This may possibly be the absolute laziest way to make money because it doesn't require you to have a product, make a sale or ever have any interaction with customers.
This is essentially a "referral" business, or as one of my book contributors likes to call it, "passionate recommendations." Basically, you can get paid a referral commission just for sending people to sites (or vendors) that are set up to pay affiliate fees once a sale is made. The vendor does all the selling, fulfills the purchase and handles any customer service issues--and you just collect your check..not bad!
Some people choose affiliates based on who or what is paying the highest commissions, and that certainly is a viable option. Most people opt to choose products or goods they are passionate about so that the process is much more fun and engaging.
Insurance and credit card companies pay high commissions for referrals that convert to customers ($40 to $150 and up), but the competition is fierce. It may pay well, but is this something you'll enjoy doing for the long haul?
Alternatively, you could take a look at your hobbies and other things you enjoy and see which affiliate programs are a good match. As always, do your research to verify the viability of your market. A good place to look for ideas (and downloadable products just waiting for an affiliate) is ClickBank.com. Affiliate marketing is something I've been doing ever since I started my first business online on myLEED Exam website—promoting a third party company's practice exam software along with my own published eBooks and audio guides.
I also do affiliate marketing here on the Smart Passive Income blog, sharing many of the tools and services that I use to run my online businesses, and if you or anyone else purchases through my affiliate links I earn a commission. If you've purchased from my links before, thank you so much! I greatly appreciate your support!
THE TWO MOST IMPORTANT RULES I HAVE FOR AFFILIATE MARKETING
Before I share the strategies that I've used to generate over $20,000 in affiliate commissions per month, there are extremely important rules I use when promoting products that are not my own. You don't have to use these rules in order to become an affiliate or be successful at it, but it's what has helped me grow my affiliate income tremendously over the last couple of years:
I only recommend products as an affiliate that I'm extremely very familiar with—preferably products that I've used before and have helped me achieve something. If I'm not confident in the product and I don't feel it will positively help people, I will not promote it.
I never directly tell anyone to buy a product. I always recommend products based on my experience and in the context of what I've done or what I'm doing.