You’ve heard about affiliate relationships on this blog and elsewhere. But, what is an affiliate?
Let’s think about affiliate relationships from a company’s perspective. In the past, everything except word-of-mouth marketing was expensive. You had to pay to get on the radio, on the television, and, though it seems ridiculous, in the phone book.
It hasn’t been very long, but the transition from “pay a lot of money for a full-page advertisement in the Yellow Pages” to “here, you throw this away for me” has been swift and complete.
So, what’s a company supposed to do?
Well, if that company has a product or service that can be bought online, they turn to affiliate relationships.
Affiliate relationships are the closest thing companies get to free advertising, because they only have to pay bloggers when and if a person buys something from their link. So even though I write about ConvertKit a lot, ConvertKit only has to pay me if someone clicks my link and decides to sign up for their email service. They don’t have to pay me anything to write something. They don’t pay to put an ad on my site. They ONLY pay when someone clicks my link. That means if you read one of my articles about ConvertKit (or email in general) and you think, “hmm, that sounds interesting, I’ll think about that for a while,” and decide months later to sign up, I get nothing.
I’m not complaining. That’s simply how things go.
It’s in my best interest to write about tools I love, because I know my audience (lovely people like you) trusts me, and trust is the most important thing to me.
That’s why you’ll only see affiliate links to companies I’ve used and would recommend. If I don’t think my friends should use something, I won’t write about it here.
Why So Many Bloggers Write About BlueHost
In my view, there are two ways to approach affiliate relationships as a company:
- Establish affiliate relationships with bloggers based on the quality of your platform, so bloggers are encouraged to write about you from time to time (here, we’re talking about companies like StudioPress and ConvertKit). Make your affiliate program generous enough to encourage writing, and know that the bloggers who will write about you are the ones who think your product or service will be the best fit for their audience.
- Go-for-broke and offer ridiculous affiliate payouts to encourage as many bloggers as possible to write about your service. If you go for this, you’re looking to spend more money than you make for the next few years, but your chances of gaining market share go up accordingly.
BlueHost, as you may have already determined, is using the second strategy. I have had offers of $75-90 per sign up if I join their affiliate program. You don’t have to be a math genius to figure out how much money can be made on something like that.
BlueHost even approached a blogging friend offering $3000 for an article about them. Yes, for a single post.
Their hosting packages are cheap, too. Like $4 a month.
So, bloggers who have loads of traffic can make a nice chunk of change writing “how to start a blog” posts and making sure step one is to get hosting from BlueHost. Or, even better, “how I blog part-time and make eleventy bajillion dollars a month, and you can too!” and have a link to BlueHost in there somewhere.
A quick glance at Twitter shows tweets like these:
“How to Start a Blog”
“Here are a bunch of reasons to choose BlueHost”
If you look long enough, you’ll find bloggers you trust saying how great BlueHost is, which could lead you to believe that their service really is excellent.
Bloggers Experience a LOT of Trouble with BlueHost
But for every tweet discussing why you should sign up for BlueHost, there are plenty of tweets like these:
Sites go down:
Customer service doesn’t respond:
Plenty of “known issues:”
And it’s not just on Twitter, either. I’m in a bunch of blogger support Facebook groups, and one of the most often recurring themes is questioning why a blog is down, or asking if anyone else using BlueHost’s shared hosting is experiencing the same problem.
Why You Won’t See Links to BlueHost on For-Profit Blogging
Some bloggers say BlueHost is excellent, but many users aren’t happy. Who do you trust?
Well, I hope you can trust me.
See, that’s why I won’t send you to the wrong place. If I’m linking to something, it’s something I’ve used. It might not be something I still use (I’m thinking of email services I used before switching to ConvertKit), but I’m not in the business of linking to resources I don’t think you should use.
BlueHost is not cheaper than other good hosts, and their service is far worse.
So, sign up with a host that cares about you.
It’s not more expensive, and it’ll give you a much smaller headache.
Where you choose to host your website will make a difference for your readers. Do your research. If you suspect that someone is promoting something that sounds even a little bit too good to be true, go with your instinct.
Affiliate links are intended to help bloggers make money. As a reader, make sure the links you’re clicking help you, too.
The Hosting Company I Use (and LOVE)
I am a happy customer of BigScoots (and yes, that's an affiliate link, but their payout is much lower than most ($5 per new account, I think) which means I'm earning maybe a cup of coffee if you click). They go above and beyond what normal hosting companies do. In fact, they feel like my on-call IT department.
Things I've Asked BigScoots to do
- Install a staging site so I could switch themes without everything looking wonky live
- Removing that staging site when I was ready and replacing it with the regular site
- Install an SSL when I couldn't figure it out
- Set up a subdomain with a separate WordPress install
- Fix a plugin (not theirs) that was acting funny
And that's just a quick recall of all the things they do for my business.
They offer reasonably priced shared hosting as well, and they will help you do anything that seems scary.
Check out BigScoots now.
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