Jul 062011

Affiliate Marketing Is Undergoing Changes

Ajax Edit Comments Released as Standalone Plugin! Yay!
UPDATE #3: Aug 23, 2011 Ajax Edit Comments Plugin released (again) today as standalone WordPress plugin. 50% discount 2 days only. Use Coupon Code AJAX50.

Industry Changes

This has been a season of change. Google changed its algorithm, updated page ranks, and released Google +1. Kaltura dropped my free account and WordPress released its most radical update yet. (Thankfully, it’s still free!) Twitter bought BackType and Google bought PostRank. Tristan Higgbee started a membership site and Sergio Felix is shutting down his blog.

How to sell your product from under your affiliates - postrank acquired by google

Summertime is in full swing!

Then Amazon pulled out of California, setting off a fire storm fueled by angry affiliates, said fire being doused by the faction furiously defending them. (Who’s on the State’s side?) Which segues nicely into the topic today …

How to sell your product out from under your affiliates.

Of course, Amazon didn’t sell a product from under their affiliates, they yanked all the products and the entire sales-making infrastructure from under them for all the right (or all the wrong) reasons.

Fortunately for you and me, Ajax Edit Comments has a different process.

Are you familiar with Ajax Edit Comments? It is a WordPress Plugin that allows your commenters to edit and spellcheck their comments, even after submitting them, for a pre-defined amount of time. There is a free version (it was keeping pace with each WP release) and there is a paid version which adds new features and year-by-year support.

Ronald Huereca, the original developer, happily sold his baby.

Ajax Edit Comments was sold to iThemes Media, LLC. What’s notable is how smoothly the transition sailed along. A couple of announcement emails from the original developer (Ron) detailed the process and timeline, as well as offered owners (who were also affiliates) a bonus gift for our troubles.

How to Sell Your Product From Under Your Affiliates - Ajax Edit Comments Purchased by iThemes Media

Shortly thereafter, the emails from AEC were followed by a Welcome Letter from the new owners, along with instructions for accessing our new accounts. Upon signing into a radically different control panel — which took some getting used to — it took a few minutes to see that iThemes Media had extended the time left on the support contract. Another nice bonus from the sale!

iThemes Media Buys Ajax Edit Comments - How to Sell Your Product From Under Your Affiliates Nose

Don’t you love receiving gifts when it’s not even your birthday? Me, too!

But Wait . . . That’s Not All!

(Do I sound like your favorite internet marketer or late night gadget hawker?)

These guys sweetened the pot even more, giving each owner/affiliate a second free copy of Ajax Edit Comments plugin (along with the relevant support license) to use on a completely different domain of their choosing. (I own a single license, so that was my bonus. Most likely they extended comparable multi-site copies to owners who originally purchased the Developer’s License.)

What’s Not To Like?

Just like summertime, everything seems to be coming up roses. Except the process for signing up for the new affiliate program. It turns out that what were owners andaffiliates are now just owners. Not only is it a mysterious maze of twists and turns to find out where the affiliate program is hiding, they’ve got TWO!

You heard me correctly. iThemes Media has two affiliate programs — one for their themes and one for their WordPress plugins. To their credit, they say they are working to merge the two affiliate programs. They also have a manual approval process. I applied and received a well-crafted email from their Affiliate Manager. But in the meantime? ** I’m waiting to see if I’ll be approved.

UPDATE #1: **Since writing this, I’ve been accepted into the affiliate program but was a bit disappointed to find that Ajax Edit Comments is no longer offered as a standalone product.

Affiliate Program Changes
UPDATE #2: Ajax Edit Comments has been folded into the Developer’s Suite. While the suite is truly sweet, I’d prefer to see Ajax Edit Comments also offered as a standalone plugin. In addition to AEC, I think WordPress blog owners will love the BackupBuddy plugin, which is also included in the Developer’s Suite. (BackupBuddy & VaultPress Comparison Chart)

All in all, the Ajax Edit Comments sale went through a smooth transition and had all the hallmarks of an email marketing campaign done right. You might not call it an email marketing campaign, but give it some thought and you’ll see where I’m coming from.

Developer Ronald Huereca informed me (in his comment below) that this was less “a sale” and more of an “acquisition” since no money changed hands. (Thanks, Ron!) Even so, this is the perfect way to sell (transition?) a product right from under the affiliates’ noses. Wouldn’t you agree?

Share your own experiences below

Are you an affiliate of a product that has changed ownership?
Was it a smooth transition?
Were the affiliates negatively impacted or were they better off in the deal?

