Apply to Merchant Programs as a Mom Blogger - dummies

Apply to Merchant Programs as a Mom Blogger

By Wendy Piersall, Heather B. Armstrong

After you’re approved to become a publisher in an affiliate network, you need to apply to specific merchant programs in order to start adding links to your blog. While getting accepted into the affiliate network is relatively easy, that isn’t always the case with getting accepted into merchant programs.

Some merchants are especially particular about the kinds of websites they’re willing to let their ads appear on, even when they don’t have to pay unless a sale is made. If you don’t get accepted into the merchant programs of your choice, don’t take it personally. Merchants can be rather secretive about their evaluation criteria — and a rejection does not necessarily equate to a disapproval of your site or content.

Most merchants on the whole will accept a publisher application as long as they think that your blog will attract people who would be their potential customers. For example, an online shoe retailer will certainly accept a fashion blog into its program, but very likely won’t accept a blog that discusses politics or cooking.

So be picky about the programs you apply to — start with a few that you think are the best possible fit for your content.

Using Commission Junction as an example, here’s how to apply to a merchant program. The process is very similar in the other affiliate networks, too.

  1. Log in to your Commission Junction account.

  2. From your Dashboard, click the Get Links link.

  3. Search through the Advertiser Categories to find merchants you’re interested in promoting.

    There are a lot of categories, so start with the category closest to the topic of your blog. You can also do a keyword search to look for a specific merchant.

    If you can’t find a specific merchant, that company may be using a different affiliate network or perhaps isn’t running an affiliate program at all. The best way to find out whether a favorite retailer has an affiliate program is to go directly to its website.

    Usually a footer on the home page will have a small link called Affiliates or Referral Program. If you can’t find a link there, and you’re sure those folks run an affiliate program, contact them directly to ask how you can become one of their affiliate publishers.

  4. When you find a merchant that you’re interested in, click the company name or logo to read more about its program.

    The company’s Details page will display the available links, the commission structure, and how commissions are earned through its programs.

    These details can vary widely from one merchant to another; evaluate them carefully to make sure you think you can be successful promoting the company’s products.

    In some cases, only certain products or actions will qualify for a commission — don’t assume that you can earn compensation from promoting a particular product just because you’ve seen it on the company website.

  5. When you find a merchant you want to work with, you can apply to the company program by clicking the Apply to Program button at the bottom of the website’s Details page.

    Sometimes you may have to agree to additional terms to submit your application. A few merchants have extra guidelines for their affiliates on top of the standard Commission Junction agreement. These usually have to do with rules about prohibited marketing practices, so read through them carefully.

Just as there’s great variance in merchant programs, there is just as much variance in the time it takes to be approved or rejected from a program. Some will automatically approve new applications. Most respond within five business days.

If you get approved, you should get an e-mail from the merchant via Commission Junction welcoming you to the program. If you’re not approved, you’ll get a message from the merchant within your CJ account, not via e-mail. To find the account message center, from the CJ Dashboard, click the Mail link.