Affiliate marketing is an advanced form of advertising.  A website publisher (the 'affiliate') promotes the products or services from another website (the 'merchant' site).  If the affiliate website's promotion leads to a sale on the merchant site, the affiliate gets paid a commission. 

Affiliate marketing is one of the fastest growing area of online business. Merchants love it because they only have to pay for their advertising if it is making them money. Good publishers are beginning to love it because the commissions they can earn are alot higher than the fixed fees being paid for display advertising.

However, website publishers have to choose the affiliate products they promote carefully.

They need to:

  • identify reputable providers who sell good products with good customer support. If you promote poor products or merchants with poor support, if will reflect badly on you and your site

  • the products need to be relevant to your content so they are relevant to the visitors your website attracts 

  • you need to understand the products you sell so you can pre-sell them to your visitors. By pre-selling I mean write articles and reviews about the products to encourage your visitors to buy from the merchant 

One last very important point. 

Most good merchants now have an approval process. They will look at your website and decide whether it is the sort of place they want their products promoted. Merchants are becoming much more selective so if you want to attract the best dewals you will need to have a professional looking website with reasonable traffic.

This checklist will help you find good merchants:

METHOD 1 – Affiliate Networks

There are many companies that act as affiliate brokers.

They sign up merchants and then attract affiliate partners to promote those merchants. The networks take care of all of the registration, tracking, reporting and payment processing between the two parties in exchange for a monthly fee.

The affiliate networks remove all the hassle for both parties.

The merchants have to pay hefty fees to join an affiliate network. The affiliates usually pay nothing to list the merchants on their sites.

The bigger networks have thousands of merchants and tens of thousands of affiliates.

To start to get an idea of what these networks offer take a look at this selection of established companies:

For more UK centric networks, take a look at:

  • Affiliate Future 


METHOD 2 – Search Engines

A lot of merchants don’t join a network. This can be because they think the networks are too expensive, they want to have more control over who sells their product or they have developed their own affiliate software.

To find these affiliate deals, you can try the search engines.

Simply search for your main keywords plus the word affiliate in Google or Yahoo. If you are in the UK, you might want to restrict the search to UK only. On the other hand, remember that digital books, clips, software, etc. can be easily bought from anywhere in the world.

For example, if you website is about alpine skiing, try these searches:

• +alpine skiing +affiliate

• +alpine skiing equipment +affiliate

• +skiing +affiliate

• +skiing equipment +affiliate

• +skiing holiday +affiliate

• +skiing books + affiliate

• Etc

You get the picture. The ‘+’ signs ensure that the search engine only lists pages with all the words on them.


METHOD 3 – ClickBank

ClickBank is a site that enables content producers to sell their digital books and other downloadable products on the web without having their own website.

Content producers upload their digital product onto the ClickBank site, decide how much they want to charge for them and what commission they are willing to pay to affiliates.

ClickBank then lists the product for sale and encourages affiliates to promote it in exchange for a commission. Currently, there are over 12,000 digital products for sale via the site.

• Go to the ClickBank site (

• Search for your topic, e.g., alpine skiing, skiing, skiing book, skiing fitness, etc.

• Look through the results for suitable products to promote

• Sign up to the affiliate program

• Put the relevant links on your site

• ClickBank takes care of tracking and sending you your commissions


METHOD 4 – Directories

There are many directories on the internet, but the ones that are most valuable require website owners to pay a significant fee to get listed … or have a human selection process.

Try the Yahoo Directory and DMOZ (

As before, type in your topic and the word ’affiliate’ and see what comes up.


METHOD 5 – Affiliate Directories

There are some directories that list merchants who offer affiliate deals. The better sites encourage users to rate the programs so you get an unbiased view of how good they are.

Try these directories:

Associate Programs


Affiliate Match


METHOD 6 – Look at Your Competitor’s Websites

Take a look at your competitor’s website.

They may well be making money through affiliate marketing. Have a look at which merchants they are representing. There is a good chance that they will be equally relevant to your content.

Merchants rarely agree exclusive deals with any websites so just because a product or service is promoted via your competitors site does not stop you from promoting it aswell.



METHOD 7 – Ask a Merchant to Set-up an Affiliate Program

If you find a website that has products that you really like, but which does not have an affiliate program, there is no harm in calling them and asking them to set one up.

They can easily join one of the affiliate networks and before they know it, they could have hundreds of sites promoting their products for them.


Alternatively, they can set up their own affiliate program using software like iDevAffiliate . (Note: This is what we use for the SubHub affiliate program)


How many merchants should you have?

This is a difficult question. It depends on your subject, the number of pages of content, your other revenue streams, etc.It takes time and effort to track any affiliate program properly, so only take on as many merchants as you have time to monitor.I would suggest that between seven and twelve high-quality merchants are a good number.Ensure that you spread your risk. Try not to become dependent on one merchant. Internet companies do occasionally go out of business!