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Here's the story:
One of the established hobby sites I'm webmaster for needs some more cash coming in just for us to keep it going. We're not looking to get rich, or even to make a living off this, but we have to at least break even. I've never done anything with affiliates before, but this is the route we're going to try in addition to selling some of our own custom merchandise.
The subject matter for this site is mostly underground, but it can vary. One thing I've noticed, this being something I am a customer for myself, is that it can be difficult finding a single supplier that has everything I want for a decent price. I do know my audience pretty well, and I know that even though it is an underground subject, many of them are passionate and tend to collect this product. So demand shouldn't be a problem... I just need to figure out how to get them to come to us to buy through other suppliers.
I was thinking, one angle I could go at the affiliate programs is to compile a huge list of the products, do some shopping around myself and find out where they are available for a good price, and try to become an affiliate with each supplier.
I'm still researching this, but so far I'm coming up with more questions than answers. Here are some of the possible problems I'm seeing so far:
1. Some of the popular suppliers have no information about affiliate programs on their site. How would I approach them with this? Should I wait until I've already become affiliates with other suppliers so I can report our success rate, or could I approach them with the idea sooner? Keep in mind, these particular suppliers deal with an underground product so they aren't huge businesses.
2. Could there be any problems from the suppliers about being affiliated with their competition?
3. I read the rules in an affiliate agreement we already signed up for that we couldn't list a static price. I understand this, since the prices could change. I noticed they used the word "static", so if we were to find sales and advertise those on our site and rotate them, would that violate the terms? Is there any way to list prices that update without doing it manually? Are there ways to track prices for any affiliate programs? Would a disclaimer and date saying the prices are subject to change be ok?
4. What's the best way for quality control? For example, if a supplier is always late on shipments or gave poor customer service, it could look bad on us for recommending them. Should we put a feedback form on the site and make it clear to customers that they should report any poor service they received?
5. What's the best way to keep track of this? If I keep adding products/affiliates, it could possibly turn into a confusing mess. Is there a way to automate certain things, like finding dead links? Are there any programs/special programming techniques to aid with keeping everything organized?
6. How should I get started? Should I start with only one affiliate on the site and work only with them for a while to test the waters, or jump right in and just keep adding products, adding affiliates as necessary?