The 6 Most Common Mistakes New Affiliate Marketers Need to Avoid

The ins-and-outs of affiliate marketing can be overwhelming, especially for ‘newbies’. It can be easy to get lost with aspects such as deciding on a profitable niche or choosing a suitable affiliate program, and at the beginning, you’re guaranteed to put a foot wrong somewhere.

However, some of these mistakes can prove to be more detrimental than others. The ones that can impact you the most are the ones to avoid from the get-go – although you may have already found yourself falling victim to some of the more common ones.

Today, we’ll reveal the six most common mistakes new affiliate marketers need to avoid if they want to grow a successful business. You’ll learn why each mistake can be harmful, and how you can be sure to avoid and overcome each one. By the end, you’ll have a stronger framework on which to build your affiliate marketing business.

Let’s get started!

1. Signing Up for Too Many Affiliate Programs

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with multiple streams of income, but signing up for too many affiliate programs can be counterproductive to success.

In a nutshell, potential customers will be able to tell how well you know your product from reading your content. It stands to reason that the more products you promote, the less you know about each one. If customers begin to doubt your authority, this could potentially impact click-throughs and sales.

Fortunately, this mistake is easy to avoid. In the beginning, choose one product to promote. Spend all of your time learning about the product, testing it out yourself, and creating awesome content that promotes its use. Once you’ve begun to see the benefits of this, only then should you add an additional program or two to your plate.

2. Failing to Test and Compare Products and Tools

Following on from our last point, promoting a product you’ve never tested yourself can also impact your credibility and sales, despite your best intentions.

Promoting a product you’ve personally tested and compared enables you to create more authoritative content, and causes you to come off as more knowledgeable to your customers. As a product user yourself, you’ll be able to answer all questions truthfully and present all the facts. This is essential to building trust with your customers.

That being said, there are times when you’ll need to act quickly in order to beat your competition to the punch. Only experience can help you in these situations. However, for the beginner affiliate marketer, purchasing and testing your chosen product out will be more beneficial in the long run.

3. Working Within an Uninteresting Niche (To You)

In the beginning, picking a profitable niche may seem the most appealing option – and it often is. However, espousing the qualities of a niche you find bland or boring will make the work seem a slog.

It almost goes without saying that choosing a niche you’re interested in will benefit both you and your customers. Your passion will shine through your content and communications, and overall, you’ll be happy to spend more time working on your business.

Unfortunately, guides for choosing a profitable niche are more prevalent than how to choose an interesting niche. For example:

However, this means you’ll need to rely on your own taste to choose an interesting niche to you. Of course, profitability should always be a consideration, but ultimately you’ll benefit more from a niche that’s fun to work with, than simply plumping for a high-earning one.

4. Not Collecting Customer Emails From the Start

A strong email marketing strategy is a must for affiliate marketers. It enables you to build a genuine relationship with your readers, and it also provides you with a ready-made list of potential leads. Putting this aspect off until you’re already up and running is a definite mistake.

While collecting customer emails can seem difficult at first, leading many to simply sidestep that aspect and focus on other areas, it doesn’t have to be!

A tried and trusted technique is to implement email opt-ins on your site, along with the promise of something valuable – such as a weekly newsletter, a free e-book, or report to the reader:

Of course, opt-ins aren’t the only way to collect email addresses, and in regard to this at least, the only roadblock is your creativity!

5. Choosing Quantity of Content Over Quality

Many new marketers begin to churn out content from the start, with their only concern being the quantity of posts in their archive. However, the focus should really be on quality. One or two in-depth and valuable posts per month that provide readers with all of the information they need to make a purchasing decision will ultimately trump a short article every day that doesn’t do the product you’re covering justice.

Fortunately, there is much you can do to ensure quality content. For example, always begin brainstorming post ideas by focusing on value with questions such as, What value will this post provide to my readers?

In terms of article creation, begin with an outline to give yourself focus. It will help you to find and eradicate the weak points in your work. Finally, make sure you’re also comparing yourself to your competitors – ensuring your content is bigger and better than theirs practically guarantees high-quality content.

6. Not Tracking and Managing Your Links

Link tracking is essential for building a successful affiliate business, and failing to do so can lead to less revenue. It can also make it difficult to know whether your marketing strategies are working or not.

