Keeping tabs on what worked and what didn’t will help you decide not only how to strategize in the future, but which brands or vendors to continue doing business with. In the same way freelancers keep books and records of which publishers or editors they enjoyed working with, affiliates have the independence to reroute later on if they don’t end up enjoying certain brands or products.
My immediate reaction was, “Isn’t marketing’s job to be supporting sales?  Why do we need to pay them some of sales’ commissions if they do their job well?”  I still maintain that position, but Dan’s question started me thinking.  What would happen if we put marketing on a commission plan, what if we made them more accountable for the results they produced?
Every team has a number to chase, every rep has a number to chase and every rep has predictability in forecasting and influencing this number. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if they talk to 30 clients or 300, or if they sell just one big deal or 20 small deals. These are all part of a master equation that drives careers and ultimately adds up to the revenue number.
Determine the structure of your plan. There are two main types of commission structures for sales and marketing professionals. The first is a "straight" commission plan. In these plans, the professional does not receive a salary and is compensated solely based upon the number of sales. The other structure is salary plus commissions. This structure provides the professional with a base salary and commissions based upon the amount of sales generated.
Of course you want affiliates with high commissions, but they should also have a solid reputation with high conversions and low reversal rates (you get $0 if people cancel after signing up). If they’re part of an affiliate marketplace like ShareASale or ClickBank you can see some numbers there. Companies likes Amazon/SiteGround are safe bets, otherwise do your research (or track your affiliate links so you can monitor their performance). Avoid affiliates offering huge commissions since this probably means they’re struggling to acquire/retain customers naturally. This will hurt your numbers (specifically your conversions/reversal rates).
When targeting your audience, diversification plays an important role in your marketing and advertising campaigns. Diversification means that you can use a variety of tactics and strategies in order to reach your prospects. With online marketing, diversification becomes a lot easier. In addition to that, it is possible for you to run varying marketing techniques simultaneously to better implement your marketing campaign.

Once you acquire a customer through an affiliate, you can then market directly to that customer going forward. It’s important to figure out the lifetime value of your customer as that can also help you decide what commission to pay. With this information you can decide if your acquisition costs are correct or you may decide to be more aggressive with payouts to get those customers in the door.
Every network offers affiliates a way to filter through the numerous offers presented. Take the time to go through the various categories or search for specific merchants that you think would do well on your site. There’s no set of rules for filtering through the options; you’ll ultimately need to rely upon your familiarity with your audience and your gut feelings about what types of offers will perform.
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Theme – you don’t need a special theme for affiliate marketing, you probably just need a blog. I recommend StudioPress themes since that’s what Yoast, Matt Cutts (from Google), and I use. Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress also recommends them. One of the biggest mistakes I made was using a theme from Themeforest… since they’re built by independent developers who may stop making updates to their theme. This happened to me and I hear horror stories all the time about people having to switch themes and redesign their entire site. I’ve been using the same StudioPress theme (Outreach Pro) for 3 years. Their themes are lightweight (load fast), SEO-friendly via optimized code, secure, and they have a huge selection of plugins for the Genesis Framework and an awesome community in the Genesis WordPress Facebook Group. They include documentation for setting it up and will serve you for many, many years.
I’d stick with Amazon if I were you. All of my Amazon sites only have Amazon affiliate links. If you use Google Adsense display ads on your site, you’re literally taking people away from your site for the sake of just a few cents with these type of ads. If you direct them just to Amazon, then you have a greater chance of earning more money from that click.
In effect, VigLink works as the middleman between a publisher (blogger) and merchants by scanning the publisher’s content and automatically creating links to publishers that are chosen “in real time” based on their payout/conversation rates. This makes VigLink a very hands-off affiliate program for publishers who prefer to focus on content instead of managing their affiliate links.
Every team has a number to chase, every rep has a number to chase and every rep has predictability in forecasting and influencing this number. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if they talk to 30 clients or 300, or if they sell just one big deal or 20 small deals. These are all part of a master equation that drives careers and ultimately adds up to the revenue number.
You could be an affiliate for anything. It could be an actual affiliate product, for instance, a car, or anything. Or maybe if you are in network marketing then you are an affiliate for that company’s product but the compensation is just different. If you are in direct sales, then you are an affiliate marketer. Even being an insurance seller makes you an affiliate marketer because you are an affiliate for that particular insurance company’s policies.
Developing an effective commission plan can be a difficult task. In fact, according to research by Anne Coughlan, professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, there is no single “best” compensation plan. You must consider many variables when designing your plan; you must incorporate the profit margins of your products, the goals of your company and the needs of marketing professionals in that plan. A well-designed commission program should be fair to both the marketing individuals as well as the company providing the commissions.

But it literally changed my life… I moved out of my parent’s house (sigh) into a nice studio in downtown Denver, bought my first car (a Mercedes c300), adopted 2 kitties, and my credit raised 45 points. I also donated $6,000 to GoFundMe campaigns. I’m a humble dude but in affiliate marketing, the numbers do the talking. So… I want to show you how I did it. Enjoy!
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Hi, Jamie! Very good list. I needed something like this for 2018 so that I know what to target in the future blogs I create. As for now, I’m comfortable using SiteGround affiliate network and it’s pretty good actually. Their hosting service is pretty much the best considered its price. I’ve tried others but SiteGround stands out. I’ll also try new affiliate networks, something from the list you have just provided. I think Amazon is too saturated at the moment, and I need a better network. 2018 will be interesting indeed.

You will not engage in any promotional, marketing, or other advertising activities on behalf of us or our affiliates, or in connection with an Amazon Site or the Associates Program, that are not expressly permitted under the Agreement. You will not engage in any promotional, marketing, or other advertising activities in any offline manner, including by using any of our or our affiliates’ trademarks or logos (including any Amazon Mark), any Program Content, or any Special Link in connection with email, offline promotion or in any offline manner (e.g., in any printed material, ebook, mailing, or attachment to email, or other document, or any oral solicitation).

Websites and services based on Web 2.0 concepts—blogging and interactive online communities, for example—have impacted the affiliate marketing world as well. These platforms allow improved communication between merchants and affiliates. Web 2.0 platforms have also opened affiliate marketing channels to personal bloggers, writers, and independent website owners. Contextual ads allow publishers with lower levels of web traffic to place affiliate ads on websites.[citation needed]
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