Choosing vendors or products to refer when you are an affiliate is not something that you should do on a whim. This is a concept that I didn’t understand fully when I started affiliate marketing.
Depending on what kind of set up you are using there are essentially two ways to link to products that you refer. You can use modules that a platform provides like Squidoo or Wizzley modules. Or you can link directly to the company that you are referring to.
By using modules on a platform like Squidoo or Wizzley, you will automatically be losing some money on each sale. However, the power of the platform may make up the difference by gaining you more traffic. This is a decision that you have to make for yourself.
However, from my experience, I have found that if you have enough material to create a website about your topic, you will do just as well or better than you would in sales and traffic on a platform like Squidoo or Wizzley.
So where is the best place to refer people to purchase products? Part of the calculation of how well products will sell is based on trust. This is an intangible factor that you have to guess at when you are choosing a vendor. If you yourself are new at referring products online, then your readers will not have built up trust in your referrals yet. That means you need to use a vendor that they can trust. Vendors that they can trust are companies that they are familiar with. This is especially true if you are selling an item over $25. $25 seems to be a threshold where you need more trust to sell an item. Under $25 is not a lot of money to most people, so they are more willing to try something new.
For most products, price is an area where a small time person like yourself cannot compete. Price competitions are for the big guys like Walmart and Amazon. So you should be selling items because of other reasons. For instance, in this article The Best Printer for College Students, I am selling a printer based on size and convenience for a college dorm room.
While it is often convenient to refer customers to Amazon, I recommend that you only do that for about 1/2 or less of your referrals. One reason is that Amazon is one of the lowest paying affiliate vendors, and the other is that you are often competing with Amazon for placement in the search engines. It is also always a good idea to spread out your income sources.
Ebay is a good vendor to use when you are referring something unique or obsolete. The other reason to use Ebay is you are recommending buying from Ebay to get a bargain. People have the idea that items on Ebay are cheaper, even though that is not always true. I think it is because Ebay started out as a second hand seller. You can apply to become a seller for the Ebay Partner Network as long as you have a website of your own.
Third party vendors, or vendors who sell through a partnership with an affiliate company like Linkshare or Shareasale, are actually the best choice when it comes to individual earnings per vendor. You can often find vendors who give you 10% or more from each sale. The best vendors on in these situations will still want to see that you have your own website. Many will not accept you if you only write on Squidoo, Wizzley, Hubpages or similar sites.
For new affiliate marketers, I recommend starting out with companies like Target, Walmart, Macy’s that actually have a physical presence in most states in the U.S. These are companies that will not change their affiliate policies if the law changes in the U.S. regarding affiliates. This is because they are already paying sales tax in the states that they are in. An advantage of these companies is that they have a broad spectrum of products and low prices.
The next tier of companies are specialty companies that sell items related to a niche you are writing in. For instance if you are writing about bedding, look for companies that specialize in bedding and specific types of bedding. Once you choose a niche, you can sign up for all the vendors in that category with the assumption that some will reject you until you can prove yourself. Then you can refer as much as possible to the vendors you choose to send enough traffic to them to get regular sales. Selling is completely a numbers game, so the more targeted traffic you send to a vendor, the more sales you will get. If you figure you will get about 1% of sales from your traffic, that is a good place to start. In other words, 1% of the people who visit your site will buy something. Although during certain seasons, or highly effective articles, many writers get more sales, this is a good rule of thumb to start out with for beginners.
The bottom line is that you need a lot of links and a lot of traffic to make this work with any company.