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The Basics of Affiliate Programs

Jul 22, 2008
If you have searched for an online business at all, you came across some of the thousands of affiliate programs available to you. What are affiliate programs? How do they work? Can you really make money with them? These are three of the most asked questions about affiliate programs, and here are some simple answers to them.

What are affiliate programs?

Affiliate programs are partnerships between someone with a product to sell to a customer he doesn't have, and someone looking to sell a product he doesn't have to a customer he does have. The classic example of this is Amazon. Although everyone has heard of Amazon, they still cannot reach everyone from their own website. You sign up as an affiliate with them, put their link on your web page, email, newsletter, etc., and when someone gets to Amazon through one of these links, you will get a percentage of what the person buys. You can find affiliate programs for almost any niche or product out there. It even has gone second generation, so to speak, in that you can even become an affiliate of a program that promotes affiliate links. The advantage to you is that you don't have to make your own product to sell. You don't even have to handle it. You point someone to it, and if they buy it, the seller pays you a commission.

How do affiliate programs work?

Affiliate programs can either be handled through a third party such as Clickbank, or through the company who has the product. When you enroll as an affiliate, you will get some kind of user name or ID. This is attached to a URL where the product is located. For instance, if you sign up as an affiliate with "John Doe's Best Hosting Company and Website Builder," and are given the user name of 343422, you might end up with a URL to promote that looks something like http://johndoesbestwebsitebuilderandhostingcompany.com/?username=343422. Not the easiest thing to promote, as you can't just rattle that off to someone and expect them to get there. When you finally do get someone to http://johndoesbestwebsitebuilderandhostingcompany.com/?username=343422 and they purchase the $99 product, you will probably have made about $50. (Note: if you are going to promote affiliate programs at all, you would do well to go to a place like ViralURL to get a link shortener. Your long URL might then look like www.viralurl.com/me/jd.

Can I make money with them?

Yes, if you put in the time and work at it. There aren't any programs available where you just enroll and start raking in the money. (Some unscrupulous businesses will claim they can do that, but think about it for a minute or so until it becomes clearer. ) One strategy that has worked well for me, and many others, is to make a single resource site for people building Internet businesses. Instead of promoting one product or service with each URL, I put them all on one site with links to the affiliate sites. This can create several small streams of income, even for a newbie, which in time will turn into larger streams.

Overall, affiliate programs are quick and easy way to make some money. However, there is one big word of caution. Do not get involved in a bunch of programs too quickly. You will end up not working of them very well, and none of them will produce for you very well.
About the Author
Jack Beddall is an experienced Internet Marketer specializing in resources for the online business person. You can visit two of his sites at Successville News and TheOnlineResourceSite .
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