As an afﬁliate you will promote another company’s products by joining their afﬁliate program. The afﬁliate program includes guidelines for promoting their products and the links you’ll use to drive trafﬁc to their product to earn your commission.
Some companies have their own afﬁliate programs but most companies use an afﬁliate program network, such as LinkShare, Commission Junction or ShareASale. There are dozens of other networks … these are just three of the most popular networks.
They are free to join.
When you apply to become an afﬁliate, you usually ﬁll out a brief application. Not all networks require this but it’s pretty standard. Once accepted, you get access to an afﬁliate dashboard where you can ﬁnd all the links, banner ads, and other forms of link crea- tion services the program offers.
Most afﬁliate programs track activity and transactions your afﬁliate links produce. Once you embed some the links on your website and drive trafﬁc to a merchants website through these links, you’ll have access to the details surrounding such activity. For example, what page on your site they came from, what product they clicked on, what they eventually purchased and how much they spent.
This information is used to calculate your commissions.
Most afﬁliate programs track returns or cancelled sales so you can expect a small percentage of commissions to be retracted within a predetermined window of time – 60 days, for example. This varies by program is usually covered in the afﬁliate agree- ment when you sign up. It’s normal procedure.
I encourage you to join multiple afﬁliate program networks, so that you can familiarize yourself with the various programs and have everything setup should you ﬁnd a product in their catalog to pro- mote in the future. In most cases, afﬁliates promote products from
multiple programs at once based on commission rates, promotions and the functionality of tools within the network to easily deploy new links.
Using afﬁliate programs to create links is pretty straightforward. They provide with a line or two of html code or a script that you then copy and paste into your website. This may be a banner advertisement in the header section of your site or an individual text link within a blog post. It’s really up to you and the possibilities are seemingly endless. There’s plenty of room to get creative.
What is Adsense?
Adsense is a pay-per-click advertising program owned by Google and is by far one of the most popular afﬁliate programs out there. Advertisers setup and pay for ads using Google Adwords, and marketers or publishers such as yourself use Adsense to display these ads. Every time someone clicks on one of your Adsense links, you get paid.
What makes Adsense a good choice?
Adsense is a great choice as an afﬁliate program for beginners because Google does most of the work. When setting up Adsense you only need to really select size and color of the Adsense block and Google will determine based on the content on your site, which speciﬁc ads to display. With other afﬁliate programs, you normally have to specify the exact products you want to promote.
Adsense is also a great choice because the application process is fairly simple using your Google account. There are a few ques- tions you need to answer, including the website on which you’ll use to display ads.
Some other afﬁliate programs require you to apply to certain pro- grams based on the products you want to promote, the content you have on your website, and the promotional methods you plan to use. Adsense is not as particular on these issues, though they will reject your application if you don’t meet accept the policies outlined in the application process.
How do I set up Adsense?
To apply to Adsense and begin the setup process, visit http://www.google.com/adsense.
How do I display Adsense links?
Adsense links are typically displayed in one of two formats: text or image banners. Text links include 4 or 5 links to participating Ad- words merchants including a title, description and link. A banner add is a single image that links to the merchant’s website.
With both text and banner ads, there are several options, includ- ing size, # of ads to display, and color. These are required options you must select – pretty much everything beyond that is optional.
Choosing the right format and layout for your marketing will re- quire some trial and error mixed with good taste and good luck. Some experts suggest that you should design your Adsense ads
to blend in with your text because people psychologically ignore anything that looks like an advertisement. Other folks suggest that image banner ads in the header and footer perform best.
How you design and implement your ads requires testing. Choose the right combination of format and design that makes sense to you and monitor results closely. Overtime, you will learn what is working best and have some performance benchmarks with which to make some education guesses on to change.
How do I get paid?
You earn money every time someone clicks on one of your Adsense links. Adsense pays afﬁliates based on the earnings on a monthly basis … 30 days after your balance reaches a minimum of $100. There are two payment method options, check or electronic funds transfer.
Anything special about Adsense?
Because Adsense only pays a few sense per click depending on your industry, it can take a lot of clicks to earn your ﬁrst $100. Of course, you getting paid just for clicks – the people who clicked on your ad never has to actually buy anything. Hence, Pay-Per-Click. Other programs potentially pay more per click, but in most cases require a purchase to take place.
What is Amazon Associates?
Amazon.com is one of the leading online stores for all kinds of products, including books, magazine, music, movies and a plethora of other tangible home and ofﬁce products. It’s amazing just how many different products are on amazon when you start re- searching products for your afﬁliate program.
Amazon Associates is Amazon’s afﬁliate program that let’s you earn commission on the sale of products from their catalog of goods. It’s a great program for several reasons.
First, because Amazon has been around for so long, most people who buy products online are already familiar with amazon and have a certain level of trust in the quality of products and the ability to make returns. Most people also have an Amazon account as well, so there is a low barrier to entry when it comes time to make a purchase.
