In this episode of the Blogger Genius podcast, I interview Jeannine Crooks, an affiliate marketing expert from Awin. This is Jeannine’s third appearance on the show.
We discuss the impact of AI on blogging, the importance of being an expert in your niche, and easy-to-implement strategies for promoting affiliate products.
Jeannine emphasizes the importance of personal experiences in content and building trust with your audience.
We also discuss the effectiveness of shopping comparison sites and the ever-changing landscape of affiliate marketing and blogging.
My piece of advice: lean into affiliate marketing and digital products as your best way to compete today against the AI chat bots!
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- Jeannine Crooks
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Intro (00:00:03) – Welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast, brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.
Jillian Leslie (00:00:11) – Hello my friends. Welcome back to the Blogger Genius Podcast. I’m your host, Jillian Leslie. I’m a blogger and a serial entrepreneur. I build businesses with my husband, David. We started with Catch My Party. If you need Mother’s Day ideas or free printables, head over there.
Next, we built our pop-up app that so many of you use called MiloTree, where you can grow your social media followers and email subscribers with it effortlessly. Install it on your blog in two minutes. It will not slow down your site.
We play super well with Google, and now we’ve launched MiloTreeCart, which is the perfect payment tool for creators who hate technology, but want to sell digital products to their audiences.
This means digital downloads of any kind, workshops, memberships, coaching, subscriptions, mini courses, any type of digital product. And I think a lot of you are leaning into this, especially with the explosion of AI and all of us wondering how that’s going to change our businesses.
I say future proof your business by selling directly to your audience so you can create that person-to-person relationship with them. They trust you, they will buy from you.
And this is the direction we will all be moving in as we compete against chatbots. And it’s been really satisfying this week.
I cannot tell you how many calls I’ve gotten on with people just like you, wanting to add a whole new income stream to their businesses. If you are interested, you want to get on a call with me, just head to milotree.com/meet.
For today’s episode, I have my friend Jeannine Crooks back on the show. This is her third appearance, and she is an affiliate marketing expert. She works at Awin, which is an affiliate company like Etsy, runs their affiliate program through Awin.
And I love checking in with her because she always has such great insights. Of course, we talk about how AI is affecting the world of bloggers, and I’m always happy to bring on guests who have real strategies to help you monetize.
I think you’re going to really like this episode. Without further delay, here is my interview with Jeannine Crooks.
Jeannine, welcome back to the Blogger Genius Podcast.
Jeannine Crooks (00:02:39) – Very glad to be here. Thank you. It’s always fun.
Jillian Leslie (00:02:42) – You reached out to me, or you left a comment in my Facebook group called The Become a Blogger Genius. And if people who are listening are not a member, please go to Facebook and join the group.
And you left a message, and I was like, oh my God. Jeannine, we need to connect because you are my affiliate marketing expert. And I like to check in with you ever so often to hear what’s happening in the world of affiliate marketing, because like everything with the internet, things are changing quickly.
Insights on Affiliate Marketing
Jeannine Crooks (00:03:17) – Always. That’s one of my favorite things about this industry is you can literally say, oh, that’s so less Tuesday. And it’s true, because stuff changes that fast, which I just love.
Jillian Leslie (00:03:33) – Before we launch in, would you just give your 32nd bio so people understand what you do and why you can speak authoritatively on this topic?
Jeannine Crooks (00:03:44) – I just realized that I’ve been in affiliate marketing for 24 years. Oh my goodness. Who even knew that it existed back then. I got called an OG at a conference recently, so I thought that was kind of fun. I’ve been in affiliate marketing that long.
Currently I’m with Awin which we own both the Awin and ShareASale affiliate platforms, so I’ve worked with networks, I’ve been a merchant, I’ve been an affiliate, I’ve been a vendor.
I’ve seen all the different roles and been around since forever. That gives me a lot of perspective on how the industry works. And it also helps me to analyze things that are coming in and coming up where to some people it looks like the world is ending, or this is the hottest new thing since forever.
And it’s like, no, I’ve seen that before. We’ll see what happens. I appreciate that kind of combination of experience and age .
Jillian Leslie (00:04:36) – Yes, totally. I do think that we’re always in that place where the sky is falling or this is the best thing since sliced bread. And I think having a more measured perspective over time is probably the way to stay sane and stay in the game.
Jeannine Crooks (00:04:53) – Yes. I couldn’t agree more. I think you really have to do that. And I think that you don’t want to necessarily chase everything that’s brand new just because it’s new and shiny.
There are some people that I’ve seen who have done that in the past, remember Droople?
Jillian Leslie (00:05:08) – Oh, yes. That was a long time ago.
Jeannine Crooks (00:05:10) – And I had some people that I knew who were like, oh, I can’t wait to build on Druid. It’s the best, it just makes WordPress look horrible. Okay. Who’s still here? And it was just like, no, that was all shiny, but it wasn’t.
Jillian Leslie (00:05:24) – And there’s always this feeling, the FOMO feeling that other people have discovered something I need to get on it.
And it’s this strange push pull, a new social media platform will emerge, and you don’t know if it’s going to be TikTok or if it’s going to be Clubhouse. And even so, like TikTok, who knows what’s going on.
TikTok is this incredible platform that has exploded, but it might go away. So yes, you’ve built your following on a certain platform. And then you think back. And so, I got in there early and maybe I built a following, but it could go away. Who knows how the social network will change.
