LinkTrackr Is Must Use Software For Affiliate Marketers

LinkTrackr describes itself as a link cloaking and tracking software. I think in the internet marketing industry the word “cloaking” has negative connotations, but for affiliate marketers, this is a good thing. If you’ve ever signed up for an affiliate account somewhere, you’ve probably noticed that they give you long, ugly URL’s. They might have numbers, id’s, and often look a little sketchy. This is why you want to cloak your links.

Usually I set up redirects in my htaccess file so that my affiliate links look something like alexjuel.com/friendly-url which is much easier on the users eyes. You’re probably posting your links all over your site and on Twitter, guest blog posts and other places, so if your real affiliate link changes you can easily fix it in your htaccess, instead of trying to figure out where you posted that link all over the internet. And if you can’t update it or remember where you’ve posted it, you’re going to lose commissions.

In Linktrackr, you can set up your links to redirect through the linktrackr.com domain, so for example the link would look like http://alexjuel.linktrackr.com/any-name-here. You can enter your long, ugly affiliate URL to cloak or you can use a URL from your own domain, such as any you’ve set up in your htaccess file already.

What makes this really cool though, is that once the link is set up in Linktrackr, you can track all of your affiliate links from whichever programs you’re in. You can group them however you’d like, for example I’m going to group mine by niche. Maybe you’d like to group by affiliate program. I’ve only just signed up for a free account to test out the service but if you upgrade you can also split test URLs and do conversion testing.

This is great stuff.

Once your links are added, Linktrackr will begin to collect stats and will show you things like how many clicks you’ve received, how many clicks have converted (if your link converts to a page on your own site), referrers, browser stats, and split test results.

If you want to add a viral bar to your website, they can help you with that too. The free account only gives you limited customization, but a pro account will give you more options. Other than being able to remove the LinkTrackr credit from the viral bar, I’m not sure what other options you get. With the basic account though, you can choose from two themes, you can change the colors of the background and the link text, you can change font styles and you can choose which social networks you want to show in your viral bar. You can also show a disclosure policy link.

They also have a WordPress plugin. The WordPress plugin will show you the links you’ve already set up in your Linktrackr account. You can’t add new tracking links through the plugin, but you can set keywords to those links, which will then go back through any of your old posts and add links where those keywords show up. If you choose a keyword such as “email marketing” and that phrase shows up several times on a post, you can also set the plugin to link as many times per post as you’d like. It can link all instances or just once for example.

What I like most about the whole service is that it’s going to help me be more organized. I’m not great at tracking my affiliate links and I’ve signed up for affiliate programs in the past which have links I’ve completely forgotten about. I think LinkTrackr will help me keep track of this stuff much better.

Lastly, the prices

  • Standard account (100 links) is $9 a month
  • LinkTrackr Pro (500 links) is $17 a month
  • LinkTrackr Xtreme gives you unlimited links for $27 a month

All upgraded accounts provide full stats and reporting and priority support.

They have an affiliate program too, so if you like the service you can promote it yourself and make some money in the process, which is why I’ve added it to the sidebar of my site. I’d appreciate it very much if you signed up through my link – even if it’s just the free account. πŸ˜€

Note: This post was created for the LinkTrackr February 2011 Contest where you stand a real chance to win a brand new Apple iPad 64G with 3G + Wifi worth $839.

My Review of Affcon 2010

I attended Affcon 2010 several weeks ago and I’m finally getting around to putting my thoughts about it on my site. This is the first time I’ve ever been to an affiliate specific conference, but I have been to a couple of internet marketing conferences before such as SES and Pubcon.

The conference took place over three days, the first two being free for all affiliates and the third day being a paid workshop day. Affiliates are sponsored by the various affiliate networks at the show in order to attend but there was a page for people to pay for passes too. Everyone I talked to there got in free, so I’m not sure who would have had to pay to get in, but as long as I got in at no cost, that’s all that matters πŸ™‚

I didn’t actually network with many people because I was still trying to work during the short breaks between sessions when I could so that I wouldn’t fall too far behind at my job, but it seemed to me like most of the attendees were actually small business owners or people who were just getting into affiliate marketing. The crowd seemed to be fairly basic, except for one guy who kept raising his hand to tell the crowd about Gary Vanerchuk and his huge success online. It was probably Gary himself, who knows.

