Affiliate Marketing – How Focused Are You?

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What a stupid question. VERY. I AM VERY FOCUSED. I want nothing more than to improve my affiliate income or create one… oh look, a BUTTERFLY! *cough*

For people starting out, or for people like me returning to a full time career after a hiatus, the most important thing we need to get right is focus. The painful truth about affiliate marketing (or the absolute delight in my opinion) is that there’s not a proscribed method. There’s not a manual, or a job description, or a definitive list for success.

The mental challenges of the job go beyond working out the increasingly complex nuances of how you create revenue bearing traffic, and into developing the headspace that will keep pushing you towards those goals efficiently.

There is real adversity involved in being an affiliate. Not just in the process of “getting there”, for the reality is that most long term affiliates (like me!) have to achieve success repeatedly. It’s like any other business essentially, but it does seem to suffer from an effortless image. Propagated for the most part by sellers of snake oil.

Forewarned is Forearmed, so here’s a collection of the more obvious challenges of focus we face routinely at the cutting edge of weaving the old internet magic 😉

    Too Much Focus

 

It can be all consuming. It’s so easy to spend every single spare second you have on affiliate marketing. After all, the more you work the sooner you get to those goals, right? Well, maybe not. Affiliate burnout beckons. If you don’t take that much needed R&R time you’ll often be sitting there at 1am achieving nothing without realising it. Checking stats, daydreaming, facebook, forums. NOT WORK!! Also, the excitement will quickly wane and turn to boredom. It’s so easy to give up on something because you’ve burned out your enthusiasm.

I recently had to pull some horrendous 12 hour days to get a time task done. Subsequently it took me 2 days to complete 1 days worth of tasks. Then it was another week before I slid back into a more usual rhythm of work I could identify as productive. I knew to expect this, but that time I needed to get a job done and fast to prepare for an upcoming Google change (more about those later!)

Spend fewer hours in front of the PC, make the time you do work count, start to develop an understanding of what’s a reasonable amount of work to get done in a “shift”. You, your business, and your personal relationships will be healthier for it. Trust me.

Stay focused. Proportionately.

Short Lived Focus

Instant gratification – there is none. It can take weeks or months for your hard work to start to really pay off. It’s way easy to take your foot off the pedal after a few weeks when you have barely earned the price of a beer after eye-bleedingly hard work. Self doubt creeps in, motivation drops. It’s incredibly hard to keep your eyes on the prize. I suffer on and off from this. Generally speaking I’ll have a period where commissions are sluggish, or some other adversity has crept in and I find it very hard to keep putting in the effort. Subsequently, everything rights itself, or a bit of work I did months ago blazes into life and I feel like a right old tit for having let myself become demotivated. I should know better.

These days, this is particularly true when trying your hand at capturing organic traffic. It’s very much a two steps forward three (hundred!) steps back endeavour at times. You can lose months or even years of work in an update. It is devastating. But you can’t look at what you lost, rather at what you kept. Because it’s there that the old phoenix will probably rise once more. You need to be an eternal optimist to be a successful affiliate. In the face of something that doesn’t seem to not be working, but also seems to be going backwards… you must persevere. And that’s a special kind of determination that requires you to be convinced that what you are doing is ultimately going to work. Well? Are you convinced? Really? Or does that Game of Thrones box set and a few beers look like a more productive weekend?

Stay focused. On your core strategy. More about phoenix stuff another time. When my own focus has improved enough to write cogently about it.

The Wrong Focus

Yes! You’ve made it!! You created that site and you can see a small but promising revenue stream. You get very excited. At this point it’s very common for distraction to set in. The imagination goes into overdrive. You spend several days working out how much more money you would make if you increased your traffic tenfold. You plan a network of related sites, for surely retirement to a sunny spot of your choosing is beckoning? Focus is lost, many domains are bought without due care and attention, several half started project are spawned.

Losing focus is one of the most toxic problems for would be affiliate marketers. There’s nobody there to tell us how to do this. We DO tend to be dreamers who aspire to greater things. Sadly that makes us prone to fantasy empire building with predictable results.

Stay focused. On the success you’ve already achieved.

Retaining focus is something I struggle with a lot. So this stuff… well lets just say I didn’t pull all the faults I’m claiming you have out of thin air. Keep pushing on and you’ll make progress. Simple concept. Often impossible to execute.

Good luck :)

A note from the author: Despite silence on the blog since June 11th I’ve actually been doing quite a lot of writing. Looking at my post revisions on here I started writing this on June 17th. It’s hard to get the right “feel” in my current state of personal development. However, this here was the distilled total of a lot of the things that I keep thinking about. I’m going to do an update on my own progress in the coming days. I think a mix of that plus the usual old affiliate brain dump are about the right level for this painfully-produced blog 😉

Thanks for reading.

