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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. has become one of the most pervasive brands on theNet, due in part to its savvy use of affiliate, or associate,programs (also known as revenue-sharing programs). By usingreferral fees, has created an extended network ofassociates who promote, review and sell merchandise through linksto's Web site.

But you don't have to be a big guy like to copythis tactic in your own e-commerce endeavors. Brad Waller, PeterOlpe and Edward Arenberg, owners of EPage, a classified advertisingservice that lets people place ads for free, started theiraffiliate program a few months before did. Called theClassified Service Provider (CSP) program, the affiliate programhas grown from 150 affiliate sites in 1996 to more than 15,000today. Roughly 50 percent of the Redondo Beach, California,company's sales now come from its affiliates.

Waller travels nationwide to lead workshops on Web-basedaffiliate marketing. What prompts entrepreneurs to give up part oftheir profits to affiliates? "It's not just the increasedsales, or the fact that you have thousands of salespeople for yourproduct or service," says Waller. "You also get farbetter search engine rankings [because of the additional] linksback to your site and affiliates promoting your program."

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