The Best Of..

December 15th, 2011

I recently did a count and have realized I’ve written over 300 reviews. Probably well over 300 hundred reviews. Most of those items are vibrators but I’ve become a dildo convert, have test driven probably a dozen lubes, burned a handful of candles, played with some BDSM gear and and put on an ever-growing collection of lingerie. In short? I’m closer to saying “I’ve done it all” than 99% of the population.

But we all know it’s not about numbers and I definitely have come to appreciate quality over quantity. People rarely ask what my favorite toys are. Okay, no one has really ever asked. I don’t know why. You’d think it would be one of the questions I hear all the time but I don’t. Maybe you’re not asking it but you’re thinking it which is exactly why I’m going to tell you anyway.

Clitoral Vibrator

Internal Vibrator

Dildo

Lingerie

Massage

Lube

BDSM Implement

Erotica

Non-Fiction Book

Miscellaneous

3 Comments


How to Talk to Women on Dating Sites

November 4th, 2011

Lest you think I’m some sort of sexist, the advice in this article absolutely pertains to communicating with men as well. However, in my experience, men seem to more often experience frustration and confusion when reaching out to a woman for a first time on a dating site. Having been on the receiving end, I can tell you there’s a few simple things that will make me more likely to respond, even if you’re not necessarily my type or if I’m not immediately attracted to you. So, for all the women who are sick of signing in to messages that just read “Hi” or include a phone number (why?), here’s some advice,

Read her profile.
Seriously. Take some times to read it two or three times. Make note of anything you find interesting or confusing or anything that you simply have in common. Unfortunately, this is where you need to realize that you may have nothing in common. Even if she’s incredibly attractive — and especially if her profile gives no indication of wanting casual sex — you may need to forget her. You won’t know this if you don’t take the time to read, folks. However, if you do find some compatibility, click the button to send her a message. Nevertheless, this is a great place to list a few common interests.

Introduce yourself.
Just a sentence or two about who you are and where you’re from. “Hi, I’m Jon. I saw your profile today and you look pretty interesting.” To make yourself more memorable, explain why you took the time to message her. If you can’t think of anything besides “you’re hot,” you should probably delete the message.

Ask her something.
Don’t just end the exchange on an awkward note that forces your recipient to force a conversation. Ask something! Preferably, you’ll ask something related to her profile. This shows that you’ve read it and you’re interested and, also, that you have a brain. Perhaps you can ask why she does what she does (work/school) or what it’s like to be a person who [fill in your own blank]. The key, here, is to build a conversation that is less generic because you can only be having it with her.

Send your message
That’s it. You’ve got a little of you, a little or her and some ideas about “us.” Either you’re intriguing or thoughtful enough that she’ll respond or she won’t but you’ve made it that much easier for her to respond.

Here’s a few tips to help your post to come off even better. Use proper grammar to the best of your ability. No one expects you to be perfect but at least put in an effort. Avoid text/chat speak. This means you might avoid typing on your phone at all and, instead, save the interactions for when you have a full keyboard within reach. With that said, don’t send essays every time. Time is valuable and you should be able to succinctly get your message across without making your reader feel like she is doing homework. Leave a little to the imagination. Don’t show all your deep, dark secrets and rattle off your entire life’s history within five minutes of her first response. Let her wonder and, if she is so inclined, inquire about you.

Be open and honest if you expect the same. It doesn’t guarantee it but the effort goes a long way. Remember that humor and silliness doesn’t always come off the way you intend online and, because first impressions are so important, you may want to hold back until you know her better. If you attempt, and fail, at humor, feel free to lightly apologize. “I’m sorry, I just wanted to make a good impression and my nerves may have gotten the best of me.”

What you don’t do it just as important as what you do do. So don’t talk all about you, don’t be rude or dismissive, don’t make fun of her (even if you’re a funny guy), don’t assume you’re already in or that you are somehow better than her and she is lucky to have caught your attention and don’t assume that you’re a loser who would never deserve a response. In fact, stay as positive as possible. A negative attitude will quickly turn off potential friends and lovers.

Be patient. Even if someone is actively pursuing a new relationship via the Internet, she still has a life. Don’t write someone off who moves at a different pace than you. Responses may take a while and she may want to take time to be angaging and appear thoughtful. You should also take your time when crafting messages for the very same reason. This is especially important with your first message because your reader may not even take the time to view your profile if you butcher the conversation.

