Requirements, Recommendations, and Resources for New Publishers
We are often asked for help in getting started in online marketing. Here are some requirements, recommendations and resources for you if you're just beginning your program.
! Stop and review these affiliate marketing requirements and recommendations before joining the Rakuten Affiliate Network and getting started with your affiliate marketing efforts !
First, it is important to understand that affiliate marketing is NOT a "get rich quick" scheme.
It is a marketing channel that, like any other business effort, requires time, effort, creativity, commitment, communication and relationship-building with your advertiser partners and your consumer followers. If you are not ready with the items below, you may want to wait to apply to join the network. Our Network Quality team screens and monitors publishers to ensure the quality of our Network. It will be a waste of your time and effort to start using affiliate marketing if you don't at least meet the minimum requirements.
At a minimum, you will need:
- Your own professionally designed, optimized, quality website, blog or your own customized social media site
- Lots of original (not content copied from another site, data feed, or other source), quality content that adds value to your visitors
- A well-thought-out business plan
After you join the Rakuten Affiliate Network, you will then apply to join the specific advertisers' affiliate programs. Each advertiser has certain criteria that you need to meet in order to be approved into the program. Your website content must also be relevant to the advertiser's products and meet brand guidelines.
From Google Webmasters Support quality guidelines for affiliate programs:
"Added value means additional meaningful content or features, such as additional information about price, purchasing location, or product category.
"Google believes that pure, or "thin," affiliate websites do not provide additional value for web users, especially (but not only) if they are part of a program that distributes its content across a network of affiliates. These sites often appear to be cookie-cutter sites or templates the same or similar content replicated within the same site, or across multiple domains or languages. Because a search results page could return several of these sites, all with the same content, thin affiliates create a frustrating user experience."
Read the entire quality guidelines for affiliate marketing programs from Google Webmasters Support for more tips and best practices.
The Road Map to Publisher Success
Your destination: Ultimately, become one of our Platinum Publishers - criteria include earning over $10,000 per month in commissions for three consecutive months (not including Q4), maintain high standards and transparency in interacting with advertisers, your business model and how you generate traffic to your site; active in Rakuten Affiliate Network Symposiums and events; open dialogue and an advocate for the Rakuten Affiliate Network.
On our road map to success for publishers, there are several phases. Ideally as we mentioned above, the first few steps in Phase I (indicated in red below) should be completed before you join the Rakuten Affiliate Network (RAN). Preparing your business plan and your website in advance will help ensure your success in affiliate marketing. You should develop a regular daily following or consistent monthly traffic to your website first. This is an exciting, fast-growing and changing area of e-commerce that will require your time and attention. Detailed guidance about how to complete these steps is outside the scope of the service we currently provide. However, we realize these initial steps are critical to your success. Below are some of the many resources available to help you with the first steps.
Phase I - Build your site, your business model, branding, following and website traffic
- Choose your market niche & focus
- Determine your business model & plan
- Build your website, blog or custom social media site with original, quality content and add to it frequently
- Generate traffic to your site & build audience
- Understand basic affiliate marketing monetization & how it fits your site
Some suggested "getting started" resources for publishers*:
- Learn How to Build High Quality Affiliate Websites paid course from Udemy
- Extra Money Answer: How to Create, Promote, and Monetize an Affiliate Site eBook by Shawn Collins (focused on content sites)
- Affiliate Marketing Fundamentals course on Lynda.com (you can start with a free trial and then join the service for a low monthly fee for continuing education)
- How to Write Your Own Money Making Websites paid course from AWAI (for content sites)
- FTC Affiliate Disclosure Guidelines
- Google Webmaster Blog, Google Webmaster Tools Help Center, SEOMoz Blog, Bruce Clay SEO Blog and free SEO tutorial, Search Engine Land
- Google search results algorithm - the importance of a mobile-friendly website
- Conversion Rate Optimization, Tim Ash – SiteTuners.com free resources; Landing Page Optimization Podcasts; Optimizely
- Optimize Landing Pages for Conversions, free eBook from HubSpot
*This list is not all-inclusive and is not intended as a recommendation or endorsement of these outside resources.
Phase II - Become a Rakuten Affiliate Network Publisher
- Join Rakuten Affiliate Network & set up your account
- Decide which advertiser products to promote
- Build partnerships with advertisers
- Get affiliate links for your site
- Promote affiliate products on your website
- Provide transparency & compliance to terms
- Track earnings & manage your affiliate program
Phase III - Grow your program and your revenue
- Identify additional revenue opportunities & optimize
- Continue learning about industry, technology, business
- Become one of our top publishers: a Platinum Publisher
Once you've registered (it's free) and have been accepted into the Rakuten Affiliate Network, you'll find more resources in the Help Center and in our monthly webinars to help you with the rest of the steps in the road map. In addition, there are some resources you can use immediately, including our Publisher Support team for technical support, Global Deal Dispatcher, Seasonal Offers, and Publisher Newsletters. You can also reach out to our Campus team for additional questions about the Help Center content and getting started in the Rakuten Affiliate Network.
Still have more questions? Use the SUPPORT tab at the top of the page or this link to find the email or phone Customer Support contacts for your location.