Introduction to the Most Popular Affiliate Programs

As an affiliate you will promote another company’s products by joining their affiliate program. The affiliate program includes guidelines for promoting their products and the links you’ll use to drive traffic to their product to earn your commission.

Some companies have their own affiliate programs but most companies use an affiliate program network, such as LinkShare, Commission Junction or ShareASale. There are dozens of other networks … these are just three of the most popular networks. They are free to join.

When you apply to become an affiliate, you usually fill out a brief application. Not all networks require this but it’s pretty standard. Once accepted, you get access to an affiliate dashboard where you can find all the links, banner ads, and other forms of link creation services the program offers.

Most affiliate programs track activity and transactions your affiliate links produce. Once you embed some the links on your website and drive traffic to a merchants website through these links, you’ll have access to the details surrounding such activity. For example, what page on your site they came from, what product they clicked on, what they eventually purchased and how much they spent. This information is used to calculate your commissions.

Affiliate Marketing Field Guide

Affiliate Marketing Field Guide

Most affiliate programs track returns or cancelled sales so you can expect a small percentage of commissions to be retracted within a predetermined window of time – 60 days, for example. This varies by program is usually covered in the affiliate agreement when you sign up. It’s normal procedure.

I encourage you to join multiple affiliate program networks, so that you can familiarize yourself with the various programs and have everything setup should you find a product in their catalog to promote in the future. In most cases, affiliates promote products from multiple programs at once based on commission rates, promotions and the functionality of tools within the network to easily deploy new links.

Using affiliate programs to create links is pretty straightforward. They provide with a line or two of html code or a script that you then copy and paste into your website. This may be a banner advertisement in the header section of your site or an individual text link within a blog post. It’s really up to you and the possibilities are seemingly endless. There’s plenty of room to get creative.

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