Click Here to Learn about Affiliate Marketing

Oh, did I mislead you? Did you think that you are going to learn about affiliate marketing? Sorry, but do not worry about it, we are used to this misconception in this industry. I will not take it personal. It demonstrated a good point though and I will get back to this. Please hang in there for a short while.

Where was I? Okay, I remember.

Shawn Collins from AffiliateTip.com created a few years back a Wiki for affiliate marketing called Affilipedia , after its big brother Wikipedia, which is running on the same Wiki software.

The hope was that people would contribute to the wiki to make it to something like a reference to affiliate marketing for marketers and people that want to learn more about the affiliate marketing industry. Over time were over 200 pages created, but unfortunately to 99% by Shawn himself and not by a large number of editors.

At least 264 people bothered to create an account and five of them created a user page. Shawn and I are included in that number. The only contributors to the Wiki are spammers who “rewrite” articles as a whole to replace the existing one with some new, fresh and keyword rich one.

Shawn raised the question, if anybody would miss Affilipedia and the question is obviously valid.

I first thought that it is a great idea, but I learned over the last 12+ months that the idea could not work. I even contributed (primarily to my own user page though). Here are my thoughts why it does not work and alternative ideas that do work.

The target audiences for the Wiki, to become contributors, are affiliate marketers. Affiliate marketers are not willing to spend time to produce content for another affiliate marketer (that would include you AND readers of the Wiki) without being rewarded for it (performance marketing, remember?).

The problem with rewards in form of linking as it is common with free to re-print articles for example is that it conflicts with the concept of a wiki. A wiki is not a collection of individual articles by individual authors.

Link to every contributor and the site becomes a web directory in wiki format. The prospect of an instant reward brings also the problem of spammy, poor, inaccurate and copied content. Guidelines like allowing verifiable information only (references, citations), prohibit original content (the site is not the place to break news, state opinion or push an agenda) and ensure a coverage of the subject from a neutral point of view (or as neutral as possible) will become a joke, because nobody will enforce them and care. The motivation of the majority of contributors would simply be wrong and the overhead to deal with that would be too great.

Let me be blunt. The problem with having a great general, unbiased and accurate resource covering everything about affiliate marketing is great, but this resource would be more for people that are not from the industry and want to learn about it, because it caught their interest.

Now how do you think are those kinds of people making it to the site? Most will not and all the great content would sit there and wait for some audience while the majority of people get their information about affiliate marketing from elsewhere. Usually the “good” news and information, for example about the reasons for email spammers to do what they do, the incentives of writing Adware and drive by downloads for it. You know, all the stuff that convinces average people that affiliate marketing is a shabby fraud full of rotten and unethical business practices and frauds.

I believe that education about the PROs and CONs of affiliate marketing straightforward, unbiased and accurate needs to happen OUTSIDE of the realms of affiliate marketing.

That means, not at Revenue Magazine, not Marketing Sherpa, not e-Consultancy, not ReveNews, not AffiliateTip, not 5StarAffiliatePrograms, not ABestWeb, not CostPerNews, not PlanetBeta and not Affilipedia. Looking over to our “cousins” of the Internet Marketing “family” would be a good start. It is shocking how little marketers in other areas of internet marketing, such as SEO, Paid Search, Email Marketing, Display Advertising etc. know about how affiliate marketing really works. The treatment (or better the negligence) of affiliate marketing within the family speaks for itself. People would probably notice it too, if they would get their head out of the sand and over their identity crisis and paranoia.

Another good place is Wikipedia where I contribute to for over a year now. Not only affiliate marketing stuff, but other things as well. The lack of coverage of the subject in Wikipedia is unbelievable. A season of the TV show “Simpsons” has better coverage than the whole industry combined .

Producing GOOD content that meets all the requirements for the inclusion (and not eventual deletion) is hard and takes time. Contributors that have self-promotion on their agenda or an opinion to push are neither welcome nor helpful. If some affiliate marketers would look a bit further ahead into the future and will step back once to take a look down at the IS from 100 Miles above then we might be able to get something going. Think about this.

