For some time now I have been meaning to write a post in regards to my feelings about affilate payments. So far the general opinion of my critics is I am against them and I am a hypocrite. I think now is a good as time as any to express my opinion on affiliate programs. Last month a review site with an Alexa score of 8,000,000 + created a post on webhostingtalk.com to expose me. For obvious reasons I am not going to point to this site, but I will point to the forum post where I was to be exposed.
Because of this post I have been rather busy communicating to several people, some of which have given me some interesting things to look for that I would never had thought to look for. Which is part of the delay on getting posts out, that and there have been significant changes at webhostingstuff.com. Frankly before this I did not have much reason to communicate on webhostingtalk.com, as I was not sure any thread I would start would be blocked or removed. I found out about the post because of Google Alerts, and I was pretty much going to say nothing until they got off topic. It was some how the opinion that I wanted a government hand out because of some 14 year old I allowed to make a comments on my video. Even though I made it clear by my own comments I did not agree with the poster about having the government provide free hosting level services.
Why I don’t believe in free hosting and domains
Just in case its not enough for me to say that I believe by paying for your service, you are going to be more inclined/obligated to actually do something. Clearly with a hosting bill thats around $2,000 a month I am very motivated to get something out of my service.
Recently I read a post from one of the people that posted on that forum topic above that demonstrates one of the big reasons I got out of the hosting industry, and why I am not for giving out free service.
“I have found in my personal dealings in the hosting industry that the less a customer pays the more they tend to expect out of the provider and the less they understand the provider/client relationship.”
This is from a hosting provider with a little over a 3 years of experience running a host, granted this was in his first year. I can tell you with my 11 years of experience that that it was a fact with my first long term company. When I first started out I was offering packages for $500 or more a month, barely ever heard from these people. Many of them had their own private webmaster, or paid my company for web master services. Webmasters seem almost as rare as blacksmiths these days. By 2005 we started offering a $1.99 package. On average clients that paid $1.99 a month were 6 times more likely to submit a ticket then a customer that paid $25.99 a month, $1.99 a month customers were 14 times more likely then someone that pays $49.99. Its one of those facts my business partners over looked as they sought to compete with cheaper/unlimited markets.
I think it was 2006 when one of my companies started a 90 day free trial, which I can tell you was the start of me wanting to get out of the hosting business. It was not so much that we were giving service away for free, but that these people would make us work for a probable sale only to cancel at the end of 90 days and run off to another company that offered a similar trial, off the top of my head I would say a lose rate of over 70%. Generally if they stayed they did not upgrade to anything beyond the 1.99 month plan. At this point I adopted the theory that at least 5% of all customers were evil, and perhaps only because of good genes I still have all my hair. That or killing the 90 day free trial after 14 months is what saved my hair.
Any way back to webhostingtalk.com
I decided to make a response that was non-aggressive as possible, and I was aware before I posted my first response that this was a review site who lanched a debate against me, and decided not to point that out. I wanted someone else to point that out. By the end of the post I think it became clear how little the person who had started the complaint understood the hosts he had called top 10. His research involved copying someone else’s top 10 list, and that was the sum of his efforts over a 3 month period of time to make a 3 page site. He also was not aware that his host used the same data center as hostgator.com.
“And review sites like mine research, find and then list the best top 10 hosting providers. That way they save their time and able to find the best suitable host.
I guess some Small/mid size hosts do not like review sites because they don’t see their site in the top 10 list.”
By that statement he has clearly ruled out seeing if small to mid size hosts are viable options, which I think was his biggest mistake. What he admitted to only proved why you should not trust his list.
“No, i have not used any host in the list.“
“I have taken the list from some other review site“
Doing just as much research on me as the very hosts he claims are top hosts he claims:
1. he is a hypocrite. According to him affiliate marketing is evil but himself making money with adsense and affiliate marketing. you can see banners at his website.
2. He is making his living by bashing others. I am not a regular member of his blog so can’t say how accurate his finding are.
The very meaning of the word hypocrite:
A person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings
Here is what my site does:
- Busting review sites that created top 10 lists based off of companies that offer only high affiliate payouts.
- Busting hosts who spam.
- Busting hosts that own their own top review list, only to appear on the top of their own list.
- Busting review sites that take payments under the table to claim a host a is a top host.