While Pretty Link Pro can help you with link redirection and shortening, Affiliate Royale is an affiliate management plugin that can help you to take control of your affiliate marketing program:

The user-friendly dashboard enables you to see how many clicks your affiliates are driving, the sales they’re making, and how much to pay them at the end of each month.

Combined with the functionality of Pretty Link Pro, you’ll have everything you need at your fingertips to ensure you can keep on top of your affiliate marketing.

Conclusion

The development of an affiliate marketing business will take considerable work, patience, and perseverance. From time to time, you may also find yourself questioning your strategies and choices.

However, with the knowledge we’ve provided, you can now avoid the most detrimental mistakes and build a strong, successful business. To recap, the six most common mistakes made by new affiliate marketers are:

  1. Signing up for too many affiliate programs.
  2. Failing to test and compare products and tools.
  3. Working within an uninteresting niche.
  4. Not collecting customer emails from the start.
  5. Choosing quantity of content over quality.
  6. Not tracking and managing links.

Do you have any mistakes new affiliate marketers need to avoid? Let us know in the comments below!

Link Shortening: Your Secret Weapon in Social Media Marketing

Ever since their creation in the 90s, Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) have earned their place as one of the core components of the modern web. However, just as websites have grown in complexity, so have their URLs. These days, any site can have dozens of directories and subdomains, which can make their URLs difficult to handle.

That’s where link shortening services come in. These tools enable you to tame unwieldy URLs by ‘compressing’ them to more manageable lengths. Your original URLs won’t disappear, but you’ll have access to easier-to-use alternatives.

In this article, we’ll go into more detail regarding the importance of link shorteners, their benefits, and some of the best services available out there. Let’s jump right in!

The Importance of Link Shortening

In some cases, URLs can be long, difficult to remember, and a pain to type out. Despite what their name implies, link shorteners tackle this issue by generating new URLs (rather than shortening the originals) and redirecting them towards the addresses you want.

In short, your original URL isn’t affected in any way and you get to enjoy a couple of perks for your trouble. Let’s take a look at those perks now.

How Link Shortening Makes URLs More Manageable

Long URLs are difficult to read and to share via social media. Twitter, for example, employs its own link shortening tool to avoid including unwieldy URLs and keep its content tidy and readable.

However, the benefits of link shortening don’t apply only to social media. For example, if you’re writing an email campaign, some readers may be dissuaded from clicking on your links or sharing them if they seem too long.

How Link Shortening Tracks and Aggregates Data

Aside from making links more manageable, URL shortening offers an additional key benefit. A lot of modern link shortening services provide you with some form of analytics, mostly focusing on click-through rates. If your goal is for more people to click on your links (as it should be), this information will tell you exactly how well you’re doing.


These days, many link shortening services also include support for Urchin Tracking Modules (UTM). This technology enables you to track links across specific campaigns and platforms such as Google+ and Facebook, among others.

5 Popular Link Shortening Solutions

There are quite a number of popular link shorteners to choose from these days. Let’s take a closer look at five of the best services available.

1. Bitly

Bitly enables its users to shorten and brand their links, which should aid you in your social media marketing endeavors. The tool also tracks individual link performance and campaign analytics.

Furthermore, the service includes a feature called ‘mobile deep links’. These types of URLs can recognize from which type of device users are clicking on them, and redirect them (if necessary) to either your mobile website or app (if you have one).

 

2. Google URL Shortener


The Google URL Shortener – also known as goo.gl – enables you to make your links more manageable and track their performance. As you might expect from a Google service, their link shortener is easy to use, yet robust.

Furthermore, if you’re an end-user, you’ll appreciate the fact that this service warns you beforehand if it suspects one of its links is being used to mask malware.

 

3. Shorte.st

Aside from the benefits you’ve come to expect, such as conveniently short URLs and link analytics, Shorte.st also provides its users with a mass shortening tool. This feature enables you to shrink as many as 20 URLs at a time, which is fantastic for social media (or affiliate) marketers handling several accounts at once.

Shorte.st also features a high-paying referral program, which might just generate some additional revenue for you while you go about marketing your content.

