Affiliate program commissions can mean the difference between your business either sinking or swimming. For one thing, there is no limit to the money you can gain from using affiliate programs. Best of all, establishing an affiliate marketing business is extremely simple and costs little to no money.

When you embark on an affiliate marketing business, you link to other websites that sell products or services your site visitors would be interested in. Use the following five tips to help find the perfect affiliate products and services to promote in conjunction with your current business.

1) When you sign up to promote other products or services make sure you know exactly what the program owner offers. Don’t just sign up to promote something because everyone else is. For instance, if you sell craft supplies, don’t promote internet marketing products. That is unless, you are in the business of showing others how to start their own online craft business.

2) This step may seem obvious, but it is hugely important! Find affiliate programs that match your business topic or niche. That is, if you run a cleaning service business, link to a merchant who sells cleaning products. Concentrating your affiliate promotions will reap you many more sales than linking to generalized programs that offer everything under the sun. While sites like Amazon are fairly easy to promote, they may not be the best option depending on your specific circumstances and customer. This brings me to tip number 3.

3) Know your market. You should already know some of the things your target visitor or customer wants. Find products that fill a need for your customers. Take time to research by asking questions, sending out surveys, and visiting sites where these people hang out to find out exactly what their needs are and then find a program that offers the solution if you don’t already in your own business.

4) Know the different types of affiliate programs out there and find ones that fit your income goals. For instance, some affiliate programs pay you when you send someone to their site that in turn signs up for a freebie or joins a mailing list. Others pay affiliates only when they refer a sale. Some payout each month regardless of how much or how little your commissions, while others only pay once affiliates reach a certain amount.

5) As you scout for affiliate programs online, do your best to find out if the company is legitimate. When in doubt, go with the affiliate program that has been in business longer. Also be wary of websites that charge you for joining their affiliate program. Affiliate programs should cost nothing for signing up because they will generate steady money for both the merchant and the affiliate (if the affiliate matches the business). Search for affiliate program directories that rate online affiliates from best to worst.

Affiliate marketing is a great way to add income to your current business. It can also be done by itself and built into a very profitable business all by itself. No matter which way you choose, be sure to do your research, know your customers and promote only quality products that you feel comfortable promoting. Don’t just endorse something to make a buck – it will show in your promotions if you do.

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