Want to find out how to make easy affiliate money now as the holidays approach? Wait until you hear this episode of The Blogger Genius Podcast.
I’ve invited my friend, Jeannine Crooks, from affiliate network Awin, back on the show to share her tips and tricks for monetizing on Black Friday, Christmas, and beyond.
In this episode, we talk about:
- How Black Friday sales are coming earlier this year and how to prepare
- How to create easy niche holiday shopping guides
- How when in doubt, to feature products from Etsy
- How to pick the right affiliates to promote
- How to incorporate live selling this year
- What types of gifts are trending this year
- And why any noun in a blog post could be an affiliate link!
Your job as a blogger is to solve problems for your readers. I always say, affiliate marketing is the easiest way to do that. Especially during the holidays, lean into your area of expertise and start making suggestions your audience will thank you for!
This episode will get you ready to kill it during the holidays, so don’t miss listening! And don’t leave money on the table when you can add an affiliate link to your blog!
- MiloTree Easy Payments
- Share a Sale
- Catch My Party
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- Free MiloTree Blog Post Checklist
- 5 Secrets Successful Bloggers Already Know Cheat Sheet
- All Blogger Genius Podcast Episodes
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Welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.
Jillian Leslie 0:11
Hello, my friends. Welcome back to the show. I am Jillian Leslie, your host. And before I get started today, I wanted to talk about a way for you to monetize your community. And this is using our new product MiloTree Easy Payments.
It is a way for you to set up a membership, or sell a one-time workshop or event and you can set this up in about 15 minutes. There’s no complicated tech to learn. All we do is give you a way for your customers to sign up for your membership, or your workshop.
And we also add your customers into your email service provider. Oh wait, and one other good thing. You don’t pay us until you start making money. There’s no monthly fee, we only take a small transaction fee.
So, we’re on the same side. We did this on purpose. We wanted to find ways for you to monetize your audience easily. This sounds interesting to you. Head to milotree.com/ easypayments, sign up for your free account.
Got any questions reach out to me at email@example.com I really think this could be a game changer for you.
For today’s episode, I have my friend Jeannine Crooks back on the show. This is our second visit and Jeannine is an affiliate marketing expert.
In fact, she works at Awin and ShareASale. Her first episode was one of my most popular because she gave such actionable tips on how to monetize using affiliate.
So, I wanted her to come back at the end of 2021 so she can share her strategies for you to boost your income during the holidays. I promise there will be new ideas for you in this episode.
So, without further delay, here is my interview with Jeannine Crooks. Jeannine, welcome back to the show.
Jeannine Crooks 2:23
Oh, thank you so much. It’s so great to be here. You have got a great, great, great group.
Jillian Leslie 2:28
Oh, well, I want to say that you are my affiliate marketing expert. And your episode, I’m going to put your first episode in the show notes so people can listen. It was one of my most popular episodes.
I think everybody wants to do affiliate sales for bloggers, especially when they start monetizing. It’s one of the ways I say, get affiliate links up in your blog because it’s like a no brainer.
Jeannine Crooks 3:00
Oh, I couldn’t agree with you more. I watch people, I’ll read different blogs and stuff like that. And I’m like, “Oh, you need a link right there.”
Jillian Leslie 3:06
As a Blogger, Don’t Leave Money on the Table by Forgetting Affiliate Links
Jeannine Crooks 3:07
And it’s just like you’re leaving money on the table. But the other thing is, you’re also helping your reader when you put those links in. Because you’re saying that something is wonderful. You’re mentioning perhaps a brand by name.
And then you’re just kind of saying, okay, here’s the internet, go find it. Good luck. And I can’t remember if I told the story last time, it’s a little bit embarrassing, but I’m going to tell it again, in case if I didn’t.
My husband and I were traveling to Prague, to Old Prague, specifically. And we read on a blog post about this wonderful hotel just outside of Old Prague, like that’s where we want to stay. But she didn’t have a link.
And so, I went on a site and I booked and when I got there, I’m like, this isn’t right. I was next door. I didn’t speak Czech. And our hotel was okay. But I had to walk past the one I wanted to and from Old Prague.
So, I didn’t get to stay where I wanted and she missed, probably about $60 in commissions, because she didn’t put the link in, and it would have helped me if it had been there.
Because if you think about affiliate links, there’s no requirement to click them. It doesn’t cost the reader anything more. You’re simply helping them find the product that you just told them was great.
Jillian Leslie 4:22
I love that. Jeannine, let’s back up a little bit. I know we went through this in the first episode, but will you share why you are my affiliate marketing expert?
Jeannine Crooks 4:32
Well, I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. That tells how old I am but that’s okay. I think it’s pretty obvious I am not 22 anymore. So, I’ve been in the affiliate marketing industry for a long time, and I’ve kind of been in every single role.
I’ve been a publisher, I’ve been a merchant, I’ve been a vendor. This is my second time with an affiliate network but I’m very proud to say that I’ve been with Awin for nearly 11 years now which is hard for even me to believe.
I’m very happy where I am. So, why leave?
Jillian Leslie 5:06
Awin and ShareASale. And many of you in the audience, I’m sure have probably an Awin or ShareASale link on your blog. If you don’t go check them out because they work with virtually everybody in the industry.
Jeannine Crooks 5:19
Yeah, well, in the U.S., we work with over 7,000 different merchants, on a global basis we work with about 26,000. Nobody has everybody but we have a lot of the really great guys that people like to work with.
When in Doubt, Use Etsy as Your Affiliate
Etsy, for example, since most of your audiences are bloggers, Etsy, I found has kind of everything. That is somebody who has everything.
And it’s fun, because when I’ve talked with different bloggers along the way, and they told me what their topics are, we’ll go on to Etsy, and we’ll search and we always find something.
Jillian Leslie 5:53
For our blog, Catch My Party, one of the biggest ways that we monetize is through Etsy affiliates through Awin. So, we pull in people’s Etsy products around parties. So, we are very grateful, grateful for Awin.