 

4. Ow.ly

Ow.ly is a link shortener born from the Hootsuite social media management tool, which means both services work particularly well together.

Much like our first pick for this list, this link shortener offers branded URLs and access to analytics. However, it also comes with some unique functionality, such as exportable PDF and CSV reports and custom URL parameters for tracking Omniture and Google Analytics campaigns.

 

5. Pretty Link Pro

Last but not least, we have Pretty Link Pro. This a WordPress plugin that offers branded URLs as well as automatic link shortening for all your pages and posts.

Additionally, the plugin can handle automatic keyword replacement and link cloaking, which makes it an excellent addition to your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) toolbelt.

 

Conclusion

Just like the websites they lead to, it’s only natural that URLs should evolve over time. While keeping your links lean and manageable is an excellent start, it isn’t the only benefit to URL shortening. In fact, by picking the right tool, you may even be able to boost your online marketing efforts, thanks to the power of analytics.

If you’re not sure which link shortening tool offers the best fit for you, here’s what you need to know about our picks:

  • Bitly: A fantastic tool for branding your URLs and mobile marketing.
  • Shorte.st: Great if you need to shorten several links at once.
  • Ow.ly: A good option for social media marketers.

 

Do you have a favorite link shortening service? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

4 Ways to Make Your Affiliate Marketing Content Highly Readable

If affiliate marketing were easy, not only would everyone be doing it, they would all be swimming in piles of cash like Scrooge McDuck. However, it isn’t easy to succeed in the world of affiliate marketing, and quite often the biggest challenges lie within your content.

In reality, there’s no mystical black art to writing compelling affiliate marketing copy – just a few simple tricks to get ahead of your competition. They are tried and trusted elements of easy to read content, and will stand you in good stead regardless of their application.

In this post, we’ll reveal four ways you can make your affiliate marketing content highly readable, and also show what Pretty Link Pro can do to help along the way. Let’s get started!

1. Optimize Your Headlines

Headlines are one of the most important aspects of affiliate marketing. Optimizing them simply means making them captivating enough to ensure readers click through to the article in question.

Much like any other form of writing, a good headline compels readers to click, can potentially help your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and can even increase traffic. It all stands to supercharge both the number of people putting eyes on your content and your affiliate revenue.

While it may seem a dark art, writing a good headline follows some basic principles. Essentially, use numbers or ‘trigger words’ (such as “why” or “how”), interesting adjectives, and speak to the reader by offering something valuable. Even though we say so ourselves, the headline for this article is right on the money!

Before you release your new headline to the world, make sure you run it through a tool such as CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer:

This enables you to tweak your headline to perfection, by taking the advice given to improve its grading. Once you’re finished, you’ll have a powerful headline to help make your content highly readable.

2. Structure Your Copy

The structure of your piece has much to do with how readable your final content is. What we’re saying here is that your piece needs a logical flow and order, with clearly defined sections.

A well-structured piece will enable readers to assimilate more of your content quickly, but as with your headlines, there’s also an SEO benefit to be had. In addition, although you’d ideally like all of your visitors to read every single word, many won’t. A good structure enables the ‘skimmers’ to get just as much out of your content as the rest – which could potentially increase your affiliate revenue.

To create a killer content structure, you’ll mainly want to make sure your subheadings are clear and direct, and that paragraphs are short – no more than five lines is a good rule of thumb.

Within the content itself, look at focusing on your product’s benefits to the reader, rather than the features it offers. Scannable elements are also important – these are things such as images and bulleted lists. They help to break the content up and increase readability.

Finally, structures such as the Four “P” approach are trusted ways to engage readers, and others such as the inverted pyramid and the AIDA formula are just as simple to implement.

3. Write Tight and Concise Copy

Once your headline and structure are set, you’ll need to start crafting your copy. Writing tight and concise copy means exactly the same as it does for other forms of content. It relies on using short sentences, free of waffle, that speak directly to the reader.

As with the right structure, concise copy helps keep readers interested in your content, and it also helps skimmers process the gist of your piece. Of course, any reader who can take in your writing without fatigue will be more inclined to click the various affiliate links throughout, so it makes sense to optimize your copy correctly.

