Why Affiliate Marketing Is the Best Way to Start an Online Business

If you’ve educated yourself enough with the information available to us via the internet, then you should have realized by now that your pursuit of a career in the corporate ladder is futile at best. Basically, the idea is to start as an intern, then a regular employee, then move up to a supervisory and/or managerial position and finally up to the executive levels of the corporate business that you’re in. Personally, I have nothing against this kind of aspiration as I too once dreamt of such things myself; however, the toll it takes to get to EXACTLY where you want to be could at least take 30 years; 20 if you’re exceptionally good at it.

The problem is we all can’t be exceptional and aside from the fierce competition in play, you’ll also have to face the insurmountable amount of bureaucracy, racism, favoritism, gender inequalities and other negative things in order to literally move up the ladder. The trade-off is not an ideal payoff even from an optimistically assessed standpoint. Therefore I would advocate that you start your own business and the cheapest way to do it is by building an affiliate marketing blog or website.

Defining Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is an easy income-generating business method where you take the role of the promoter and help the manufacturers and sellers connect with the end consumers. It should be clear that whether you take a passive or active role in this business, you are by no means the originator or creator of the products/services you promote. But you will get a small portion of the sales as compensation nevertheless. It’s basically a 3-way relationship between you, the seller and the customer.

What Affiliate Marketing is NOT

If you get an unsolicited email inviting you to join an affiliate network and it’s asking for an upfront payment, then you definitely have to scrutinize them and find out whether or not they’re scam or legit. Go to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and find out about the company, if you can’t find any, then go to affiliate marketing forums and discussion boards. They would know a lot about these scam sites as news spreads fast in social media and forums. Another thing to look for is if these people are selling you unrelated products or something that you will never be able to use, like the $350 “Secrets to Affiliate Marketing Success” book or some other catchy titles; although a few are genuine but they don’t charge you that high.

The truth is you can learn basic affiliate marketing from top ranking websites and blogs. In fact, they can teach you more useful information than all those specialized books and DVDs that other people are selling. Becoming an affiliate is free when you sign up to affiliate marketing programs and the only thing that will really cost you money is web hosting, which is around $70 – $100 a year for your affiliate marketing blog. A few other expenses may include a unique website/blog logo (optional), your electric bill; hire a blog writer (optional because you can write the blogs yourself) and probably paid advertising to promote your website or blog (optional).

Types of Affiliate Marketing

What’s interesting about affiliate marketing is that you can earn commissions in more ways than most people think. Allow me to explain the 3 different types of affiliate marketing and how you can earn through them.

1. Unattached Affiliate Marketing – This type of affiliate marketing will not require too much work from you, you don’t even have to setup an affiliate marketing blog like those for Amazon Affiliate Programs. This is more like a PPC marketing (pay-per-click) where you just show affiliate ads on sites that allow this kind of marketing and then get a commission for each click through that web users make on the ads.

2. Related Affiliate Marketing – This type of marketing is where you are required to have some level of involvement and this is where you create an affiliate marketing blog or website and always show affiliate links on almost all of your website/blog pages. You also earn a commission for each time a web user clicks through the affiliate links.

3. Involved Affiliate Marketing – This kind of marketing may require you to actually use the products/services before you write a review about them and you should be able to write a more comprehensive and honest reviews.

You can choose from these 3 types of affiliate marketing methods, but most affiliate marketing programs uses the Type 2 affiliate marketing, which has some level of involvement and online presence from your end.

Putting the Cogs and Wheels Together

Now that you have an idea of what affiliate marketing is all about and what its common pitfalls are, you are ready to start your journey to financial freedom and a wealthy lifestyle! Affiliate marketing is just like any other type of business and you’ll have to plan a strategy months or even years ahead before you begin, so I will give you the basic strategy of how to become an affiliate marketer, signing up for affiliate programs, setting up your affiliate marketing blog and all the other important details about it.