Jeannine Crooks 6:11
I’m so glad to hear that. Yeah, Etsy it’s one of our top merchants, to put it mildly. But I just love it, because they’re great people to work with, absolutely fantastic people to work with.
And that’s just so nice. And then I see how many different bloggers, influencers, all those sorts of people are able to, leverage the products that they have.
Jillian Leslie 6:33
So, for Catch My Party, back in the day, we experimented with putting a storefront on our site with a party supply company, and it didn’t do well.
But then what we discovered was when we put Etsy products on our site because of the cookie, so, you don’t necessarily have to buy this specific product. But you might go look at this product, I hope you buy it, if it’s what you’re looking for.
But then you’re right, if you go buy something else, we benefit just because we sent them to Etsy. So, I think that’s like the hidden value is really like people shop on Etsy for a whole host of things and it can really pay off.
Jeannine Crooks 7:16
Well, I’ll tell you, one of my little secrets that I do is often on Black Friday, I will go into the Etsy account, and we’ve got product level tracking on there. So, you as a publisher, as well can actually see what people bought.
So, the variety of products I was like, Etsy sells that? I didn’t even know it. And just how fun it is, and all the different items that are there. And you can just kind of picture who would that be, a good gift for, that they bought today.
And so, I like doing that. I also like the fact that Etsy is made up of, individual sellers. And so, when you’re buying something on Etsy, you’re supporting somebody’s private business, their little local business.
So that’s where I did an awful lot of my shopping last year as well, just because it’s like, I want to help this person who has, this tiny business, this home business or whatever, to support them as opposed to the Amazons of the world.
How to Make Money as a Blogger During Black Friday
Jillian Leslie 8:11
Totally. So, let’s talk about Black Friday. So, the reason I wanted you on the show was I wanted to talk about Q4, Black Friday, and how publishers, bloggers, influencers, creators could set themselves up for success.
Jeannine Crooks 8:31
Sure, there’s a lot of different things that you can do. For starters, one of the things that we really noticed and it specially grew last year, is that Black Friday is not one day anymore. It’s actually kind of that whole week.
And so, actually starting as early as the week before, that, you may start getting emails from the advertisers that you work with, kind of either hinting about their sales or flat out telling you what their sales are going to be for that holiday weekend.
And in some cases, they’ll start their sales prices on Monday.
Jillian Leslie 9:02
Okay. So, Black Friday is on a Friday, Thanksgiving is that Thursday, people start sending emails on Monday, would you say?
Jeannine Crooks 9:12
The week before.
Jillian Leslie 9:13
Even the whole week before?
Jeannine Crooks 9:15
The week before, and that might be to alert you, as one of their affiliates that they’ve got some special sale coming up. And I appreciate that they’re getting to this point now.
More and more sophisticated merchants are realizing that you’re not going to drop your fork on Thursday while you’re eating turkey so you can go put their code up. That’s your day.
And so, they’re trying to let you know before that so that you can have it all ready so that your posts can go live at the right time, or the update to your post or your social media or whatever, with their coupon as soon as it goes live.
So, they’re giving you some advanced warning on that. And it’s a trust situation. They’re trusting that you’re not going to let it go live until they said, this coupon is now active.
But more and more of them are realizing that they are in a relationship with you as their affiliate, that they can totally trust you to be responsible with their content.
And conversely, you have a chance of having this great coupon on so much off on something if you buy it on Wednesday, instead of waiting until Friday. The advertisers that are out there are competing for the holiday dollars, and they know it.
And so, what they’re trying to do is figure out what can they do to give them a leg up over their competition to try and do even better, come holidays to try and grab more, a bigger share.
Jillian Leslie 10:41
Can I see that? Let’s say, I go to the ShareASale dashboard, and I have my affiliates, can I go drill down and it will tell me hey, we’re starting this sale on Tuesday, or this is when this is going live? Like how do you recommend I do my research?
Read the Emails from Your Affiliates About Black Friday
Jeannine Crooks 10:59
Well, there’s a couple different ways which you’re going to find probably is the most likely is to get emails from your merchants. So, when you get those instead of, “Oh my God, it’s them again.” Read it seriously.
They’re trying to tell you something, they’re trying to tell you what products they’re going to highlight perhaps what sales they’re going to have. So, you can do it that way.
The other thing that you can do is when you log into your ShareASale account, it will tell you who sent out a newsletter that day or if somebody put in new banner ads or updated their data feed.
There’s all that information that’s in there. So, you see who’s doing activity right now. That’s always a good guide.
And for most people they’re not dealing with 200 different merchants, they’re dealing with a handful of merchants that are their favorites. So, it’s not that time intensive to go through that half a dozen merchants or whatever it is.
Or even dozen merchants your favorites on each network who are most likely to have sales. Because if you’ve been working with them for a little while you know who’s got the codes, you know who tends to give you a deal on something.
Check them out and see what it is. It’s really worth it because at this time of year things go insane and that’s half the fun. I’ll give you one fun statistic.
Last year on Black Friday Awin ShareASale were tracking 300 transactions a second.
Jillian Leslie 12:17
Jeannine Crooks 12:19
Yeah. That’s how many people were buying online and we expect this year to be as good or better.
Creating Niche Gift Guides to Help Your Audience
Jillian Leslie 12:26
Let’s talk about gift guides what kind of guides do you recommend publishers create this year as we’re kind of in COVID it’s kind of ambiguous. What is your advice about a gift guide and then what is the best way to be promoting that?
Jeannine Crooks 12:49
Okay. Well, you know your audience. Each one of the people that is watching us today knows your audience so you’ve got some sense of their favorite things. So, find maybe a few of the luxury items in that.
So, if you’re health and beauty what’s the really nice cream or what’s the really nice extra soft robe or something like that, it’s something that somebody could really like.
What I found too is that within the niche sometimes it’s great to be able to do the gift guide for people where you have no idea what to give them. I think that’s always part of the challenge so I find that a lot of the parenting blogs will do that.
I’ve got this teenage nephew and I have no clue, here’s 19 things that they would love or 10 things or eight things or whatever it is. Numbers in the title always work well.
