When it comes to affiliate programs, being popular is an advantage. But this has nothing to do with winning a pageant or joining a rock band. It's about creating your own little spot in a little corner of cyberspace. And by creating your own spot, we mean creating a site that will flourish.
Affiliate programs got their start through the initiative of Amazon.com. Since then, it has become one of the most popular ways to monetize websites in the internet. If you're interested to join an affiliate program, here are a few tips:
How to join an affiliate program
If you're a website owner and just want to earn money from your site, you can become an affiliate. Fill out an application form online with an affiliate network. You will be required to provide certain information about yourself such as your name, address and your preferred payment method.
Next, you will have to inform the affiliate network about your site. Provide them your site's name, URL and a short description of its content. The affiliate network will then provide you with a service agreement. Once you agree (you don’t have a choice anyway because you can't negotiate), the network will then review your application.
If it's accepted, you can then begin choosing the affiliate programs that you find interesting. Once the owners of these programs approve (yes, you will need approval at least twice during the process), the network will guide you on how to post links on your site.
Don’t expect to be paid immediately. Earnings from affiliate programs can be a little on the small side, so the total amount of money you earn will be pooled until it reaches the minimum amount for payout. Once it does, the network will send you a check, which can take anywhere from 4 weeks to 8 weeks depending on your location.
If you are an e-business owner and want to drive visitors to your site, you can either choose to join as an affiliate or acquire them yourself or both. Getting affiliates to promote your website through links can be done two ways:
- Do it yourself. If you have the time, resources and patience, set up your own affiliate program. You will have to recruit and screen affiliate applicants yourself. You also need to have a traffic-tracking device to check the actual number of visitors generated by your affiliates. Then, you'll need to provide assistance to your affiliates through instruction and coaching to help them set up links to your site.
Next, you'll need to set up your own accounting system to handle payouts to affiliates. As your business progresses, you will also need to set up your own help line to provide assistance to inquiries made by your affiliates.
Handling your own affiliate program is a good idea if you have a few affiliates, but if the number increases, you could be swamped. You might also need to purchase some software to help you track and record your affiliate's activities.
- Join an affiliate network. If you don’t want to do a lot of work, this is the better choice. The network will help you with everything, from the affiliate program set up to recruiting to tracking and sending payouts to your affiliates. All you have to do is pay them a fee.
Some affiliate networks will require you to pay a one-time charge plus a deposit. Others will require an annual fee. The cost is a little high and can run from a thousand dollars to about $5,000. You will also need to pay the affiliate network a certain percentage of your affiliates’ payouts.
The cost may seem steep, but affiliate networks will make your life easier by setting everything up for you and tracking your program's activities. They will also prepare the checks to pay your affiliates. Best of all, they will screen your affiliates for you, saving you from a lot of backbreaking work.
Using links to build a business
Links are a lot like creating an entry door for your visitors from your site to the merchant owner's site. Some of the most common links are:
Text link – is made up of a word, a phrase or a whole sentence. Once a visitor clicks on this, your browser will produce a web page that contains the information mentioned on that link. Oftentimes, it's another website.
Search box – who hasn’t tried using one of these? A search box also acts as a link either to a new page or another site. This link allows your visitors to type in their inquiries and search a database online, usually links to pages on the same site.
Banner link – usually boxed, a banner link contains text, graphics or a picture. These are very effective for attracting the attention of visitors because they are quite colorful and stand out from the rest of a web page.
Product link – brings the visitor to a web page that contains information about a product. This is the easiest way to make a certain product stand out, especially during the promotion phase.
Storefront – exposes the visitors to the merchant site's many products. These are usually maintained by the merchant owners themselves and they can update and edit anytime, although the address remains the same.
Co-branding – uses a little eye trick to make the visitor thinks he never left the affiliate's webpage. The merchant site still hosts the page, but it is designed in such a way that it still looks like the affiliate's site and may even contain the affiliate's logo, banner or slogan.
Being popular helps
If your website doesn’t get a lot of traffic, you might want to think twice before joining an affiliate program. Or, you could work to increase traffic on your site. This is the only way to attract your visitors enough to actually make them stay long enough to click on your links.
Don’t choose too many affiliate programs to join. These are free and there's no need to pay for anything (except if you're an e-businessman looking for affiliates). Choose only those programs that are actually related to your site's contents.
While there are people who've made a lot of money from affiliate programs, don’t join a program thinking you'll make a million in one year. Depending on the affiliate programs you join, you might just make enough money for extras. It might not be enough to pay all your bills or allow you to retire comfortably.
You also will need to continue improving your site's content and probably its look. The internet changes at the speed of light and what may be relevant this month will be passé next month. But don’t lose hope, because if you've hit the right buttons, you could just bring home a nice profit. It won't be easy, but there's no harm in trying.
Mario Churchill is a freelance author and has written over 200 articles on various subjects. For more information on the best affiliate program or to find a webmaster affiliate program checkout his recommended websites.