Category Archives: Affiliates

Is Affiliate Marketing Dead?

In my last post talking about Commission Junction & my problems with them, I left off by saying there is a question about affiliate marketing in general, and the title above is that question.

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Frances Hui via Compfight

Let’s look at this thing from the big picture perspective. How many ways are there to make money online? A bunch of ways truthfully, as I shared in this post years ago talking about how Lynn Terry does it and then talking about how one can legitimately make money blogging, saying it wasn’t how you were thinking.

I’ve said that over the years the one thing that’s made me any real money has been Adsense, and not on this blog but most of it on one of my other websites. I’ve made very little money via affiliate marketing, no matter who it is, and I did a six part series in 2011 talking about all the affiliate programs I’m connected with and how much (little) money I made from them all over the years if you want to check that out.

Frankly, the effort isn’t really worth it anymore, but I’m wondering if it’s ever been worth it. True, there are some people who make a lot of money online via their blogs and affiliate programs, but let’s think about a couple of things here.

One, how many of those affiliate programs are the same types of things we have?

Two, how many of those folks are getting paid a much higher rate than most people will get, mainly because of their associations?

Three, for that matter, how many of these folks make a lot of money by promoting each other’s programs and products as opposed to going the route that the overwhelming majority of us go?

Before I go on, let me state this for the record. I never begrudge anyone for making money or for figuring out how to make money. Unless they do it in an unethical way, I figure people are entitled to whatever money they make or whatever money someone is willing to pay them, even if I may not like them (for who they are, not for making money). Can we learn lessons from these folks? Absolutely, as long as we look at the right thing.

In this instance I’m going to use one of my buddy Brian’s favorite people, a guy named Pat Flynn, who publishes his monthly income report each month. This guy’s raking it in; there’s no disputing that. He’s working it like a pro; great for him. But let’s look at only his affiliate programs for a moment.

He shows that he made more than $38,000 in November for his affiliate programs; that’s fantastic. He made around $23,000 of that via BlueHost, and he made it via his YouTube channel talking about how to create a blog using them. YouTube is the way a lot more people are making money these days, and he’s a charismatic guy, so talking about it in a video and getting lots of visitors to it would sell a lot of product.

drinks machine via Compfight

He made more than $3,600 via a program called Long Tail Pro, something I’ve never heard of, but it’s an independent program that he helps promote. Another $2,700 via LeadPages, $2,100 for the Thesis theme, $2,000 for Market Samurai and $1,400 for Aweber, and then lesser amounts for a lot of other things; I’m only talking affiliate programs here.

What isn’t he doing? He’s not using things like Commission Junction, Clickbank, LinkShare, Bidvertiser, on and on and on. As a matter of fact, most of the things he’s marketing other than BlueHost aren’t the types of things most of us probably think about when we’re thinking affiliate marketing.

I thought about pulling someone else’s monthly income report, decided I didn’t want to embarrass anyone, and instead decided to share one of my old income report from September 2010, before I stopped doing them, as a point of comparison. This was the most money I ever made in one month, $562, and that was because I sold one of my websites. Without that it would have been $262, and though I made more money than that later on, it was always Adsense, not because of affiliate marketing. I’m betting that many of you would love to make $200 a month, and that’s not all bad, but can any of us live off it?

I ask the question “is affiliate marketing dead” not because no one makes money off it, but after so many years and so many more people who have tried it and not made a livable income off it, which outnumbers those who do make a living off it 99.8% to .2% (and I think that’s generous), if it worth the effort to continue trying to make money off a model that, for most of us, is not only inefficient and cumbersome but we can’t even trust that they’re giving us the real stats, let alone will pay us? I add this as I just received my one and only payment from Amazon a couple of weeks ago for… 50 cents! Had them for 4 years and I made 50 cents; that’s a darn shame! lol

What’s your thought on this? I know some will think (even if you don’t say it here) that you’re going to be the one who breaks the mold & makes all the money. Oh really? By blogging? By lots of squeeze pages of products that everyone else is already marketing? I’m doubting it but I could be wrong; y’all let me know.

Hey, someone had to ask right? 🙂
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

Is It Time To Get Rid Of Commission Junction?

One of the first affiliate programs I joined was Commission Junction. In the early days of this blog, I added some kind of product to the end of every single post. I tried to match it to what I was talking about in the post, but since I can sometimes be all over the place that didn’t always work. Sometimes I added a product, sometimes just an affiliate link, all in the name of trying to make a buck or two off a post here and there.

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As opposed to this;
who remembers?