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The Oldest Affiliate Newbie In Town…

Affiliate Annoyances 6 Comments »
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Well, this has all been just a bit excruciating. I’ve been back at work full time for 4 months now. Can you hear the creaking? I can. The sound of my own rusty abilities is constantly screeching in my mind, trying to distract me from the task in hand. I’ve gotten *awfully* good at not doing this the last 3.5 years.

Classic Del Boy Syndrome

When I was waiting to be able to return the UK I could barely contain myself. I was desperate to get back and get stuck in.  I couldn’t work. I’d had to give way to Duncan’s business, and I had also realised that the (extensive) work still needing doing to our house to get it ready for sale couldn’t be done by Duncan. Or me. Because I had a 4 month old baby. Oh, and a 2 year old toddler. Such a delightful stage that (said no parent ever). So I put an ad on Gumtree, and adopted a series of backpackers. They stayed in our spare room. I looked after them, I managed their time, and they also got some nice travel cash.

When I wasn’t enjoying my new career as amateur interpreter and project manager I’d be sitting roasting to death, exhausted, and stuck under a sleeping baby – but my head was exploding with ideas. Clearly I was going to immediately sit down and tap straight into the immense creative flow I’d enjoyed pre-baby.

FINALLY, My Day Arrived…

After walking over the several thousand miles of broken glass to get home (ask me about pulling off an international move in 20 days flat sometime. Tip: have a drink in your hand.), the day arrived.

I sat down at the computer and… Nothing. My mind emptied. Navel was extensively contemplated.

When I did try to do something I was confronted by endless obstacles generated by my own ignorance. Google analytics? Well, that was a tantrum and a half.

“JUST SHOW ME THE F**KING ORGANIC TRAFFIC!! Oh, there it is…The what? It’s… I’m sorry? You can’t see this stuff any more? &&*%$!!!!”

And so it went. Ad infinitum.

As for my written skills? I’m crap. I don’t know who the girl was that formerly shared her distilled wisdom upon these hallowed pages. But frankly, she was better than me. The fact I’ve written three (almost) full blog posts already and ended up boring MYSELF says it all. Subsequently I’ve discovered related posts on the draft and discovered this other know it all cow already said it. But cogently. I even laughed a couple of times.

So yes. I really do now know how it feels to be a newbie. I knew what I was supposed to be doing too. But sitting down to do it? Categorically unpleasant. Bewildering. And then…

Missing : My Confidence – Last seen shinning down a drainpipe after promising me the world then running out on me.

But of course. I’ve got something not many newbies have got. The memories of all the times I smugly called upon people trying to climb that seemingly impossible affiliate peak to persevere. So persevere I did. I’m probably not exaggerating when I say I sat with stage fright for a good month. Gradually it happened. I started with obvious things like direct to merchant PPC whilst I tried to get my head around the massive task of reorganising and redeveloping my current websites. Small wins in the form of miniscule new revenue streams (who knew a tenner could mean that much!) eroded my all new and much hated “Rabbit in Headlights” persona.

Not So Much Climbing A Mountain…

But I’ve kicked the shit out of a sizeable molehill, possibly even a tussock. Gradually, the seemingly incomprehensible began to take on meaningful form. Some of my confidence has slowly returned, and I can “see” the money I’m now going to pursue. And despite several outbreaks of “I Can’t Do This-itis” breaking out. I’m getting there.

I will not give up.

So sorry if this post isn’t up to scratch. There’s a job here I love. And I desperately want to write about it again. And the meandering point of this post is that I’m not sure how! I’m certainly not an expert any more. So how could I write all the “how to” and “affiliate mindset” guides of days gone by. There’s good stuff “in there” already. But I can’t get it out in a useful sense. My favourite abortive post so far was about how my maternity leave obsession with making a cup of coffee showed that the affiliate mindset found ways to escape when suppressed. Hmmmm.

I’ll just have to keep battering away at mundane until I hit gold again. 😉

P.S. Yes, the blog is old, struggling, and a bit out of date. A lot like me. I’ll fix both in due course, hahaha.

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Affiliate Marketing : Rebirthing

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I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, but there’s a block. Because I’ve not updated much at all since the dreaded year of the Penguin, or Panda, or rabid polar bear or whatever it was that killed off such a swathe of my fellow affiliates.

