Sunday, August 24, 2008

What is an affiliate program?

What is an affiliate program? How do I find the one for me?

An affiliate program is any system that allows you to interact, contribute, improve upon, distribute, and or market a particular idea, product, or service.

An affiliate program has many of the benefits of owning your own business, without the hassle of actually having to run it by yourself. Payroll, storage, shipping, handling, delivery, etc, are some of the most gratifying tasks of owning your own business, but like everything in life, too much of a good thing, can be hazardous to your health. At first, you might be having fun, but unless you absolutely love what you do, it will eventually get old, and something will have to give, either your business suffers, or the freedoms, and perks of owning your own business will translate to slavery (working 10-16 hour days, always taking care of problems, and never being able to take a day of).

But how many affiliate programs are there for me to choose? Two words: TOO MANY. So, how do I find out, which are worth my time and hard earned money? Lets do this:

a. Find something that is worthy of receiving your endorsement. Remember, if you are going to advertise it, your name brand, your name, your image, will be associated with it. If you peddle every little junky product out there, you will loose credibility. On the same token, if you always recommend high quality products and or services, people will learn to trust you. So, the best I can tell you is that you make sure to do your research, because in everything that you invest money in, there is always the risk of loosing your shirt. It is a lot easier to maintain an honest image by virtue of being honest, than it is to reinvent yourself every few years.

b. Only you can determine what is too little money for you. You might be very altruistic, but the bottom line is that if you want to continue to be altruistic, you need to make money. The more you make, the more altruistic you can afford to be. So make sure that whatever program you get yourself involved with pays a decent commission. To me, a decent commission is anything over 30%. Some will pay you 50%, and if you are lucky, you might find something paying 60%. Who knows, it is up to you. But remember that if you are investing the time, you need to be paid.

c. Ensure that your affiliate program tracks every possible way to sell a product and service. Unfortunately, with the advent of the Internet, many affiliate programs concentrate only in the online portion of the business. So the fax orders, the mail orders, the phone orders, are fulfilled, but not credited to you. Make sure that whatever affiliate program you go into, can track the old fashion snail mail transactions.

d. Check out how easy it is to make a sale. If five people of every hundred that visit and inquire about the program joins, or purchase it, you will be doing great. The higher the percentage rate, the better.

e. Is your program sink or swim? When you get your affiliates, you should provide them with tools for success, from links, to examples of advertisement. The better the support, the longer they will stay being your affiliates.

f. Read all contracts, agreements, and websites. Also, do a web search for the names of the people affiliated with the management of the program, and try to find anyone who has done a review of the particular program you are contemplating joining. I have found that just five minutes and few well placed key words, can provide you with food for thought, and give you judgment elements that you will need in order to make an intelligent decision.

g. As with everything, only invest money that you can afford to loose.

Do not put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify, change niches, and try several programs. Life is flexible, you be too. Do your homework and you will be successful.

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