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What exactly are affiliate programs? Affiliate programs are designed so that webmasters, like you, earn residual or one-time commission on merchant products or services. You can simply place links on your site that connect to other businesses. Each sale resulting from your site can earn you a commission. That sounds like a vault full of easy money. Just sitting back and receiving one residual commission after another – but wait a second. Success in an affiliate program can largely depend on two vital items:

1. How well you market your website to attract visitors, and
2. The relevance of the affiliate program to your visitors.

Some people approach affiliate programs like a lottery. They think it will make them instant millionaires. And, when that fails to happen, they skip off to the next idea. Affiliate programs are money makers, but it takes time and dedication. Unless you find a lucrative niche that no one else knows about, then you’re in for a bit of work. You wouldn’t expect to become rich overnight if you opened a local grocery store. It’s no different with affiliate programs.

You have to put in the work. Visitors won’t magically appear at your website just because it’s there. Before joining an affiliate program, make sure your site generates traffic. If no one visits your site, there’s no one to click through to your sponsors. After the site starts generating traffic, it’s time to decide which affiliate programs are of interest. Research is very important.

You may be tempted to sign with any affiliate programs available, but that is a waste of time. Any affiliate program you choose should offer products or services that appeal to your visitors. The products or services should also be highly rated. Your goal is to get people to spend money, not to keep it in their pockets.

If you own a graphic design website, then participating in an affiliate program that sells bug spray won’t earn much residual commission. You’d notice the lack of interest, and probably blame it on the failure of affiliate programs. However, affiliate programs offered by printers or art supply stores would garner more attention from your visitors. You would then see a successful affiliate program in action.

The bottom line with affiliate programs is you usually get out of it what you put into it. Success is not guaranteed, but neither is failure. Pick affiliate programs which resonate with your target audience, stick with it, and watch the money roll-in.