Expect awkwardness. In fact, sometimes acknowledging it can break the ice. Dating sites have thrown a lot of traditional etiquette and expectations to the wind. Everyone’s learning how to be successful with this new medium and how to incorporate apps and text messaging into blooming relationships.

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All About the WordPress Database

August 27th, 2010

A lot of my fellow bloggers and reviewers are using WordPress. Whether they started with it or have made the move from another (potentially inferior..) blogging tool, does not matter. What does matter is that many of these bloggers do not have a strong grasp of WordPress or how it works. It’s relatively easy to set up, out of the box, if you are not a demanding customer. However, what happens if you wish to move hosts, change your domain name or something goes wrong with your blog?

What is a database?

For a lot of people, this means turning to their hosts. That’s an okay solution. It usually works but it involves a middle man unnecessarily. If you have access to your databases, you can back up, move or restore your WordPress database without help from your webhost or anyone else.

Of course, if you don’t understand the concept of a database, you’re much less likely to try this (or, perhaps, to succeed). A database is a means of storing data in tabular format. When you, your host or a script installs WordPress, it edits the config file to instruct WordPress where to stores its information. Installation scripts such as Fantastic tend to create a new database and user, frequently with “WordPress” in the database and user names. However, if you are installing WordPress yourself, you can include multiple installations in the same database. I currently have 4 installations in a single database.

For the sake of this article, I will use the term “WordPress database” to simply refer to the actually data inside the database associated with your WordPress installation. Thus when I say you can backup or restore your database, I am saying you can backup or save all the pertinent data within the database.

And what sort of information is stored in your database? Posts, post meta (tags, categories), user information (names, levels), plugin information, widget contents, settings, comments, links and more. If I could somehow turn off my WordPress database for this blog, you would pretty much only see the header and background images.

Backing Up the Database

The WordPress Codex (which, I admit, I found ridiculously confusing at first) explains how to back up your WordPress database. By following this tutorial, you can save the contents of your database to your computer to upload at a later date, should the need arise. However, the article glances over how to access your database or PHP admin. Assuming you own your domain and have access to a control panel such as cPanel, H-sphere or a custom control panel (such as the one GoDaddy uses), you will first need to log into that control panel.

In my control panel, there is a link to phpMyAdmin on the index. I can click that, choose the account with access to my WordPress database and click the link. My control panel automatically logs me in. I can reach the same page in a slightly more complicated way by clicking “MySQL Server,” choosing my database, clicking the link to launch the admin panel and manually logging in. I frequently confuse my usernames and passwords so the first option is much easier. You likely have one or both of these options available to you. Then you may proceed with backing up the database.

The Codex tutorial explains that you will need to export the various tables in your database by checking the box next to the table. Typical installations use a prefix of “wp_.” Thus, you’ll see tables such as “wp_categories” or “wp_options.” If you do have multiple blogs or scripts installed to the same database, you will want to back up only the tables that belong to your blog. For example, of Sex and Love has a prefix of “wp_osal” to differentiate it from my other blog and script tables so I check only those tables to export.

This is the long and manual way. It gets the job done but so does the WordPress Database Backup plugin. It may even come with WordPress by default, now. I’m not sure because I use it on every single blog I own and for good reason! This plugin allows me to create an instant back up of my WordPress database directly from the WordPress dashboard.

Furthermore, I can use it to schedule back ups and I do. I schedule a weekly back up which the script e-mails to me. At my current posting rate, I would lose 2 posts at most if I only relied on this method. If you post more frequently, consider a daily back up.

WP DB Backup also allows the option to save your data to your webhost’s server and you should remember to check all the database tables that you want to save because the plugin only backs up the core tables by default. Tables created by other plugins are not included in this. I would lose information for my related posts and feed plugins if I did not check their tables. Note that you will see the list of all tables on the plugin management page. Thus, I see several closely named tables because I have multiple blogs in the same database. Pay attention when marking your tables for back up.

Restoring a Database

Once you have a copy of your database, you can do several things with it. You can restore your blog. This may be handy if your server crashes or someone hacks it. The Codex gives instructions on how to restore using PHPMyAdmin. But you probably want to drop all your extsing tables first to prevent errors.

