Commission Junction Review - Pros and Cons

Commission Junction Logo

Commission Junction, founded in 1998 and acquired by ValueClick in 2003, is one of the largest affiliate marketing channels on the Internet. Their advertisers - the merchants that sell products or services online - are relatively bigger and better-developed companies. Generally, this means the products and services that the publishers - affiliates - promote have better quality.

This is a very good advantage for the affiliates because they can promote products that are reliable and keep their websites trustworthy. (Read more about ClickBank review and how challenging it is to find quality products to promote through ClickBank.) But generally this makes affiliate payout smaller as the profit margin is already small for the merchants.

More pros and cons about Commission Junction affiliate program

Advantages

  • The products and services of the advertisers ( merchants) are more reliable and well-known.
  • There are many types of links for the affiliates: various banners, text links, product links, and search boxes.
  • The commission is paid through CJ, not through the merchants. As long as the consolidated commission from all merchants is over their payment threshold, the payment is mailed out.
  • Available payment options are direct deposit or paycheck in the publishers’ designated currency.
  • Their tracking has got better providing (optional) link encryption and capability to hide the tracking code in link.
  • Publisher’s application gets approved instantly.

Disadvantages

  • The payment threshold for the publishers is $50 for direct deposit and $100 for paper check.
  • It seems it’s hard to get their attention from the customer support department. Hopefully this is changing.
  • Affiliates’ earned commission is protected only for six months when it’s too small to be paid out.
  • Some offers need to be “approved” by the merchants and handling rejection and asking approval can be painful.

More information from CJ
https://www.cj.com/faq.html

WordPress Spam - Plugins to Fight Comment Spams

Soon after I launched this blog, I started to receive heavy amount of spam comments, mostly from some Russian sites. It’s not only that I can’t read their comments in Russian, but some of their comments are extremely long. I think this overloads the database even though its impact may be minor.

Luckily, there are many plug-ins to fight spams for your WordPress blogs. Here are a couple of popular and effective solutions.

1. Akismet is a great anti-spam plug-in that comes installed by default. You just need to turn it on by clicking ‘Activate’.* With Akismet, you can set comment blacklist.** The beauty of this blacklist is that you don’t have to put the whole word or the whole IP address. It will block any comments that contain the partial words and partial IP address.

A lot of spams that I received from the Russian sites had different IP addresses almost every time because they hijacked the addresses. But their website domain or email address contains ‘.ru’. I just added ‘.ru’ to the blacklist and most of them were filtered.

* To activate Akismet, you will need to enter an API key that you can get from the WordPress website.
** To set up comment blacklist, click ‘Settings’ -> ‘Discussion’.

WordPress Comment Blacklist Block Russian Spams

2. Consider adding CAPTCHA if you want spams even not to be submitted. That’s what I did because I got tired of deleted the spams. Even if they were nicely filtered by Akismet, once in a while I needed to delete them otherwise I would have had thousands of spam sitting there, taking my DB space, possibly affecting DB performance.

I installed this plug-in “cformsII” in order to add CAPTCHA. “cformsII” is a powerful plug-in that allows you to create your own forms. You can easily replace the default WordPress comment form with a fancy and secure one that you can generate using cformsII.

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/cforms/

Create a new comment form using cformsII. You can use the default form that is shown when you access to the setting page first time.* Change the name of form to what you will recognize easily, for example, ‘comment’ and add / remove fields and change display configurations if you want to.

* It will show the link ‘cformsII’ next to the ‘Comments’ of the top menu.

Then, replace the PHP function “comments_template()” to “insert_cform(’name_of_form’)” in any PHP scripts that have the comment form. The files are different depending on which theme you use, but the usual scripts are ’single.php’, ‘archive.php’, and ‘page.php’.

<?php comments_template(); ?>

->

<?php insert_cform(’comment’); ?>

ClickBank Review - Pros and Cons

ClickBank is an affiliate network where vendors can sell their products, mostly digital products such as e-books or software, through ClickBank marketplace and affiliates can promote vendors’ products and earn commissions.

Many bloggers and website owners have used their service and have different opinions about it. I myself just opened an account and looked for some products for my health-related website. It didn’t take a lot for me to realize that it’s not an easy process to select the best products that would keep my web site’s reputation intact as well as generate me good profits. So I’ve dug into it more and summarized these pros and cons of ClickBank.

Advantages

  • You can choose the products that you want to promote. This is a big difference between AdSense and ClickBank. One of the most frustrating situations among AdSense users is that AdSense can display low commission ads or unrelated ads to their web site content. With ClickBank, you can have more control in selecting products.
  • It’s easy and simple to set up an account and start to promote products.
  • Commissions are generally a lot more generous than other affiliate programs. Some vendors pay out up to 70% of the price of their products.
  • You can add a search feature for ClickBank products on your website and earn commission when there are any sales generated from the search result page.
  • You can add your own tracking code.
  • Payment threshold can be as low as $10 and their payment options include domestic and international direct deposit.

