This article provides information on how to find and use affiliate programs (marketing partnerships, associate programs, referral programs or partner programs) in order to get the most out of your website. If you want to make money with affiliate programs the basic idea is to build a neat site, filled with valuable information, and join affiliate programs to generate the needed revenue.

Don't think that you can simply build a site filled with nothing but banners and then just wait for the money to pour in your pocket! The days when this technique worked are long gone. Nowadays, joining the affiliate programs is just a small step in a rather long process.

Visitors are now searching for information and they're no longer interested in mere advertisements. That's why you have to provide the information they are looking for, or else... they will simply leave your website. After you give them the information they were searching for and prove that you're trustworthy, then - and only then - you can recommend them good services or products from different companies (having affiliate programs , of course). And you have to recommend them in such a way that you will convince people not only to click the link that brings you money, but to click it while being in an "open to buy" mood.

From certain points of view, this kind of Internet business can be even tougher to run than one based on marketing a product that you produce or have the right to resell. It is however a lot easier and faster to start! You will have to work hard to promote your site, but the money required to start this type of business are as few as possible. It can be started with a budget as low as 0 (zero) dollars (if you already have a PC and a (toll free) connection to the Internet). The small cost is the greatest advantage of this type of business. You don't have to spend thousands of dollars to develop a new product. You simply join affiliate programs run by companies or people who already did that. No overhead for you!

The starting point in this business should be whatever you love to do, learn or teach! You should build your site around a theme that you love. What you already know is usually the best starting point. Gather more in depth information by searching for it on the Internet. It's the best place to find information on almost any theme. Then build your site!

This however is an over simplification. You have to find a market too! It's obviously better if you choose a theme that a lot of other people love. To get a little help in finding out if your chosen theme is of any interest to others, go to wordspot.com and subscribe to their free newsletter to receive the top 200 most searched for terms in the search engines. Or go to wordtracker.com and use their free trial. It's very instructive.

This will teach you how to select which are the most searched terms and which are the most likely to be profitable! However, the theme you chose has to be closely related with something that is actually sold on the internet, because you have to find companies with affiliate programs .

Now, being an affiliate means that your job is to provide customers to other businesses. To be able to do this and have a reasonable profit, you must have lots of visitors to your own site. The cheapest traffic is free traffic. And free traffic in big numbers comes today mainly from the free search engines. This is why you should tweak your site's content to rank high in the search engines.

A significant percent of your site's visitors should and will come from search engines, but only if you'll work on it. There is no simple way of doing it. You will have to work-work-work to get as much (targeted) traffic as possible. Again, you need traffic to make money with affiliate programs . It's all about the numbers!

There's a great site that can help you rank high in search engines by teaching you what you should do in a step by step manner: selfpromotion.com. Read it once, twice, even three times if you have to, until you understand every aspect of promoting with search engines.

Besides search engines, you should try to get your site listed in Yahoo and the Open Directory Project. In fact, if you get you site listed there, you'll get into most search engines anyway.

Promote-promote-promote and provide great content for your visitors! Then refer them to sites providing valuable products and services and get your share through affiliate programs . But get them to visit those sites in an open to buy mood. This is another thing that you have to do!

New visitors are always welcome, but making people revisit your site is usually a great strategy too.

Offering good content and recommending top quality products and services from respectable companies (with affiliate programs or not), is usually what makes visitors come back to your site. A similar effect have the new articles that you write. Write a new valuable article every month or so, review and correct (update) older ones.

My personal search engine ranking advice: Don't care too much about re-tweaking your pages to rank high! Do it right the first time and you'll not lose time like I did. :-)

Write you pages like you feel they should sound in the first place. Then optimize them a little bit for the search engines by introducing the best (most likely to be profitable) keywords (keyphrases) a few times in appropriate places. That's it! No advanced optimizing. Write new articles built around new keywords; focus on other promoting techniques, especially on exchanging links with other sites. You will never keep up with the changes in search engines algorithms, but valuable content, the value for the visitors, will always be an asset. And as search engines try to better select web pages by content, you stand a good chance to get high rankings in the future.

But enough about getting traffic for now! There's an entire article that takes care of that. Instead lets concentrate on the techniques you should use to build your site. And I mean those techniques that work well with affiliate programs !