The longer you leave it, the harder it gets. So balls to creating a cogent job of explaining it all, I’ll just give it a red hot crack and hope for the best. Here goes…

 

What Kirsty Did For The Last 3.5 Years

  • I had a baby. Then for good measure, I had another one.
  • After what I *thought* was an unsuccessful restructuring attempt on a couple key sites, I abandoned my organic sites completely. I couldn’t spare the scant work time I had before child 1 appeared to possibly fruitless recovery efforts. Also I was supernaturally sick. Think the exorcist, but in my bathroom, all day, every day. Sod all that for a lark.
  • Concentrated on PPC. Fortunately I had quite a lot of existing PPC that was Google proof. I also tapped into a new market that replaced much of the organic income I had lost, and meant I could still have the relaxing time as a mother I’d been planning before Google’s wild animal collection rampaged through the scenery.
  • One day, after child one but before child two, Duncan got itchy internet shopping fingers. On a whim (based on a long standing ambition), he bought ten broken iPhones on eBay. Two months later he opened an iPhone repair business as a hobby. He was quite good at it. Unfortunately he knew someone who was quite good at online marketing. Therefore 3 months after that, he was working ten hour days up to his backside in broken iDevice glass. That’ll teach him.
  • Duncan’s new found fame as mr fixit gave us a nice “secondary” income which ended up equaling my affiliate marketing income. In the process we filled what was meant to be my peaceful working space with actual customers dropping in and out.  Concentration blown, driven from my workspace by hundreds of broken screens, financial pressure off. Unsurprisingly, my foot fell further off the affiliate marketing pedal. I was also pregnant again and utterly buggered. Path of least resistance and all that…
  • After child 2, emergency homing beacon well and truly activated. The wild wandering affiliate lifestyle isn’t *actually* that much fun when you can’t wander any more, and you are conveniently located 14,000km away from the nearest babysitter.
  • So I’m in Scotland again. Working in my bedroom. Yes, I know. Uh-huh Australia is lovely, and I miss it terribly every day. But I’d rather be driving distance to my family. Also, it transpired my visa wasn’t great. That put me off a bit too.

 

What Now?

As the newborn fog cleared for a second time, I realised that I really was missing working regularly. So before heading home to Scotland, I finally decided to look at the stats on my long dead sites. Just to see if I could learn anything, and so I could start thinking about how one structured a money making site these days. I hadn’t been able to bear to look for almost 2 years. I thought I was starting  from the ground up.

They weren’t dead. Not even remotely. Yes diminished. But dead? Nah. When I looked into it, the original structural changes I had laboriously made *were* enough. Not to rank for huge search terms any more. But there was a lucrative pulse there in more niche search terms which convert better anyhow.

“Oh look at that. I did still have a hope in hell after all. Probably should have checked earlier. Whoops.”

Now look, don’t ask me how I achieved thinking I couldn’t “do” organic sites any more. You’d absolutely have thought the commission still turning up here and there would be a clue, despite a lack of site updates. If you want insight, just go off, only sleep 2 hours a night for say a month, and then try to do your job effectively. And yes, the sites did earn commission all along. I just didn’t really pay much attention. I couldn’t engage with it. Also, I was pissed off with it for a long time. I had put a lot of planning into not having to work  much whilst pregnant and the whole gig literally imploded just as I got so sick I could barely sit upright.

 

Blogging Helps

I’ve always felt writing about affiliate marketing helped me a lot more than it probably helped the people who read what I wrote! Often when I have something on my mind, a wee bit blogging would draw together the many threads in my head. Also, it was and still is a lonely occupation. I like the conversation.

So I’m going to blog again. I’m not sure what the direction will be, or if it’ll all peter out. But I’m going to try. Read it or don’t. I’m doing it anyway. I’ll have to try to update this creaking old theme too. But later.

So yes, home. Marveling that despite all the Google trauma affiliate marketing paid me a full time salary all the way through 3.5 years of neglect and inconsistency. Finally out of the baby tunnel, sleeping again. Websites rebirthing.

I am affiliate. Hear me snore 😉

 

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Affiliate Marketing & Motherhood – The Ideal Combination? Well, Sorta!!

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Hello! What do you mean who are you? It’s me!! The former travelling affiliate lady, the one who used to make you green with envy with exotic travel photography and general tales of living the affiliate dream.

 

Just because I know you’ve missed them, here is a picture of what I used to do: –

And here is a picture of what I do now :-

*Cough* The one thing I am rapidly discovering is that there is no level of dickheadery you will not indulge in just to get a smile out of your child. What can I do? Path of least resistance seems the way forward!

Speaking Of The Path of Least Resistance….

On a more serious note, affiliate marketing is often spoken about as the perfect way of making money for the stay at home mum. Except not that many women that I am aware of are actually doing it. So is it the perfect fit? A Mummy job made in heaven?

Well… sort of. I already had an established business before I had my mini affiliate – meaning I could stop work when I felt I just couldn’t do it any more and have cruised along during the last 6 months only working when I truly felt like it and still made the normal income I’d expect. This is in stark contrast to the many mums I meet who are having to do things like sell cars and budget hard to stay at home with the kidlets. I am more than aware I am truly blessed and lucky to be able to do the mummy thing with no money worries. I realise that I am doubly lucky in this regard because I know a lot of affiliates haven’t come out of Google’s changes of the last 18 months terribly well.

