Teach Your Affiliates Well

I was chatting with Jim Bouton, former New York Yankee and author of “Ball Four,” a few years back about what makes a great coach. Bouton told me, “I think a coach has to be a good teacher, and there aren’t too many players who are good teachers. I think the best teachers are people who have to work hard at what they’re teaching.”

That really struck a chord with me. The teacher who’s constantly working hard to master a subject is in the best position to educate others.

Well, if you’re a hardworking affiliate manager who wants to educate others about affiliate marketing, it’s time for you to step up to the plate. It’s time for those affiliate managers who have not yet created their own web sites and joined affiliate programs to jump right in.

In a recent poll conducted by affiliate metrix, two out of three affiliate managers claimed to have joined affiliate programs with their own web sites. If you are among the third that do not have their own sites, this is for you. And it’s for your affiliates, too, because you are their affiliate marketing teacher. Sure, all of that stuff about HTML and FTP might seem a little intimidating, but learning from hard-won experience will let you do the best job of educating your affiliates.

Educate to Elevate

The best way to get a handle on your affiliate program is to be your own affiliate. Get your hands dirty with your own site, and you will be much better equipped to tell your affiliates how to do it. If you cannot pass your own payment threshold and tally some commission checks of your own on a regular basis, how are you going to tell your affiliates how to do it?

Also, when — not if — you have your own site, you can use it as a proving ground for your creatives. Do your affiliates a favor and test your links on your own site before unleashing them on the masses. Sure, your site is not going to be the eponymous site for your program, but you can definitely learn from it.

Additionally, you can use your site as a means to monitor your competition. Assuming that you craft a site geared toward succeeding in your industry, your competitor will likely accept your site with no problem. Then you will be able to gauge the click-through and conversion rates of your competition as well as become privy to all of their affiliate communications.

Naming and Hosting Your Site

Since you will be creating a genuine site to which you will ultimately drive targeted traffic, you’ll want to have your own domain. As you know, successful affiliates have made the meager investment of a domain name. These days, you can get a domain name for just $1 per month from Order Your Domains and a number of other domain registrars.

As for hosting your site, you’ve got two options. You can either pay for your hosting at one of the many web-hosting companies (my favorite is Hostway, starting at $9.95 per month) or use one of the free hosting services, such as HyperMart or Above World. The downfall of using a free service is that you have to run their ads, either in a pop-up or above the fold on your page. But this is not a big price to pay for a “free” service.

You will also need a means for uploading your files to the web host. In the cases of HyperMart and AboveWorld, as well as many paid services, a web-based utility makes the upload process quick and easy.

In lieu of the web-based upload, you can use an FTP program, such as CuteFTP or WS_FTP LE. You can get various versions of FTP software as freeware and shareware.

Bringing It All Together

When you’ve got all of this in place, you will have to figure out how to create the files that will make up your site. The files will be based on HTML, which is really easier than it looks. You can code the pages by hand, which will take some learning on your part.

You can also jump right into a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) HTML editor, in which you can compose pages with a basic knowledge of Windows applications. In fact, you can save a Microsoft. Word document (in the newer releases) as an HTML file — just save it as a “Web Page.”

According to a recent poll of ClubMom affiliates, 75 percent were using Dreamweaver, MS FrontPage., and a handful of other HTML editors for their sites. Another 25 percent were composing their sites by hand with raw HTML or using Arachnophilia, which is a great free program that is basically raw HTML with shortcuts for some of the monotonous keystrokes.

So basically, you can get started with your own site for as little as $12: Order Your Domains domain name for $12, HyperMart hosting for free, WS_FTP file transfer software for free, and Arachnophilia HTML editor for free. MS FrontPage costs some money, but you may very well already have it installed on your computer.

Don’t forget that you also have to market your site and generate some traffic, but hopefully I don’t have to break down that part. This whole process isn’t simple, but if performing better in your job and improving your program aren’t worth $12 and a little sweat to you, you’re in the wrong racket.

Do you truly know enough about the dynamics of affiliate marketing to be a great teacher? Maybe it’s time to find out.

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