Steps to become an affiliate marketer:

1. Decide what niche topic you want to use for your blog or website. It’s better to write reviews or general information about products/services that you’re passionate about, because you will write better articles for them compared to those that you don’t like. For instance, if you’re mad about crochet or kids bicycles, then that is the niche you should pick for your blog! Affiliate programs have a huge inventory of items for sale and they do include crochets and bicycles for a fact. If you’re more of the business-minded individual and you think you can write just about on anything, then by all means pick the niche that’s most profitable among the lot.

2. Create your website and purchase a cheap but reliable web hosting. You don’t need a web designer to build a website or a blog. You can use WordPress, Weebly, Web.com, Blogger, eHost and others to do that. Using their user-friendly “click & drag” features you can create your blog/website in 5 – 10 minutes!

3. Learn basic SEO and use it on your blog or website. Search engine optimization or SEO is a very good marketing strategy to allow your website to be known throughout the entire internet or at least the majority of it. If your website is easier to find in search engines, then it is more convenient for people to visit it, and more visitors means more money for you.

4. Learn social media marketing to extend your presence online. In reality social media marketing or SMM is also a part of the grand scheme of SEO and without it, your SEO campaign would not be as successful as you’d expect it to be. There are literally billions of people hanging around the web on a daily basis and much of them are in social media sites. It would be a logical choice to get visitors there for your website and increase your income potential.

5. Learn about paid advertising and consider it deeply on whether you need to use it or not. Paid ads help because they target the right kind of people who are already looking for products that you promote. Meaning there is a good chance that they will buy. Wouldn’t you want them to buy products through your affiliate links? I would!

6. Start filling up your website with content. In case you plan to write boring and unimpressive blogs and articles, then I’d advise you to no longer continue in your pursuit of creating an affiliate marketing blog, because I promise you people will not want to read your blogs or visit your site. Write articles that will impress you first. This will let you know whether or not people will want to read about what you have to say. If you can find an extremely critical person to judge your writing, then that would be better as it will help you greatly improve on your writing style. Reader engagement is absolute in affiliate marketing. It will determine your income capacity, so do your best in writing content for your site above all else.

How you earn in affiliate marketing:

• The manufacturer/seller signs a partnership deal with the affiliate network or program and in turn, when you sign up with the affiliate network as an affiliate, the partner affiliate network will give you a small percentage share on every item you helped sold.

• You’ll need to embed or display affiliate links on your website or affiliate marketing blog about the products you’re promoting. The purpose of these links is to guide your blog readers to the seller’s webpage (which is usually in the affiliate network’s site) so that they can make purchases of the items they like.

• The percentage commission on each sale range from 1% – 10% (some give more than 10% but rarely) and this is how you generate income. For example, a web user happens by your blog about coffee machines and he/she read your blog review or informative article. The reader was impressed by your blog and decided to click on the affiliate link, then make a purchase of 1 coffee machine worth $350. If the affiliate network allowed 7% of that amount to be your commission, therefore your income for that sale alone will be $24.50.

• You may notice that $24.50 is a small amount and not enough to convince you to become an affiliate; however, if you were able to bring 10,000 visitors to your blog in the span of 30 days and about 4,382 people bought coffee machines for themselves, then your income for that particular month should be $107,359! If you’re able to bring as much visitors to your website on a regular basis, then you can bet that your monthly income should be around these numbers. Now you can appreciate the value that SEO and SMM can do for your affiliate marketing business.

How Much can you Make?

The straight answer to this question is… there is NO LIMIT to how much you can earn. The website called Pickmyshaver.com around October or November 2013 and then 8 months later its regular monthly income became $8,446! If it had continued as is it would earn over $50,000 a month by now, except that it was purchased in Flippa by an anonymous buyer for $60,100 around June 2014. That’s just 1 website and I’m pretty sure on your best day you can manage 2 – 3 sites for affiliate marketing.

At this point I will let you use your imagination as to how much you can earn; or is it how hard you desire to earn. It’s entirely up to you. I am confident that this article should help you get started in creating your own affiliate marketing blog and earn not just money, but your freedom from the everyday worries of life. Once you start earning over $8,000 a month, then you can buy more time to spend it with the people that matters to you most – your family. I wish you all the best and don’t forget to drop a comment below and tell me how affiliate marketing has changed your life like it has changed mine.

