OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you’re going to run an affiliate business online, regardless of whether you intend to do so for a part time side income or a full time job, you need to know what you’re getting into.

One area that is often overlooked by new marketers is the legal implications of what you’re doing. This includes understanding what’s in every affiliate marketing agreement you sign up for.

Why It’s Important

Understanding your affiliate marketing agreement is important because it can help keep you out of trouble, should any issues arise.

It also is key to helping you steer clear of any complications with your affiliate partners that could jeopardize your payments or risk your exclusion from that company’s affiliate program.

You can read about more affiliate marketing legal issues you should consider in this post.

What’s Included in a Standard Affiliate Marketing Agreement

Fortunately, most standard affiliate marketing agreements are pretty straightforward.

The terms of use usually include the following criteria and stipulations:

  • Commission details. This section will outline what commission rates you can expect to receive for different products and/or levels of sales, and what, if any, sales might be excluded from your commissions.
  • Payment details. These include the frequency and method of payments, what the minimum payment threshold is, and, sometimes, expiration terms.
  • Content guidelines. Many programs will have strict content guidelines that you need to follow, which mostly focus on keeping their links out of adult content or “spammy neighborhoods” of the web. For most marketers, maintaining these guidelines isn’t an issue.
  • Paid advertising policies. Some affiliate programs allow you to create your own PPC or other paid advertising campaigns to promote their products. Many allow this, but exclude you from bidding on terms with their brand name. Others forbid paid marketing entirely.
  • Liability terms. Many agreements will often include liability terms for your partnership. This will often exclude the partner company from responsibility in the rare event a lawsuit arises around one of your links.
  • Dismissal from the program. Finally, most affiliate programs will reserve the right to dismiss you from their program “without cause.” This is a blanket statement that is often thrown in, but the reality is that you’re only likely to be dismissed if you break one of the other terms of the agreement.

I hope this post helps you navigate the terms of your affiliate agreements.

If you’re already enrolled in affiliate programs and you don’t know what the terms are for that program, I recommend you review your agreement to be sure you’re in the know.

You might also click here for more affiliate marketing tips, or browse the top affiliate programs.

Note: I am not a lawyer and none of the information in this post should be taken as legal advice. This is just my view of what I typically see in affiliate marketing agreements for programs I’ve signed up for.