The first look

There are many things to consider when choosing an affiliate program to sign up to, so this series of articles will explain to you different things you need to take into account.

The headings with *** in them would not be what I would consider “compulsory” but are added to give you more information.

Is the link to the Affiliate Program easy to find?

Nothing is more annoying than finding a site in a search engine that has an ap then finding the link to it is a mission in searching!

Is all of the information about the Affiliate Program readily available?

  • payment threshold
  • commission
  • payment schedule

Some sites that I have come across in the past say “email us for information” – well I would not be on that page if I was not interested!

Are there good payment options?

  • All of the NZ ap’s that I belong to will pay straight into a NZ bank account – there are also several overseas ap’s that also have this available
  • If that is not available, my next preference is cheque then paypal (in that order)
  • If the payment option is “earn credits for use in our shop” – forget it!

When sending an email is the reply prompt?

All of the good affiliate programs that I belong to have really good reply times – no more than a day in the week and if a weekend, maybe on the Monday – although some reply within 24 hours even in a weekend

How flexible is the Affiliate Program?

While most affiliate programs (eg osCommerce or ZenCart sites) create links in a certain format, is there flexibility to change the links? ie: if the link is generated with images only, can the links be changed to be text links by the affiliate if they know how? Maybe another thing to think about, is if someone wanted to do that but did not know who to, could the site provide support to help the affiliate?

The affiliate website

Once you have had a basic first look at the information about the affiliate program you need to take a good look at the site itself.

Here are my guidelines for things that I feel are most important when looking for affiliate programs sites to sign up to.

The headings with *** in them would not be what I would consider “compulsory” but are added to give you more information.

Is there a secure server or a gateway that has a secure system for payment?

I personally would not buy products from a site that does not have encryption for payments, so I would not send people to a site that does not have that.

How easy is it to find products?

As I have a niche market site, all I do is put in the keyword and see if there are products.

If there is, the next question is how relavant are the search results? One site that I looked at, when I typed Maori in the search box came back with a whole lot of cosmetics and on none of those pages was anything relating to, or mentioning Maori. If I can not find the products I need, how can others? I did contact the site about their irrelavant serach results and they did rectify it making the search results relavant to the keyword(s) used.

Is the site easy to navigate?

I am quite web savy, so if I find it hard to get around the site, then I will not send people to it.

Is the site fast loading?

Nothing is more frustrating than going to a site and having time to make a cup of coffee before it loads! So if the site is slow to load, I will not sign up for their affiliate program.

Is there a flash intro with no opt out button?

Then forget it. If I can not get straight to the site I will not use it.

Do all of the products have images?

This is an interesting one. While most of the ap’s I belong to have images for all products, I have noticed that not all products in Book Sites have images. Which is a shame as I use images for my affiliate links and do not want to have a page of “Image Not Available” or the like and some of the good books are “No Image” books.

While I do not know the ins and outs of putting book covers in an ecommerce site, I have got around this problem for some of the books that I know will sell well, by going to the publisher site and getting the image off there. Then I can have the link with an image.

Do all of the products have descriptions?

The format that I use is to have the product title, image and description, so if a site does not have a product description, I do not use them.

Is the site designed to fit all browser sizes?

Nothing is more annoying than going to a site only to find that you have to scroll, not only up and down but backwards and forwards to see it all!

If I go to look at a site that has “this site is best viewed with screen size a x b – please adjust your screen” I would only consider signing up for that site if they had exceptional products. While I have found a few sites like that over the years, none have had products that I have considered worth signing up for.

To me as a webmaster it is a cheek to tell someone to change their browser and it reflects that the designer does not have the skills to cater for all people and all settings, instead they are trying to impose their settings on the user because of their limited programming skills *LOL*

Is there a full sitemap of all cateogries and sub categories?

Some sites have “Main Categories” (ie” Health and Beauty”) and when you click there you will find sub categories (ie “Soaps”)

As a person who has an affiliate program, it is easier for me to work out what I want to add by being able to scroll down a “full sitemap” of every category / sub category, rather than having to try and guess where things may be.

Also, by seeing a full sitemap, I will see something and think, “oh, what is in there?” and by clicking, may find products that I may not have thought about adding. I have often found other products from the sites that have the full lists that I would not have thought about. This in turn means I have more links and they get more sales – a win / win situation.

The backend

Once you have had a good look around the affiliate site and decided that it is a site that you would like to promote the products of, you need to sign up.

Once you have signed up you need to take a good look around the backend – of the affiliate area.

The headings with *** in them would not be what I would consider “compulsory” but are added to give you more information.

Can you view sales?

I will not use a site where I can not see sales! While some of you may think this is basic, I have recently come across a site that I signed up for, only to find that there is no where to see sales or anything else! Needless to say I am not promoting their products!

Can you view payment history?

I like to be able to see payments that have been made and which sales the payment covers.

Can you view clicks?

For me, this is not a “must have” but it is nice. Also, by being able to see clocks, you know that your affiliate links are working!

Are there different banners and sizes available?

Sometimes I like to use a banner but because of my site designs, I need them in certain “standard” sizes. Nearly every affiliate program that I belong to have a good range of banners and different sizes.

Can you make links for specific products?

Once I signed up to a site only to find out that I could only link to their front page. Needless to say I do not use them as I like to link to specially choosen products that fix my site.

Do they explain how to create links to specific products?

Some sites have very clear instructions and some have hardly any at all. As a webmaster, I can figure it out, but if a person signs up for an affiliate program and can not understand how to create links, both parties miss out on perspective sales.

Is there an easy to find “Contact Us” link in case you have any questions?

Most sites that I use have a “contact us” link from within the affiliate program which is nice. However, if there is not an easy way to contact them – why not?

Is it easy to change your details?

From time to time you may need to change your details, and this should be easy to do from the affiliate area.


After you have signed up for the affiliate program and promoted the products sooner or later payment time will come.

Here are the main things to consider when it comes time for payments.

The headings with *** in them would not be what I would consider “compulsory” but are added to give you more information.

Are payments done automatically?

If the site says something like “payments are made on the 20th of the month following when the minimum payment threshold is met” and you reach the minimum payment threshold do you get your payment or do you have to ask?

I joined a few affiliate program’s when they were first starting out, so had to ask, but it ws ok as we were learning together. So just be aware if you join a new affiliate program and the affiliate program itself is new, you may need to give a gentle request for payment at first. But once things are sorted out, they usually automatically send out payments.

Do you get an email when a payment to you has been made?

When you get an affiliate payment, are you sent an email letting you know, or do you just look at your bank account one day and see a payment?

Some programs I belong to will email to let me know that a payment is due, then will email again when the payment has been made. Some just pay monthly without an email or any other form of notification.

Can you negotiate a different payment schedule?

Some of the affiliate program’s I belong to I have an agreement with them that once I meet the minimum payment threshold, I will ask for the payment when I want it. This is a personal thing, as I like to have some money tucked away for server costs etc and this way when I need it I can get it!