You can use this same method to move to an entirely new host. Log into PHPMyAdmin or a similar tool in your new control panel. Create a new database and user, if one does not exist. For example, I have the option to add a database after clicking the “MySQL Server” link on the index. I can then choose to give access to a new or existing user. Import your WordPress database. When moving hosts or databases, you will want to perform this step before installing the actual script. Furthermore, you will want to install the script manually. This allows you to edit config.php to specify the new database and username. When you install WordPress, it will bring up your existing information.

You could also use this method if you wanted to switch domain names but remain on the same host. However, you could leave your existing database as-is and manually install WordPress on the new domain (after you add it to your hosting account) and enter the existing database credentials into your new config.php. Note that if you switch domain names, you will want to change the settings in your WordPress dashboard to reflect the new domain. Also note that you can work on your database or edit your WordPress installation even before a domain propagates. Simply use the dedicated IP, temporary URL or instant access domain name.

Blog Files

After extolling the virtues of the database, you may be curious how much necessary information is stored in the actual files that you can see via FTP or file manager. In the best case scenario, these files contain no necessary data for your blog. That’s right. None.

This scenario assumes you are capable of editing some files upon re-installation. If you know your database information, you don’t need to save config.php but it may be helpful. It’s easy enough to edit index.php if you place your WordPress installation files into a separate directly, which I suggest you do (http://domain.com/wp, for example).

The rule of thumb I would use for every other file is, if you edit it, save it.

Although widgets allow you to really customize your theme, many of us edit the actual code. Without my theme edits, you wouldn’t see my custom header, both sidebars, review images or ads. There are a million tiny other edits that only I would notice. If I were moving, I would save my entire theme folder inside the wp-content/themes directory.

Plug ins also have a folder of their own, within the wp-content folder. If the plug ins are currently and available as the repository, you really don’t need to back them up. If you have edited the plug ins or their folder contain data files, you can save them.

You may occasionally find important files within the wp-content folder itself. I have several files there that a plug in references to display my advertisements. The files that I would most likely forget to save are the images I have uploaded through the WordPress media tool. They exist in dated subfolders in the wp-content/uploads directory.

Of course if you have upload any other files to other locations, you will want to save them before moving hosts or domains. In the most complicated scenario, you will save the config.php, index.php, theme folder(s), plugin folder(s), uploads and user-created files.Uploading these and importing your WordPress database will recreate your blog as it was.

4 Comments


When What We Want is Not What We Need: The Happiness Version

June 21st, 2010

A while back, a friend texted me a question. What did I think, she asked, that she needed in order to be happy in her relationship? Now, I now what she meant and what she wanted me to say. She was hoping for a list along these lines:

  • You need someone who listens to you
  • and cares about your feelings
  • and makes time for you
  • and shows you how much you matter

These things are certainly all well and good. I do like to experience them when I am in a relationship. Yet, I did not give her that answer. Instead, I told her it was a trick question because I recognized that she was thinking about what she wanted instead of what she needed.

To put it plainly, by framing her question and attitude in that way, she is relying on external forces in order to be happy. Her happiness depends on someone else’s decision to be nice and caring. She was giving away any power she had to make herself happy. I have come to recognize that as a dangerous thing and I could not live with myself if I let the idea perpetuate.

So I told her that she didn’t need a relationship in order to be happy. All she needed was to recognize the things of value in her life: her friends and family, her pets, the opportunities she has had and will have, her youth. As you can guess, she didn’t take this very well. She wanted the answer her way and while I can understand that, she didn’t realize how unproductive and potentially damaging her perception is and will continue to be if she does not change it.

I know because it’s one of those things I have been working on changing about myself. I don’t leave things to fate or destiny, anymore. No, the fate of my happiness is in my own hands. It makes no sense for me to wait for something to occur (like finding the perfect job, perhaps) or for someone to do something (as much as I would love for my husband to see my side in things). That’s just wasting time I could already spend being happy by recognizing the things about my life that already are awesome.

After all, we will always be waiting to overcome some sort of obstacle. That is just how life works. The obstacles only stop when you’re dead and, even then, I can’t be sure there aren’t more challenges to face. No, happiness is not waiting until life becomes “easy” but recognizing what you have even when you also have challenges.

