Blog Posts

How NOT to Motivate an Affiliate

Don't you just love these emails? I get them all the time!

Hello Nicole Dean,

Thank you for your referral of Jason.

Jason has signed up for a Affiliate package and you have been marked as their referrer.

Your commission rate is 20% and you have received $0.00 for this referral!

The good news is this isn't even a one-time deal! You collect a commission every single time this referral makes a payment on their account…  for as long as they remain our customer!

Thank you for your continued support.

Please note, there is a minimum payout amount of $50. Commission checks are sent out every month to ALL affiliates who have accumulated $50 or more in commissions.

Not only did I earn $0, but I'll earn it month after month! Yay?

Plus, the whole “minimum payment” always bugs me, too. If you're paying by paypal and don't allow people to self-discount, then there should be no minimum amount in order to be paid. Maybe I promoted your product once, only got one sale, realized it wasn't a good fit for my people or didn't convert well, and decided not to mail about it again. I still made that one referral so give me my darn money! πŸ˜‰

Now, if this was a 2-tier affiliate program, I might think “cool” but, uh… this just annoys me.

Thoughts? Please share them.

Nicole Dean

PS. If you want to know how to have an affiliate program that KICKS butt, excites your affiliates, and generates loyalty – you might want to check out Just sayin'. πŸ™‚

I appreciate shares and I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.

  • Joel Osborne

    That’s so funny! But at the same time it’s not.

    I hope the product owner just doesn’t realize that people are receiving those emails, because if they do know it’s happening, well… that’s not good at all.

  • Denise O'Berry

    Nicole —

    Your post hit the nail on the head for me. Having a minimum payout is ridiculous for the very reason you cited.

    One of the best ways to incent people to sell your stuff is to let them see money coming their way — even if it’s a couple of bucks.

    Many more affiliate owners would have affiliates with better success if they just drop the minimum – now.

    • Nicole

      Amen, sister! πŸ™‚

      As long as the program is not allowing self-discounts, unlike Clickbank (which has to have the minimum in place, until they come up with a better method) – I see absolutely no reason to hold my payments either.

      Don’t get me on my soapbox again about the values of affiliates beyond the actual sales they generate. I could go on all day on that topic! lol.

  • Tigue Burgess

    I just wanted to get everyone’s view on the self discount thing. I know a lot of affiliates don’t allow you to give yourself a discount but I don’t see why not. If you work at a store isn’t it customary to get a discount when shopping there? As a potential affiliate shouldn’t they want you to try the product? Why not let you get your commission on your evaluation copy, there are many industries where free evaluation products are offered. Any other thoughts?

    • Nicole

      Hi Tigue. πŸ™‚

      The topic of self-discounts came up on a forum that I participate in awhile back.

      This was my contribution to the discussion at the time. While it sounds like a valid thing to do, many affiliates feel it’s their right to self-discount everything they buy, which is where it gets really uncomfortable for me, as an affiliate, since I could have been the referring affiliate.

      Here’s what I said at the time, and I still feel the same way…

      My affiliate programs state this very clearly:

      Please note: Self-discounts will be reversed.
      This is an affiliate program for referring others. In order to ensure that our affiliates are all treated fairly and receive credits for their referrals, anyone using the affiliate program to discount their own purchases will find their commission reversed and credit will be given to the actual referrer.

      My helper goes through the aff payments at EasyPLR each month before we pay and she reverses commission (and tries to track down the legitimate referrer to issue credit) each month. It’s something that I feel I owe my affiliates — that they receive the commission that they earned. This is especially important with a product like PLR where many customers will come back week after week, buying more.

      This is the reason why a lot of affiliates will NOT choose clicbank — because too many commissions are stolen by customers. As of now, we can’t do anything on the publisher end. I love clickbank, but this is definitely a negative for attracting super-affiliates.

      As an affiliate AND an affiliate manager — I’m very generous on both ends. But,l I also think it’s a fairness issue, as well.

      A person can’t just walk into a store and pay 1/2 of what the price tag says. These thieves are not intending to promote as an affiliate (usually) — they just want a bargain. (And, since I sell very limited quantities of PLR at EasyPLR — this actually costs me money.)

      Good affiliates should be rewarded with free preview products as well as extra love and discounts.

      I just love my hard-working affiliates and I know that many of them rely upon their affiliate income to pay their bills. I can’t stomach someone coming in and bypassing that. Sneakiness & theft… makes my belly hurt.

      Hope this helps.

      PS. Of course, this doesn’t apply one iota to those who test their link and a week later, order, totally forgetting they ever clicked it. I don’t make assumptions ever when we reverse the commissions — it happens to everyone. πŸ˜‰

  • Kristy Taylor

    That’s one reason why I like using Clickbank – my affiliates get paid based on their Clickbank prefs: weekly, fortnightly or monthly, by check or direct deposit, and I don’t have to lift a finger to pay them. Sweet!

  • Ronnie Nijmeh

    The default settings on most affiliate programs tend to be pretty comical. πŸ™‚

    And I get the problem of self-discounts every now and again… it’s obvious to spot. I mean, 1 click, 1 referral, and it’s the (usually) the same name… duh! πŸ™‚

  • Sheryl Schuff


    I absolutely agree with you about the nonsense of minimum payments.

    As an affiliate for a major accounting software vendor, I’d make a sale from time to time, but still fall below their payment threshold every quarter. It took me two years to convince them that they still owed me the money and had to pay it out even if I never got over their minimum.

    I’m not a lawyer, but I think legally they have to pay you the commissions you’ve earned.

    And then there’s CJ. If I don’t make a sale at least once every six months, they deactivate my account and cancel any relationships I had with their vendors. What a great way to encourage me to keep trying.

    A few weeks after the most recent time they canceled my account, they sent me an email saying I was getting lots of clicks but no conversions and what could they do to help me.

    Too funny.

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