Given that the majority (if not all) of your writing will be read online, a good start for keeping your copy lean and mean is to look into writing for the web. It’s an extension of what we covered during the Structure Your Copy section, but also includes elements such as front loading, and using pronouns (i.e. “we” and “you”) correctly. Of course, having a suitable narrative structure is just as important as your concision efforts.

4. Keep Your Affiliate Links Short

Finally, we come onto your actual affiliate links. While choosing the right affiliate offer is an art form in itself, keeping your links short is just as crucial for maximizing your revenue. There are a number of reasons long affiliate links can cause you problems:

 

  1. Visitors could see long URLs as ‘spammy’, or distrust the resulting page.
  2. You could mistype the URL, giving you a broken link and frustrating your visitors.
  3. Because of the two previous reasons, your click-through rate could be adversely affected.

 

A plugin such as Pretty Link Pro can save you both time and hassle in creating your affiliate links. From the easy to use dashboard, you can set up links with a clean, ‘pretty’ URL, manage their redirection, and also designate them as nofollow links:

Of course, having short, pretty affiliate links is nothing without a well-maintained affiliate program, and a plugin such as Affiliate Royale can help get the job done:

This plugin can help launch your affiliate program in the right way, and helps you monitor your affiliate links, sales, and payments.

Conclusion

Much like any seemingly dark art, writing captivating copy to increase your affiliate marketing revenue can seem completely out of reach. For some, it could even mean shelling out more of your hard-earned cash to try to improve the situation. However, with a little thought, your wallet can stay where it is.

In this post, we’ve touched upon four ways you can create affiliate marketing content that compels readers to click. Let’s take a look:

 

  1. Optimize your headlines.
  2. Structure your copy.
  3. Write tight and concise content.
  4. Keep your affiliate links short.

 

Do you have any tips for making your affiliate marketing highly readable? Share with us in the comments section below!

Affiliate Marketing: Information Products vs. Physical Products

One of the great things about affiliate marketing is that you have myriad options when it comes to choosing what you’re going to promote and sell. However, the sheer number of products to choose from can be a little intimidating. And even before you decide on what specific product(s) to recommend, there are bigger considerations to take into account. You could choose to concentrate on information products, (such as online courses), or you could stick to selling physical products.

Both approaches have their pros and cons – the key is for you to figure out which is best for you. Knowing what’s involved in the selling of information products versus physical products will enable you to choose the right option, and help you avoid unnecessary problems along your journey to success.

In order to make the decision process a little easier, in this article we’ve compared both options, exploring the pros and cons of each. By the time you’re done reading, you will be in a much better position to make the right decision for you. Let’s start with information products.

Affiliate Marketing with Information Products

Information products include e-books, online courses, and audio or video material. They typically help people solve problems, or teach them how to do something.

For example, consider the information product below, which promises to teach you Chinese:

In order to earn an income from marketing information products, you need to find a niche, and build trust with an audience. You’ll need to convince buyers that investing in your product will solve a problem for them, and that they will get good value for money.

The Pros

The Cons

  • It’s easier to refund a digital product, since there’s no shipping involved. This means taking the risk that someone will download the product, and claim a refund shortly afterward, effectively taking advantage to get a free product.
  • Some digital product vendors are unreliable, and may even remove their products. You need to do some homework on the available options, and find a trustworthy partner.
  • Digital products can have lower conversion rates than physical products.

Some of the most popular digital marketplaces for information products are ClickBank, Tradebit, and JVZoo.

Affiliate Marketing with Physical Products

Physical products, of course, are tangible things like clothes, sporting gear, or weight loss pills.

When it comes to promoting physical products, Amazon is the biggest affiliate partner out there.

As with information products, you’ll need to find a lucrative niche and build web traffic in order to succeed. You could opt for high value items, or cast your net wider and sell a bigger variety of lower cost items.

The Pros

  • Tangible items can be easier to sell, since people can see what they’re getting, and if you’re selling a well-known brand, it’s already a trusted name.
  • Refunds tend to be less frequent because of the hassle involved with shipping something back.

The Cons

  • As a general rule, decent money can only be made on high-ticket physical products, which can be tough to sell.
  • Commission is usually lower than on information products (between 4–15%).

