In my last post, Finding New Merchants Part One, I listed some of the criteria affiliates might want to look at before they sign up to promote a merchant. I realized I should start at the very beginning. Before you can evaluate a merchant you have to find them. This can be accomplished in two main ways. You can either start a general search from your browser bar or you can search from within your favorite network.
You can search via a search engine in one of two ways. Let’s assume you are looking for a merchant who carries a particular product or service. The first way is to visit your favorite search engine and type in the product you are looking for plus the words “affiliate program”. That should turn up several affiliate programs that at least carry the product you are looking for. A similar way is to search just for the product, without the words affiliate program. Your search results will be just merchants selling the product. Visit the merchant’s website and then search for their affiliate program, there should be a link somewhere. Many times there will be a link in the footer or in their site map that leads to their affiliate program information page. You can also look at their FAQ’s, About Us or even Careers/Employment pages. If that method does not work you can also use a search engine and this time type in “merchant name” + “affiliate Program” or “merchant name” affiliate program.
Many affiliates prefer to start at a merchant level rather than the product level. They find a merchant first and then find products within that merchant’s program. Use either approach or both, but always have a back up source for your products. That will help you be prepared for a merchant closing their program or deciding to terminate their relationship with you. In May, many NY Affiliates were caught unprepared when merchants decided to remove all NY Affiliates. Always remember to have a backup plan in place.
An alternative is to begin your search for products or merchants within your favorite network. Each network’s setup is a little different but the basic idea is to search by product name or keyword. Sometimes you will have to search by category to find merchants that might have the products you are looking for. Take the list of merchants and visit their sites to see if the exact products you are looking for is carried.
If you have relationships with some out sourced affiliate program managers, consider asking them for a list of the programs they manage or visit their website and check out their managed programs. Some program managers are more assertive in reaching out to affiliates so you may not have to ask. Others tend to wait for their affiliates to reach out to them. If you have formed friendships with other affiliates you can also talk with them but remember it is best not to just ask for a list of merchants. Instead ask for opinions of a merchant or if they know of a merchant who carries whatever product you are looking for. Most importantly, remember to share with them, reciprocate and don’t just take.
Also be sure to watch network announcements, most have a way of announcing new programs. ShareASale has a RSS feed announcing new programs and also allow you to search specifically for new programs in their merchant search function. Many networks and merchants will also announce their new programs at ABW and other forums.
Forums, blogs and even Twitter can be great source of information regarding merchant programs. Join and participate.
Whether you are searching by product or by merchant the real work begins once you have identified a potential merchant to promote. You will now have to evaluate the merchant and if you find them suitable you can begin testing them. Remember, don’t just stop with one merchant for any product you wish to promote. Be prepared and find a second merchant.