Affiliate Marketing VS Product Creation

This is a huge obstacle many people face when entering the online marketing world: Should I become an affiliate marketer or should I create and sell my own product..?
Before I get started let me quickly define the two business models so that we are clear as to how money is generated with each.

• Affiliate Marketing: In this business model you will be making income by referring customers to another person’s product or service. So basically you will sign up with the vendor as an affiliate and for every sale you generate you get paid a commission.

• Product Creation: This business model is pretty self explanatory; you will be creating a product and selling it in the marketplace for 100% of the profits. In this example we will be assuming your product is an information product of some sort.

There are a lot of marketers that will say the easiest way to start making money online is affiliate marketing. Just because of the simple fact that you can choose a vendor whose product you want to promote, sign up as an affiliate, start sending traffic to your affiliate sales page and BOOM! You make money. Sounds pretty easy. You don’t have to deal with creating a product, setting up websites, dealing with customers, etc.

At the same time there are marketers that say creating your own product is easier and the more profitable of the two and allow you to be more in control of your business.
It really all depends on what your strengths and weaknesses are and what you’re looking to accomplish in your business.

Let me get some of the pros and cons of each and put things into perspective so you can have a better idea of where you want to get started.

Affiliate Marketing

It is a strong argument that affiliate marketing is the easier of the two to start with which is why it is recommended as a starting point for beginners.
Here are a few of the pros of affiliate marketing:

• Most affiliate vendors/networks are free and very easy to join. Most of the time you will answer a few basic questions, set up a username and password and get instant access to the affiliate member’s area within a few minutes.

• Marketing materials are provided. Once you set up your profile in the affiliate member’s area you will have complete access to all marketing materials needed to get you going such as banners, pre-written emails, etc. In the members area you will also be provided a unique affiliate link which will take your prospects to a complete sales page which has already been created for you. Armed with these materials all you have to focus on is getting traffic to your affiliate site.

• All websites are already created for you. As an affiliate you do not have to deal with the headaches that can come with setting up a website. The vendor has done this for you and as long as you use your affiliate link your sales and commissions will be tracked through that link and paid into your account.

• Do not have to deal with customers. We all know how difficult it can be to deal with customers but as an affiliate you do not have to worry about this problem. Once you make a sale as an affiliate all you have to worry about is cashing your check and the customer is passed on to the vendor.

As you can see being an affiliate marketer definitely has its perks. It’s quick and easy to join a vendor/network, all the marketing materials and sales pages are provided and you do not have to deal with customers. You can focus your time on generating traffic, making sales and cashing checks!

Now let’s take a look at some of the cons of affiliate marketing and how you can overcome them.

• The competition. Even though it can argued that affiliate marketing is the easiest way to make money online it can be strongly argued that it’s the most difficult due to the competition. There are hundreds of thousands of affiliate marketers you have to compete with to make a sale. At the same time many experienced marketers agree that most new affiliate marketers do not know what they’re doing since it’s such an easy business to get into.

– One of the best ways to overcome this obstacle is to educate yourself. Always be a step ahead of the competition by learning what the top affiliates are doing to give them that edge needed to make the sale.

• Profit Margins. As I mentioned before with affiliate marketing you are making a commission for referring a customer to a vendor as opposed to you being the creator of the product and earning 100% of the sale. So there can be a lot of profits you are leaving on the table by promoting someone else’s product instead of your own.

– This obstacle is really not in your control when it comes to affiliate marketing but the best thing you can do is promote a product with a higher payout of 60-80% as opposed to 25-50%. This way you will be making more income with less sales.

• Building someone else’s business. As an affiliate not only are you generating sales and profits for the vendor you are also helping them build their business instead of your own. Once you make a sale and are paid a commission that customer is now in the hands of the vendor which can continue to sell additional products and services to that customer for the lifetime of their relationship.

