Q: I am going to be starting an affiliate program for my site. I am in the early stages now, researching good programs, and one thing I noticed is that all programs have their own set of terms and conditions. Now, I am not a lawyer, and in any case, I would also like the “rules” to be really clear to me and the people who are signing up, so I was wondering whether there is any “standard” set of Terms and Conditions I could get and adapt for my program? If I can also slip in a “sub-question” as well, I would also be interested in hearing what Terms and Conditions affiliates particularly like or dislike with other programs.
A: There isn’t really a standard agreement out there for the taking. Many programs have unique issues that require customized items in their affiliate agreements.
What I would suggest would be to look through a number of affiliate programs and their agreements, and draw up some notes of the common elements that you see across them.
Then, make another list of issues that might be industry specific for you. Provide all of this information to a lawyer, and ask them to draw up an agreement for you.
While it may be tempting to lift an agreement from another program, I would discourage this practice, because (a) it’s unethical, and (b) it wasn’t written for your company, and will likely not address all of the issues you face in your niche.
In response to your second question, affiliates come in all shapes and sizes, and focus on different areas (web, email, search, etc.), so there is no single answer there.
There is a thread on ABW that touches on many issues that should help to give you an idea of what affiliates want and need.
On a parting note, since the agreement is written in legalese, I would suggest summarizing the main points in your affiliate FAQ, so that your terms are as clear as possible.