Affiliate Networks: It’ll all end in tiers

A huge proportion of my working day is spent helping newbies out, answering questions about Affiliate Marketing in general, as well as SEO, web design, marketing, PPC, and all those other things that I used to know nothing about. I’ll be honest with you – sometimes it’s frustrating answering “what niche should I work in?” or “how much money will I make from my voucher code/cashback/shopping directory site?” for the hundreth time that week.

But most of the time it gives me enormous job satisfaction to see a newbie go from wet behind the ears to the top of the search engine pile, with a great portfolio of really useful sites – some take years, others take months. But they’ve all worked hard, made a lot of mistakes and learnt from them. Hence my job satisfaction. But wait a minute.. training newbies isn’t my job! Running my affiliate business is my job. If I help a newbie go from £0 to £3,000 a month (for instance), let’s see who benefits from our work:

  • The Affiliate: Assuming no PPC or massive overheads, he or she is now £3,000 a month better off.
  • The Merchant(s): Assuming average 5% commission, this affiliate is now generating an extra £60,000 a month of business.
  • The Network(s): Assuming Industry standard overrides of 10-30%, they’re getting an extra £300 to £900 a month.
  • If I’m lucky, the affiliate will choose to use Easy Content Units Pro, and I’ll be a whole £19.99 a month better off. Not exactly retire-on-a-yacht money! Which is why I rely on the 2nd tier system that most UK networks have in place – In theory I would earn a % of every affiliate who I refer to a network (and subsequently mentor), meaning that if I help an affiliate go from £0 to £3,000 a month, I might be lucky and get an extra £150 a month paid by the network(s) out of their override)

    Except it just doesn’t seem to work that way..

    I’ve been referring affiliates to networks for the best part of 7/8 years now, and have referred thousands of affiliates over that time, most of whom will probably have never earnt a penny. However I know of affiliates who I personally referred to networks who now earn anything up to £10,000 a month. I should be coining it in.. but I’m not.

    I used to earn several hundred pounds a month from Affiliate Window from my referrals a few years back. Then one day it all dried up, and when I asked a few weeks back where the 2nd tier reporting had gone, the reply I was given was “it’s not possible to do a report.” – so am I still earning 5% of every affiliate I refer as promised or not? I see lots of £2 CPA sales for new affiliates (who have paid £5 to join), but no 5% ongoing?

    At the other end of the spectrum, once again it’s hats off to Paid on Results who have the most open 2nd tier reporting going – I can clearly see those affiliates I have referred, and every sale they make. I don’t earn very much from my POR referrals, but I can trust them 100% that the figures are correct. They’re also (AFAIK?) the only UK network to pay ongoing lifetime commission on any merchants you refer to them.

    I should also give credit to Affiliate Future, who I know several affiliates have claimed don’t track 2nd tier sales.. I do see a steady monthly amount coming in for them, so I trust their reports.

    The other networks are much of a muchness – they either pay a pittance one-off CPA, or claim to pay a % that just doesn’t add up when you look at the reports.

    The networks all want fresh blood in the Industry. They would like them to be trained and/or mentored so that they are successful quicker and on a larger scale. They all want the next generation of super affiliates. However (on the most part) they don’t bother to train/mentor themselves, and fail to reward affiliates as per their original “2nd tier” promises.

    Oh well, I’ll keep on doing it for the love of it.