The first and the most important rule in an affiliate type of business: Do not sell! Presell!

This is not my idea. It's Ken Evoy's. I learned from his e-books that preselling is the way to go and it makes a lot of sense. What's preselling? It's the process that makes a visitor come to a commercial website in an open to buy mood. The content on your site proves the visitor that you have a lot of knowledge in a certain area and it also has the role to attract visitors from the search engines. If a product is valuable to you, the expert, then it might be valuable to me too, right?

In Ken's books and courses I found lots of ideas and resources that I used and currently use. This site is built mainly by following his advice. If some things about my site are not working the way they should be, well... it's because I lacked the commitment to do things the right way. :o)

Always remember that your visitor comes to your site in search of content and not to buy stuff; this translates in a specific idea: you have to convince your visitor that even for a person that has a lot of knowledge (that's you) a specific product has a remarkable value! After you've done that, lead him to the web site providing that product.

Important! For your own good, please be extra careful when selecting companies with affiliate programs . Not all the companies running affiliate programs provide quality products. You have to make sure that you're joining affiliate programs run by companies with products or services that you would feel OK to recommend to your friends and relatives too. That's the amount of respect you should have towards the visitor. He's a friend! He's family!

Where were we? Oh yeah... lead him to the company. Well, strange or not that's all. There is nothing more that you can do. You have to let the visitor decide if he/she wants to buy or not. Your only job is to convince him/her to click that link and visit the other website in an open to buy mood. That's all you have to do!

Things like "buy now" are usually not for you to say. They are not part of your job. They are the job of the seller. Your visitor must not feel that you're trying to sell because he's not visiting your site to buy. He's visiting your site for content, for information. That's what he expects to find and you have to provide that information. If the visitor feels that you're pitching, he/she will resist and you'll be lucky if he/she remains on your website.

Provide the information he was looking for and - at the right time - present the products shortly (but convincingly) and lead the visitor to the businesses with affiliate programs .

Again: do not let the surfer "smell" a sales effort. Let the company that sells the product do its part of the job and convince its visitors to buy. Your only job is to convince people to visit the site in an open to buy mood! If the seller is not capable to close the sales, it's not your fault! It means however that you should pick another company to promote! Give up fast on companies that seem unable to close sales. If you know that you've done your job right, it can only mean that they were not capable of doing theirs.

Create curiosity! Explain in a few words what a certain product does and how it makes life easier. A personal testimonial can do wonders, but you have to use the product yourself to post accurate information, to know exactly what to say and what benefits you had by using the product. You'll also be certain that you're not saying anything that isn't completely true! It might be tempting to lie, but, in the long run, it will not do you much good. Unless you're the perfect liar...
:-)

The best method to use is that of combining good and valuable information with presell phrases. Learn to use the Internet to fill your site with a lot of quality information. Read what other people have to say about various subjects. Visit sites, read articles and e-books.

OK... back to recommending products. When you do this, use short paragraphs and only a few sentences. If you write a lot about a single product it will seem like you're trying to sell and people will get suspicious. Keep the sentences short, few, and TRUE!

In certain situations, you'll feel that you have a lot to say about a product or that you should say a lot about it to explain what the product does. If this is the case, then you may choose to dedicate a whole page for that product. Write a short paragraph in the main page and put a link "for more information". Don't forget to fill that special page with various valuable ideas and personal opinions to encourage people to read all of it, and thus increase the probability of them clicking on the links that bring you money through affiliate programs .

Do not lie! If you get caught you'll definitely lose. Big time! You should "Tell the truth and nothing but the truth!". You're a witness: don't speak about features or benefits that don't exist. Remember? The visitor is a friend of yours. You definitely want the best for him! Thus you'll not try to sell him! Instead you will tell him why you like that product and even what you don't like about it. If you haven't purchased it, then underline the motifs that made you love the idea behind the product. Do that without considering the 25% or whatever percentage that you get from the sale! And don't lie by telling him that you used the product if you didn't.

You should not copy, under any circumstances, parts of the sales letter of the business you are affiliated with. Use it only as an inspiration!

Do not use banners unless you really-really have to! Link to all sites in a phrase, just like when you're speaking with someone and you suddenly remember the name of a shop.

