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How to Start an Affiliate Program
First things first. You have to do a little planning and decision making before you jump into an affiliate program.
First, you need a marketing plan.
How much are you willing to pay affiliates for sending you business? Industry standard is about 20% of a sale. (Any less than that isn't as enticing for advertisers.) Some merchants choose to pay their affiliates a flat rate instead of a percentage. You can pay affiliates a commission for each sale, click, or lead.
Second, you will need to drum up some affiliates.
The most effective and fastest way to get the word out about your affiliate program is to join an affiliate network, like CJ or Linkshare. By joining an affiliate network, your program will be listed for affiliates to easily join and begin promoting almost instantly.
Without a network to advertise your program, you have to shout it out on your own. We suggest that you:
1. Post your affiliate program on your website; webmasters who already like or use your product will notice the program and join.
2. Get the word out in forums and message boards about the money-making opportunities with your program.
3. Submit your program to this site, 100best-affiliate-programs.com.
4. Contact relevant and related websites to inform them of your affiliate program.
Remember: Having more affiliates isn't always better. The affiliate marketing experts say that 85% of referred sales will come from a few 'super affiliates'. So don't be too concerned if you have few affiliates. You don't need a lot if you have good ones.
Third, you need to continue to entice affiliates with higher performance payouts, free trials, and bonuses. Create your own 'super affiliates' with a good program.
Lastly, build relationships with your affiliates. Send emails, keep in touch, help your affiliates learn more about your product, and keep them compensated for good work.
Now… what about tracking your affiliate sales? How do you keep track of banners, links, sales, clicks, affiliates, and payment?