For the purposes of this example, imagine you have a Web site that specializes in lawn care.
You discover a wonderful new spray that helps to create the most incredibly ‘lush’ green lawns. You visit the manufacturer’s Web site and discover that they have an affiliate scheme that pays 10% on all sales that are generated from links from other people's sites.
You sign-up for the scheme by filling out the online form on the manufacturer’s Web site and they give you a link that includes your unique affiliate code.
You copy the link that the manufacturer has given you and place it on one of your internal Web pages (i.e. not your home page, but one of the pages within your site).
After a few days you visit the manufacturers Web site and log into the special affiliate area using the username and password they gave you. In the affiliate area you can see how many people have clicked on the links you added and how many actually bought the spray. You are amazed to discover that 24 people clicked on the link and that one of them bought two of the special spray cans at $15 each, which means you will be receiving a check for $3 – which is 10% of the total sale amount.
It's only $3, but you are excited as this money has, to all intents and purposes, come from nowhere. Apart from adding the links a few days ago you haven't lifted a finger.
You decide to take it to the next level. You know that very few people visit the page on which you put the affiliate link so you decide to also put the link on your home page and several of the more popular pages on your site. You are sure this will increase the number of people who will click on it, dramatically.
A week later you visit the manufacturer’s affiliate area and are absolutely stunned to discover that in the past week 426 people have clicked on the links you've scattered around your site and that 29 people have made a purchase. Some have purchased a single can and others have taken advantage of the special offers that the manufacturer has made available and purchased several cans. The total sales value is $790. At 10 per cent commission that means your links have earned you $79 in a single week.
Not bad for just adding a few links.
You decide to go one step further still. You like the product yourself and you've had some feedback from other people who have bought the product so you are confident of giving it a major push so you spend a morning putting together a detailed article explaining how the spray works and the kind of results you experienced. You put this article right on your home page so that people see it as soon as they arrive at your site. You also add an appropriate graphical link and a text link into the right column of all of your Web pages (an easy task to accomplish if you are using XSitePro).
A week goes by before you find the time to visit the manufacturer’s affiliate area. You are absolutely blown away. Over 2,450 people have clicked on the various links you have all over your site and the total sales figure is a staggering $4,010. Wow! You look at the check report in the affiliate area and see that a check for $401 is on its way to you.
The above is exactly how affiliate schemes work and there is nothing unrealistic about this scenario. There are lots of affiliates earning many times that amount every week of the year.
However, it is worth pointing out that the kind of traffic mentioned above doesn't happen overnight. If you only have 10 visitors a day to your Web site you can't expect a couple of thousand people to click on the affiliate links so it is important that you have a site that has lots of visitors. This is something that doesn't come overnight. It takes time and effort to build up a well-trafficked site, but the great thing is that once you have built up a great site that has a good flow of traffic the visitors will come week after week without you having to do too much, and from these visitors a regular percentage of these will click on affiliate links featured on your site.