>>So far I've found two software solutions "The Affiliate Program ($499) and "Affiliate Link" ($350) and the "Click Trade" service provided by MSN's LinkExchange (30% commission fee)
I'd be interested in comments on any of the above or suggestions on any other way to go (hiring a cgi programmer?)
Look forward to some feedback.
If you are looking for affiliate program software that has many of the necessary features but with less cost, I know of two of them that may suit your needs.
Both of them require very little configuration and they both come with easy to follow instructions.
I am personally using Simple Replicator (http://replicator2000.com/sr.cgi/JT1277) which costs $49.00. It processes signups, assigns ID numbers, creates a unique URL for your affiliates to use to promote the program, it tracks signups and commissions and has an administration program so that affiliates can check their statistics. (Most people who are seasoned affiliate program promoters will insist on this if you want them to promote your program for you! :))
There is also an administration program built in so that you can see the stats of your whole organization and gather information for cutting checks.
The software also sends an email to the person who signed up so that they will know their ID# and the URL they should use to promote the program. An email can also be sent to their sponsor and to you as well. It is working well for me and my own affiliate program will be launching this week thanks to this software.
The second title that I found this week was called Simple Affiliate. It has most of the same features as the title above. I have not personally used this one, but it is in the same price range. If you would like to look at it, you can visit http://www.simpleaffiliate.com/index.cgi?466
I hope this info has helped you. I know that since deciding to start my own affiliate program the functionality of the software (and cost) where major considerations. If you have any questions you can email me....