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Affiliate programs may be the easiest online business to start running. Why?
With any online business you must have a product or service to sell. First you must create this product or service and then you must be able to fill orders.
Selling your own product or service also means creating a website, learning how to write ad copy, setting up a marketing plan, being able to accept payments online and obviously doing the work. If you're selling a physical product then you will need to make or buy the item, package it and pay for shipping costs. If you provide a service than you will likely have to start by doing free jobs to build your credibility and then when you are charging for your service you are still limited by how much work you can actually handle.
THE MAGIC OF AFFILIATE PROGRAMS
Affiliate programs are a great way to get started in an online business. In fact there are even some 'Super Affiliates' who are making fabulous incomes from affiliate programs. So, what ARE affiliate programs?
Affiliate programs allow you to sell another company's service or product and make a commission on every sale or lead. You do not even need to build a website or handle the transaction. Your job is to drive traffic (customers) to your affiliate link.
An affiliate link is a special URL code that will identify customers coming to the company's site from your advertising. It will likely be the website address with a code attached to the end.
Some affiliate programs also have tiers. That means if someone who is interested in SELLING the product comes through your link and signs up you will also get a small percentage of THEIR earnings.
HOW DO I CHOOSE A PROGRAM?
You should research the popularity of some of your interests. Try to determine if people are buying that product or service online. There are many sources for finding that information including free ones such as the Overture keyword tool.
When you have found an area that is popular then type the subject along with 'affiliate program' into your search engine and see which programs have services or products for that area. You can also use an affiliate program directory.
When you have found a program that looks interesting you should read the terms of the program. Make sure that payouts are not based on a high commission earning or you may never see your money. Also try to choose programs with high commission rates. Often you will find ebooks and downloadable software has the highest rates as there is no physical product to make or ship. If you are satisfied with the terms then you need to sign up - usually a simple process.
The reason affiliate programs are so great for beginners is that you only need to focus on marketing - not making - your product.
Many affiliate programs have information on how to market and give you tools such as banners, product feeds and more. You can also look for other information on marketing including writing articles, creating pay-per-click campaigns, commenting in online forums etc. As you gain experience marketing you will make adjustments to your selling and start creating a wonderful income!
Brennan Howe is the owner of http://www.opportunity4all.net - Intenet Opportunities for the Average Person. Sign up to receive a 10 part internet marketing course and free downloads.
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