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CJ may be too much money for us at this point, they want $2250 up front and $3000 balance. That's not really a problem, but we are afraid we wont hit our $500 in "guaranteed fees" each month. As far as Linkshare, they don't even publish on their site what they charge merchants. I'm assuming it's at least what CJ does.
Are there any good, smaller time programs for merchants? We only sell about $200k per year in product with an average of $100 a sale. We really want to get into this avenue but we don't know where to start.
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Have you thought about Google AdWords?
Though I receive income from AdSense and two other affilitate programs, I also advertise my website using AdWords. I've found it to be very effective at getting people to my site.
I like it because of all the flexibilty the program offers. I write my own ads, can set my own daily budget (even if I only want to spend $1/day), can determine how much I want to pay per click, etc.
In addition there are other lower priced alternatives, but what you need to consider is how to get good affiliates signed up in your program. Using a 3rd party won't automatically get you any good affiliates, but it will get you management of your program. To get good affiliates you'll need to proactively recruit.
Another good option, which I think may currently still have free set-up is LinkConnector. I like them because of their "Naked Link" technology which creates direct links that don't look like or operate like traditional affiliate links and parasites cannot over-ride them, which is a HUGE benefit to affiliates.
Chitika is a cool program but is not an option at this point, we have checked. They don't take on individual merchants at all right now and certainly not small ones. They pull most of their ads from big players like Shopping.com.
Hope this helps and best of luck!