If you believe that affiliate marketing is great, works, and has many potentials despite all its problems that come along with it, would you not want that people that listen would be able to learn about the industry and all its shades of expressions. For example, people that could become active in the industry or people that influence other people and their opinions; may be people that are regulators and decision makers too.

Do not try to sell them YOUR business, also do NOT try to SELL them affiliate marketing. Let the facts speak for themselves and people will make up their own mind and decide what to do or not to do with affiliate marketing. The industry as a whole would benefit from it, including the “benefit” of getting some of the dirty laundry out into the open. This will benefit people that work in the industry as well, eventually and not directly.

What goes around comes around.

If you think that this is a good idea and plan to remain an affiliate marketer in the years to come, no matter what it will be called down the road, do not rush into this too eagerly.

First: Do not start writing a Wikipedia article about your company or organization. It would be hard for you to be unbiased and look at it from a neutral point of view, even if you provide references to verify the content of the article and only include existing information out there. There remains a conflict of interest and Wikipedia has a guideline for this for exactly this reason.

That guideline is no joke. Years of experience with this problem made some people at Wikipedia very hard, seemingly unfair and overly strict, in cases where COI (conflict of interest) plays a major role in a dispute about a specific article. I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the core concepts, ideas and guidelines of Wikipedia before you start to add any major content. I collected and structured the references to the most important stuff on my user page at Wikipedia. I can help you and answer specific questions you might have. You can contact me via my Wikipedia talk page or regular email, which is public.

In addition, to wrap it up, a quote, which I found at a Wikipedia page that explains the recommended process of solving specific conflicts between editors at Wikipedia, which compresses the foundation where Wikipedia is build on into a single sentence.

… The three key policies, which warrant that articles and information be verifiable (WP:V ), avoid being original research (WP:NOR ), and be written from a neutral point of view (WP:NPOV ) are held to be non-negotiable and cannot be superseded by any other guidelines or by editors’ consensus.

p.s. THIS post is the perfect example what a Wikipedia article should not look like. Many things, which I stated in this post as a fact (almost all), have no reference and thus provides no means to you to verify the claims I made. What I wrote is not a collection of information. I wrote it up here and now and it is picture perfect original content. I am not neutral in my post and look at things from all kinds of angles.

I was not talking about potential risks and what you might get yourself into by listening to MY opinion, suggestions and recommendation. Finally yet importantly am I having a major conflict of interest. I am interested in educating people about the facts about affiliate marketing, because I think that it will be beneficial to the industry and eventually beneficial for me personally too.

However, this is not Wikipedia and nobody can flag this post with an AfD template. You will need to find out for yourself what the hell “AfD” stands for. Sorry, no low hanging fruits are available on this website.

Maybe I got it all wrong and years in affiliate marketing did drive me crazy, but maybe everybody else is crazy and I am the only sane one left. That would make me look crazy again, because crazy would be the norm and being sane would be considered crazy. I do not know, do you?

Cheers and thank you for your contribution, even if you only do it mentaly.

Carsten

About Carsten Cumbrowski

Internet Marketer, Entrepreneur and Blogger. To learn more about me and what I am doing, visit my website and check out the “about” section.

Twitter: ccumbrowski

13 Responses to Click Here to Learn about Affiliate Marketing

  1. Anonymous says:

    YOu know the saying, “he’s talking just to hear himself speak”. I think you are writing these entries just to see your information online.

  2. Thank you for your comment Mr.Anonymous. I have better things to do with my time that hear myself speaking, trust me on that.

    I like to write, you are right about that and like most other people am I happy to see stuff I write being published. I like even more thoughtful conversations. Would that be something for you too?

    p.s.

    By the way, you don’t have to fear any repercussions, if you express criticism or disagreement using your real name.

  3. Affiliate marketers are not willing to spend time to produce content for another affiliate marketer (that would include you AND readers of the Wiki) without being rewarded for it (performance marketing, remember?).

    I suppose I overestimated the value of having quality content attributed to one’s name/brand.

    I’ve written for a number of publications for no payment, as I saw the byline as a hot commodity.

    And I’ve found it to be professionally beneficial.

