|The Power of the Affiliate Program Concept
By Shanon Lewis
What are affiliate programs? Everyone who surfs
the web has come across affiliate programs. You
may have seen a banner on a website that says, “click
here”, and once you do, you get access to whatever’s
being promoted. Or you could click on a link in an email
you’ve received. You’re using someone’s
Basically, the company that sells the product sets
up an automated way for people to be paid a set amount
to help them promote their products or services. The
links send you to the company’s website where
you can buy the product. The owner of the originating
website or email gets a fee for taking you there.
The bookstore Amazon was the first company to heavily
promote affiliate marketing on the internet. Although
this type of marketing is ideal for businesses that
only operate online, it's also become popular with businesses
that have both an online and bricks and mortar presence.
Affiliate programs are an ideal way to make your
web site profitable. With the good range of affiliate
programs now available, there’s almost bound to
be something to suit you and your website.
How it works
Perhaps you’ve created a website about the city
where you live. People find your website while searching
for information about your city. Once they’ve
read your pages they check out your recommendations.
They might click a link to book a flight there. You
get paid a commission. Then they clink your link that
points them to somewhere they can book a hotel room.
Another commission for you. Then they might want to
buy a guide-book or street map. Yet another commission.
Or perhaps you have a website connected with your hobby.
Maybe you want to share your enthusiasm about the crafts
you do. Your website could point people towards suppliers,
books on the subject, magazine subscriptions…the
list is endless. And all the time you’re earning
The commission is paid in different ways according to
the company you’re affiliated to. You can be paid
per impression, per click, per lead or per sale. The
stronger the likelihood of a sale, the higher your commission
The advantages for you
There’s no need for you to develop the products
– it’s already been done. All you need to
do is to pick the best out of those available. You don't
need to spend money on making or storing the product.
Sending people to your affiliate merchants means you
don’t need to take or process a single order,
or worry about processing payments. You don't have to
handle or mail the product - your merchants do that.
You don’t have to offer customer support. Affiliate
programs are usually free to join. You can run your
affiliate business part time for a little extra cash
while making minimal effort.
Choosing your affiliates
It’s worth spending some time making sure that
you choose the right companies to affiliate with. Different
companies have different requirements. Some require
you to have a minimum number of visitors to your website,
while others require you to have your own domain name.
The best way to choose a affiliate program that
will suit you is according to the type of people who
visit your website. If your website is about weight
loss techniques, you’re unlikely to have much
success with affiliating with a company that sells muscle
relaxants. The first thing you need to do is know your
You also might consider whether you want to join every
single affiliate program that comes your way. A
lot of people find that they make the most money from
using only a small number of programs. Also, concentrating
your advertisements may allow you to be paid faster.
Sometimes, it can be hard to choose between two similar
companies. What works well for someone else may not
be the best choice for you. It’s not just about
how much money you can make – you’ll want
to feel confident in your recommendations.
You can maximize your income by thinking beyond the
obvious. If your website is aimed at an older demographic,
obviously you might think of affiliating to a affiliate
program site that specializes in products pertaining to
If you’re thinking about affiliating with two
similar websites, you might want to choose the one that
easiest to use or offers the greater benefit to a visitor,
even if it pays less in commissions. You'll do best
with programs that represent a subject you're personally
interested in. Your own interest in the subject will
To join an affiliate program, you simply go to the site
and complete their online application form. Some programs
approve you instantly, while others check out your application
before it is approved. Once it’s approved, you're
given some HTML code that you can cut and paste onto
your web page.
How do I make my money?
Before joining any program, you should probably be aware
of the different payment programs available.
Pay Per Impression
Here you are paid according to the number of times the
advertiser's banner is displayed on your site. The amount
paid is usually small, but it is easy to earn as every
time a visitor loads the page, you earn. The more visitors
your site attracts, the more you earn.
Pay Per Click
With this method you’re only paid when visitors
click the advertiser's banner on your site. It generally
pays higher than the pay per impression program. You’ll
get better results if your banners are carefully selected
to suit your target audience.
Pay Per Sale or Lead
You only earn if your visitors click through the banner
and buy the product or service. Often, to avoid wasting
resources in issuing checks for very small amounts,
advertisers will accrue the amount owed to you until
it reaches a certain amount before they pay you.
How do they keep track of referrals?
Every affiliate banner or link that a visitor clicks
on has some type of coding added to the URL - this differentiates
it from other affiliates' links. The most common means
of tracking affiliate links is by "cookies"
Cookies are tiny files stored on your computer by a
web browser when you click on an advertising link.
Cookies are generated to track visitors to websites.
This is how they can "remember" what you bought
when you visit there again. For an affiliate company,
the cookie records information on which affiliate referred
the visitor to the company, and when.
As some computer users block or delete cookies, there
are other methods used to track referrals. For example,
CGI-based scripts related to the individuals affiliate
code attached to the URL links and database matching
algorithms are used.
Second tier programs
A two tier program allows you as an affiliate to sign
up other affiliates under you. You earn a smaller commission
on the referrals or sales that arise from their advertising
efforts as well as your own.
This costs you far less time and money for each sale
if some of them aren't yours. In effect, you have your
own sales force and pay a commission to your sub-affiliates.
Except that the commission comes out of the affiliate
company's profits rather than yours.
The affiliate company benefits by a possible exponential
growth of its sales force for no more effort on its
part - you're providing that. It’s not hard to
recruit people under you in two tier programs.
A second level can be a great advantage to you as an
affiliate. Even if you only spread the word amongst
friends and family, you never know when someone who
signs up under you will really take off. They could
earn you a lot by their own efforts in spreading the
word about a program. You might not get rich, but you'll
get some welcome extra income.
A multi tier affiliate program builds on the concept
of a two-tier program.
Not only can you earn from sub-affiliates, but you can
also earn from their sub-affiliates, and perhaps their
sub-affiliates. With a two tier program, you have an
incentive to sign up sub-affiliates. A multi-tier program
gives you the incentive to help your sub affiliates
sign up others.
Is it for me?
If you have a website then there’s guaranteed
to be a affiliate program to suit your needs and
audience. For minimal effort you can make your website
earn money, even while you’re happily sleeping.
Perhaps it won’t make you a fortune overnight.
And it’s true that no-one hands you money for
doing nothing. But with some careful thought and planning,
choosing a affiliate program that fits in with
YOUR website and sells products that YOU are confident
in is a straightforward way of increasing YOUR income.
And it costs you nothing.