The Sessions and the Presenters

The very first session of the conference started with a keynote from Joel Comm. I’m not normally a fan of keynotes and I had originally planned on skipping it, but I’m glad I didn’t because it was really good. Joel Comm is a great speaker and kept things interesting the entire time.

I was actually really excited for the keynote on the second day too, because I knew it was going to be Shoemoney talking. To my disappointment, it was Shoemoney asking questions of Aaron Baker of Atrinsic Interactive. It wasn’t bad, but I would have preferred it be the other way around. They covered a lot and answered a lot of interesting questions related to affiliate marketing. Aaron Baker kept getting really quiet at the end of each sentence so that kinda sucked. He starts loud and gets quieter and quieter as he speaks.

I saw Shoemoney out-and-about with other conference-goers after his keynote too, so that was really cool of him. That’s one affiliate marketer that you could learn a ton from, I’m sure.

Tim Ash also had a really good session about conversion optimization (his specialty) on the second day. He’s just as entertaining as Joel Comm was, so that session was a lot of fun. He also mentioned a whole bunch of really cool tools to use so I think everyone got a lot out of that one. One guy even got $20 just for answering one of Tim’s questions.

Jordan Kasteler of Search and Social (now Blueglass Media) had one of the best and most interesting presentations I’ve seen at any conference. He went through lots of ideas and tactics and wasn’t afraid to talk about black/grayhat stuff. That’s rare. Most people are afraid to let anyone know that they’ve even dabbled in the grey hat side of marketing.

I Would Have Liked to See…

While there was some talk about the Colorado affiliate tax (in Shoemoney’s keynote and various other sessions), nobody really seems to completely understand it yet. This is definitely something that affiliates need to gain knowledge on still, myself included. There actually was a session about this but from what I heard, even the CO. State Representative on the panel didn’t really get it. Sad πŸ™

One session titled “Building The Best Model For Your Affiliate Business” was the best session I attended and was probably the first one that focused almost entirely on affiliate marketing. The discussed in-depth the various business models available to marketers such as membership sites, email marketing, review sites, etc. I really learned a lot from this one.

Too be completely honest, a lot of the sessions were pretty boring. Most of them were presentations that were about SEO and didn’t really relate to affiliate marketing at all. I understand that affiliates need to do SEO too, but I was really hoping for this conference to hit on advanced topics in the affiliate marketing industry. Maybe I just made bad choices in the sessions I attended.

There is one session that I really wish someone would have covered. I would’ve loved to see a session about managing taxes, payroll, income, etc. as an affiliate marketer. I’ve never seen one presentation on something like this, perhaps due to legalities of the topic, but I think even general info would be helpful to a lot of marketers.

One last gripe. There were no freakin’ plugins in the session rooms!

Anyway, I had a lot of fun at Affcon 2010 this year and hope to go again next year. I think I’ll choose sessions that are the opposite of my first choices. Just like George Costanza did to get his job at the Yankees.

The 30 Day Challenge: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – Part Three

The Ugly

This is the third and final part of my series on The Thirty Day Challenge: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

I’ll admit that I’ve done the Thirty Day Challenge for three years straight now, despite what the Wickedfire forum thinks about it πŸ˜‰ I also admit that there are some things worth learning throughout the 30DC. Each year I learn something new, even if it is only one or two things out of the 50+ videos you have to watch. For me, the 30DC is a good refresher course of the basics.

It can be a good place to start for anyone who has never done internet marketing before. I’ve actually recommended it to a few good friends of mine who have been interested in getting into internet marketing, BUT with a few warnings.

First….

DON’T BELIEVE EVERY WORD THEY SAY

The whole 30 Day Challenge crew is great at marketing themselves as “gurus”, but they’re not. Don’t get me wrong, they are good marketers and they do know their stuff. The problem is that so many beginners jump into marketing without anyone else to turn to, join the 30DC and follow it word for word like it’s the “Good Book.”

I like the Thirty Day Challenge, but I don’t like everything they do.

I’ve found year after year, that they push an idea on participants as if it’s proof positive and then the next year have to explain that something went wrong with the tactic they showed you which was completely “unforeseen.”