Tell us your experiences in the comments below.

Latest Update … 23 Aug 2011

Ajax Edit Comments Released as Standalone Plugin! Yay!
UPDATE #3: Aug 23, 2011 Ajax Edit Comments Plugin released (again) today as standalone WordPress plugin. 50% discount 2 days only. Use Coupon Code AJAX50.
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Vernessa Taylor

Technology Consultant, Business Writer at Local Business Coach Online (LBCO)
Founder and editor of the blog here at LBCO. Thanks for reading, sharing, commenting and visiting. See you next time.

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  42 Responses to “How to Sell Your Product From Under Your Affiliates”

Comments (41) Pingbacks (1)
  1. Not quite the same thing but I did recently have one of the affiliates I pimp switch from GAN to Linkshare, meaning I have to change 4 years of links.

    • Hey Mitch,

      Anything that switches our game, when we’ve spent time to get it just right, is not quite welcome! You can probably guess I was a bit appalled when I logged in while writing this post, only to find I wasn’t a “real” affiliate any longer.

      Unfortunately, I’ve got to take down existing links. I like this little program so I want the approval quickly so I can do everything all at once.

  2. Vernessa,

    Thanks for this post. I was worried about how the transition would go, and your words reaffirmed the course we all took.

    I do have one minor correction. Ajax Edit Comments wasn’t sold per se. iThemes and PluginBuddy agreed to take over development and support, so in a sense it was acquired, but the transaction was non-monetary.

    And since I currently work for iThemes, Ajax Edit Comments still gets to keep its lead developer 😀

    • Hi Ron,

      Glad to see the lead developer dropping in! Yes, you guys did a superb job with the transition and acquisition. (Non-monetary duly noted.) I was duly impressed, and even if others haven’t weighed in on your process, they were probably impressed, too. :)

      Since writing this, I’ve been accepted into the affiliate program but was a bit disappointed that Ajax Edit Comments is no longer offered as a standalone product, but instead has been folded into the Developer’s Suite. (The suite is truly sweet, but is it aimed at the average WordPress blog owner?)

      Congrats on acquisition, Ron, and I know we will continue to see great programming wizardry from you! :)

  3. Hi Vernessa, I didn’t know Ajax Edit Comments. I like it. I’m not an affliate, but I think it’s a good product to promote, together with Backupbuddy I think this plugin is more attracting :).

  4. Hey Vernessa! I’m clueless about most of the affiliate marketing arena so thanks for the lesson. I also had no idea the name of that plugin was AEC. I see it all the time but I don’t take advantage of it and here’s why. I tried to edit a comment once and the blog was also CommentLuv enabled. After I did the edit the CL post that I carefully hand-picked to link to was changed to my most recent post. After that I decided never to edit a comment again and if I make a typo, I’ll leave a second comment to correct it instead :)
    Now I will say that I use the BackUp Buddy plugin and I love it. I’m not a huge fan of iThemes for my own use but I’m sure it’s great for affiliate sites though.
    Thanks for the education.

    • Hi Ileane,

      The first time I came across Ajax Edit Comments was over on Keisha’s blog, WeBlogBetter. I thought it was such a neat enhancement. I didn’t even know it was a plugin — I thought it was some wizardry built into her theme — until I encountered it again (maybe on DragonBlogger ?). The plugin had an affiliate link, so I high-tailed it back over to WBB so I could buy it using her link, which wasn’t there. Long story short, I bought it for myself and so have many of my clients.

      Ron (the developer) and I worked through some strange issues I was having with his plugin. We tested scenarios involving Firefox, CommentLuv, my theme, and Javascript. In the end I think we decided Javascript was the most likely culprit. You may have run into some variation of this when your CL post was changed. Hopefully, any part AEC plays in that has been fixed.

      I plan to pick up BackUp Buddy, especially since you’re happily using it. (As an owner, you should join their Affiliate Program. I’ll likely ask you for your aff link when I’m ready to buy.) As for themes, I usually stick with what’s tried, true, and Elegant. I doubt I’ll be switching anything to IThemes.

  5. Vanessa, I appreciate this post very much. I have been a victim in the past of much lost money when affiliate programs, some promising me lifetime commissions disappeared or changed hands. I wonder how many other people just stopped receiving checks one day to note that there was a cancellation clause in their “lifetime” commissions.

    • Hello Pace,

      It’s nice to see you here at CoachNotes Blog. The type of information you share on your blog which focuses on fraud and other nefarious practices, really deserves our undivided attention. When affiliate programs disappear or change hands and leave their affiliates hanging, the owners should be held accountable for their behavior. I hate that you’ve been on the receiving end of their bad practices.