Jillian Leslie 13:40
Yes. Numbers in the title.
Jeannine Crooks 13:43
Absolutely, and then promote that on your social media platforms and stuff like that because people really are looking for it.
Then if you start trying to put those things together now, you’ve got enough time for it to be found and to be optimized in Google that if somebody looks for best gifts for teenage boys, you can rank.
Jillian Leslie 14:01
And I would always say that if you can niche down like, the best board games it’s like you probably won’t rank for something like that. But maybe if you could do the best board games for special needs kids or I don’t know, for left handed people.
Just going getting very granular but where there’s a need for that. Like you were saying the hardest gifts to give but maybe with the best gifts with organic lavender. I don’t know.
It’s just anything where somebody will be searching for that rather than, “Oh my God. How many new slippers do I need?”
Jeannine Crooks 14:48
Right. Well, it was funny I just got back from SubSummit which is the subscription box conference. And my favorite sessions there was “The Riches are in the Niches,” and there was one very successful person who has a subscription box for guinea pig owners.
Jillian Leslie 15:04
Jeannine Crooks 15:06
I know. How specific is that, and yet she’s off the charts with it. And there was another person who had a gift box that was only for women dentists, because she was one. And so she knew what was going to be talking to them about that.
Think About Including Niche Gift Boxes and Subscription Boxes
So yes, really when you can dial down into the niches, you can find so many perfect gifts. And it’s fun, you’re not limited to just one gift guide. You can do a bunch of different ones that are like that.
So, whether you’ve got somebody who is a traveler, or somebody who loves whiskey, or somebody who is as crazy as me about their Siberian Huskies, that sort of thing, you can find gifts for all those people.
We just launched a new merchant a couple of days ago, and I absolutely adore them. They’re on ShareASale. And it’s called, “Gift Wrap your Face.” I was like, “What is that?”
But literally what you can do is like, take a person’s picture and turn it into gift wrap into planners. Don’t tell my sister-in-law, but she’s going to get a pair of socks with her dog’s picture on it for Christmas. Because they’re adorable, and I’m sure she doesn’t have duplicates.
Jillian Leslie 16:13
Totally, yes. Oh, that’s great.
Jeannine Crooks 16:17
It’s crazy, but I think it’s going to be fun, I think it’s going to make her smile, and she will definitely wear them. So, I think when you look through some of the different merchants that are out there, you can find kind of fun things.
And they’re starting to roll out more and more new products. Because honestly, like the huge coupon sites are going to do what we call lockdown.
Which means that they’ve already got everything, all the new merchants or whoever it is that they’re going to work with already on their site. And they are doing all the testing to make sure that all the links work, so that they can just turn it live on the right day.
And then they are locked down. No more new merchants, no more new coupon codes, no more new anything. So, therefore the merchants are getting ready now so that they are prepared for that lockdown.
They’ve already gotten their information out to the coupon sites, they’re getting it out to the rest of their affiliates now as well.
So, they know what it is that they’re planning on doing. It’s not going to be a surprise to them, hey, hey, let’s do this sale now. No, they’ve already got a plan.
Jillian Leslie 17:15
Jeannine Crooks 17:16
And they share it with everybody, but they will be sharing a lot. I’m already seeing emails come through to me, that are for the holiday season, you know that’s what they’re getting ready for is Q4.
Jillian Leslie 17:26
Yeah. I want to say if you’re listening to this now, like, get posting, like get those posts live and up. So you can get some SEO juice and Pinterest juice some shares on social media. Do not wait.
And a lot of times too, I always recommend if you have a gift guide from last year, updated for this year and put 2021 on it.
Jeannine Crooks 17:50
Yes, yes, yes, yes. So, they know that all those items are still available, just the way that you had talked about them last year.
And I think it really helps to try and do a little bit earlier this year, there are a lot of concerns about supply chain issues and about delivery issues.
There are different merchants that I’ve spoken with, who are wondering how are they going to get enough plastic in? Or can they get the boxes that they need or whatever?
And conversely, they’re wondering when there’s already delays in shipping. Is everything going to get there on time? So, the concern is real, I’ll say that.
Jillian Leslie 18:22
Do you think that this will motivate brands, companies to start running their sales even earlier?
Expect Sales to Run Earlier Because of Supply Chain Issues
Jeannine Crooks 18:30
Yeah, definitely, I think they are going to do that, because they may or may not have as much stock in stores they want to so, they would first come first serve. Put it that way.
They are more than happy to go ahead and sell it now or sell it, as soon as it goes on sale so they can get it right out the door. So, I don’t know if some of those guaranteed delivery dates are going to be the same this year as they were last year.
And it’s not just about the delivery, it may also be about the supplies.
Jillian Leslie 18:59
And is that the biggest thing you’re feeling this year in terms of COVID? And like how supply chains are getting a little wonky.
Jeannine Crooks 19:09
Well, I think there’s a lot of things that are going on, we all watched how COVID changed so many things last year. And a very positive thing is that a lot of people who had never shopped online before became very comfortable with it.
Jillian Leslie 19:21
Jeannine Crooks 19:22
It has become this wonderfully, easy thing to do. So yeah, it was great. At a time when so many people really weren’t sure what was going to happen.
It was interesting to see who responded in what ways because we had some merchants that decided to almost closed down their programs. And they set their commission rates to zero and they were just going to hunker down.
But there were a lot of others who were like hey we’re going to get through this together and we may not be able to deliver it in two days but we’ll get in a week or whatever it is, we’ll keep your client informed.
And they ran their programs just as normal or even better had special sales on things that people needed.
Etsy, for example, was off the charts because there were so many Etsy stores on there that already had masks.
Jillian Leslie 20:08
Jeannine Crooks 20:10
Yes, it became a category for Etsy that had never been before. It used to be like, there was bridal, there were pets, there were kids, there was, travel or whatever, and all of a sudden, and there’s masks. And it’s still quite popular there.
TREND: The Travel Market is Coming Back
Some of the other things that we’re seeing is definitely the travel market is coming back quite strong. And so, where people weren’t sure before, if they were going to travel, they’re getting a lot braver about that now.
