Before spending your money on anything, of course you want to be fully aware of what you are actually buying into. You need to know if you can afford it, and if it meets your requirements. You need to be sure that you will be able to use it effectively (does the program include training, instruction and support). You need to know how it works and what is included (the basics as well as any resources available to members). Very importantly for any affiliate program, you need to be aware of any special circumstances that may be part of the compensation plan.
There is usually a lot more to it than that you pay so much for the membership and you receive a percentage of the cost in commissions when you make a sale. The special circumstances could mean that you are ‘passing up' a commission to your sponsor or giving them a percentage of each sale. In some really progressive companies, you could even be ‘spilling over' your sales to your downline (those you sponsor) to help them build their organization ‘under' you.
The compensation plan has to work in a way that you as a sponsor would get exactly the same compensation as your sponsor does. This of course may be dependent on you being able to reach the same ‘level' as they have – usually the number of sales someone has made will dictate their level or grade in the program. This is fair and is the same as being promoted or given a raise in any corporation based on your performance.
With affiliate programs it may also be that you have purchased the products or services on the same level as you are able to earn commissions. This is a good idea because you should have a full understanding of what you are selling and to feel enough confidence in it to purchase it yourself. Likely you will be much more believable if you have direct experience.
Affiliate marketing is a very good way to break in to Internet marketing and having your own online business at home. Some people may not understand what they are paying for and feel that the membership fee in itself is a ripoff. When you look at it as a ‘job', it is true you should never have to pay for a job. However with affiliate marketing you are actually part of the company – and you are working for yourself. The affiliate program is sharing their intellectual property with you and allowing you to legally profit from their business.
It is fair that you are charged for membership because the program has spent and is spending a lot of money to create a product or service, and to maintain the business. They perform customer service not only to you but on your behalf to your customers. They handle all the sales transactions for you as well as the accounting. They provide not only the product or service that you are able to earn commissions for selling, but also pay to maintain the website, member database, and the graphics and other advertising resources that are available to members. So you are saving maybe millions by spending a little each month on your membership fees.
To be especially diligent in researching the programs you should be wary of those that cost a lot of money to join, have contracts, and do not guarantee a refund. You really need to be careful with this and document everything carefully. Remember that using your credit card to purchase something gives you a little bit of a guarantee on your own, in that you can file a dispute if the company does not live up to their promises either to deliver or to refund. Your being able to do this does rely on you keeping solid documentation of everything between you and said company.There are time limits that you can dispute something as well as legitimate parameters for the term they guarantee a refund.