One of the most frequent, non-freebie questions I get asked is “got any tips for starting my own site?” I gotta admit, it's a really hard question to answer! However, that's exactly what I'm going to attempt over the coming months with this series.
I'm kicking things off with one of the only services I use on a daily basis to run HIF, the FMTC's Publisher Toolkit.
Years ago, I signed up for their free plan in order to easily access their affiliate database directory and over time it grew to become a tool I seriously rely upon to streamline my workflow. I can't even imagine trying to run HIF without it.
Let's say you run a niche site and you've decided to keep spammy affiliate offers away from your blog (good for you!) You've also joined a few affiliate programs to promote, but they're inevitably spread across multiple networks. As it stands, you have to regularly log into every network in order to lookup programs, pull links, create deeplinks, or find new deals to promote.
If you don't run a website, what I'm describing is akin to grocery shopping at 10 different stores each week. Imagine being forced to shop at Store A for milk, then Store B for bread, then you drive to Store C for vegetables only to remember at the last second they're sold over at Store Z, etc. Sounds like a pain in the butt, doesn't it?! And it is!
Affiliate Directory Database
Enter FMTC's amazing Affiliate Directory. This feature alone is a huge highlight in my book, as they allow both free and subscribers to search their affiliate directory of over 14,000 programs. The database grows by the dozens every week and acts as a one-stop shop for juggling large amounts of affiliate programs from handfuls of networks.
The biggest perk for becoming a subscriber is accessing and pulling your affiliate links all from within the Toolkit. Subscribers are able to link their affiliate accounts from all the major and most in-house networks. The Toolkit then automatically syncs all your affiliate programs to which you belong and imports your links to use for each merchant.
This all happens automatically in the background each night, so you never have to manually update anything. It's literally a set it and forget it setup that only takes 5 minutes to configure. Then you don't even have to remember which network each affiliate is with!
The image above might not seem like much, but the information it displays all at once within seconds is astounding. For starters, we can see which affiliate networks Fanatics is registered with – SAS and AL. If you've connected your affiliate networks with the Toolkit, then a Status Check will occur and let you know if you're a member of the affiliate or not. In this case, we have yellow icons, which means we're not set up with them yet.
Further down subscribers will find the affiliate contact information for Fanatics. This allows you to instantly email the manager of the program and introduce your site in order to start a partnership.
Before the Toolkit, this act alone was a 4-5 minute process each and every time you wanted to check on an affiliate program. You'd have to log into CJ, Rakuten, Impact, etc just to find Fanatics' program. This is a process I easily encounter half a dozen times each day. Yet with the Toolkit, the process is shaved down to mere seconds. One simple daily task has gone from 25 minutes down to 30 seconds, each and every day for me, and we're just getting started!
Near the bottom of the page, you can pull images, find affiliate contact information, and create custom deeplinks right from FMTC without having to install any browser addons or anything!
So again, instead of spending 5 minutes diving into a clunky affiliate network to generate a link, I can make one in mere seconds with the Toolkit. On top of that, it saves your recently created deeplinks for those days where you delete a link without meaning to, which is pretty much every day in my case. There are many programs I'm with where I only really promote a few of their deals. Creating deeplinks to those deals, then having them saved within FMTC makes it so that I never really need to log into anything other than the Toolkit.
The cherry on the sundae is FMTC's Toolkit will also create your own skimlinks for you, which can be used to earn commission even if you're not a member of the affiliate program. Before the Toolkit, this required yet another browser plugin or website visit in order to achieve. But here it's all seamlessly done from within FMTC.
Find New Affiliates
Getting your foot in the door with new affiliates can be tough. Sometimes it's virtually impossible to know when new affiliates even exist because they hide themselves within the networks! Solving this issue is one of the areas where the Directory really shines. I keep a list of affiliates I want to partner with, then run them through the Toolkit Database once or twice a month.
I can't stress how successful this is! Off the top of my head, I now have a working relationship with at least 5 companies that completely started with me finding them within the Toolkit. Take Grubhub, for instance. For months, they were on Impact, but were hidden and only available to select sites. However, FMTC's Toolkit registered them and would pull up their program contact information.
From there, it's just a matter of contacting the affiliate manager and starting a relationship!
As you can see, I absolutely love FMTC's Affiliate Directory. It's an indispensable tool for any modern website owner. No matter what the subject of your site, you'll want to use it if you're trying to monetize your site.
Over the coming months, I'm going to continue highlighting my favorite features, tools, and aspect of FMTC's Toolkit. I'm also going to be covering some other key tools I feel are vital to running a site these days. So if you've every wondered what you'd need to start your own site, then be sure to follow along with this series!