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An Introduction to Affiliate Programs

January 1st, 2009

affiliate-programs-explained.jpgAfter completing a record month of earnings from affiliate programs in December, I have managed to acquire an article that explains exactly what these are just in time for the new year. I’m finally beginning to explore the wonderful marketplace that is available at the Digital Point forums, where it is possible to buy, sell, or trade all sorts of services that are valuable to webmasters, including having articles like this one written by knowledgeable authors. This particular author did not want to receive a byline credit and transferred PLR rights to me after receiving payment. If you like this kind of content, I can order more from the same source. Otherwise, you can always submit your own guest posts through the Contact page and have them published here after manual review.

Affiliate programs, in short, are partnership agreements between existing websites and Internet merchants. Online merchants make use of affiliates in advertising their products, services, and websites in an attempt to attract a larger client base, subsequently increasing potential sales.

The most common affiliate programs that are currently available on the Internet are the pay-per-click, pay-per-lead, and pay-per-sale types. It is generally up to the affiliate to decide which program will best suit the website he or she is managing.

Different types of affiliate programs

In order to assist potential affiliates in making a decision regarding the type of program that will best suit their needs, we will take a closer look at the three types of affiliate programs:

Pay-Per-Click Affiliate Programs

Income from these kinds of programs is derived from website visitors simply clicking on a link and visiting the merchant’s website. Income generated from these programs may be relatively low as merchants tend to pay lower fees for each click on an advertisement than they do for confirmed sales or leads.

Pay-Per-Lead Affiliate Programs

Similar to pay-per-click programs, the affiliate will generate income only when a visitor clicks on an advertisement of a merchant and completes an online form, such as a survey, price quote, or request for more information. Depending on the nature of the services or products offered by the merchant, generating good income is not always guaranteed.

Pay-Per-Sale Affiliate Programs

In these types of affiliate programs the merchant usually offers a fixed amount or percentage share in the sale of a product or service when someone visits the merchant’s site through a tracked link from an advertisement on the affiliate’s site. In these instances merchants may offer great incentives when a product or service is sold, which means that in some cases this type of program might be more beneficial than the prior two programs mentioned.

Joining an affiliate program

After deciding which type of revenue model will best suit the needs of your website, you may start looking for affiliate programs to join. The majority of affiliate programs are free of charge and have a simple registration process.

There are a number of large institutions facilitating affiliate programs. The largest and most well known are Commission Junction (cj.com), ClickBank (clickbank.com), Amazon (amazon.com), and RegNow (regnow.com). Prospective affiliates may simply sign up for a free account and get started by applying for affiliation with identified merchants. This process is very easy and can be done by the click of a mouse.

Another method of joining an affiliate program is by visiting the website of an actual merchant you are interested in. Often on these websites one will find a relatively small link near the bottom of the page that reads “Affiliates” or similar. Here you will find more information on joining the affiliate program of that particular merchant.

Besides for the major networks, there are a large number of other affiliate programs on the Internet. Simply conducting a search on Google or Yahoo will assist you in finding more programs that may suit your needs better.

Incorporating affiliate programs into your website

This is often the easiest part in the affiliate program process. You simply decide upon which product you wish to market on your website and you will be provided with various available advertisements. In many instances you will be provided with only a hyperlink and you may decide on the exact method of advertising for yourself.

Once you have decided upon the product and advertisement type, you will be provided with a Javascript or HTML code, which you can paste into your web pages where you want the ad to appear. If you have operated your own website for any significant length of time, this will be very simple for you to do.

In the code or hyperlink provided to you, you will generally notice your affiliate reference. This is the manner in which a merchant knows and is able to track the origin of a visitor to his or her website and determine whether a sale occurred based upon the reference of an affiliate. By using this type of link, merchants can determine which affiliates are eligible to receive payouts for successfully completed actions.


Monetizing a website by means of affiliate programs is indeed fairly easy and may be very profitable for a sufficiently savvy webmaster. Many site owners are generating profits totaling thousands of dollars per month from affiliate programs. This may be what you are looking for if you are trying to bring in your fair share of income from the Internet.

2 Responses to “An Introduction to Affiliate Programs”

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