It’s true that it doesn’t cost the affiliate anything to sign up with an established program of a merchant or advertiser. But just because the cost of this mechanism – the cookies, links, banners, specials, check payments etc – are paid for by the merchant, that’s no reason to treat the affiliate role as if it’s cost-free.
An affiliate needs to devote resources to keeping up a site that’s current, relevant, informative, fun etc. and to promoting the site so the greatest number of sales possible// are directed to your merchant sites.
So what should you spend money on? Analysis: Rank the merchants and/or products you are selling, and understand why. Are they seasonal, increasing in volume, decreasing in volume? Be on the lookout for trends, so you can make changes before you’re caught in the complacency = loss of profitability equation. Content: If you can‘t write, or don’t have time, pay others do it for you. But be specific about what you want, including length, specific subjects, keyword and key phrase density, ownership pf content, absolutely no plagiarism etc. Content is king in search engines (along with blogs) so paying up here is an investment, not just a cost. Site continuity and navigability: If your site isn’t easy to read and use, visitors will be gone before that even realize you have merchant partners. Keep a file of bookmarks labeled ”Great Sites”, no matter what business they’re in. Include all the sites that just hit you right, and take note of how they make the segue between content and/or products and the products of their merchant partners.
Successful sites know change is constant – budget for it.
Karen Kari's articles and more information on the affiliate business can be found at: