You've probably heard the term “affiliate programs” but maybe you aren't sure exactly what they are, how they work, how to start your own, or why you should have one. This article will help you understand more about affiliate programs.

An affiliate program is an arrangement where someone other than the owner or creator of a product sells a product on her website or blog, for a commission. Visit most any blog and you will see buttons and links to different products, membership groups, and eBooks. More than likely, the blog owner is participating in more than one affiliate program. Most affiliate programs are free to join. You simply sign up through the person who sells the product, and place a button or link on your website or blog. You can write blog posts and articles and include the link to the affiliate program or you can include the link in your signature on your emails, forums, and groups. Or, you can just email someone the link to when they inquire about a product or service.

Affiliate programs are an easy way to earn passive income, but you must continue to put your links in front of people, or drive traffic to your site to get the clicks. Don't expect to put a button on your site and watch the money come rolling in. But, the good news is that you are probably doing this anyway for other reasons such as Google Adsense, or to sell your own product. You must constantly promote an affiliate program to make sales.

One of the easiest ways to make affiliate sales is through article marketing. You can go to sites like eZine or GoArticles, write an informative article with content related to the affiliate program, and then include the link. If you get into the habit of submitting an article or two a week, you will be building income producing links that last forever. It takes time to build these links, but the rewards can be great.

The best strategy for success with affiliate programs is to add those that relate or correspond with your website or blog. For example, let's say Melanie sells handmade, personalized baby blankets on her website. She also has a blog about baby and infant care. Melanie will want to participate in affiliate programs that relate to babies, mothers, child care, birthing, nursing, etc. She might choose an affiliate program for nursing products, organic baby food, eBooks about infant care, or other types of personalized baby items like bibs or pacifiers. Melanie probably won't make many sales by participating in an affiliate program for accounting software. The visitors on her sites don't have accounting on their minds when reading her material and looking at her images.

Check back tomorrow for part 2 of this series and find out how to start your own affiliate program, and how an affiliate program can help you grow your business.

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