There are a number of ways to find the perfect products to market, including Google’s product search, and Amazon’s best-seller lists.

Information Products and Physical Products: Which Is Right for You?

Your success as an affiliate marketer depends on choosing the right things to promote. Once you’ve found your niche, the next step is to understand what your potential customers really want and need.

Let’s say you’re a musician, and this led you to investigate ways to make money that involve your passion. You could find affiliate partners that sell instruments, or you could go in search of an information product that helps your audience to learn how to read sheet music in double-quick time.

In the end, it’s really down to your goals. And the reality is that you don’t necessarily need to choose between either information products or physical products – there’s nothing stopping you from marketing both. The important thing is that you carefully consider your options and move forward on an informed basis.

Conclusion

When it comes to affiliate marketing and deciding whether to choose between information products or physical products, there isn’t necessarily a clear answer. Much of your success may ultimately come down to trial and error, and some product types will fit your business far better than others. That’s the reality of the situation.

However, informing yourself on the pros and cons of information products versus physical products before you move forwards puts you in a far better position to succeed. With that in mind, let’s quickly recap the relative merits of each product type:

  • Information products often earn higher commissions, but tend to convert less readily than tangible products.
  • Physical products can be easier to sell and involve fewer refunds, but your percentage commission can be lower.

Out of information products and physical products, which option would you say is better and why? Let us know in the comments section below!

3 Guidelines for Effective Affiliate Marketing with Product Reviews

reviews

Online reviews influence people. One study shows that 67.7% of buyers will read reviews about the products they intend to buy before committing to a decision, and that trend is only likely to continue. Clearly there’s a need for reviews, and that means there’s also an opportunity for affiliate marketers.

Product reviews are useful to consumers because they offer valuable advice, and effectively compare the pros and cons of similar products (or at least, they should!). They’re useful to businesses because they offer an avenue for their products to become better known, and also act as a form of social proof.

Best of all, product reviews can be highly profitable for you as an affiliate marketer. They provide a way to secure a steady stream of income, and by showcasing products or services in your reviews, you can steadily drive traffic through your affiliate program.

With the above in mind, this post reveals three guidelines for supercharging your affiliate marketing with product reviews that people will both love and trust.

1. Become an Expert in Your Niche

An expert is someone who sets himself apart from his peers in terms of knowledge and insight, and who delivers unerringly consistent results. To convince people that your opinion matters, you need to set yourself up as an expert on the industry and product(s) you’re covering.

Of course, that will take some work – so how much time is really necessary to become an expert on a particular subject? The author Malcolm Gladwell would infamously have you believe that you need to invest 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert. However, that seems impractical, and in reality opinions are divided on the matter.

Compare Gladwell’s rule to what Tim Ferriss said in The 4-Hour Workweek:

Expert status can be created in less than four weeks if you understand basic credibility indicators.

Regurgitating sales copy or simply listing the features of a product doesn’t make for a valuable review. You need to give expert advice, insider tips, and practical information, and you need do it consistently. Doing so will ensure the exponential growth of your reputation.

How to Become an Expert in Your Niche

There are ways to become known as an expert without having to invest months or years of your life. It’s always a good idea to choose a subject that you already know something about, and build on that. You can also use the following tactics:

  • Join trade organizations and display your affiliations on your site.
  • Read the top selling books and most popular online content in your niche to stay up to date on all the latest trends.
  • Write guest posts on authoritative blogs to boost your reputation.
  • Partner with an expert.
  • Quote only credible, authoritative sources.

2. Develop Trust

Product reviews are one of the mainstays of affiliate marketing. They’re often more effective than blatant sales tactics because they can get past a buyer’s ‘filters’. However, to be effective, your reviews need to generate a sense of trust with readers.

The ultimate challenge is to write something honest, that still converts into sales. That means you need to review products that you believe represent good value for money, and also offer an authentic, unbiased opinion.

It’s important to be balanced and fair when reviewing. There are actually some positive effects from negative publicity. It may seem counter-intuitive to mention the negatives about a product in your review. After all, you’re trying to sell it. On the other hand, people are more likely to trust you if you provide a balanced point of view.