Unfortunately, I never made any money off any of those things from the blog. As a matter of fact, though I have made some money through Commission Junction over the years, I’ve never made any of it from any of my blogs; that’s kind of interesting isn’t it? I can’t say it was total ad blindness because when I checked stats I would see clicks on ads, but no conversions; so sad…

But that hasn’t been the worst part. I’ve been paid $150 over the course of 6 years; that’s not good is it? Truthfully, I’ve earned more, but not “made” more. What do I mean by that? Most of the time, even when I could prove a purchase, I wouldn’t get paid. Commission Junction’s policy is that you have to work things out with the advertiser; they don’t get involved unless you can’t get the publisher to respond to you. However, it turns out that’s pretty much a lie as well because they’ll send you an email, ask you to try again, then closes the ticket almost immediately, as if they never got it. What the hey? Reminds me of Tim Bonner’s post about money back guarantees that aren’t.

I’ve done some testing over the years by buying products that I wanted from some of them. I’ve used my computer, my wife’s computer, and my laptop just to see what would happen. The only advertiser that’s ever immediately paid me is 123inkjets. GoDaddy has only paid me when I’ve contacted them with proof of purchase, as they’re who I’ve always recommended to people to buy their domain names from, using my affiliate link of course. I did have one other that paid me, but it took about 3 weeks of back and forth conversations with them; that was a purchase by someone else.

However, the latest trouble I’ve had, with a company called Fansedge, has led me to start thinking about my relationship with them and how positive it HASN’T been. I mean really, I’ve had some advertisers drop me because I wasn’t making enough sales, some not approve me because they didn’t like my website (it’s not always this blog by the way), and frankly it’s a pain because, without notice, Commission Junction has sometimes changed up one of their formats without telling anyone and, of course, I’ve gone in, spent a lot of time creating something, only to find out later that they’d discontinued it and that’s why it didn’t work; sigh…

I've got nothing.
OUCHcharley via Compfight

Of course you don’t have to take just my work for it. Go look up their name and “not paying me” on Google and you’ll see post after post of complaints by people. One of the other things they’ll do if, after so long a period of time, start taking $10 per month from your balance, as if it’s costing them anything to hold your money; that’s how the federal government makes money off us through taxes by the way, holding onto the excess we (well, most of you anyway) pay to get that yearly refund and making money off the accumulated interest.

Understand this though. If I decide I’m done with Commission Junction, I have a lot of work cut out for me. I have my Services and Stuff page that would have to go through a major overhaul because the overwhelming number of the links on the main page and the banner ads throughout are from them. My other websites have some of their products and banner ads on them as well.

I probably wouldn’t officially drop them; I’d just remove all ads, let the money dwindle away since I’ll never get it anyway, and move on with life. Even though Google Affiliate Network is gone, I still have Linkshare, through whom I’m connected with Barnes & Noble (that’s an affiliate link; I think you could save some money on purchases lol) and, whenever you see me advertising a book, comes through them. They have a lot of advertisers and I could always populate my site tht way.

This leads to the question about affiliate marketing in general; I think I’ll leave that for the next post (a teaser! lol).
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

Google Affiliate Network Done For

Wow, what a week eh? The mess in Boston, the mess in Texas, the mess in China, the mess in Washington DC… at least no one died in DC but what a horrid week around the world.

gan

With all of that, news that the Google Affiliate Network was shutting down probably slipped through the radar of most people; indeed, this is the first time I thought about talking about it. I remember when I wrote about GAN the first time how I thought that they would be a viable group to challenge Commission Junction, whom I first introduced here in 2008. After all, they were backed up by Google weren’t they? They even had my favorite offline company, Barnes & Noble, as one of their anchors. What could go wrong?

What went wrong? Over all these years, other than a couple of book sales that I believe netted me 50 cents or so total, it just never developed properly. Their formatting was a mess; their homepage was a mess. Some of the companies they got to allow them to advertise were quality, such as Allstate and Motorola, but they didn’t stick around long. Even Barnes & Noble left, going to Linkshare, along with other top companies like Microsoft.

I never got the feeling that Google really knew what to do with this type of thing. For that matter I never quite figured out what to do with most of what they had either. The interface was always kind of difficult to work with. I had many problems finding either banners or products that would fit into what I needed. CJ and Linkshare are both much easier to use when looking for something specific to market.

Of course now I, and thousands of others, have to go through the process of finding all the links going back to GAN and removing them; that’s not going to be pretty. I’m lucky not to have all that stuff on my blogs but I do have other websites; ugh. That’s always the danger of some of these companies though; it happens on the other two sites I’ve mentioned as well. If CJ ever shuts down like this, I’m in real trouble.

Goodbye GAN; a promise that never quite fulfilled anything, like many other things Google has tried, but at least you gave it a shot. Meanwhile, I did a video on this topic with my Hot Blog Tips Hangout gang; you can check this out if you’re interested:


 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Mitch Mitchell

Would You Recommend Something Unethical For Money?

Before I forget, I want to let you know that I wrote a guest post on a blog called Marcie Writes, which works well since the owner is Marcie Hill. It’s titled 5 Steps Towards Blogging Integrity and I think it’s a very good post, not necessarily because I wrote it but because I wrote a guest post for someone who asked for it and I wanted to make sure it would be really good. That’s how guest posting is supposed to work when you ask people if you can write a guest post for them or if they ask you; always give your best. In its own way it segues into today’s topic.

