Thank you for your comments. My wife and I are interested in going the affiliate marketing route as well. What we need now are the specifics on how to set up and structure the affiliate marketing business relationships with vendors / sellers / manufacturers. What agreement(s) govern these relationships? What are the steps to going from where we are now, at square one and no current relationships with sellers, to having binding contractual relationships and receiving checks in the mail? Can anyone give us the play by play on this process?

That is correct, you either sign up as an affiliate and agree to their payout or you go and find another seller with an affiliate program. You should find lots of affiliate programs that pay 50% or higher without any problem. Just be sure that the cookie is live for at least 60 days, the longer the better. Clickbank has thousands of affiliate programs.
Affiliate marketing currently lacks industry standards for training and certification. There are some training courses and seminars that result in certifications; however, the acceptance of such certifications is mostly due to the reputation of the individual or company issuing the certification. Affiliate marketing is not commonly taught in universities, and only a few college instructors work with Internet marketers to introduce the subject to students majoring in marketing.[41]
Financial services provider, Wells Fargo, launched their affiliate marketing program with the goal of expanding credit card acquisition beyond current customers of the bank. Rakuten Marketing designed an affiliate prospecting program that focused on building strong relationships with publishers and educating them on the products offered. This approach was aligned with creating compelling consumer-facing offers that would appeal to a publisher’s audience.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect on May 25, 2018, is a set of regulations governing the use of personal data across the EU. This is forcing some affiliates to obtain user data through opt-in consent (updated privacy policies and cookie notices), even if they are not located in the European Union. This new regulation should also remind you to follow FTC guidelines and clearly disclose that you receive affiliate commissions from your recommendations. 
Avoid jargon, buzzwords, and acronyms. Writing copy for emails or landing pages is different than writing the academic research paper. Marketers should cut down on flowery language wherever possible. Use a conversational tone. Check your text with the Hemingway App. Don’t worry; replacing big words with common synonyms won’t make you look uneducated. Most people in the United States read at a 7th-8th-grade level.
In effect, VigLink works as the middleman between a publisher (blogger) and merchants by scanning the publisher’s content and automatically creating links to publishers that are chosen “in real time” based on their payout/conversation rates. This makes VigLink a very hands-off affiliate program for publishers who prefer to focus on content instead of managing their affiliate links.
Affiliate marketing is commonly confused with referral marketing, as both forms of marketing use third parties to drive sales to the retailer. The two forms of marketing are differentiated, however, in how they drive sales, where affiliate marketing relies purely on financial motivations, while referral marketing relies more on trust and personal relationships.[citation needed]
Earning income via Target affiliates, however, requires a bit of work. Cookies expire in just seven days, and commissions can be as low as just one percent, so you’ll need to be operating a high-traffic website in order to make serious cash with this program. But with Target’s much-beloved brand reputation and vast catalog, relevant product links can be a big earner for established influencers.

If you’ve been online for any period of time, you’ve encountered a version of The Billy Mays.  Every marketer has their own style.  I prefer to make these emails personable and describe how the product has been beneficial to my own life.  Then I’ll list a bunch of benefits the reader receives if they make a purchase.  Overall, this is a great way to make an affiliate recommendation because it discusses the product in a frank, real-world example.
While affiliate marketing is great for starters who don’t want to mingle with customer support, I believe dropshipping is a much more lucrative option. Running an online dropshipping store can make you more money than an affiliate marketing website. You can easily market your products through Facebook Ads and Google Ads. Further, if your store is providing great quality of products, you will soon start to get a consistent stream of orders.
Paid advertising — this method requires an effective combination of ad copy, graphics, and a highly-clickable link.[30] Unlike more traditional affiliate marketing strategies, paid advertising (through pay-per-click ads) earn you money regardless of whether a reader buys the product or not. Services like Google's AdSense make this quick and easy for you, and can even supply you with an advertising code.[31]
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