It is a little bit of a crapshoot, and you look like a genius if in fact, say you had gotten on Instagram at the beginning.
Jeannine Crooks (00:06:16) – I know what you mean. And there’s always new stuff, and there’s going to be more new stuff coming that we heard about at some of the conferences and stuff where it’s, “Oh, this is great. You’re going to love it.”
I’m sorry. I’m a little skeptical. I’m going to wait and see. And maybe that’s just from having seen so much over the last couple of decades. I’ve seen so many different things that have happened and know where to be hesitant there. I guess, part of it is I just do a gut check on it.
And honestly, I’ve learned enough over the way. I call it my spidey sense, it’s like I can take a look at a publisher’s website and know pretty fast if it’s going to work or if they are going to need some help.
And that’s just because you learn best practices, you learn what appeals to the consumer when they take a look at it, those kinds of things. I love it where new bloggers are coming in and I’ve got great new ideas, but sometimes they’re trying to reinvent the wheel and it ends up square.
Jillian Leslie (00:07:18) – Interesting. Before we press record, I said I wanted to pick your brain on what everybody is talking about, which is this explosion of AI and how you are starting to see it come into your universe.
The Impact of AI on Affiliate Marketing
Jeannine Crooks (00:07:35) – Absolutely.
Jillian Leslie (00:07:35) – We both said, wait, nobody knows anything. So, we’re going to give that as a caveat at the beginning, however, you did say, “I’m starting to draw my own conclusions.” What are you seeing? What are people talking about and what is your gut on this?
Jeannine Crooks (00:07:54) – Everybody definitely is talking about it. I was at a conference last week, and we actually had two or three different sessions that were on things like AI and ChatGPT..
Jillian Leslie (00:08:03) – What kind of conference was this?
Jeannine Crooks (00:08:06) – It was a live performance.
Jillian Leslie – And what does that mean?
Jeannine Crooks – It was in Miami. It’s a group that’s primarily based in the UK, but they’ve just started having conferences here in the US and so this was their second one.
Jillian Leslie (00:08:17) – And was this Glad?
Jeannine Crooks (00:08:17) – Affiliate.
Jillian Leslie (00:08:18) – Affiliate marketing? What was the gist?
Jeannine Crooks (00:08:21) – The primary focus was affiliate marketing. There were networks, there were a lot of agencies that were there. There were some merchants and some affiliates as well, and some vendors. So, it’s very different from Affiliate Summit. It was much smaller.
There were maybe 600 people, but the quality of the people that were there was outstanding. I’m really glad that I had the opportunity to go talk and talk to a lot of really good people.
Jillian Leslie (00:08:42) – What were people talking about when it came to this new thing?
Jeannine Crooks (00:08:47) – To this topic?
Jillian Leslie – Yes.
Jeannine Crooks – Just taking a look at it and still trying to get a grasp on it. I think it’s still very much the wild, wild West.
I can tell you, I’m on the board of directors for the Performance Marketing Association, the PMA here in the About Us, which is the About Us organization governing performance marketing, not really governing it, but of all the members we get together, we talk about things like that.
And we’re actually going to be holding a webinar later this month on LinkedIn, talking about ChatGPT and AI and all of those things.
In anticipation of that webinar, we actually put out a survey both to our members as well as to non-members, to ask them some questions about what they’re encountering with ChatGPT, what their ideas were about it, and how they intended to manage towards it.
And the answers were pretty interesting because they were all over the place. Every possible range that you could have on every single question, that’s what was there, there were no specific things that were standing out because people really aren’t quite sure what they’re going to do with it.
AI and Chat GPT and Affiliate Marketing
There are questions like, who owns the content? You may be a blogger and you went and you got content from ChatGPT, and you copied it and you pasted it. So, is that your content? Is that their content? If there’s an issue with that content, is the issue on you? Is the issue on them.
And part of the reason why I bring that up is just quite recently is in this past week, there was actually somebody who accused someone else of something that was horrible. And it was based on ChatGPT supposedly pulling something from a newspaper article. Everything about it was false.
And so now there’s a potential lawsuit for defamation of character because someone entirely relied on ChatGPT and didn’t double check the source. And ChatGPT doesn’t always reveal the source. As a matter of fact, most of the time it doesn’t.
You are at the mercy of them grabbing from the right place, if you just get their information and don’t double check it. So, that’s one of the things that I’m a little bit concerned about.
And I’d say the other thing too is that I feel that if people are just going to ChatGPT saying, write 800 words on this topic, from this slant, then copying it and pasting it, anybody could have done that.
What are you bringing to the table that’s anything different that says to me as a network, or to me as a merchant, oh, I have to work with this person because they have such wonderful content and insight and knowledge, so it’s going to get interesting.
Jillian Leslie (00:11:16) – The thing that I am seeing now is this idea that it is a great tool to help you come up with ideas or write that first draft, but you personally are going to be even more important as a way to separate yourself, to set yourself up as an expert.
Because this idea of who do we trust has become even more crazy making for everybody. Is this a reliable source, let’s say, or is this person an expert? And that if you can set yourself up as an expert in something that people can then, oh, I trust Jillian, let’s say yes, then you could win.
