way to address the problem was to discourage merchants from advertising via adware. Merchants that were either indifferent to or supportive of adware were exposed by affiliates, thus damaging those merchants' reputations and tarnishing their affiliate marketing efforts. Many affiliates either terminated the use of such merchants or switched to a competitor's affiliate program. Eventually, affiliate networks were also forced by merchants and affiliates to take a stand and ban certain adware publishers from their network. The result was Code of Conduct by Commission Junction/beFree and Performics,[35] LinkShare's Anti-Predatory Advertising Addendum,[36] and ShareASale's complete ban of software applications as a medium for affiliates to promote advertiser offers.[37] Regardless of the progress made, adware continues to be an issue, as demonstrated by the class action lawsuit against ValueClick and its daughter company Commission Junction filed on April 20, 2007.[38]
Thank you for the insight, it did set straight some of the things that seem to be left out in the sales pitches from those selling their affiliate programs. I’ve been looking for a couple of weeks now, and while some of it is starting to sink in, one of the key factors appears to be the creation of an informative blog. It seems there are other ways to operate as an Affiliate Marketer that don’t require a blog or a website, but, it appears that content and traffic to it, are the preferred methods.
Many affiliate programs will often run promotions with good discounts or giveaways that might be attractive to your audience. For example, if you're an Amazon Associate and the site have a big Holiday Sale, it would be the perfect opportunity for you to promote discounts to your website visitors. This is a great way to promote your offers while also providing good value to your audience. 
The topic you choose must have enough depth that you can create a lot of content for it. This is important for building an authoritative site, for search engine optimization, and most importantly, for the end user. If you don't have enough content about a topic, you're not going to be taken very seriously as an authority on the topic and it's unlikely you can convince someone to make a purchase from you. 

Affiliate marketing has now invaded Hollywood? We know it invaded US politics in Washington as some politicians (current and retired) are silent affiliate marketers or in MLM. Maybe we can look forward to hearing in the next few years about more celebrities going from actors and actresses to home-based affiliate marketers. Wouldn’t that be something?
In 2006, the most active sectors for affiliate marketing were the adult gambling, retail industries and file-sharing services.[21]:149–150 The three sectors expected to experience the greatest growth are the mobile phone, finance, and travel sectors.[21] Soon after these sectors came the entertainment (particularly gaming) and Internet-related services (particularly broadband) sectors. Also several of the affiliate solution providers expect to see increased interest from business-to-business marketers and advertisers in using affiliate marketing as part of their mix.[21]:149–150
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