Part 3 – How Did It All Start?

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I ended Part 2 of How Did It All Start? by sharing that I was introduced to Affiliate Marketing.  I will share my experience here:

It’s funny that when one door closes another always seems to open. In my case, just around the time i was feeling overwhelmed and uneasy about dropshipping products to customers for the reasons given in Part 2…, information started to noticeably appear about affiliate marketing when i was searching for unrelated information and before i knew it my curiosity took over to learn more about affiliate marketing.

Affiliate Marketing – is performance based marketing where a business rewards an affiliate each time a customer is brought to the business to make a purchase as a result of the affiliates marketing/promotional efforts for products or services offered by the business.

In other words, if i post a link on my website, my social media sites, etc. that leads to a product that another company is selling and someone clicks on my link and buys a product from that company then I would earn a commission. Neil Patel has an amazing article on the subject ‘Affiliate Marketing Made Simple – A Step By Step Guide‘.

Affiliate Business/Vendor – A business who offers rewards to an affiliate as stated above.

Affiliate/Affiliate Advertiser/Publisher  – Someone who markets/promotes products or services on behalf of a business in exchange for rewards/payment.

Affiliate rewards – From what i have found, usually a percentage is paid on the total dollar amount a customer has purchased as a result of clicking on a link from the publishers sites.

Affiliate Business Rules/Guidelines/Agreements – Most Affiliate businesses/Vendors have some kind of an agreement in place in which you need to read and understand thoroughly. This not only outlines the terms in which you will be paid, i.e. percentage amount, how often, how much is held back or in your account, but more importantly this information has strict rules on where you are allowed to promote their products/services, what you are allowed to say and what you are not allowed to say in your posts or articles, and what images you are allowed to post. These are legal documents and must be taken seriously.  If you do not understand something in these agreements, you need to ask.

Affiliate Disclosure – It’s common practice and common courtesy to consumers to add an affiliate disclosure to let them know you may be or will be earning a commission as a result of them making a purchase via clicking on a link from your site. You can see ours here.

Where to Find Affiliate Businesses – As a result of my own research I’ve found that most with the exception of very few businesses are associated with one of 3 affiliate sites: SaleHoo, CJ (Commission Junction) or Rakuten Linkshare . Some businesses I have contacted directly to ask if they offer an affiliate program have referred me directly to one of these 3 sites, depending on who they are associated with, and a few have their own affiliate program in place.

How to Become An Affiliate Advertiser/Publisher – Just because you want to promote or advertise a business’s products or services doesn’t mean that you will be paid a commission.  All 3 of the sites mentioned above, as well as those businesses who offer their own affiliate program require you to show your website domain, share types of promotion you are currently doing or would like to do, as well as share information about your own company.  I have been declined by many businesses, but they don’t usually share why you have been declined.  You may follow up to ask, but even then, you don’t always hear back as to why, but you can always re-apply.

How to Promote Products & Services – Whether a business has partnered/signed on with SaleHoo, CJ or Rakuten or are offering their own affiliate program, they provide text data and/or banners and images as well as a special link for the products and services they offer as part of their affiliate program.  When you sign up and are approved as an affiliate advertiser/publisher you are given a unique code/number that is associated with your affiliate account.  This is your ID so when a customer clicks on the link that you share on your site and they end up on the company site to make a purchase, the computer on the other end knows by your ID that you are to be paid the commission from the sale of that specific product or service the customer purchased.

I was approved as an affiliate publisher by several businesses through the 3 affiliate sites mentioned above.  I didn’t expect it to be so quick, but since it was I needed to jump on developing a website.  I had already registered Up On Retail as a business in Canada and purchased both  .ca and .com domains for uponretail so I was ready to develop a website.

I had used SquareSpace when updating many of my social media clients websites who used this platform, but none were ecommerce sites. I was fairly fluent in how the SS platform and templates worked so I chose to develop my website with them.  I spent numerous hours developing the website, asking for support from SS staff when i needed it and had a beautiful site developed.  With regular tests, I had added several affiliate links to my website which were provided by the companies who had approved me so i could be sure they not only looked great but to also make sure they directed traffic to the correct product or service page to consider making a purchase.  Because I had been approved as an affiliate advertiser/publisher for a variety of products and services I had created pull down tabs for categories to allow customers to find certain types of products/services.

The last thing i needed was a search bar to allow a customer visiting my website to search for any product or service from my home page and other pages on my site home page. This would save a customer a lot of time from scrolling through hundreds of products/services by directing them to only the items found in the search results. (We all know how frustrated we get on websites that aren’t quick and easy). To my surprise and extreme disappointment when it came time to add this ‘Search’ feature I was advised by SS that this option/feature was not available.  Wow, was i unhappy?! I spoke to more than 1 representative from SS before one finally suggested I would need to add a widget which  SS did not provide, to make this work but they couldn’t suggest anything specific or anyone to contact.

I quickly found myself searching on google once again to find a solution for my need for a ‘Search’  widget for SS. After speaking with both Josh from Square Plugins and Andrei from Widgetic, who were both out of this world kind in their efforts to help me out, I discovered that this was not going to be an easy venture, nor a cheap one.

With the outcome for adding a search widget to my site being that this was going to add yet another monthly fee to my start-up budget and didn’t see any other alternatives at the time, I contacted SS and demanded I get my yearly payment back and decided to close the website I’d spent endless hours to get to this point.  I felt without a ‘Search’ option on the site, consumers would get frustrated and leave the site, not to mention tell others about non-desirable features of the Up On Retail website.

I felt in a bit of a panic with no clear direction for a website, a limited budget and many companies who had already approved me as an affiliate advertiser and sent me daily or weekly updates for new promotions for me to add to my website.

It was suggested by a few people to develop a website on WordPress so I got on Reddit to read reviews and searched on google once again, this time to learn about WordPress.  I became so confused with WordPress.com and WordPress.org and the need to find a host for the site and plug ins to allow the functions i felt were needed for the site that this felt even above my technical skills.

It was around this time information for a webinar came across my computer. I honestly don’t know where the information came from or even if it was on the internet, an email or on one of my social media channels, but somehow I had signed up for a free webinar in regards to Ecommerce and next thing i knew I was receiving a confirmation email from Startup Bros providing my login information for the webinar. (Yes, I may receive a commission if you decide to sign up with Startup Bros from my link)

This webinar as part of the Ecommerce Empire has changed my life in a great way! Here we are, just over one year later and Up On Retail continues to move forward without ever looking back.

As for affiliate marketing, I do have affiliate links here on this website under the ‘Things We Like’ tab where I may receive compensation for purchases made as a result of people clicking on my links. Although I have not earned any commission up to this point, it has only been recently that i have decided on a new website which will allow me to properly promote products/services as an affiliate advertiser, which i do feel will result in payments:)

As a result of not regularly promoting products/services that i have been approved as an affiliate advertiser, I have lost a few  accounts, but still have many to this day.  My plan is once i have my new website developed (and here we are), I will be hiring a virtual assistant to manage the affiliate side of my business so I can focus on continuing to build my Ecommerce business.

In Part 4 of How Did It All Start?, I look forward to beginning to share with you my journey to selling on Amazon, Ebay, Etsy and my Private Label experience.

Stay tuned!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the post and I welcome any questions or comments.

Have a wonderful day wherever you are in the world reading this!

NOTE: The information shared in this post is my understanding of what i have researched and any opinions expressed are my own, unless stated otherwise.

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