A while ago, I wrote a post on the basics of Adding or Removing Links from Images. It’s a tool I took for granted and assumed most people used…until I got an email from someone who asked for details.
Since then, that post is one of my most-shared, and it was a reminder to me that this is what blogging is about. Figuring out how to do things on our own, sharing the knowledge when we have it, and asking for help when we don’t.
Now, another reader has a follow-up question, and I thought it was something others might be wondering about, too.
“I’ve just entered into a new project with BRAND X, and they’re offering me an affiliate code — for everyone who purchases using my link or code, I get a flat fee and the shopper gets $1 back. How can I offer the code as a graphic or link on my website?”
With more and more people understanding the power of affiliate programs and customer loyalty programs, I’m not surprised to get this one. And when it comes down to it, there are two answers.
1. Offer an affiliate link with the tracking code built into the URL.
This tends to be harder for the blogger and easier for the customer (which in my opinion is the better choice!) because it requires a bit of technical know-how. Basically, an affiliate link includes a short tag in the URL that lets the referrer (the blogger) alert the franchise (the company that actually completes the sale) know who to credit.
Some affiliate programs — Amazon, Commission Junction — have the affiliate code built into their system. For example, the company that I work for has an Amazon store. We make a small percentage on every book that is sold from our online store at http://store.growingbolder.com.
When we add items, the affiliate code is appended to the URL. So instead of this listing, which you’ll find if you go straight to Amazon:
See the /?tag=growbold-20? That means that while the price is the same for the shopper, we are paid a small amount for the total price of the item. (Another reason I love affiliate links? Often, you’ll get a cut of the TOTAL amount spent, even if it’s not an item in the store. In the above example, if someone buys the “My Parents Were Awesome” book with our link and in the same shopping trip, buys a $500 appliance, we get a commission on all items, even though they weren’t listed in our store!).
If the company you’re working with doesn’t have an automatic tracking code built in, you can still create one on your own, and ask them to look in their analytics to track how many visits came from your site…but to be honest, it’s a harder sell because it won’t automatically be counted for you, and you’re trusting them to accurately account for your referrals.
2. Offer a discount code for the customer to type in at checkout.
This tends to be easier for the blogger and harder for the customer, because you’re requiring them to take an action, rather than it just being done automatically in the background. But if you’re working with a smaller company or you’re not comfortable with tracking URLs, discount codes can be great.
The company should set it up as a coupon code that is exclusive to you — let’s say KATY20 gets you 20% off in the store (which, by the way, it does in the Growing Bolder store for t-shirts, tattoos and DVDs!).
Then, you should create a graphic for your sidebar that clearly lets your readers know how to use it and what they get. (Make sure you know your sidebar width before you make it!) You may want to offer several sizes if fellow bloggers would be interested in helping spread the word about your code — they can put it in their sidebar and send people to the store with your code!
(Graphic design is not my forte — if this were real, I’d hire someone to create my badge!)
Notice that if you click the badge above, I’ve use the URL trick I taught you in the first post to link to the Growing Bolder store. If this were an affiliate link, I’d use that link in the same way, but in this case, the best I can do is tell people what to type to get their discount.
What questions do YOU have about blogging? Let me know and I’ll answer them in an upcoming installment of “You Oughta Know!”