On this day…

June 28th, 2013 by Karen


…my baby sister gets married!

Twenty four years ago, Karey arrived in my life and I couldn’t ask for a better sister. Ever. Period. End of story.

Even on the days where we argued and fought, (and we rarely did that right mom and dad?) I knew she had my back. Her mischievous smile is infectious and her gigglefits as a child were legendary. I hated that I missed so much of her while I was off at college but I loved discovering new things about her every time I came home.

I have watched my baby sister grow into an incredible young woman and she’s found a wonderful man who is a perfect complement to her. I know they both know how lucky they are and I can’t wait for this new chapter to begin for them.

I love you both to bits and I’m honored to be part of your big day!

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Why Auto Declining Affiliate Applications is Stupid

June 19th, 2013 by Karen

I’ve worked in the affiliate industry now for 14 years and it never ceases to amaze me when brands fail on the simplest of tasks: Affiliate Applications.

There is of course the litany of reasons of why a program should never be set to Auto-Approve, the chief of course being the Pandora’s Box of fraud you open up for yourself to deal with, but adding Auto-Declines to a program is also a negative move as well.

Excuse #1: We only sell in the US, so we decline international affiliates outright.
The sheer number of short sighted managers that take this tack is staggering and they are shooting themselves in the foot. I have a program that I manage that does accept international affiliates, however my top 8 international affiliates ALL have United States traffic. Their sites are in English, they target US audiences, and they abide by the merchant terms and conditions. Over the past year, they have driven $40,000 in sales. I’m thrilled to work with them.

Excuse #2: We only want to work with Super Affiliates and “insert useless network stat here” affiliates.
Just because an affiliate is an amazing producer for one program doesn’t necessarily translate to automatic success for a completely different niche. Also, while a mention by a big name affiliate is fantastic, it usually translates in a sales spike that peters out over a a couple of weeks. The small affiliates that send you consistent traffic every month and a dozen or two sales a year are your bread and butter. Also NEVER FORGET: every top affiliate was once a fledgling affiliate with no bars, stars, or commission checks. Be a mentor.

Excuse #3: I don’t have time to deal with apps, so I’ve set it so it only lets in affiliates that meet my specific criteria.
Hate to break it to you, but if you’re an affiliate program manager…then your job is to manage the program and the biggest part of that is developing relationships with all of your affiliates. Not just your top 10, but all of them. This should be a time consuming process because it is the most important thing you do for the growth of your program.

Now the thing that prompted this post is that today, I was auto-declined by a merchant. It probably was because I don’t usually do a lot as an affiliate anyhow, so my account is rather quiet, but of course there is no real way to tell. The reason that I wanted into the program? I was writing a sight-seeing post for a large group of friends that are traveling to Chicago next month to attend an event. It has write ups on the Chicago Art Institute, Navy Pier, The Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry and many other great places to visit in Chicago. As a frequent traveler, I know that the best way to visit most of these places for the cheapest cost is to use a discount pass and there are two places that offer them: CityPASS and Go Card. I applied for both programs in CJ and was instantly declined by Go Card.

The event my friends are attending has over 30 people attending from all over the country as well as Canada, Australia, and Sweden. Many are also bringing their significant others which swells that number to around 50. They are actively planning on sight seeing and with a two day pass for either company hovering around $100, even if not everyone goes that is still a large order. Go Card will never ever see a dime.

Now, just to be clear…this site as well as a handful of other sites are listed in the CJ account I applied with and all of them are listed as content sites. I could, of course, take the time to email the affiliate manager and ask to be reconsidered, but I simply don’t want to spend any time on a program that didn’t give me a fair review in the first place. That holds even if I were to get approved after the fact.

If you’re an affiliate manager that uses auto-decline, I would seriously encourage you to re-think your policy and at a bare minimum, take a moment and pull the list of your declined affiliates. I’m certain that you’ll find that you’ve thrown some gold out with the sand.

P.S. If you’re Go Card and you’re reading this, I have plans to travel to Philadelphia in about 8 weeks and trips in the next year for conferences in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, and San Francisco. I often write up my travels and I definitely talk them up on social media and in person to others and make travel recommendations all the time. How many other business professionals like me have you also declined?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPPRVZajtPo

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A Cake I Never Intended to Make

June 14th, 2013 by Karen

Next Sunday, June 23rd, I was supposed to make a cake.

It was to be a triumphant cake! Whimsical with a touch of sentiment and a splash of congratulations.

It was to be a retirement cake worthy of a woman who had taught for 45 years and to whom I owe a debt of gratitude. I can’t begin to express how stupidly excited I was to make this cake. I even made a pinterest board for inspiration.

This morning, I made a different cake entirely.

There is no whimsy to this cake…no hidden little decoration or detail to tantalize and delight. Instead it is simple and elegant. Just like Edna.

Through the years, I’ve found that whenever I make a cake, there’s always something that doesn’t turn out quite right. There’s a flaw in the fondant, a decoration is too large, or a part of the frosting is smudged. These are usually superficial issues and only I see them and they irritate me. To me, cakes are like art…except the more you fiddle with it, the worse it will turn out, so I’ve had to learn patience and when to leave well enough alone. These are good lessons for me. I recognize that I need them.

It is with a rather large amount of surprise however that I can say the following:

Today’s cake is flawless.

I baked the cakes last night and they turned out perfectly. There was no problem turning them out and the texture was wonderful…moist and just firm enough that it doesn’t smash. The crumb coat and frosting went on smoothly and in record time. I had just the right amount of ribbon in her favorite color of lavender. Finally, the fondant (which can often be the biggest pain) was literally the easiest thing I did this morning. It was absolutely effortless.

It is -never- effortless.

I was so stress free about the cake this morning that I was able to also make minor alterations to Maria’s dress, repair Alex’s tie, fix a bad ironed crease on Joel’s pants and still get myself ready to go long before we actually had to head out the door.

Set up was a breeze and the extra time to just sit in the pew silently in the church was so very nice. The service was lovely and unpretentious and it was filled with love, laughter and music. I loved watching Alex altar serve and worried for him when I saw his demeanor change as the whole of what he was doing crept up on him to the point where he had to leave the altar. This process has been supremely hard for him, despite Edna’s own efforts to cushion the blow, and it will take him some time to sort out all his feelings and grieve.

She was his rock this past year. He was lost and she found him.

What a blessing she was to us and how very much we will miss her.

Requiem Aeternam dona eis, Domine; et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Requiescant in pace. Amen.

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