Jeannine Crooks (00:12:08) – I couldn’t agree with you more. I really think that’s an important part of it, because I think that’s one of the things that’s a strength of a blogger.
That’s a strength of a social media influencer, is that their personality comes across and their knowledge comes across in the way that they present their content, in the things that they review and how they do it. And I think that’s part of what builds trust with your audience.
You’ve got a bio that they can read that says that you are an expert on growing tomatoes, or, in my case, raising huskies or something like that. We have two Siberian Huskies. In case the audience doesn’t know, I’m trying to wear something that doesn’t show Husky fur .
It’s those things where you bring insights that you have from living your life. The ChatGPT will never be able to have, they can try and grab it from other places, but I don’t see them being able to incorporate it.
And the other thing is, I know that people get totally excited, oh, I can tell ChatGPT to write 800 words in the style of Mark Twain. I’m not reading Mark Twain. I’m trying to read Jillian, I want to hear it in Jillian’s voice and ChatGPT and AI cannot do that.
And that’s what’s going to separate the good bloggers who take the time to put together their own content from the ones where it’s just like, oh, this just sounds like a press release. It’s so formal, so stylized in the results that are coming back.
I agree with you. It’s a tool to help you perhaps with research, but even then, don’t count on it. It’s given misinformation.
Jillian Leslie (00:13:43) – It’s tricky. Funny, because before the explosion of AI and ChatGPT, which by the way, started in November, we are really new in this, but even before then, I would go to Google and do a search.
And I would say I was less and less impressed with my search results on Google, because first of all, there would be a bunch of ads, and then the articles that show up even afterwards I’d go, is this fake content?
Is this some content mill, creating content just for content’s sake, targeting that’s all automated, that really there’s nobody behind this. So, already I was having that experience.
Jeannine Crooks (00:14:29) – And it’s been around actually longer than people realize.
Jillian Leslie (00:14:36) – This idea that people have been gaming the system for a while. The question I have and I’m hoping that this doesn’t work, but I was interviewing another blogger who has different sites, and he hires writers to write content.
We’ll see how long that lasts, or whether now he’s hiring prompt engineers to help him write his content.
He was saying that in one of his domains where he’s an expert, he was noticing that all this content was being rolled out like hundreds of posts a day. Targeting certain keywords, going after his niche, and they were competitive.
He was losing rank in certain keywords, because you’ve got all these automated bots writing content, spewing it out there, putting it out there, throwing up, knowing that their thousand posts, maybe 990 won’t rank, but they’ve got those 10 posts that will rank and pull him down. So it feels like an arms race.
Jeannine Crooks (00:15:54) – I agree with you. I’ve met some of those kinds of publishers where they’ve literally got 40 people that are writing articles all day long, and they post 3,000 articles a month on something. And it’s mind boggling.
And you keep wondering how they’re going to keep trying to come up with something new or something fresh. And a lot of it sounds like a book report.
And I think that’s when I tune out when I’m reading content that just sounds like a book report where it doesn’t sound like they’ve had any personal experience at all with the particular product.
Where I can’t find anything that’s newer, insightful, or not the same thing that I’ve read 600 times already today, about the same topic, where it looks like they’re just trying to focus on that keyword and it’s keyword word rich and information poor.
The impact of AI on Affiliate Marketing
Jillian Leslie (00:16:42) – Here’s a scenario where I think that what you’re talking about will become less effective, let’s use Huskies as an example.
Let’s say there are these bad players who are putting out a thousand posts a week on Huskies, and you read the content, you as an expert read this content and go, this is really thin. I can tell it’s just written by robots.
Let’s say I want to learn about Huskies, go directly to ChatGPT, I don’t need those search results to inform me on Huskies. I can, if I’m going to read stuff that is written by a bot, why not go to the source? Why do I need to read that fake blog post? Why not go directly to ChatGPT?
But this is where potentially if you are a Husky blogger, could win because you have exactly how many years of Husky knowledge, you’ve got pictures of you and your Huskies.
Jeannine Crooks (00:17:50) – Yes, exactly.
Jillian Leslie (00:17:51) – You’ve got videos of your Husky puppies. I would love to see that if you did have that.
Jeannine Crooks (00:17:56) – Dogsled racing.
Jillian Leslie (00:17:58) – Oh my God. Like that would be insane. Yes, you could probably use an AI. This is where things go back and forth in my own mind. You can use an AI and create that fake photo of somebody that looks like you with Husky puppies. However, chances are, if I see you with Husky puppies on a dog sled, I’m going to believe you.
Jeannine Crooks (00:18:18) – And I think that that’s a really important thing. I will tell you, there was one company that I worked with, it was a merchant, and it was interesting when we started looking at our analytics that are About Us, page was one of the most visited pages on the site.
Importance of Building Trust with Your Audience
Jillian Leslie (00:18:32) – Give an example. What industry?
Jeannine Crooks (00:18:35) – It was in the insurance industry. It was an insurance, and we were actually like an insurance marketplace, so we helped connect people with insurance agents.
We had a lot of articles that were about insurance that were on there that we actually had researched and written ourselves. Oh my gosh, what a concept.
Jillian Leslie – Crazy.
Jeannine Crooks – Crazy. Yes, it was. But we were talking about how we had so many people that were on staff, and so many people that had so many years of experience in insurance and the information that we were doing was current as of whatever date.
