Following on from Affiliate Marketing Now and Then – Part One! comes the originally titled Affiliate Marketing Now and Then – Part Two! Once again the intrepid sextet of Clarke Duncan (@ClarkeDuncan), Jason Brockman (@jasonjbrockman), John Lamerton (@lammo77), Elaine Forth (@ElaineAllkids), Fraser Edwards (@fraseredwards) and Keith Bond (@KeithBond) are answering the questions.
5. Do you feel as much part of the affiliate community as say 5 years ago? If no – why? If yes – how?
Clarke: No not really, as new staff members move in they just see it as them versus us, they have no idea that I run a successful Affiliate Company and so you find that your excluded from certain events or only invited if you pay a premium/sponsor . I do however still feel part of the core group who really lead the way, helping get this industry to where it is today all be it still far from perfect but what industry is.
Jason: If you mean by community, a group of affiliates which help each other out, and meet up at various times of the year, then yes, in fact my affiliate community is growing what with the advent of Twitter. That said there seems to be an emphasis on performance, and less on helping others to perform, which I think made our community great. After all, none of us old timers would be where we are with out the helping hands given by other forum members.
John: I don’t think there is as much of an affiliate community (as a whole) as there was 5 years ago – Nowadays there are too many people for whom AM is just a job, and they tend to out-number those who genuinely have a passion for AM. There is still elements of that old community spirit which can be witnessed at some of the smaller affiliate events such as the Existem AM BBQ, or the recent Scottish meetup.. basically events where the sales team are left at home, and only those who truly care about AM come out to play!
Elaine: Unfortunately not. AM has become more professional, which it had to, but means that folk are far too busy to attend G2G etc or provide the help and enthusiasm of the old days.
Fraser: Not so much but I think that’s due to it being so large now that it’s not the same kind of ‘community’. Sort of like comparing village life to living in a city. There used to be a feeling that we are all part of something new and exciting and obviously it’s not new any more!
Keith: Yes and no, I still feel part of the affiliate community of 5 years ago but a new community has grown around us, while I enjoy networking with the newer people at the end of they day at events I still gravitate towards the familiar faces of my industry friends, that isn’t to say we are a closed shop, every so often someone new breaks into our circle.
6. What’s changed for the good over the last few years?
Clarke: More Merchants involved and more opportunities.
Jason: That’s a hard one. I think the ability to communicate more freely with say Twitter has only helped forge better relationships
John: For me, the single biggest change in the last five years has been the rise of WordPress – as a total non-techie, WP enables me to fairly quickly launch some decent looking sites, whereas 5 years ago I’d have to add site design to the “to-do” list of one of the techies and wait until they had completed it, or do a (truly awful looking) half-arsed job myself using a WYSIWYG editor (Even Dreamweaver was too advanced for me!)
Elaine: Networks and merchants have realised how influential AM can be, and some embrace it and provide the tools we need to flourish.
Fraser: Technology has improved, data feeds etc although not perfect are miles better. More regular payments via bank transfers instead of cheques. More affiliate programs, lots of choice.
Keith: The advent of wordpress it has made it so much easier to bang up and maintain a website.
7. And what’s changed for the worst?
Clarke: The close bond many Affiliates felt towards each other, looking out for each others backs and sharing genuine advice is less now and Affiliates standing up for the Industry, you don’t see that so much now either. The industry looks like its spiralling towards less choice Network wise, good for my Network I guess but I don’t see that as a good thing for Affiliates and Merchants overall.
Jason: We as affiliates now feel the pressure which merchants, agencies and networks have to perform. From constant marketing messages via every platform to threats of expulsion from programs unless you start promotions, it has all become very tiring.
John: I don’t know whether it’s “changed” so much, but it annoys me that newbies get so little support or help in getting started. We were all newbies once, and it seems that some people are only interested in the “super affiliates” that they ignore the small guy in his back bedroom just starting out, without realising that they could very well be the super affiliate of the future.
Elaine: Only the meetups etc – too many Agencies, Network staff not enough affiliates
Fraser: The level of competition means there have been various shady practices come into play and also means the openess has gone from the community which is a shame. We are a long way from the days where affiliates shared their top 5 affiliate programs on the forum!
Keith: Difficult one this but probably the fast that the competition is much fiercer, not from the bedroom affiliates but from the big corporations such as The Daily Telegraph et al setting up massive shopping portals.
8. Do you still see yourself involved in AM in the next 5 years?
Clarke: Pretty sure I will be. I am no megalomaniac, I am happy with slow, steady, safe growth, I owe no money to anyone and my businesses have weathered the recession as has a lot of Affiliates so testament that the industry has got sturdy legs even if the odd star goes super nova from time to time.
Jason: Oh yes, the bug is still biting, whilst that is happening, I will foresee a solid future in AM, albeit working less hours!
John: I’ll still be involved in AM as long as I’m still enjoying it, so I sure hope so!
Elaine: On some level yes – but we are a tad older than the norm – so either I’ll have sold up for caboodles of dosh or let someone else takeover – but I’ll still be dabbling with my lesserspotteds (no idea what these are – OLD).
Fraser: Perhaps – I still imagine my work will be be online but another 5 years of doing exactly the same thing doesn’t appeal so I need to shake it up a bit and I’m thinking about projects that might make more of a difference in the world. I find things like Kiva to be an inspiring example of using the internet for good.
Keith: Definitely in some way shape or form retirement isn’t an option I’d consider.
That’s all folks!
A big thanks to Clarke, Jason, John, Elaine, Fraser and Keith for taking the time to answer the questions.
If you’d like to be poked and probed in a similar fashion, perhaps you’re a merchant/agency/network so we can get a different point of view, then drop me a line.