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Here are some things that I look for before joining an affiliate program. They are items I feel are imperative to being in a successful affiliate program.
1. The affiliate program has a great payment structure. For me, a high commission that is also a high percentage of the purchase price is essential. Nothing under 25% commission.
2. Make sure the affiliate program you are joining has a good looking site. You do not want to be sending visitors to a site that you do not like yourself.
3. Make sure they offer a comprehensive affiliate statistics page that lists the number of click throughs, number of sales and amount earned. This should be broken down per month.
4. Also make sure that the affiliate statistics are updated automatically and immediately. You do not want to find out today about a sale you made a week ago.
5. Ensure they give a wide variety of text links, banners and graphics to put on your web page. Although I prefer text links, certain types of banners and graphics still work well.
6. Know how often you are going to be paid. If you are tossing up between 2 programs and one pays monthly and the other pays quarterly, the one that pays monthly is better. You do not want to wait months before getting paid for your hard work!
7. See if the affiliate program gives examples of how the top affiliates are doing. This can be a great pointer to whether it is good or not. If some affiliates are earning many thousands per month, it is a good affiliate program.
8. Along these lines, also see if they give examples of what marketing methods these successful affiliates are using to get the best results.
9. An affiliate program that offers a special monthly newsletter just for the affiliates is great. Here you can get extra tips and techniques that are working well.
10. See if they offer email notification when you make a sale or get an affiliate signed up under you (if it is a 2-tier program). It is good to see `You have made another sale' in your inbox.
11. Ensure top level support is given. If they cannot answer your query straight away make sure they can respond within 48 hours.
There is tremendous demand for affiliate programs and choosing the right one is no easy task. Make sure you do plenty of research before joining one.