– The best way I know of building your own business through affiliate marketing while also sending customers to the vendor is to set up a landing page of your own that requires the prospect to input their name and email before they get access to the sales page. This way the prospect is on your customer list as well and you can now email them future offers and affiliate products directly. Now of course you will have to provide an incentive to the prospect for them to enter their email like giving away a free report, video training, audio file, etc. We will touch on this in a future report.

• Lack of control. With affiliate marketing you really don’t have much control of anything but generating sales. Should the vendor/network decide to shut down or no longer sell the product you are promoting you are left back at square one. When it comes to product creation you have a lot more control of your business and can profits but we’ll be touching on that in a few.

– Unfortunately this is a huge downside to affiliate marketing and something you really can’t prepare for. Building your email list as mentioned before is the best way to ensure that you still have an ability to make sales with your current list of customers while you set up a new campaign with a new product.

There are just as many cons as pros with affiliate marketing but none of these reasons should stop you from getting started if it’s a business you wish to pursue. One important thing that you want to keep in mind is to take time to invest in your education and skill sets to put yourself ahead of the curve. By doing this you set yourself apart from the competition and a step ahead to making the sale.

If you are interested in learning more about affiliate marketing and jump starting your way to success visit my author resource box.

Now, just for a second picture yourself being the product creator and having an army of affiliates promoting your products as we move into the pros and cons of Creating and selling your own product.

Product Creation

Product creation can be a scary subject for many because as a newbie you are most likely skeptical and completely in the dark as to how an online business operates, let alone creating a product from scratch. But to your surprise it can actually be one of the easiest ways to make money online.
Let’s get into some of the pros of creating and selling your own product and see why it can be an avenue you consider:

• Control. When it comes to product creation you are in complete control of just about everything. You are in control of how you market your product, the price, its delivery, and you are in full control of every customer you bring into your business as well as any future purchases they make from you.

• Profits. Of course this is a huge reason why many people create and sell their own products. As a product creator you get to keep 100% of the profits from every sale you make. Now there is an exception to this when it comes to setting up your own affiliate program and having other affiliates promote your products but we’ll touch on the power of this next.

• Affiliates. Once you create your unique product you can choose to leverage others to help build your business. Setting up an affiliate program can be a powerful way to explode your business on autopilot. You can offer your affiliates a commission of 30-50% and have them sell their butts off for you especially if your product brings high value to the marketplace. Also you can make money while you sleep as you know your affiliates are working hard to make you sales.

• Building a Brand. Being the product creator gives you the opportunity to build a brand for yourself in the marketplace of your chosen topic. Since your product is unique you are able to name the product whatever you like and build a brand around that topic. This is very big if you want to build your business through word-of-mouth advertising which we all know is the strongest form of advertising.

As you can see there are also some great advantages to creating and selling your own product. You are in full control of everything, you will earn more money, you can build an army of affiliates, and you can build a brand for yourself and your business. But as in everything there is a downside so let’s get into that next.

Here are a few cons of product creation and how you can overcome them:

• Time. When it comes to your time, creating your own product will definitely take up more of your time then simply signing up as an affiliate. Not only will it take time to create your product, but you also have to create a website to sell your product from. And that can be a headache of its own which we will talk about next.

– The great thing about product creation is you can outsource just about every process involved in starting your business. You can literally pay a professional writer to write your information product for you and you take the credit for it. Of course you always want to proof read it and modify a bit to fit your personality and style.

• Websites. Once your product is completed you will not be able to make any profit unless you are able to get it published online. For some this can be your worst nightmare. This can cause you a lot of headaches especially if you are not tech savvy. This can easily cause you to quit or never begin to try to make money online, or it can cause you to have to hire a web designer to build a site for you which can be a few hundred to a few thousand dollars in cost. This leads me to my next topic.

– Again building a website can easily be outsourced to a web designer who can build you a clean professional website usually within 48-72 hours.

• Cost. When it comes to creating a product it can easily be said you will have more start up costs then an affiliate. When it comes to setting up your sales funnel you have certain costs like buying a domain, hosting your website, hiring a web designer to set up you site unless you’re doing it yourself, paying for the graphics to brand your product, etc.

