Affiliate Programs – Can You Create Your Own Program and Let Others Do Your Marketing For You?
Like many others, I was no stranger to affiliate programs. Starting with time-tested Amazon.com and gradually taking on other merchants, I was representing half a dozen marketers on my site. I did not spend a lot of time at it, and I was happy making between fifty and a hundred dollars a month in contracts. I never thought of Affiliate Marketing as a major source of income … until I met Allison.
Allison had a side business making scented candles. She sold products to local arts, crafts and wellness shops, although most of them went to friends and family. She had never used the Internet to market her wares. The thought had not even occurred to her.
Then one day, pushed for something to write about, I blogged about Allison's candles on my site. I was surprised to receive comments from two visitors asking where they could buy her candles online. So, I reckoned if there were two interested prospects, there were probably many more. I talked to Allison and they decided to create a simple web site, displaying her creations and using a simple shopping cart to take orders.
As you might imagine, business was slow. In the first month, we gained half a dozen customers, two of which were referrals from one of the original inquirers. I knew word of mouth could work well for Allison if she got enough business. Our problem was how to market broadly without sinking a small fortune into advertising.
I searched the web and discovered there were many kinds of software being offered to create your own affiliate programs. They included sign-up templates, marketing campaign tools, tracking and management systems, and much, much more. Some were considerably more expensive than others, so we shopped around until I was satisfied with one application in particular.
The software we ever selected included easy access to data on pay-per-sale, payout amount, additional payout amount, initial deposits, payout thresholds, payout duration …. It could have a lot more information than we needed initially, but we knew that as the business grew, the more data we had, the better we could fine tune the affiliate program and even the web site and product selection.
To kick-start affiliate sales, we contacted existing customers. We asked if they would be interested in promoting Allison's products in return for a small commission. Many declined, but several agreed. And one of them turned out to be a gold mine, a woman with a lot of experience in affiliate programs, plus a network she had developed through multi-level marketing.
Before long, orders were pouring in for Allison's candles. She could hardly keep pace and hired her cousin to help with production.
So, could affiliate programs be your route to a thriving business, too? No matter what your current niche, it is certainly worth considering.