If you sell goods or services, or if you like to talk digitally about goods or services, affiliate programs are something you should know about because they make you money and are free to set up (for the company too, but I’ll get to that).
I love affiliate programs because I feel they are a win-win for everybody. They allow companies to get in front of very targeted leads, they allow bloggers to earn a commission on products they would already promote, and by funding bloggers, they help create the targeted content enjoyed by blog readership. I have read complaints that this promotes false advertising by bloggers who only care about commissions, but I feel that the bloggers who talk about products they don’t really love do not achieve the reader trust that translates to sales.
What is an affiliate program?
An affiliate program, sometimes called a partner program, is when a company offers a piece of tracking code that you can place after any link to their site. This code does not change the customer experience of using the link, but allows the company to track and reward the person who sent them any online sales. The code snippet is often preceded by a question mark, and might look something like this: ?azy3345. So instead of blogging about http://www.amazon.com/coolthing, you’d blog about http://www.amazon.com/coolthing?azy3345. Getting your personalized code involves visiting the target website and finding and setting up your affiliate account with them. It’s pretty easy.
I sell products or services. How do I start an affiliate program?
There are several for-pay affiliate programs such as DirectTrack that cost thousands of dollars, but I am a fan of HasOffers because it’s free for the first 250,000 clicks. The user interface is well designed and customizable.