The Newbie World of Affiliate Programs
An affiliate program is a relationship with an on-line merchant where the affiliate earns a commission for referring potential customers to the merchantís site, which subsequently results in a sale.
Over recent years the number of Affiliate marketing programs has increased dramatically. This is due to several reasons. Firstly an increase in the number of people seeking a work-from-home, low start-up cost business. Secondly the attraction to the merchants of having an army of salespeople selling their products has meant that more and more merchants are offering such schemes. Thirdly the increase is partly due to the ease with which it is now possible for most people to have a web presence. Some affiliate marketing schemes even provide completed web pages that only require simple personalization and the site can be up and running almost immediately. Sadly, another factor having its influence is the false impression created by some marketers that the Internet provides the means to get rich quickly and easily with minimum of effort. Some skilled affiliate marketers earn thousands of dollars a month. Some of the reasons why you should consider such a scheme are
No experience required
No stock to purchase
Low set-up cost
No premises to rent or buy
Can be operated from home
No sales experience needed
No goods to ship
Potentially good income
Addressing a world marketplace
So what factors do you need to take into account if you are just starting out as a newbie affiliate?
What commission does the affiliate scheme pay?
Commission rates vary considerably depending upon the type of product chosen. These can range from, say, 5% on a range of garden products to 50% and over on ranges of ebooks. Initially you should consider the high paying rates usually to be found on books and software.
How frequently are the commissions paid?
The frequency of commission payment varies from company to company. Determine whether your selected affiliate schemes pay weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly. Some companies require a minimum accumulated amount of commission before making a payment.
What form of tracking cookies does the company operate?
Tracking cookies, which have a set like, are used by the marketing company so that they can trace a customer back to you as an affiliate. Often purchases are not impulse buys, consequently the longer the life of the cookie, the greater chance you have of earning commission. The life of a cookie can range from several days to several years.
Does the affiliate scheme cater for second purchases and beyond?
Some schemes pay commission only on the product that you are promoting. Better schemes credit you with commission on any future products that the customer you introduced subsequently makes. If you can, therefore, opt for this latter group, and check that this applies if the customer, in future goes directly to the merchants site.
What marketing materials are available on the merchantís site? As nearly all affiliate programs are free to join you can easily gain access to the resource pages of your intended merchants. Examine the quality of the material. Do they provide free gifts for you to offer? Do they offer any means of branding ebooks so that you can stamp you affiliate identity on them?
Do they respond to emails?
A future relationship between you as an affiliate, your customer and a merchant of your choice, can be partly dependant upon the ease with which you, can communicate. Send the merchant an email with a question about their affiliate scheme and look at how you are treated. Discount the affiliate if there is a delayed reply, or worse still, no reply at all.
How popular is the merchantís website?
Alexa at www.alexa.com carries out a continuous process of site ranking. And will tell you how your merchantís site ranks in popularity against all of the other sites on the web. Ranking somewhere between 100,000 and 500,000 might be considered ideal. A word of caution here, however. If the ranking is below 100,000 there may already be too many affiliates associated with that merchant. If the ranking is greater than 500,000 it could just be that you have come across a new product where you have chance to make money as one of the first affiliates. Always examine the product in detail, and do a Google search to find any adverse postings. Join the forum at www.warriorforum.com and post a topic asking the members if they have any experience of the merchant. Again a word of caution. Be aware that any glowing report may be coming from an existing affiliate.
About the Author: © Paul Lewis 2006. All rights reserved.
Reprints welcomed with article and resource box unedited.
You can see the authors first web site, with an in-depth review of the product that created it, at http://www.re
Paul is also CEO of Demovision, a company specializing in talking heads. You can see examples if you go to the "Contact Us" page at http://www.re
You will need Internet Explorer to view.