I’ve been to a bunch of conferences and had a great time being live and in person. So, that’s the kind of thing that you can think about this year as well. I think that a lot of people have bought a lot of the things that they were looking for last year for their homes.
Jillian Leslie 20:52
Like big furniture pieces. Yeah, we did. It’s funny, I now look around my house, and I didn’t think we bought a lot, but I was like, wait, that rug is new, we bought, during COVID.
And that couch that because couple months would go by and then we’d buy something else. And then looking around, I’m like, “Wow, we did do a lot of furnishing.”
Jeannine Crooks 21:18
Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I think people spend a lot more time paying attention to their home than they had before. And so, things that were off the charts were things like home decorating accessories, sports equipment and stuff like that.
So, home exercise, home gym kind of things. Workout gear, the perpetual joke of yoga pants, oh my God, they sold out on so many sites, the racket stop now. So that’s a good thing, but I think it kind of, shifted how a lot of people did things.
And as a result, stores that in the past maybe have been quiet, weren’t quiet anymore. Liquor delivery to homes, off the charts. If you could order wine or whiskey or whatever to be sent to you, that was always very popular.
TREND: Food and Education Are Extremely Popular as Gifts
Food is still extremely popular to do, they’re doing great. But it’s kind of neat, because the demand from COVID meant that there’s a lot of new merchants that are out there now that have all sorts of wonderful, cool little gifts.
I was talking about the guinea pigs. But there’s all sorts of neat fun things for the person who loves different cheeses, or the person who loves different spices, or the barbecue person.
There’s all sorts of things like that, that are out there, whether you’re sending in the meat, whether you’re sending them the spices, whether you’re sending them the barbecue sauce, or the tools or whatever, there’s great gifts for all of that.
The other thing that I think will continue being really popular is educational items and gifts. There’s actually a merchant that we’ve got called Outschool, who did so well last year, because they have a lot of individual little programs for kids.
So, a kid could join, and the parent could buy the gift. For example, my boss has twins that are nine years old. And so, one day her son learned how to juggle throughout school.
And the next day, he practiced long division in a different program, and so there were different things that you could buy every day like that, those work as gifts as well, it’s kind of fun, because I think people really got comfortable with exploring those online things.
I was mentioning subscription boxes before, those are great for the holidays, because a lot of those companies learned you know what, I’m going to do a gift box.
You don’t have to buy a three month or a six-month subscription, you can buy a one off box that you know has all these wonderful things.
I’m going to tell you what all those wonderful things are, so that you can give those to the right person. And so, there’s been some great stuff.
Write Better Blog Posts with My FREE Blog Post Checklist
Jillian Leslie 23:56
We are halfway through the episode, and I’m sure you’ve come up with some ideas for blog posts you want to write. Before you move forward, go to milotree.com/blogpostchecklist.
So, you know how to optimize these new posts, both for your audience and for Google.
Again, head to milotree.com/blogpostchecklist and I will lead you through what needs to go in that post for it to be successful. And now back to the show.
What I hear you saying is you can get more personal.
Sell More Personal Niche Gifts
Jeannine Crooks 24:38
Jillian Leslie 24:38
That you can really give you the Husky gift and like organic lavender gift that you can get whereas before it’d be like well you get like the dog gift and I might get like that nice smelling candle. Now you can like really dig in.
Jeannine Crooks 24:56
Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes. You know what I mean? Because there were so many wonderful sales and such an increase in business last year, so many companies were able to expand their product lines.
They figured out what it was that their audience loved. And as a result, produced, so many new things. And it’s just great. Yeah, organic lavender off the charts. The number of things available.
Jillian Leslie 25:20
Now, last time we talked, Amazon changed their affiliate program, Amazon Associates, and people were up in arms, and you came on and you explained the changes and how people should think beyond Amazon.
Update on Amazon Affiliates
Do you have any updates on how Amazon’s program has changed since we talked last? Is it the same? What is your thought about that?
Jeannine Crooks 25:46
Well, Amazon reinstated most of their commission rates that they had slashed down to 1%. But my personal opinion, how can you ever trust them again? There wasn’t any reason for them to do that. It wasn’t like they weren’t making money.
For sure it wasn’t like, “Oh, tough times, we can’t afford to pay our affiliates.” They were making money beyond hand over fist. And so, they did it, because they could, as far as I’m concerned
After 27 years in the business, maybe my opinion may be worth something. But I think that one of the good things that came out of that was so many affiliates discovered that there are so many other places that are wonderful sources for products.
That either it’s the same product that was offered on Amazon, but with better customer service, with a 30-day cookie with a higher commission rate.
And I think, because Amazon started having so many delivery problems, and they weren’t delivering everything, within a couple of days, a lot of people understood, you know what, I can wait a couple of days to get this.
And maybe I’ll buy it from there instead of from here. Because, I kind of like the way these guys are treating me. They’ve got a better product supply, they got better customer service, all sorts of reasons.
So, I think that really helped to kind of get consumers to open up to the idea of not just going, “Oh, I’ve got Amazon Prime. So, I’m going to order from Amazon because I get it for free in two days.” Shipping charges didn’t seem to be that much of a deal anymore.
And the other thing was often on many sites, if you buy X amount, your shipping is free. A lot of people started enjoying that as well. And that’s also a very popular promotion during the holidays, is either reduced your flat rate shipping costs.
And in some cases, they’ll reduce right down to zero. I know that I’m going to be shopping, I’ve got a few favorite stores. And I know that they’ll do that. Because if I buy enough, then I don’t pay for shipping. And that’s good.
But what I really found too was that paying a couple bucks for shipping to get what I wanted, when I wanted it was worth it.
I think too for your audience to keep in mind is people come and read their blogs, because they know them and they trust them, they trust the recommendation.
So, if you tell somebody, this is the place where I would recommend buying it from, odds are they’re going to follow up on that. They’re going to check it out at least and see what’s available there because you said it’s good.
And so, fully leverage that you’ve earned that trust, it’s okay to use it, you’re not taking advantage of your audience, you’re helping them, example, staying in the wrong hotel.