Maybe there were new laws that had passed in a given state or something like that, so that we built up that level of trust because they knew that we knew what we were talking about.
And I’ve found that same trend on blogs where people are actually going to the About Us page. They want to read that. They don’t want to just hear something generic. They want to know that you know about what it is that you’re telling them about.
And that’s one of the things where I see some people who are like, oh, I’m just going to create a blog on expensive watches because the commission rate is high when they’ve never owned more than a Timex.
So it’s like, no, people are not going to believe you when you’re trying to talk about a Rolex, when you only own a Timex. I think that there are those things that really do make a difference. And I think that anybody who’s really interested in the topic is going to be able to see through that pretty fast.
And I think that probably, the same way, consumers aren’t stupid overall. They’re really not. They figure stuff out, even if they don’t realize they’re figuring it out.
A lot of times people that read a post that’s been written by somebody where English is not necessarily their first language, you can usually spot that. And some people say, that’s okay. And some people are like, no, I’m not sure I trust this. And they navigate away.
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Jillian Leslie – Can we do an exercise?
Jeannine Crooks – Sure.
Jillian Leslie – Based on your knowledge, your 10,000 hours, your 20-something years of experience, and your love and knowledge of Huskies. Let’s say, have a blog on Huskies. Would you walk through what you would be doing today to be monetizing that content with affiliates?
For example, you were talking about the About Us page that would be like, for me, ding, ding, ding. The first thing I would be doing would be optimizing that page. How would you optimize it? How would you be thinking about your content?
What would you be thinking about in terms of products you could promote? Walk me through this exercise, given that you are a real expert in husky.
Using Personal Experience and Expertise to Monetize Content
Jeannine Crooks (00:21:50) – I’m a husky human. I’m sure, so what I would do is probably talk about my different experiences. How I got started.
Our very first Husky was adopted from the shelter. We adopted her on Saturday, or they would’ve put her down on Monday. So, we named her Lucky. She was a lucky dog. Yes, she was, we were the ones who were lucky.
She was just fantastic and she was such a special dog that led us to getting another husky, and then another husky, and now two more huskies. And they overlapped a little bit. Now we just have our two boys, Cody and Hunter but it’s that story. I think it’s maybe why this topic is fascinating for you.
And I think that helps to add credibility and then maybe some stories of things that you’ve learned along the way.
Huskies are escape artists, so I might recommend really good fences or collars that can track them as they race around the neighborhood or the county because they’re known for doing that.
There’s a lot of things that I know that are specific to the breed that I can therefore choose to promote . Somebody else who maybe has golden retrievers might not make the same choices as I make for a husky.
And that’s why I would say I’m choosing this for a husky. And my experience shows this, and that’s why I’m doing it. So, I think that there’s a lot of those kinds of things that for bloggers, can really be your greatest power.
You have knowledge and experience and wisdom about your topic and leverage. I’m not saying that you have to know everything about your topic when you go in. I’ve seen some wonderful blogs where people use their blog as a learning experience.
They literally started off saying, I know nothing about growing apple trees. I’ll use that as an example but they learned this was good, a good way to prepare the soil, and this was a good way to fertilize it, and this is how much I should water it.
And different tips and tricks on things like that and learning along the way. And I tried this and it didn’t work, but then I tried this and it did work. And just those kinds of experiences, I think that those are the most powerful when you’re talking to your audience because it adds a level of trust.
I’ve seen that level of trust when it’s properly protected and grown, can just be so valuable. That’s when you say, you know what? I think this is the best dog bed. It’s the one my dogs really love, and they didn’t like the other three.
I will sell a ton of those dog beds and I won’t sell any of the others because that’s what my husky likes. And so, it’s stuff like that. And it’s funny because it doesn’t always have to be in your niche.
We actually had a woman who was a travel writer and was a very good travel writer. And when she traveled, her cat stayed home. And so to keep her cat happy, she bought a new cat tree and she did a post about her cat tree. And she sold 15 of them at $300 a piece over the next 48 hours.
Using AI for Blog Post Ideas
Jillian Leslie (00:24:46) – Oh, great. That’s how much. I like that. Now here’s the thing, let’s go back though. Remember, ChatGPT is actually a really great tool.
For example, I’m just thinking off the top of my head you’ve got this blog about huskies. You are relatable, you are an expert. You’ve all this history. If it were me, I’d be going to ChatGPT and saying, “Hey, could you give me 20 ideas for blog posts for Huskies?”
What are keywords around huskies that are low competition keywords that I can target? This is where I’d be bringing in something like ChatGPT so that instead of me saying, I want to write about dog beds, maybe dog beds are supersaturated, you’re never going to rank for it.
Me, who knows. I strategically would start to use it as my assistant. I like to say, as my assistant sitting next to me
Jeannine Crooks (00:25:50) – Yes.
Jillian Leslie (00:25:51) – And doing so I don’t have to go do keyword research. Let’s do a deep dive or just go based on my gut. This is where I think you can bring in the bots to really help you elevate. And what is your thought about that? Does that feel like cheating to you?
Potential Risks of AI-Generated Content
Jeannine Crooks (00:26:07) – I don’t think it feels like cheating, although I would still double check the results. Here are 10 article titles.
A lot of times I’ll use the questions that are in Google, I’ll put in my favorite keyword and look at what the questions are. And that’s what people are asking. So, that’s why I’m going to write an article about ChatGPT.
