Recently someone asked me what I think the #1 rule of affiliate marketing is. Actually, there’s more than one top rule, but here’s top of the list.

#1 RULE: Pay your affiliates what you owe them when you owe them. Nothing can sour an affiliate relationship faster than you owing someone money or not paying them when you agreed to.

Another rule: Pay them what they really earned.

The best thing to do to avoid any confusion is to assure ahead of time the affiliate knows when you pay, how you pay and if you hold back any money in case of refunds.

In the years I’ve been involved in online marketing I’ve made lots and lots of money as an affiliate. I’ve been an affiliate for some amazing people. Most (99%) do pay on time and they do pay what was earned.

But then there are always the exceptions to the rule.

One person has owed me a couple hundred dollars for several months. I’ve given plenty of time for the person to pay me.

I even asked (twice) when I would get paid. Both times I was assured it would be that day. Well, both those days came and went and no money was sent to me.

(Your affiliates should never have to hunt you down for the money they’ve earned.)

What this means is I will never promote for this person ever again. Ever!

Another time I knew a customer had purchased through my affiliate link but I never got paid on that sale. How did I know they bought through my link? Because the person who purchased said they had bought through my link.

I’ve been known to let people know I have an affiliate link. Often, I give a bonus or two when someone buys through my link. This adds value to the buyer and it lets me know exactly who buys.

It may sound like I’m being petty or bitter.

Nope! I’m not bitter, but I figure if this is how someone treats their affiliates how will they treat the business we send them?

If you’re going to play in the game of affiliate marketing and sales you need to have a squeaky clean reputation.

Here’s some common sense rules:

1. Be clear on what the commission rate is
2. Pay on time
3. Pay what the affiliate earned
4. Appreciate your affiliate
5. Take really good care of the customers they sent you
6. Say thank you to the affiliate

The best experience I had was when one expert I promoted for sent me a check for over $11,000 for one campaign I did for her. Not only did she send me a personal note with the check, she sent me a gift.

She has been known to send bottles of wine to her affiliates. Well, she knows I don’t drink (at all) and sent me a wonderful box of pears.

Wow! Did that ever make me feel special.

Will I promote for her again? Beyond a shadow of a doubt.

To the person who still owes me a few hundred dollars… I hope you are reading this and realize you’ve messed up… big time.

This article was initially posted in my ezine. I was shocked at how many people wrote to tell me something similar happened to them. And! they told me who did it.

Wake up folks. The Internet and social media has made the world very small and people do share the good, the bad and the ugly.

Author's Bio: 

Discover success insights from experts around the globe who are out there making a difference and making a great living in the process. Kathleen Gage interviews the best of the best with Power Up for Profits Podcast.