But you’re really helping them to maybe find a place where they’re going to get something that’s better, a little bit different. Amazon doesn’t sell everything. They really don’t, and their prices are not always the best.
So, a lot of times and especially, Amazon may discount it a little bit, but Amazon’s not as likely to throw in a free x because you bought y and z. They are not designed to do that. But the individual merchants are so, there’s kind of fun things they can do.
The Trend Toward Live Selling
Jillian Leslie 29:01
Now what about live selling? Have you noticed this trend of people like you can now have your own show say on Amazon and sell but you can also do it like on your blog or Facebook Live or whatever?
I feel like as we’ve been starved for human contact, live video has become even more viscerally. I don’t know touching on that humanness.
Jeannine Crooks 29:31
I think that’s kind of fun when you get the chance to do that. And you feel like you’re in a conversation with somebody. And that’s really precious. Because before, maybe you went to the department store and you got to talk with the lady behind the counter.
And touch a bunch of different things or sample all these different creams, being able to do that during a live show.
Even though you may not be the one putting it on if somebody that you know and trust is going, “Hmm, this one’s a little greasy and hmm, this one feels is wonderful. And that sort of thing.
I think that, as you were saying there’s almost like this visceral experience of it, you feel at least a lot more like you’re there. And especially people, depending on where they are geographically, that may be the best that they can get. And they’re like, “Yeah, I love this.”
Jillian Leslie 30:19
Because I feel like that’s been something that I’ve seen during COVID. And I will tell you, if there’s somebody selling something live, it’s like they’ve got their own QVC show.
But it’s in their living room or in their bedroom, they’re trying on to showing like earrings, I will watch it.
Jeannine Crooks 30:35
I know, it’s kind of fun. Because there really is, you may not be totally in person, but you’re more in person than just here’s a picture, sort of thing and you know, there’s some great ones.
Oh, by the way, there’s a great subscription box with the earrings, too. Oh my God, I loved it. And I don’t even wear earrings. But I’m thinking about getting it for my niece, because she is the perfect person for that.
Jillian Leslie 30:56
Yes. So, what other trends are you seeing when it comes to social selling, selling on TikTok or Instagram or doing live selling? Because I know there are even apps that you can use where you can like sell live.
So, what are things that you’ve seen where you’re like, that is cool, or I bet that’s successful?
Jeannine Crooks 31:17
Well, a lot of times people will do unboxing, to try and get that experience. And that’s always been growing. It was a trend that started in China. But people over here in the US started really enjoying that.
Because it gave them the whole experience as well. This is what I can look forward to even when I get that product, I know it’s going to be like this. So, I think those kinds of things are there.
Being able to see for example, if it’s something that involves your family members, like my dog ran in and I handed him a treat, he just took it and ran away. That’s a good sign. My Husky likes it. Hopefully your kid will.
Remember the old live commercials “Mikey Likes It?” Yeah, it’s kind of a variation on that. So, if you’ve got any of those kinds of items that are easily demonstrated, I think it just takes you to a new level on it.
How to Use Social Media to Sell Over the Holidays
We’re seeing a lot of people being very active on social media. TikTok is definitely growing. But you know, the old standards, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest are all there.
I think some people have been wondering if Pinterest is getting quieter, not from what I can tell. It seems like there’s still a lot of folks that are there and that are still working with their own systems in terms of, pointing back to their own site or putting in their affiliate links.
Of course, Instagram makes that a whole lot more complicated. And even with the arrival of their programs, their affiliate program, it’s kind of not quite as robust, as you might experience working with a network.
A major network, like Awin and ShareASale, but not just us. A lot of other people have it as well. We have additional and different technologies than what Instagram can offer. And so that can help, either on your conversion rate on your tracking.
Instagram doesn’t offer cross-device tracking. So, if somebody finds something that they love, on Instagram, the cookie drops on their phone, but if they go back later and they buy it on their laptop, or their desktop or whatever, Instagram is not going to track that.
Jillian Leslie 33:24
Break that down for me.
How to Get Credit for a Sale with Cookies
Jeannine Crooks 33:26
So, wherever somebody clicks through the first time is where the cookie drops.
Jillian Leslie 33:31
Okay, and for people who don’t know, cookie is a little piece of code. So, for example, back to the Etsy thing, I want somebody to click on my Etsy link and often a little piece of code gets put on their computer and then I think the cookie is good for 30 days.
If they go back to Etsy, not through my site just on their own computer, that little code is like a ticking clock. And if they buy something within 30 days, I get a commission. So, now go through the Instagram version of this.
Jeannine Crooks 34:07
Well, what I’m saying is cross-device tracking is not something that’s available on Instagram and so a lot of searches start on mobile devices, people are always on their phones trying to look up whatever.
And then maybe they find something that they like they’re going to go home that night and buy it on their laptop or on their desktop because it’s too much trouble to enter the credit card number or figure out what the sizes are, or see what the colors are.
Instagram, to my knowledge, does not have cross-device tracking. So, they can’t say this person who is on this phone is now this person on this laptop or desktop. But all the major networks do.
Follow that and so that means that you as the affiliate will get the commission for that.
Jillian Leslie 34:52
So, let’s say somebody goes to my site, Catch My Party, clicks on one of my Etsy links. Then goes home onto their laptop, do you know that’s that person?
Jeannine Crooks 35:05
Without any personally identifiable information, we know that the user of this phone is the same person as the user of this desktop. So, it’s all completely compliant from privacy requirements from GDPR, from CCPA.
From all the other alphabet soup kind of laws that are in place, we can do that, we know that we’re okay in doing that, but we can track that person and make sure that you get the right commission for it.
And I think last year, we paid out something like an extra $8 million in commissions, because of cross-device tracking, one platform so, it’s things like that, that Instagram can’t necessarily give you.
Jillian Leslie 35:46
I was going to say, I think Pinterest is really pushing Idea Pins. And I think you can put affiliate links in your Idea Pins. You can’t put a link back to your blog, but I think you can put your affiliate links in there.
