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Friday, December 28, 2007

What Can An Affiliate Program Do For You?

By Jim Pretin

If you have recently started an online business, you are no doubt facing the difficult task of trying to promote your website without sufficient capital to do much advertising. It is a catch-22; you need to spend a lot of money on advertising to launch an internet business so that you can make some money, but you need to make some money so that you actually have some dollars to spend on advertising.

To get money for advertising, you could take on a business partner who is willing to fund the company to get your marketing campaign going, or perhaps you could turn to venture capital to get started. However, unless you already have a lot of solid business contacts, raising money for an internet startup can be almost impossible.

So, what should you do? The solution to all your marketing problems might be an affiliate program. With an affiliate program, anyone who has a website can post an advertisement for your business on their website in the form of a banner or a text link. If someone clicks on that banner or text link and subsequently buys your product or service, you have to pay that affiliate a commission on the sale.

The reason why this is such an excellent marketing strategy is because an affiliate program costs you nothing. You do not have to pay to place your affiliate banner or text link on other websites because you are offering those other website owners a commission on every referral they make, but only if that referral produces a sale.

Not only does having an affiliate program give you an opportunity to make a tremendous amount of sales without spending money on advertising, but it also increases the number of inbound links to your website. The more links to your site, the higher your search engine ranking will be. So, a surge in your link popularity and an additional increase in sales resulting from an improved search engine ranking is a fabulous byproduct of having a popular affiliate program.

Now, you need to learn how to create an affiliate program and how to promote it. To create an affiliate program, you will either need to hire a web designer or programmer who has experience creating these sorts of programs, because they are not easy to set up. The job requires a lot of backend programming work, database creation, and payment tracking so that the referrals and sales that each affiliate produces can be tracked with a special code that is signed to each individual affiliate.

To promote your program, you will need to post ads for it on as many online affiliate directories as you can find. Some of these directories will charge you a small annual fee to be listed, others will allow you to list your program for free. There are literally hundreds or even thousands of different online directories where you can add your listing. The more listings you can create, the more affiliates you can potentially acquire.

I hope this information helps you get your online business off to a good start. The affiliates you recruit into your program are almost like your employees. They are doing your advertising work for you, and it does not cost you anything unless they make a sale. All those websites will be representing you, sort of like a commissioned salesperson. Just make sure you hire a competent web designer to do the programming work, because if there are any difficulties with tracking sales to your individual affiliates, you will have a huge mess on your hands.

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Jim Pretin is the owner of, a service that helps programmers make an HTML form