Affiliate Marketing Tips: Organizing It All!

@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. :D

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.

Affiliate Commissions

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 ;)

Best,

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!

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 15 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»

Discussion

  1. Collette Schultz says:

    So excited that you're sharing your tips and tricks for the one's of us that are beginning.

  2. Heck, I got a notice of payment today and I don't know where it's from!

    Darn...another thing to add to the Master Task List... :P

    Dan

    • Those are just plain annoying. As if they are the only program or merchant you're working with! lol Seriously...

    • That totally cracks me up when I get a paypal payment and I have no idea who it's from. What's worse those is getting a check in the mail with no real info on it

      I mean, that's prime "get in front of your active affiliates with a kick-butt direct mail piece" opportunity totally wasted. The marketer in me cries inside when I get those. Then, I run off and cash the check. lol.

      • LOL Nicole. That's maddening, really. Especially when I am trying to reconcile payments against earnings reports. And you're right - a payment from a company I haven't been actively promoting always motivates me to go back and see what I can do to repeat the sales I made. Silly them not to put their name in front of me and let me know about new marketing materials!

  3. Rosalind also lays out in her handbook how to keep things organized as an affiliate, she shows pictures to help as well which is helpful :)

    • That's true - I really enjoyed that section. I made a note to go back and look over it again to see how I might improve my own methods. Her guide really covers it all!

      It's good to see other methods as a guide, and then create what works best for you - so you'll keep it up. The same as any type of time management or organization system.

  4. I'm hoping to soon have the "problem" of needing to organize all such things. I'm actually signed up to be an affiliate a number of places -- some I discover I'm an automatic affiliate for signing up for something or for making a purchase. So maybe I need to weed through my emails to find those welcome messages and log-in details NOW before I start having to hunt for them.

    Thanks for this info, Lynn!

    Deb

  5. Hey Lynn,

    I sort all of my affiliate emails, as you do. In fact, I try to sort most non-urgent email so that it doesn't come into my inbox where it can interrupt my work flow, but gets filtered to the appropriate place.

    The only thing that I do differently than you is using Roboform. I really love the ease of clicking "Go to, fill and submit" and being automatically logged in to whatever program I want to get into. That and the feature of autofilling forms when I apply to new programs saves me a good bit of time. :)

    Now, I wouldn't go and delete all of my affiliate emails. I still store those. But, on a daily basis, when I need to quickly grab a link or check stats, I can do it (literally) in less than a second, rather than having to search email.

    Something you might like. They have a free trial - and an affiliate program. :)

    Thanks, again, for a great post! You're so much more organized than I am.

    • I totally was going to mention Roboform too because Lynn it basically does exactly what you are doing with the bookmarks and the emails but automatically. I love that program.

      • I agree with Angela Wills! However, I don't use "Roboform" coz I don't use crappy computers. Instead I use a program called "1PassWord", it is specially designed for Macs. (Ok Now don't get all uptight ... I couldn't help myself!... It's an illness!!!... It's called... "Sarcastic Narcissistic Humor Syndrome"!!). Boy I crack myself up! :D

        Ok, got that out of my system. Lets get back to reality ;)

        Anyway, I've noticed that Lynn doesn't use too many "Short-Cut" tools coz she has such a deep understanding of how things work that she does just fine without them. (Hey Lynn, was that a good save ;) )

        But I DO find it interesting that she doesn't use "Roboform" as that is one of those "Must Have" (as they say) tools for Affiliate Marketers.

        Ok, that's my 20 cents worth, bye :)

        Gary
        @GanderCo

        • Yup - true that I run super simple around here. No toolbars, no widgets, very little software. I'm a big fan of simple in every way, just my character. I always say "the more you have, the more you have to take care of or keep up with". Simple helps me stay focused!

    • But you still need the bookmarks to get to the log-in pages first, right? My browser actually remembers most of my log-ins and form details - and what it doesn't remember, I do. But I may give this a whirl and see if it benefits me. Always looking for shortcuts!

      • No. Roboform bookmarks the login pages as well in the data set. I have a special folder inside Roboform for affiliate logins so when I click the passcard - it launches the site and logs in for me in one go.

        • Ahhh - that makes sense! ;)

          • you REALLY need to give roboform a try, it is fantastic.

