I should have known this day was coming. I initially talked about it in 2011 when I wondered why I have so many problems with Commission Junction, an affiliate program I’d signed up with a few years earlier and actually loved to use for a long period at the time…until I started having problems getting paid. I then waited another almost 3 years before I asked is it time to get rid of Commission Junction, after a few more incidents that were, frankly, starting to get on my last nerve, once again not getting paid and having affiliates dropping me for, of all things, not making sales for them even while I was promoting them.
The final straw for me has been two separate incidents that have happened within the last month or so, and frankly, it’s making me wonder about affiliate marketing across the board. I don’t know anything about Amazon as an affiliate program, but it seems like it might be the only one that can be trusted since they’re running their own system. We’ll see about that later on; for now, let me tell my tales.
The first one involves Franklin Covey. I’ve always been a fan of their planners, having owned one type or another since 2005. Over the last few years, instead of going to Staples to buy one, I started buying them through my affiliate program, which was always allowed under Commission Junction’s rules previously. I only made a small percentage off buying from myself, but I bought planners for both my wife and I at close to $90.
I did the same thing this year… only I didn’t get paid for it. When I reached out to the Franklin Covey affiliate program, the person told me I wasn’t eligible to get paid for using my own program. I wrote back saying that was never the policy before, and it wasn’t anywhere on the Commission Junction page that I could find. She never wrote back, and that irked me so I went into the system, closed my Covey account, and went to my websites to remove any reference to them.
The next story involved Barnes and Noble. I’ve loved this bookstore since I discovered it in the 90’s, and I’ve bought almost all my books through them. I’ve purchased 4 Nook products for myself, 2 for my wife and one for my mother. I’ve been a B&N member for at least 10 years, maybe longer, and I’ve always supported them in every way I could.
Many years ago I learned that they had an affiliate program through something that used to be called the Google Affiliate Network. I signed up and was approved and started promoting books I reviewed through their affiliate program. I didn’t make a lot of money but no one could say I didn’t try. At some point they moved to Linkshare, which later became Rakuten, and I went over there, signed up, and kept promoting both books and DVDs through them. I never had to buy anything using their program because, as a member I would take my 10% discount and be happy with it, and of course I’d always already read the books or watched the DVDs before promoting them.
At some point last year, it seems B&N had moved their affiliate program to Commission Junction… without notice. On a fluke, there was a book I recently wanted to promote, so I went to Rakuten… and no B&N! Research told me they’d moved, and I was irked because that meant all my book links had been bad for a long time.
Still… it was B&N, and my love affair with them said “okay, let’s just sign up with the affiliate program there and move on with life.” Hey, if I had to update all my links for all my sites then I was ready to do it. After all, I had a link on one of my other sites to lots of books, most through affiliates, and I figured it would be a relative easy switch.
Only… B&N rejected me. And without any reason… or notification. We used to get email notifications when affiliate programs declined us; not anymore it seems. I’m not sure if it’s B&N’s fault or CJ’s fault that I was informed, but that’s not the real issue here. My issue is that without knowing why I was rejected I have no way of deciding whether or not I agree with it or not; I can’t even appeal.
And… truthfully, I didn’t want to appeal. If you know anything about me, my number one morality and ethics point is “loyalty”. I’ve been loyal to these folks for all these years, even while their model and products have been failing. Frankly, I can get books less at Amazon, and I can get movies for much less at both Target and Walmart. The only thing I can’t get anywhere but B&N is their cookie… and now I’ll never get that again either.
To this end, I canceled my Commission Junction account last Thursday. When you don’t make a sale in 3 months or so they start feeding off anything you’ve earned. Because I’ve had so many of my sales not counted (even when other people have made purchases) and CJ says it’s not their problem, and affiliates don’t always answer, my account was down around $14 anyway; sigh. They wrote me on Friday as I was leaving town saying they’d closed my account and would send me a check; I guess I’ll be getting pizza whenever it shows up.
I’m not getting rid of my Nooks, but I’ll never buy another one. As much as I’ve enjoyed having them, these days I can’t even download most of the digital movies I have to the SD card because the movie apps (except Flixster Movies) say they don’t support the Nook, even though they also say they support Android and the latest Nooks are Android.
I’m ending my membership with B&N, and I’m canceling the magazine subscriptions I have with them. I’m unsubscribing from the newsletter, and as much as I can I plan on never setting foot inside one again.
As for the Franklin Planner… well, I have a love/hate relationship with that. I love having it but I hate using it; how goofy is that? I’ll have to think about whether or not I’m irked enough to stop using it entirely, go to another planner, or set up a totally different system that would do the same things the planner does, only electronically (which I partially use now anyway).
With that said… this also now means a lot of work for me, and this is the thing to warn everyone else about that uses affiliate marketing plans. One of the things I’ve been doing since I worked on my mobile speed issues is going back through old posts of mine that I’ve been internally linking to, cleaning them up and removing old code. I’ve also gone back to the earliest of my posts to see if I need to either remove old code or make the posts private if they serve no relevance anymore.
What I’m now going to have to do is go through this blog, 3 of my other blogs, and my Services and Stuff website and remove lots of code all over the place. I’ve already removed the link to books that I had on this site and I won’t be putting it back until I remove all the books I had on there that were linking to B&N wherever they might be. I also have to now speed up going to my business blog and removing all book codes to old newsletters that I’d left on the site even though I’d stopped writing new ones in 2013.
Ugh! All of this is going to take a lot of time, which I really don’t have, yet I also know that cleaning up old, bad code is essential to helping my rankings continue to climb.
This is why it’s better to create and then market your own products. No matter what else happens, you own your own stuff and if you have buyers you’ll get to benefit from those sales without having to give anything to the middle person. Then again, I need to think about re-pricing some of my stuff; at least that’ll be an easy fix.
That’s my story. How have the rest of you been dealing with affiliate marketing programs over the years? Also, for those of you using Amazon, please clue me in as to whether it’s worth bothering to take a look at it or not.