So, that’s a great place of putting gift guides and things like that. Pinterest wants you to stay on the platform, they no longer really want to send you off. So hey, use that real estate to go, “I’ll create on your platform, and I’ll make money at the same time.”
Jeannine Crooks 36:20
That’s one of my favorite things about affiliate marketing is I feel like it’s a place where everybody wins.
The consumer finds some great product; the website owner has the chance to make a commission for the work they’ve justifiably put in.
The merchant has a chance to sell their product to people who might not have been aware of it, but got the help with the introduction because of the website owner.
And then for us as the network in the middle, we get a little tiny piece, but it adds up, because like I said, we’re doing 300 transactions a second.
Jillian Leslie 36:56
Jeannine Crooks 36:56
So, it’s totally crazy, I will tell you that our IT team now already is going through to make sure that all of our redundancies are in place because we have redundancies upon redundancies upon redundancies.
We don’t want to take any chances on anything and knock on wood. We’ve never had an issue with it. So, we’ve got some really, really good guys.
Jillian Leslie 37:17
I’m going to put on my mercenary hat, my money making hat. Yes, I want to serve my audience. But I want to be smart about the affiliates I choose. So, let’s say I’m going to do lavender products, but I could do them through a whole like all different ways.
And I’m looking at different merchants, what should I be looking for? Because I had interviewed somebody else on my podcast. And she’s like, “You know, what I do? I kind of look at the commissions.” And she also is tracking.
Could this be true that on different networks, they could have different commissions? If it’s the same company or typically that’s not true? How should I shop for products, one; wanting to serve my audience?
But if I’d like two lavender candles from two different vendors, how do I pick which one I’m going to promote?
How to Know what Affiliate to Choose?
Jeannine Crooks 38:12
Well, there’s a couple different things to look at. Because some people will just fall in love with whatever the commission rate is, not the only guideline here. You also want to try and get a sense of what their conversion rate is.
So, maybe this is somebody who has a slightly lower commission rate. But 4 out of 10 people who go there buy something, as opposed to the other guy who has a higher rate, but only sells two out of 10 times.
Jillian Leslie 38:34
And where do I see this? Will I see this on the dashboard?
Jeannine Crooks 38:38
You’re going to be able to see what their conversion rate is; you’re going to be able to see what their approval rate is. And part of what that is, is how many times do people return it?
Your approval rate is how many of the commissions on an overall basis do they actually end up approving. So, 100% means they approve everything all the time. If it’s a site that does accept returns, you’re going to get some sense of that also on there.
You’re going to be able to see what the EPC is, which is Earnings Per 100 Clicks. And so, that gives you an idea as well of what the conversion rate is.
Then one little thing that I always try and tell people is like, for example, I had something where the commission rate was, I think, like $5 per sale, it was just an easy registration really clean like that. But the EPC was something like $35.
And I’m like, how can it be $35 on a $5 sale. That’s because out of 100 clicks, they had seven, eight people that bought that, so that was a higher conversion rate. That’s why the EPC is so high, they convert really well.
So, you can get a sense about all of those kinds of things that are on there. On ShareASale, it goes deeply into, how long has it been since the last sale, when was the last time they updated their data feed? It tells you that on Awin as well.
So there’s a lot of information that’s available on each one of the merchants. You just have to spend a little bit of time looking at their particular page but don’t just fall in love with the commission rate.
Jillian Leslie 40:06
Okay. Can we prioritize? So, first thing you would notice commission rate?
Jeannine Crooks 40:14
It’s one of the things on the list. Make that your deciding factor.
Jillian Leslie 40:18
Okay. So, first commission rate go down the list.
Jeannine Crooks 40:21
So, commission rate, conversion rate, approval rate all three of those are really important. Then you’re also going to do things like how long is their cookie period, take a look at what that is.
And then one of the things that I like to do is I will go take a look at their site when I buy something from there. It may not sound like rocket science, but some sites are really nice. And some sites are like, what are you trying to do here?
I’m confused maybe it’s not easy to find the products. Maybe it’s not easy to go through the buying process, see what happens when you put something in your cart. What’s your experience like?
So, take a look at that as well because I think that’s an important factor especially, people have a lot of choices of where they can buy online so they’re going to go someplace where their experience is good.
So, I always suggest that you take a look at things like that as well because it’s really easy to get stars in your eyes because oh my God look at this commission, they’re going to pay me all this money. But nobody buys there.
Jillian Leslie 41:22
And I would even say, to go look, if you have the time, or the energy if this is more than you go on mobile, because people are shopping on mobile, but you know, it’s too easy to click away. It’s too easy.
We’re also distracted how many times today I think I probably have put stuff in carts. I bet you in three different stores today and I’ve bought none of it. And so, I need emails to remind me but meaning I’m already busy.
Let alone I have a bad experience like where all of a sudden I have to put my credit card in and it’s weird and wonky. I’m out of it. It’s too easy.
Jeannine Crooks 42:05
Yeah, definitely so that’s why to me it’s so important to actually take a look at the site and I just literally asked myself would I buy from here?
Is there something that makes me excited or happy or friendly or do there seem like there are red flags even if I couldn’t tell you exactly what those are. Then I’m going to go to the site where I’m comfortable and happy.
Where it’s just easy and convenient to try buying rather than a fight to try and give them your money because there are some sites that are like that, sad but true.
Top Awin Affiliates to Look At
Jillian Leslie 42:37
Okay, so on ShareASale and Awin your top three companies, Etsy, besides Etsy. The one you think people have success. I know everybody’s in a different niche, but where you’re like, this would work for lots of people. I really like them. I think they’re a good brand.
Jeannine Crooks 42:58
Well, I’m always in love with Etsy for sure. I love the fact that we have HP, Under Armour is very successful, depending on whether you’ve got that right audience. I think that there’s a lot of different travel programs that are popular, there are pet programs that are popular.
So, it’s hard to say because we have so many that are on there, I will tell you that one category that is huge on ShareASale is mattresses. I never thought so many people bought mattresses online, they do.