      I’m glad this post didn’t have that sad note running through it. I’m proud of Ron, Itheme Media (and their Affiliate Manager) for doing a better job than shops much larger than them often flake out on.

      Thanks for coming over and sharing your thoughts Pace. I hope to see more of you and will be sure to visit you more often.

  6. Vernessa,

    My partner and I use iThemes and love them. I think it is hard to find a theme that is more versatile than builder. It has a Style Manager for changing the CSS that is dynamite.

    Like you mention here they give top notch service. The themes are easy to work with and they make it so easy to be creative. Their plugin package is fabulous and they are adding to it all of the time. They just came out with a new plugin called Accordion that is really fun.

    • Hi Sheila,

      Welcome to CoachNotes Blog. Thanks for sharing your experience with iThemes. Being familiar with just the Ajax Edit Comments Plugin, it is good to know the other offerings from ITheme Media are being satisfactorily used by bloggers whom I hold in high regard.

      What’s the Accordion plugin? I’ll have to give that a look. If you’ve done a review of any of them, feel free to link to the articles from within the comments here.

      You’re welcome to come share anytime!

  7. I think whenever you build a business and then the parent company changes the product or one of it’s products, it can be frustrating. Sometimes MLMs will often change their formulas, resulting in a fleeing of customers. If your client base is sold on the original formula, your clients can flee in a hurry. Then you rebuild. Sounds a bit like re-learning the ropes of a service, like Ajax Edit.

    • Hello Jason,

      You are so right. What you speak of is similar to the time when Coca Cola changed it’s long-time winning soda pop formula and foisted it upon an unsuspecting public. With such an outcry as they received, they hastily switched their primary product back to the original formula, renaming it Coca Cola “Classic”.

      In the case of Ajax Edit Comments, the original owner was a single entity. The product itself hasn’t changed (it’s still great!), but the way it is offered for sale is different.

      Thanks for your comment today. :)

  8. Hi,

    I like to get it from my point that these are just the strategies from companies to keep their affiliates with them for long run for handsome future benefits.

    But that really depends that how you can utilize these offers.

    Kind Regards

  9. Vanessa, thank you for sharing about selling as an affiliate. I’m a small business owner but not an affiliate but looking into becoming one so your blog post was sort of a “heads up” posting for me, giving me an idea of what to “look for” in the marketplace.

    • Hi Professor Jovi!

      You’re welcome. :) Not an affiliate of any software or services? Well, from looking at your blog, it’s high time you were . . . because what you offer could easily (and profitably) be monetized.

      In fact, would you be up to a conversation? Call me on Skype (vernessataylor) and let’s talk at your convenience. I get excited just thinking about Brainiac!

  10. Hey Vernessa,

    I’m happy to report that to date I haven’t come across this situation. My most popular affiliate to date would have to be FlexSqueeze and last time I looked the developer, Ryan, still holds the reigns. I hope if he ever decides to see its on condition that they do not undermine the affiliates that have been loyal to both him and his product.

    • Hey Sire,

      Good thing you haven’t had an affiliate pull out from under you. I formerly used the free version of Flexibility on a site I owned. Never got around to purchasing FlexSqueeze (which looks real good on your site!), but If I ever do, I’ll head over to WassUp. :)

      These guys (Ron and IThemes Media) had an exemplary process. Other affiliates — if they ever decide to sell or trade — could take a lesson from them.

      I’m still a little bummed that Ajax Edit Comments is no longer a standalone product. I think it would continue to sell very well on its own. You’ve got great conversion potential with FlexSqueeze, especially since they pre-sell it with Flexibility. Hope it’s converting for you.

  11. It’s actually converting pretty well Vernessa and I’m hoping to help it along a little with by offering to set up peoples blog for them using it as their theme.

    I used to use a plugin that would allow people to edit their comment. Not sure I would pay for one though. Does it have any other features that might persuade me to purchase it?

    • Sire, the plugin has some nifty features. Mainly, I bought it because it expanded upon the features found in the free version. A few things I like include ability to blacklist while viewing the comment, send email while viewing comment, and move the comment to a completely different post. It also came with support and a members-only forum. Even though I’m pretty handy with tech stuff, I did have to use the support once, the developer called me on Skype.