DUDE! How did you not think spamming the hell out of Tumblr and HubPages and Squidoo wasn’t going to get your mini-site taken down? There are wrong and right ways to do things in internet marketing and the Thirty Day Challenge rushes through it too fast to get everything right.

One thing that I find funny is how the whole crew will act like they do the 30 Day Challenge for free each year out of the kindness of their hearts. While this may be true to some extent, there are other reasons for it. If you don’t see those ulterior motives, you haven’t been in internet marketing long enough.

Once you sign up, you are on their list. You will get lots of emails from Ed pushing his products or other internet marketing “teachers” products and services in your inbox regularly. He DOES explain that the links are affiliate links, so I guess that makes it a little better. At least it’s a good marketing tactic that builds trust within his list. I’m not saying what he does is a bad thing either. They all deserve to be compensated for their work, but they should be straight forward with the challengers. Actually Ed mentioned something about this in an email he sent out a couple of days ago, so maybe he’s trying to be a little more transparent for the upcoming challenge.

If you follow through with the challenge, you’ll also notice that they like to push costly services almost as if you’ll fail miserably in marketing if you don’t buy them. Take for example Traffic Bug. A service that basically spams social networking, bookmarking and directory sites and places your sites or minisites, articles, etc. into completely irrelevant directories. I have a feeling Traffic Bug is behind a lot of the “technology” spam posts hitting Sphinn’s recently submitted section.

The other big product they push within the challenge is Market Samurai. To be fair, this really is an awesome piece of software. It does a whole lot stuff and makes research and writing content easier. The 30 Day Challenge crew leads you to believe that this thing will be the deciding factor in making you a millionaire. I’ve never heard so much praise for some keyword research and link analysis software. It does cool things and is worth the one-time price, but don’t you think you’re laying it on a little thick guys?

When the Thirty Day Challenge is over, you finally get to see why they did it all… Thirty Day Challenge Plus. You can sign up for about $30 or so per month and can cancel anytime. Now it starts to make sense doesn’t it? I’m completely fine with this. This is how this type of marketing works. They have to make money and put food on their tables too right? But, what I’m not OK with, is that they continuously deny there is another reason for having a free month of affiliate marketing training, other than that they are just some nice guys.

What really set me in motion to write this post was a video they put together at the very end of last years challenge, telling people that they now have the knowledge to be SEO consultants.

I don’t like to see novice marketers taught how to spam or “half-ass” their way into a career. I didn’t like how they put out a video telling all of those people that they now have enough knowledge to go out into the world and become SEO consultants after 31 days of training. This is why people think SEO’s and Internet marketers are snake oils salesmen. I’ve been doing internet marketing professionally, not just in my free time, for about 5 years and I still don’t call myself a “guru.”

If you’re Ed Dale, “Guru” Bob, Caro, Dan Raine or any of the other members of Thirty Day Challenge, I hope you don’t take offense to this post although I completely understand if you do. I don’t mean to be so hard on you all. I’ll even continue to recommend the challenge to other people, but it’ll come with my own personal warnings.

See you tomorrow when the next 30DC, I mean “The Challenge”, kicks off!!!

The 30 Day Challenge: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – Part Two

The Bad

This is the second part of my series on The Thirty Day Challenge: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

While the 30 Day Challenge can teach you a lot as a beginner, there are a few things that can be very annoying about the program. One of the first things that I noticed when I first joined the challenge was that everyone is so cheesy – Ed’s team and all of the challengers.

It’s understandable why Ed’s team is so happy and pleasurable, because they have an image to keep up, but the 30DC participants are the cheesiest group of happy-go-lucky people you will ever enncounter. I haven’t heard so much life-affirming crap in my entire life. I guess this is what they need to continue on, but it’s really terrible to read it all day on the forums.

Maybe I’ve become hardened by working on the internet for so long, but I think it’s so annoying.

Another annoyance is that the 30DC followers are complete lambs. They do absolutely anything and everything Ed tells them to do. And don’t disagree with him or his team. If you disagree with anything the 30DC has told you, the fanboys/girls will tear you to pieces. They don’t want to hear your side and won’t give you the chance. Don’t even try, because you’ll never amount to Ed Dale in their minds.

