Dream job for entrepreneur

Associate Programs Newsletter #140

Affiliate mini-sites (Part 5)
"They sometimes work Big."

I was planning to wrap up my series on affiliate mini-sites with one more article.

However, now I don't need to. Paul Myers of TalkBiz News has summed them up beautifully. He says:

"Mini-sites. They're one of the most effective tools for online publishers of any type.

"They're also one of the cheapest and easiest to create and profit from. This article makes them sound simple. That's because they are. Don't let that fool you, though.

"They work. As you'll see, they sometimes work Big."

Paul's article, published in the latest edition of TalkBiz News, is a "must-read". It includes an interview with Wayne Porter, who earns $750 to $1,000 a month from one affiliate mini-site. Paul also describes a HUGELY successful mini-site.

When I complained that the mini-site article wasn't archived online, Paul kindly put it on an autoresponder for you.

To get Paul's mini-site article, send a blank email to:

minisites AT talkbiz.com

[UPDATE: That autoresponder address no longer works.]


CONTENTS:

1. Dream job for entrepreneur - high risk, low pay
2. eToys about to go eBroke?
3. GoTo.com relaxes its rules (2)
4. CompuBank reporting system "stinks"
5. Which affiliate merchant offers the best tracking?
6. Beliefnet, Jakes Freebies programs suspended
7. ValueClick to buy Z Media
8. Holiday reading for affiliates and managers
9. My health scare - be still, my heart!
    (but not too still)
10. Thought for today: When everybody's doing it


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==================================================
1. Dream job for entrepreneur - high risk, low pay
==================================================

If you get this job, Merry Christmas!

The job description, written by Michael Werner, CEO of Intellectua.com, is the most entertaining one I've read for a long time.

Are you brave enough to apply?

Director of Affiliate (and other) Marketing For Start-Up E-Publishing Venture

Incredibly high-risk, low-paying opportunity.
No benefits.
No relocation payment, subsidies, or help.
Low-budget; boot-strap all the way.

Might be the ticket for an entrepreneurial type who'd love a shot at being with two other been-there-done-that successful netpreneurs who've jumped through the hoops before and are on a roll again.

Your job will be to build an effective and knock-your-eyeballs-out affiliate program for the company's growing line of e-publications. In addition, you'll market the company, its products, and its authors. From time to time, you'll also recruit authors, help set strategy, and participate in shaping the direction of a new company.

To start, you'll have no staff (you do get a PC, unless you'd rather use your own, which would be nice) and very little money to throw around, but you'll get tons of opportunity and loads of encouragement.

The company is Intellectua.com and we're a new breed of ebook company - we build and deliver carefully researched medium-conscious products. (All our titles are designed specifically to be used on the Web and aren't simply ported over from dead-tree publications.)

You'll report directly to the President, Michael Werner, co-founder and CEO of his last start-up, which was an INC. 500 company two years running.

Upside? You betcha.

In exchange for your risk, low salary (actually, we'd love it if you'd work without salary in exchange for a chunk of the company), and no benefits, we provide the following:

1. A chance to help build a company.
2. A huge say in everything we do.
3. Cool office in downtown Winter Park, FL.
4. Equity stake that might help you retire in 3-4 years (we're NOT going public, but we ARE selling out to a larger company . . . been-there-done-that before).
5. Complete freedom to shape your job and your future.
And, you? You have a *proven* and *quantifiable* record of success. You've developed and run affiliate programs and you know your way around the Web - inside and out.

The following need *not* apply: whiners, slobs, know-it-alls, dullards, has-beens, never-weres, cry babies, prima donnas, and jerks.

Questions, resume, background? Send via email only to: michael AT intellectua.com

----------
Michael Werner, CEO and Publisher
----------
Instant Business Smarts--Helping You Do Business Online 100% Original eBooks from Been-There-Done-That Authors
http://www.intellectua.com

[Sadly, this site has disappeared.]


============================
2. eToys about to go eBroke?
============================

Online toy seller eToys, which desperately needs a buyer or an optimistic investor, shot itself in the foot in many ways.

The New York Times reported that "eToys warned that for its fiscal third quarter, which ends on Dec. 31, its sales are expected to be $120 million to $130 million, roughly half the company's previous estimates of $210 million to $240 million, despite the company's heavy spending on marketing and infrastructure."

