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?
A content marketer, for example, can create a series of blog posts that serve to generate leads from a new ebook the business recently created. The company's social media marketer might then help promote these blog posts through paid and organic posts on the business's social media accounts. Perhaps the email marketer creates an email campaign to send those who download the ebook more information on the company. We'll talk more about these specific digital marketers in a minute.
When you create sign-up or subscription forms, include options for subscribers to self-select preferences. Even free platforms like MailChimp allow you to provide segmenting options. For instance, you can ask subscribers about particular interests, product preferences, or content interests. Options for affiliate marketers may include: 1) Newsletters, 2) Deals and Discounts, 3) Announcements and 4) New Product Updates. Some subscribers may select to receive content on all of these, whereas others might only have interest in one or two.
3. Alignment with your current services. It is important to have a strategy in mind, one that will help you accomplish your goal fast. This is why you should make sure that, first and foremost, any service you choose to promote has something to do with you current offering. For example, if you are a blogger and your following is mainly aspiring bloggers, it makes sense to promote a hosting service or an email marketing platform.

Now imagine you had that brochure on your website instead. You can measure exactly how many people viewed the page where it's hosted, and you can collect the contact details of those who download it by using forms. Not only can you measure how many people are engaging with your content, but you're also generating qualified leads when people download it.
I would personally agree with linkshare.com as a great affiliate marketing platform to join as a publisher. Here’s why. Back in 2005 when I knew nothing about affiliate marketing and was using blogger.com as a free blogging platform without any experience whatsoever and joining Walmart.com as my first official affiliate program, I was able to insert Walmart affiliate in its in my blogger blog and earn a $72 commission. I was onto affiliate marketing for life from there.

Smart affiliate program managers understand the value of free.  Instead of telling you to promote their salespage, many offer a valuable freebie that provides real value to prospect.  All you have to do is mention this freebie and provide a place to get it.  After that, the site owner will follow-up with a prospect and sell them on the benefit of purchasing a product.
If you don’t already know what drop shipping is, it’s the retail method in which you don’t keep products in stock. Instead of warehousing, you partner with a drop shipping supplier that stocks its own inventory.  You transfer customer orders and shipment details to them, and the suppliers ship the order directly to the customer. Here’s a graph to help you understand the drop shipping business model:
Another powerful motivator is ensuring your highest performing affiliates maximize their return on investment. “In any given day, they have 20+ offers at their fingertips that they can mail, and I want them to choose mine because I pay them the most, without them needing to ask. I always give my top affiliates the absolute max I can in commissions. They drive the majority of our revenue, and they need to be treated like gold,” she said.

The links fit anywhere a normal anchor link would go. But, in this case, the traffic is tracked by a network or software and the content creator gets a cut. You probably have plenty of products around your home that came about as a recommendation after watching a cool YouTube video – it’s very likely they sent you to the site through their affiliate link!
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In comparison with Dropshipping, affiliate marketing is a lot easier to start and manage. In a dropshipping website, you will have to actively monitor the store and order products through suppliers. All this requires time. But in an affiliate website, you don’t have to actually do any of this because you get a commission by letting people buy through your link. That’s it.
Google, if you a relying on search traffic, can change how they send traffic, rank your page, and how you show up on the SERPS at the drop of a hat. Really, you don’t have control on boosting your traffic when relying on organic search results because it’s not paid. If you are relying on other people’s traffic or other people’s affiliate offers, it can run dry very quickly. It’s not up to you with affiliate marketing. With drop shipping (or selling your own products or private labeling), you have that control over traffic sources.

Dropshipping definitely seems to be more involved as far as getting all the pieces of the puzzle working for you and advertising and managing shipping, etc. If you are not a good writer or like writing, dropshipping may be more your cup of tea. Affiliate marketing is a great option but you must be willing to do a lot of writing. If you can handle the writing, then affiliate marketing is a much better option. I chose to get started in affiliate marketing and have learned a ton since!
With affiliate marketing, you have no control over the product you are promoting. You cannot control the look, description, pricing, or the after-sale service of the product. This does not suit everyone. This can limit what you can do as an affiliate marketer from an advertising point of view. You may not be able to mention certain features due to your terms and conditions. If you do not personally receive the product you may rely on photos. These may be outdated or of low-quality, making it hard to promote the product effectively.
You can make really good commissions from the eBay partner but it depends on the products which you decide to promote. Interestingly the commission levels vary according to where you are in the world not just on the products you decide to promote. One of the great reasons to sign up is that you can earn DOUBLE commissions in your first three months. They offer free to use link generators, ad creatives and widgets for you to promote different eBay items. eBay has over 162 Million active buyers which means there is a great potential to convert your traffic.
Building trust with your audience is paramount in affiliate marketing, and the quickest way to lose trust is to recommend products either you haven’t used before or that aren’t a good fit for your audience. Also make sure you never tell anyone to directly buy a product, you are simply recommending the product. The more helpful you are and the more you make quality recommendations, the more likely your web visitors will come back for your expertise. 
Internet Retailer Top 500 merchant, JanSport, partnered with Rakuten Marketing on a series of cross-channel marketing campaigns promoting the launch of its Disney Collection, which features popular Disney characters on JanSport apparel and accessories. The campaigns, executed across search, display and affiliate strategies, leveraged valuable consumer data and insights to focus on shoppers who expressed the most interest in Disney themed products.
5. Don’t quit: Quitters are losers! In fact, if you’re serious with your online business, having enough knowledge about what you’re doing, and are taking actions persistently, chances are you’ll never quit! Congratulations! Because most people came in fast, but they quit soon as well. If you just stay focus, taking actions, and don’t quit, you’ll be successful. Guaranteed!

Cookie stuffing involves placing an affiliate tracking cookie on a website visitor's computer without their knowledge, which will then generate revenue for the person doing the cookie stuffing. This not only generates fraudulent affiliate sales but also has the potential to overwrite other affiliates' cookies, essentially stealing their legitimately earned commissions.
The main downside to dropshipping is that as the store owner, you’re responsible for customer support. Fortunately, you can easily outsource the customer support to someone who specializes in it on Upwork.com for an affordable price. All you need to do is provide guidelines and general responses for the customer support representative to follow. By outsourcing this component, you free your time up to focus on marketing and optimization. This allows you to grow your business faster.
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