Second, Amazon Associates allows you to setup multiple tracking ID’s. You might have multiple tracking ID’s for different niches or markets, or in some cases you might setup different ID’s for various marketing channels, such as social media, email or web marketing. This is very helpful when it comes time to measure results and track performance back to a speciﬁc strategy for driving afﬁliate trafﬁc.
Third, Amazon Associates has a 90 day cookie, which means that if you send someone to Amazon through an afﬁliate link, you can potentially earn commission on anything they buy for 90 days. For example, you might send them there with a link to a $10 book and they end up buying a $200 Kindle. You just increased your earn-
ings from $.40 to $8.00. Not bad, huh? This is especially nice around the holidays as more people shop online for gifts.
How do I setup Amazon Associates?
Visit Amazon Associates to sign up for an account and get started right away!
How do I display Amazon Associates links?
One of the features I love most about this program is the variety of display options available. This is great because you can create a much more customized presentation of your links that looks good and speaks more effectively to your market vs. just text links or static images.
Some of the links, banners and widget options include:
• Product Links
These are text and/or image based links that link to a spe- ciﬁc product. you can customize the text in your link and choose how the price is displayed if at all. These are probably the most popular types on links you’ll use in your marketing campaigns, because the are so targeted.
These are predeﬁned graphic images created by Amazon that help you promote some of Amazon’s most popular con- tent. For example, you might want a banner in the header of your website that invites people to check out the latest electronics items on sale for 50% off or more. There are
banners in nearly every category across multiple different promotional types. I love banners!
• Site Stripe
This is very cool – the site stripe is a toolbar that shows up in your browser window as you navigate through Amazon. If you ﬁnd a product you want to promote with an afﬁliate link, you just use the buttons in the Site Stripe to quickly create afﬁliate links to those products. It really helps speed up the link building process and makes it way more fun. Plus, you can easily share afﬁliate links on Twitter using the Site Strip as well.
• Search Widget
This bit of code allows you to put an Amazon search box on your website. You can target speciﬁc product categories and change the color and dimensions to match your site.
• Carousel Widget
This allows you to display a visually appealing and interactive, rotating list of products from a category of your choice. You could also select speciﬁc product to include in the carousel if you wish.
• Deals Widget
As implied, this widget features products from any given category that are on sale. Of course, lower cost products mean lower commissions so use with caution. On the up- side, this widget is great as a means to get users into Ama- zon and begin tracking with the 90 day cookie. They might
order something at half price day and something else at full price next month.
• MP3 Clips Widget
This is a great little widget for the music lover. It allows us- ers to preview music and buy on the spot. Songs are on the less expensive side but tend to pay a higher commission rate.
• aStore Widget
This is a unique widget that allows you to create an entire mini-version of Amazon right within your website. You can have multiple pages of content across different categories that you either hand pick or let Amazon choose for you based on a number of variables. This is a great solution if you want to have a dedicated “Products” page within your site.
This is only a sample of the different options you have for display- ing Amazon links and I’m sure you’ll have fun exploring the many other options available.
How do I get paid?
You earn commissions from Amazon Associates when people purchase products on Amazon.com through your afﬁliate links.
Your referral rates are based on the the volume of purchases people make through your links in a given month. For example, if you sell 1-6 products, you earn 4% on those sales, 7-30 products you make 6%, 31-110 gets you 6.5% and so on. The max percentage payout is 8.5% if you sell 3,131 products in a given month. I hope you achieve that!!!
You get paid once your earnings reach a minimum threshold, such as $10 for direct deposit or gift certiﬁcate or $100 if you want them to write you a physical check. If you earn less than the minimum in a given month, those earnings are added to your roll- ing balance. Once the balance reaching the minimum, you get paid.
Anything special I should know about Amazon Associates?
Most people agree that Amazon Associates is a great afﬁliate program for all the reasons I’ve mentioned here. Others however ﬁnd it tough to justify marketing a product if the commission is only 4-6%. For comparison sake, most products on other pro- grams, such as LinkShare, Commission Junction or ShareASale payout at a much higher, usually starting at 6% on the low end.
What this means is that you have to be realistic about the volume of trafﬁc you can send to Amazon and the conversion rate of that trafﬁc to determine a reasonable earnings potential. Compare that same trafﬁc and conversation rate to other programs that offer a higher referral rate, but also keep in mind the nice 90 day cookie and brand recognition that comes with Amazon.
Deﬁnitely test out Amazon Associates to see if it’s right for you.
What is LinkShare?
LinkShare is a fantastic afﬁliate program directory that includes 1,000’s of afﬁliate programs from companies in 100’s of different industries and markets. It’s a very easy system to use and be- cause each program is managed by an individual afﬁliate program manager, there are some unique opportunities to build relation- ships with these companies and offer even greater value to your customers.
This is really a great solution if there are speciﬁc brand name products that you want to promote and they happen to be in their network. For example, if you’re in the candy and ﬂower gifts mar- ket, you can apply to promote products from The Popcorn Factory, 1-800 Flowers, Chocolate.com, GourmetGiftBaskets.com and dozens of other online retailers.
