Starting your own inhouse affiliate program

by TheNightOwl 7 replies
Heya folks

With all this kerfuffle going on around ClickBank at the moment, there have been a few (rhetorical) questions as to why people don't simply start their own inhouse affiliate programs.

And I reckon it's a good point. I've been thinking about it, but I'm not sure where to start, and I'd really appreciate some advice from people who actually do (or have) run their own inhouse prog.

So, if you'd be so kind...

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I would start my own affiliate prog in a second if I knew the kind of paperwork that needed to be taken care of come tax time for my affiliates and how to do it. This is one major thing that has, to date, scared me off from looking into my own inhouse jobbie.

I could be wildly wrong about this, but I thought the merchant had to provide a statement of earnings to all affiliates at tax time.

Now, this should be easily handled by software, I guess, but how do you know which countries and when?

And IS it difficult to do? :confused:

On this point of (not) having to provide paperwork, RAP was recommended because of the instant payment feature (via PayPal), so I bought it and installed it on a couple of domains. I've yet to be convinced, however, that it's as great as its proponent's claim. I find that it overly limits what I can do regarding the flow of traffic around my site because everything is more of less run through the main "index" page.

It seems an excellent solution for little "squeeze-page --> sales page --> buy or leave" style sites. But I'm not interested in those kinds of sites on the whole.

Look, I could be wrong. If I am, by all means, educate me. I'm listening.Coz I've got this expensive script sitting around not doing much because I don't really like working with it.


Somewhat separate to this (although not entirely because RAP is configured to run with PayPal as the payment processor--Say, can you use it with another payment processor? Does anyone do this?), I'm a little nervous about running an affiliate program with PayPal as my merchant account.

For small amounts (although I have absolutely no idea what kind of figure PayPal thinks of as "too large" thereby triggering the old account-freeze-a-roony), then I guess PayPal is okay.

(Anyone know what the magical limit is?)

But it still makes me nervous. What happens when I set up that big product launch, or I make 25 affiliate sales of Product Launch Formula in one day, or whatever?

If I set up my own inhouse affiliate program, I don't want it to be at the whims of some stupid fire-first-ask-questions-later organisation. I have NO problem with someone looking into my account if they notice irregular activity. That's actually a safeguard that protects me. But I've heard a few too many hair-trigger stories about PayPal to make me feel comfortable.

To have the most control over my business, what I'd MOST like to do is have my own merchant account (with an IM-friendly financial institution so on that big product launch day I don't have my account frozen as I hear PayPal is apt to do) and my own affiliate software solution.

I've heard JV Manager is pretty good. But someone mentioned recently that security ain't so crash hot. Is this true? (And what qualifies you to answer that question such that we might believe what you say? That sounds ruder than intended. What I mean is: Do you have any tech background to substantiate what you say about it, good or bad?)

I've also seen some big organisations and fairly top-level marketers using iDevAffiliate. It's cheap and seems to work pretty well. But I've read completely scathing reviews of their apparently non-existent aftersales service. Is this true? (Any experiences either way?)

I hate 2CO as a payment processor. I hate the interface and all the hoops it makes you jump through to make a simple purchase. And if I hate it, as someone who regularly buys online, then what's Joe-"Is-the-FBI-tracking-my-online-purchases?"-Citizen going to do? That's surefire lost sales-a-rama, if you ask me.

But once again, I could be so wrong it'd make my head spin Linda Blair style. Let me know.


I think I read some time back that Sam Stephens was releasing a new version of DL Guard with a full-blown affiliate program integrated into it. This might be what I'm looking for. (Sam, any comments/details/teasers? I know you said you didn't want to let the cat out of the bag too early so if you want to PM, you can rest assured I won't then turn around and post what you told me here or anywhere else. Will it integrate with third-party merchant accounts and payment processors?)

Then, I could just approach my bank, get a merchant account through them, develop a relationship with the Manager so if I had a big launch coming up, I could call him or her and discuss things... (Does it work this way or am I just being naiive?)

I'm not in any particular rush to do this. ClickBank and PayPal (via RAP) will do just fine for now because I only have a small number of affiliates and I'm not really doing any volume.

But, ideally, I'd like to set up a "robust" (as software developers seem to like to say) affiliate program coupled with a sensible merchant account and payment processor and then once it's in place, I can just go about scaling things.

