Tunnel Vision Hurts You in the Affiliate Space

This post contains affiliate links. Because this is an affiliate marketing blog, so, #duh.

I recently tried to join a program in ShareASale that I thought would be a really fun fit for the family side of Bourbon & Sparkle. It’s a kid’s book subscription service, which is a pretty great fit for me — a book lover who is pregnant. I was declined, and reached out asking for clarification. After stating that they were confused by the site (because they primarily looked at the affiliate marketing blog, as opposed to the family blog), telling me they were “going to pass,” and subsequently telling me that I didn’t fit into “the niche that has proven successful” for them, I couldn’t help but express my disappointment in their obviously narrow view of what a “successful” affiliate looks like.

Because we all look different.

And such tunnel vision is limiting to success — regardless of whether you’re an affiliate manager or an affiliate.

When I work with wedding bloggers, I often hear “I want to work with wedding-related companies and well-known retailers who sell wedding stuff.” Honey, of course you do. That’s obvious. But you might also want to work with sports memorabilia retailers, steak suppliers and meal delivery services. Why? Because they’ll still be relevant to your audience:

Sports memorabilia makes great gifts, whether it’s for your registry or bridal party. Little trinkets are also great for random wedding decor (I wore a Red Sox garter at my first wedding).

Steak suppliers would be a perfect fit for stories about BBQ weddings, groomsmen gifts or even gifts for the couple.

Meal delivery services match up with the busy couple who don’t have time to plan out a weekly menu or go grocery shopping — what’s more convenient than the ingredients and recipe delivered right to your doorstep so you can get right back to planning?

When you limit who you work with, you limit your earning potential. When you keep an open mind about merchant partnerships, you might surprise yourself with how well an offbeat merchant might fit into your regular content.

Similarly, when an affiliate manager has a narrow definition of who their audience is and only works with bloggers who fit within the confines of that definition, they limit the amount of potential new and repeat customers, which then limits the amount of sales they could potentially be generating. (Remember the program that required exclusivity? Kinda like that.)

In this instance, the affiliate manager also made mention that my social media handles containing “brokeass” wouldn’t “be appreciated” by their audience. (Because, you know, moms don’t swear … nor are they broke.) Never mind the fact that Bourbon & Sparkle has its own handles. The amount of research this AM did was obviously minimal.

But here’s the deal: I’m not trying to reach their audience. I’m trying to introduce them to my audience. And my audience knows me — swearing and all. Bourbon and all. Irreverence and all. Sparkle and all. And that’s exactly why my audience comes here — because they like my writing (thanks for that, btw!) for what it is, not because it fits into some other mold of what a mommy blogger / family blogger / wedding blogger / affiliate marketing blogger *should* look like. And I don’t want to fit in that mold.

I want the chance to introduce you guys to new, awesome products I think you’ll love (because a few of you have asked me for just such things). I want the chance to talk about companies that I think are doing cool, new things. I want to help educate, commiserate, celebrate and generally converse with you guys about the many facets of my life. Shit I know about. I want to discover new shit, too, which is why I am constantly looking for new programs to work with.

Tunnel vision is limiting, and it’s also kind of douchey — when you have an open mind about who you are willing to work with, you might find that the best affiliate or merchant is someone who is completely outside of your normal comfort zone.