I guess I really have it in for the participants because here’s another gripe against them. They are the biggest thread jackers ever. Nobody knows how to use the search function on the forums, no matter how many times they are told and people are constantly jacking threads and blog posts with their own completely unrelated questions. It’s really hard to find an answer to a question when there is a thread with 60 posts on it and only 4 helpful answers spread throughout it.

My final gripe is that the moderators and senior members on the forums are practically useless. If you ask a question, they basically tell you to use the search function. For lots of questions from the beginners, this is appropriate advice, but this seems to be the natural answer for just about any question anymore.

I know how to use the search function and quite often I’ve found that I just can’t find the answer. Sure, there are threads asking your same question, but they were never answered either. The moderators really do need to put some of these questions together and make them sticky. I’ve followed the forums for a long time, I even set up an RSS feed to catch all posts and I’ve noticed that people always ask the same thing. Setting up stickies for these questions would free up a lot of time for the moderators to answer some of the more advanced questions.

All in all, I don’t think this post was too mean. A few gripes here and there is all.

BUT!!!

Wait for tomorrows post. Out comes The UGLY side of the 30 Day Challenge. This one is sure to ruffle some feathers.

The 30 Day Challenge: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – Part One

The Good

This is the first part of my series on The Thirty Day Challenge: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

I put this post together in anticipation of the 30 Day Challenge, now renamed as The Challenge, which starts on Thursday, or July 1st, 2010.

I’ve enjoyed participating in the 30 Day Challenge for the last three years. I’ve been doing internet marketing professionally for a little over 5 years, so I had quite a bit of experience before taking part in the challenge, but I have Ed and his team to thank for getting me started in the world of affiliate marketing. I’ve completed the challenge all the way through each year and I’ve watched every single video so I feel that I have a good enough grasp on the program to provide you with a sort of “review” of the challenge.

Firstly, Ed is seems to be a really nice guy. The whole team is very friendly actually. They are a likable bunch, which makes the challenge very comfortable to newbies. I’ve never met any of them in person, but I’m sure they are all great to hang around with.

The entire team is usually extremely helpful too, which is so important during the 30 Day Challenge because newbies need a TON of handholding. They obviously can’t answer all of your questions, but they try their best to get to most of the questions 30DC’ers have. It takes a lot of work to manage the forums, especially because a lot of these people can barely operate a computer. Hundreds of thousands of people take part in the 30DC, so can you imagine how many questions they get each day? Not to mention the repeat questions from all of the people who don’t know how to use the search function. The forums are a great resource for you though, since thousands of questions have been asked. Most of the time your question will already have an answer there.

Here’s what the 30DC is all about.

They teach affiliate marketing to newbie internet marketers and I mean a lot. The whole course is very basic, but to someone who has never done internet marketing before, this course is massive and very advanced. As mentioned earlier, many new 30DC’ers seem to barely understand how to use a computer, so can you imagine having to teach them how to set up a website, do keyword research, optimize it, sign up to affiliate program and set up a Pay-Per-Click campaign? Now way! It’s great that Ed Dale has a program to help people like this learn to make money for themselves.

The 30DC crew are very smart. Most of them have been in the internet marketing business for a long time so they have a good understanding of how it all works. Ed keeps up with the latest related internet marketing news, services & gadgets and always lets his followers know what’s going on.

He usually promotes some interesting products and classes from other well-known marketers in the industry also. Not all of them are great, but beginners can learn more and more if they have the money to purchase some of these more advanced offerings. I would recommend instead spending more time on the internet researching and reading than spending money on more classes though.

You can learn almost everything you need to know for free online by following top SEO and marketing blogs such as SEOMoz and Search Engine News as well as keeping up with the hot topics section over at Sphinn. That’s a usually a good start.

One of my favorite things about Ed is that he’s always looking out for latest internet marketing and geek tools. He introduced many people to the Flock browser (which now sucks, but was awesome then), the LiveScribe pen, cool cameras and microphones, firefox plugins and more. Even if all these things aren’t necessary, they’re definitely a lot of fun to play around with.

If you’re a beginner in any form of internet marketing I would highly suggest you take part in the 30DC Challenge. It’s actually shortened to just “The Challenge” this year, but it starts on July 1st, so you better sign up soon.

As mentioned above, this is the first part of the series of The 30 Day Challenge: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Come back tomorrow for The Bad. I have a feeling it’s going to upset quite a few people!