During May, as Kevin Webster, of 72kilowatts was busy getting back to building affiliate websites, he became concerned about the impact of the NY Internet tax law. Kevin was just getting started as an affiliate again. He had recently dissolved his SEO/OPM (Outsourced Program Manager) firm and while he was managing affiliate programs he was not active as an affiliate. As the time for the NY Internet tax law to take affect drew near, Kevin saw the potential for disaster and sought answers from merchants. Kevin was very vocal in asking questions and seeking answers. He worked both behind the scenes and publicly, on his blog, 72kilowatts and at forums such as ABestWeb.
As the merchant terminations of New York Affiliates hit, Kevin and I teamed up to help organize a meeting. As you probably recall, with the support and help of many from the affiliate industry, we met in Albany on July 28. As a result of that day long meeting of NY affiliates and affiliate program managers, and the great work of our lawyer, we came to understand what the law meant and what we needed to do. The Albany Group created and compiled sample documents that outlined how to continue working with NY Affiliates. We, the Albany Group, presented the “solution” to the industry. Some merchants readily accepted the solution and reinstated NY Affiliates, others did not.
I asked Kevin about the impact of being terminated from merchant programs. “Since I had just gotten back into the game, I had built smart sites. My high traffic domain is in WordPress, and using auto-linking features, I was able to switch out merchants with a mouse click. I had trouble finding some specific products, but overall, the niche still left me plenty of merchants to choose from. Quality merchants at that.” He did fold one domain but the rest remained although Adsense was added to some.
This next point is noteworthy. As active and dedicated as Kevin was to finding the solution to the terminations by merchants, he has moved on. I asked him how he adjusted. “Aside from what I’ve already mentioned, I did take a full time job as an Internet Marketing Manager here in Rochester, as well as helping my wife build out a Yahoo store where she sells clay bakeware, glass food storage, and some high end foods. Drop shipping, if you are patient and smart about your partner choices, can provide some EXCELLENT margins.”
When asked if he was still working on getting merchants back Kevin replied, “I’ve taken myself out of that mode. Once we concluded the Albany meeting, I was already looking at moving on. The overall tenuousness of the affiliate/merchant contract was obvious at that point, and I decided against paying my mortgage on handshakes.”
Many NY affiliates who lost substantial amounts of income due to the merchant terminations have a similar feeling of unease. Like Kevin, most are now supplementing their affiliate income through other income sources. Other NY affiliates have totally moved on. The fear of some in the affiliate industry is that many ethical NY affiliates are leaving.
I asked Kevin if he is still involved with working on the issue. Kevin stated “My blog still has information available, but I’ve noticed I don’t see much search on it. I did use my vote on Tuesday to reward local politicians who were helpful to me during the summer. I chime in at ABW when the issue arises. But I’m a cheerleader now, more so than a quarterback.”
I am a bit saddened that Kevin has largely moved on from affiliate marketing but I can understand his need to do so; it is called survival. Having worked with Kevin on the NY Internet tax issue and knowing both his work in the affiliate industry and his approach to business, I think it is a loss to the the affiliate industry.
On a personal note, Kevin has been a great partner during these last seven months or so. I am grateful that I have gotten to know him. Whether he was researching “Quill vs North Dakota” or fishing in upstate New York, Kevin always found time to take my call. Unless, of course, his phone was at the bottom of the lake.
Kevin, my friend, I wish you much success and happiness in your new business but I hope to see you return to affiliate marketing.