There are many reasons that users surf the internet. For others it is a useful business tool, as it provides valuable information on various things ranging from finance and stock markets to science references seeking.

For others it is the ultimate means for having fun, music, games, hanging around in chat rooms, even engaging themselves in a new form of romance. There are those who like reading their newspapers online or learn about the weather or what movies are on tonight. It is certain that one can write a book just to quote all the reasons and goals that people use the internet for, but in most cases it is a little bit of everything.

One of the most important aspects of internet related activities is the commercial use of the net. Many companies from multinational giants to small family businesses use the net for advertisement or profile presentation to online sells of products and services.

One of the most important economic activities in the internet, just as in the "conventional" economic environment, is advertisement. You can meet ads n the form of banners, links, spots, pop up windows and others. What you maybe don't know is that not all of them are paid listings. Many of the web pages, especially personal, or non-commercial sites, use the affiliate programs ad type, meaning that the revenue they expect does not come from a fee paid by the advertised company, but from sales or commissions they receive if a financial transaction is made emanating from the ad. 

There are also other types of advertisement projection and they do not always aim in webmasters, people that own or manage a website, but every day users as well. This are known as "get paid to.. " programs. They are based on the simple philosophy of paying the users to view ads and from there on the success of the message is derived from pure statistics. So the user gets credit for the ads he is viewing on an ad bar or a browser window. 


Affiliate programs

But lets go back to the business possibilities in the internet advertising industry. The affiliate programs are a form of commercial agreement between a company that sells products or services online and a user-webmaster that plays the role of an independent salesperson, promoting the companies products through its own site, either in the form of advertisements, or even by creating its own e-shop. There are many variations concerning the commission percentage, specific terms on the agreement.


Seeking merchants and products

Obviously one of the first questions is how can someone find which companies offer the affiliate type of relationship. One of the obvious ways is to perform a search with your favorite search engine. For keywords we suggest: affiliate programs, associate programs, affiliate, e-commerce

One of the problems you will face is that you will end up with a number of questionable merchants and a large number of usernames and passwords. We would suggest you to use one of the centralized services (broker companies). These companies have already a large number of merchants in their lists and they have verified their credibility. They also offer  other services, such as a unified account, meaning that you will receive payments as a sum of all the merchants to which you have become affiliates and they also provide you with usefull tools to create links and also get feedback reports on your site's and ads performance.


Useful tips

To begin with, you 'll have to decide whether you want to have a pure e-commerce site or if you just want to insert a series pf promotional -advertisement links to your personal site.

Our advice would be to avoid the first option, especially if you are not very experienced in web design. A really attractive and profitable e-commerce site needs a lot of work to be done and you 'll never be certain if it will pay back. If however that is your choice, you should better seek for references in conventional and web marketing.

Some other rules you have to keep in mind:

  • you have to understand that, at least in the beginning, your affiliate marketing project can only produce a supplementary income and thus you should not neglect your primary job. Don't listen to people that keep saying how rich they got with affiliate marketing
  • be very careful in selecting what kind of products you will promote. If you are targeting in a specific country you have to evaluate and take into account the e-shopping attitude of the people. That means that in a country with low e-shopping activity it would be a mistake to focus in high priced products because simply nobody will buy them. Additionally it is a big mistake to try and promote products that are very much geographically confided, for example there is no sense becoming an affiliate of a used cars dealer in Germany if you are running a site in Spanish, or even worse in Japanese. Focus on products that you would buy over the net, some of the most "active" products over the net are: books, cd's dvd's office items, cosmetics, software, pc games and electronic gadgets.
  • select merchants and/or products of some status and respect (if you want to sell books there are old respected and recognizable companies like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and there also unknown merchants that some times are of dubious credibility)
  • promote your site/store by listing it in search engines (mainly focus on your country's or area's search engines) and by spreading the word to friends, relatives and acquaintances
  • a good tactic is to write short reviews about the products you are selling
  • read carefully the agreement terms with each merchant