And not only a lot of mattress companies in addition to mattresses will also sell mattress pads and wonderful sheets and super wonderful luxurious pillows and stuff like that. So, there’s all of those kinds of things that have been very popular on there as well.
I think that there’s a lot of programs for kids that are amazing. I mentioned Outschool before. I’ve talked a little bit about subscription boxes on ShareASale. There’s a couple of programs that are on there, that actually are STEM projects for kids.
So, if you’ve got somebody who’s got, some precocious kids or they don’t even have to be precocious. Mom and dad does it with them, they can build, like a little plough or garden and dig in the sand or whatever.
It gives them the chance to kind of learn and do things, it’s very tactile, it’s very much of an experience for them, keeps them occupied for a while and they’re very proud of what they built. It’s kind of taking Lego to a new level.
So, Cratejoy for example, is one of the merchants on ShareASale which is basically a directory of a whole bunch of different kinds of subscription boxes. So, you can go on there and hunt around and find something that’s perfect for your niche.
I did that. I have a great nephew who’s a year and a half old? Oh heck yeah, Cratejoy was my friend both when he was a baby. And now that he’s getting to be the toddler and who loves to have little storybooks read to him and all that kind of stuff. So, yes.
Jillian Leslie 44:50
And I have to say, I can’t tell you how many bloggers I’ve interviewed on my show who make a ton of money on mattresses. So, you are so right. And they will say that’s my biggest post like those are my power posts.
So, I just want to say that I’ve seen this now work for a variety of bloggers like lifestyle bloggers, family bloggers, who knows, like even bloggers where that isn’t their niche. So, I’m not sure why that is connecting, you’re totally right.
People seem to want to buy their mattresses online, I bought all my mattresses online from a variety of different companies. So, that is something people, definitely get that mattress post up.
Jeannine Crooks 45:33
Oh, absolutely. It’s amazing, all the things that you can do with it. And like you said, it doesn’t have to be your primary niche, it can just be, this is my experience, and I’m going to share it with you, with whatever it is.
Maybe you ordered your mattress online, or you have five friends who did and Nancy liked Purple and somebody else like, Avocado or whatever, because there are so many different choices that are out there that are really wonderful.
And can also be kind of, ratcheted down to, okay, I’m a person who likes it to be really firm, my back is not necessarily great, I want to have this and this and this. And you can find those particular products.
And especially, we’re all a little bit different than our readers, I would say, because we’re really good at finding stuff online, not everybody. Some people just don’t have the skills to try and be able to figure out that this is good, this is bad.
Other people may not have the time, but once again, your audience knows you and trust you. And so, if you said this is good, okay, we’re going to get that one.
Jillian Leslie 46:36
So, my audience is predominantly women, there are totally men who listen, however, we are predominantly women. And I always say, be that best girlfriend, the girlfriend who hooks you up for no reason, except that it makes her happy.
Be Your Readers’ Best Girlfriend — Hook Them Up
The one who like knows the best restaurant, the one who’s like, “Oh, my God there’s this restaurant, you got to go, or you got to check out my lipstick, this is awesome.” Or knows everything about sunscreen?
Or who knows where to get a cake? So, be that girlfriend hooking your audience up.
Jeannine Crooks 47:09
Absolutely, absolutely. I once worked on an insurance site. And I launched it for a company that I was working for. And I always try to write as if I was telling my best friend, all the stuff that they needed to know, before they made the decision.
And tried to make it that conversational, and try to make it that, comfortable with them. And honestly, within a couple of months, it was making a million dollars. Almost a million dollars a month.
Because it was that way, I was trying to find out what their needs were, and then answer those questions in a way. Because you can get really sophisticated in how you talk about any product.
Yes, you can do that, and for some products is more appropriate. But for most products, you really want your friend to be telling you about it, about what they think is wonderful and why. And so, I think that is a gorgeous piece of advice. You’re so on target on that.
And the blogs that I see that perform the best, really do take that approach, they’re not trying to be sophisticated, they’re sharing their heart. They are sharing what they really think about a product good or bad.
Not every review is going to be golden. But you’re going to do better if you talk more about products that you like, than you don’t, but still be fair. I liked this, I didn’t like that some people are going to care because they like this, and they don’t care about that.
So, go ahead and say what the good parts and the bad parts are about each product. But you know, but do it like a friend.
Jillian Leslie 48:40
And you said this at the beginning. And so I’m going to wrap this up with this idea. It is win win. You are not pulling a fast one on your audience, you are helping, you are a helper, you want to make somebody’s life better.
And using an affiliate link doesn’t cost anybody anything. It’s not even five cents. Because I know that sometimes we get in this weird mindset of like, “Oh, I don’t know, it feels so salesy.”
Jeannine Crooks 49:16
Yeah. And that’s not the case at all. You’re telling a friend, so do you really try and sell a friend? No, you give your friend good information, and you tell them what you really think in your heart. And yeah, it’s not being salesy.
They don’t have to click on the link, they can just read right over it and ignore it, just keep going. They can go find any other place that they want to buy it at, they can just click through your link and do all their research on it.
And then go someplace else and buy it, that’s fine. They’re not under any kind of obligation. You are not even going to know who they are, their identity is totally hidden, all that kind of thing.
So, it’s not like, “Oh, no, she’s going to know that I didn’t buy through her.” You’re not going to know. And so, I think that there’s that kind of thing going on.
There’s one other thing too that I want to mention before we end, my mantra, and I’m literally getting an Etsy pillow that says this is, “Any noun, especially a proper noun can be an affiliate link.”
Jillian Leslie 50:10
Explain that, unpack that.
Jeannine Crooks 50:13
When you’re trying to figure out where to put an affiliate link, look for the nouns, if you’ve used a proper name, see if that company has a website with an affiliate program.
If not, see if there’s like a bigger company, the Amazons or whatever the world, but there are other ones besides Amazon that are out there that are online department stores.
But see if there’s somebody else who sells that product and join their affiliate programs, so that you can put in that affiliate link. I’m not saying turn every single noun into it, but scatter them where it makes sense where somebody has just read something.
