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4 Keys to Choosing the Best Affiliate Programs for Your Business

Copyright (c) 2009-2021

A couple weeks ago, one of my clients sent me an email with this question:

"I've been checking out a couple programs that say I can make lots of money by including affiliate links on my website. I could really use the extra cash right now. What do you think?"

The client asking this question is a coach who is creating his own information products.

He knows there will be a lag between the time he launches his program and when he starts getting substantive income. He'd like to find an alternative revenue source to tide him over.

  • A Typical Affiliate Program

  • Amazon.com was one of the first online merchants to use an affiliate program. I've been an Amazon.com affiliate for many years.

    Here's how I use Amazon.com's affiliate program.

    I work with small business owners and help them with marketing issues. Naturally, I will suggest books that I've read and think are useful for small business owners who are looking for marketing help.

    I recommend these books on my website and it's very easy to include a link so someone interested in buying one of those books can go directly to Amazon.com to learn more...maybe buy the book.

    As an Amazon.com affiliate, I get a special link so that if that person actually buys the book, I get a small commission.

    This in a nutshell is how affiliate programs work.

  • Sharing the Love

  • In the best sense, affiliate programs can be a win for everyone:

    - you get a little extra money for making a recommendation that you would have made regardless (I was recommending these books long before I became an Amazon affiliate).

    - Amazon.com gets more traffic (and building traffic is always desirable) and more sales (again, always desirable)

    - The person making the purchase gets a valuable resource they otherwise wouldn't have known about

  • Affiliate Mania!

  • Over the years, gobs of companies have been jumping into the affiliate game. It's easy to understand the attraction of offering an affiliate program.

    And something else started happening: everyone and their dog started offering affiliate programs. Along with the mad proliferation of affiliate programs, websites with no other purpose than being a collection of affiliate links began popping up.

    The idea behind these sites is people go to your website and see lots and lots of links to click on. If they click on a link and buy something, Voila! you get some money.

  • Affiliates of Easy Virtue?

  • Some folks think having website that is, essentially, pages of links is a really super idea.

    Myself, I think it's an example of a good idea taken to ridiculous extremes.

    From a practical perspective, affiliate link farms depend on getting massive amounts of traffic. Unless you want to work your butt off getting traffic to your website (and you WILL have to work very hard because you have lots of competition) you will never generate the level of traffic you need to earn decent money.

    What bugs me more than anything is the lack of added value. Putting up a web page with a bunch of links chosen based on the commission you'll get isn't bringing any value into the world.

    You're not sharing your own knowledge and experience to help others. You're simply directing visitors to other businesses.

    Finally, affiliate mania makes for bizarre bedfellows hence the term "affiliates of easy virtue."

    There are literally hundreds of thousands of affiliates out there. How many are selling products that you can really feel good about reselling to other people? Are these affiliate programs about making a difference or mostly about lining the sellers pockets?

  • 4 Keys to Selecting Win-Win Affiliates for Your Business

  • I'm a business owner and I like making money when it's because I helped my clients solve a problem or do something better. There's a sweetness when you make money because you add value. I can't imagine selling stuff and not caring whether or not it helps my customer.

    Here are 4 keys I recommend when you consider which affiliates to participate in:

    - Good Fit With Your Business

    I help small business owners create inexpensive, results-based marketing programs. My clients typically need help doing things like building websites, creating blogs, attracting subscribers to read articles and offers, and selling products and services online.

    Naturally I recommend website hosts, email list management services, shopping carts, and merchant account services. The vendors I use for these services offer affiliate programs and it makes perfect sense that I participate in those programs.

    I am NOT an affiliate for weigh*t loss potions, stain removers, or real estate training programs because these have nothing to do with how I help my own customers.

    - Shared Values

    When a product or service rubs you the wrong way, chances are good that the values held by seller are in conflict with your values.

    For example, I see my business as way not only to make money but to make a positive difference in the world. For this reason I don't participate in affiliates that, in my opinion, aren't adding anything substantive to the world.

    - You Use The Products And Services Yourself

    The only affiliates I participate in are ones whose products and services I actually use. I feel uncomfortable making money recommending something that I, myself wouldn't use.

    - Decent Commission

    All things being equal, I would choose the affiliate program offering a more generous affiliate commision.

    The key qualifier here being "all things being equal."

  • Bottom Line

  • Affiliate programs are hot, hot, hot these days for good reasons.

    But affiliate programs are NOT about money for nothing.

    Affiliate programs are meant to enhance and supplement your core products and services...not to replace substantive products and services or to detract from them.

    As long as you can be in integrity with the affiliate programs you support, they are a great source of extra revenue as well as a way to offer more value to your customers.

    When this is the case, it's a very sweet way to share the love.


    About The Author: Shop Amazon - Top Gift Ideas
    Judy Murdoch helps small business owners create low-cost, effective marketing campaigns using word-of-mouth referrals, guerrilla marketing activities, and selected strategic alliances. To download a free copy of the workbook, "Where Does it Hurt? Marketing Solutions to the problems that Drive Your Customers Crazy!" go to http://www.judymurdoch.com/workbook.htm
    You can contact Judy at 303-475-2015 or judy@judymurdoch.com

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