If you've ever seen a blurb for a book on someone's Web site and clicked through to Amazon.com to buy it, chances are the site owner made a commission (although a tiny one) from the sale. Many businesses like Amazon.com use "affiliates" to sell their products, and pay these affiliates for every click, lead or sale generated through the affiliate's site. Using affiliate marketing on your site lets you:
- Make extra money from your site.
- Offer your visitors helpful products and services related to your site's topic. For example, if your site is about marketing, you can suggest marketing books to your visitors. If you sell dog training services on your site, you can also offer your visitors pet-related products.
- Offer products without having to actually price, process and warehouse them.
Learn the lingoCost-per-click, cost-per-lead, merchant, affiliate: Before you become an affiliate, get a grip on the terminology and the basic how-tos.
Know thy customersWhy do people visit your site? The answer will help you determine what types of affiliate programs you should join.
Choose a programAfter you decide what kinds of products and services will be the best match for your site and your visitors, find an affiliate program that lets you offer them.
Pump up the visitor volumeAttracting visitors to your Web site is always important — but it gains even more importance when you're trying to earn income as an affiliate. The more site visitors you have, the more chances you have to earn commissions from click-throughs, leads or sales.
Buyer bewareDon't get duped into joining a pyramid scheme or MLM program disguised as affiliate marketing. Also, never pay for the privilege of selling someone else's products on your site.
- Figure out what kinds of ads you'd like to run on your site — and what kinds you want to avoid. Do you hate pop-ups or pop-unders on other sites? Would animated banner ads make your page load too slowly? Then, make sure the program you join lets you run ads of the type you prefer.
- To avoid being scammed, make sure the affiliate program has a Web site with contact information and that it offers a clear description of what you need to do, how much, and when you'll be paid. Try Googling any programs you're considering to see if you unearth any complaints.
- Make sure the ads you run are of service to your visitors and that they're professionally done. Nothing turns off a visitor more than seeing random, intrusive ads that are unrelated to the topic of your site.