It’s been a while since I last wrote about affiliate marketing. Since then, a lot has happened both regarding my affiliate marketing journey and in my online money making adventure. However, I did promise to update you regarding my stab at earning affiliate income. Read on to find out what went wrong and what I learned.
Before diving in, there may be some readers who don’t know what affiliate marketing is, a detailed guide is in my post, I Want To Be An Affiliate Marketer – Part 1.
But briefly, affiliate marketing refers to revenue sharing as part of an incentivized program. The affiliate marketer acts as a bridge to connect their audience with a merchant’s products/services, and a commission is earned from every sale made. This may be as a percentage of the sale, or even as a flat rate; the exact terms will vary according to the individual rules laid out by the merchant.
With affiliate marketing, it does take time and effort to build an audience, but once set up, income is earned passively.
A while back I started an Instagram account as part of the marketing strategy for a martial arts dropshipping store. By following the rules set out in my post Six Strategies For Building Your Instagram Following, at the time of writing, I have built an audience of 29k followers.
Analyzing my audience, my followers mostly come from Brazil, USA, and Indonesia. The top two age ranges are 25-34 and 18-24, with 91% of my total audience being male.
Companies Have Approached Me
While building my audience, I’ve had companies contact me asking to join their affiliate program. As you would expect, there were martial arts equipment retailers, sport clothing retailers, but the one that caught my attention the most was a streaming service.
I won’t name names, but I will discuss their business model. They offered only one film to stream; at the time of contact, that film was Steven Seagal’s Attribution. This seemed odd because, for me, streaming is where users have a choice of hundreds, if not thousands of movies to choose. After looking into it some more, I found that their key differentiator is giving subscribers contact with the star of the film via group chat.
Despite this, I still had my reservations about this being a long-term sustainable model; I didn’t know how often they change films, what the restrictions are on times/days where the star isn’t online, and whether they will get a bigger star to come on board. No disrespect to Steven Seagal, but he doesn’t have the pull of Donnie Yen or Jackie Chan. The contact couldn’t answer my questions satisfactorily, and I decided not to join.
Limitations of Instagram For Affiliate Marketing
All the same, this got me thinking, streaming martial arts movies is a perfect match for my audience. I begin looking into the best streaming sites for martial arts movies. For me, the most important criterion is the available choice of films. This meant Netflix or Amazon Prime only, none of the others offered a selection good enough for my audience.
In the process of thinking how this could work, it began to dawn on me how limiting Instagram is as an affiliate platform. First of all, the video length of my posts are limited to only 60 seconds, but the main problem, as far as affiliate marketing is concerned, is having only one clickable link on the account home page.
After researching how to join Netflix, it turns out that they stopped accepting affiliates some years ago. This was disappointing to hear because they offer the most extensive choice of any streaming service.
On to Amazon Prime, after looking into signing up as an affiliate, I found out I would need an Amazon account for each country my audience comes from. On top of which, because Instagram is not my platform, I cannot add IP detection software to automatically present an affiliate link that matched the country of each follower.
What About DVDs?
Unable to offer a decent streaming service, perhaps physical DVDs might work. After researching the best retailers, my only option was YesAsia.com, who provide worldwide delivery and have the widest choice of martial arts movies. They offer an affiliate program via three different providers.
As an existing PayPal account holder, Webgains seemed the logical choice. I duly applied, and as expected, they wanted to know about my website and how I would promote affiliate products. After a few days, they emailed me with a rejection. Keen to find out why I emailed back asking for the reason. They couldn’t give a reason and asked me to re-apply, which I did. A few days later I was accepted into their program.
The next step was to prove ownership of my website and Instagram account. They asked me to add a file to the root directory of all my platforms. This was fine for my website, but Instagram doesn’t allow for such things. In the end, after much back and forth, I was asked to write a code on a website post, and again within an Instagram post for manual verification.
Having demonstrated ownership of my platforms, I was now ready to apply for YesAsia.com. They approved me within a day. However, there was a technical glitch in the Webgains system that meant YesAsia.com did not show in my list of approved merchants. After emailing support, they told me someone was looking into the fault. A week passed, and I followed up, but I didn’t receive a reply. I left it for another week, and followed up with another email and still no response. All in all, I wasted five weeks.
My only other option was to apply to Share-a-Sale, the reason why I didn’t choose them at first was that they require a US bank account, which as a UK resident I don’t have. To solve this problem I signed up with Payoneer. For a fee, they provide a service that “mimics” having a bank account in multiple different countries. After approval, I was set to apply to join Share-a-Sale. The entire process, unlike Webgains, was smooth and painless. Within a few days, I was on their system ready to apply to YesAsia.com.
Excited to start, I was hit with a massive setback. Unfortunately, YesAsia.com rejected my application, even though they had approved via Webgains. There were no options to appeal, or even to contact them and discuss the issue.
It’s been a struggle to set up an affiliate program. I want the best products and services for my audience, but I’m limited in what I can offer through Instagram. Not only are video posts limited to a maximum of 60 seconds, but I also cannot add clickable links to my posts. Not all affiliate programs are created equal, the signup process for Webgains was arduous, their systems are poor, and their customer service is laughable. Months on from when I first looked at starting an affiliate income stream, I still cannot provide my audience with a suitable product/service. No-one said it would be easy, but I still have another idea. Stand by for part 3, where I will detail what I did next.