Some good tips. I fully agree that it’s all about trust and it is always good to recommend an affiliate product that you have actually used. Why risk your reputation on a product you don’t know if it’s any good or not? If people buy one dodgy product from your site, they will probably never make that mistake again. That it why my blog strongly advocates ethical affiliate marketing. It’s the best long term stragey for affiliate marketing success.
Research individual companies in your desired niche: If possible, it’s always better to become an affiliate directly with a company (if they have an internal affiliate program), as no one else will be dipping into your commission rate. This is the preferred route for most of the prominent affiliate marketers, including Pat Flynn. Unfortunately, it’s also the most work, as you’ll have to do the research yourself to see who offers programs (they’re usually listed in the website footer).
Instead of building from the ground up, many networks are leveraging technology that already exists, then building on top of it to customize their systems. We see this all the time with HasOffers. For example, Kiip, a mobile advertising network with powerhouse clients like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Wrigley, Pepsi, and BMW, decided to build on top of HasOffers instead of starting from scratch. “After sitting down with the HasOffers team, it quickly became clear that we could rely on something that was already built and allow our engineers to focus on developing our secret sauce,” said Corrigan Neralich, Senior Director of Advertising Operations.
Next, you’ll want to pick a WordPress theme from somewhere like ThemeForest, Elegant Themes or OptimizePress. This is the barebones design of your site, which you can then customize with your own branding, copy, and images. That being said, you don’t want to cheap out. It costs less than $100 to buy a theme that will make your website look professional (and you can upgrade to a completely custom design once you get the business going).