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About Affiliate Programs     

A Beginner's Guide to
Affiliate Programs

What is an Affiliate Program?  Basically, "Advertisers" (business owners) pay "Publishers" (webmasters) a percent or flat rate commission for placing ads on their websites or in their email newsletters and sending customers their way.
How do I make money with an Affiliate Program?  The exact payment terms will vary. (See "Program Types" on the right.) 

Will I get rich using Affiliate Programs? You may not become independently wealthy, but who couldn't use an extra several hundred dollars a month? I am here to tell you that you can indeed earn some nice money with your website through Affiliate Programs. 

What type of ads do I have to display? Advertisements could be in the form of assorted-sized buttons, banners, popups, popunders, stand-alone emails, or textual ads. Usually, you will have some control over the type of ads you want to display on your website or in your newsletter, although some affiliate program terms may vary.
Does it cost anything to join an affiliate program? No, it doesn't cost anything to join most affiliate programs. It's usually absolutely free. 

Is it difficult to set up? Do I need special knowledge or skills? No, it is very easy, even if you're a beginner. Just sign up, select the ads you want to use, and then copy and paste the code given to you onto your site. Most affiliate programs also have helpful support programs in place should you have any questions.

Do I need a business license? No, a business license is not necessary to participate in most affiliate programs. You may join as an individual.

How do I choose an affiliate program? Can I participate in more than one? I would recommend joining an affiliate "network". I have listed the best ones at the top right of this page. From within their networks, you can browse through 1,000's of products and companies and select the ones you wish to promote. My best advice is to select products related to the content of your website. This way, you know these will be items your visitors are already interested in. You may join as many affiliate networks/programs as you wish. However, keep in mind that there are limits you must reach (i.e., $25, $50, $100) before a program will issue a check to you, so you don't want to "spread yourself too thin." I'd suggest joining three or four good ones and stick with the ever-changing products they have to offer. There are also affiliate programs offered by individual websites which you can join as you run across them.

Exactly how do I go about joining an affiliate program?  You may join an affiliate "network", which handles the affiliate programs for a large variety of websites. I have links to the best ones at the top right of this page. Or you may visit a particular website that hosts their own affiliate program and sign up there. You would generally fill out a form, providing your real name (or to whom you would like the check made payable to), your mailing address (to receive your checks), your website URL, your social security number (for tax reporting purposes), information about your site stats, your email address, a username and password for your account, and possibly some other information about your site. You may be automatically approved, or the affiliate service may wish to visit your site and approve your registration first, after which you will receive email confirmation. Once you've been approved, you would log into your affiliate control panel, select banners and other methods of advertising, and place them on your site, in a newsletter, or in a direct email. As your visitors perform various actions (viewing ads, clicking, signing up, buying), you will earn the amount of money specified in the affiliate agreement.  Each affiliate program usually has a limit that you must reach before a check is issued, often times $25, $50, or $100.  You may check your stats at any time in your affiliate control panel. 

     Best Affiliate Networks
    Program Types
CPC = Cost Per Click
Another term for this is Pay per Click. Publishers are paid a specified amount for every unique click on an ad performed by their visitors.
CPM = Cost Per Thousand
(M is the Roman numeral for thousand.) Publishers are paid a specified amount for every 1,000 impressions (views) of an ad.
CPA = Cost Per Action
Publishers are paid a specified amount everytime a visitor performs a predetermined action. Examples of actions would be signing up for something or choosing to download something.
CPL= Cost Per Lead
Similar to CPA, in that publishers are paid a specified amount everytime a visitor performs a predetermined action, such as registering for something, which provides the advertiser with contact data they can use to follow up with the visitor. 
     Helpful Books
    Affiliate Income Tax
Is the income from an affiliate program taxable? In the U.S. it is. Check with your local state government small business division website, the IRS website, or a CPA to learn more about reporting/paying taxes on this income. Most affiliate programs require that you submit a W-9 form, which enables them to report your earnings to the IRS when applicable. ALL income should be reported on your income tax return regardless. You may qualify for certain expense deductions, which would help lower your net income.  Check out this Tax Software at Amazon which will walk you step-by-step through record keeping, income tax reporting, deductions, the latest tax laws, and more (and the software itself is tax deductible! *wink*)
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