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Choosing Affiliate Programs

One of the key elements of making affiliate programs work for you is choosing the right program or programs for your site. This article discusses general considerations for getting a good match. For more about the benefits of an affiliate network, see the article "Advantages of Using an Affiliate Network."

Your Search—Open-Ended

Some people start to hunt for an affiliate program in a spirit of being open to anything. In this situation, you might seek programs in a variety of locations and representing products from a wide range of groupings. You could start, for example, with an affiliate program directory, and look through the entire range of programs, which typically include the following categories, and more:

Art & Music
Books & Media
Clothing & Accessories
Education & Training
Family & Lifestyles
Financial Services
Food & Drinks
Gifts & Flowers
Health & Beauty
Home & Garden
Recreation & Leisure
Shops & Malls
Sports & Fitness
Web Services and eBay are two large affiliate programs within which you could shape your own specialty area. There are many that are smaller and more focused.

Your Search—Focused

But let's say you already have a site or that you have a particular interest in mind from the start. You can still use an affiliate program directory and just be more selective about your categories. But what would you want to select?

If you have a product for sale yourself, say a gadget you invented and patented for hanging trousers without imprints or creases, try to choose complementary products that either:

• work with your product
• are thought of in connection with your product
• make your product necessary
• extend the use of your product

For your ingenious trouser hanger, this might lead you to clothiers and closet designers. BUT . . . you would want to avoid anyone selling a competing hanging product that your visitor might choose in lieu of yours: no reason to give your competitors free advertising! The connection between your product and the advertised product will ensure that visitors to your site are highly likely to be interested in the products of the merchants you're affiliated with.

One way to come up with good ideas is to visit the websites of your competitors. Look around and see what types of affiliate links they have. You may want to imitate them or one-up them. In either case, the research might give you some fresh ideas. It's also a good idea to visit the merchants sites and see who they link to: this might give you some more ideas.

If you don't have a product, but do have a website, you may have a little more flexibility about what you choose, because your topic focus is likely to be a bit broader than one gadget. In this case, try to think of the different types of people who might be interested in your site and what other products would appeal to each distinct group.

For example, if you show Maine Coon cats and have a website devoted to the breed, you might get visits from cat fanciers, on the one hand, and families who are simply looking for information while considering purchasing a pet on the other hand. The specialists and the folks with a more casual interest is not an unusual split for this article has all rights reserved and is copyright by 100 Best a website to draw, so think about both. In any case, be sure to choose products and services that you can stand behind with enthusiasm.

Whoa, Nelly!

Signing up for affiliate programs may seem very attractive, so make sure you don't get carried away. Doing it right means a time investment, and if you have separate tracking for each program, this will mean extra time sorting out the analysis of each merchant's product or service and making plans for your next campaign.

What to Look For

Of course, another important aspect of  your search is the terms of affiliation. Here are some good questions to consider as you contemplate joining an affiliate program:

• How much is the commission?
• What action is required for the commission to be triggered?
• What is the number of "Return Days"?
• How often are checks issued?
• What kind of tracking is used and what do the reports detail?
• How is the problem of click fraud and other types of fraud being handled?
• How available is the merchant?
• Is the merchant interested in working with affiliate-generated ideas and concepts?
• Is the program one-tiered or two-tiered and how exactly do the payments work?
• Does the merchant have a good reputation with existing affiliates?

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