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  1. #1
    Banned Snowfinch's Avatar
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    Where Oh Where Have My Merchants Gone!
    I understand that what I am about to write is a part of being an affiliate. I also understand that many of those on this forum have been through this situation many times.

    I am writing this as an attempt to help tell some merchants that "double standards" doesn't really work in this business. At least, that is my opinion.

    I, as many of you, have received those "threatening" letters to get active or else. Get a sale or face the consequences.

    I, like many of you, sometimes join a merchant and then try to come up with the best possible way to promote them. Some merchants may wonder why not have the plan and then apply. Simple. Why waste our time working on a plan to promote a merchant and then the merchant deny us?

    Anyway, coming up with just the right plan can take time. Especially for me.

    I am not the brightest bulb on the Christmas Tree. Plus, I am a very busy man. I have toons to level on Everquest. I have to come up with reasons why I don't wear pants.

    After working for a company for several months and producing no sales, I take time out of my busy life to start two sites. Each dedicated to a topic I love (non-sports) and the company has awesome products to match both "niches". They are the only company I can find that does.

    I get the site ready and full of content and put up my banners. The next day, the merchant is "temporarily offline". I am not sure when "temporarily" becomes "permanently", because they have been "temporarily" offline for nearly two weeks.

    I just deleted my two sites.

    Those sites were non-sports. I mostly deal in sports. I say this for a reason.

    CJ recommends that you not have a single merchant produce over 20% of your income or something like that.

    Well, in the past 8 months, Football Fanatics has produced about 90% of my income as an affiliate. So, I take CJs advice and go expand my horizons. I become an affiliate to some other "sports" merchants and companies that have departments that sell products that suit my sites.

    Since I started doing that a few weeks ago, over half of those merchants have been or are currently "temporarily offline".

    Football Fanatics is very reliable and I don't care what CJ recommends about a 20% rule. I think I am gonna stick with the reliable and stop stepping into the unknown and falling off a cliff.

    So, now to the main purpose of my post...

    This is to the more uncooperative merchants. When you "threaten" us to get active, I think it is wise to make sure you are not, have not or will not become "inactive" (temporarily offline, etc...).

    QUESTION: Why would you, a merchant, attempt to hold your affiliates to a higher standard than you hold yourself?

    Sorry for the length of this post, but I have a saying I live by...

    LIES ARE WHISPERED. TRUTH IS SHOUTED.

    What I wrote was the truth, so I shouted it.

    Anything worth saying should be said. I felt this was worth saying, so I said it.

    Please don't spank me!!!

    Later.

  2. #2
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    CJ recommends that you not have a single merchant produce over 20% of your income or something like that.
    You really can't hang your hat on one merchant in the long run. Look at the companies that have gone belly up in the last year. Remember the Enron employees that had all their retirement in Enron stock.


  3. #3
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    Of course you shouldn't put all your retirement savings into stock in the company you work for. (If the company tanks, you'd lose your nest egg AND they may default on their pension promise.)

    And the advice mentioned here is smart -- strive to avoid over-reliance on a single advertiser.

    Over the past 13 years, I've heard from hundreds of webmasters who relied primarily on a single advertiser, and then flirted with financial ruin when the advertiser defaulted.

    With my first web site (in 1996-99), I faced this: a single advertiser (LinkExchange) wanted to be the "exclusive sponsor" of my site, and they were willing to pay a huge premium to do so for several quarters. But then, when they decided not to continue, I had to scramble to replace that advertising. Fortunately, I had maintained regular contact with other merchants who had expressed interest in advertising, and I was able to immediately fill about 80% of my "inventory" with CPM-based advertising; within a few weeks I was once again "sold out," but this time with several different advertisers. (Still, the top 2 advertisers probably paid more than 60% of the total.)

    But let's face it: no matter how hard we try to diversify, we're going to focus on what works, not on what doesn't work. So, if I'm seeing phenomenal success from one merchant, who is driving 90% or more of my advertising revenue, I'm not going to stop doing what works. I'm sure that during at least 5 of the past 11 years, a single merchant has been responsible for 90% or more of my advertising earnings. And of course, in some of those years, a single client paid me 80% or more of my consulting earnings.

    Having no advertisers generating more than 20% of your total revenue is a good "aspiration." A more realistic "goal" would be to stay under 50% -- but don't walk away from what works best for you.

  4. #4
    Prince of Content Vinny O'Hare's Avatar
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    I would not have deleted the sites, merchants come and merchants go. I am sure there are other programs pushing products that would have sold on those sites. I personally would have kept the sites alive and waited to see if the merchant comes back online in the near future.