It is pretty much doing the same thing when they give you 10 article titles to use. I don’t have a problem with that.
And I think that it can really help you gather some information, perhaps gathering keywords, but not all keyword resource tools agree on what is low hanging fruit on keywords. So, I wouldn’t bet the entire farm on their results, so to speak. I might have something that confirms it.
And the other thing too is, when it starts giving you information about a topic, like give me 10 bullet points on what’s a great dog biscuit? Double check those, because sometimes there are things in there that could be wrong. And those are the kinds of things.
While Google has said, oh, we’re not going to necessarily penalize anybody for using ChatGPT to produce an article, they’ve already also said that they’re going to keep an eye on things like finance and health.
Because wrong information that ChatGPT could provide and has provided in the past already could seriously damage someone’s life from a financial standpoint, or even worse from a health standpoint.
Jillian Leslie (00:27:39) – And God forbid it hurts your Huskies.
Jeannine Crooks (00:27:42) – Oh my God, my heart would be broken. My heart would be broken.
Jillian Leslie (00:27:44) – A dog bed is one thing, but vitamins for your dog, or a treat for your dog, or medical advice for your dog, that could be devastating.
Jeannine Crooks (00:27:55) – Tell me which is the best heartworm medicine, anti-harm heartworm treatment. I have my favorites. And the reason why I have those favorites is because other husky owners said do this rather than because this is better for the breed because this is how the breed works.
Just as an fyi, Huskies are not the same as other dogs in a lot of ways. They’re the closest to a wolf. So, there are special things that are different about them. In the winter, just for fun, if you ever get the chance to hold the paw of a husky, it’s going to feel warm.
They actually have an extra blood vessel that goes down to their paw. And that’s part of the reason why they can run so long on the snow because they have extra blood going in there that helps keep things warm as opposed to cold.
Jillian Leslie (00:28:41) – That is so fascinating. I just have to share my one little dog story. We had a Tibetan Terrier, please, from Tibet. They’re from Tibet and their feet are webbed.
Their little knuckles between their toes they’re webbed. Because they would climb the snowy mountains in Tibet. So, they had these big, that is where they could get traction in the snow. And it was like, oh, that’s great. It’s totally true. So here’s my question.
Jeannine Crooks (00:29:15) – Oh yes.
Jillian Leslie (00:29:16) – Let’s say then we’re going to go into Huskies, we’re doing our blog on Huskies, your blog on Huskies, and you’ve done your research and you’re going, you want to be talking about dog beds.
So, here are my questions. How would you structure the post on dog beds? Are you going to talk about multiple products in that post? Are you going to hone in on one product? Where are you going to put the link and are you doing video?
Would it be better just to post this on social media? What is your strategy now? You want to make money promoting you, you love this? Let’s say you have a favorite dog bed.
Jeannine Crooks (00:30:00) – I do.
Jillian Leslie (00:30:01) – You do.
Jeannine Crooks – Yes.
Jillian Leslie – And you want to promote this, maybe though there might be a cheaper dog bed that’s pretty good that you also want to talk about.
I don’t know how you think about this, but walk me through how you, as somebody who has expertise in this and somebody who has expertise in affiliate marketing, how I could make the most money thinking about promoting dog beds.
Promoting Dog Beds with Affiliate Marketing
Jeannine Crooks (00:30:24) – What I would probably do, I’m a fan of always having a blog as well as having social media, because I think that there’s some things that people will trust maybe more on social media than they might on a blog than on social media.
Or you’ve got more of an opportunity to go greater in depth or something like that, or keep them on your site as opposed to jumping to somebody else on Instagram who’s also talking about dogs and got suggested.
So, what I would do is start off with a blog post, and I would probably start that post off talking about dog beds and why they’re a good idea. Some dogs love them, some don’t. I have one who loves dog beds, one who won’t go into it at all, he doesn’t care.
Or if he does, it’s by accident, but the different types of dog beds there are some that are totally round, and that’s what I’ve got right now. But I’ve had other dogs who wanted ones where it was like an L that had a cushion on it.
And so to talk about that, because there isn’t only one bed that the dog is going to like. And so, that’s what I would do, is give my readers options too, so that they can try out different things to see what’s going to fit their dog.
Jillian Leslie (00:31:30) – You have experience with this, your dogs have preferences. But all dogs are different.
Jeannine Crooks – Yes.
Jillian Leslie – What kind of dog do you have? So, it’s about you, the reader.
Jeannine Crooks (00:31:42) – And even with thin Huskies different Huskies have different things that they like. I’ve had five huskies over the years. I’ve probably had eight different styles of dog beds, and the ones that I’ve got now, they’re finally liking.
It took them almost three and a half months to decide that they liked them. But that was okay. And so, to see what it is and what your creature is like, and to offer different options so that, oh dang, I just spent all this money on this bed and the dog hates it.
Maybe if you can return it fast enough before it’s not covered in husky hair, but get this style or get that style and give people some options on what it is that they can do with different links on it. And then I would point to different manufacturers of those beds.
I know a lot of people still love to use Amazon but Amazon has a one day cookie that kills me and they have dozens of ways to throw you out of their program.
Jillian Leslie (00:32:40) – Can you explain what a one day cookie is versus another dog bed company?
