The short answer to this question is no. There are a lot of companies which have already developed products ready to sell, but they don’t necessarily have the marketing department to get the products out to the marketplace. What they do instead of hiring a full time marketing staff is allow people like yourself to sell their products. In return for each sale you make, they are willing to pay you a commission
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Cost per click was more common in the early days of affiliate marketing but has diminished in use over time due to click fraud issues very similar to the click fraud issues modern search engines are facing today. Contextual advertising programs are not considered in the statistic pertaining to the diminished use of cost per click, as it is uncertain if contextual advertising can be considered affiliate marketing.
Advertisers love affiliate marketing because it involves minimal risk. If a sufficient margin is built in as compensation for the affiliate, it becomes impossible to lose money. That’s because affiliates are generally only paid when a sale is completed (i.e., a lead is converted). Advertisers (or “merchants”) pay nothing for leads that don’t convert.
Paid ads should be your last step in marketing your range of affiliate products. You want to make sure you’re in a money-making niche and have a roster of products proven to sell, as well as proven sales funnel that compels your prospects to buy. That way when you invest the money in a paid ad, which can cost hundreds and thousands of dollars, you’ll see a decent return on investment.
There is a reason why many major merchants prefer to utilize affiliate marketing networks instead of setting up their own infrastructure. Just as the administrative burden can become overwhelming for publishers with multiple relationships in place, it can be too time consuming for merchants as well. Maintaining direct affiliate relationships involves building out an infrastructure to track referrals, calculate commissions, and process payments. While that may sound like a relatively straightforward process, it can become a major investment with plenty of potential complications and liability issues.
Nearly $5,000 in affiliate sales is awesome, and I see this as a turning point for bringing in a respectable income from the site. (I’ve written more in this post about how we’re monetizing The Write Life.) But before we dive into how we accomplished this, I want to put that income in perspective for you. It’s still a drop in the bucket for our company, for three reasons:
Upselling is a sales technique where the salesperson encourages a more expensive purchase by a customer by persuading them to get an upgraded version of an item or to purchase add-ons. Remember our food processor example? That food processor could probably be best used with a book of recipes, which also can be purchased at the same company’s website.
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One of the most creative incentives through which you can motivate your affiliates is a contest. However, it can also be the one that involves more resources and attention, such as budgeting for prizes and time for monitoring and engaging affiliates in the contest. In order to run a productive contest for affiliates, you should design a mechanism that will appeal not only to the top performers but that will also motivate the smaller or newer affiliates and vice versa.
While these models have diminished in mature e-commerce and online advertising markets they are still prevalent in some more nascent industries. China is one example where Affiliate Marketing does not overtly resemble the same model in the West. With many affiliates being paid a flat "Cost Per Day" with some networks offering Cost Per Click or CPM.