Affiliate Summit East is almost here, and I’m so, so sad I won’t be attending this year (thanks, #babything). ASE is one of my favorite conferences, and I dare say I enjoy it more than Affiliate Summit West — ASW is like a party, ASE is a bit more business-focused, in my opinion. My very first speaking gig was at ASE ’14, and my first solo session was at ASE ’15. I also love New York, and the energy of the city really helps the vibe of the conference.
How the hell do you even get started in affiliate marketing?
Let’s get back to the basics, kids, and start from there.
First thing’s first: You’ll need to join some networks.
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:
It’s frustrating as hell. You’ve emailed at least a couple of times trying to pry an answer out of your affiliate manager, only to be met with total radio silence. You’re not really sure how to proceed, and in the meantime you’ve been racking up mad clicks and conversions for their merchant. You’re starting to feel like just another cog in the wheel, and it’s a pretty shitty way to feel.
While I don’t claim to be old hat at affiliate marketing, I do feel as though I know my fair share about it. I always read the T’s & C’s for programs, because I’ve seen some funky things (like not being able to use images from a merchant’s site or not being allowed to post about the merchant on social unless it leads back to my blog). But this is the first time I have seen an affiliate marketing program require exclusivity among its affiliates. And the whole concept has my head spinning.
The one figure I most often hear bloggers talk about — whether they’re stoked or balking — is commission. And why not? It’s important to know how much scratch you’re going to earn when you’re able to make a conversion. And of course, the bigger the better, right?
But cookie length is important too, maybe even more important. And it’s an oft-overlooked metric that plays a huge role in earning you that hard-earned commish in the first place. Especially for wedding and some lifestyle bloggers, knowing the cookie length you’re working with is integral to deciding which merchants to promote.
I work with a number of bloggers, mostly in the wedding space, who are just starting to get their feet wet in affiliate marketing. And they have questions. Lots of ’em. Which, I totally get because it wasn’t that long ago that I had all the same damn questions. Hell, I still have questions and ask them of my AMs or friends in the industry without abandon. So, I thought I’d answer a few of these FAQs for you, because it’s better to know than not know, right?
You’ve had your 1:1 meetings. You lost your voice from all the networking. You’re tired, maybe a little hungover and full of ideas. You’ve got a stack of business cards to sort through, a list of merchants you met with and tons of new blogger friends. You learned about a few new aspects to working with ShareASale, like reports you didn’t know existed or ways to optimize your blog for better monetization.
People all too often hear “passive income” and they’re all “Hellz yeah! Sign me up, bro!” without considering what it means, what’s entailed and what can result. Because passive income = sippin’ on some piña coladas and getting a sick tan while the skrilla racks up, right?