A Beginners Guide to Affiliate Networks
I was having a discussion with a client a couple of weeks ago about affiliate marketing and what programs might suit their website the best and gave them a great deal of information about some of the affiliate networks that I have experience with. These are the networks that I deal with on a regular basis and have had success with or know others that have had success with them. Each network has its advantages and disadvantages and being a part of multiple networks can bring a varied source of income to your website.
If you have a website that you want to tie in with eBay, Commission Junction is your best friend the number of merchants that are a part of Commission Junction makes it quite likely that you will find a merchant here that will fit in nicely with your website. If you are just interested in joining the eBay program, you might want to consider just using AuctionAds instead of joining Commission Junction. It makes it much faster to add eBay ads and links, even to search results pages. For example to create a link to Indiana Jones hats in AuctionAds took me a couple of minutes. In Commission Junction it takes longer. Advantages: Has a large list of companies to join, including some of the biggest companies on the internet like eBay and Yahoo. Disadvantages: Finding programs to join can be difficult mainly because of the size of the network. Commission Junction also has web services you can use to pull products from, problem is it is one of the worst web services I have ever used.
Linkshare is a good network, and pay regularly. They also have some of the companies I like to deal with personally, like TigerDirect. Advantages: A large list of companies to promote including some well known names. Some merchants have xml feeds you can use. Disadvantages: Like Commission Junction it can be hard to find the merchant you want to use. I have also tried contacting merchant on Linkshare and have never gotten a reply.
Shareasale is a great network. In fact it is one of my favourites, partly because you can find some very interesting and innovative products there. Rhett over at Rockstarpoet for example uses Shareasale to promote the store he likes to buy t-shirts from called Uneetee. They sell t-shirts for one day, from one artist. That is a cool idea and the t-shirts are very unique. You won’t find stores like that on Commission Junction or Linkshare, at least I haven’t. Advantages: You can find some interesting merchants to promote. Some merchants have XML feeds that you can use to integrate their products and services into your website. Disadvantages: Harder to find good quality merchants to promote.
To be honest I don’t really like Clickbank. I know some people that promote products from Clickbank and do a great job of it. My problem with them is that so many of the products on Clickbank are bad ebooks. Depending on your site though there might be an ebook that you would want to promote that would fit your website perfectly. Advantages: A large list of products to promote. Disadvantages: Many of the products are poor quality. Check the products out closely before you start promoting.
I have applied at Azoogle a couple of times and never hear back from them. I know there are people out there making good money with Azoogle, like Shoemoney, but I have not had a good impression of their service so far. I have enough to do and don’t have the time to chase after them. I was tempted to try them again lately though because Blockbuster is part of Azoogle and I was interested in promoting them.
While the Amazon affiliate program is not a network, the fact that they sell so many products makes Amazon a good program to join. It does not take long to find something from Amazon that you would want to promote to people on your website. Amazon is also great for making product links in your content. For example, I am very much looking forward to season four of Corner Gas being released on DVD, so maybe someone will buy it for me for Christmas. You can promote your favourite books, cds, dvds, video games, build custom aStores to integrate into your website and much more. There is always something that you can link to at Amazon. Amazon also has one of the best web services that I have dealt with to create entire stores of Amazon products. Advantages: It is Amazon. They have a good brand and people know, and hopefully, trust them. One of the best web services I have used. Disadvantages: Amazon links are everywhere.
These networks should get you started in affiliate marketing. The key is to find products and services that relate to your website. It can be more difficult than simply placing a contextual ad on your website, but the payouts from affiliate programs can be much better once you find the right program(s) to promote. Also, these are some of the major networks, there are many websites that offer their own affiliate programs that you can join to promote their specific product or service, just look for an affiliate link on your favourite websites where you like to buy from and sign up. Often the affiliate sign up links are placed in the footer. The key is to keep up the promotion. It can be hard if you don’t get any sales in the first mont, but over time the sales add up and before long you have regular checks being mailed to you.
Here are some excellent blogs that you should read if you are interested in affiliate marketing.