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By: Merle
What's the quickest way to increase your website sales and
extend your reach on the Internet all at the same time?
If you said with your own associate program, you would be
correct. An associate (or affiliate program as they are some-
times called) allows others to to sell your products/
services and receive a commission on each and every sale or
click. Just think of having a sales force that can grow
as big as you'd like... and you only pay them when and
if they bring you a paying customer. Make no mistake,
affiliate programs are powerful tools that can rapidly
improve your online sales.

Associate programs can be set up in a variety of ways
ranging inexpensive to pricey, depending on the route you
wish to take. The important thing is to pick the one that
suits your needs and your budget.

First things first: What are your options for setting up
your own program? Glad you asked....some people
"pay per click," crediting their associates a certain
amount every time someone clicks through on their
affiliate banners or links. But I prefer "pay per sale,"
which means that you only pay out when
someone clicks through and actually makes a purchase.
In this way you're not just paying for traffic but for
actual results, which is the sale.

You basically have two options for setting up your own
program: Purchase software or use a third party service.
The nice thing about a third party service is they manage
all the accounting issues, including click-tracking and
sending your associates their commission checks, too.
This takes a large load off of you so you can spend your
time doing more productive tasks... but this luxury
doesn't come cheap. Let's examine some of
your options:

3rd Party Associate Services:


Outsource your affiliate program to ClickTrade and
they'll take care of everything from tracking to
paying your affiliates. Your program can be set up
on a pay per lead or pay per sales basis, they do
charge 30% for all of their hard work and a $500.00
initial deposit.


Anyone who sells information products online
can easily set up an affiliate program with
Clickbank. Each of your affiliates will need
to have a Clickbank account (which is free)
so they can be set up with a special link
for tracking their sales. They accept the
payment for you by credit card and you'll be
charged a percentage of each sale. Simple
and easy. Clickbank accounts cost 49.95 for
you to accept credit cards through them then
1.00 plus 7.5% of each sale made.

3) Affiliate Shop:

No software to be installed; just cut and paste a
few lines of HTML code on your site to get your
program up and running. Some of the features include
pay per click, pay per sale, accept or reject
affiliates who wish to join and much more. Flat
charge for set up of 395.00 then you'll have to pay
a monthly fee of 45.00.

Software Options:

You'll want to make sure
whatever you buy offers the ability to track real
time stats. If you'll be integrating it with your
existing shopping cart, make sure they are compatible.

1) Affiliate Tracking:

You can buy or lease their software which runs on their
server. Choose the basic package or add on
their check paying and promotion modules.
Basic set up fee of 75.00 plus 34.95 per month. Simple
templates are available to get you up and running

2) Affiliate Software:

Pro-Track is inexpensive and easy to set up. Presently
it only runs on UNIX servers. Pricing starts at 695.00
for set up on a single domain. Very powerful with
many options.

3) My Affiliate Program:

You design the look and feel of your program and how
much you want to pay out. Simple seamless integration
with your website. Easy to pay your affiliates with
simple Quickbooks integration. You pay a set price for
the software plus a small application hosting fee.
Pricing starts at only 499.00 plus 50.00 monthly hosting

4) Ground Break:

If you're at all good at configuring CGI scripts you may
want to look at downloading this script and doing it yourself.
If you need help with CGI, contact -- his
work and rates are excellent.

Ground Break can be set up to work on your
server quickly. Presently only works on Unix platform
and cost 200.00. Can easily be integrated with most
Perl based shopping carts. Your program can be
set up to pay either per lead or per sales.

As you can see, the options for setting up your own
associate program are numerous. It will cost you some
time and money, but in the end it'll give you a
powerful sales force which will extend your reach on the Net.

Whatever program you choose, make sure it's easy to
setup and user friendly so you won't lose people
before they even get started. In part II of this
article we'll examine some ways of promoting
your newfound affiliate program.
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