Feb 15, 2010

Matt at Work: The Affiliate Program

Day 107

One of my favorite things to work on at my last employment was the Affiliate Program. Let me first explain what an affiliate program is for those that are not familiar with them. An affiliate program rewards people with cash for advertising and promoting our company. Basically you can make money off of people by just simpling pimping a service.

When we first implemented this in our company it was exciting and it gave me a good idea. I decided to become an affiliate myself. My friend Zack would order comics through me and then would pay me when they came in. But then I learned that mailordercomics.com had an affiliate program so I signed up. Then Zack would order his comics through a banner on my website and I would get 11% of what he paid. Just by doing almost nothing! This turned out to be quite a lucrative program for me, I would have all my friends order through my link and I would get cash. During the best times I was making an extra $100-$180 just by having a banner on my website. It essentially paid for my expensive hobby. Sadly, mailordercomics.com closed down there affiliate program.

I had this banner on my website advertising mailordercomics.com.

The program that I worked on at my last employment was pretty much the same. Instead of a percentage, we would pay out between $65-$95 per sale. We would make on average around $300 per client so giving back $65 was not a big deal. And we had some great affiliates that would work hard to bring us sales. Some of them easily made thousands a month. It was fun to talk to these guys on the phone and help them out.

Eventually I was given the task to run the day-to-day activities of the affiliate program and I was absolutely thrilled with it. I would run reports, check for fraud and deal with our affiliates exclusively. The affiliate program worked great because it was free marketing. Our affiliates were in charge of promoting our services and then would run with the ball.

My boss then quit his job and it was up to me and my new boss to make sure that the affiliate program was running efficiently. We were the only ones that knew what our affiliates were doing. We were the only ones that had access to our affiliates and stats. And then a small crisis came up. It was tax season and one of our affiliates contacted us to see if we need to send him a tax form so he could report his sales. My friend and I had no clue how to generate the tax forms so we told our CEO about the possible problem.

As an affiliate myself, I did a little research myself. And I found the answer rather quickly. If you made over $500 a year on affiliate sales then you would have to report it. If it was under, it was not required. In looking at our 2,000 plus affiliates only a small handful qualified. My friend came back downstairs after meeting with our CEO and he was basically yelled at. Our CEO was so angry, he thought that he would have to generate 2,000 forms and send them out. I told my friend that was not the case at all. So my friend and I were happy, we could easily figure out what to do next, and generating maybe 10 forms would be easy to do. So my friend happily went upstairs to tell our CEO of the happy news I found. We both thought he would be happy and proud of us.

But that was not the case.

My friend came back downstairs and told me that our CEO thought I was wrong. He said something to the effect of "Platis doesn't know what the **** he is talking about and doesn't know **** about affiliate programs" and so forth. My friend defended me by saying that I have my own affiliate program so I know for sure but that didn't help. He hooted and hollered about how my friend and I are stupid and that he would find out himself. And come to find out, I was right. But our CEO was so stubborn in being right that he offered no apology or any praise that we know what to do.

Then he found out that I was essentially running the affiliate program and he flipped out. And suddenly (after running the affiliate program for about 2 years) I was removed and it was given to someone that knew nothing about it.

I was ticked. They removed the only thing that I liked doing there. And that ultimately lead to my quitting that place.

It was around this time that I seriously began to think of leaving this place. It was the first of many nails in the coffin. I had drawn this picture and placed it on my desk. And I added a nail every time something happened that made me think of the future.

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