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PostHeaderIcon How to Choose Your Affiliate Product Providers

Learning to build affiliate websites and earn commissions selling other people’s products isn’t that difficult, but most internet marketing training programs seem to gloss over a few steps as they explain the process.  The worst offenders are those who simply state, “Go out and choose an affiliate marketing product to promote,” without giving students an idea of the range of different types of affiliate product providers that are out there today.

This does an incredible disservice to these students, as the type of product provider you choose to work with could have a tremendous impact on your success.  In general, affiliate product providers come in two major flavors – affiliate clearinghouse sites and single-product providers – each of which have their own advantages and disadvantages that should be considered.

Here’s what you need to know:

Affiliate Clearinghouse Sites

Affiliate clearinghouse sites include programs like Clickbank, Commission Junction and Share-A-Sale that offer affiliate products from multiple authors within a single interface.  The advantage of these types of programs is their easy-to-use nature – everything from the registration process, to your analytics dashboard to your payments are streamlined into one easy system.

In exchange for this convenience, though, you lose the “hands on” support you can get working with single-product affiliate providers.  As you might expect, the customer service reps involved with these programs aren’t knowledgeable about the specifics of each product on their digital shelves, making it difficult to get good feedback about how to promote their products successfully.

Single-Product Providers

Conversely, single-product providers are those companies that have decided to manage their affiliate programs “in house”.  Instead of requiring you to register to be an affiliate through a 3rd party affiliate clearinghouse, you register with the product’s owner to be allowed to sell that product alone.

When you work with single-product providers, you can often gain a wealth of information on how to most effectively sell their products, but you lose some of the security and efficiency a clearinghouse site provides.  Not only will you need to register with multiple providers to promote multiple products, you also run the risk of the company “forgetting” to pay affiliates or botching some other internal operation due to a lack of expertise in affiliate program management.

So which one of these options is right for you?  Largely, the decision depends on your niche and your level of experience.  If you’re operating in a large niche (such as health and fitness or biz opps), working with an affiliate clearinghouse will give you access to a larger number of affiliate products that can be split tested on your sites in order to increase conversions.  If your niche is much smaller, you may need to work with a single-product provider to find something more targeted.

Alternatively, if you’re totally new to the internet business world, working with a reputable single-product provider can give you more hands-on guidance, compared to being left to fend for yourself within a larger clearinghouse site.

Ultimately, the right course of action for you will come down to a combination of these factors, as well as the quality of products each site offers.  By being aware of the challenges that are unique to each type of affiliate provider, you’ll be better able to select the program that meets your needs and helps you turn your first affiliate marketing site into a success.

Image: PitsLamp photography

Sarah Russell is a freelance writer, blogger, web marketer, website strategist and chronic overachiever. She currently shares way too much about her affiliate marketing strategies over at her business blog, Common Sense Marketing.

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