App developers and webmasters alike are constantly on the lookout for ways to monetize what they do, both for themselves and for their clients. We'd like to take a moment here and discuss one of the ways such monetization can take place; namely, through affiliate programs. They're easy to set up and are free, so the risk involved is minimal.
For this article, we'll use as an example the Apple Apps Store affiliate program, for a couple reasons: First, it's the largest app-based affiliate program out there by far, and second, as of the time of this writing, Google Play and BlackBerry don't have any apps affiliate programs in place. (Google Play used to, but they have since posted here that it's no longer in effect.) There are other affiliate programs out there, but most of them use the model employed by Apple, so they'll serve well here as a representative example.
As we alluded to earlier, setup is fairly quick and easy. With Apple, it involves two steps. First, you must establish an account with their intermediate, which in the United States is LinkShare, who also supports many other affiliate marketing programs. LinkShare serves both the network holder and the affiliate by tracking referrals and the income they generate. The second step of the process is requesting affiliate status through Apple. For an overview of the Apple affiliate program, follow this link; for more specifics regarding becoming an app developer affiliate, check here.
Once you've been designated an affiliate by Apple, you can start placing links to their apps store in your online content, whether it's a web site, blog, or app. You also have options for using RSS feeds and widgets in order to establish these links. These links are connected to your unique affiliate ID with Apple, and you can use your LinkShare dashboard to track all the pertinent data for each link you establish. Appconomist has an article that goes into more detail here.
How can you make money from this? Well, each link referral from your source that results in a sale earns you a percentage of that product's price. It's a mutually beneficial arrangement: Apple has more customers directed to its store, and therefore its products, and the affiliates are rewarded for this increased traffic with a cut of the profits. App owners and developers get the added exposure from both the affiliate and the apps store. We should note at this time that this affiliate model is also used by many other companies for their products and services, such as eBay and Amazon.
It should be noted, however, that you're probably not gonna get rich overnight as an affiliate. It's definitely a game of numbers; the more links you have to more apps, the more you're gonna make. There are many app-listing webmasters out there who set up micro-sites designed to take advantage of this, some with hundreds of app listings. The more sales your listings generate, the more you'll make—and there are certain income earmarks at which the percentage you earn goes up. The good news here is you're not out anything but a little legwork; the program's free, and anything you make from it is profit. Finally, we'd like to add the caveat that this affiliate program doesn't work with free apps, as there's no percentage to be earned.
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