Affiliate marketing is one of the easiest ways to make money online. Companies like buy.com, amazon.com, and walmart.com all have successful affiliate programs that you can join free.
So what is an affiliate program?
Affiliate programs allow you to sell another company's service or product and make a commission on every sale or lead. They provide you with links, ad-copy, banners, and sometimes datafeeds of their entire inventory. They also tell you what their best sellers are and give you exclusive coupons to offer your customers.
How do you find an affiliate program?
Three of the biggest "brokers" for these affiliate programs include cj.com, linkshare.com and clickbank.com. It's easy to apply, get approved, and get started. You don't have to deal with customers, inventory, shipping, or returns. All you do is refer a customer to the company and they in turn reward you with a referral fee or commission when a sale is made. Many companies also offer residual income opportunities where you will earn month after month. This is common with membership sites such as email autoresponders or dating sites.
How do I choose a program?
Think about the things that you are best at, things you enjoy. Start writing them down, sharing them with your friends and family. You should research the popularity of some of your interests. Try to determine if people are buying that product or service online. Look through the affiliate directory. They are categorized by the most popular subjects. In cj.com, all you need to do is type in a keyword like "cars" and a list of affiliates with products and services related to cars will be presented to you.
Start Marketing Your Campaign.
The reason affiliate programs are so great is that you only need to focus on marketing. Many affiliate programs have information on how to market and give you tools such as banners, product feeds and more. You can also look for other information on marketing including writing articles, creating pay-per-click campaigns, commenting in online forums etc.
Here is a short list of what you will need to get started on the right foot.
Visa or MasterCard
To start and advertise your business, you will need a credit card to open up advertising accounts with google and yahoo. If you don't have a credit card, you can get a prepaid visa. All you do is fill out the online application, then they will mail a real visa or mastercard to you. Take the card to a local dealer where you give them cash and that will be your line of credit.
$11.95/ month - A domain name and hosting account.
A domain name is the name of your website i.e. www.yourdomain.com. Try to get a domain name that will represent what you will be selling. If you are not sure about that at this point, you can pick a more generic domain name, but keep it short and easy to remember. Something like "Smith-Enterprises" will do.
Hosting is where your website will stored and seen online. Yahoo has a small business center where you can get both your hosting and domain name in one place. They also have site building and design tools to help the beginner make great looking websites.
$300 - Advertising expenses for Pay Per Click Search Engine Marketing
After you have your website setup, you will need to advertise the products and services that you have chosen to sell. Pay Per Click is basically the fastest way to generate instant targetted traffic to your website. Setup accounts with google.com adwords and yahoo search marketing. They will display your ads on their search page based on the information people are looking for. For example, if someone types in "dating online" and you have an ad targeted for dating, then google will show your ad usually on the right side of their search results.
You've probably seen these ads many times while you were doing your own research. Before spending any money on advertising, you need to read Perry Marshalls free Adwords course. In this course, he gives you tips on how to write ads, research keywords, and lower your advertising costs. Also review Google's terms of service carefully. Generally speaking, you are not allowed to advertise anything illegal, gambling or prescriptions. Google also provides you with a wealth of information and tools to get you started.
Now all you need to do is design your short text ad that will display in Google and your "landing page". The text ad consists of 3 lines and a link to your landing page. The landing page is a page on your website that Google will send your potential customers identified by the link in your ad.
Here is a simple example of a text ad in Google.
New Widgets On Sale! Incredible savings on a huge selection. Free shipping available. www.yoursite.com/landingpage.htm
On your landing page, you will have a description of the product, banners and/or coupons, and other information that will help pre-sell the item with links to the affiliates product page. You need to do your best here at selling the customer before he/she goes to the affiliate. Do an in-depth review, showing why this product or service is better than it's competitors. If you use the product yourself, give examples of how it improved your quality of life or helped you finish a project faster. Testimonials from satisfied customers are also very powerful.
As you gain experience marketing you will make adjustments and you will be on your way to a fabulous income!
For more information about becomming a "Super Affiliate" you should read the "Super Affiliate Handbook". An amazing true story of how one woman, with no previous business experience, earns $435,000+ per year.
About the Author
Robert Rogers is a writer in the Washington DC area. For more information about making money with affiliate programs, visit his site: