1. Why Start Your Own Affiliate Program?
Multiple web sites and distributors selling your product can result in increased sales and profits. Unlike conventional advertising, affiliate programs pay only for performance. Commissions are not paid out unless sales are made.
Also, with many more web sites linking to yours, your link popularity is sure to increase in search engines, resulting in additional traffic and income.
2. Combine a Merchant Account with Your Affiliate Program
If your product is downloadable (such as electronic books or software), you might consider ClickBank.com. For a $49.95 initial fee, you can process credit cards and on-line cheques for $1.00 per transaction plus 7.5% of sales. As an added bonus, you have your own built-in affiliate program.
ClickBank gives you a listing on their web site and visitors can buy your products and join your affiliate program. You choose the commission rate you are willing to pay. All commission payments are handled by ClickBank. One downside is that you can't run a two-tiered program.
3. Use an Affiliate Program Script
If you are comfortable with running CGI scripts, you may wish to install your own affiliate program on your server and administer the affiliate program yourself.
Be forewarned, though, that this is a lot of work. You will be responsible for all the testing, security, commission payments, promotion and so on. Another downside: Will your potential affiliates trust you since their commissions are not tracked and paid by an independent third party?
4. Use a Hosted Solution
There are good reasons for not hosting your affiliate program on your server. Perhaps you don't have the time to administer all the aspects of an affiliate program. Maybe your time could be used more productively in other areas of your business. Additionally, an independent third party tracking and paying affiliate commissions inspires confidence in prospective affiliates. Finally, you just might benefit from the additional exposure that an affiliate network brings you.
ClixGalore.com is an example of an affiliate network. You will need to pay a $75.00 deposit to cover affiliate commissions. They charge 25% of any affiliate commissions paid. For example, if you paid an affiliate a 10% commission on a $100.00 sale, you would pay the affiliate $10.00 and ClixGalore $2.50.
With ClixGalore, you can also have a two-tier program. Taking the above example, if you paid affiliates for finding other affiliates, you might pay 2% on your second tier. That would be another $2.00 commission and $ .50 affiliate network fee for a total of $15.00 in commissions on both levels.
Another popular affiliate program hosting solution is MarketersChoice.com, which integrates your affiliate program with your shopping cart (credit card processing, e-mail marketing, product fulfillment, et cetera).
5. For All Affiliate Programs
Setup your own web page (or pages) outlining the benefits of your affiliate program. Offer articles, suggestions, text and banner links, and other useful support for your affiliates.
Offer a generous commission so that others feel motivated to sell for you. Obtain the e-mail addresses of your affiliates so that you can keep in touch with them to aid them to sell more.
For increased traffic, sales and profits, start your own affiliate program.