In order to pick the right affiliate offers for your list, there are a number of things you need to keep in mind. You will be looking at the product, the sales page, the commission payout…

But don’t forget to read the fine print. It could make much more of a difference than you can imagine.

When I say “fine print”, it means you have to look at the following:

1. Firstly, look for inconsistencies in the information provided, and between that information and the affiliate agreement. You won’t find it at reputable companies like Clickbank, Shareasale or JVZOO, but when you start looking at private affiliate programs, things can easily become very complicated.

Look at things like payout dates, minimum requirements, and commission levels. If any of these differ between the various information pages and/or the affiliate agreement, it means one of two things:

a. The program owner has no clue what he or she is doing, or otherwise your payment is not a high priority for them (read: scammer). Period.

b. The website isn’t properly maintained. Changes are made to the affiliate program, but aren’t applied to the text throughout the website.

In either case, walk away – regardless of how much money they offer you, and regardless of how great the product appears to be. You don’t want to be working with people who don’t know what they do, or don’t know what they want. And if they don’t even pay proper attention to their website, how much support can you expect if you have a problem or a question?

The affiliate section of the website is a reflection of their priorities. If they don’t appreciate you – the affiliate who has to make money for them – then you may find yourself not getting paid on time, or not getting paid at all.

2. Read the payment terms very carefully. When are you supposed to get paid? How much are you supposed to be paid? What are the minimum payout requirements? How will you get paid? Which payment options are available where you live?

This might sound stupid, but consider this:

a. Many affiliate programs have different minimum payout amounts for different forms of payment. If you choose the wrong form of payment for your affiliate commissions, you may just end up having to work until you earn $500 in commissions before getting paid.

b. Many affiliate programs only offer certain payment options in certain countries – like Clickbank, who only offers their direct deposit option for a few countries.

c. Depending on where you live, processing checks may be a pain in the neck. In some far off countries, processing international checks can take up to three months – because the check takes 5 to 6 weeks to arrive, and then has to be posted back to the bank it was issued from. Not only is this a long time to have to wait, especially if you are using paid advertising, but it also means the check may expire before you get your money.

When you combine check payments (in this situation) with selling physical products (you are only eligible to get paid after the refund period has expired, usually 60 days after the sale), it becomes a long, long wait for some people.

If this is similar to your situation, you may want to consider a program that pays out with Paypal, like JVZoo, or with a bank wire. it’s more expensive, but it’s a lot faster. Just check if the minimum requirements for bank wire payments aren’t higher.

d. Some affiliate programs advertise payout schedules and methods (on the affiliate signup page) that are actually only available to those affiliates that meet certain volume requirements. People who don’t meet these targets are often paid less commission per sale, paid less frequently, and paid by other (less convenient) methods.

e. Check for any program rules that may be tricky to implement, and which may have your account (and outstanding commissions) terminated. An example would be talk of a “suppression list”. This means that there is a list of people you are not allowed to email – even if they are on your mailing list already.

I assume these are people the company already has on their own mailing list, so they don’t want them to feel as if they are being bombarded with the same offers.

f. Check for unusual expectations. In some cases, affiliates are expected to carry the costs (penatly charges) for a customer doing a reverse charge on a credit card. It’s not your fault if the buyer isn’t happy with the product – you didn’t create or deliver it. In other cases, affiliates are expected to clear all their marketing materials with an affiliate manager first. Lastly, if you sell stuff from, you are required to specifically state on your website that you are an Amazon associate seller. If not, you risk losing your affiliate account, along with whatever commissions are still waiting to be paid out.

In conclusion:

Doing your due diligence on the affiliate program basically boils down to three things:

1. Can you trust the people behind the program?

2. Is the arrangement practical and “do-able” for you?

3. Can you trust them not to treat your customers badly? Because if they do, it will damage YOUR online reputation as well.

As such, you need to pick carefully. Take your time, and make the right choices.

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