Jeannine Crooks (00:32:45) – Sure. On Amazon, if somebody clicks through your link and goes to Amazon to take a look at that dog bed, they have to buy it within 24 hours, or you don’t get commission on it.
Amazon’s 24-Hour Cookie
Whereas some of the other manufacturers that we work with on Awin and on ShareASale, have a 30-day cookie. You have 30 days for that person to make their decision and come back.
While a lot of people will usually make their decision within the first 48 to 72 hours, that’s not long enough on Amazon. And it’s plenty long for the other merchants. So, that’s why if you want to show them Amazon, fine. But I also try to give people an alternative to Amazon.
Jillian Leslie (00:33:23) – Will you put two leads.
Jeannine Crooks (00:33:23) – And Amazon doesn’t have everything. I would put more.
Jillian Leslie (00:33:26) – Let’s say I’ve got my post, “Hey guys here’s a photo of my dog on the dog bed. This is the one that my dog loves the most.” Boom link to it right there.
Jeannine Crooks (00:33:40) – What I like to say is, any noun, especially a proper noun can be an affiliate link. So, take advantage of that. I have seen some bloggers who’ve chosen to put both the Amazon link and the Merchant link side by side. You can do that.
Some of that stuff is where you’re going to need to test your readers and see which way they end up going and then serve it to them the way they like reading it. It might be one way that you think, oh, this is great and I’m going to try it. Crush and burn.
But instead, if, you know, maybe they do all love Amazon, I haven’t necessarily seen that as much.
Jillian Leslie (00:34:17) – Will people buy from some store that has free shipping or will people buy from brands that they might not know about?
Jeannine Crooks (00:34:26) – Yes. Especially if you who they trust suggests that.
Jillian Leslie (00:34:31) – Interesting.
Jeannine Crooks (00:34:31) – That’s where the whole trust factor comes in, and you can talk about why that other store is great, that they’ve got a great return policy and they do offer free shipping and you might get a free gift with purchase or something like that.
Or they have sales, which you don’t always see on Amazon. There are all sorts of things like that, that are there. Especially if somebody is going to a niche that’s as tight as dogs. You may not think of that as tight, but it’s dogs as opposed to every kind of possible pet.
They’re going to be looking for places that have supplies on dogs and Amazon, all of their suggestions are based on algorithms.
People also bought stuff like that. I’ve seen those be successful for them, but they’re not the only ones who do that. A lot of the merchants know how to do that as well.
How to combine and offer some additional products that are out there, and know more about dogs than Amazon ever will. Because Amazon doesn’t care. And so, that’s Amazon makes me crazy.
Jillian Leslie (00:35:32) – I know I’ll be linking to your previous podcast and one of them you’re sharing about Amazon, which I think now people are recognizing is not the be all and end all that we thought it was at the beginning.
Here’s a question. I’m writing this book. And we talk about my dog’s favorite bed links. potentially two links, one to the merchant, one to Amazon,.
However, if you have a finicky dog or if you have an old dog or whatever it is, here are some other dog beds that we’ve had success with or that I recommend for these certain reasons linking to those.
Jeannine Crooks (00:36:13) – . Yes. Absolutely.
Jillian Leslie (00:36:15) – I’m doing dog beds, how many before I overwhelm people. I was listening to a podcast today about this, which is, there’s that fine line between I’m going to offer you a selection and I’m going to overwhelm you by offering you too many choices.
Offering Choices Without Overwhelm
Jeannine Crooks (00:36:31) – I probably would not go any more than six choices on any given article or something like that and I wouldn’t make it War in Peace when I’m trying to say what the differences are between the different items.
And I wouldn’t put in giant photos so that you’re scrolling and scrolling and scrolling to get to option number four. Excuse me. Those make me crazy. Those are also the articles where I wouldn’t necessarily be using my ad network to divide up each one of the paragraphs.
So, there’s one more ad in between. I have to scroll past that to get down to the next one, because I’ve seen some people who’ve done that and they want to optimize their ad network and end up with an article that is War in Peace when it didn’t need to be.
I try to be prudent about those kinds of things, so that it’s a good experience for your audience. I think that’s important to do it. I might give them some different choices on that.
One of the other things that you can do is, is in your opening paragraph, you can say, we’re offering suggestions on dog beds for older dogs, dog beds for active dogs, dog beds for dogs with bad backs or whatever like that.
And you can just use that and just put a link in to take them down to that part on the article if they want,
Jillian Leslie (00:37:44) – Where you’ve got a table of contents where people can click and find what they’re looking for, puppies versus senile dogs. But here’s a question. I was just going to say, am I also putting links?
Here are my favorite dog treats, and when I’m sitting there with my own cup of coffee, here are my favorite treats for me. How far a field am I going to go if I want people to buy? What are your thoughts?
Jeannine Crooks (00:38:16) – I think that you can give them some other stuff. I don’t know that I would necessarily talk about my favorite treats, but I might say, for example, every time we put our dogs in their crate, they get a treat.
And they cannot wait to go in their crate because they want that treat. Oh, do they want that treat? Those cords, I get that you might want to go wide on a given topic. I’d only go so wide, on that. So yeah, you could say that.
Or maybe use great treats to help teach them and train them how to use the bad or to get them to like it and try it. And then treats could just be a keyword word that you turn into a link, either to a merchant or to another article on your post or on your site that talks about treats.
