I was hoping I would never have to write this post, but I knew there was a possibility. That time has come. Several years ago I discovered the Coco Jack. My sister gave it to me as a father's day gift and I loved it right away. It was brilliant.
Ah! good memories.
David Goodman, the inventor of the brilliant coconut opening device came up with a great tool, but this isn't a tale of rainbows and unicorns. At least, not anymore.
After I received the Coco Jack, I discovered that they had an affiliate program through what has become one of my favorite boutique affiliate networks, Refersion. So I immediately joined and began promoting the product. It was a match made in heaven. I made Youtube videos and Instagram posts and also posted about it here on my blog.
Overall, as an affiliate, I made thousands of dollars with Coco Jack, the as-seen-on-Shark-tank product; Mark Cuban ended up offering a loan that would convert into 25% equity in the company. By all accounts, it seems that Mark picked a winner.
I made sales for Coco Jack, all through organic reach without any ad spend. That's a good deal if you ask me. But there were always problems dealing with them.
For some reason, they never paid commissions on time. I would have to chase them for months! Can you imagine selling something and not getting paid for it for a month, or two, or even longer!? I understand if the payout terms are 30 or 60 days like I talked about here, but otherwise, there's no excuse to getting commissions 90 days late! Then at some point, they asked me if I wanted to become a local distributor or seller.
But they had potential, and they were promising, at some point, they asked me if I wanted to become a local distributor or seller. I was excited about the idea and showed my enthusiasm right away via email. I sought to have a phone call and get started, wondering what would be the next steps. But much like my emails asking them about commissions, they never replied.
If you watched the Shark Tank episode where David went on TV to beg the sharks for money, you would notice that Barbara refused to invest because she felt something was amiss. In hindsight, I can tell that she saw the lack of organization and planning and strategic decisions all along the way as potential signs of bigger problems.
I mean, David invented the product and it took him 13 years to start selling it. Not 13 weeks, not 13 months, 13 years! And he seemed to be in trouble and desperately seeking money due to lack of organization and planning.
Fast forward to now...
A few days ago I woke up to the sad news that Coco Jack was discontinuing their affiliate program. The rep said something about their business model changing. Sounded to me like a bullshit excuse, but what are you gonna do? I don't know how other affiliates feel about this, but for me, it's a bummer. Even beyond that, it's irritating that they shut the program down while they still owe me (and probably other affiliates) money. Sometimes we have to cut our losses I guess.
I promote between 30 and 60 products on any one year so while Coco Jack was great, it didn't make or break the bank. But it was great pocket money. But therein lie a couple of lessons I want to share and reinforce with you. I'm sure I've gone over these before on previous blog posts and in videos, let's take a look.
Lesson #1 Own your list and keep direct access to the customer.
Have and keep direct access to the customer. In order for you to succeed as an affiliate, you must own the customer. Traditional affiliate marketing doesn't lend itself to this because, after your first referral, the company, or the merchant can continue to promote their products to the customer in the back end, but you will not get credit for those sales.
This is why it is important to build an email list. Then you can promote products and services to your list. For Coco Jack, I did a hybrid approach, sometimes I would send people directly to the product and other times I would promote through my email list and social media.
So I still have a lot of the customers that trust my recommendations, but I also know that I sent many customers to Coco Jack that will become repeat customers and I'll never get compensated for those sales.
Lesson #2 Have multiple streams of income.
This one is a no-brainer and why I'm not really upset that Coco Jack still hasn't paid all my commissions or that they're shutting down the program altogether. As much as you may love a product and be successful at promoting it, you should diversify.
Include new products, include established products, and make sure you have products that offer recurring income. Examples of products that I use and promote that offer recurring income are: Aweber, Leadpages, MOBE, Social Runner and a few others.
Lesson #3 Develop your brand and your business.
This is another one lesson that seems obvious to experienced affiliates and business owners but it may not be as clear to a budding entrepreneur. You should develop your brand and re-invest into your business as you make money. Develop your website, write blog posts, spend time doing outreach and building relationships in social media.
It's really easy to send emails from your merchants and post advertisements when vendors have new sales and all that but are you developing their brand, or yours? It's okay to leverage an established brand to help you grow, but make sure you're also developing your business and brand!
Develop your website, write blog posts, spend time doing outreach and building relationships in social media.
That about does it for today's post. Don't let this tale of disappointment deter you from starting an online business or starting an affiliate business. In the grand scheme of things, it is very rewarding, it is fun and liberating to be your own boss and do what you want instead of having a set schedule and working to make somebody else wealthy.
ps. If you're looking to learn Internet marketing, or start an online business, check out this post about a free live event you can attend to get started. It's time sensitive because it's on-site and you must RSVP if you want to attend.