If you don’t already have a website or blog for your business, you are making a huge mistake. Online marketing such as affiliate programs may 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 these programs is extremely simple and costs little to no money.

When you use affiliate marketing, you link to other websites that can direct more Internet traffic to your website. This raises the odds you will get more sales on your products or services. At the very least, you will gain considerably more exposure to customers.

Often, the most difficult aspect of affiliate marketing is finding a legitimate program that perfectly matches your business. You may have to sift through many illegitimate affiliates as you try to find the right program for you.

Use the following five tips to help you get started on your affiliate marketing.

1) When you sign up with a program as a merchant, know that you will have to pay the affiliate a small commission for each sale. On the other hand, if you sign up as an affiliate, you earn money through commissions. For instance, if you are promoting a book on your website, and provide a link to the book on Amazon, you will receive a commission for each sale of the book on Amazon.

2) This step may seem obvious, but it is hugely important: find programs that match your business. That is, if you run a cleaning services business, link to a merchant who sells cleaning products. Concentrating your affiliates will reap you many more sales than linking to generalized affiliates, such as Amazon. At the very least, your business will become visibly linked to the merchant site so your exposure will increase tenfold.

3) Know the different types of programs out there. First, there are direct merchant programs. Direct merchant programs work by having you post a banner or a link to an affiliate on your website, and for every time someone purchases a product through the merchant (or, in the case of online clubs, joins as a new member) you earn a direct commission from that transaction.

On the other hand, aggregate merchant programs take a step further by offering links, banners, ad rotators, and also allowing you to approve new marketers. If you want a simplistic affiliate, direct merchant programs may be your best bet.

4) To make the most of this type of marketing, sign up with as many programs as possible. This will direct multiple streams of traffic to your website, ramping up the chances you will gain higher sales.

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

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