Affiliate programs

The best option for generating Web site income is from affiliate programs. Web site owners earn a referral of finder's fee by sending customers to a site. A fee is paid once the customer makes a purchase or signs up for a particular service. The advantage of these schemes is that customer service, payment, stock and delivery become the responsibility of your partner program. You also have control of the links, their position and context. This allows closer matching of the product or service with the topic on your site's pages. For example, if you operate a fan site dedicated to a music group such as The Cure, then having affiliate links to online stores that sell The Cure's CDs, videos, posters or other material will increase the likelihood that a visitor will follow the link. The trap with affiliate programs is that you will only earn income if the visitor buys a product or signs up for a service - there is no payment for providing a straight click-through. In the rare cases that an affiliate program includes payments for a click-through, it is at a very low rate - usually between US2-6c.

Affiliate programs also have the advantage that, if carefully planned, they can be used to enhance your site. For example, if you have a site that promotes your pottery supply shop, then you could have affiliate links to recommended pottery books. The result is that your site is enhanced (reference material), the book may encourage the customer to buy more products and you get a commission.

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Scott Mendham

PC World
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