Work & New Mummys Really Don’t Mix…

BUT, and it’s a big but – oh my lord what a struggle it’s been to motivate myself to do even the small amount of work I got done since the baby arrived. It’s only in the last 6 weeks or so I’ve really started to get my enthusiasm back and start to work consistently. At the minute this involves about 16 hours a week spread out over 7 days.

I really was shitting myself for a while there as I had absolutely no interest in working. I think that was mostly to do with exhaustion. AM is a very, very creative job (for me at least) which requires a fair bit of mental effort – and I just didn’t have it in me early doors. Massive kudos to any ladies reading this who have gone back to work after a few weeks at home with baby – you are nothing short of amazing.

The only reason I’ve gotten anything done at all is that I am utterly blessed to have the amazing Duncs at home with me. He hasn’t worked at all this year either and is looking after Eilidh whilst I take priority on getting my affiliate groove back on.

Do I think AM is something a mum with kids at home could do? Well yes. But easily? Not really! And if she started AM anew during her maternity leave? Not impossible but oh man it takes getting your teeth into an already steep learning curve from hard walking to hardcore mountaineering.

The New Routine

I’ve always been all about highly structured working days to make sure I’m efficient. However with a baby planning goes out of the window, and when I was chatting to my GP about what I do for a living and how, and I mentioned this method – she sort of winced and told me that it’d be an awfully misguided idea to set myself rigid routines and in particular to have the completion of said routines as a hallmark of success.

With all the tiredness and post pregnancy hormones I was assured that down that path the thorny road to Post Natal Depression awaits. Yes, being a control freak in charge of a small child is unwise in the extreme!! Now I’m in the midst of trying to work and baby wrangle I can totally see what she means. Trying to use that method now would be impossible and I’m awfully glad I am lucky enough to have a GP who took an interest in my wellbeing before I got myself into strife. I’ve always given myself a hard time about my work and the standards I carry it out to – and I think I have that in common with many affiliates. There was always going to be an element of conflict with the two roles and working out how they should marry together. I absolutely thought I could go back to work when Eilidh was 2 months old – I was barely capable of sitting upright at that point!

I’m Going To Call It “Chaotic Creativity”

Sit down and do whatever pops into my head, for as long as I have energy to do so. I try to take my own advice from wayback – try to do one thing each day that has the potential to make money and get it up there and running.

This mostly takes the form of PPC. In a post Penguin and Panda world I simply lack the brain capacity (and my technical chap in the form of Duncan) to work on my sites at the moment. I do have a plan, but executing it will take consistency. Consistency is not currently my friend. Thank goodness for my old school PPC skills which have made up the rather inconvenient loss of income that Google doled out to us affiliate types!

And What Next?

Well, I’m about to put in a new kitchen and bathroom here at the house. After that, we are going to get Duncs back to work a couple days a week whilst I’m doing Mummy stuff. Hopefully we can build a semi-routine from there.

For me AM and motherhood mix well on the whole but I’ve not really had an easy time making the two work together and I’ve definitely not succeeded to a degree where I’m happy. That said, once again the job I love has helped me to live the dream. A very different dream to before but one that’s just as exciting (and with much less sleep!).

I’m also thinking of doing a mummy blog (still!). I’d like to write more about all my other creative stuff like cooking, gardening, and a new one – sewing baby things. I have a domain, I’ll get there in the end. That’s my new work mantra.

I’ll Get There In The End

…meanwhile I’ll keep putting the most important thing in my life first…

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A Long Overdue Update…

Life Outside Affiliatedom 13 Comments »
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Oops, well you will see from the tumbleweed and other signs of decay and abandonment that I’ve not been around these parts much in recent months.

Try not to take it personally, to be honest I’ve not been doing much in the world of affiliate marketing at all since the start of October last year. First of all we had my parents visiting with us for a month, followed by Duncan’s folks for another month. It was around that point that I realised that I was heavily pregnant and exhausted and resumed working, but only for about 2 hours each day. By the end of December my definition of exhaustion had been upgraded and I ended up spending the rest of my pregnancy in my bedroom watching TV and playing on Facebook from a reclining position!

So On Feb 4th I….

Had A Beautiful Baby Girl!!!!!!!!

In typical me style the birth was very dramatic complete with Hollywood style sudden water breakage followed by tyre squealing trip to the hospital. Duncan has now passed his advanced driving test which much to his surprise involves very fast motorway driving combined with someone trying to break all the bones in your left hand. His emergency park / car abandonment in the hospital ambulance bay completed his exam which he passed with flying colours.

And here is my little affiliate drama queen, Eilidh Eve McKenzie

That’s her meeting her Grannie for the first time, and as you can see she was a teeny bit poorly when she was born and also very petite. She was a whopping 5.5lbs and to give you a scale – that’s a facecloth draped over her.