– A lot of you may be asking yourself how much are you going to expect to spend on your product creation business? Don’t worry take a deep breath..a lot of the things you will be paying for are really inexpensive. You can buy a domain for about $10 and hosting is about $5 a month. Now I want to introduce you to a site that will dramatically change the way you do business it’s called http://www.Fiverr.com. This is a community of people that are willing to just about anything for $5. Go ahead and visit the site and see for yourself. You can literally have an information product created on a topic of your choice, the graphics and ebook cover created, and a website build for $25-$30.

• Customer Support. As the product owner you will be responsible for your customer service and support and this alone can drive you insane and drain a lot of your time and energy. As in any business on or offline you will have your happy customers and your not so happy customers. Your customers will have questions, demands, concerns, etc and it is your responsibility to make sure they get the support they deserve.

– Customer support can also be outsourced but unfortunately this comes with the territory of any business and something you will have to deal with. Yes you can have someone take care of your customers service but you should definitely be as involved as possible to make sure they are getting the best support possible.

As you can see as a product owner, yes you will be in control, yes you will make more money, and yes you can build a brand, but with all this comes a lot more responsibility then an affiliate marketer.
Before wrapping things up lets touch on a few things that we can all agree on in both affiliate marketing and product creation.

• Work from home. Whether you are an affiliate marketer or promoting your own products both allow you to be in control of your time and work from home. For many this a highly sought after luxury to be able to spend more time with family, friends, spouse, etc.

• Your day job. Unless you are a super marketer and were born with super online business skills most of you will still be working your day job as you build your online business. With that said you can build your online business on a part-time or full-time basis around your current work schedule whether it is one hour a day or ten hours a day whatever it is that works for you make sure you keep it consistent. Make sure you schedule your online business time just as you would schedule any other activity and make this non-negotiable.

• You’re the boss. No matter if you’re marketing as an affiliate or your own product, you are your own boss in both situations and your income is directly influenced by your efforts. This also allows you to make money on demand. If you’re looking to take a vacation or buy a new car and you need a few thousand dollars you can just jump on your computer and set up a new marketing campaign.

If you are leaning more towards creating your own products visit my author resource box.

In conclusion there really is no right or wrong, better or worse, that was not the point of this article. The point of this report was to shed some light on both business models so that you can be more aware of what you can expect in moving forward with your online business. In my opinion there shouldn’t have to be a choice between affiliate marketing and creating your own product. You should integrate both into your business plan and become educated in both arenas. By doing that you will quickly see that many top affiliate marketers make a killing selling their own products and many people who sell their own products make a killing as affiliate marketers.

One thing I do want to stress is no matter what you do it is going to take time, effort and hard work. Don’t fall into the trap that many newbie’s do which is consistently searching for the next plug and play system that is going to make you the next overnight millionaire. And there are plenty of “Guru’s” out there who prey on the newbie community and put out junk products promising overnight millions with pretty sales pages and you continue to fall for them. STOP!! Map out a business plan, decide what you want to accomplish, find one reputable mentor you want to follow and get to work! Focus on following that chosen mentor all the way through to your first online dollar. Lastly, make a promise to yourself that you will not quit before starting the journey!

To Your Success,

Joshua Zamora

How to Set Up an Affiliate Marketing Program – Small Business Guide

If you are not currently doing affiliate marketing then you are really missing a trick.

Affiliate marketing evolved from the simple concept that if another website sends you a visitor and that person becomes a customer of yours then you should say thanks to the other website by giving them a small piece of the pie.

Affiliate marketing has now become a lot more complex but the basics are still the same. You want as many sites as possible to be shouting about you to their visitors so that they come and see your wares, and then in return you pay a suitable reward to that site based on your business profitability and margins.

In this article I will go through a few of the things that a newcomer should consider when setting up an affiliate marketing programme:

1) The best commission/reward structure for your business

2) The best network/s to work with based on their affiliate base e.g. the kinds of affiliates that are with them and that they tend to attract.