            You will see a little box in your taskbar, start typing the name of the site your are looking for, a list of suggestions pops up, you select the one you want to log in to and voila ... you are in!

            You can also have it synced to a version online, so that you can access it from where ever you are.

            Richard

  6. Very useful info. I'm going to print this and pop it in my notebook with Rosalind's book. One thing I do that helps is to use Roboform. It remembers the passwords so I don't have to. Needless to say, I back it up constantly AND keep a copy of my password elsewhere as well, just in case. :) Thanks for the info. :)

  7. Getting organized for me really meant taking stock of what all I had. I didn't event think about organization or storing usernames and passwords in the beginning. Now I have a rolodex with all my usernames/passwords, and I have a nice spreadsheet where I log all my income. I add it up each month so I can tell if I'm on pace for my goals. I really like your folder idea in the email ~ that would probably be much easier.

    The one piece of advice I have is to start keeping track from the very beginning. You may only have 1 website, and 1 affiliate program right now, but it can quickly blossom and if you keep track from the start you'll be well ahead of the game.

    Jackie Lee

    • Good point, Jackie. I have every email dating back to the 90's. Crazy, but they actually come in handy! I do have some programs I am still promoting and have to dig those passwords up from time to time -lol.

  8. Here's how I organize mine:

    1. I have a spreadsheet where I enter all the important affiliate info into such as #,username,password,aff.link,center login etc. I think it might be a little useless though because I never really look at it.

    2. Every time I sign up for a program I create a redirect through my site and enter that into the spreadsheet too. it looks like marketersmojo.com/recommends/program

    3. I save my signup email in an 'Affiliate Programs' folder

    4. I go login to the affiliate program and save all the signup info into Roboform so I can the quick 1-click login thing Nicole mentioned.

    5. I have a spreadsheet that I got from Rosalind Gardners book that tracks everything for every affiliate program and website but I haven't been using it. It seems way too overwhelming to keep up with and I definitely think I like Lynn's method of keeping it simple. I could spend hours filling out that spreadsheet but I think it would be better spend doing work.

    6. I have an 'Activity Report' spreadsheet where I track all affiliate sales monthly by program and then have a YTD total and a total for all affiliate programs monthly and YTD. This sounds similar to what you do Lynn.

    Wow - seeing it all written out I think I need to simplify this much!

    • Simple is good. I did try the spreadsheet method, but found that I didn't always enter in the info (extra step in the process). I can see where using some spreadsheets would be useful, as I mentioned in the original post...

  9. What a great post and awesome helpful responses. I'm all over the place but I did start doing a lot of stuff in gmail and that has been helpful. I have Mozy but don't think it backs up emails for gmail and other non outlook emails. Gotta check that out. Lots of great ideas and I need to really start logging all my aff. payments because the last few months have been really good for me and now I need to keep track to make it easier come tax time.

    • That is one of the reasons I still use Outlook. It has my calendar, tasks, emails (new and archived), etc - and it all gets backed up regularly. I like the idea of web-based platforms for accessing things from any location... but since I chose to keep Outlook I just use GoToMyPC to access Outlook easily from any location or device (laptop, netbook, etc).

      • Lynn, help me out here ... 'gotomypc' only gives you access to your pc as long as your pc is turned ON or not? If that is the case, why do you not use gmail apps for example.

        I used to use Outlook for years until my pst file got corrupted last year and I almost lost all of my emails. Searching online I found that an issue with the .pst file is causing a lot of people to get corrupted files and loosing their email.

        That is why I decided to switch to gmail apps last year and I love it. You have access to your emails everywhere, you can use your own domain email address (so you are not obliged to use abc@gmail.com), the emails are backed up all the time. And the best thing they have now is that you can store your emails offline for up to 5 years back.

        btw I do not work for Google hahahahah

        richard

        • My primary machine is ALWAYS on -lol :D

          My outlook data is backed up daily by Mozy - automatically.

          I am google-phobic, and 5 years just wouldn't do ;)

          Plus... I resist change. At all costs. I am the caboose on EVERY train. Outlook and my entire setup is working beautifully for me at the moment so I'm good to stick with that.

  10. i use a program called roboform which is great for remembering websites, usernames and passwords, it's also great for remembering key information such as your name, address, phone number, etc in case you are the kind of person who often completes forms online

    • Seems like a lot of you use Roboform!