After a very short stay in special care she was A-OK and is now thriving away nicely. Since then it’s been no sleep and nappies all the way with not a space in my mind for any affiliate marketing beyond that essential hour every day to make sure nothing has collapsed in a burning pile of cinders!

What Next?

Well, it’s almost time for me to start work again. Not full time of course, but at least a couple of hours each day somewhere in between the various fine arts of parenting.

Long term readers of this blog will know that I’ve always extolled the virtues of a highly structured working day / week to ensure maximum productivity. Clearly that system is now about as much use as me planning to sleep 10 hours each night – it’s not up to me any more! I’m in for an interesting time considering how I’m used to working and judging when it’s OK for me to stop working. The pull of chronic workaholism combined with the demands of a fast growing mini affiliate might just clash a teeny bit 😉

Thanks To Google…

I’ve got some serious ground to make up too… like many affiliates Google Panda has had an unpleasant effect, but I’m fortunate enough in that I’m still motoring along nicely revenue wise thanks to a wide spread of traffic sources and some well placed gap plugging.

I have many plans for moving forward with my current sites and some new projects. My various experiments with Google organic search have given me a path forward from here. As far as timing goes it’s needless to say that Google sucks for perpetrating this just when I had a child. To see 3 years hard work flushed down the internet lavvy is distressing to say the least – but that is Affiliate Marketing in a nutshell. You never know what might happen and have to be prepared to reinvent yourself constantly. So that’s what I’ll do.

Reinventing The Affiliate Wheel

The way forward? Some mini sites, a bit of work tarting up and replicating the structure of sites that didn’t get affected combined with the tapping of some revenue / traffic streams I’ve known about for a while but haven’t had time to exploit.

I hope to have time to talk about them all on here with you guys, but with a baby around the house and my new freeform “who knows?” work methodology the updates are likely to be irregular. It’s often been said that affiliate marketing is the ideal job for a stay at home mother. Is it? Well… I’ll let you know.

It’s been pretty good so far. Despite Google Panda it’s looked after me since last October without a huge amount of input. That bit works well. The bit where I actually have to do something? That’s for me to find out very soon 😉

See y’all around!

What’s that? Another baby picture?? Glad to comply… here’s one from the last couple of days. Hasn’t she grown?

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Guest Post – Affiliates & Social Media

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Hey there my fellow affiliates!  I’ve got a great guest post from a very well known face in the UK affiliate marketing scene  for you all. I’m sure most of my UK readers will either know or have worked with the lovely Hannah Swift who recently left Existem-AM to forge out on her own.

We all know Hannah as one of the best affiliate managers in the UK, but did you know she’s also more than a little bit good at Social Media as well?  Her newly launched business Bright Digital Minds offers social media management amongst other things, so I thought it’d be great if Hannah could show off her knowledge in this area in the form of a guest post.

Social Media And Affiliates

There are a number of good reasons why affiliates should begin to embrace social media, if they haven’t already. Forget the instant sales and start thinking of social media as an extension of your brand, a traffic generator and a direct way of communicating with your users and potential ‘customers’.

There are a number of key social media tools that all affiliates should begin to use, from the oldest form of social media – the blog, right up to the more current channels such as Twitter. I could talk for hours about the many ways in which affiliates can use social media, but for now, I thought I’d pop down a few ideas and examples to get people started.

 

LinkedIn

Whether for you as a person, your company or the site, LinkedIn opens up a world of opportunity. From finding other affiliates to swap ideas with or maybe the odd link, to creating a buzz about what you do.

Did you know there are over 100 million LinkedIn users? What better people to network with than with these people, like-minded business people or entrepreneurs. As an example, if you have a sports or adventure holidays website, then joining groups like (http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Adventure-Sports-Holidays-3798645?gid=3798645&mostPopular=&trk=tyah) this one, can give you inspiration for articles and new contacts, new merchants to get in touch with and perhaps even new content writers.

 

YouTube

We have all seen a YouTube video at some point, from replays of our favourite sporting moments to celebrities disgracing themselves for our amusement. However the power of YouTube goes beyond that. YouTube videos are an incredible way of visualising a product, giving a brand a personality and generating traffic.

Getting your readers to upload a video or share it or even comment on one can add an additional dimension to your site. There are a number of affiliates already using YouTube, one for example has a staggering 51,025 channel views, with their videos being watched a total of 132,441 times! Used on site to aid conversions and for viral campaigns, this affiliate has truly embraced the power of video. Despite what you may think, video is actually quite simple to create – with free software such as windows movie maker and iMovie. Why not try it and see what happens!

http://www.youtube.com/user/mydeco

Twitter

Great for having a good old moan at your utility providers, stalking celebrities or keeping in touch with the rest of the world, Twitter is now dominating our lives. It’s not only a way of instantly getting your message out there, but it also provides a great platform for 2-way communication, firstly with your merchants; watching what they are promoting and keeping in touch or sourcing new ones.