3) How to get visibility on the key affiliates websites and with the affiliate network.

4) Working on new promotions and incentive schemes to motivate affiliates to promote you rather than your competitors.

Deciding on an affiliate reward structure for your business The first thing to look at is your new customer recruitment costs, e.g. If over one month you spend £5000 on marketing and you recruit 100 new customers then your new customer recruitment cost is £50. Cross reference this with your customer lifetime value(if you know it) to work out how much commission you can pay your affiliates.

A Basic explanation of how you could calculate this is as follows: The customer lifetime value will be the average top line profit that each customer brings you over their lifetime.

To calculate a customers life time value the best way maybe to take a group of customers that you recruited within a months date range and to track their spend over a few years, you will lose some of these customers, but others you will maintain so you need to have a good sample size for the calculation to be worthy.

e.g.

1000 customers recruited in June 2008.

  • Over the following 2 years they spent an accumulative 1,000,000GBP therefore you have a customer lifetime value of 1000GBP
  • BUT
  • Cost of goods sold were 700,000GBP
  • Business fixed costs were 100,000GBP
  • Variable business costs were 80,000GBP

Therefore a total profit for these 1000 customers of 120,000GBP over 2 years, and a per customer profit of 120GBP/customer.

This is obviously a very rough fag packet example but it is worth doing this exercise so that you can then determine the profitability of all of your marketing channels through looking at what their cost per new business customer acquired is and comparing it to the customer lifetime value.

Anyway, to keep from steering too wide form the point of the post… From this figure you can then determine how much you are willing to spend per customer on your affiliate marketing.

You now know that if you spend 120GBP per customer acquisition then you will break even on that customer so if you build in that you want to make 50% profit and spend 50% of the customer value then you can spend 60GBP per customer acquired.

Now, if you work out the average number of orders of those 1000 customers over the 2 years then you will know your average order size through dividing total revenue by total orders.

Say for example that the average number of orders was 4 then you will have an average order size of 250GBP.

So based on this if you can spend 60GBP per new customer order then your commission level for “new” customers can be just under 25%.

However, not all orders are from “new” customers so you could do one of 2 things:

1) Decide to average out commission across all sales by saying that every 1 in 4 customers is new therefore you can pay 6% commission overall

2) Decide to have a higher level of commission on new business orders and a lower level on other orders e.g. 10% and 5% respectively (although you will need to have the backend website functionality available to track different customer segments).

As well as the cost to the end affiliate you will need to figure in a network cost. As a basic guide this is about 25-35% of the commission paid to the affiliates. Therefore if you pay affiliates £1000/month then you will also need to pay your network a fee of around £300/month so this needs to be factored in when determining commission levels.

Always set your commission levels slightly lower than you can afford so that you have the option of increasing commissions for seasonal promotions and for giving high performing affiliates added incentives etc.

What is the best affiliate network for me? The amount that the affiliate networks are willing to disclose to you will depend on your skills as a negotiator and also the potential size of your business for the affiliate networks.

Approach all of the big networks – Tradedoubler, Buyat, Linkshare, Commission Junction, Affiliate Future and Clickbank, explain that you are going to be setting up an affiliate marketing program and that you want as much information as possible on why you should go with them.

Ask them:

  • How many affiliates drove a sale for them last month?
  • So that you can compare their size and reach with others
  • How many affiliates are promoting merchants in your industry?
  • So that you can see their reach in your vertical
  • How much revenue did they drive for your entire industry last month?
  • To judge the level of bottom line success in your vertical. You should also look (if possible) at the % breakdown of the revenue by affiliate e.g. what % of revenue is made up by the top 5 affiliates? Is there a lot of long tail/small affiliate opportunity?
  • How many new affiliates did they recruit last month?
  • To judge how actively they are growing and how proactive they are.
  • How many new merchants did they recruit last month?
  • Ditto, are they an arrogant and lazy network?
  • How many merchants from your industry are with them? (good to go with the bulk as there will be a good affiiate base ready to promote you if they are already promoting your competitors).
  • Who are the biggest 5 affiliates working with them?
  • Who are the biggest 5 affiliates with them for your industry?
  • How much commission will they charge on sales?
  • Can they run multiple commission rates?
  • Can they do lead generation on a fee per lead basis?
  • What does their management fee include? How much support and help can you expect from them with affiliate recruitment/reporting/problem shooting/industry updates?
  • What technology do they offer that is unique to them?

