Joining an affiliate program is usually a fairly easy process that can be conductedentirely online. The instructions for joining a program should be outlined in detail,along with all the rules and disclaimers of membership, on the vendor's site. To findout how to join a particular program, you will want to visit the vendor's site and/orcontact the program administrator to inquire about specific requirements, prepare yoursite for submission, and promptly fulfill any technical requirements of the program.

Contact the Affiliate Program Site to Inquire about Specific Requirements for Joining
Most affiliate sites post some form of operating agreement that outlines the terms andconditions required by the program. Some sites are very selective, with manyrequirements for joining, while others take on any affiliate that wants to promotetheir products. Joining programs that are selective about new members will help ensurethat your site is in good company. Most programs fall somewhere in between these two extremes,requiring that you follow the basic rules of Netiquette by not posting offensive ordiscriminatory materials or content, and that you do not violate intellectual propertyrights, participate in libelous or illegal activities, send bulk e-mail or spam, orparticipate in pyramid schemes. Typically, you will also be responsible for thedevelopment, operation, and maintenance of your site and for all materials that appear onyour site. You may also have to agree to release the vendor from all liability relating toclaims, damages, and expenses relating to the development, operation, maintenance, andcontents of your site.

After reading the requirements, you will need to check an "I agree" box. Beforewarned, however, that checking that box indicates that you have reviewed thatagreement, understand its contents, agree to be bound by the terms and conditions asdescribed, and wish to participate in the program. If you do not find a detailedexplanation of the site's requirements posted online, use an e-mail letter to inquire about additional details.

Prepare Your Site for Submission
To prepare your site for review by the affiliate program, ensure that your site is freefrom spelling errors, dead links, and other oversights. Address any such issues that youfind immediately, so your site will make a good impression on the reviewer. Next, completethe program's online submission form, which will likely ask for the following information:

Phone #
Fax #
E-mail address
Password (one that you create to gain access to their reporting system)
Payment information for commissions (including a SS# or Tax ID#)
Information about your Web site (including site name, URL, and a brief description)
Information about the types of products that will appeal to your target market

Implement the Vendor's Expressed Technical Requirements
The technical requirements of affiliate program participation also vary from vendor tovendor, but most include the following:

  • Obtaining and posting a copy of the vendor's company logos, banners, and art, usually on your home page, online store page, or some other prominent location. There may be different graphics that correspond with different product lines, so you'll have to work with the program administrator to determine which ones are right for your program. These images will help your visitors identify e-commerce opportunities and the vendor's specific products for sale. Copying these images usually entails a simple right-mouse-button click-and-save, then uploading it to your Internet service provider.
  • Displaying a short description, review, or other reference for each product included in your affiliate program, or providing a link to the affiliate home page or internal pages. The content, style, and placement of these descriptions are sometimes predetermined, but they may be left up to your discretion.
  • In the event that a link is required, you will likely be required to use a specially formatted link with a unique affiliate code, which the vendor provides to you, that takes your viewers to the corresponding ordering page for that product on the vendor's site. After that point, the vendor takes over to close the sale, including managing order forms, processing payments, shipping, cancellations, returns, and related customer service duties.

Remember, proper order tracking depends on proper link formatting, and you won't earnyour commissions if you have incorrectly formatted links. Even a minor typo in your linkmay cause it to work incorrectly. If you have any questions about proper link formatting,contact the affiliate program administrator immediately.

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