Choosing an affiliate product

You are going to take the plunge with affiliate marketing. You have chosen a campaign topic that you feel passionate enough about to be writing about every day–or at least you have a good idea of what your campaign topic might be. The next thing you need is the right affiliate product to promote. Fortunately for you there are literally thousands of options. This article will take you through five easy steps for choosing an affiliate product or products.

Step 1: Choose a campaign topic

Because there are so many options for affiliate products, it will be the extremely rare case where you have chosen a campaign topic and can't find any relevant affiliate products. You can safely assume that no matter what topic you wish to build a campaign around, there will be many relevant affiliate products to choose from.

In choosing a campaign topic you need to first consider your level of interest and passion. It needs to be a topic you can write about every day until you reach a minimum of fifty articles. Second you need to consider your current level of knowledge on the subject. The more you already know about a topic the easier it will be to write authoritatively about it. My article Choosing a campaign topic takes you through that process step by step. Once you have chosen your campaign topic you are ready for choosing an affiliate product.

Step 2: Research affiliate product ideas

Once you have chosen your campaign topic, the next step in choosing an affiliate product is to do some simple research into what is available. There are two ways to approach the research phase. The first is to join one or more affiliate networks like ShareASale, Commission Junction, ClickBank or PepperJam and browse through their merchants and products by category. The second is to enter your campaign topic or a product idea within this topic + affiliate into the Google search engine. For example, let's say you want to market electric guitars. Simply type “electric guitars + affiliate” into Google and see what comes up. When I typed this in, the first result was Click on any of the results that are clearly a merchant website, then look for a link that says “affiliates” or “affiliate program” to make sure the company does indeed have an affiliate program. These links are usually found at the bottom of the page. Make a list of five to ten options of merchants offering affiliate products.

Step 3: Compare affiliate program options

Once you have your list, take some time to familiarize yourself with each company's affiliate program. Compare the merits of each affiliate program. Items to look at are commission level, payment frequency, minimum payment threshold and average amount of sale. You also want to look for the ability to link to specific products and the quality of the promotional materials such as banners and special promotions available to affiliates. Obviously all things being equal, you will favor the affiliate program with the most profitable features for you.

Step 4: Compare affiliate product options

Once you have determined the best affiliate programs for your chosen topic, you want to familiarize yourself with the rest of the company's website to determine whether or not you want to promote their products. The specific items you need to check will vary depending on your campaign topic, but some universal ones are product quality and price, customer service, how long a company has been in business and how many complaints it has received (you can check each company out with the Better Business Bureau website). You also want to get a feel for how easy it is to navigate the website and how nice it looks, as those things can make a huge difference to your marketing efforts.

Step 5: Make your final selection and join your chosen affiliate programs

You should have narrowed down your list of affiliate product vendors to two or three companies by the time you have followed these steps. At this point you can either choose one vendor to send all your business to, or you can promote all of them. It may be that they all excel in different products and you want to promote the best of each one. That is entirely up to you.

Whether you choose one or several companies to stick with, the next step is to join your chosen merchant's affiliate program by following the instructions. Start this process immediately as some affiliate applications take several hours to a week to get approved.

There are several ways a merchant will administer its affiliate program. One is to handle it in-house. In this case, you are dealing directly with the merchant on all aspects of the affiliate program. Another approach is for a merchant to have an affiliate network handle its affiliate program. In this case, you will need to first apply for and get accepted to the affiliate network, and then apply for the specific affiliate program from within the affiliate network.

Whether a merchant has an in-house affiliate program or contracts with an affiliate network, the merchant should provide support and regular communication to his affiliate marketers. Feel free to send an introductory email to each merchant you will be working with. You can use the timeliness of his response as an additional determining factor.

Choosing an affiliate product is easy once you understand how to do it. The important thing is to first choose a campaign topic and then find the best affiliate products to promote within that niche.


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