Web Hosting Affiliate Programs?

What makes a good web hosting affiliate program? This article discusses establishing an affiliate relationship with web hosting companies and what forms of advertising are available with web hosting affiliate programs such as banners, text ads, pay-per-click, and more.

In trying to liken Internet affiliate programs to advertising in the traditional marketplace, they are something akin to a newspaper ad for a running shoe store in the sports section wherein the copy reads, "Mention this ad and receive a 10% discount."   In the realm of the Internet an affiliate website, typically something related to the product being sold, would post some type of ad for a web host which would link interested visitors with the merchant's or web host's website.  If the affiliate's referral results in a customer sign-up, then the affiliate receives a finder's fee or commission.

In the same sense that the newspaper running an add isn't an employee of the company advertising in its pages, affiliates aren't technically employees of a merchant who they advertise for on their website, but they work together to produce a message that is in agreement with the  visual and content design of the merchant's advertisement strategy.  The one flaw in the analogy is where newspapers receive payment regardless of their results, affiliates for better or worse, are paid upon results.  Still, in either case media or websites that produce more results are more sought after and more monetarily successful.

Establishing an Affiliate Relationship
The most reliable affiliate relationships are established through an affiliate network which facilitates the merchant and affiliate relationship and acts as a matchmaker of sorts.  What gives these types of arrangements a sort safety net on part of the affiliate is that there is a 'Big Brother' watching over the process, and more importantly you are allying with a presumed specialist in terms of tracking, programming, and determining commissions.

Web Hosts can also establish their own internal affiliate programs and actively seek out or simply post an open invitation for affiliates to join.  In these cases you'll want to be sure that they have a reputable software tracking program or web-based tracking system, which you can have access to check and update your status, as well as a proven record of fair and honest dealings with affiliates. Make sure they are up front about terms of their program with specifics about payment periods, duration of cookies, and requirements for commission – i.e. customer sign-up, pay per click, auxiliary services, cancellations.

As in any business relationship, the situation needs to be beneficial for both parties to forge a profitable partnership.  As a web host affiliate, you will see better results if your website caters to a crowd with similar interests or tastes.  Just as a running shoe store advertises in the sports section of a newspaper, you will find more potential customers for your web host affiliate if you are already appealing to an audience with familiar tastes. Likewise, what you can bring to the table will be a point of interest to a potential merchant who will want to ensure your content is not in anyway harming their business interests with offensive or amateurish content.

Forms of Advertising
In nearly all cases merchants will supply advertising materials.  They have their own marketing and advertising teams who are trying to create a cohesive and consistent campaign, and therefore, your website will have little influence on the content of the merchant's overall message.  That being said, there are a gamut of possibilities in what an affiliate can use as advertising materials including banners, text ads, pop-ups, simple visual ads, pay-per-click, or a more involved article or blog.   In the case of the latter, where an affiliate creates or utilizes a website solely as a marketing tool, they can take a handful of approaches from reviews or rankings of web hosts, a blog committed to reviewing or discussing topics pertinent to web hosting, educational articles about web hosting services, or other similar websites that take a soft sale approach to touting the web hosts services. In these instances it's advisable to take an honest and informative approach, promoting the web host while still maintaining a level of objectivity.

The affiliate who takes the more lengthy and involved approach of posting articles and blog posts is more likely to see more dividends but with more time and effort, whereas the affiliate who simply posts an ad will most likely have lower commissions with less effort.  The form of advertising you prefer will depend on your own capabilities, dedication, and desire for income.

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