Secondly, your readers and site users will have their own thoughts and experiences they want to share, they might have questions about products or more importantly they might become ‘brand advocates’. Re-tweeting and sharing your messages to their followers, they will help to promote you and your site. As an example @chocolatereview has a great mix of tweets to readers, merchants and promotional messages. Easy to read without being bombarded with sales, sales, sales!!!

 

Facebook

Although not an affiliate, my favourite Facebook campaign at the moment has to be Vinnie The Panda (http://www.facebook.com/vinnie). Not only do I keep getting free biscuits in the post, but you can take lots of useful ideas from it. The first page you land on gathers your data, so not only can you be marketed to by Facebook (in the hope you share the love) but Vinnie can now continue his message to your email.

Carefully handled and well executed Facebook can bring you more than just inactive fans. Facebook can deliver data, brand advocates and of course, high quality traffic.

Blogs

The founding tool of social media, the humble blog should not be forgotten, from helping with on site SEO to giving you the chance to discuss wider topics. Take the Olympics as an example; if you own a site about the Olympics, mainly focused on places to stay. Then your blog becomes a chance for you to discuss London visitor attractions, flights, the clothing the athletes are endorsing, memorabilia (did you know they have Olympics branded tea towels!) It gives you a chance to let those creative juices flow, perhaps pick up a few additional sales without flooding your main site with ‘irrelevant’ content. You might even pick up some links too!

How To Get Involved?

The best way to get involved with social media is just to give it a go. Think about what you would like to see as a customer, how would you like to interact with a company? What information would you like to know and most importantly, how often? Shouting ten times a day for a few days and then nothing for weeks is not the best way forward. To quote a dear friend ‘less Billy Connolly, more Billy Joel’ be remembered for the fun things, not the inaudible rants!

I really hope my quick snap shot into social media for affiliates helped! If you have any questions or want to find out more – get in touch!

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5 Good Reasons Why I Persevered with Panda

Google 11 Comments »
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I’m sure you’re all very much aware of the Google Panda update that’s caused many a heart attack in affiliate land since it was launched 6 long months ago.  My own sad experience has seen me almost completely lose a very large site which was IMHO largely because Google never did work out the difference between my original content and the stuff that had been stolen by oodles of horrid scrapers. I had to remove 1100 pages of a 1300 page site and consign most of it to the internet dustbin. Ouch.

Despite the fact I had other sites with much better EPCs I could have thrown my effort into to replace the income I lost I’ve sweated blood these last few months to go through the painstaking process of rebuilding my site. To date, I’m about 25% of the way there and have a lovely uphill climb over razorblades to look forward to.

However, I decided to persevere with Panda and these are the reasons I think it was the right thing to do: –

1. I Need to Understand Google’s New Way Of Thinking – Yes it’s tempting just to consign an apparently unsavable site to the rubbish bin. But if I don’t take time to understand the fundamentals of what Panda needs to see from me I’m not going to have an affiliate business at all in 2 or 3 years. Working on my hammered site may not be the best short term use of time from a revenue point of view but I’d rather use this experience to improve my business than focus on short term gain.

2. Let Google Get The Better Of Me? Get F**ked! I’d rather stick hot needles under my fingernails than admit to myself that Google took one of my favourite sites. I will fix it, the Panda will not win! Someone mentioned to me the other day that I may or may not have sadistic tendencies when it comes to things like this.  If I do, more power to my elbow.

3. It’s Sort Of Fun Whenever things like this happen I always have a renewed appreciation for my SEO roots, I love the problem solving aspect of algo changes.  To be fair this has been the toughest one to date because it’s had a huge and admittedly depressing effect on Lingerie Brands in particular, and to a lesser extent two of my other main sites.

4. I Can Use What I Learn on My Other Sites – I had two other sites hit by Panda in the June update.  Not badly, but enough to annoy me quite a fair bit.  I used what I’d laboriously learned with my other poorly site to immediately make some key changes I thought could help.  In the August update I recouped about half of what I’d lost. Cheered me up immensely that did!

5. They Might Not be Bloody Done Yet! Like all Google’s wonderful ideas, they’re working hard to refine it.  If I don’t take the time to be up to date with it and they raise the bar again, things could get really gnarly. By working hard to recreate an improved site and passing all I’ve learned into my existing sites I hope to avoid any further traffic upsets.  Incidentally, I really hope we’ve seen all the big changes go through that will affect affiliate content sites – I don’t think I can take any more Pandalisation in my fragile pregnant state, LOL.  MMMM Morning sickness and Panda – thanks for nothing Google 😉

Well, those are my reasons for Persevering with Panda. I could have made this post why “YOU” should persevere but I know a lot of people have just been totally stumped by this. I guess I’m lucky I found a path forward with my sites.

