The concept of affiliate marketing on the Internet was conceived of, put into practice and patented by William J. Tobin, the founder of PC Flowers & Gifts. Launched on the Prodigy Network in 1989, PC Flowers & Gifts remained on the service until 1996. By 1993, PC Flowers & Gifts generated sales in excess of $6 million per year on the Prodigy service. In 1998, PC Flowers and Gifts developed the business model of paying a commission on sales to the Prodigy Network.
This is not some faraway reality — because of the interconnectivity and vast information access allowed by the internet, a growing number of companies are offering partial or full work-at-home opportunities, in a variety of fields. The 13 companies on this list are hiring for roles from transcription to software engineering to athletic recruiting. So regardless of your skill set, one of these companies could be your ticket to never having to get out of bed to go to work again.
The key is affiliated marketing, an industry born in the late 90s. A third party, or affiliate, acts as part of a virtual sales team by placing ads and links on their website, which will direct visitors to the home page of an established retailer. Every time that visitor goes on to make a purchase, or another specified transaction, the third party receives a commission.
There are several types of affiliate programs. Most will pay you a flat rate or percentage of the sale you make (pay-per-sale). Another common type is when you're paid per action or lead. For example, if you refer someone who signs up for businesses free trial, the business pays you for the sign-up. Although not seen as often anymore, some will pay you per click (this is seen most in contextual ad programs such as Google Adsense) or per impression (each time the ad is loaded on your website).