Choosing the Right Affiliate Network for You
So you’re ready to start your own business. You want to work from home and put all your blood, sweat and tears into lining your own pockets, rather than someone else’s. You’ve decided that the best way for you to do that is to become an Affiliate Marketer.
It is easy to understand why so many people choose the field of affiliate marketing. One quick review of the following will show you why.
1. You do not need a support staff to get started. Someday, hopefully in the near future, you may grow large enough to warrant some help, but to open your doors the first day, you only need you.
2. Because you can operate out of your home, there is no need to lease additional office or storage space. It is just one less expense you have to worry about.
3. You get out of it what you put into it. Work hard and it will pay off.
4. Work on your schedule. You can work another job during the day and concentrate on your affiliate marketing in the evenings until you are up and running. This is a great advantage when compared to other businesses that may require your attention full-time right from the start.
These represent only four of the many compelling reasons to expose yourself to affiliate marketing.
Now comes the big question. “Which Affiliate Network is best for me?”
Answer a few questions
What interests you? Are there industries that stimulate your curiosity? What are you good at? For example, if you are interested in banking and finance, then consider joining an affiliate network where lenders provide necessary cash to consumers.
Things to beware of
As with most things in life, choosing an affiliate network comes with its fair share of warning signs. Consider this list your warning signs:
Beware of networks that ask for cash upfront
Once again, as with most things in life, when someone wants cash up front, make sure that there is a compelling reason. Make sure that the person asking, in this case, the network, is trustworthy.
Always research the company you are considering signing up with. Extra care up front may save you thousands of dollars later on.
Beware of networks that want you to sign long-term contracts
You’re new to the affiliate network game. The last thing you want to do is lock yourself into a scenario you can’t get out of. Avoid networks that require you to sign up for a guaranteed length of time. Look for networks with no contractual length of time.
Other Aspects to Consider
1. How much will it cost you to get started? Costs to consider:
Creative (Website, writing, display advertising)
Personal expenses for up to 3 months
Legal and accounting
In many cases, you can begin your new venture quite inexpensively with the right network, but let’s review each of the above in more detail.
Advertising: Search engine PPC systems such as AdWords and Bing Ads will be important facet of your success. Depending on the type of affiliate network you join, costs to get your ad noticeable can be quite significant.
For all the affiliate networks you are considering, you should ask them what a fair advertising budget would be in order for you to see success. It may be beneficial to have a month or two of advertising expenses reserved to give the program a chance to work.
Creative: You can potentially save thousands of dollars here by choosing an affiliate network that allows the use of a pre-made template for your website. You may choose to create your own at a later date, but this may help you keep up-front costs at a minimum level during this new business venture.
Personal expenses: Having a current job while starting a business may be an ideal situation to ensure consistent flow of income; however, this is not the case for everyone. Depending on your situation, it is advisable to start a new business with several months of income saved.
Legal and accounting: Even if you choose an affiliate network that doesn’t require a long-term commitment, there will still be a contract. It is highly recommended to carefully study the new contract and even consider seeking the advice of a legal professional. Similarly, if you have any financial questions you may consider seeking the help of an accountant or financial advisor.
2. Does the Affiliate Network offer qualified affiliate support?
When you’re new to affiliate marketing, it usually makes sense to choose an affiliate network that requires the least amount of upfront capital, while offering the most in reputation, service, and support.
If you are serious about starting a business, you will likely find yourself seeking answers to many questions. It is important to know if the network has qualified support staff and that they are readily available to help you.
There are many factors to consider as your venture grows: AdWords, website design and content, increasing EPL (earnings per lead,) search engine rankings, and much more.
Don’t be overwhelmed by all the new terms and information. Take it step by step and make sure that your affiliate network of choice has the qualified staff to help. A seasoned support staff can help you become successful quicker.
3. Does the Affiliate Network offer quality analytics?
The business of affiliate marketing is often the business of analytics. How did I perform today, this week, this month? How is my current campaign performing in comparison to my previous one? How have the changes I made to the website impacted my EPL (Earnings Per Lead)?
These are the things you will be concerned with once your business is up and running. To make informed decisions, you would need quality analytics. Can you compare campaigns that are running simultaneously? Can you compare campaigns from two days ago to now? Are the analytics easy to set up and easy to interpret?
Ask for examples of analytics from your affiliate network to see what you’ll be working with.
4. Is the network platform easy to use?
You’re going to be using the network platform every day. It’s important that it be intuitive, easy to use, and easy to navigate. There are some clunky network platforms out there. Make sure that the one you are considering is not one of them.
5. Does the network pay its affiliates in a timely fashion?
This is a biggie. How long (if at all) does the network hold your commissions before paying you? How often do they pay? How do they pay? By check or direct deposit/wire transfer?
These are VERY important questions to ask before you sign on the dotted line.
Don’t be overwhelmed by all the new information, the decisions you have to make, or the things you don’t know. Take it one piece at a time; one day at a time. It might be helpful to create a spreadsheet that allows you to compare the elements of various networks.
For example, you could create spreadsheet with columns for the website (do they offer a free one?) analytics (give them a score for the quality,) support staff (score the conversation/email communications; timeliness of responses; hours of availability, etc.,) payment schedules, etc. Feel free to use this article to help create your spreadsheet.
Choosing the right affiliate network for you requires time and effort, but will pay off for you in the long run.
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