affiliate marketing

The First Challenges of Being an Affiliate Marketer

In an effort to make a little bit of side income, I’ve decided to try my hand at affiliate marketing – specifically with the Big A.  I am starting to generate some steady traffic and getting excited about my progress.  This is definitely not a method to getting rich quick and easily, despite what many out there will lead you to believe.  It is seriously hard work.  I have spent quite a bit of money and time advertising, so far.

I’m not a marketing guru by any stretch of the imagination, so it’s all a learning game for me right now.  I have sent them about 100 potential customers according to the logs, with three completed sales, but that’s not very much so far.

I have purchased three domain names to work this affiliate method.  Two completely different and unrelated niches.  I am pulling together some content, with embedded links, and the main focus on two of the sites is catalog style shop pages.  I have bought some good plugins and have a great theme.  My designs and customization need work, but I am getting positive feedback from any visitors I ended up engaging with.

The most challenging and frustrating issue so far is a few strings of correspondence with people who claimed they ordered one of the items on my website.  Three different very legit customers of another website.  I confirmed that they definitely did not get to their end purchase via my website by checking my Amazon reports.  I hadn’t had a single referral sale on this item.  I think these customers found me via Google, since I was ranking high for this particular item.  They just assumed that they placed their order through my website, and that it was my job to fix it.  It’s very hard to explain to someone who has no clue about internet marketing that you are an independent affiliate marketer with zero ties to the manufacturer of a product.  I am just referring people to items I like and recommend on the big A – you can’t even check out on my site because the shopping cart function is not active (no point since there was no commerce!).

Being a person with a strong conscience, I felt compelled to help, despite the fact that I had no involvement.  I’m also concerned about the website’s reputation, being brand new to this internet marketing world.

I started working in depth with the nicest one, and she gave me a copy of her invoice.  It turns out she did in fact complete an order, but on the manufacturer’s website.  Their customer service department was pretty much non-existent. I jumped through hoops to track down information about the company and after figuring out who to contact, I emailed the customer service department several times with no response.  Unbelievable.  They had a notice on their website that the item was back-ordered.  It was a toy and I’m pretty sure that these people ordered for Christmas gifts.  It’s a shame that the company let this happen.

I did what I could, but my hands were tied after those attempted communications with the shady toy manufacturer.  I left off on a positive note with each of the customers, and have not heard from any in a few weeks.  Hopefully it is over with.  Scary stuff.

The lesson I’ve learned is that I need to do some more due diligence with any products I’m recommending.  Check out the vendor thoroughly and make sure I’m willing to stand behind them.

I hope I will not be providing customer service to too many people for free anymore.  I honestly do love to help people and am great with customer service, but it’s not fair when I have no ties to the sale, whatsoever.

It’s got me thinking this may not be the best internet marketing model for me, so I’m at the drawing board now.  I am going to try my hand at the drop shipping/drop ship model.  I’m currently at the stage where I’m looking for fulfillment companies.  It has been grueling!  So many companies, so many directories, so many differing opinions.  I have spent hours looking around and haven’t landed on any one that I am fully satisfied with.  I’ve got one that I’m feeling decent about and now it’s just a matter of deciding whether or not I am ready to jump in and take a chance.  I will be posting updates about this foray as an affiliate marketer, so stay tuned!

If you have any advice and you are experienced in either drop shipping or affiliate marketing, please feel free to share in the comments below.  Thanks!