Affiliate Programs ... A Not THAT Easy Start To Your Own Online Business (Part Two)
Posted on July 11, 2000
by Elena Fawkner
[ Article continues from previous issue (Issue #145) ]
Choosing the right Affiliate Program for your Business
So, keeping in mind what affiliate programs can and can't do for
your business, let's turn to what you should look for when
choosing an affiliate program or programs to promote in your
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=> Synergistic Products/Services
First off, and this is a cardinal rule, only promote those
programs which will allow you to create synergies with your site.
This means selecting programs that naturally complement the
subject matter of your site and that will therefore be of
interest and relevance to your site visitors. This will ensure
your prospects (ie your site visitors) are pre-qualified which
will result in a relatively higher conversion ratio (the ratio of
visitors to purchases) than would be the case if your traffic is
untargeted (which will be the case if you promote unrelated
products and services from your site.)
=> Quality In All Things
Keeping the need for synergy uppermost in mind, look for quality
programs first and foremost. The last thing you want to waste
your time, money and reputation on is a shoddy product or
service. There are just too many quality programs out there to
settle for anything less.
=> Stability of Company
Look for a company that's been around for a while and that's
reputable and stable (both financially and in its management).
Any reputable company will have full contact details readily
available so do your research.
Look for testimonials and references from other affiliates. If
the company you're interested is not forthcoming when it comes to
putting you in touch with other affiliates, move on.
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=> Affiliate Agreement
Look for a professional, considered and detailed affiliate
agreement (contract). This shows that the company is serious
about its business.
Watch out for exclusivity clauses and other restraints. Some
affiliate agreements will require that you not promote competing
businesses' products and services. This is not to say you should
avoid such agreements. As a general rule, it is your interests
not to promote competing programs anyway. Just be aware of what
the agreement says on the subject to avoid getting yourself into
Look also for an agreement that treats spammers harshly. This
protects not only the company but other affiliates as well. The
last thing you or any other reputable affiliate needs is to have
your reputation and the reputation of the product/service you are
promoting besmirched by these sorts of tactics.
=> High Commissions
Promoting someone else's affiliate program necessarily requires
that you divert traffic away from your site and towards someone
else's. Make sure you're properly compensated with a high
commission structure. And be sure to set up your link so that
when the visitor clicks on it, a new browser window is opened for
the target site. This at least keeps your site in front of the
visitor so they can go back to your site once they've finished at
the site your link has taken them to.
=> Lifetime Commissions
Look for affiliate programs that will credit you with not only
THIS sale but all other sales the customer may make in the
future. Many programs are set up so that the customer is
identified as "yours" so that when the customer returns to the
target site in three months time, the sale is recorded as having
been generated by you.
=> Residual Commissions
Include programs that offer residual commissions in your
portfolio. Good examples are webhosting services, autoresponder
services and the like where customers sign up for a continuous
service that requires periodic, regular payments. You receive
periodic, regular commissions as a result.
=> Tracking of Commissions
Look for programs that allow you real-time access to your stats
so you can keep easy track of your commissions.
=> Reliability of Payment
When checking with affiliate references, find out what the
business's record is on paying out commissions. If they're slow
or there appears to be a pattern of problems, keep looking.
=> Frequency of Payment
Make a note of payment schedules too. Some programs pay weekly,
some monthly, some quarterly. Some only pay once you accumulate
commissions of a certain amount. None of these arrangements are
necessarily good or bad in and of themselves. Just be sure you
know what to expect.
=> Programs that Require Payment Up Front
Two words MOVE ON!
=> Affiliate Support
Finally, take a look at what support the business offers its
affiliates to make sales. Do they provide resources such as
sample ads, banners, logos and the like? Do they provide useful
advice about maximizing your sales? A good affiliate program
provides affiliates with a LOT of support in these areas.
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Making money from your Affiliate Programs
OK, now you know what to look for in an affiliate program. Here's
how to maximize your sales of those products and services and,
therefore, your commissions
=> Get Your Own Website
No ifs, no buts. DON'T rely on the you-beaut self-replicated job
the company provides all its affiliates. Link to that site from
your main site.
=> Get Your Own Domain Name
This presents a much more professional image. Many people won't
give the time of day to a business that thinks so little of its
prospects that the owner won't shell out 70 bucks for a domain
name. So mean business and look like it.
=> Get Traffic To Your Site (Duh!)
As a rough guide, you will need at least 500 targeted unique
visitors a day to your site to make reasonable money from
=> You Must Have A Site That Will Attract Repeat Visitors
If your website is nothing more than a splash page consisting of
little else other than banners for umpteen different affiliate
programs, forget it. Your site must be worthy of your visitor's
time and interest before you can even begin to think about
converting that visitor into a paying customer. So create a real
site with real content that will keep them coming back for more.
=> Personal Testimonials
A personal testimonial will result in more sales than a mere link
or advertisement. So take the time and trouble to write a
personal endorsement of the product or service you are promoting.
And, of course, it goes without saying that in order to write a
personal endorsement, you must know that of which you speak.
NEVER promote a program you haven't first purchased yourself. If
you don't think enough of your program to invest in it, how do
you expect to persuade others to?
=> Promote With Your Sig File
Include a link to your site in the signature of every email you
=> Promote In Your Own Ezine
Finally, if you're not already publishing your own ezine or
newsletter to stay in touch with your site visitors, start. It's
a great way to promote not only your site but also the affiliate
programs you promote from your site.
Making serious money from Affiliate Programs
The only way of making SERIOUS money from affiliate programs is
by creating your own product or service and recruiting affiliates
to sell for YOU.
The affiliate program phenomenon is one of the Internet's true
success stories. It provides a toe-hold for the would-be
internet entrepreneur to begin a real, live business of his or
her very own. But the real beauty of affiliate programs lies not
in what they can do for you, as an affiliate, but what they can
do for you, as a recruiter of affiliates for your own program.
By all means jump on the bandwagon and start promoting other
people's products to get your start. But don't wait too long to
start developing your own product line. There is a ready-made
salesforce numbering in the millions ready and waiting to sell it
Elena Fawkner is editor of the award-winning A Home-Based
Business Online ... practical home business ideas, resources
and strategies for the work-from-home entrepreneur.