Site-Building, affiliate marketing tips, Selecting a Program, Affiliate NetworksThe next step in the Site-Building Challenge is to find some programs to add to your site. For some of you, you might already know exactly what products you want to promote. But for many of you, you might still be looking to find just the right merchant for your site, or you might be looking to add an additional merchant or two.

One of the best ways to learn about and participate in a variety of affiliate programs is to join an affiliate network. An affiliate network is an intermediate, or middleman, between content publishers (affiliates) and merchants. In addition to Commission Junction, some of the largest and most well-know affiliate networks include LinkShare, ClickBank, ShareASale and the Google Affiliate Network.

The advantages of affiliate networks

I won’t go into the advantages of networks from a merchant’s perspective. But if you’re an affiliate, there are many good reasons why you should join an affiliate network.

First of all, you’ll be able to access dozens, even hundreds, of programs in the same time it would take you to connect to just a few programs individually.

In addition, receiving payments through a network simplifies your accounting. With all of your payments coming from one source, it makes for fewer deposits to take to the back.

About Commission Junction

Commission Junction, also commonly known as “CJ”, is the largest affiliate network in North America. According to Wikipedia, among the top 500 retailers using 3rd party affiliate marketing software, 62% are powered by Commission Junction.

Many major retailers and merchants belong to Commission Junction, including Overstock.com, Go Daddy, The Wall Street Journal, Petco and Zappos.

Regardless of your niche, it’s very likely you’ll be able to use Commission Junction to find a merchant with relevant products you can advertise on your site.

How it works

In addition to applying for a Commission Junction account (you’ll need a W-9 form if you’re in the United States), you also need to apply to each individual merchant’s program. This is easier for some than others. Some merchants automatically approve everyone who applies. Others will review your application, approving it in a matter of days, or weeks.

And sometimes, a merchant will automatically deny your application. If that happens, you can do one of two things. You can give up and go to another merchant. Or you can find the merchant’s affiliate manager and email them, requesting to be added to the program.

Once your application has been approved, you can use the links provided to promote products.

Benefits and drawbacks

The main benefit of Commission Junction is that it has a wide variety of products and services to promote. It also offers high-quality products, much better than many of the ebooks you’ll find on networks such as ClickBank.

CJ makes it easy to add HTML and banner links. In addition, the statistics they provide about traffic and sales are effective at helping you understand your how effective your traffic is.

However, Commission Junction is not without its drawbacks. There are a lot of products and merchants on the site. Navigating through the CJ interface to find something that’s just right for your niche can be a challenge. In fact, many affiliates prefer the ease-of-use, but lower commissions, of the Amazon Affiliates program.
In addition, getting added to a merchant’s program can be a slow process. If you’re trying to get your site completed quickly, it can be frustrating.

In short, Commission Junction is a great, possibly essential, network to join. You’ll have immediate access to many of the best affiliate marketing programs available. However, when you do sign up, be ready to learn and be ready to spend some time researching merchants and offers.

Additional Resources

Affpinions.com – Affiliate reviews of the Commission Junction network.
Wikipedia – The definition of an affiliate network.

Action Items

•    Sign up for Commission Junction account
•    Login to your account
•    Search for products in your niche
•    Find a merchant with great products and apply to their program

Do you have experience working with Commission Junction? Please share your feedback in the comments below!