While there are many ways to make money on the internet, the main ones seem to be pay per click, affiliate and direct sales. Affiliate income and direct sales are probably the two more popular, but which route should you choose? What are the pros and cons?

While there is much to consider, you may like to think about the following before making any decision :-

Affiliate Sales

Pros

- There is no packaging and posting for you to carry out.

- You will not be called upon to sort out any after sales problems.

- There are literally thousands of different programs available.

- A big brand affiliate program can sometimes “sell itself”.

Cons

- You only receive a commission, rather than the full profit per item.

- You will likely only receive commission for a set period per customer. There is a great possibility of missing out on any repeat sales commission.

- Sometimes difficult to track the sales you have referred to the affiliate program. The major affiliate sites are very reliable, although others are some what less reliable.

Direct Sales

Pros

- You will receive the full profit per item, rather than paying a commission to a third party.

- You have full control of what is sold, new product launches, price, etc.

- Repeat orders are very much a part of this income stream.

Cons

- It can be hard work, and potentially expensive packaging and posting items.

- There are lots of costs including storage, insurance, etc.

- It can be expensive to advertise and promote your business / products.

All in all it really does depend what you are looking for, what kind of business you have and how much control you want to keep on sales. There are pros and cons to each of affiliate sales and direct sales, and you will need to balance all of these against what you want and what you have time to do.

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As your business continues to grow, there will come a point when you maybe need to move from part time to fulltime and formulate a structured long term sales program which will allow you to build the business into the future. This may be the point when you consider taking on more full time staff or introducing an affiliate program.

Which one should you choose?

It is difficult to say for sure whether you should look at taking on more staff or incentivising people with commission on sales. The final decision will depend upon a number of factors including the size of your business, the sector you trade in and the profit margin on your products / services.

Many people find that affiliate programs are very useful in the early days of creating a business empire, because there is no initial cost and you only pay out when the money comes in. An affiliate program can also assist in reducing any direct costs associated with this sales channel, because once the system is set-up the rest should be fairly straight forward and automatic in many cases.

The one major downside of affiliate programs is the possibility that affiliates may get bored or move on to another affiliate program which may give more sales, or larger commissions. Keeping your affiliates active after the initial wave of optimism can be difficult, and is something which needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Direct contact with your affiliates on a regular basis is a necessity.

While at first glance the introduction of a new member of staff may seem the more expensive of the options available, it can often prove to be a life saver. By taking someone on at an early stage, you not only have someone working fulltime for the good of you business, you also have someone who you can train to take on and look after the business if you need a break, or something unexpected were to happen. Many people forget that they are not invincible, they will fall ill, they will need to take breaks and they will need help – whether they want it or not.

In truth, the answer to the question about Affiliates or Full Time Staff probably lies between a mixture of the two. An army of affiliates who are working on your behalf, and paid on a commission basis, to full time staff who will be working on all areas of the business. Any successful business will have all areas covered, and have plans in place for any possible eventualities. Do not leave it all too late!

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