    Actually I probably wouldn't have started a site that I wasn't 100% passionate about. I will send you a PM and let you know where you can find some other sports merchants.

  5. #5
    More Cheesier Than Ever Cheesehead's Avatar
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    Sounds like these were Shareasale sites? If so, a good rule of thumb is to only go with auto-deposit merchants or merchants with several years of zero downtime. Personally I only work with auto deposit merchants at SAS.
    This World is Not My Home
    We're gonna go inside, we're gonna go outside, inside and outside. . . And then we're gonna go go go and we're not gonna stop til we get across that goalline! Quotes from the movie Rudy, 1993

  6. #6
    Banned Snowfinch's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the responses and some great advice.

    See, my main problem was, I had several sites. One major topic. College Football. Football Fanatics is the perfect fit. My relationship with them has been awesome. However, that is my passion. The problem. The season only last about 5 months then I had pretty much nothing.

    Jason, when he was at FF, and Jon, now at FF, helped me to realize that to make money year round, I have to do sites that have content to attract visitors year round.

    So, though I love most all sports, I don't have a passion for basketball, baseball, etc... like I do College Football.

    Therefore, I decided to look at my other passions and realized that there are things I have enough passion or interest in to do sites about that could pull in traffic year round.

    I started several sites and most of them are coming along great.

    In other words, I decided not to put all my eggs in one basket. In the process, I love College Football and FF has always treated me with the utmost respect. So, in expanding my ventures, I am not going to lessen my passion for College Football or my relationship with FF, just adding some new passions to it. (new niches - non-sports related)

    (Hey Jon! I hope I'm getting some brownie points for all of this. LOL! Just kidding.)

    One of the things that sort of got my goat was a letter. A certain merchant that I have been affiliated with for less than a month sent a letter to me about a week or so ago saying "politely" I should work harder on driving traffic to them, because I had produced basically no click throughs and of course no sales.

    LOL! I signed into SAS right after I read the letter and the merchant was listed as "temporarily offline". LOL! They came back online about 2 days later and are now "temporarily offline again".

    Now, what good would it do if I got a million unique hits a day and 5% clicked that merchants banner? Here is what they will see...

    "The link is not currently active."

    So, why are they fussing at me, "politely" or not. LOL! I should be fussing at them.

    Nearly 10% of the merchants I work for on SAS are "temporarily offline". I know the economy is bad. Trust me, if you looked in my fridge, you would know how much I understand that. LOL! However, like some of the comments above suggested, I think I should make some wiser decisions. Part of the blame is mine, because I put way to much trust in some merchants without researching them more or developing a relationship with them.

    So, anyone new to the affiliate world, learn from my mistake.

    READ! LEARN! RESEARCH! LISTEN!

    To sum it up, I have several sites with new niches (non-sports). Most of them I have very good merchants on. They are new sites, so it will take some time to build up the traffic, but that's cool. The other sites, I count as a loss, wipe away the tears and move on.

    Thanks again for all the advice. It is greatly appreciated.

  7. #7
    Outsourced Program Manager Stephanie Harris's Avatar
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    October 11th, 2006
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    It's the same way when you manage a program - you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket. I cannot tell you the horrible feeling you have as a manager when your biggest affiliate, driving more than half of your revenue, holds something over you and if you can't meet their demands, there goes your program. So this is not the kind of situation either party likes to get into. I totally agree with everyone here that you definitely need to pick something you love, that you should pick a few different things to carry you through the year, and hold on.

    I do want to say that as managers, we need you as much as you need us. There's no way we can make our goals without a variety of productive affiliates. And while it's tempting to push the unproductive affiliates, which seem like the low hanging fruit, I agree that there is usually a reason for that lack of productivity. Why would you join unless you hope to make money with the program? I get it, and I would venture to say that all us managers do.

    It seems like you have an awesome relationship with FF, and I think if you can foster that with just a few other managers, you'll see huge rewards. Because this is truly a relationship business, and while we always fight hard for every affiliate, when there's a strong relationship, we will move mountains for you. And usually all this takes is a bit of responsiveness from the affiliate's end, a willingness to work with us to optimize, and if we haven't reached out to you first, a friendly hello.

    I can't tell you how many times I've been thrilled when I reach out to an affiliate, and get a sincere and friendly response. I am always going to go to those people first when I have an exclusive, or I have a commission bonus, or anything that I can offer. Because when you put yourself out there, we do too.
    Stephanie Harris
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