      My browser remembers form data for me. Firefox remembers my passwords, form fields drop down with the right info. I'm curious why Roboform is better. Educate me ;)

      • if somebody steals your laptop they can access all your pages as you are not asked to fill out a password. With roboform you need to fill out a masterpassword that gives you access to all your passwords. So the first time each day that I want to login to a page using RF I need to fill out that password.

        There were also some other security issues why you should not use the browsers password tool, but I forgot about what they were.

        Richard

        • Here's more for the security aspect - not having to type in the password on a keyboard is a huge thing. I knew someone whose site would get hacked no matter how many times she changed her password. I advised her to scan for keyloggers - sure enough there was one on her computer. By not typing it in, it won't register on the keylogger. I've heard some of the newer more sophisticated keyloggers can get past that but I think overall just like spammers and scammers you run into a wide range. If you don't have to type it in at least you can screen out a percentage of them.

          Also, phishing. RF will only fill in the form if the URL matches what's in it's records. If you visit a site that looks like let's say PayPal but Roboform doesn't present a passcard that matches it. That's yet another red flag for you in addition to the other common sense stuff like studying the URL etc.

  11. Mary Lutz says:

    I am with you Lynn, keep it simple. I use gmail too, mostly because Outlook kept crashing on me. I love how organized gmail is...but I digress. I am interested in learning more about Roboform as well.

  12. Spreadsheets work best for me, but I also file my emails into separate folders.

  13. Lynn,
    I use a system similar to yours. I like Firefox book marking too. I am on a Mac so I have a drop down stick tag for all of my affiliate links etc. That makes it easy when I want to include them in a tweet or post.

    Can't wait to hear how Roboform is better. And is it for a Mac.

  14. Great post Lynn! This couldn't have come at a better time. Our affiliate relationships are growing quickly and we needed to read this. I can see things getting out of hand quickly. So off to put these steps to practice.

    Better to learn this now than learning trial by fire!

  15. Allen Walker says:

    Hi all. :D

    I use Roboform too! Well for me, I find that it has several advantages over Firefox's built in password remembering function. I don't like to use Firefox for that, because I clear my cookies regularly, and sometimes I accidentally clear the passwords too. :S There is a Firefox addon for using Roboform, so it shouldn't be difficult to make the transition. But I think they don't have it for Mac, unfortunately... I'm not sure, but I think they don't...

    The advantages for me are:
    - You can use it to remember I wide range of passwords, and keep more than one set of passwords for each site if you have multiple accounts. You can also organize the information into folders easily.
    - One of the functions I use the most is the password generator, which randomly generates a very strong password for you so that you don't have to waste time thinking of one, and you don't have to use the same password all the time.
    - It gives you a list of the logins that you have currently saved, and you can click on the any of them to directly bring you to the login page for that site. So in a way, it handles bookmarking as well for the login page.
    - You can set a wide variety of personal information that you can use it to fill for you. Not only that, but you can add various variations for each field. For example, rss, feed, rss feed, are all different form field names, so you can set it so that it recognizes all the different variations easily. If you come to a site that uses a new phrase, you can add that in too.
    - Not just passwords, but you can manage identities as well. Perfect for the internet marketer who has a wide range of pen names and identities across various niches.

    Well, the disadvantage of using it is that you can use it for free for you first 30 passwords I think. If you want to save more, then you will need to pay a fee.

  16. Thanks for replying to my query Lynn. I enjoyed the tips. One that I would add (I've just started doing this) is to make a note of the Clickbank hoplink for each product/vendor you promote. That way when you see sales from "ZBCOM" or some other obscure vendor you'll know who it is!

    • That is probably another one of those extra steps I just wouldn't do (out of forgetfulness, or just not taking the time). On the rare occasion I come across an unknown Vendor ID in my CB stats, I simply type that ID into Google and usually figure out who/what it is pretty quick...

  17. Wonderful information. I promote a quite a few products and I am looking to expand that so this information is very timely for me.

    I do keep my emails from the affiliate programs in a folder yet I don't use subfolders as you mentioned (This is a great idea). I also don't have all of the affiliate log in pages bookmared (another great idea). Thanks for sharing your system with us!