Now please let me say this again: you have to send the visitor to that site! Once he's got there, he might consider buying, but before that, you don't stand a chance to make a single dime!

A Rule: Don't promote too many companies or products. Too many things to choose from will make the visitor confused and might even lower your credibility. Concentrate on a few items or companies! Really good ones! Take special care not to ever feel ashamed because you are affiliated with a certain company. The image of these businesses is a part of your own image!

Select companies that give you a high percentage of the sales (15%-50%). They must have competitive prices too! It's a lot easier to earn 25$ by referring one 100$ item than to earn 25$ from referring 5 items at 100$ with 5% interest for you. Don't follow the popular myth that says it's a lot easier to earn 25$ by referring one 100$ item than to earn 25$ from referring 5 items at 20$. Use common sense! Expensive products have a smaller market. Fewer people can afford to spend those 100$. It doesn't matter on what product! If this myth would be true, then we would all promote businesses that sell diamonds! It's not the case though!

As you can see, I talked mainly about pay-per-sale affiliate programs . That's because they are the ones to choose in my opinion. If you want to learn more about the types of affiliate programs read the "How to promote a site" article.

Find affiliate programs

Speaking of affiliate programs , I recommend you to use Commission Junction (www.cj.com) to find businesses that run affiliate and associate programs. Commission Junction is a highly respected company and you'll find there over 1000 affiliate programs to choose from. A special advantage of using a site like Commission Junction is the fact that you can join several affiliate programs and receive all your earnings in one check. You'll raise the minimum amount (required to issue a check to you) a lot faster and you'll receive your check sooner this way!

Other valuable sites: Amazon.com, directleads.com, linksynergy.com, bachsys.com, websponsors.com. Please note that some of them accept only sites that have at least 3000 unique visitors per month.

Other places to search for affiliate programs are the various directories on the subject.

Here's a list with the most valuable ones (at the time when this articles was written):

 
  1. associateprograms.com
  2. associate-it.com
  3. affiliatesdirectory.com
  4. cashpile.com
  5. refer-it.com
  6. affiliatepromote.com
  7. becomeanaffiliate.com
  8. clickslink.com
  9. wesubmit.com
  10. 2-tier.com
  11. affiliateworld.com
  12. adbility.com
  13. affiliateguide.com
  1. makemoneynow.com
  2. associatecash.com
  3. affiliatefind.com
  4. affiliatefirst.com
  5. associatesearch.com
  6. freecoolcash.com
  7. free-affiliate-programs.com
  8. revenuemakers.com
  9. startearning.com
  10. sponsordirectory.com
  11. webmaster-programs.com
  12. affiliateadvisor.com
  13. clickquick.com

Hey! I never told you how much you could earn by joining affiliate programs ! I read lots forum discussions and I found that the potential revenue of an "affiliate business" starts from 0$ to well over 5000$ a month. It all depends on how much time, work and money you spend, and, unfortunately, on your site's specific theme. To give you an example, the owner of www.associateprograms.com, Allan Gardyne, makes a living by using affiliate and associate programs since 1998.

Another thing! Should the visitor be aware of the fact that you joined the affiliate programs of the companies that you're recommending? God knows! But would you like to be aware of the fact that a webmaster earns a few bucks if you purchase a certain product? I think I would! Simply because I like to know everything that has to do with me. On the other hand, they might dislike the fact that you'll take a part of what they spend and thus decide not to visit the site you're recommending. Or, worse, take a look at the link to the company and fill it in without the part that lets the company know that you referred him.

What's that link thing again? Well, lets' say that you joined the affiliate programs from the website www.websitename.com. To let the company know that the visitor comes from your website you will be provided with a link more or less like this: www.companyname.com?yourname.

But the visitor might decide he doesn't want you to get paid. So, instead of clicking on the link, he will simply type "www.websitename.com" in his browser, causing you to lose a hard earned commission. Now that you know what can happen, decide for yourself. It's not an easy decision, I know!

PS. If you want even more info on using affiliate programs I recommend you a free 200 pages course that teaches how to start an affiliate web business. Ken Evoy, the man behind this wonderful course, will take you by the hand and show you exactly what to do: step by step.

Click here to download Ken Evoy's "Affiliate Masters Course" for free

Related Articles:

How to advertise your website

E-commerce and sales letter guidelines

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