How to Gain the Trust of Your Readers

Readers appreciate transparency, and will be far more likely to follow through with a purchase if they sense that you’ve provided all the facts. To gain trust, use the following tactics:

  • Openly discuss both the pros and cons of your product.
  • Explain who the product is right for, and also who it’s not right for.
  • Be authentic and forthright. For example, could you honestly say that you would buy it for yourself?
  • Test your product thoroughly and show people how it works in real life situations.

3. Stay Clear of Legal Issues

When you have a financial agreement with the company you’re endorsing, it implies a responsibility to your readers, and has legal ramifications.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides guidelines about fair and legal disclosure on your product review site in the USA. Misleading readers by failing to disclose the fact that you have a vested interest in selling a product is sure to land you in hot water.

How to Stay Clear of Legal Issues

Broadly speaking, the FTC seeks to protect consumers from misleading endorsements. If you follow the guidelines below, you should be safe from legal issues down the line (although we recommend you make your own inquiries as you see fit):

  • If you’re making commission on a product you’re reviewing, you need to disclose it.
  • If you got the product you are reviewing for free, you need to mention it.
  • You should disclose your relationship to the retailer clearly and conspicuously, so readers can decide how much weight to give your endorsement.
  • The guidelines apply to blogs, websites, and social media equally.

Conclusion

In order to make product reviews a viable and sustainable source of income, you need to do far more than just sell products. You need to give your readers something of value, and do so with a clear conscience.  

Keep the following three guidelines in mind in order to create reviews that will continue to satisfy readers, and ultimately work to earn you more commission:

  1. Become the expert in your niche by doing your homework, providing an ‘insider’s’ point of view, and offering practical advice for users.
  2. Build trust by remaining transparent, unbiased, and thorough with your testing. Only endorse products you would buy for yourself.
  3. Watch out for legal snares by following FTC guidelines.

What key elements do you think make up the perfect product review site? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

Self-hosting Your Affiliate Program vs Using an Affiliate Network

Self-hosted-vs-Managed-Affiliate-Networks

If you’re selling a product or service and want to increase sales, why not try running an affiliate program?

An affiliate program is a proven means whereby you can reward, or pay, anyone who sends a customer your way. This gives others the incentive to promote your products, which helps you increase sales. And there are other benefits to creating an affiliate program for your business.

And, yet, despite the different ways an affiliate program can help you grow your business, many shy away due to the perceived difficulty and number of decisions required for start-up. One area that often deters people from starting an affiliate program is not knowing which service or tool to use and whether to use an in-house, self-hosted solution or to join a managed affiliate network.

We’re here to help you decide whether running your own self-hosted affiliate program or using an affiliate network is the best option for you so you can get your affiliate program up and running and increase sales of your product or service.

Once you chose which way to go, you can select an appropriate tool or service, launch your affiliate program, and start generating sales.

When it comes to deciding between a self-hosted affiliate solution or an affiliate network, the main points to consider are:

  • Ease of use
  • Support
  • Control and autonomy
  • Promotion
  • Credibility
  • Costs

So let’s take a look at each of those areas in detail, to help you decide if joining an affiliate network or using an affiliate tool to host your own in-house program is the best option.

Ease of Use

When it comes to choosing between a self-hosted affiliate tool or hosted solution, be sure to consider ease of use. If you want to host your own affiliate program, you’ll need to choose the right tool, or WordPress plugin, then install and configure it. Also, you’ll be responsible for monitoring the performance of your program to ensure it’s working as it should. On the other hand, joining an established affiliate network takes much of the work off your hands.

Support

While both options provide you with some level of support, a good affiliate network will constantly keep an eye on their system and, in turn, your program. You’ll also have someone to turn to who has instant access to your account should anything go wrong—as will the affiliates promoting your business.

If you choose to self-host your own affiliate program, you’ll be able to give the product support staff access to your site. However, the whole process will be much less responsive, with the onus on you to recognize when things aren’t working as they should.

Control and Autonomy

If you choose a powerful affiliate management tool to self-host your program, you’ll have more control over how your scheme works, compared to joining a hosted service. As there’s no intermediary managing your affiliate program, you have the freedom to define its terms and choose who’s accepted into it.

