It is a way of link exchanging really, and the bonus is that if you send a visitor to a place that is just right for their needs and they make a purchase, you can gain a small commission, usually 3-10%, sometimes more. It is a way of potentially gaining a bit of funding towards website maintenance (- that’s what I like it for! My Tribal Baby ones cover those fees a bit.)
As an online business selling cloth nappies, having an affiliate program is a way to grow your visitors at a faster rate, as other people, those who like cloth nappies and supporting WAHM’s, can talk about your site, your products and recommend them to their visitors, or simply add a potential ‘bonus’ to having a link to your shop on their site!
Generally they go straight to the enrollment page to grab a username and password.
One thing you can do before choosing one is do a search for reviews of the programs to find out which are popular. Actually, contacting some of the sites in the programs and asking them about the Affiliate Site is also helpful. As an affiliate you just sign up and away you go. As a Merchant, you’ll need to decide what you will offer to entice affiliates – though you can be guided by all the other merchants out there.