And just like that. So, it’s easy. And it’s not necessarily in their face, but it’s just kind of like, oh, treats. Let me check that out, kind of thing.
Wirecutter-Style Affiliate Posts
Jillian Leslie (00:39:06) – Especially, I like that you made that connective tissue. Hey, when we put our dogs in their crates or on their dog bed, we give them this treat. I should, because then they are well behaved.
The doorbell rings, it’s like, oh, that solves a problem for me because my dog goes crazy when the doorbell rings like that, I feel.
Jeannine Crooks – Exactly.
Jillian Leslie – Ooh, that makes a lot of sense. Now what about these sites, like Wirecutter sites, how would you describe those kinds of sites? It’s like a product next to these tables where they’re comparing mattresses, let’s say, what is your feeling about those kinds of blog posts?
It’s not really content rich. From my perspective. It’s like, here are the best six mattresses. And then it really just feels like an affiliate play.
Shopping Comparison Sites
Jeannine Crooks (00:40:07) – They’re very successful with affiliate marketing. I’m not going to pretend because there’s people that are in their shopping process that want to compare, they want to be able to look at this and this and this and this, and just be able to see it side by side. Like in comparison sites.
Jillian Leslie – Exactly.
Jeannine Crooks – So, shopping comparison sites are very popular and very successful. I will tell you that a lot of those sites also are bigger. They’ve got the magnitude necessary to have six mattresses that they can compare and hopefully actually have somebody there laid down on each one.
You have to hope although they’ll get some information that they can share in that respect, but they can get if what you’re looking for is like the cold hard facts, just give me the pack, then those sites can be golden. I just had to use that.
We had to get a new furnace. And so I was seeing all sorts of comparisons.
Jillian Leslie (00:41:02) – I did it, we too. We are looking at a generator and it’s like, oh, I don’t want somebody’s personal story about how their power went out. They needed a generator.
As much as I want to know how big it is. How much does it cost, how much wattage it’s going to give me, like, I just want that.
So yes, can I be a blogger, just a regular blogger and be putting these sites, putting these posts together?
Jeannine Crooks (00:41:35) – You absolutely can. Yes, you can. And I think part of it depends on what the product is that you’re talking about. Is it a product where, kind of looking at the technical aspects of it is going to make a difference.
Compare three different vacuum cleaners or something like that, I think that those posts can be very good and literally don’t be afraid to put the comments or to put the columns there, and itemize those same bullet points so you can see Yes, yes, no, no, yes, yes. Sort of thing.
And make it very easy for people to just be able to quickly absorb that information. I don’t think that has to stand on its own. I think if you’ve got those charts where people can compare everything, then also give the opportunity to read some personal experiences.
You might be able to really do more, I don’t want to say a sales job, but maybe help them, that’s how I always look at content. It’s your way of trying to help a friend learn something more about a topic that they want to know about. And that’s how I always approach stuff. Not a hard sale kind of thing.
Some of the bigger shopping comparison sites don’t have a lot of that additional content on there. It’s very easy that those could be a site where somebody goes there and gets their basics.
But then when they want to know some of the finer points about it, how is it when you do this? Or how is it when you do that aren’t necessarily the things that there’s going to be a bullet point on, but that you as a blogger could bring to the discussion where it’s like, yes, that’s what I wanted to know.
Or, oh, if it did it like that for her, it might do something like this for me, and personalize it. And I think that’s where bloggers are going to have their strength ChatGPT or not. That’s where they’re going to have their strength in.
Jillian Leslie (00:43:25) – A question. Do people, I don’t know if you can answer this, have more success selling in a blog post, selling in a YouTube video, selling on Instagram.
We’ve got this, let’s say the dog bed blog post. Where else would I be trying to sell it or get people to trust me, click on my affiliate link. Where are the easy opportunities for me to get affiliate sales?
Selling Through Blog Posts
Jeannine Crooks (00:43:53) – Part of that’s going to be your audience. You’re going to need to see what it is that resonates with them. And I don’t think that there’s one to the exclusion of others.
I’ve seen a lot of people who have a blog and also have a YouTube channel, where they can talk more about it or they can demonstrate a product or maybe demonstrate a training technique or something on dogs.
We won’t use Huskies in that example because they’re not known for being easily trained. That’s part of the fun . They have a whole lot of attitude. So things like that. ‘m probably not as big of a fan of Instagram as a lot of other people are.
And because of that, from an affiliate standpoint, it can be harder, unless you do something like a link tree or something to try and get your links in there.
Some of the other things are a little bit easier to do, Facebook is easier and stuff like that to go ahead and put your links in and you can put a video on Facebook as well, Pinterest for sure. So, I’ve seen a lot of people that’ll do that as well.
In addition, I think probably what I would do is start with the blog post. To me, that’s the way where you get all your thoughts together. And then, you can turn your blog post into a YouTube video easily then or into content embed video into the blog post.
Jillian Leslie (00:45:07) – You absolutely can.
Jeannine Crooks (00:45:10) -Some things are more visual than others, it’s what they really like. And then there’s that whole group of individuals who love unboxing videos.
They want to see what it looked like and how did you take it out and how did you open it up and what was inside this box kind of thing. Part of it is getting to know your audience or to see if I tried doing this, am I going to expand my audience?