LinkShare is also great because they make it easy to create and share a variety of different links. You can choose from banner im- ages, individual product image links, text links and special rotating links depending on how the afﬁliate programs have setup their of- fering. As a marketer, this is nice because you can serve a variety of ads that add visual interest to your readers.
How do I setup LinkShare?
Visit LinkShare to get started. In the application process you’ll be asked to indicate your website domain name and the methods of
advertising you will employ. You’ll also have a chance to explain what your site is about. Take some time to provide as much detail as you can so that when you apply for individual company afﬁliate programs, they have the best possible understanding of who you are and why they should approve your application.
How do I display LinkShare links?
Creating links in LinkShare is easy. Once you’ve been approved for a speciﬁc afﬁliate program, you’ll have a plethora of options to choose from including banner ads and images, individual products, text / email links and a set of promotional links based on coupons, hot products, logos, free shipping and best converting products. What’s included in these categories depends entirely on how the afﬁliate manager setup their programs and what they’ve chosen to make available to afﬁliates.
LinkShare also has what they call Easy Links. This is a widget in which you select the dimensions, colors and product display options and the widget automatically decides which products to display based on the content on your webpage.
For example, if you have a home and garden information website covering a variety of topics and you have an afﬁliate relationship with Burpee Garden, your ads will show different products on different pages. this is a great feature if you don’t have the time to create custom ads with every page in your site.
If you have a targeted page on your website for a speciﬁc product, I recommend you include a few different links. First, you deﬁnitely want a picture of the product – one that links to the merchant’s product page through an afﬁliate link. You’ll also want 1 or two more links in the body of your text. This maximizes the opportunity for someone to click on your link.
How do I get paid?
LinkShare tracks links from your afﬁliate links and earnings associated with any purchases made as a result of the trafﬁc to a merchant’s online store. This is all communicated with you from the Account dashboard. Payments to afﬁliates are made at the end of the month. LinkShare has a $1 minimum threshold, which means that even if you only make $17, you get paid rather quickly unlike other programs which have a much higher minimum threshold.
What is ShareASale?
Much like LinkShare, ShareASale is an online afﬁliate program network that includes over 2,500 individual company afﬁliate pro- grams across numerous industries. ShareASale is unique in that they provide real time stats on performance, which is helpful if you want to see how your sales are doing today.
How do I setup ShareASale?
Visit ShareASale.com to sign up now. All you need is a website and an email address. If you don’t have a website yet head over the Bluehost and register a domain name now (email is included with hosting).
How do I display ShareASale links?
ShareASale provides a variety of linking options which really separate it from the pack.
Link / Banner – You can get a standard link or banner, which de- pends on the creatives provided by the merchant.
Datafeeds – this is comma separated ﬁle you can download one time or ongoing via FTP for direct access to bulk list of links
Coupons and Deals – here’s a great way to weed out the special offers and provide incentives for customers to buy now
Videos – for a truly unique spin on afﬁliate marketing, ShareASale has a video creation tool that embeds your links into video foot- age
Widgets – these are pre-conﬁgured html blocks that showcase a product with something more than a simple image and link
Custom Links – most merchants allow you to link to any page on their site with this fantastic little time saver of a tool.
Gift Cards – here’s a unique tool in ShareASale that allows you to sell digital gift card for participating merchants.
How do I get paid?
ShareASale tracks all your afﬁliate earnings and pays out on a monthly basis with a $50 minimum balance. Payments are sent via check or direct deposit.
What is ClickBank?
Clickbank is an afﬁliate program network that offers products from individual developers, like you and me. You can ﬁnd software, ebooks, or video and audio courses on Clickbank. Clickbank commission rates are much higher than other afﬁliate programs … usually in the 40% – 60% range and up to 75% in some cases.
Clickbank is based on a system where merchants create sales pages that afﬁliates link to. Because most merchants only have one product, you don’t have the standard plethora of creative links and banner ads to choose from. That’s OK though because you’re only linking to one page.
To ﬁnd products to sell on Clickbank you want to search the Marketplace by category or keyword. Products with a higher Gravity score are the best selling / highest paying products.
How do I setup ClickBank?
Visit Clickbank to setup your afﬁliate account.
How do I display ClickBank links?
Displaying Clickbank links on your website is a little different than other programs. Clickbank uses what they call a HopLink referral tracking URL. For example, once you ﬁnd a product you want to promote, you create a link with this format:
This approach is simple enough but the one caveat is that you have to create your own graphics if you want to display any banner ads.
Some merchants provide banner ads, but it’s not handled through Clickbank and it’s pretty rare that they’ll go the extra mile to do so. For banner ads I recommend you take a screen shot of the sales page and crop it accordingly. Mac users should use Skitch and Windows users should use Snagit.
How do I get paid?
Clickbank installs a 60 days tracking cookie on browsers for those people that click on your links. If they purchase the product you’re promoting within that window of time, you get credit for the sale.
Clickbank notiﬁes you immediately. Once your balance exceeds the $25 minimum, you get paid.