Earlier this month a well liked gift merchant left me the $64,000 question on Messenger – “what are your plans for Christmas?”! I never replied to the question, mainly due to the fact that affiliate marketing took a back seat whilst a moggy had to urgently see the Vet (good news is she’s alright, just lumpy faced and gummy)!

Anyway, back to affiliate Christmas and I can exclusively reveal what we’ve planned for this year…… erm, actually it’s nothing!

No new gift site, no excessive updating of our Christmas Shopping site, no over excitement about all the cool incentives already on offer, no nothing!

The reasons for this are many fold.

1. Christmas Can Be a Big Distraction
It’s a big time of year for retailers, and with so many starting their festive lines now you sense that this year is even more important than usual. However, it can be a huge distraction for the 365 days a year site owner. We’ve now learnt that Christmas has to be part of our day to day work NOT let it take it over for a couple of months (as it has done in previous years).

2. Christmas Can Be Demoralising
There’s nowt worse for an affiliate than spending time putting together content and promotions for a merchant only to see that Mr Cashback, Mr Voucher Codes, Mr Big Brand or Mr A.F.Filiate has a humongous promotion (or special dispensation to break rules) that’s going to seriously over shadow anything you do (and they will, they always do every year!).

3. Christmas Can Be No Fun
Even before Santa’s emptied his sack down the chimney I’ve had enough of Christmas. Spending loads of time looking at trees, gift ideas, decorations and other stuff takes away the fun of the festive season. It’d be nice to enjoy it again!

4. Affiliates Aren’t Just for Christmas 1
This one really gets my goat! Merchants who for 9 months of the year never contact you but are suddenly your best mate because they’re offering an iPod Nano in their Christmas incentive and are hoping that you’re going to plaster your site with their Father’s Day creative. Erm, no!

5. Affiliates Aren’t Just for Christmas 2
Similar to that are the merchants who have never ever looked like they’re going to generate a sale in a million years (perhaps related to 2 above) who suddenly are expecting to feature in premium positions and/or replace your known converters in exchange for an extra % or two (remember extra percentage of nothing is still nothing before switching to unknown performers).

6. Planning Ahead
One of the biggest reasons is that I know we’re better off using our time planning ahead for the non-Christmas weeks and months ahead by focusing on what we’re doing, than spending time looking at retailers who may or may not convert in a comparatively small window of opportunity.

7. Time Management
Running competitions, updating extra content and doing extra promotion takes time. Time we often don’t have and time that’s often not paid for. For example we’d love to do some prize draws but don’t have time to badger sponsors, deal with their idiosyncrasies, keep them all happy and then run round come January to get prizes sent out.

Christmas can be a good time for affiliates and retailers do like to paint a pretty picture of loads of sales and commissions to be had. That’s possibly true, but in our experience going “above and beyond” for any retailer for affiliate Christmas isn’t always the best use of time.

Seriously, it’s worth stopping for a moment and thinking about your festive ROI in time and commitment terms.

Retailers are only considering their business and will do what they have too to get maximum affiliate coverage over their competitors. That’s fair enough, but you, as an affiliate, need to consider your own business. Do you have time to do extra festive promotion? Can you integrate Christmas into your current working day and campaigns? Do you think it’s actually worth the time you invest?

This is especially true with regards to incentives!

Whilst the Christmas incentives a merchant offers to affiliates are great, do be careful before running off in search of gold at the end of the rainbow. It might be worth merchants revealing just how much help and assistance they are offering the big boys and how much that could distract from any effort you put in or limit your opportunity in selected prize categories.

This is not to say we won’t do anything festive related, it’s simply a case of we’re not going to go too far off our current course or out of our way to accommodate Santa, Frosty and co. in an often desperate attempt to chase extra Christmas commissions.

Perhaps we have a plan after all?