    Aurelia

  18. "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."

    True. I mean, there's no standard with this kind of thing. So it's important to create something that really works for you. Thanks for this helpful post.

  19. OK Lynn, you heard the message: do a test on roboform, write a review, recommend the product to your audience. RF seems to be a tool your market is using and there are probably thiousands who don't know about it.

    And how do i get organized? - I have lots of little Elves helping me :)

    • Seems the readers have turned the tables on me, and they're talking ME into a product - LOL :D

      Glad you've got it covered, Santa. Though somehow my children always get left off your list and I end up having to cover for you and leave the gifts myself. They're awesome kids, I assure you! ;)

  20. finance business articles says:

    True. I mean, there’s no standard with this kind of thing. So it’s important to create something that really works for you. Thanks for this helpful post.

  21. Edmund Lee says:

    The life of super affiliate sure sounds tough to me ;) *Goes back to creating his own affiliate products* Thanks for all the hard work! :D

    Cheers!
    Edmund

  22. Honestly, I am SHOCKED that you aren't using Roboform yet. It was the #1 tool I taught people about in my very first product, Free Ad Report... :)

    Allen's response above has the biggest reasons, so I won't repeat those. But I will add...

    You can easily get your Roboform data from your computer to another computer. Since you have multiple computers this is really a good ideaYou can save common responses to questions on blogs that you can then edit for that specific post. For example, I can save THIS comment in Roboform, along with my info and link above, and the next time I see someone who doesn't know about Roboform, most of my text is already ready already. :)They do have a nice affiliate program. Here's my link for example http://www.roboform.com/?affid=bob75

    When we're at NAMS, if you still don't have it, I'll show it to you more on my laptop.

    Bob

  23. Elizabeth Crane says:

    Use RoboForm religiously. It has gotten me out of password hell many times. Tried putting everything in excel but would inevitably forget sometimes. I don't know what I would do without my email folders. Great post and great comments. Thanks!

  24. I'm intrigued now, really need to check out Roboform. Bob, if you do make a video about it I sure want to see it as well. :)

    I started using Thunderbird last year but I lost all my emails with important client emails during an energy failure and decided to stick to Gmail. I make use of the folders and have one for Affiliates where I add the login info and also send myself an email with the login info if it doesn't come with their welcome email.

    I have a separate folder for payments where all payments received and paid goes into. I then use google spreadsheets to update my monthly earnings and outcomes. I enter what I got paid for, how much, when etc. Whenever I am paid aff.commission I make the background a different color. I like to keep it online because it is quicker and easier. I do regular backups also.

  25. Ivan Walsh says:

    Hi Lynn,

    a few suggestions:

    1. i phase out the worst-performing aff products every 3 months.

    2. add 3 new ones (max) I'm very selective.

    3. I keep the number of aff products down to 10 (ok 12) and laser focus on these.

    My mistake when I started was to take on too much. 3-5 products is more than enough for the 1st 6 month.

    Learn the ropes and then scale.

    Ivan
    Beijing, China

    • Hi Ivan,

      Some of my affiliate promotions are seasonal, so I don't phase out based on performance but sometimes temporarily based on season or trend.

      I agree that taking on too much at once can result in complete overwhelm. My system works well for me, but I don't want to limit it by cutting/adding by numbers, but instead by objectives.

      I like your comment on learning the ropes first, then scale strategically. Very good advice.

  26. I like these tips.
    I'd like to share the way I keep up with these stats is by using an online spreadsheet. I used to use google docs. They're great, but since I started Zoho for my projects and other things, I switched all my data there. I share some files with my assistant so she keeps updating it for me. The site for zoho is zoho.com and for the spreadsheet is sheet.zoho.com
    Yes, I also have an "accounts" folder in my email, but I have several emails that I use, so the sheet is the best way.

  27. Articles like this are so great for newbies or newbies-want-to-be. I've wondered how on Earth anyone could keep up with everything, this article is very helpful. Thanks.

  28. I agree that taking on too much at once can result in complete overwhelm. My system works well for me, but I don’t want to limit it by cutting/adding by numbers, but instead by objectives.

  29. Whenever I am paid aff.commission I make the background a different color. I like to keep it online because it is quicker and easier. I do regular backups also.

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