Chapter 5 – Your Affiliate Program

Your Affiliate Program

We touched on affiliate programs before, so by now you should be aware that starting your own affiliate program for your products or services is a great way to make money through online marketing. Basically, creating an affiliate program is like hiring your very own sales force who will go out and market for you.

However, there are also ways to profit from other companies’ affiliate programs. In fact, you can base your entire online marketing business around affiliate programs and still enjoy success. As with all other forms of online business, the key to successful affiliate marketing is preparation and research.

Multiple Affiliations, Multiple Paychecks

Affiliate programs are one of the most misunderstood facets of online business today. Many people believe that affiliate programs are the same things as pyramid schemes—you pay someone for exciting information that will make you rich, only to find that the only way to get rich is to sucker someone else into falling for the same scam you just did.

The reality of affiliate programs is quite different, and much more honest. In order to better understand affiliate programs, let’s start with some useful terminology:

An affiliate is any website, or “referrer”, that promotes a product or service owned or licensed by someone else in an effort to earn commissions.

A merchant is the owner of the affiliate program. Merchants own the product or the rights to the product, and through an affiliate program a merchant shares profits with affiliates based on performance.

In the previous section, we discussed methods you can use to be a merchant. This section will discuss methods you can use to become an affiliate.

Remember the three basic types of affiliate programs?

Pay-per-click programs compensate affiliates for every click that sends visitors from the affiliate website to the merchant website.

Pay-per-sale programs provide a percentage of a sale price to an affiliate whenever a visitor from the affiliate website clicks through to the merchant website and makes a purchase.

Pay-per-lead programs, which are the least common types, provide a flat fee for any sales lead the affiliate sends that the merchant feels are qualified. These programs are unpopular because they are subjective and entirely up to the merchant, and few affiliates are interested in only getting paid if the merchant “feels like it.”

Often, affiliate websites provide free or paid content services, information, and/or entertainment to visitors. Online merchants with affiliate programs typically deal with products, goods, or services. The information found on the affiliate website is often complementary to the products, goods, or services sold by the merchant, which is why the visitors to the affiliate website are interested in visiting the merchant website. Some affiliate programs pay only for clicks on the links leading to the merchant site, while others provide an additional percentage of sales that result from visitors from the affiliate website.

Traffic generated through an affiliate link does not often add up to a lot of money. For this reason, many affiliate marketers sign up for multiple affiliate programs in order to generate more than one stream of revenue. It is important to understand how affiliate programs work in order to generate decent profits through them.

Merchants are able to track affiliate clicks and determine whether sales resulted from them. Each affiliate is given a special URL with an affiliate code embedded at the end, so the merchant can tell whether the visitors came from your website. It is important that you list your specific affiliate link wherever your visitors will click to the merchant site; otherwise, you won’t get credit for the clicks.

As an affiliate, there are some things you can do to make your website more attractive to high-paying merchants with affiliate programs. You will want to enroll in multiple affiliate programs, but make sure your pages are not cluttered with links. The best way to capitalize on affiliate programs is to scatter the links throughout your website in addition to listing them along the sides or top of the page. For example, you may embed an affiliate link within the text of an article that is relevant to the merchant’s product or service.

It goes without saying that your website content should reflect that of the merchant’s website content. If your website deals with pet care, you should not sign up for an affiliate program that offers e-book creation software. The best affiliate programs are selective about the websites they will allow to become affiliates, as they don’t want the affiliate websites to create a poor reflection of them for their visitors. Just as with your own business, your affiliate website should contain clear, relevant information and be as error-free as possible.

Successful affiliate programs ensure that both sides—merchant and affiliate, are happy with the outcome. If you enter an affiliate program and find that you are doing far too much work without sufficient compensation, discontinue the program and look for something that produces better results. You do not have to be at the mercy of a greedy merchant who is too stingy to pay affiliates what they are worth!


Top Tips for Affiliate Success

If you have decided to become an affiliate marketer, there are many things you can do to improve your chances for success. Keep in mind that with an affiliate program, thousands of other online marketers are vying for the exact same customers, using the exact same product. These tips will help you stand out from the crowd.

  • Make sure you enter your affiliate business with a positive but realistic mindset. Do not believe you will become rich overnight—and in fact, if the program description promises that you will, chances are it’s a scam that you should steer clear of. Realize that your business will take time to develop, and be willing to put your best efforts into affiliate success.
  • Use Google AdWords as a supplemental tool to market your affiliate programs. Set your keyword bids so that each click costs you less than the commission you earn. You will get a small side paycheck this way with little effort.
  • Instead of using the pre-formatted ads, articles, and reviews provided by the affiliate programs, write your own and make them more compelling. This will not only increase your traffic, but it will also help you stand out from all the other affiliates using the same program and materials.
  • Ensure that you choose affiliate programs that match your website’s content and your newsletter, or can be connected to it in some firm way. Incongruous or irrelevant affiliate links on your website will diminish your reputation as well as the reputation of the merchant you are affiliated with.

You can choose one or more of these strategies to apply to your affiliate marketing business. Experiment with them, adjust your keywords, and try new strategies until you discover a combination that brings you a good, steady stream of income.