In this holiday season online shopping is hotter than ever!
According to US Commerce Department online sales continue to
grow with a robust 25-27 percent this year over 1992. Online
holiday shopping at a rate of 10 percent is also considerably
outpacing the 5.7 percent growth of overall retail sales. Goldman
Sachs predicts 23 percent of all gift-buying this holiday season
will take place online!

So, if you don’t have a product of your own to sell online, how
can you profit from this exciting trend?

One of the finest ways of making money online is to promote
other people’s products or services by becoming their
affiliates. Affiliate is a term used for a website that drives
traffic to another website in exchange for a predetermined

Thanks to the success of several affiliate programs in
the early days of online business, most merchant websites,
today, use some kind of affiliate programs to promote their
sites and generate sales.

Considering the sheer numbers of affiliate programs
available on the Internet, you may feel overwhelmed.
However, if you set some basic criteria, it would be lot
easier to find a good program that suits your need.

Free sign up

The affiliate program that you are planning to join must
be absolutely free. There are way too many good programs
available for free, why should you pay for one? Moreover,
the programs that require payments to join are mostly multi
Level Marketing (MLM) programs. Although, there may be many
good MLM programs existing on the Internet, I don’t think
it’s a viable option for an average person.

Good commission

You deserve handsome compensation for all your hard work!
No matter, how you look into it, in most of the cases,
promoting a product or service is not an easy job. Since you
are doing the uphill struggle of bringing the client to the
merchant’s door, your commission should be real good one.
What is an acceptable commission anyway? If you are promoting
an information product, don’t go for less than 50 percent.
For more tangible products and services your bare minimum
commission should be 15 percent of the sale. If you are
promoting monthly subscription, choose a program that pays
a portion of subscription fee as recurring commission to
you as long as the client referred by you stays subscribed.

Tow-tier affiliate program

An affiliate program which pays certain percent as a
commission from the sale for bringing in a client and
another if that client brings in other clients. Two-tier
affiliate programs are more preferable since once a client
base is built, it becomes a great source of residual

Quality affiliate tracking system

The merchant should have a very good and well-organized
affiliate sales tracking management software system. You
have to be absolutely comfortable with the statistics
generated by the affiliate program. The program should
show such important aspects as repurchase, if any, by the
client referred by you, your second tier affiliates,
activities by your second tier clients, etc.If you do not
feel comfortable with the tracking system provided by a
merchant, better stick to the merchants, who use third party
affiliate managing system. At least, you will know that a
dishonest merchant won’t be able to defraud you.

Efficient customer support

You should feel satisfied with the service and support you
get from your affiliate program owner. A good program highly
values its affiliates and gives priority to its customer
support system. As the clients that you are sending to the
merchant are primarily your site’s visitors, you should be
extremely picky about the quality of customer service the
program renders. After all, your own site’s reputation is
also at stake here!

Promotional materials

If you are planning to promote an affiliate program, you
will need more materials then mere banners. Unfortunately,
even many high-end affiliate programs do not carry enough
promotional materials to satisfy the need of the affiliates.
Promotional material should include: contents to build
mini-sites, various ad articles, different kind of text
links, product brochures or presentation, etc.

Commission payment policy

The affiliate program should have a sort of minimum payment
policy, where you can receive commissions if even you have
made just one or two sales. A reasonable amount is US $25.
Less than that is not viable due to processing costs.
Commission should be paid each month. If you are located
outside of US, see if the merchant makes payment through
Paypal or other similar services or not. For most of the
countries checks issued in other countries are not a good

If an affiliate program meets all these above mentioned
criteria, you can consider joining in this program. However,
to get best result from your efforts, before signing up, you
should also consider the following rules:

You have to like the product you are promoting
Any salesman will confirm you that this is one of the
fundamental rules of selling. If you are selling a product
or service you must have confidence in it. If you like the
product and will use it yourself gladly, you found a product
to promote! Don’t waste your time with a product that is not
up to your taste!

Promote a product or service consistent to your website’s
subject matter If your site is all about soccer, you will
be better off with products and service related to soccer.
If this same site promotes,for example: pesticides, no matter
how hard you try your success will be very limited! Before
joining in any affiliate program first you should identify
who your visitors are, what do they like and which products
they will probably buy online. Once you know your niche market
it’s lot easier to find products or services for it.

Many webmasters think that in order to make money through
affiliate programs, all you have to do is to come up with a
site and fill up the site with affiliate links. Sooner all
later people will click on them. Unfortunately this does not
work! Making money through affiliate programs is also a
business and like any business you have to have a proper
business plan. Only a well prepared businessplan followed
by its meticulous implementation can bring success to
your affiliate endeavor.

Author's Bio: 

Nowshade Kabir is the founder, primary developer and present CEO
of He has Ph. D. degree in Information Technology.
Dr. Kabir has over 12 years of experience in International Trade
and has worked as an advisor to several government projects.
You can contact him at,