I run 4 small ecommerce sites selling jewellery. On two of them we have affiliate programmes which are handled by Netclix - we are simply too small to afford networks like Affiliate Window or CJ.
For the other two we are thinking of buying some affiliate tracking software (Ultimate Affiliate) and running the affiliate program ourselves - ie we make the payments ourselves. This will give us more flexibility in that we can integrate it with our sites much better and offer affiliates lots of instant product listings etc.
It will also allow us to payout on very low thresholds (Netclix have a minimum payout of £50 which puts off some smaller affiliates).
I'm concerned however that potential affiliates will be put off by the fact that the program is run in house (fears we might not pay the commissions etc) rather than with a known network?
Do affiliates prefer the large networks over private schemes? Is doing it ourselves a bad idea that is going to suffer from hardly any sign-ups?
I think it would be good if you're confident enough in your skills to recruit affiliates. OTOH, if you did that and didn't recruit affiliates, you'd probably have a program with no affiliates, right? The cost of setting up with someone like CJ should pay for itself with the increased sales brought by all the affiliates they'd bring you..... or so it should work.
We would dearly love to go with CJ for the exposure, but our business is too small at the moment to afford their (I think) $500 per month minimum transaction fee.
Our main desire to do it in house is that we can offer things like really good instant content for affiliates - product listings and complete sales descriptions for example, rather than just text links and banners. We are programmers ourselves so this flexibility is a major bonus to us.
It's just the nagging fear that affiliates might distrust private programs or maybe find them awkward. I can see for example how it might be useful to a webmaster promoting lots of affiliates programmes to have them all managed via say CJ - all the traffic/commission reports are in one single place then.