While using an affiliate network over a self-hosted solution will help you take care of some of the set-up, you’ll have to relinquish a certain amount of control over how your system operates. This will vary from network to network, of course, but if you’d rather have full control over your affiliate program, going down the self-hosted route is your best option.

Promotion

Your affiliate program will only be as successful as your affiliates are. This means that in order for your program to generate enough extra sales to make it worthwhile, you’ll need to recruit a number of high-quality affiliates.

Finding the right affiliates to promote your products can be difficult. One of the advantages of joining an affiliate network over managing your own self-hosted program is that your program will be listed in the network’s directory. There, it can be found by affiliates looking for deals to promote.

If you opt to host your own program, it will be up to you to promote and get exposure for your affiliate scheme. If you have an audience or following already, this shouldn’t be a problem, but if you don’t, promoting your affiliate offer is one more task you’ll need to take on.

Thankfully, there are directories you can submit self-hosted affiliate programs to for help with promotion.

Credibility

If an affiliate program is managed by a reputable network, it’s a good indication they’re promoting a legitimate product or service. With a network, affiliates will also have someone to turn to should there arise any issues with payments or other aspects of their accounts.

If you’re self-hosting your own affiliate program, unless you’re a well-known brand, you’ll have to work to prove your credibility. A few things you can do to build potential affiliates’ confidence in you include activating instant payouts of commissions and publishing testimonials from happy customers, clients, and other affiliates.

While credibility may be an issue for new businesses who want to self-host their own affiliate programs, there’s a way that potential cost savings can help you overcome this issue, as we’ll soon see. It’s also worth remembering that when someone else is managing your program, there’s no guarantee you’ll always be welcome in their network.

Costs

If you want to run your own affiliate program, remember that the best WordPress affiliate management plugins aren’t free. However, despite their initial cost, they can often save you money in the end, compared to using an affiliate network.

Once you’ve paid for a premium affiliate management plugin, apart from any license renewal fees and, of course, affiliate commissions, that’s all you’ll need to pay out.

On the other hand, affiliate networks often have a range of fees, including substantial registration charges, ongoing monthly fees, and commissions taken on each payment you make to your affiliates.

Different networks charge fees in different ways. However, due to the nature of these ongoing fees, in the long term, hosting your own in-house affiliate program is nearly always the more cost-effective option. This is even true when you consider the time it takes to set up and manage your own program. You can then pass these savings on to your affiliates, offering them higher commissions. This can also help defray any objections they may have about working with a business they’re not familiar with.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to self-hosting your affiliate program versus using an affiliate network, there is no outright winner, really.

Provided you choose the right tool, or WordPress affiliate management plugin, you should have no trouble running your own self-hosted affiliate program while also saving money and having more control.

If you aren’t technically inclined or simply don’t mind paying someone else to take care of things, then paying for the privilege of joining an established network may be the best option—provided they’ll have you!

It’s worth mentioning that managing your own self-hosted affiliate program is a lot easier than you may think. Doing it yourself also gives you the freedom of running your program the way you’re most comfortable with.

Of course, we think AffiliateRoyale is a perfect option for those wishing to self-host their affiliate network. You can check out all the details about the AffiliateRoyale WordPress affiliate management plug-in here.

Is joining an affiliate network the best option for your business, or would you rather manage your own self-hosted program? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

What is an affiliate

You have a great product or service, but nobody knows about it. How do you find new customers? And how do they find you? The most common answers to these questions involve marketing and advertising campaigns ranging from small-scale approaches like putting fliers on cars in a parking lot, to multimillion-dollar commercials during the Super Bowl. Studies suggest that the average person is exposed to between three- to five-thousand types of advertisement each day. With so much information being blasted out, how can you be sure your message is received?

Have you ever had a friend or family member tell you about a cool product or rave about some new restaurant? Chances are you were more receptive to that information than from any amount of advertising you may have seen or heard. Even with all the flashy advertisements you may see in a single day, direct suggestions from a trusted friend are more likely to spur you to investigate a new product as opposed to some unsolicited advertisement during your daily commute.

Okay, but how do you get people to talk to their friends and family about your company’s products or services? Enter affiliate marketing.

