How To Increase the Value of your Blog & Negotiate Higher Commissions

This is a guest post from Share a Sale CEO and President of the Board at the PMA.  In other words, he’s been doing this for a very long time and knows some of the best bargaining and negotiating tips to get higher commissions and build stronger relationships with your Merchants.

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By @vovan13 / purchased from DepositPhotos.com

How to pitch your value and negotiate higher affiliate commissions.

Every retailer I talk to these days is looking for bloggers to promote their brands.   Every single one.

This doesn’t mean that they don’t value all of their current partners, including those who utilize or operate mostly coupon or loyalty sites – just that they are looking to expand into the broad landscape of bloggers out there who, collectively, have a greater reach than just about anyone!

Bloggers, on the other hand, often come to me with questions as to how to maximize, or even get into the monetization of their site via Affiliate Marketing.  Often times, they’ve tried it in the past but have either had little success or possibly they are trying it for the first time.  Either way, there are a myriad of questions asked and so I’ve put together 2 very important strategies that you can utilize to put yourself in a position to maximize your earnings from potential Merchant partners.

Strategies to get higher Affiliate Commissions.

  1.  Use your email lists!   One of the worst business moves you can make, in blogging, is failing to utilize email as a marketing channel.  There are a couple of reasons for this:
    1. An email subscriber has asked you to email them with relevant content.   Failing to do so (and most bloggers I talk to are afraid to email because they don’t want to bother their subscribers) will cause your subscriber to basically forget the original reason that they subscribed in the first place!  The result of that – is an eventual unsubscribe when you DO email them because they no longer recognize you.

Email your subscribers immediately upon subscription, and on a very regular basis.  The more emailing you do, as long as it is of value, the better.   Don’t be discouraged by unsubscribe numbers, but watch them closely – look for trends as to which types of emails cause larger unsubscribe numbers vs. hits, etc…   I utilize a service called MailChimp.com for email, and can recommend it along with Aweber.com. (AdamRiemer.me uses Aweber, this is our Affiliate Link).

  1. Email is a great way to monetize!   A lot of bloggers prefer to leave their blog as “content only”, so to speak, and to that I say – Great!   Instead, use your blog as a funnel to your email list and use the email list as monetization.

So – get those lists going!  Here is what I do as a place to start.

Using my Social Analytics on Shareist.com (my personal content management system), or via analytics packages such as Google Analytics – I determine which of my posts in the past month have received the most traffic, or interaction (such as likes, clicks, etc…).   I take the top 3 – and I write a newsletter about those three posts.  That’s easy stuff, and just a simple way to start, but it is successful because I already know the content that I wrote is good – due to the stats I looked at earlier.

Just an example from my own Sharist.com interface, here is what I look at on a weekly basis and try to see which of my posts was most successful.

shareist

Why do all this?  How does it increase your value?   When you go to talk to a Merchant about commission rates, and such – they will want to know your reach.   Talking about hits, visitors, and Facebook likes will certainly help – but an active engaged newsletter readership will be extremely interesting to them – trust me on that one!

  1.  Focus on bringing New Customers

I know, this sounds impossible – because how are you supposed to know who is a new customer or not!?  Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to perform any magic – but I am going to talk about a few things that maximize your opportunity to reach new customers for your Merchant partners.

The first, is the same as above – which we covered – grow your newsletter base.

The second, Ask the retailer specifically, what your historical percentage of new customers / returning.   You may find that you have been sending a high percentage of new customers – which would put you in a much better negotiating position.  This assumes that you’ve been working with the Merchant before – but getting the data is critical to analyzing how your promotional updates are translating to their site.

And thirdly, build a community.  There is no greater source of traffic than the one that you build yourself.   Affiliates have been successful (going way back) with gateway pages or reviews that have ranked highly for keywords… but were essentially traffic redirection to a Merchant of their choice. The visitor came thru an Affiliate site but really had no compelling reason to stay (or come back at a later date).

Use the incoming traffic and readership to your site, and then build a community around that traffic. Use small things like polls, questions, games, prizes, discussion, comments – all these things can bring people into your community. Communities feed on themselves – and bring the kind of organic growth to your affiliate business that can’t be obtained thru search alone.

Use the incoming traffic and readership to your site, and then build a community around that traffic.

Be a traffic source, not solely a redirector of traffic.

If you utilize coupons and/or deals – make sure that those posts are accurate, up to date, and relevant to your audience.   Focus less on SEO optimized “deal pages” and more on alerting your audience (through posts and emails) of the deals that the retailer is promoting at that specific time.

Remember, these advertisers are looking for you – and increased commissions, blog bonuses, or performance bonuses are well within your reach if you bring value to that advertiser.   These tips above will help you understand the kinds of things they consider valuable, and while by no means are they easy – I hope these tips help you maximize your efforts.

Even if you only send a few customers per month to a retailer, don’t be afraid to ask for the value that you feel you deserve.   If those few customers (or more in those cases) are new to a retailer, they represent a lot of value to that retailer.

When negotiating with the retailer, focus on your connection to your audience.   Specifically, detail the things that you can do to continue to bring that audience to the retailer AND continue to bring new customers.

Brian is the founder and CEO of ShareASale – a retail Performance Marketing Network with over 4,000 Merchants. Brian is a two-time winner of the Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Award for Affiliate Marketing Advocate of the Year and current President of the PMA Board, the industry’s trade organization.  You can follow him on Twitter @ShareaSale.

*Photos are purchased from DepositPhotos.com and the ShareaSale blog.

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