Q: I am in the process of starting an affiliate website that will leverage a Web 2.0 community focused on a very specific set of goods and I have been looking for a solution that will allow me to link into merchant’s online stores, track referrals, and charge a commission. I realize I can do this by joining an affiliate network, but no networks have any of the advertisers that I would like to feature on my site. Therefore, I’m looking for a tool similar to the ones provided to merchants to recruit affiliates but from the opposite side (i.e. a tool for affiliates to recruit merchants, track sales, and charge a commission). The key here is that I need to establish my own merchants for whom I will advertise. DirectTrack can provide this through their network version, but it’s expensive and seems like too much horsepower for what I’m trying to accomplish.
A: I’m generally a glass half full type of guy, but to be honest, I think you’ve got a real uphill battle with this plan.
I think DirectTrack or MyCPANet could be good for handling your needs. But as you said, they are expensive for you.
That’s part of the problem here – if you want to have a quality system for tracking and reporting, you’re going to have to put some real money into it.
Also, there is the credibility factor. You could spec out your needs and have somebody build the technology for you at Rent a Coder, but I think companies may be wary of working with you, since you’re an unproven commodity.
These companies are going to have to place your tracking on their sites, so they are going to want a very solid technology before they make the investment on their side.
Not to mention, you’ve got to sell these companies on the whole concept. I wish you well, but this looks like a tough nut to crack.