@BarbraSundquist: How do I keep track of and make the best of all the programs that I am an affiliate for?
Hi Barbara - Great question!
Everyone does this differently, so I'll share how I organize things myself and also some different options to consider.
Being a Super Affiliate, I am usually promoting 20-30 (minimum) different merchants or products in any given month.
And the programs, and number of programs vary from month to month, too.
That really adds up to a lot of log-in pages, passwords, emails, offers, stats and links to manage & keep up with over time!
Let me start by saying that my system may not work for you. We all operate differently, so it's important to create a system of organizing your affiliate marketing data in a way that works best for you. I have tried to use recommended methods & systems in the past, but found they didn't work with my personal style.
You might actually be surprised at how simple my method is for keeping the data organized. I like simple. Less is better in my book.
There are 4 main things that I keep up with...
Affiliate Log-in Pages & Passwords
Every time I sign up for a new affiliate program, I do two things: bookmark the log-in page in a dedicated bookmark folder, and file the welcome email that contains my log-in details in a special folder in my inbox.
My inbox is organized with filters and folders. I have a main folder for Affiliate Marketing, and sub-folders for affiliate programs I work with regularly.
The reason I use my inbox to store and manage my log-ins is because 1) it is backed up regularly by Mozy, and 2) it has a handy dandy search feature for easily finding anything I need.
Some people use spreadsheets or index cards to organize this type of information. Personally I think that creates an extra step (that I'm likely to forget to do), plus it creates an extra file to keep up with - and my inbox is already open.
Also, I mentioned Mozy - they will also backup spreadsheets if you prefer to use them, but anything offline is subject to loss unless you store it off-site. Consider a house fire. With Mozy you could grab a laptop from Wal-Mart and restore your data - and be back in business from any location in a matter of hours.
When it comes time to check my stats, I simply go to my browser's bookmarks and click on the Affiliate folder and it shows me every single affiliate log-in page. I can then go through them each and log in to check stats. Very simple.
Bookmarks are also backed up regularly, and they are easy to transfer from one computer or browser to another. I often have my bookmarks file on a USB stick in my bag so I can access things anywhere.
If I need a password (me, or my computer, forgot one) I just go to my inbox and run a search on the Affiliate folder and have it in a matter of seconds.
Special Offers & Current Promotions
I like to stay on top of these as some of the promotions, coupon codes or offers are time sensitive. I allow these to come into my main inbox instead of filtering them straight into the Affiliate folder automatically.
I usually do a quick scan first thing in the morning to see if there's anything I want to share right away. If so, I'll compose a blog post or a mailing on the spot - and then file the email in the Affiliate email folder after. I also have a sub-folder for offers I might want to come back to later instead.
Timing can be everything. Be first, or at least be fast. Get the word out, because special deals and brand new products are a great way to serve your target market.
Many merchants will send commission notifications every time you make a sale. I filter these emails automatically into a sub-folder for commissions. Unlike offers and promotions, this is not something I need to be distracted with in my main inbox.
I often check on my commissions throughout the month to manage my promotions, but at the end of the month I sit down to reconcile my earnings. I use a regular college ruled notebook for this, but a spreadsheet would be a great option too - probably a better option, even. I just happen to be old school -lol.
My notebook is set up as one page per month, and is a detailed list of each program or merchant and the total commissions earned that month. I keep two things at the top right of the page: monthly earnings, and YTD earnings.
This is important to me as I am constantly working towards specific financial goals. I can usually get a YTD figure within half an hour at any time.
I can also match payments easily as they come in, either via PayPal or by check. This lets me know at a glance if a payment is missing or I need to follow up with a particular merchant. Not getting paid affiliate commissions is rare, but I don't let those rare cases go untended.
Your Promotions and Stats
I don't really have a super-organized way of keeping up with every single page, promotion, keyword phrase or blog post that I have floating out there. For this I use the memory method. This is something you might want to keep a spreadsheet for as well, but I'm not quite that organized. That said, I have a pretty good memory when it comes to money matters *grin*.
At the first of each month, I sit down to analyze site stats for each of my niche affiliate sites. I look over keyword phrases, rankings, incoming links, referring sites, etc and get a feel for how well things are going and what/where I need to make improvements.
I check in on stats throughout the month, same as affiliate commissions, but it's sitting down with it all at the end of each month that really gives me the birds eye view of the prior month. I use that data to map out the month ahead.
As I said, very simple. You could easily go overboard on the organization end of it all, but that would leave less time for the actual promotions. I prefer to be out there creating pages, getting rankings and making sales!
How do YOU keep your affiliate marketing data organized? We want to know! Leave a comment below
p.s. Rosalind Gardner mentions an Affiliate Organizer software in her Super Affiliate Handbook. I will get a copy of that software and give it a proper review for you. Stay tuned for that - I'll let you know how it goes!