362 Part III: Designing Sites for Long-Term Success The better you manage to drive people to purchase products via your affiliate program, the more money you can make. For example, for computer book authors, affiliate programs can make a lot of sense. All books I ve written can be linked from my site to an affiliate such as Amazon. Therefore, not only do I get the royalties I mdue from each sale, but I also make a percentage, boosting my earnings a little bit. There are pros and cons to affiliate programs, just as with anything. I used to manage an affiliate program on my Web site, but eventually took it off because I was getting far too many queries personally. Amazon is better equipped to provide wide-scale customer service and keep information up-to-date than I am without a concentrated effort. For me, the cons outweighed the pros. Table 14-1 shows some of the pros and cons to consider before jumping into an affiliate program. Table 14-1: The Pros and Cons of Affiliate Programs Pros Cons You have very little overhead in day-to-day management of business logistics and inventory No hands-on control over product quality, shipping and delivery, and other logistics, yet you may be held accountable by your clients anyway You can focus on one thing marketing your product via your Web site Affiliates do not provide any marketing assistance for the most part. You have to sell the goods. So, unless you are a born salesperson or have a good one on your team, an affiliate program might not be in your best interest You ll learn a lot about selling products online! This makes affiliate programs a good way for many folks to get started in e-commerce You may become so locked in to the learning curve involved with managing your program and Web site that you neglect other important aspects of Web site and product promotion You make money You could make more money in some instances by not relying on an affiliate, who may take as much of 50 percent of your gross sales You have autonomy to design and develop your site and display your products as you see fit. If you do this very well, you may end up with great leverage against your competitors You are relying on another company to pay you. Payments can take time, rates can change, and you don t have much recourse except to stop the affiliate program The most important issue is to be sure the affiliate program with which you are working is on the up-and-up. Check with other people who have used the service, and you can even find out where the company resides, whether it is licensed, and so on. note You may be able to check with the local consumer office or chamber of commerce to see if any complaints have been lodged against the company.
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