If you were at the Shareasale ThinkTank 2014 a couple weeks ago you might have heard the term “motivated blogger” used a couple times. Missy Ward used it in her keynote and Brian Littleton mentioned it again during the “Things We Need to Fix” session. Since then there has been some discussion in a few different circles on what a “motivated blogger” is.
Greg Hoffman says “My definition of a motivated blogger is one who wants to be a successful affiliate and meets us in the middle on promotions” and in the rest of the post gives some tips and ideas of what he thinks a motivated blogger is. Brian Littleton wrote a ThinkTank follow up post that gives some very specific steps a motivated blogger should take. Read both of those posts right now. I will wait…. Both of those posts give some great, actionable tips and ideas for motivated bloggers.
Along with the great information in those posts here are a few characteristics I would say are evident in what I consider a “motivated blogger”:
1. Motivated Bloggers want to learn – A motivated blogger will never be content with their current knowledge and skill sets. They will always want to learn more about how to be a better blogger, different ways to monetize their sites, new tools that are available, new social media platforms and how to use them, and on and on. There is new technology coming out every day so there will always be more that bloggers can learn. It could be something as simple as taking 5 minutes to play around with some of the new Shareasale tools like the Make A Page tool or the Product Discovery Bookmarklet or it could be as advanced as learning how to access product links through the Shareasale API. Whatever it is a motivated blogger should want to expand their skill set and their toolbox to make themselves a better blogger.
2a. Motivated Bloggers are willing to take risks – I know many bloggers primarily monetize their sites through sponsored posts, paid posts, product giveaways, and the like. In scenarios like this the risk is primarily on the merchant or advertiser. The blogger takes very little risk. Along with the limited risk though is limited rewards. Yeah, it is easy to take $500, write a post, and be done with it. But a motivated blogger is willing to take some risks and work in an affiliate relationship. Of course there is usually no up front money but the long term payoff has much, much more potential.
2b. Motivated Bloggers see the long term potential – It might take weeks, months, or even years to match that $500 in affiliate commissions but posts with affiliate links can keep making money for weeks, months, and years. I have blog posts I wrote 4 years ago that I still see traffic and sales from. Taking just a flat fee limits your potential where a motivated blogger sees the long term potential to earn much more than $500 on that post.
Time for some affiliate math: Let’s say you put out a post talking about strollers. Say the average sale is $200 and you would make a 10% commission so that is $20 every time someone buys something. To get to that $500 number you would need to make 25 sales. A post like this will usually start off strong and then slow down a bit so lets say you make 15 sales the first month and then 2 a month after that. After 6 months you would have your $500 in commission. After another 6 month you would have another $240 for a total of $740. Even if it drops down to 1 sale a month the next year you will still have another $240. Long term it makes much more sense to me to monetize with affiliate links as opposed to an up front payment.
3. Motivated Bloggers ask questions – As an affiliate manager there are few things that I enjoy more about the job than answering questions from motivated bloggers. Pretty much every good affiliate manager will feel the same. In Brian’s post I mentioned above he asks for affiliates to email him questions. Your affiliate managers are there to help answer your questions. Drop them an email and ask them what will be hot sellers this Christmas. Tell them your idea for a post and if they have any products they think would fit well. Ask if there are any coupons or promotions you can use. Ask them to walk you through some of the affiliate tools that are available. Email Brian and ask for a quick demo of the Deals Bar (this is that thing you see at the top of my screen showing different offers from selected Shareasale merchants). Feel to contact me any time to ask a question and I will be happy to help.
If your merchants and affiliate managers aren’t willing to help you like this you need to find different merchants to work with. Any affiliate manager who is worth anything will be happy to help you.
4. Motivated Bloggers want to prove themselves – Affiliate managers get pitches all the time for sponsored posts, paid posts, up front guarantees, commission increases, and so on. 95% of the time these requests I see come from affiliates who have never made a sale for us (and frankly, most of their sites don’t have much potential to make many sales down the road). If you really want to get on a merchant’s radar drive a few sales for them. Show them you have potential for a lot more sales down the road and in many cases they will be much more open to being creative with you.
5. Motivated Bloggers want to work – Don’t ask your merchants to write your gift guides or write your posts for you. First of all, that isn’t really the affiliate manager’s job. Second of all, your readers want to hear your voice, not mine. You can ask for suggestions and pointers but in the end you are the blogger and you should blog. Take the time to do your own work and don’t rely on the affiliate manager to do it all for you.
6. Motivated Bloggers respond to their affiliate managers – Many affiliate managers are great about contacting affiliates that sign up for their programs where they see potential. Many of them reach out when they see an affiliate make a first sale. A motivated blogger will respond and take advantage of the knowledge of their affiliate manager. The affiliate manager should have a very solid knowledge of the products on the merchant’s site, they should know how to use the network tools, and they can give you pointers on what works with their program. Don’t expect them to be too specific with what other affiliates are doing (if they are sharing exactly what other affiliates are doing there are a lot of other issues that need to be dealt with) but they can always give you some general guidelines.
Motivated Blogger 1: This is a blogger I saw who made their first sale this month. They had a post up about some of our products and overall it was a good post. I dropped them a quick email thanking them for the sales and asked if I could walk them through some of the Shareasale tools that will make their lives easier. I got an email back 2 minutes later and within 5 minutes I was on the phone and doing a screen share with them. I walked them through the Make A Page, the Product Showcase, the Product Discovery tool, and the baskets feature and they were blown away. It took maybe 15 minutes but by using these tools the affiliate had a ton of ideas on how to better monetize their posts. They were motivated enough to respond to my email and take a few minutes to learn some of these tools.
Motivated Blogger 2: The San Francisco Giants won the World Series last night and today I saw a blogger make a couple sales who had made a couple in the past. This isn’t a huge affiliate of ours and her blog isn’t necessarily sports related but our products do resonate with her audience. Since she is from San Francisco she put up a post with some of the World Series Champs gear and she sold a few products. I got an email from her asking about how she could make more sales with us and I gave her about 5 actionable ideas she can implement over the next couple months. She was motivated enough to ask me some questions and I think she got some good answers.
Motivated Blogger 3: This was about a month ago but I got an email from a niche site that sells some of our products. They had a handful of sales and they wrote a great email explaining what they were planning for Q4 and how they planned to drive a lot more sales to us. And they asked for a commission increase if they could hit some specific numbers. Their ideas were solid and the products they are selling have a good margin for us so we were more than happy to give them some commission increases based on what they had done and what they were planning to do. If they hadn’t made any sales with us my answer probably would have been no but since they were motivated enough to drive some sales before asking for the commission increase I said yes.
So bloggers: Are you motivated? Are you willing to learn? Willing to ask questions and seek advice? Are you willing to put in the work and take a risk?
And merchants and affiliate mangers: Motivated bloggers NEED motivated merchants as well. Are you willing to answer these motivated bloggers? Are you willing to help them out? Are you willing to take a few minutes to show an affiliate some of the network tools? Are you willing to help motivated bloggers in any way you can and show them the potential of your affiliate program?
Ultimately if you are a “motivated blogger” affiliate marketing will be a great option for you and you will probably see that you can make more money through the affiliate channel than through other monetization methods. If you aren’t motivated??? Well, I don’t know if I can help you. Other people might have a different opinion of what makes a motivated blogger but for me these characteristics are very important and crucial to success as an affiliate.
If there is anything I can do to help you please feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.