If you can get a fair bit of detail on all of these questions then you should be in a good position to approach the negotiating stage and play them off against each other. Obviously the amount of leverage you have and how far you can go will largely depend on the size of your business and what kind of revenue you will bring the affiliate networks. Make the networks excited about your marketing and growth plans. Explain your past performance and what your plans are for the next year – if they see you as an expanding and growing brand then they will stretch further to meet your needs.

By the time you have got to this stage you will have your preferences, go with the data, the best deal and your gut feel. If you like and get on with the people on a genuine level and trust that they will take your business seriously and will spend time promoting you then go with them, but only if the commercials and their business proposition stack up too. Getting visibility with the key affiliates for your market Once you have your account set up and you are ready to go the first thing to do is to put together a target list of affiliates that you want promoting you. Rank the affiliates on the list by potential and then work with the networks on getting the best real estate possible on the affiliates sites.

Get the affiliate network to give you a list of every affiliate who has driven a sale for any competitor of yours (that is in their network) within the past 6 months. Ask the affiliate network to rank the affiliates in order of revenue driven (obviously without the sensitive data) if they mess up and give you the sensitive data (unlikely) then all the better. Put together a promotional plan for the first 3 months and make sure that your offers blow the competition out of the water. Affiliates are businesses in their own right so are just interested in promoting the merchant who can earn them the most cash, so if you give them a better % commission and your conversion rate is as good as your competitors or better then you will quickly win them over. Check out the top affiliates EPC (earnings per click). You then need to work out how you can give them the opportunity to earn over this with you – basically calculate: (site conversion rate x (commission rate per sale X Average order size).

Ensure that the affiliate network have agreed to give you featured merchant status for the first month and that you are featured all over their website/blog/twitter/facebook etc and emails.

Email all of the other affiliates straight away introducing yourself as their support at your company, explain your proposition, affiliate program terms (commission rate etc) and explain that you have an unbeatable offer for the first month that is going to have sky high conversion rates.

Save some fat in the promotional spend plan for the top affiliates so that you can offer them something special for a great location on their site.

Once you have the top 10 on board and are recruiting the long tail through the email then get on the phone and work your way down the list getting more and more affiliates on board, there will be many that you cannot get hold of and/or who do not reply; do not be disheartened as this is normal, affiliates are busy people. Just try to think of good ways to grab their attention and leverage all contacts at the network to aid you in getting in contact with the affiliates.

Keep in close contact with the network – let them know that you will make them work for their commission, be thankful and complimentary when they are good but beware of them being more lazy after the initial flurry – you need to hold the pace for at least the first 3 months and then it should start to get easier as you have some secure relationships that do not need too much maintenance. This applies to both affiliates and the networks.

New affiliate promotions to get the affiliates promoting you instead of your competitors This is obviously a tricky one with no clear right/wrong way. There are a few rules that I would stick to though:

Keep things fairly simple – as mentioned above affiliates are busy so if you come up with a highly complex (however fun) promotional idea they may just switch off before you sell it in to them.
Keep things fresh – do not just dole out the same old promos every month to the affiliates, there will be no real incentive for them to keep promoting you and trying new things for you if they already know how it will perform on their site.

If possible base your promotions for the top affiliates around their site and what works well for them e.g. if you sell T-shirts and cushions and one site is flying on the cushions then give them special offers around cushions.

Use the data you have after each promo – see what works for who and try to understand their site use profile so that you can meet their needs.
Show your face at affiliate events, make friends in the industry, do people favours and just generally enjoy yourself as if people see you being fun and positive socially then it will impact the business relationship you have with them.

If anyone has anything that they think could be added to this post then just let me know and I will add it in. All the best with your affiliate marketing!