In order to make money as an affiliate, you need affiliate offers to promote, and visitors to purchase.
Choosing what to promote obviously depends on the niche or topic of your site, but for any given niche – and website – there will be offers that are better than others.
All things considered, more is better than less: all other things being equal, you want to promote products that pay out the highest commission.
But “all other things” are rarely equal. When choosing products to promote, you want to consider the following, roughly in order:
v Product quality & value – whenever practical and appropriate, purchase products that you intend to promote. Some companies will provide free or lower-cost ‘review’ products for affiliates. Note: the more established you are, the more leverage you have and the more willing vendors will be to provide products.
Where it’s not feasible to actually see/use a product yourself, look for legitimate customer reviews, such as on Amazon or shopping sites. This will give you a sense of buyer’s satisfaction overall, and by extension, quality and value.
- How well it fits with your site’s ‘reason for being’.
- Conversion likelihood – a product that solves a pressing need will probably convert at a higher rate than a product that provides a lesser benefit.
- Affiliate Tools – does the merchant provide any sales tools/aids such as graphics, product descriptions, etc.
- Commission / Payout.
- Cookie duration. A cookie is a snippet of information, stored on a computer that identifies that computer during the current and subsequent visits to a website. Each cookie is coded to identify that computer during the current and subsequent visits to the merchant’s web site – it’s how a merchant or affiliate network knows to credit you with the commission on a sale.
Cookies have a duration – they could last for a single session (expiring if a sale isn’t made on the initial click-through), or 24 hours, or 90 days, or a year, or just never expire. Knowing the duration is crucial; given the option, you want to promote products that have at least a 30-90 day cookie.
One-time vs. recurring commissions. While most affiliate products are one-off purchases, there are many that have some recurring component, such as monthly fees or subscription.
In addition, many products that require or use ‘consumables’ pay you for those as well, providing the base product was purchased through your affiliate link.
Affiliate network or vendor. The larger affiliate networks are very reliable, however, smaller/newer networks can and do go out of business, as do the occasional direct vendor or merchant. There are few things worse in this business than earning commissions and then not getting paid.
Another consideration to take into account is commission rate plans. Amazon, for instance, has a ‘sliding scale’ that ups your commission percentage as you reach higher sales volumes.
As such, it may make sense to promote additional Amazon products rather than products from disparate vendors in order to reach the higher commission level.
Other issues to consider include how often you get paid, what the payout ‘threshold’ is, and how you get paid i.e. via Paypal, check, direct deposit, etc.
Terms Of Service
Whenever you join an affiliate network or sign up to a direct affiliate program, be sure to read the Terms of Service, or “TOS”.
You’ll want to make sure there aren’t any restrictions that may interfere or cause problems down the road. For instance, some merchants prohibit affiliates from using their brand name with paid traffic sources such as such as Google’s Adwords.
Another concern would be exclusivity; some affiliate programs won’t let you promote competing products on the same website.