A Man Without His Word Means Nothing
Catherine Rankovic via Compfight

How many of you have heard of something called “payday loans“? If you haven’t, the concept is that if you need money and know you’re getting paid on Friday, if you will, but it’s Wednesday, you can go to an establishment, take out money now, then pay it back on Friday at a “nominal” interest rate.

To some people it sounds like a great way to get an advance on their pay, but the way I see it, and if you follow the link above you’ll see more reasoning, it’s a scam perpetrated against those without a lot of financial acumen and can lead to both untold debt and dangers people aren’t ready for. It’s people allowing themselves to be taken advantage of, with interest rates that can skyrocket at a moment’s notice and, in some cases, being charged daily, and eventually leave a person not being able to keep up and, well, leaving bankruptcy as a final decision to make if they’re not able to pay off the entire amount immediately.

Yes, I think this is unethical, and I’m not the only one. The Federal government is now investigating mainstream banks that are participating in this, including many that were bailed out by the government back in 2009. Eventually they may get to everyone, but this shows that they’re concerned enough to worry about it.

It’s under this belief in ethics that I was dismayed when I came across a post some weeks ago by someone I usually think is pretty cool, Zac Johnson, who wrote a post titled Is It Time You Started Looking At Promoting Pay Day Loans? In the article, he talks about how it’s one of the fastest growing programs in the world and how some affiliate marketers might want to think about hopping on the bandwagon financially, even though there’s a “slight” disclaimer near the end of the article: “No matter what your personal opinions are on pay days loans and whether they are ethical or not, you need to think of the situation from an advertising stand point.”

I’m sorry, but I personally disagree. The statement alone proves that even Zac knew there was an ethical standard being crossed when he wrote it, and he talked about it in a positive way anyway. There are a lot of people going to dog fighting matches or watching videos of the clubbing of baby seals; would you promote that in positive ways if they were making lots of money?

Along the lines of when I asked the question What Will You Do For More Followers, I ask just what will you do for money? If you truly believed payday loans were the greatest thing on planet Earth and decided to promote it, that’s one thing; if you know up front that there’s an unethical component to it, are you going to do it just because it might pay well? If racism paid well would you promote it if it didn’t fit in with your morality? What about child porn, videos of death, cruelty to animals, etc?

There may be things you find unethical that you’ll complain to someone else about that doesn’t find it unethical. In that case it’s more on you than on the other person. But if you know it’s unethical and you promote it anyway, or the other person knows or believes its unethical and promotes it anyway, what does that say about your commitment to principles? Is making a buck, no matter how much it is, really worth your self respect, let alone the respect of others?

I know what I think; what say you?
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

Discount Panda Updates? Not Me!

This is what happens when you don’t keep up on things. I’d almost missed that Google had put through another Panda update in October. The first time they did something like that most of my blogs took a tumble, but overall it wasn’t all that bad. However, this time it’s taken direct aim at my biggest money making site.


by Richard Elzey via Flickr

I’ve talked about my site Medical Billing Answers before. It’s been generating close to $300 a month in Adsense revenue, and with the other money I’ve been earning from other sites, which isn’t much, I’d been feeling pretty good. I want it to be higher but I figured that time would help push it along.

In early October it’s earnings were right on pace and I went on to start dealing with other things. With a week to go in the month I went to look again and noticed that things had dropped off sharply, and that I might not even make $200 for the month. I did, but barely. Not only that, but I ended up not getting paid my September money, which was greatly irksome.

On that front Google did eventually send out a notice to everyone talking about their glitch and saying that most of us would get that money and our October money at the same time in November; I’m still holding my breath on that one. However, almost halfway through the month and I’ve barely passed the halfway point towards $100; what the hey?

This is the part I don’t understand. My site on medical billing issues was doing very well, and suddenly, after what I believe is its third alteration, Panda decides it has no real authority after all? And just like that it affects my income that drastically? Is that fair?

Actually, it has nothing to do with fair I suppose, but reality. I haven’t added much new to that site in about 3 months, and maybe that’s the issue with Panda; no new activity, it stops sending people your way. These days everything seems to be about activity, kind of like the topic I touched upon when I wrote about blogging frequency. I mean, while traffic on my medical billing site has fallen 32% over the last month, traffic on this site has increased 7%, on my business blog it’s up 9%, and my finance blog is also up 8%. These are sites that I’ve kept up consistently new content. The oddity is my SEO blog, which is showing a decrease of 13%, even though I have a new post every 3 days there.

I’m irked that my income stream has been interrupted, yet I also think there’s something that I should have been able to do to keep it coming in. Do I start another blog? Ugh! Nope, that’s not going to happen. I guess I just have to try to make sure to add something new there at least once a month to see if that helps get its steam back. It does prove the overall need to diversify income streams, even online. Still, I’m not happy about it overall.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell