February 08, 2006Volume 5 Number 06 Issue 93
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Setting up Your Own Affiliate Program

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Setting up Your Own Affiliate Program (part one)

I covered the pros and cons of joining Affiliate Programs in a previous issue of The Great Ideazine, so this week I thought that I would cover starting your own Affiliate Program. The article got a little too long, so I am turning it into a two part series on starting your own Affiliate Program. Joining an Affiliate Program is a neat way to make money from your users. But just as you can join someone else’s Affiliate Program, so you can set up your own program and invite webmasters to sign up.

So…what would that bring you? The same as you’re bringing your affiliate partners: deals. Every time someone sends you a user who gives you money, you give a portion of that money to your affiliate. It’s can be a fairly simple way to generate traffic and garner sales.

Setting up an Affiliate Program doesn’t require you to be a programming genius. You can purchase one of the “off-the-shelf” affiliate kits, or you can contract out the job to any number of on-line companies.

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“In-House” Affiliate Program

You can purchase software that allows you to set up a fully featured affiliate program on your own web server - giving you the control over the program. Instead of handing over your affiliate program to a third party, you can now run one "in-house" and run it the way you like - without the monthly payments, escrow fees, and per-transaction fees!

Ultimate Affiliate (about $200) is one of these programs. It lets you run a fully featured affiliate program from your website. It integrates with virtually every payment method, awards down-line commissions, and can handle high-traffic web sites. You can edit the sign-up form to match the "look and feel” of your site as well as delete some of the optional fields. The administration area allows you to edit affiliates and commissions, create printable reports of money due, export the data to a text file, view the traffic through your affiliate program, and much more. Your affiliates can log in at any time and see their traffic and commission statistics as well as change their information and get links and banner code.

YOURcom (about $60) is another commission based Affiliate Program software, that will help you start your own commission based Affiliate Program. Credit your affiliates with a commission for every customer they send your way. YOURcom is easy to install and configure and comes with free installation with purchase. For those who have some knowledge of Perl, this program offers almost unlimited customization.

Once either of these programs is set up you'll only need to log in once a month to print out a list of the affiliates, their addresses, and the money owed. You can do this quarterly if you wish. You can export the payments owed to a text file in PayPal's "mass pay" format and then just upload it to your PayPal account to pay everyone automatically. Or, you can simply write your own checks. If you have to pay a lot of commissions, there are check printing services such as qchex.com and rebatebycheck.com. Upload the file and they’ll print and mail your checks for a fee of about 80 cents each.

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Hosted Affiliate Solution

YOURcom will host your Affiliate Program, no need to buy the software, for about $10 per month. Many other companies offer hosted solutions. The main advantage to a hosted solution, is that you do not need to become involved in the day to day management of the software. You can concentrate on creating products and enlisting affiliates. This does come at a price however. Hosted solutions cost anywhere from $10 per month to hundreds of dollars per month, and you will still need an affiliate payment solution.

Clickbank is a viable alternative. Clickbank will collect your money, track your affiliates’ commissions, pay your affiliates, and notify you of every sale. They will however, hold all of your money until their regular pay cycle. Clickbank has no basic monthly fee, as their fees are based solely on the number and size of your sales.

Your choice of solution will depend upon the needs of your Affiliate Program. Clickbank is always a reasonable solution. If your program is small and you do not expect that it will ever get very large, then perhaps YOURcom is for you. If you expect to grow your program, but not too significantly, then perhaps Ultimate Affiliate is for you. If you have technical staff that you can dedicate to maintaining your affiliate program software, then either of these solutions could be useful. If you have or expect to have a significant Affiliate Program and do not have the staff to manage your software, then a hosted solution is most likely for you.

This concludes the first installment of my two part series on starting your own affiliate program. Stay tuned for more.

Talk to you soon!

warmly,
Jim Green

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