Affiliate Success Tips Part #2: An interview with Ryan Sullivan
We’ve received some fantastic feedback after our first affiliate success tips interview and today I’m pleased to share the second conversation from the series with Ryan Sullivan. Ryan is the founder and CEO of WP Site Care – a service company offering expert WordPress maintenance and hands-on support work. Web hosting is complimentary to their business and Ryan goes on to share why recommending reliable hosting providers is important for their client retention and how this helps their revenue growth. We hope that Ryan’s story will inspire more WordPress product and service companies to provide better value by making educated recommendations for their users, and ultimately increase their earnings. Now read on to discover how this model has worked out for WP Site Care.
Ryan, your main business is providing WordPress support and your team is servicing customers on different hosting platforms. How does recommending web hosting providers fit into that business model?
This is a great question. We recommend web hosting providers on a daily basis. We always have clients who are either looking for a better alternative to what they currently have, or who are signing up for web hosting for the first time. Our approach is to take all of the information we have available, and make a recommendation based on that.
There are a variety of factors we consider like whether or not the client needs email hosting, the volume of traffic they need to serve, whether they need more advanced features like staging or git integration, and how much support they’ll be needing on their new platform. After we have a good idea of what the client needs, we make a recommendation.
I have been talking to many WordPress service providers, such as theme designers, plugin developers and others, and many of them discard the opportunity for affiliate income as they fear they might lose credibility and their users’ trust by openly recommending an affiliated product or service. How would you address such a concern?
I think the most important thing is to make recommendations based on the best interest of your client. The reality is that not every vendor is the right fit for everyone, and I think it’s important to make that clear whenever you make a recommendation. I’d definitely be weary of blanket recommendations like “John Doe Hosting is the Best on the Planet No Matter What.” But if you make a recommendation in the best interest of your audience, earning revenue from an educated recommendation based on your experience definitely shouldn’t jeopardize your credibility.
Why did you choose to work with SiteGround in particular?
SiteGround has been a great partner for us in a lot of different ways. I could talk about their great server performance, or their phenomenal support, but beyond all of that I think there are two things that make them stand out. 1) When we refer people to SiteGround, we never hear from them again. That means the client is happy, which means we look smart and don’t have to worry about unhappy customers. 2) The people at SiteGround have followed through on every conversation or recommendation we’ve had. That kind of openness to feedback and willingness to change are rare in the hosting world.
You are one of our most successful affiliates. Can you reveal some tips on what you did with your website in order to be able to generate such an impressive volume of referrals?
For us, two things have worked really well. Providing valuable content and doing a lot of homework that other folks aren’t willing to do. When we first released our WordPress Hosting comparison article in 2013, it hit the front page of Hacker News because it was research-based and involved a lot of work and expense that other companies or individuals frankly weren’t willing to put in.
Because of it’s popularity, it does pretty well in searches related to web hosting, so it continues to generate referrals.
I’d say my biggest takeaway from it, is that providing value and expertise, and going the extra mile to set yourself apart in terms of content, whether it be through blog posts, eBooks, videos, etc., is the best way I know of generating referrals for the short and long term.
We often get asked by our affiliates – should I recommend just one exclusive host or multiple ones? What is your take on that?
My take is that you always make a recommendation based on the best interest of whoever you’re serving. If it’s a client, or your mom, make a recommendation that best suits them. If your mom wants to start a craft blog to share projects with her friends, chances are Amazon Web Services isn’t going to be a great fit for what she needs, but that might be the right solution for your enterprise client.
If you’re making recommendations that you truly believe are helpful, most people will be happy that you’re getting a bonus for your time and expertise.
What should affiliates look for when evaluating a host to work with, besides the quality of service, of course?
Talk to people. Ultimately the relationship with your affiliate is based on a lot of trust, especially when you start generating a high volume of referrals. Having a partner that is responsive, quick to answer questions, and willing to talk through campaign ideas are all important things to look for.
Don’t hesitate to ask your affiliate partner for references, and email some of the other affiliates that they provide you with. Ask the other affiliates questions about their experience and if they feel like referrals are being tracked appropriately, and if they’re being paid in a timely manner. A host that stands out in those areas will show really quickly that they’re a solid partner and someone you want to work with.