Wikipedia tells us that affiliate marketing is a method of promotion “in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.” So what exactly does this mean? And how does it apply to business owners and consumers?

Basic Affiliate Marketing

At the most basic level, affiliate marketing involves a company paying a commission or some other bonus to a person (the affiliate) who promotes the company to a friend or acquaintance who then becomes a new customer of that company. As you can see, there are generally three key players in an affiliate marketing program: the merchant (the person or company selling something), the affiliate (the person promoting the product), and the customer (the person buying the product based on interaction with the affiliate). The affiliate is simply a customer telling his/her friends about a company, product, or service. As that promotion generates sales, the company then thanks the affiliate by providing some sort of perk or commission.

The customer is happy because they’ve discovered a product or service they hadn’t known about before. The affiliate is happy because they’ve earned a bonus. And the company is happy because they’ve increased sales with minimal marketing investment. It’s a win-win-win!

Everyone is online

These days, spreading information via word of mouth is easier than ever. Rather than waiting to talk about a company, service, or product in a face-to-face conversation, we can copy an Internet address and paste it into a personalized email, Facebook post, or tweet. Almost everybody is online and virtually connected. Recent Facebook reports claim that more than 50 percent of the adult population in the US has a Facebook account and that nearly 60 percent of Facebook users are connected to one hundred or more friends. And chances are that if an individual is not connected to Facebook or another social network, they live near or are closely associated with someone who is. Whether or not these figures are totally accurate, they illustrate that most people are connected online in one way or another.

Taking it to the Next Level

As a person starts to see commissions, it’s likely they’ll be more motivated to expand their referral process. An individual may even seek out affiliate marketing opportunities as a way to supplement income. Financially motivated individuals can take their affiliate marketing efforts to the next level by recommending products or services from their own commercial web presence, whether that be a professional blog, Facebook group, or multifaceted corporate web presence. Trusted commercial Internet professionals can easily recommend products and services for another company and increase revenue to both businesses—to one business through increased traffic and sales and to the other through commissions generated through the affiliate program. While personalized Facebook, Twitter, or email referrals will generally not extend beyond a person’s friends or family, a commercially minded affiliate will seek out ways to extend the reach of his or her referral link to as many people as possible, often referring customers he or she has never interacted with directly.

Getting Started

If you want to set up an affiliate marketing program, you’ll need to create and maintain a database of your affiliates, create and track their unique links, and integrate those custom links into your e-commerce process so you can pay them the appropriate commissions. Sound a bit daunting? Fortunately there’s Affiliate Royale—a full-featured plugin that helps you almost effortlessly launch an affiliate program on your WordPress site in just a matter of minutes. If you have a product or service along with any sort of online presence, chances are good that affiliate marketing will work for you. With just a few short clicks, you could have a free-form marketing team of affiliates working for you, driving your sales in ways you hadn’t thought possible.

What are your thoughts about Affiliate Marketing? Tell us what you think in the comments section.

Affiliate Royale 1.4.4

Affiliate Royale 1.4.4 has been released. It is a maintenance release for the most part, but does contain a new feature for associating coupons with an Affiliate for those of you using our MemberPress plugin.

Change Log:

  • Added compatibility with WP 4.5.x
  • Added new icons/logo
  • Added basic coupon tracking capabilities for MemberPress (more to come)
  • Fixed PHP compatibility issues
  • Fixed small javascript bug
  • Fixed bug with AWeber integration on SSL enabled sites
  • Changed affiliate links to no longer include email addresses if their email address is their username

Affiliate Royale 1.4.3

Affiliate Royale 1.4.3 has been released. It is not a critical update, but does address two small affiliate link redirection bugs which were affecting a very small number of users.

Change Log:

  • Fixed /wp-admin/ improperly redirecting to home page of site
  • Fixed issue where links/banners with no slug defined were returning 404’s

Affiliate Royale 1.4.2

Affiliate Royale 1.4.2 has been released and is a compatibility release for WordPress 4.3. We recommend that all users upgrade to Affiliate Royale 1.4.2 before upgrading to WordPress 4.3.

Change Log:

  • CRITICAL – Fixed bug introduced by WordPress 4.3
  • CRITICAL – Fixed issue with PayPal IPN validations