Which is going to make them say, “Oh, I want to click here and see if I can buy that.” That’s where you put in the link. So, don’t be afraid to put them in, I wouldn’t say put in, 15 in a paragraph, but sprinkle them through.
And I think that they can be throughout the entire article as well. Don’t just put them all at the bottom, not everybody hits the bottom of the post.
Make sure you have your affiliate disclaimer on there, you do have to do that to be FTC compliant, not just for you, but it also protects the merchant because the merchant can get in just as much trouble. If you don’t have your disclaimer on there. I have to say that.
Jillian Leslie 51:19
Definitely, definitely. And you can’t just put it just so in your blog, in your right column and your right rail, because on mobile that ends up way at the bottom of the page and I’ll never get there. It has to be in that blog post.
Jeannine Crooks 51:34
Yeah, technically it’s supposed to be the before the first blog link, or the first affiliate link. If you are showing consistency to the FTC that you’re always trying to have, the disclosure in there in the right place and stuff like that.
I don’t think they’re going to come and beat you up on it, because you’re trying to do the right thing. But you don’t want it to be in your footer. You don’t want it to be in your sidebar, you don’t want it to be a link to another page. It has to precede the copy.
Jillian Leslie 52:03
Yeah, and I actually did a podcast episode with a lawyer talking all about this, I will put the link to that episode in the show notes. If you want to go dig deep into that, you got a whole episode.
So Absolutely. Okay. So, Jeannine, I would say based on our conversation, our recommendation, the two of us start now.
Jeannine Crooks 52:26
Jillian Leslie 52:26
Start researching, start writing those posts, start updating those guides, get specific and really put your heart in it. I like when you said that word.
Jeannine Crooks 52:38
It really makes all the difference. I think that it can show in writing, I can tell when I’m reading a blog post that was written by somebody who’s only out because it’s got a high commission rate.
And they don’t know anything about the product, and they don’t care about the product. They’re basically writing a book report. No, I’m not going to respond to that. And from what I’ve seen, most people don’t.
Instead, make it something that you really care about, that you have some knowledge about and passionate about. And it’s going to make all the difference in your conversion rates.
Jillian Leslie 53:08
And be willing to say things like, if you think this, again, from your heart, but like, “This spatula will change your life. So, click here.” Use terms, click here, put arrows do whatever it is, because you want to change somebody’s life with a spatula.
Jeannine Crooks 53:29
And it’s funny how some of those products really can do that. It’s wonderful, flashlight. I’ve got two Huskies who like to go outside and hide behind the bushes at night trying to catch a mouse or something, whatever is back there.
Oh, my God, my industrial flashlight is my best friend. So, it may sound silly and funny. But somebody online suggested that this was a great flashlight to get for those purposes. Oh, yeah, it worked.
So, just like you said, if it’s your friend, and you’re telling him about that product, tell them.
Jillian Leslie 54:02
Tell them it will change their life.
Jeannine Crooks 54:05
Yes, yes. And it’s so possible.
Jillian Leslie 54:07
Yes. Well, it’s like those little things that you walk through your life and you’re like, I love this. So, I get it. Okay, Jeannine, if people have questions or want to reach out to you or learn more about ShareASale and Awin how can they do it?
Jeannine Crooks 54:25
Well, my email address I’m always happy to respond to emails so it’s firstname.lastname@example.org. I have the longest way that it’s possible to spell Jeannine. Thank you, mom.
So, it’s J-E-A-N-N-I-N-E dot Crooks, C-R-O-O-K-S@awin, A-W-I-N.com. So, please feel free to reach out to me there. I’m on Facebook. I’m on LinkedIn. I am on Twitter. I am all over the place.
So, just feel free to reach out to me any way you want to. I’m always happy to chat about affiliate marketing, which is my favorite topic. I’m good at helping people try and figure out what merchants to use on their sites.
Because I been doing it since forever, I think that that’s kind of my superpower is to help merchants and stuff like that. So, I’m always happy to help people on that I love affiliate marketing.
And I’ve seen it change a lot of lives, because people didn’t realize they could make money online. And then, they start putting in a few affiliate links, and oh, my gosh, all of a sudden, the world is different.
I love that. That’ gives me joy. And so whenever I can do that for anybody, I’m happy to do it.
Jillian Leslie 55:37
Oh, Jeannine, thank you so much for coming on the show. I hope this inspired everybody to like, dig in, really. And by the way, if you make that gift guide, now, you’ll update it next year, like you’ve already created the content.
So, I just feel like this is the time when people open their wallets and start spending and if you can be their best friend during this journey. Like what better?
Jeannine Crooks 56:04
Exactly, very well said.
Jillian Leslie 56:07
Oh, well, Jeannine, thank you so much for coming back on the show.
Jeannine Crooks 56:12
Thank you for having me. It’s always a treat. I really appreciate it.
Jillian Leslie 56:15
I hope you got a lot of ideas from this episode. Remember, go into your posts and be of service to your audience by letting them know where they can purchase the items that you love.
Before I go, I wanted to read a quote from somebody with a membership. So, as we’re building out MiloTree Easy Payments I have been interviewing people with memberships and here’s what she said.
She said, “I love teaching. I like bringing a community together. There’s a fun camaraderie.”
If that resonates with you if you’ve got something to teach a membership you want to build but so far you’ve been not sure how to do it head to milotree.com/easypayments and sign up. I promise this is the easiest solution out there.
And I will see you here again next week.
Other Blogger Genius Podcast episodes to listen to:
- How To Keep Your Blog Safe Legally with Maria Spear Ollis
- How to Up Your Affiliate Sales Right Now with Jeannine Crooks
- How to Start Selling on Amazon Live with Nicole Carr
Imagine a world where growing your social media followers and email list was easy…
If you are looking for ways to grow your community whether that be email whether that be social media, right now head to Milotree.com install the MiloTree app on your blog and it will do the work for you. Let it do the heavy lifting for you.
Let it pop up in front of your visitors and ask them to follow you on Instagram Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, join your list, check out the exit intent but really get your community growing. And we’d love to help you with MiloTree. And I will see you here again next week.