You should own your short links. That’s a surprising point of view for us, but we’ll tell you why. Over the past few years, there has been a growing movement of people taking control of their web presence.
On the one hand, there has been an increasing distrust with giant corporations owning and selling the data we put online. On the other hand, thanks to the phenomenal growth of website building tools such as Squarespace, WordPress, and Wix, it has been easier than ever to build your website. As I go through my inbox, I also see more and more emails coming from sweet branded email addresses like email@example.com rather than firstname.lastname@example.org.
We love that. We think you should own your web presence. And your short links.
It gives you ownership.
It gives you control, and you get to build your own brand, which in the future is likely going to have some economic value.
Economic value that is yours to benefit from. Yes, true, you still have to pay your domain registrar and your hosting company and your email provider, but control is entirely yours. So we consider that to be ownership.
Now here is the thing. We have been in the short links business for the past decade. And most of all, we haven’t cared all that much about who owns what links. We want to help you earn more with every link you share. That’s it.
But our point of view is evolving a bit on this, as we have seen some troubling developments in the world of affiliate marketing.
1. Large affiliate companies are changing their commission structures
Large affiliate companies are changing their commission structures for specific product categories with troubling frequency. And unfortunately, that commission trend has been going downward. We have talked with more than one Amazon affiliate who saw their monthly income cut in half because the max commission percentage for her category got cut from 4% to 2%.
It’s probably a good deal for Amazon. But for Jane Schmo affiliate marketer who is trying to earn a living, this can be the difference between being able to pay her rent or not.
Lastly, despite a lot of education on our part (Amazon Associates – The Ultimate Guide To Getting Your Account Banned), it’s actually pretty easy to get banned from Amazon’s Associates program and oftentimes it can be very simple mistakes leading to it.
Now if you think having your earnings cut in half is bad, imagine having them go to zero. Google “kicked out of Amazon Affiliate Program”, and you’ll find a whole list of tragic stories.
For a while, we chalked these up as edge cases, but that’s not the case anymore. We now honestly believe that being overly dependent on a single affiliate program is a bad business decision.
2. There are higher-earning alternatives for your short links in many product categories
There are higher-earning alternatives in many product categories, and for the first time in many moons, Amazon could be losing significant eCommerce market share. Just this year, Emarketer cut its estimate of Amazon’s online market share from 47% to 38% . That is as significant of a drop as we have ever seen. Now while we still love the Amazon Associates program and believe it can play an important role in any affiliate marketer’s tool kit, we strongly recommend that you participate in multiple affiliate programs from the get go. If you don’t want to build multiple links, check out our Choice Pages. They provide you with an easy way to create super high-converting interstitial pages without needing to make a bunch of different links.
3. There are international monetization opportunities for your short links you might be missing out on
If you have a significant international audience (anything over 10%), you also need to pay attention to what the major e-commerce stores are in their countries. There are many countries around the world in which Amazon is only a minor player.
4. And what happens if that one program you rely on kicks you out?
What happens to the hundreds or thousands of links that you have built when your commissions get cut, or the affiliate program decides to ban you?
We have had several people come to us with precisely this problem. And the truth is, there is no easy answer. You need to build new links and then update all the different places where you had placed those links. We did build a tool that makes the process a bit easier on YouTube, but we understand that only works for YouTubers.
What is needed is a mindset shift. Don’t share Amazon, Walmart or BestBuy affiliate links. Use your own links – ones you own and control.
Find a reputable short link company (here is an informational article about that – How to Choose the Right URL Shortener ) and build all your affiliate links in there. Now we obviously are biased and believe that we’re the best tool for the job (as our sole purpose is to serve affiliate marketers) but you can also check out Bitly as they’re a well-run company that we believe will be around. You’ll miss out on features built for affiliate marketers, but the basic functionality should be enough to get you started.
But if you’re serious about increasing your affiliate income, we’d love to be the partner by your side.
Regardless of what tool you use, own your links.
Own your links, own where you point them and drastically decrease your dependency on one or another large corporation that could change their policies on a whim.