After you have at least one website set up, join 4-8 affiliate networks. You need that many, because what you can sell depends on the offers that are out there. The more networks, the more choice. Just don't go overboard on it.
I prefer a healthy mix of CPA (getting commissions on actions) and PPS (getting commissions on sales). Two of my favorite networks are MaxBounty and ShareASale. MaxBounty focuses mostly on the CPA space. My other favorite ShareASale is more about selling physical goods, although there is some overlap.
Do not use any affiliate network that takes 90 days to pay you. That is totally unacceptable in this digital age. And there's no reason for it, except them collecting interest on your money.
Look for affiliate networks that pay out monthly like ShareASale or weekly like MaxBounty. Cash flow and scalability are everything, especially when starting out. You'll want to reinvest at least 80-90% of your earnings back into the business.
Sometimes an offer will be exclusive to one network. Other times an offer will be featured on several networks, but it will have different conditions. For example, a merchant in CPA network A will allow search engine ads and direct linking, but require landing pages on network B. So always look for identical offers on different networks and pick the one with the least restrictions.
If you like to travel, be sure to visit the Affiliate Summit and the other affiliate marketing shows. Work the floor, meet the affiliate managers and staff working the booths. You'll be amazed at the diversity of affiliate programs available.
Some affiliate programs use these summits and trade shows as their only form of advertising. If you don't attend, finding these programs can be very difficult. They want to meet their affiliates in person, not through an anonymous online application form. This is especially true for sensitive programs like credit cards, loans and finance.
Remember that you can write off the entire trip as a business expense. The entry fee, airfare and accommodation are all 100% deductible in the fiscal year they occurred. So it's a nice way to get a vacation, and reimbursed for it, through a tax break.
The bottom line is that, people are far more likely to work with you, after you've met them face to face. Plus, there's the added benefit of social interaction, which you can refer to in all communications with their office. Just that relationship alone will help you get bigger affiliate commissions when you ask for more money later on.
Everything Michael Campbell tells you is reliable, useful and true. When your brain is fried from confusion and conflict, try some Michael Campbell and call me in the morning. I know you'll humming your way to success. This guy is a real gem.
If you're not stubborn, you'll give up on experiments too soon. And if you're not flexible, you'll pound your head against the wall and you won't see a different solution to a problem you're trying to solve