    Lesson learned here, but I’ll keep on churning out content for the masses.

  4. Jonathan (Trust) says:

    It depends what you do in this business.

    I think you won’t find a lot of affiliates doing that because they’re too busy working on their sites, making money. Growing their business. So a part of it might be the money, another part might be they just don’t have the time. Maybe some might feel, why would I want to help educate what might be future competition?

    People do different things in this business. Some are 100% affiliate. Some are affiliate managers and have their own affiliate sites on the side. Maybe they’re a full time affiliate manager or oursourced project manager. Some make how to make money online blogs, so they make money with doing this type of thing. Some work at affiliate networks and CPA networks. Some make money blogging about the industry. Some with industry shows. All good.

    The #1 relationship in this business is merchant/affiliate. They’re usually too busy with business.

  5. Peter Koning says:

    Carsten – yes you are crazy. Welcome to the club 🙂

  6. sam bay says:

    I wrote a very nice comment, but the stupid comment system gave some stupid error so this what you get instead!

  7. Jonathan (Trust) says:

    I had a comment too and it never showed up. Not sure this one is going to show up either when I hit Post.

  8. The #1 relationship in this business is merchant/affiliate. They’re usually too busy with business.

    It’s all relative. I could easily say I’m too busy for a variety of things.

    But I view the creation of content for the greater good as a form of networking.

    I make time for it.

  9. Sam, I don’t know what happened with your comment, but I found Jonathan’s comment and published it.
    Sam, I just got an error screen for my comment which stated:

    “In an effort to curb malicious comment posting by abusive users, I’ve enabled a feature that requires a weblog commenter to wait a short amount of time before being able to post again. Please try to post your comment again in a short while. Thanks for your patience.”

    But it was my first comment so this error is bs. Jim Kukral is not managing ReveNews anymore. I need to check who is able to take a look at that. At least the comment was not lost when I pressed the back button. I think it has to do with somebody else posting a comment at the same time and using the same CAPTCHA code you got as well. Shawns comment was not there when I wrote my comment, but showed up when I hit the back button, copied my comment into notepad and refreshed the screen. Nasty bug.

    Peter: puh, so I should not worry hehe

    Jonathan: I am not talking about an affiliate marketing training program, but education about the existence of affiliate marketing, what it is and how it works.

    Everybody is busy and time is a matter of priorities. We never can do all that we want so as lower the priority of something gets the lower are the chances that we going to do it.

    The affiliate marketing industry does not exist in a bubble and is connected to the rest of the world. I for my part have a problem with people either looking down on affiliate as it is some kind of a disease or don’t even know about it at all. Especially people that make decision that affects the industry for the good or the bad.

  10. Jonathan (Trust) says:

    “But I view the creation of content for the greater good as a form of networking.

    I make time for it.”

    Yes, but that’s good for your business/Affiliate Summit, books etc. That’s part of it.

    As far as affilpedia, I wouldn’t have expected a lot of help with that, especially from affiliates. It’s not good for their business but good for others.

  11. As far as affilpedia, I wouldn’t have expected a lot of help with that, especially from affiliates. It’s not good for their business but good for others.

    I didn’t expect affiliates to necessarily get involved – more so from affiliate managers.

    I figured it would serve in a similar way to them having a presence in forums, blog comments, etc. – branding that they are active in the industry.

  12. Jonathan (Trust) says:

    “I didn’t expect affiliates to necessarily get involved – more so from affiliate managers.”

    That I agree with. You also have to consider the target audience. For you or merchants, the target audience is more affiliates, other people in this industry. For an affiliate such as myself, my target audience are online shoppers. So that’s where I’m going to be spending the bulk of my time on with websites. Unless you’re an affiliate with one of those how to make money online type of sites whose audience would be other affiliates or those just starting out.

  13. Igor Berger says:

    Roy, good article, it is not about making a sale today, but about building a brand. If one is to come to WikiPedia to give, they will get 1,000 times over what they have contributed.

    But if you thinking of coming to WikiPedia to ptomote your business, might as well not come…

    Igor Berger
    aka
    Igor The Troll