October 29, 2008

Affiliate Marketing That Doesn’t Suck

How-to-Make-Money-Online

Now that our second Unconventional Guide is out in the marketplace, and the first one continues to sell every day, I’m ready to open up the affiliate program for these and future guides.

I’ll tell you about that in this update, but I’ll also tell you why most affiliate programs aren’t worth your time. If you have a web site, blog, or any kind of business, this should help you learn what NOT to do with affiliate marketing.

The short version is:

1. Most affiliate programs are heavily weighted in favor of the merchant. The merchant gets a lot of exposure and pays a token commission to its affiliates.

2. Then again, most affiliates don’t do any work or make any sales. In some cases, this can be as many as 98% of affiliates.

3. To fix this, the merchants need to restructure the terms and the affiliates need to add value somewhere.

My goal with the project is to create an affiliate program that doesn’t suck. That may not sound like a lofty goal, but as mentioned– most affiliate programs are fundamentally flawed.

Here is how I’m trying to fix that with the small Unconventional Guides business:

1) By Application Only. We have to know each other somewhat before you can promote something I offer. This is not meant to sound elitist; it’s just that I don’t want you to waste your time with something that is not going to help you. And of course, I also need to maintain the integrity of the brand, so I won’t allow any promotion through unsolicited email, mature sites, etc.

2) High Commissions. I pay 51% on everything, meaning that my affiliates will make more money than me. I’ll also be adding a few bonuses to the program as more people get going with this.

3) Customized Promotions. This is where the affiliate’s work comes in. Putting up banners and hoping someone will notice does not work very well anymore (if it ever did). It’s better to take the time and write up something unique about what you choose to endorse. Why should people buy it? How will it help them?

On my side, I’ll help a bit with the custom promotions. If you have a high-traffic site or other responsive community, I’ll give you a special discount code exclusively for your readers. This will help increase sales and also ensure that all sales are 100% credited to you. If you want to do an interview for your audience, I’ll do my best to accommodate your request.

Regardless of whether my program is a good fit for you, think about these questions when deciding what you are going to share with people who trust you.

  • Do I believe in the product enough to tell my friends and family about it?
  • Is it truly win-win? (Will my visitors benefit from these endorsements or ads? Will I sufficiently benefit from taking the time to do this?)
  • Is the merchant credible, both in terms of their general practices and with the specific products being offered?
  • Is there any way I can use this to compliment something I already do?

If you can answer “yes” to these questions for a particular opportunity, it’s worth considering. If not, there are better things you can do with your time and energy.

If my program sounds like something you’re into, send me a note with some info on how you plan to promote the guides. I’ll get back to you shortly.

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Image by Geek&Poke

Comment on this article

8 Responses to “Affiliate Marketing That Doesn’t Suck”

  1. Your affiliate program is awesome, Chris, and it has inspired us to create our own in a similar way. We’ll be in touch. :)

  2. Cool deal Chris. I like to see people change the way that business is done.

  3. Great idea Chris, I’d also be interested too promote it for you, I’ve got the first book you wrote, so I know how good these books are;).

  4. Chris,
    Honest post about affiliate plan. I have no list yet so will wait to become an affiliate. I take notes on everything I read and sometimes even find them later, so writing an article would be easy.

    Right now I am trying to inspire my personal e-mail list to sign up for your newsletter. I enjoy your posts and the comments from fellow readers.

  5. Chris,

    Congratulations on creating a sane affiliate program! I have seen all manner of affiliate programs and yours truly makes sense – both for the affiliate and for you. This is a great case study for phenomenal incentive, exclusivity of product, and 80/20. Kudos.

    I’ve never been so inspired NOT to apply for something – yet! As a web developer with a decent traffic stream, I have an audience. But it is not the right audience for your guides. Expect an application as soon as my next pet project gains speed and attracts the right audience.

    Again, great job! Looking forward to the Unconventional Guide to Marketing!

  6. Sounds like a great affiliate program. You really have to sift through the muck today to find the good ones and you’ve got a good one.

  7. I have to agree. I’m part of the Air Travel affiliate programme, which fits our niche well. Even with a moderate amount of traffic, we’ve done well with Chris’s programme. I especially like the way:

    a) Chris pays the whole amount on time, every month.
    b) There’s no payment threshold.
    c) You get a reasonable $ outcome for every sale.
    d) You get an instant email from each sale, making results easy to track
    e) The way Chris is willing to work with us to promote his product

    And, of course, all this would be worthless unless he was creating a product that makes our audience happy to hear about it and happy to pay for it.

    It’s motivated us to build our new ebook affiliate programme along very similar lines. Thanks, Chris.

  8. This is perfect, I am looking to do something similiar very soon and this article makes perfect sense.

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