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Can you make money online, through affiliate programs…

Major brand names and big-box retailers don’t seem like they need a lot of help advertising. But the most successful major businesses have found an amazing way of advertising that cuts their costs drastically. It’s called affiliate marketing.

In a nutshell, affiliate marketing works like this: You launch a website. You get a company’s logo or banner placed on your web page—this is a link to their website. Somebody visits your website. Somebody notices the company’s link and clicks on it. They make a purchase from that link. You get a commission.

You haven’t done anything except provide the link. Easy money, right?

Here’s the basic setup:

  1. You find a product or service that’s in line with what you offer. For instance, if your website supports the yoga classes you offer, you could look for health supplements and homeopathic services. If you offer french cooking recipes you might look for gourmet chef small appliances or knives.
  2. Get a signed agreement with the company you’ll affiliate with.
  3. Add links to your web pages.
  4. Push site visitors toward those links through suggestions and recommendations.
  5. Collect commissions when your visitors visit the links and make purchases.

It sounds easy but it’s not.

First, you’ve got to talk affiliates into believing that they can make sales through your website. That means developing a website that generates traffic, and the sort of traffic that will be enticed by your affiliate links.

Second, and this is linked to the first, you’ve got to generate traffic. That in itself can be a full-time job. You’ve got to provide something of value and then back it up with user-friendly content. Your site visitors have to be “grabbed” long enough for them to notice the links, and they have to trust your recommendations enough to click on them.

Third, unless you’re looking for fly-by-night profits you’ve got to screen your affiliates. It’s dangerous to promote a company with a poor reputation and poor performance. Your site visitors won’t blame the company, they’ll blame YOU for recommending the company.

Fourth, quantity does NOT exceed quality. Get greedy and crowd your pages with affiliate links and you’ll drive traffic away from your site. Stick to one, at the most, 2 affiliate links per page to ensure that your site visitors respect your links and take the time to check them out.

Fifth, you’ve got to really promote your website to get the traffic you need. This means developing an email list and marketing your business on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and FlickR.

Sixth, your website needs to be constantly updated, and you need to monitor your affiliate income. You have to be ready to drop dead links and try to pick up more lively ones. This means doing your research and then convincing the top affiliate programs that you’re worthy of promoting their products.

Whether your main focus is on pushing your product or service, or you intend to generate income mainly through affiliate sales, this is not a “get-rich-quick” scheme. It actually takes a lot of work to turn affiliate marketing into profits. The key is how successful your website is. If you can get visitors to trust you and stop long enough to consider the links you provide, you’re going to make money.