I actually operate in two kind of "broad" fields online. One is the so-called "niche" market, which incorporates my blogs, reworked PLR stuff, affiliate offers, etc. And the other is related to my profession.

The "niche" stuff is just a way to get my outta the ratrace so I can concentrate fully on building a global business in my professional field (including lots of "brick and mortar" style "branches") so I'd like to be able to set up an affiliate system in the 'learn to play jello accordion' or 'how to crochet a tank' or 'scuba-diving for left-handed lesbian alpacas' arena...

...get it working to my satisfaction, and then basically duplicate it when my other "real" (if you will) project starts to get its sea legs.

That's why I'd like to try and get it as "right" as possible the first time.

Note: This is not stopping me from getting started. As I said, I already use RAP and ClickBank. But these are solutions that leave me at their whim. I don't like that.

For example, ClickBank are swearing black and blue right now that there isn't any problem. And as I've posted elsewhere, as if they'd admit that there was a problem; they know everyone on this board would drop them--both as an affiliate and as a merchant--in a second.

Yet people keep saying "sales are down... I did a test and something's not right..."

With your own affiliate software, if there's a problem, then you can get your programmers to look into it and you can be fairly confident that they'll find the problem if there is one. But at least you know what's going on.

At the moment, there are a lot of people on here who just don't know what's going on with ClickBank.


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Anyway, lots of questions in this post.

If you have anything at all that you could contribute, that would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers,
TheNightOwl
#main internet marketing discussion forum #affiliate #affiliate program #affiliate programme #in-house #inhouse #program #starting
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  • Profile picture of the author tommygadget
    I actually was considering the same thing. I am looking into 1shoppingcart and also jvmanager/fantasos. Any opinions would be welcome. I am using DLGuard now and like it. If it had support for OTOs and affiliates, it would satisfy all my current needs.

    TomG.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ebbi
    I suggest you pay the clickbank fee, add all your product to your clickbank
    account and then refer all affiliates to yourbusinessdomain.com/affiliates where
    they need to sign up for promo tools.

    This way you don't have to deal with the payment process or any of the TAX
    issues. Your affiliate program is run by the most trusted in the market so
    you won't lose affiliates that don't trust individual affiliate networks and
    trust me, the big affiliates don't bother doing business with them. It's too
    much risk when you can send out one email to 20.000 people.

    You get the exposure of the clickbank marketplace that could attract some
    of the big guns and at the same time building your affiliate list by making
    them opt-in and we all know how valuable a active affiliate list is.

    Ebbi
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  • Profile picture of the author TheNightOwl
    Hi Ebbi.

    Thanks for your response.

    I've done that.

    I have my products on ClickBank.

    I have some affiliate tools management software set up on my domain.

    Done all that.

    That's not really my question...
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    • Profile picture of the author Ebbi
      Originally Posted by TheNightOwl View Post

      Hi Ebbi.

      Thanks for your response.

      I've done that.

      I have my products on ClickBank.

      I have some affiliate tools management software set up on my domain.

      Done all that.

      That's not really my question...
      Your question is how the best way is to start your own inhouse affiliate program.
      I understand that, I'm only pointing it out that when your programs aren't making
      six figures in sales each month it's really not worth it going into your own inhouse
      affiliate program.

      By using clickbank you can do all that without having to deal with all the paper-
      work.

      Just my 2 cent's, I might be getting it wrong again... if so I'm sorry and I'll start
      commenting on your thread

      Ebbi
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      • Profile picture of the author TheNightOwl
        Originally Posted by Ebbi View Post

        when your programs aren't making
        six figures in sales each month it's really not worth it going into your own inhouse affiliate program.
        Hi Ebbi,

        Thanks for commenting again; I didn't glean that from your original reply.

        If you have experience in this area, would you care to tell us why it's not worth your while unless you're doing those kinds of figures? What are the hassles? What are the problems? What kind of paperwork and tax stuff needs to be done?

        As I said, on the one hand, I'm in no hurry to set up my own full-on inhouse affiliate program, but I will be doing it at some point. Hey, call me a control freak!

        On the other, I think it would be better to set up my own prog sooner rather than later because I think it's a bit unfair to affiliates who find my product in the ClickBank marketplace and start promoting it, only to find that I've go and switch out of ClickBank at some later date.