Disadvantages

  • It’s hard to find quality products to promote. Many of their products are cheap and lousy get-rich-quick e-books that you yourself wouldn’t want to purchase. Few bloggers who care about their reputation would feel very enthusiastic about advertising these products on their websites.
  • They have high refund rates.
  • Simple affiliate interface can be a favor, but it also means their features and reports are basic and limited.
  • Your potential sales can get hijacked, that is, users can change your affiliate code and buy products through their own.

Tips to Use ClickBank Affiliate Program

  • Find products that are highly relevant to the content of your website or web pages.
  • Carefully read about the product from its vendor’s site before you start to promote it. If you don’t think the web site is trustworthy enough or the product has good quality, don’t promote that product. If you wouldn’t want to buy it, probably other people wouldn’t buy it either.
  • When you write reviews of ClickBank products to promote them, be a honest consumer rather than be a salesperson or an affiliate. Focus on the strengths of the product while frankly talking about flaws.

Helpful Sites

I’ve come across these sites where they evaluate ClickBank products. These sites can be helpful for a beginner like me to decide which products to promote.

http://www.clickbankguide.com/productreviews.htm
http://www.clickbankhotshots.com/
http://www.clickbankproductreview.com/

ClickBank Affiliate FAQ page: http://www.clickbank.com/affiliate_faq.html

How to choose the right hosting company - Web Hosting

There are several reasons that make it a difficult task to choose a right hosting company. First of all, there are simply so many of them. Apparently, it’s relatively easy to set up a hosting company. So there are many companies which have not been around long and might not be around in the next year or so.

Second, online reviews are not necessarily trustworthy. Often times, they are written by affiliates that have monetary interest for certain companies. Also, there are many companies that provide very cheap or even free hosting service. Website owners, especially new startups sometimes fall into these companies, which may lead long downtimes or slow customer supporting service.

Here is the essential guideline in choosing the right host company for your business.

Hosting Cost
The monthly hosting fee ranges from free to a few hundred dollars depending on what platform they offer such as shared hosting, dedicated hosting, reseller hosting, or virtual dedicated hosting. It’s fundamental what kind of platform you need for your business before you decide.

Usually it’s easy to upgrade a lower platform to a higher one. So it is a good idea to start with a smaller package. But try not to use a nameless cheap hosting service. This will cause you much more stress due to downtime or slow service.

Uptime
You might think 95% uptime is acceptable. But customers who visit during the 5% downtime would most likely never come back to your site. It’s not only losing a possible sale that time but also you may lose returning visitors and customers.

Look for a company that guarantees over 99.9% uptime. The fact that they guarantee it means that they understand how significant this matter is and they do their best to keep their commitment. It’s not really saving money if the hosting fee is half compared with competitors but uptime is less than 80%. It turns out a definite damage to your business.

Customer Service
Customer supporting is a very important factor, too. However, it’s a tricky issue. It’s not easy to see if they provide reliable customer service until you actually sign up with them. Try to read as much as user experience from their forums or other online webmaster forums. Check how fast and accurately they respond to customers’ or users’ questions.

Most website hosting companies offer a money-back guarantee or a trial period to experience their service and customer supporting.

Spec / Features / Packages
Website host packages offer various features and functions. Most website owners don’t need all of those additional bonus features. But there are certain things that you need to pay attention to before you decide a web host company.

Check if it offers plenty of bandwidth and its memory and CPU has recently been upgraded. It’s always good to have various email features such as auto-responder or forwarding. See if they provide an easy and reliable admin interface. The most popular one is CPanel. The common blogging tool is WordPress or b2evolution. See if these are provided in the service that you’re looking into.

Most hosting companies give you a dedicated IP address if you pay additional dollar or two.

Amazon Affiliate Program - Amazon Associates

Amazon Associates is one of the most successful and the largest online affiliate programs. Amazon associates can make up to 15% in referral fees on all qualifying products that people directed from their site make purchase. Amazon keeps track of affiliate sales through specially formatted links.

Here are several good reasons why you may want to consider the Amazon Associate program.

- Amazon is one of the most popular shopping site on the web and also it’s a trusted brand. This helps visitors buy products from Amazon and you will have better chance to earn commission with your referrals.

- It’s easy to set up. Amazon provides various tools and plug-ins to integrate the links to your site. WordPress also provides easy-to-setup plug-in. Go to WordPress Plug-in Directory (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/) and type ‘amazon’.

- There are more chances that people buy more than one products. Even when you send your visitors to Amazon using an item specific link, they may purchase other products, too. In this case, you can earn referral fees on all products that they purchase.

- Amazon is one of the top sites in regard to the breadth of products sold. If the main topic of your site or blogs is niche-oriented, you may find it difficulties to find affiliates. Amazon would work in that case because most likely they sell niche market products that match your site’s content.

One of the biggest cons of the Amazon Affiliate Program is that their commission is relatively low. There are two compensation plans in the program, the Classic Fee Structure and the Performance Fee Structure. The Classic Fee Structure pays 4% fixed-rate commission with $25 caps on desktop computers or laptops. The other plan is based on how much conversion you make from the traffic you send during a month. 4% may look smaller but the more people you send buy from Amazon, the more commission you will get.