What's with the Affiliate Links?
*I mark affiliate relations with an asterisks.
The objective of the Community Color directories is to promote local web development. I believe strongly that the web is a valuable medium of communication within a community and I want to create a mechanism where all the people contributing to the local web can be heard.
I happen to live in a country with a market economy. This means I have freedom to create my own products. It also means that a program like this must have a source of income to survive. I've discovered that if I demanded payment for listing, I would limit the number of voices heard; So, I've chosen to support this site with affiliate arrangements. Yes, I realize that many people despise all forms of advertising especially affiliate relations. I've actually been thrown out of rooms and called abusive names for engaging in affiliate marketing.
I've mark all affiliate links with an asterisk (*). In most cases the affiliate relation is a commission on sales. I am only paid if a visit results in a sale. Only a small percent of relations end up paying anything.
There are about 40 web sites in the Community Color family of sites. My web hosting and ISP costs run about $200 a month or $2400 a year. If I add in power consumption, computers, cameras (I need a camera for protophoto.com), etc., the costs come to around $4000 a year.
|Earnings by Year|
Yes, in 2012, the ad revenue dropped below my hosting costs and I may be forced to shut down soon.
The Merchants column shows the total of active affiliate relations. The Stats page shows total directory impressions by site.
The column labeled "Clicks" is the number of users sent to advertisers. The Commission column shows what I've earned during the month. My direct costs run $300.00 a month. People get all upset and full of hate because this is a for profit site, but the ads barely cover costs.
Minimum wage is $7.25. A minimum wage salary for 2000 hours a year would come to $14,500. If you add to that mandated health care and the employment tax, I would need to make well over $20,000/year over costs to pay one minimum wage salary. My goal is $30,000/year.
What is an Affiliate?
On the internet an "affiliation" is a loose relation between web sites. In most cases, it is a relation between a web merchant and a content site needing advertising revenue. In the typical affiliate arrangement, the merchant pays their affiliate a small commission on sales generated from links to the merchant site. Directly connecting commissions to sales from advertisements is called performance marketing.
Most ecommerce sites prefer performance marketing to pay per click or pay for ad views because it is easy for web sites to fake clicks and ad views.
When I started affiliate, I found that I needed to display an affiliate ad 100 times to get a click about 1 out of every hundred click would result in a commission. The average commission was about $10.00. Today I find that I need to display an ad 500 times for a click and about 1 out of every 500 clicks results in a commission and the commissions average $5.00.
Most "Affiliate Relations" are Shams
Most "affiliations" are a sham. Sites claim that they will pay for traffic but never do. As of 12/31/2012, I've participated in 1768 affiliate relations. Only about 300 or 15% of the relations to date have resulted in payments greater than $10. this chart shows the distribution of payments. The first column shows how much an arrangment has paid through the years.
|Bucket||Merchants||Hits||Earnings||Pct Merchants||Pct Hits||Pct Earnings|
|Total||1768||627923||55191.78||~ ~||~ ~||~ ~|
Why this Site is Lousy with Affiliates
My desire is to create quality community directories. To do such, I need a funding source. Rather than demanding payment for listing, I decided to take the low road. While building the directories, I check to see if a web site has an affiliate program in place. If they have one; I join it.
If I am admitted into an affiliate program. I generally list the affiliate relations first and free links second. I run the affiliate relations through a redirect program which I block from the googlebot. The free listing is a better deal than the affiliate listing.
I tend to give affiliate relations a second link on irivers.com and a third link on aFountainsOfBargains.com. I put affiliate banners throughout the site as well.
Why Don't Any of the Affiliate Links Work?
There are several ad filters and parasitic programs that block affiliate links. NOTE, if you block ads from a site, the content providers have no way to pay for the content they create for the web. The term "parasiteware" refers to programs that automatically change the affiliate tag on links to steal the commissions.
Some ad blocking software modify the hosts file on your computer. You might want to check your computer's host file to see what sites are blocked. Here it the location for the host file on microsoft systems.
Windows XP - c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
Windows NT/2000 - c:\winnt\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
Windows 95/98/Me - c:\windows\hosts
Am I Overdoing the Ads?
I always appreciate feedback. If you feel the affiliate ads are detracting from the site, you can contact me.
How to Support This Site
The goal of the community color program is to promote local web development. The program includes a collection of local directories in the Mountain West. If you would like to help support this effort, you could link to a site in the program. You can see a full list of sites on the the home page of Community Color.
The page Slime shows the ratio of free links to affiliate links. It usually runs about 10% for a town site. A few sites are heavy with affiliate links.