How Affiliate Marketing Programs Work (What Is It)

Today I am going to be talking about the functionality behind affiliate marketing programs and what makes them tick.


An affiliate marketing program is a product or service that is often hosted by a network – keep in mind that the definition of the word “program” can mean an item . Think about the network Shareasale, here you will find a variety of programs that you can sign up with. This is where the ‘affiliate marketing” part of the term “affiliate marketing programs” kick in, because the network shareasale allows people to sell (become an affiliate for) the products that’s inside of its network.


To go further into detail, let me say it like this:


  • 1. The merchant (product or service owner) has just created their own product or service.


  • 2. The merchant has now decided that he or she needs help selling the program (the product or service).


  • 3. The merchant then finds a network to sign his / her program up with, let’s go with the shareasale network.


  • 4. The merchant then has to fill out shareasale’s form for merchants and have their product or service accepted by the network. While filling out the form, the merchant has to provide details about the program, is it a video course, ebook, paper book, cpc advertising, etc. Another thing that has to be filled inside the form is the amount of money per sale, or perhaps per click the merchant plans to pay the affiliate of their program.


  • 5. The network then scans and thoroughly views the content to see if the merchant’s program follows all of their guidelines… possibly no nudity, violence, etc., is allowed.


  • 6. Once accepted to the network, the program is categorized (the merchant provided which category the program goes into while filling out the form) and ready to go.


  • 7. You as an affiliate may see the merchant’s product on the shareasale network and decide to sell it to your clients. Shareasale will then keep track of every sell that is made and pay you the exact amount of earnings that you made.



Differences Between Networks & Affiliate Networks


You may be now wondering “what is an affiliate network”, well it’s the same type of network we’ve been discussing the whole time. An affiliate network is also referred to as an advertising network, or a CPM network, or a CPC network… it’s all the same thing. I know you’ve probably heard that there’s a difference with networks, but actually if any network allows affiliates, then all of those networks can be considered as affiliate networks.


On the other hand, not all networks can be considered advertising networks, because advertising networks are based on different types of advertisements (cpm ads, cpc ads, etc.).



Independent vs. Major Networks


There is more than one network available online that hosts affiliate programs, some smaller companies host their own affiliate programs, which means that they are acting as their own affiliate network, thus allowing you as the affiliate to sell their products and services through their system. And they (the independent company) are responsible for keeping track of payments and cutting your check.


Independent networks have received a lot of bad representation in the past, people have been posting negative comments and complaints all over the web about how this affiliate network didn’t pay them, or how that affiliate network kept some of their money and didn’t give them credit for their sells, and so on. There seems to be a shortage on legitimate independent networks these days..


So what do you do?


While it is never a good idea to play things safe and stick to the lakes and rivers that you’re used to, I think that you should try out an independent network or two, and tell the rest of us about your experience… whether it be a good experience or a bad one. Come back and post to the comment section.


My other suggestion would be to just go with Shareasale or Clickbank, or one of the other many major networks available online. At least you know that they are legitimate and trustworthy.



Here are a few questions that you can ask yourself before deciding which network type you’d prefer to go with:





List of Major Affiliate Networks


Here are four of the major networks that will keep track of all your sales and pay you 100% of your earnings every single time and on time.


  • 1. Clickbank                       | visit network
  • 2. CJ Affiliate                     | visit network
  • 3. Shareasale                     | visit network
  • 4. Amazon Associates        | visit network



One thing I will say again here, is that if you are in the position where you don’t need one hundred percent of your earnings every time and you can afford to be shortened on income a bit… go ahead and take a chance with one or more of the independent networks, you never know – one of them could be the next shareasale.


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