Good luck to all my Pandalised affiliate pals :)

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A Couple Of Recent Interviews

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Greetings!  I’m pleased to report the recovery from the horrors of pregnancy is progressing nicely, I know you’ll all have been worrying about me 😉  I’ve got my 19 week scan on Friday of this week and hope to find out if my little child will be selling princess toys or Bob the Builder merchandise!

In other news, I’ve found the time to do a couple of interviews recently and thought you guys might be interested in hearing from me in a second hand sort of way. I haven’t forgotten about you all honestly, I will get to all my planned posts in the end.

Interview 1 – Webtistic

I had a bit of a chat with the lovely Dave Bird of Webtistic fame (for all your SEO, PPC and affiliate management needs – now I want a discount  for that Dave, you know you want to!!!!).

I talked a bit about my current affiliate marketing goings on, what I like and dislike about it, and I didn’t even get cross when they referred to me as a Super Affiliate. As you all know I’m happy being “Pretty Good” but apparently that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it 😉

You can read the interview here.

Interview 2 – Google Panda & SEO Type Stuff

This is basically a rehash of an e-mail conversation I had with someone about my SEO strategies as an affiliate and a bit about Panda recovery related efforts. It was put up after we realised we’d been talking about some pretty interesting stuff! It’s not as detailed as the Panda post I’m planning to (eventually!!!) do, but there’s some interesting content in there that some of you might find interesting or useful. I also mention just how terribly affected by Panda Lingerie Brands really was – get your hankies out because it’s truly bloody tragic.

But will I let Google have the last laugh?  Come on guys, you know me better than that. I’ll get her back in the end :)

Check out the interview here.

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Interview with Alex Thompson : What’s It Like To Work In An Affiliate Management Agency?

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So I’ve been working with the lovely Alex Thompson of Silverbean fame on a couple of programmes recently. He’s a nice proactive chap, always keen, and always popping up to see what he can help with.

With that in mind, and because agencies sometimes get a bad rap, I decided to do a bit of an interview with him so you could all find out more about the human face of a hard working agency type who really does want to connect with all us cynical affiliates (for his sins).

So tell us all a bit about yourself in a Blind Date style of yer own choosing!

Hello everyone! My name is Alex Thompson; I was born in Sheffield but now live in Newcastle. I work for the UK’s leading digital marketing agency, Silverbean.

My job involves talking to affiliates on a daily basis to improve their EPC and liaising with merchants to give Affiliates maximum content and coverage. It’s all about building strong relationships. If you fancy a chat sometime about anything Affiliate Marketing or how I can help you with your EPC then hit me up on Skype “alexsilverbean”

eds note: he was in there quick with the plug eh?  Wage rise for Mr Thompson Silverbean bosses!!

How did you come to be working in the affiliate industry? Was it something you had an ambition to do or did it just sort of happen?!

A bit of both, I have always had a keen interest in the digital sector and at University I studied Marketing. When I discovered Digital Marketing it was the perfect fusion. I was passionate about Digital and had the knowledge in Marketing.

The opportunity to work at a leading Digital Marketing agency was too big an opportunity to turn down. Silverbean has fantastic relationships within the affiliate industry, this has helped fuel my knowledge of Affiliate Marketing and the digital sector.

Tell us about a typical day in the life of an agency type such as yourself…

My primary role at Silverbean is Affiliate Account Management, I work in client services team so I work in all areas of Digital Marketing but my main focus is in the Affiliate sector.

As Silverbean has multiple services PPC, SEO, Email, Social Marketing the office is always busy and is vibrant hub of digital news and information. As an agency we have to stay ahead and be aware of all the latest news, in the Digital and Affiliate industries.

What sort of merchants do you work with?

I work with a wide range of merchants to deliver high quality account management.

For example, I manage the affiliate program for the top underwear retailer Banglads, Luxury Home & Garden retailers OKA Direct & Litecraft, Baby + Toddler retailer TeenyTots and Online football pools Soccer Millionaire. These are just a few of the merchants I look after.

Obviously dealing with merchants every day you work with a lot of businesses and are privy to their perceptions about affiliate marketing. How do the people we work with see us affiliates? Is there still a notion of grubbiness in the air?!


I am going to be as honest as possible here, there is none! All my merchants appreciate and value the affiliates who generate sales for them. This is a performance channel, merchants are aware of the low risk attached with Affiliate Marketing. Affiliates who generate a sale have put in the hard work and deserved to be rewarded.

Obviously some merchants are more positive than others but I have not come across one merchant yet who has given ill perceived perception of Affiliates. In today’s day and age customers are very savvy, they know what they like to see and the kind of information they want to see from a product before they purchase.

Affiliates are meeting these requirements and are constantly building/redesigning their sites to meet them. Affiliates have a demanding job keeping up with the consumer.

