Should You Use Your Own Name for an Affiliate Site?

Q: When setting up a new site/blog for an affiliate niche should I use my own name or go with a pen name or even anonymous? With the whole Google Authorship thing I’m wondering what the pros/cons are to using your own name for each affiliate site?

Shawn CollinsA: As far as I am concerned, I always use my own name.

I am not clear about what the cons would be to you, unless it is some sort of controversial topic that you don’t want to be attached to, such as adult.

I like to have my name associated with my sites, as I work on building credibility, and I find that using my name is an asset with my sites. And as you mentioned, Google Authorship is a factor and you will need to use your real name to get the benefits from that program.

Also, I think it’s a negative for a lot of people when they go to the “about” page and they see some generic information, rather than details on the person or people behind the site.

I would encourage you to use your name, unless you see some big peril in using it.

This whole topic leads me to another discussion on wishing to remain anonymous online, whether it be in registering domains or the information on your contact page. I would highly encourage you to use a PO Box or a UPS Store box.

Don’t put your personal address out there for anybody to see, or else you might get somebody who is a huge fan of your site who decides to visit you at home. Or it could be someone who is a little unhinged and they disagree with something you wrote. They might also pay you a visit.

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The Difference Between Web Hosting and Domain Registration

Q: I still consider myself a newbie, but am gaining knowledge! I went to Affiliate Summit East 2012, and recently to Affiliate Summit West 2013. I’m signing up for James Martell’s new school, and am psyched! I’ve had a few bumps along the way, getting sucked into schemes that teach me nothing, so it’s great to be hooked-up with you and Affiliate Summit. My question: I joined HostGator for web hosting. Do I still need to register with GoDaddy, even though I’m signed up with HostGator? I guess I’m not clear on what the difference is between web hosting and registering a domain name. Once I sign up for any web hosting site, does that automatically register my domain as well? What’s the purpose for registering?

Shawn CollinsA: Web hosting companies and domain registrars are two separate things, and you’ll need to pay for both to have a website.

In the case of HostGator, they are a hosting company that also provide domain registration services.

And with GoDaddy, they are a domain registrar that also sells web hosting, as well as many other services.

I personally use GoDaddy strictly for domains, and then I use other web hosting companies for my sites: 1and1, BlueHost, Liquid Web, RackSpace, and WP Engine.

You can certainly keep it all in the HostGator environment for convenience, but you will still have to pay for the web hosting and domain registration.

If you are struggling with the process, I cover how to go about getting the hosting and domain setup in my book, Extra Money Answer. My examples are with BlueHost and GoDaddy, but many of the hosts and domain registrars have similar interfaces.

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Where to Find Non-Spammy Affiliates

Q: Where can I find non-spammy affiliates that aren’t just running coupon sites?

Shawn CollinsA: Without revealing your affiliate program, I see that you are running it through an affiliate network, and they offer lots of opportunities for enhanced placement and exposure of your affiliate program.

Check with your representative at the affiliate network about opportunities there.

Also, have a look around at who is promoting your competition on paid search and Facebook ads. Reach out to those affiliates if they are driving the traffic to their own sites, rather than directly to the merchant.

Another approach, which I did years ago to recruit quality affiliates, was to send out direct mail pieces.

I would research sites that made sense for my niche, and then pull together a database to contact those sites. Then I would have a postcard made with 3-5 value propositions for the affiliate program.

And then you’ve got your customers. Many are likely already unpaid evangelists for your company, because they like what you are doing. Harness their satisfaction and work on scaling up their voices.

Finally, I would suggest looking into conferences, where you can meet up with large volumes of affiliates in person.

I am not objective on this one, since I am a Co-Founder of Affiliate Summit, but each of the twice yearly conferences provide you a chance to meet more than 1,000 affiliates over three days – way more than you have time to meet.

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A Domain is Essential for Affiliate Marketers

Q: I was so pleased to find your youtube information. Hopefully you can help me. I recently applied for Google adsense and was not accepted. I would like help uniformly monetizing my platforms (youtube, blogger, etc). I am an actress from various Broadway shows. I’ve decided to start a new blog that focuses on giving advice to young actors as I constantly get questions about how I’ve done it. I had hoped that ads for broadway shows or hair and makeup would be familiar with my blog and a great fit for what I’m looking to do. My current blog is about my life but I plan to taylor it to a more helpful/advice column style. I was not accepted into the program. Based on my current blog do you have advice to give to me.

Shawn CollinsA: I don’t want to share the URL and embarrass the person asking the question, but the first problem is that it’s on Blogger.

I know there are Blogger sites that have Google AdSense, but many affiliate programs won’t consider you.

By using Blogger, you’re sending an unintentional signal to affiliate managers that you’re not taking your affiliate efforts too seriously.

You can get a domain name for less than $10 a year, so I would encourage you to go out and get a domain name and hosting for your blog.

Just the simple act of getting your own domain name and hosting will make a big difference when affiliate managers are reviewing your site.

Video: A Domain is Essential for Affiliate Marketers

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Ideal Number of Networks for an Affiliate Program

Q: I’m researching possibilities to grow and expand our affiliate program and would really appreciate your expert advice on the following. Currently our company is present as a merchant on CJ, ShareaSale and we have in-house program (powered by HasOffers) as well. Do you feel there is much to be gained in joining another affiliate network (i.e. LinkShare or Pepperjam) or is there too much affiliate overlap between platforms. If adding a 3rd network is worthwhile, which one(s) would you recommend?

Shawn CollinsA: First of all, I think you probably already have one platform too many.

It’s totally sufficient for most companies to work with one affiliate network.

In the event you have a number of partners that you’d prefer to manage outside of the network affiliate program, it can make sense to have an in-house affiliate program, too.

I managed affiliate programs for small companies up to huge brands over ten years, and I never really found a need to be in multiple networks. I did it in some cases, and it multiplied my work without a significant lift in sales.

The majority of big affiliates, in my experience, have accounts on all of the major affiliate networks.

There may be some out there that are loyal to a certain platform, but I never ran into that issue.

Video: Ideal Number of Networks for an Affiliate Program

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