Affiliate programs have been around for a long time on the Internet. If you know what you're doing and put in some hard work you can make good money by participating in them. One of the programs that is currently getting a lot of attention from affiliate marketers is the Amazon affiliate program. This program is easy to join but getting your site set up with a product feed can be complex if you are not a web coder.
Fortunately for those who do not know how to code there is a simple (and cost smart) alternative: affiliate marketing software. These packages range from plugins for blogging software (i.e. WordPress) to full fledged websites-in-a-box (like ProNicheStore). With either kind you will need your own domain name and some web hosting. There are plenty of good articles on the Internet describing how to get these items and what selection is available. Network Solutions is a common name for domain registration and HostGator or 1-and-1 are both popular hosting providers. You can purchase domain names through the hosting providers but this can cause problems later on if you want to change hosting providers (usually because you found another host with more/better features).
You can use free hosting and subdomains (like "myblog.blogspot.com") for affiliate programs but this is often not the best solution. It's difficult to attract web traffic to sites like this and you are limited on what plugins you can use. You also don't get your "own" domain name under typical circumstances. It's for these reasons (among others) that getting you own domain name and paid-for hosting is recommended.
Once you have a domain name and some hosting (either purchased separately or together) you are ready to begin building an affiliate site. If you opt for using plugins (like WP Amazon Ads or Amazon Reloaded for WordPress) you will need to download the "base" software that these plugins extend. Popular software includes Joomla! andWordPress. Joomla! is a full website package while WordPress is intended only for blogging. What you choose here will be based on what you intend to do with your site. Both of these packages along with several others are pretty easy to implement and are well supported. Search for "installing WordPress" or "installing Joomla!" for more information.
The downside to the above approach is that you have to install two separate items: first the base software package (like WordPress) and then the plugins. While this is not that hard it does pose a support problem. The writers of plugins don't make money directly from you using the plugin. This is nice because you don't have to pay anything (nothing invested, nothing lost) but it can make support take a long time. If you instead look for a paid "all in one" package support is usually included and this can be a great help to you.
One such package isProNicheStore. ProNicheStore (PNS) was written as an alternative to another popular package called "Build-a-Niche-Store" or BANS. PNS has a forum that you can post to even before purchasing the product and since you are paying for the product you are entitled to receive support according to certain conditions. BANS is also a paid for product with a forum but the forum isn't as active as it once was. PNS is an emerging tool that integrates both Amazon affiliate and eBay affiliate feeds. BANS only support eBay affiliates.
PNS is installed on you hosting account and then you walk through a simple set up process. You will first need a MySQL database and you can contact your hosting company for help in setting this up. Once you are done with the PNS setup process you can begin creating a "niche store" that uses you Amazon affiliate partner code to relate any clicks to you. You can post content relevant to your market (for example, different golf clubs and how they are used) and have pages that list latest product listings from Amazon. You can even place ads from other sources (like Google) all around your content. The more relevant ads and content the better your chances of getting a click that ends up in a sale.
Being a successful affiliate marketer takes work, even when you sign up with the Amazon affiliate program. Some of this work can be cut out by finding or purchasing pre-built packages designed to interface with various affiliate feeds. While downloading costs you nothing you also get little or no support in many cases. Buying a package like ProNicheStore or BANS might cost you a little up front but the support you get can be very helpful. PNS is a good package for Amazon affiliates while BANS only supports eBay affiliates. Adding more ads to your site or using both Amazon and eBay feeds can help boost your clicks and your sales.