- Busting hosts that pay review sites regardless if they earned the right to be a top host.
- Busting hosts that appear in top 10 sites because they offer a high a affiliate payout.
- Busting review sites that have other devious practices of making money, more about that in a later post.
To be a hypocrite, I would have to do what I am exposing.
Now to be clear I have no issues with affilate programs, as I am a member of several, some of which are through Commison Junction (cj.com).
This is where I try shamelessly to encourage you to buy something.
When it comes to the Amazon Kindle I like to think of myself as a walking billboard for a reason to buy one. I got mine as a gift to myself for selling off my first hosting company. Partially because before I got into webhosting I used to read tons of books, some times as many as 20 in a month. But as 2009 came to a close I realized that my most extensive reading came from reading contracts, terms of service, and customer/supplier emails. Customers emails can sometimes be entertaining I will admit, but I had not read a single book by the time my Kindle arrived on November 30, 2009. The first book I choose to try and finish off was Stepehen King’s Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower, Book 4). I had actually bought it in hard back, then paper back, and from another ereader on Dell’s abondoned Axim hand held device. Honestly the first 3 books were the best in that series, the 4th was the worst with its long winded back story. The last three were ok, but I proable would not have finished if not for the first three books.
While I am not back to reading 20 books a month, I have a digital library of over 264 books. I do catch a chance to read. While I can also read the same book and keep my place between my iPad and Kindle, I much prefer to read from the Kindle as the battery life far surpasses the iPad, not to mention I can not read my iPad in the sun.
I recommend the 3g model over the wifi version if you travel like I do. While I have the Kindle2 3g, I got to try out the Kindle 3 with wifi that I got my brother for his graduation. I found it some what annoying to set up the connection. But the print was finer, thinner, lighter then the Kindle 2. I might actually get the 3 later on to have a Kindle to leave in my car. Not to mention the Kindle 3 actually has page numbers where as the 2 does not ( I am not sure why it does not). But I will defiantly purchase 4.
Currently I am reading The Elfstones of Shannara.
Back to Webhostingtalk.com, do I hate affiliate programs?
The above is an example of actually promoting a product that was actually used. If you need more reasons to actually buy a Kindle I will happily give you more reasons to do so. What I hate is review sites that tell you that a host is one of the top 10 best hosts out there, yet they never tried any of the hosts they recommend. Just like the host that thought they were exposing me on webhostingtalk.com. 10 hosts, and the one host he was using was not on that list. Never mind that the payout for the company he was with was just as big as the companies he had listed. It would have made more sense if he actually promoted them. Granted there are many sites out there that promote only one host, but they don’t really tell you what they actually have hosted unless of coarse its the very site that tells you to host with the host they are promoting. One paticular hostgator.com affilate comes to mind that does nothing more then spew out details about every faucet of what makes hostgator.com, it seems more of a f.a.q. section then a affiliate.
The bottom line is unlike Consumer Reports who tests countless products, the review sites offer no proof that you should trust their opinion, they ask you not to kick the tires so to speak. They throw up a few details and try to tell you they have other reasons that they don’t list. Unlike these sites, I want to compel you to kick the tires and ask questions, there is a point where a little skepticism is a healthy thing. After all if it came to actually buying a car are you going to let the sales person pick the car for you?
Now to be honest I can’t say I get much enjoyment out of making money, but I sure do enjoy spending it. I think affiliate programs can help to promote products. Like say a band that I really love but I don’t think gets enough exposure such as Faithless. If there is anything I hate about affiliate programs is those that payout as much or more then what a customer paid. I actually plan to talk with an accountant about this to see how this effects the taxes a hosting company pays.
On Webhostingtalk.com I was called a hypocrite, is that true?
In order to be a hypocrite I would have to engage in the same activities that I am trying to bust other companies for. While I have Google Adsense and affiliate programs for non-hosting related items up, you are not going to see me put my name behind any host with out actually using their service and a lot of work to prove why. Granted its been a year of blogging and I have yet to find a company I would fully endorse. I am willing to tell people who I use and why they are adaquate and why I am not happy with them (Media Temple, Rackspace, and Theplanet (bought by softlayer)). I’ll even tell you who I have used, and why I would never use them again (Burst.net and Layered Tech).