      The only caveat is the plugin is no longer offered alone: it is now part of a whole suite of tools (but they’re great for site owners). Click the image to check it out. (That’s an affiliate link. If you decide to buy it, and IF you clear cookies on browser close, come on back here and click again. :) )

  12. Man, $197! No wonder you prefer they offer it as a standalone. If all I wanted was the Ajax edit I’m not about to pay for all that other stuff just to get the one I want.

    • That’s my point exactly. While a few of the other tools in the suite are useful for any WordPress site owner (like Backup Buddy), it seems like overkill.

      I wonder what IThemes Media was thinking to take a popular, inexpensive plugin like Ajax Edit Comments and move it out of reach of those who would really want it? Maybe they planned to put their marketing vehicle to work on its behalf (I don’t think it was heavily marketed before). Sounds like the Coca Cola Classic scenario I mentioned to Jason earlier.

      • I don’t know what they are thinking Vernessa, as good as it is adding it to their existing package isn’t going to sway anyone and not offering it as a plugin on it’s own right is going to cost them potential sales.

        • Hello Sire,

          Good news . . . The developer left a comment yesterday indicating that Ajax Edit Comments will again be available as a standalone plugin at the end of August. From his comment (below), it was folded into the developers’ pak while the new version was being beta-tested. Yippee!

  13. Hi Vanessa. Just wanted to say thanks for introducing me to Ajax Edit Comments. I saw this cool plugin in action on a couple of blogs and I was wondering what it was. It’s really a bad news that it’s not offered as a standalone product anymore though!

    Have a good day,

    • iThemes will be releasing it as a standalone product by the end of August. The version currently under development is still technically in beta, and we didn’t want to sell beta software.

      • Hi Ron,

        Thanks for popping in to share this very welcome information! I was soooo sad to think bloggers everywhere wouldn’t have immediate access to this one (mainly because $197 is nothing to sneeze at!).

        Given the popularity of showing love to commenters in as many ways as feasible, adding Ajax Edit Comments is one more little perk that goes a long way.

        And thanks to iThemes Media! Happy coding!

    • Hi Anita,

      Before I could get back to you, Ron, Developer of AEC, popped in to say Ajax Edit Comments will indeed be offered as a standalone plugin once again! That’s good news for you and anyone else who’d like to add it to their blog.

      And good news for me because I loved telling people to pick up a copy! When it becomes available, remember to check it out.

      Welcome and come again!

    • Hi Anita,

      If you’re still watching this comment thread, I wanted to let you know that Ajax Edit Comments is once again a standalone plugin for WordPress.

      It was released yesterday (Aug 23 2011). The price is within reach (est. $45) but for 2 days (23rd-25th) you can pick it up for 50% off. Use discount code AJAX50 to grab the discount.

      Let me know how you like it!

  14. Hi, Vernessa, another powerful article with all what I need. However, I’ll wait them to be free to try them. I just started blogging and need more time to digest them. Thanks.

    • Hi Sunny,

      Welcome to the blogging arena. I checked out the iPhone blog and you have some good info and tutorials over there. Taking apart that iPad seems a bit scary, but at least you offer a video for the truly intimidated.

      As for the plugin becoming free, this version of the Ajax Edit Comments plugin discussed here is a premium, paid version. However, there is already a free version. Just get it from the WordPress repository. It doesn’t have any new features beyond whenever they froze the code, but the developers have committed to keeping it compatible with current versions of WordPress (I’m not sure about how long).

      Thanks for coming by. Please come again!

  15. Vernessa,

    Ajax Edit Comments was released as a standalone product today. It’s available for $45 a year with unlimited upgrades/sites/support.

    I’ve also been informed there is now an affiliate link.

    In addition, you can use AJAX50 to get 50% off Ajax Edit Comments until August 25th (a two day coupon).

    Hope this helps!

  16. I liked this blog so much, I’m following you on Twitter, as well. Ajax Edid Comments is just an example. I met things I really don’t “understand” in affiliate marketing. It’ll be a whole post, a simple comment is not enough. There were other things exposed by people here, I’m not quite clear with, :).
    But it’ll be fine, I’ll learn by walking, :).

  17. Hi Rodolfo,

    Of course this article is not so much to explain about affiliate marketing. It just highlights one product that I use (Ajax Edit Comments, WordPress plugin), which I can earn a small commission if someone purchases it through my link. You might enjoy a series I’ve written for an online magazine that focuses on this particular industry. (The link is in the CommentLuv sig below.)

    As for the AEC plugin, it might be something you’d like to add to your blog — since you’ve moved to WordPress — so that your commenters can easily correct mistakes or check spelling before submitting.

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