In the beginning, the operating expenses of the affiliate business are almost non-existent, comparing to other industries. You work online so that you can do it from your home well enough and then you only have the basic electricity and ISP subscription costs to cover. Optionally, there are additional expenses related to setting up a domain, web hosting operator and also some minor costs about designing layout, etc. - Provided that you decide to establish your affiliate marketing website.
At the other end of the spectrum is the small merchant who is only willing or able to work with a handful of affiliates. In this case, the merchant and affiliate may come to an agreement and utilize a “low tech” solution to determine commissions earned (e.g., a custom referral path and an earnings statement powered by Google Analytics). This type of affiliate relationship will typically develop when there is a logical affiliate relationship between two parties, but the merchant isn’t interested in opening up the affiliate program to a wide range of partners via an affiliate network.
At its core, affiliate marketing is an online referral program where merchants pay commissions to publishers on sales generated by customers they’ve referred. The merchant can be an online retailer like eBay, or a service provider. Individuals and companies referring the traffic are called publishers, or affiliates, who publish content on the web promoting the merchant’s offerings. Customers are the people that click on the promoted content and make a purchase or complete a specified action. Payment is typically in the form of commission, but sometimes merchants offer a flat rate for a specific action, or a bonus for a type of visitor. EPN offers both commissions and bonuses.
Affiliate networks offer you access to multiple (and by multiple, we mean hundreds if not thousands) of individual affiliate programs. They basically work by simplifying the signup process - instead of applying to become an affiliate for a each product you want to promote, you simply apply to join the network and instantly have access to hundreds of different affiliate offers.