- In the context of a POD, such as CafePress, Zazzle etc, what is an "affiliate"?
- I'm a shopkeeper. Do I need to sign up to be in the affiliate program?
- I saw my designs on another site, someone is stealing from me!
- Why an affiliate program?
- How does it work?
- Why does the cookie last after the initial visit?
- I'm both an affiliate and a shopkeeper, can I put affiliate links to other links in my shop?
- How do I find out who is affiliating with me?
In the context of a POD, such as CafePress, Zazzle etc, what is an "affiliate"?
An affiliate is a person who advertises products produced someone else and gets paid based upon the success of that advertising. It is a pay for results kind of advertising.
I'm a shopkeeper. Do I need to sign up in the affiliate program so affiliates can advertise my stuff?
Usually shopkeepers do not need to do anything to "be in the affiliate program." For most POD programs just appearing in "the marketplace" gives affiliates permission to advertise your products. You do not have to sign up for the affiliate program if you want affiliates to advertise your stuff. You have to sign up if you want to do the advertising to sell other people's stuff.
I saw my designs on another site, someone is stealing from me!
Affiliates are allowed to display your designs and products on their site so they can advertise them. Click through as if you were purchasing the product. You should end up in the POD shopping cart with a reference to your shop. If you have concerns contact customer support with the links and ask, don't accuse. Please don't publicly post links as other people may read it as an accusation even if you did not intend it that way.
In most cases the affiliate programs make the shopkeeper money they would not otherwise have made. Since the affiliate worked for the benefit of the shopkeeper some PODs require that the shopkeeper contribute to rewarding the affiliate for that success. If you don't want help selling your products you can usually mark your shop private or check a box to keep it out of "the marketplace."
Why an affiliate program?
Every successful business advertises their products for sale. The POD creates a marketplace to make sales. They contract with affiliates to drive traffic to that marketplace. Of course they do use some traditional advertising where it costs money regardless of results. Affiliate marketing is an effective tool. The affiliate gets paid only for results. No sales means no income for the affiliate. . If the affiliate is successful in creating a sale then the affiliate earns a commission, usually based on the value of that sale. Sales means income for the POD and the shopkeeper so the affiliate gets paid for that success.
If you want to sell your products then you need to advertise them. You can get the help of the POD and the affiliates in doing that if you decide to stay in the marketplace. If you decide you would rather have 100% control of advertising your product then you can remove your products from the marketplace.
How does it work?
The affiliate creates a specially coded link. The link is usually placed on a web site or blog but it can go any place affiliate html links are allowed. When a person clicks on a link it puts a "cookie" on the person's computer. That cookie stays there for a specified period, usually something like 30 days. Affiliate programs don't all work the same but in the POD environment usually the affliate has a choice of linking to specific hand picked products or instead linking to a "search" or a category of products or designs. This second choice is used by most professional affiliates because it means that the designs shown to the customer will always be as fresh and as current as possible. It also means the affiliate themselves has no idea or control over who they are linking to. Whatever shows up in the marketplace under the specific criteria is what they are advertising. Often the affiliate is focused only on the marketplace and has no awareness of individual shops or artists.
Why does the cookie last after the initial visit?
It often takes several visits before a person decides to go from looking to buying. If the person buys at anytime during the "cookie persistence" period then the affiliate has earned their commission. It is possible that the person will find the shopkeeper products through a different route while the customer still has the cookie. The affiliate will still get the credit. Overall this is valid marketing, although it may have a glitch or two. If you have customers you have developed on your own look at whether the POD provides a means for you to "opt out" of the marketplace on a "by shop" or "by product" basis so that an affiliate does not accidentally get credit for a sale entirely created by you.
I'm both an affiliate and a shopkeeper, can I put affiliate links to other links in my shop?
Usually you cannot put affiliate links in your shop. The purpose of the affiliate program is to generate traffic to advertise the site. If someone has already arrived there then there is no advertising to do.
How do I find out who is affiliating with me?
Usually you can't find out exactly which affiliate sold your product, and very often the affiliate is not aware of your design or your shop. Sometimes you can track back to an affiliate web site if you are using a tool to collect visit statistics.
Anyone who has signed an affiliate contract with the POD could potentially be your affiliate. Technically they aren't "your" affiliate in that the legal relationship is entirely between the affiliate and the POD, and the source is the POD's marketplace even if they are allowed to link directly to your shop.
The affiliate often links to searches, portals, feeds and other means of automated selection of products to display on their web site. They may or may not make the effort to learn what actually sold as the affiliate's reports don't make that easy. So even when they sell something from a particular shop they may still not know what shop that is. The affiliate details report may provide only the product number and following that up takes the affiliate to the marketplace. Only a very interested affiliate will note which shop that design came from.