When I started out in affiliate marketing it was all bedroom affiliates and it was relatively easy to get your foot in the door with a website and make some cash. What does an average affiliate site look like these days? What’s the spread of affiliates like? i.e. corporate, your weekend wonders, and in betweeners like me?

As mentioned above, the average customer is always evolving and their needs are becoming more and more demanding. Obviously there are different types of affiliates but on the whole the quality of affiliate sites is very high. As you are aware Panda has been a major blow to some affiliate sites. Google is making is harder for new affiliates to enter the market.

Is there a standard type of person you see turning up as a successful affiliate?

I wouldn’t say there is a standard type of person, the main types of affiliates who I see generating successful sales are Content, Vouchers, Cashback and Shopping Portals/Comparison, all of which make up a successful affiliate program.

What do you love most about your job?

Building those all-important Affiliate Relationships! Without them in place I couldn’t do my job. I consider myself to be pro-active and approachable. Finding new affiliates and asking them to join the program and then to see them generate sales is a great feeling.

Client relationship is also important and something I enjoy – if you have a good relationship with the merchant the information you can pass onto Affiliates will be higher quality. Poor relationships mean you can’t properly communicate to affiliates what the merchant is promoting in a given month.

There must be frustrations in your role as a bit of a “middle man” between merchants and affiliates. What are those and how do you deal with them?

I can’t lie; there are frustrations from time to time. Being the middle man can have its downsides, especially with quick turnarounds.

Merchants are very busy and asking them to jump on a task can be a big ask sometimes. Planning ahead, setting key times in a week to speak with a merchant are ways around this. Having constant communication with the merchant at a fixed time helps avoid this issue.

I’ve worked with affiliates (and still do!) and they are often difficult to communicate with in terms of catching their attention and getting them promoting a programme. What techniques do you use to open a dialogue with affiliates you want to work with?

I have several, Affiliates are very busy and I am fully aware of this. I always start with a non-intrusive email. Of course it depends on what you are asking for, affiliate recruitment emails must outline the benefits of the program and also have a short introduction about myself and how I fit in with the program. It is important to let the Affiliate know of all the tools at the their disposal (product feed etc)

Affiliate Relationship building – when an affiliate is on the program and you want push more sales for them they can be contacted in many ways. Standard emails, Social Media works well, Twitter provides an excellent way of getting in touch, Skype calls build instant rapport with the affiliate and shows you are willing to go that extra mile for them. It is all about caring and not being ignorant. I approach every affiliate as equal.

If you had the ability to call into existence one thing that would help you with your day to day work and make your job easier, what would it be?

Again going to be honest, if every affiliate I contacted came back to me! Sounds a daft thing to say but if every affiliate I got in touch with came back to me my job would be a lot easier.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand affiliates are very busy and this isn’t always plausible. In an ideal world it would be great. Would like to stress I am not being negative on affiliates!

Eds note: Don’t worry Alex, we know what you mean!

Any aspirations to be an affiliate or do you dabble already?

I have not got my toes wet just yet – Affiliate Marketing takes time and effort. It is something that has to take a lot of planning to get it right. Understanding your visitors, understanding the merchant’s customers, understanding Google. So many factors to be successful, it will be a while yet before I feel I can get involved.

If anyone is interested in a full list of all the clients the lovely Alex works with you can drop him an email on alex.thompson@silverbean.co.uk or visit www.sbnaffiliates.co.uk

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Get a Lovely Traffic Increase Over The Weekend? Are You Sure?!

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So there I was on Sunday morning, dribbling bacon grease all over my keyboard and checking out a few stats as is my usual ritual, when to my joy I discovered 3 of my sites had gotten stonking great traffic increases in the region of 30%.

“Oh Deep Joy!” I thought, “Perhaps something to do with the foreign language Panda Update they’ve rolled out” followed a little while later with “Hmmm… deep concern. Why have I not seen extra traffic through to merchants?”

After also noticing a nasty old drop in user session times, new visitor rates, and pages per visit combined with increased bounce rate I knew something was badly wrong somewhere so got my internet investigationing hat on and did a spot of research.

Introducing The New And Improved Analytics Data Roll Out

It transpired that Google Analytics had made some improvements to the way user sessions are counted.

Of course they had anticipated a slight skewing of data mentioning in their post that, “Overall, this change may slightly increase the number of visits. Based on our research, most users will see less than a 1% change.”

Well, I can only speak for myself but I think they’ve gotten it a teeny tiny bit wrong. You only have to read the comments on their post to see I’m not alone there!

I’m no analytics expert – I confess to being a basic user so if anyone knows of a fix please let me know! Although I *think* the absolute unique visitor data is pretty much correct it’s totally humped my ability to look at things like organic traffic stats and see which terms are doing well or just work out how many “real” organic visits I’m getting from particular sources.

No comment from Google yet, but I sure do hope there’s a workaround or they can fix things up :(

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