It would be so nice if there was just one formula that you could follow. It would be so nice and easy that way. But by the same token, how boring would that be? I know if every single piece of content was identical.
Jillian Leslie (00:45:53) – We might be going to that world.
Jeannine Crooks (00:45:55) – Personalities.
Jillian Leslie (00:45:55) – We might be going to that world. I’m hoping not.
Jeannine Crooks (00:45:58) – I think that there’s always going to be an audience for good original content.
Jillian Leslie – I agree.
Jeannine Crooks – You know, that they know is accurate. That they know that they can trust this person. And so, if this person said it’s okay to go ahead and use this hardware, medication for my husky, then I’m going to do that and know that it’s okay because sometimes that can be really scary.
Then I go to people that I know and I trust, if it’s something that’s really important in your life, that’s what we all do. Whether it’s a neighbor, whether it’s a professional, whether it’s a coworker or whatever we go to people that we can trust for that.
And just finding some random person who has no credentials who put up a post, I’m not going to trust that. I can tell right away that we’re not connecting, there’s no mutual something going on there.
It’s just content that was written and sounds like it’s ChatGPT hell no, I’m going to have away in a heartbeat and get to somebody who sounds like a person. Maybe they do have a typo. Maybe they do have slightly bad grammar or punctuation that’s not perfect, but they’re writing from their heart. I’m going to read that every time.
The Impact of Chat GPT on Affiliate Marketing
Jillian Leslie (00:47:12) – I love that. Okay, Jeannine, can I have you back in a couple months as you learn more about how ChatGPT could be changing affiliate marketing?
I feel like I’m getting you right now where nobody knows anything and I’m so curious because things are moving so quickly. What it’s going to look like in a couple more months.
The Future of Affiliate Marketing
Jeannine Crooks (00:47:37) – Oh, yeah. I would love to come back because yes, stuff is changing quickly. Who knows what content, those are always going to be questions. Let me see, I was trying to think of some of the other ones.
What are the legal ramifications if you post something that’s wrong? Are you the one who’s going to get sued? Is ChatGPT going to get sued? Are you both going to get sued? Just all those things and where content evolves to.
I think that there’s always going to be a case for good content, but it’s going to be one more wave that we work our way through and figure our way out. But hey, when you remember the early days of the internet, we’ve come a long way since then.
And I think we’ll survive and I think we will flourish. I think good people will continue to flourish.
Contacting Jeannine Crooks
Jillian Leslie (00:48:25) – I love that. I love that. Okay, Jeannine, how can people reach out to you if they have questions or want to pick your brain even more about affiliate marketing?
Jeannine Crooks (00:48:34) – Sure. I’m on Facebook, I’m on LinkedIn. You can reach me through the network. Let me spell my name, although I think everybody can probably see it.
It’s J-E-A-N-N-I-N-E and the last name is Crooks, C-R-O-O-K-S. So that’s the name you can find me on, on Facebook. That’s the name you can find me on LinkedIn or it’s jeannine.crooks or awin.com and I’m always happy to have a call with somebody who’s got some questions.
I love working with bloggers and just kind of help them get through that. Sometimes it’s that initial hurdle or where do I get started or whatever, I love doing that. That’s my passion. So, please feel free to reach out to me and I will try and help you any way that I can.
Jillian Leslie (00:49:15) – Oh, that’s so great. So, I’m going to be reaching out to you in a couple months so that we can come back and see what the landscape looks like.
Hopefully it’s not that different. Hopefully we’re going to go, oh, we’re just going to talk about this, more of the same. I don’t know where it’s going.
Jeannine Crooks (00:49:33) – I know. I don’t think any of us really do but that’s part of the fun.
Jillian Leslie – Absolutely.
Jeannine Crooks – Maybe you’ll have some new experiences that you’ve had in the meantime.
Jillian Leslie (00:49:41) – Totally. I have to say, Jeannine, thank you once again for coming on the show.
Jeannine Crooks (00:49:47) – Oh, it’s my pleasure. It’s always wonderful to talk with you and best wishes to everybody in the audience. May you be super successful online.
Jillian Leslie (00:49:54) – With affiliate marketing?
Jeannine Crooks (00:49:56) – Of course. With affiliate marketing. Is there any other way?
Jillian Leslie (00:50:01) – I hope you guys like this episode. I love that Jeannine took my challenge and went so deep and so granular and answered all of my questions.
If you want to optimize a post for affiliate income, definitely take some notes from this episode because you just follow along with what Jeannine recommends. Google has something called E-A-T, which means Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, and I’ve now heard that it actually is E E-A-T, and in front of that is the word experience.
I think this is really what Jeannine and I are both sharing now. In order to get traction, to continue to grow your audience, you have to put yourself out there to show that you are a real human being and people buy from real human beings.
So, whether it be affiliate marketing, whether it be digital products, I really hope that you start leaning into this. If you want to start selling digital products, go to milotreecart.com. Again, it is built for people who hate technology would want to start selling.
If you have questions, just email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to help you and happy to get on a call with you, and I will see you here again next week.
Other Blogger Genius Podcast Episodes You’ll Like:
- How to Make Easy Affiliate Money Now with Jeannine Crooks
- How to Up Your Affiliate Sales Right Now with Jeannine Crooks
- The Easy Way to Do Affiliate Marketing in 2023 with Matt McWilliams
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