As with many aspects of Web monetization, the exact strategies will vary from site to site. There’s no universally superior affiliate marketing offer or merchant. There are, however, some general guidelines on factors to consider when evaluating potential affiliate marketing offers. We’ll dive into several of these below. We’re using screenshots from ShareASale throughout this article to illustrate the process, but the tasks and terms will be generally similar across the major affiliate marketing networks.

MLMs should pay commissions for the retail sales of goods or services, not for recruiting new distributors. MLMs that involve the sale of business opportunities or franchises, as defined by the Franchise Rule, must comply with the Rule's requirements about disclosing the number and percentage of existing franchisees who have achieved the claimed results, as well as cautionary language.


The concept of affiliate marketing on the Internet was conceived of, put into practice and patented by William J. Tobin, the founder of PC Flowers & Gifts. Launched on the Prodigy Network in 1989, PC Flowers & Gifts remained on the service until 1996. By 1993, PC Flowers & Gifts generated sales in excess of $6 million per year on the Prodigy service. In 1998, PC Flowers and Gifts developed the business model of paying a commission on sales to the Prodigy Network.[8][9]
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