(Also known as my FTC Disclosure and why it matters to you)
In short: I earn a small referral fee if you buy an ecommerce tool (online store builder, hosting, email marketing, etc.) via my site.
Referral fees? That sounds shady…
It is not shady at all. This is known as affiliate marketing, which is a marketing arrangement which pays a commission to an external website (publisher, me in this case) for traffic or sales generated from its referrals (you). In fact, the biggest brands on the internet all offer affiliate programs (e.g. Amazon, eBay, and Expedia). Even some of your favorite sites use affiliate marketing to pay the bills associated with running a website (hosting, marketing, staff, content, etc.).
The only difference is that some brands forget to tell their users that they are part of affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing can be placed in banner ads, special unique tracking links, images, and videos. For instance, most popular banner sizes are 300 by 250, 160 by 600, and 728 by 90, and look something like this:
While a special unique link that tracks referrals looks something like this:
http://ecommercecritics.com/go/bigcommerce.php/ – this is a sample BigCommerce affiliate link that tracks my referrals to BigCommerce.
http://ecommercecritics.com/go/wpengine.php/ – this is a sample WP Engine hosting affiliate link that tracks my referrals to WP Engine.
If you use my link to access GoDaddy (just an example), you are tagged with a special cookie to track any referral sales. If you happen to spend money, GoDaddy will pay me a small referral fee at a later time, but only if you do not cancel the service or get a refund. These referral fees vary from host to host, and online builder to online builder. For instance, a domain sale at GoDaddy, I might earn $1. For selling a shared hosting package, I might earn $60. The referral fees are one-time commissions, although some companies offer recurring commissions.
In other words, it is the internet equivalent of a car salesman getting paid a commission for selling you a car. Just like in real life, there are scrupulous and unscrupulous salesmen online.
I use the revenue generated through my affiliate links to pay the hefty costs that come with running a free and popular website that thousands of people visit each month. The revenue also pays for the huge investment required to support features like our reviews, coupons, and comparison tables.
If I did not generate revenue from my affiliate links, I would have to shut this website down, which is the last thing I want to do. My website has helped thousands of people with ecommerce, web hosting, and other aspects of their business.
Why I need your support…
Sites like this cost cold hard cash to build, run, and maintain. Since 2016, I have already invested enough money that would buy a nice vacation home in many parts of the United States. I have a small, but dedicated team of programmers, writers, content editors, bloggers, and social media experts that help me manage this site and post quality content to help you with all aspects of your ecommerce business. Unsurprisingly, I pay them for their time.
It only takes one click to support me!
How can you help me out? It is pretty simple – buy via my affiliate links, and you will help support my site at no extra cost to you. In fact, using my affiliate links will usually get you a better deal on online store builders, web hosting, and other ecommerce related products and services.
Any time you buy an online store builder, web hosting, drop shipping service, or any other ecommerce related service from the companies that I include in my reviews section, comparison tool or discounts and coupons sections, please use the links on-site to help support my efforts of helping you.
Question #1: Will it cost me more?
I would never post an affiliate link that would cost you more money. In fact, my deals usually save you more money. In other words, it is a win-win scenario for the both of us.
Online store builders and web hosting companies are so keen to get new customers that they offer their affiliates (like me) special discounts that I pass on to my visitors (you). For example, say you are shopping around for a managed WordPress hosting provider that offers increased performance and enhanced security. You settle on WP Engine and so – at the time of writing – you get a nice nifty discount on your monthly fee (with my link of course).
In short, just being awesome and popular is not enough, and every business spends money recruiting new customers. The biggest web hosts in the world, including HostGator, Bluehost, and GoDaddy, all spend big bucks to generate new business each year.
Each of these online store builders, web hosting companies, and drop shipping services pay affiliates like me for referrals instead of spending more money on fancy ads, regular salespeople, and annoying human billboards.
Question #2: Wait a second, can you see my personal details?
No, I do not see or have access to any of your personal information: name, address, credit card details, etc. For example, I usually see that an anonymous user spent X amount of dollars, the date and time purchase was made, and which hosting plan (or whatever other ecommerce tool it may be) was bought. Here is what my SiteGround affiliate report looks like:
A few hosting providers and online store builders show me a link to your website, which is cool because I get to check out the awesome projects that my users build.
Question 3: How else do you make money?
From time to time, I may sell advertising space on my site (and my ads will look like regular ads, not endorsements). For example, company X may want to buy ad space on my right sidebar for one month. Depending on the ad size, I will charge company X a flat-fee to place an ad in my sidebar. In rare occasions, I may place Google AdSense ads that generate additional income for me (based on the amount of visitors and clicks I get). But, I barely ever use Google AdSense on my site.
Question 4: Do you provide post-sale assistance?
While I prefer you to contact the company directly, feel free to send me any pre-sale and post-sale questions regarding any of the ecommerce products and services on my website. The company (e.g. WP Engine) will be able to provide you with a more detailed response, but I will always try to answer your questions or at least, point you in the right direction.
Not a problem at all. Feel free to get in touch with me using my contact form. I will do my best to answer your questions and may even update this page to include your question, along with my answer.