        Yeah, I know, they should be monitoring this sort of thing. And it's not reason enough on its own to not go ahead and switch to another affiliate solution.

        All the same, I'd rather not do that if I can help it.

        So, yeah... thanks for putting it in perspective (kind of; you still haven't said why you think you need to be pulling down big money to run your own)... but I really am looking for answers to the questions I asked in the OP.

        Cheers,
        TheNightOwl
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  • Profile picture of the author BlogBrowser
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    • Profile picture of the author TheNightOwl
      Originally Posted by BlogBrowser View Post

      I used to run my inhouse affiliate program. It was a pain in the ass to send all the individual payments at the end of the month, delete refunds from commissions (and explain the affiliate why you canceled one of his commissions), etc.

      Life is much easier with ClickBank, even if dealing with higher commission costs and higher refunds.
      Hey there BlogBrowser

      This in an interesting comment, particularly the bit about explaining why the affiliate didn't get full commissions due to refunds. Something to think about.

      This is not reason enough for me not set up my own, though.

      There must be some simple ways to educate affiliates as to why these things occur. You could have a "Quick Start Video" in your affiliates toolbox area, for example, going through things like:

      --how to get started here
      --how to generate your links with your affiliate ID embedded
      --how to cloak or redirect your links
      --when you get paid
      --how you get paid
      --why you might get less than you expect
      --how to use the affiliate tools (banners, emails, etc)

      If you put this in amongst the training, you wouldn't need to keep telling people. Yeah, I know some people are just flat out morons and you'd need to tell them. But if they kept giving you trouble, you could just remove and ban them from your affiliate program. It is, after all, your program, right?

      --additionally, in your monthly/weekly/etc. emails to affiliates, you could include links to these videos in case they missed them the first time round. AND... in other emails you could include these FAQs actually in the body text of the emails.

      Surely this would reduce (not eliminate) problems?

      And besides which, this kind of admin/customer support is likely to be handled by your VA, no? (Sure, when you're starting out, it's gonna be you-you-you-you-you-you... but HelpDesk staff should be one of your first outsourced roles, wouldn't you say? Unless you positively love that sort of thing.:p)

      Okay, perhaps not the actual payment process (logging into your PayPal account etc.) until you have some kind of trusted inhouse (as in...in your office) staff whom you do trust 100% with this kind of sensitive data.

      But the basics of it.

      So BlogBrowser's comments are interesting and worth keeping in mind, I guess, if you're just starting out and are overwhelmed... but it's not reason enough for me not to start my own prog.

      This is interesting on further reflection, too:

      Originally Posted by BlogBrowser View Post

      Life is much easier with ClickBank, even if dealing with higher commission costs and higher refunds.
      There are TONS of buyers online who know they just have to squeal "Oh, mommy ClickBank, that big bad person sold me a dud and ClickBank will issue a refund. I'm not sure that a real human looks into these refund requests. Do they? I don't know.

      Oh, I'm not getting all holier than thou, either. I've refunded plenty of stuff that was crap or not up to snuff. In fact, I'm about to contact the owner/author of one of the recent buzz launch things I bought because I don't think the material was worth what I paid for it. So I'll be asking for either a partial refund or credit towards another product or something.

      I have never just bought something and refunded it. That's theft.

      ClickBank's refund policy certainly does protect buyers from unscrupulous vendors, but it seems that their refund policy is a little lopsided. Or am I wrong about that?

      With your own program, people have to apply directly for a refund and (unless you offer one of those "No reason at all" guarantees) say what it is they're unhappy about.

      And I'm not saying you should try and convince someone to reverse their decision to ask for a refund, but everyone knows that a refund request handled well can result in a repeat buyer and possibly even someone who recommends your product(s).

      I've done that one, too. Something wasn't right for me, but it was a good product (actually, just like the one I was talking about a moment ago), got a refund, and then went on to refer others for whom it would be a good match.

      I think you have much more control over this with your own program. With ClickBank, certainly the advantage is that you're leveraging the behemoth. But with that comes a facelessness making it easy for people to be blatantly dishonest and get away with it.

      Also, getting the "straight-from-the-horse's-mouth" reasons for people requesting a refund is surely a big benefit in disguise: As soon as a pattern even starts to emerge, you go back and make that section of your product better.

      Anyway, I'm still searching for answers to the questions I asked in that OP.

      Cheers,
      TheNightOwl
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