While analysts are concentrating on the figures, affiliates have other reasons to remember the eToys.

It lured thousands of affiliates by offering high commissions - up to 25% - and then it dumped the commissions and paid only bounties for new customers. (Affiliates now earn $10 for every new customer they find.)

Most affiliates figured out they would be worse off and were angry.

One who baled out was Jeff Jameson, who was earning thousands of dollars a month from eToys ("Why Jeff dumped the eToys program" - Associate Programs Newsletter #102).

Judging by the emails I've received, many affiliates feel they were duped by eToys.

"The reason why eToys will go bust in a couple of months is because of ex-affiliates like me, who were bringing them thousands of dollars a week until they literally cut us off commissions," Trevor Rieger of http://www.TVTalkShows.com said this week.

"I, like thousands of other affiliates, deleted all our eToys banners from our sites.

"Maybe this will teach eToys a lesson."

The company followed the mistake with its affiliates with another error of judgement.

In December last year, big bully eToys sued little etoy (no "s") and won a court order preventing the much older etoy.com from using the etoy domain name. It was a stupid, unpopular move, bad for the company's image, and eToys eventually backed down.

Background reading:

EToys Says Sales are Off in Crucial Period and Cash Is Dwindling
nytimes.com/2000/12/16/technology/16TOYS.html
(requires free registration)

eToys Facing Operations Crisis
ecommercetimes.com/perl/story/6136.html

eToys' Survival As An Independent Looks Slim
news.excite.com/news/r/001219/04/net-retail-etoys-dc

What Went Wrong With EToys?
upside.com/Ebiz/3a3ead6653c.html

Don't gloat over eToys' downhill slide. Feel sorry for its 950 employees.

Let's hope that whoever buys the eToys wreckage treats its affiliates with more respect.


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=================================
3. GoTo.com relaxes its rules (2)
=================================

Last week I reported that GoTo.com had relaxed its rules on affiliate links and is also listing automatic redirects to affiliate merchants.

Alert readers have provided more details:

Sherry Gordon of http://www.AffiliatePrimer.com (a really good introductory site for affiliates) says the first time she bid on some keywords at GoTo her bids were rejected because she hadn't stated explicitly that she was an affiliate.

"I was told that I HAD to say 'affiliate' or 'partner' and of which program. (Though I was mighty annoyed to find many obvious affiliate sites WITHOUT such distinctions made - hmph!) Perhaps they have relaxed this now...? I hate to take up valuable space with those words!" Sherry says.

Stefanie Puetz-Lehmann of http://www.partnerprogramme.com says it's not the person submitting who adds "Affiliate" to the descriptions. "The reviewers at Goto.com frequently add either the word 'Affiliate' or 'Links' to the description."

Stefanie says GoTo used to disapprove of automatic redirects and deleted submissions like that if detected.

However, if you ask GoTo.com for permission to use automatic redirects, it is possible to receive approval, judging by the experience of Shawn Collins of http://www.ClubMom.com.

Shawn says ClubMom recently asked GoTo for permission to change all ClubMom's 200+ keywords from direct URLs to its own Be Free links so ClubMom could easily measure conversion.

"GoTo was very happy to do it for us - just as long as the click ended up at a relevant page.

"I guess it's not financially viable to be picky.

"Also, I use affiliate links on GoTo (thinly veiled through a domain redirect) for a site I created to promote One & Only ( my-dream-date.com )."

[UPDATE: This site no longer exists.]

Randy Hemmel of winacert.com says GoTo.com now appears to allow direct URL referrals to the merchant. (He didn't ask for permission.)

"FindWhat, Sprinks, and HootingOwl also are allowing this now, and I have used them all with varying degrees of success. GoTo is best simply because they cover so many top-10 search engines now on the Net."

[UPDATE: GoTo is now Yahoo! Search Marketing.]


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4. CompuBank reporting system "stinks"
======================================

Randy Hemmel of Long Valley Technology says: "I'm the 'bold affiliate who has gone one step farther'! That's my listing under winacert.com/gotocompubank.htm !

(That link listed in GoTo.com is an automatic redirect - see Associate Programs Newsletter #139.)

