When online businesses (in further text: merchants) just discover affiliate marketing, and get really excited about the way everything works, and the opportunities that open up, it is very common to witness some of them express interest in acting in the capacity of affiliates in addition to running their own affiliate program. Naturally, the easiest place for a merchant to start is their own website.
Just yesterday, the following question came to me from a merchant who has just started an affiliate program:
I was thinking it probably would be beneficial if I became an affiliate for other businesses as well. I was thinking of placing the ads in the blog section. Is this common that I would be displaying ads for one of my affiliates as well?
It’s good this merchant has asked. Many don’t.
Short answer: No, it’s not a good idea unless the website where you will be featuring your affiliate links (the merchant’s blog in the above-described scenario) is disconnected from the website to which your affiliates are sending their traffic.
Long answer: Affiliate links on merchant websites are a type of a leak, or a door through which affiliate-referred traffic can easily leave the merchant’s website without bringing any benefit to the affiliates. If a visitor referred by an affiliate clicks one of the affiliate links on the merchant’s website, and makes a purchase (or puts through a lead, or performs any other commissionable activity), it is the merchant who will receive a commission/payment for this activity, but not the affiliate who sent the visitor to the merchant’s site in the first place. For more information read my “5 ways affiliate traffic can leak” post here (it’s the 5th type I mentioned there). If you do want to try yourself in the the capacity of an affiliate, start a separate website for this. Also, make sure there is no reason for your own affiliates to suspect any conflict of interest (e.g.: promoting your own website as an affiliate, or the unlikely scenario of you promoting your own competitors on that affiliate site).