Randy, a New Jersey systems programmer, says he has been promoting CompuBank for about two months. He has a good relationship with the company, which has been very helpful in resolving questions.

However, its reporting system simply stinks, he says.

"They track real time click-throughs only. Plus, they are not unique. So I have no way of knowing whether or not I have one person clicking 100 times, or 100 uniques."

(This information is extremely important if you are bidding for keywords on pay-per-click search engines, and want to check that you are not receiving fraudulent clicks.)

"At the end of last month, they screwed up and deposited only $20 into my account. It took a few days for them to straighten this out. Then, my report did not accurately reflect the number of activations that I have had for the month, either. It just reads '0'. Not very good. I cannot pull up stats on how many applications or activations I have had for any time period.

"Now, there is a difference between 'applications' and 'activations'. You get paid only when an account is activated - when there is money deposited in the account, and a signed signature card has been received. An application is just that - self-explanatory.

"I have had to call their affiliate manager at the end of every month to find out what my conversion rate is. I have talked to the CompuBank guys about this, and they assure me that this will be addressed in the future."

Randy says that while the $40 per sign-up is very good, CompuBank needs a few lessons on giving their affiliates the same information that it has.

"They can pull my stats at any given time, but they don't give their affiliates access to this same information."

[UPDATE: Compubank died.]


=====================================================
5. Which affiliate merchant offers the best tracking?
=====================================================

Which affiliate program provides the BEST tracking statistics for affiliates?

Randy Hemmel says:

"How about an article on who is giving their affiliates the best/worst tracking?"

Great idea!

Super affiliates deserve super statistics.

I'd love to hear from affiliates - or merchants - who know of an affiliate merchant which provides really GOOD statistics for affiliates. Better still, tell me who has the BEST - and why.

If you let me know, I'll publish a summary.

allan AT AssociatePrograms.com


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===============================================
6. Beliefnet, Jakes Freebies programs suspended
===============================================

Beliefnet, which has had "some problems" with its affiliate program for the past month or so, has placed the program on hold for a few months starting on January 1. It hopes to restart in early April with a better program, it has told affiliates.

The Jakes Freebies program has also been suspended. "We have had nothing but trouble with our third party tracking company, they don't even answer my email and their system is susceptible to cheating," says Lars Jensen. "We will be starting again soon, probably with Commission Junction."


============================
7. ValueClick to buy Z Media
============================

ValueClick, which recently bought ClickAgents and onResponse, is going to buy Z Media, which has about 4,000 web site publishers in its network.
la.internet.com/news/article/0,2325,5321_540461,00.html


==============================================
8. Holiday reading for affiliates and managers
==============================================

Rookie's Guide to Becoming a Successful Affiliate
iboost.com/profit/affiliate_programs/increasing_commissions/00231.htm

What Are Affiliates Thinking?
If it were easy to run a great program, everybody would be doing it. Here's more on what affiliate marketers are thinking.
clickz.com/cgi-bin/gt/article.html?article=2981


========================================
9. My health scare - be still, my heart!
(but not too still)
========================================

I was wearing a 24-hour heart monitor while I wrote last week's newsletter. I've gone into hospital twice in the past few days for tests, and exhausted myself doing a stress test on a treadmill.

As you might guess from all that, doctors are trying to figure out what my heart is up to.

I've always tended to think that heart problems happen to OLD people, not someone who's 51.

It's scary stuff - especially when you don't understand what's happening.

It's reminded me, "Today's the first day of the rest of your life," and all those other wonderful 1960s slogans which I've absorbed but usually ignore.

Anyway, enough of this deep, meaningful stuff. The doctors have sent me home again. They don't seem to have a clue what's causing the erratic heart beats but they're confident I'm not in any imminent danger of a heart attack.

Still, it makes you think. How long are YOU going to live? Are you doing the really important things, such as spending time with family and friends?

I hope you can organize things so that you have a good break this Christmas. Joanna says she hopes I'm going to practice what I preach.


================================================
10. Thought for today: When everybody's doing it
================================================

"Chances are if  'everybody's doing it,' you should think twice about jumping into the fray. The companies that build solid plans based on research and solid business principals will thrive. Fashion victims won't."
– Sean Carton


Merry Christmas!

Allan Gardyne

December 21, 2000

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