So I wasn’t about to tell my friend that she should wait for someone else to do X, Y and Z because I know that won’t help her ultimately be happy. The habit of waiting for external forces to make you happy is far too easy to develop and far too difficult to break down.

She saw me as difficult but I know better; I was being a good friend in the long run and we all need those from time to time.

8 Comments


The Myths of Sex Toy Reviewing

April 20th, 2010

I was so excited when I got my first toys to review. I know you were, too! I know if you have just discovered how awesome it is to not only play with vibrators and dildos and butt plugs — Oh my! — but to do so for free in exchange for some words, then you might still be floating on cloud 9. That’s totally cool. I know I wanted to jump right into things and I was sure I was awesome and I made some beginner’s mistakes. I like to think I am beyond that; most people get some gentle guidance or learn from example. Some people realize that reviewing actually takes work and give up when it becomes apparent that companies expect some sort of quality.

The truth is outsiders and newbies may have some misconceptions about sex toy reviewing:

Toy reviewing requires no effort.
True, I’ve seen some rather shoddy reviews which could only have taken seconds to compose but to be a successful reviewer, the ones who earn respect and gain a following learn to do a few things. Like use a toy more than once, even if the first time is horrible. They work on improving their writing skills and describe things in painstaking detail even when the details have become boring to them. They discuss toys with friends, proof read dozens of times, deal with defects and argue with delivery services. The types of reviewers I like to read research materials and compatibility. They double and triple check waterproof capabilities and try toys in ways they would not normally use them, all in the name of a good review. *I wouldn’t be surprised if consistently bad reviews disqualified you from reviewing.
It’s all about experience.
I call bullshit. In fact, most quality review programs have something to say about experience: keep it limited and keep it relevant. I believe this guideline is in place for good reason. Quite simply put, your personal experience can never predict someone else’s personal experience. Furthermore, sometimes I can’t even predict how well a toy will work for me despite being myself. Hard facts generally give consumers a better idea of whether or not a toy will work for them.
Every toy is awesome!!!!
No, it’s not. Toys are made of potentially dangerous materials. Toys break. Defects abound. Poor designs can actually cause pain. And sometimes even a toy which is awesome just does not cut it for me. I wish it weren’t so but it is. In an effort to produce a good review, however, I will try to explain to you why the toy might be awesome for others even if my experience failed (see above).
Sex toy reviewing makes your sex life so much fun!
I won’t lie, it can. It can be a great “excuse” to get your partner or even just yourself to try something new. It can make masturbation or sex more pleasurable. Maybe you’ll have it more frequently. But there’s a big downside to it all. It can get mechanical. Pretty soon you start looking at everything as all numbers and sizes and materials and compatibilities. Like anything which starts out fun but becomes a “job” of any sort, you can forget to smile, to enjoy yourself. Plus, not every partner is okay with the idea of sex toy reviewing. Your sex life can actually take the back burner without even realizing it and sex toys can be pretty intimidating. There are just times when reviewers need to step back from toys so you can enjoy sex — solo or with others — again.
You will be the best reviewer ever.
I am always so excited when I embark upon a new adventure. Sometimes my ego swells a bit and I imagine myself taking the place by storm, making “thank you” speeches while holding flowers. It just doesn’t work that way. Every program has different expectations and limitations. It takes time to learn the ropes and to excel. I like to think I’ve done that but if you look at some of my first reviews on the blog or EdenFantasys, you will see I was not amazing when I started.
Reviewers are loose sluts.
There are a whole bunch of myths about the type of people who use sex toys and then to have the nerve to write about it! The truth is, the reviewer friends I have made are all extremely different. Males and females, some folks who don’t fit any category. Straight, gay, queer, bi and more. Young and old. Some have a lot of sex with the same person, no sex at all, or some casual sex. In fact, it seems that reviewers are just as likely to be the “girl next door” as they are to be the promiscuous one. No single generalization really applies, except maybe that they do like sexual sensations and are mature enough to write about it in a helpful way. Also, just to remind you, the vagina is a muscle which does not stretch out!
A good writer will never struggle with a review.
There are certain types of reviews I just find more challenging. Switching up the format can be difficult, too. I think all reviewers, no matter their writing talents, have days where words just refuse to flow in a way that sounds good and makes sense. It’s to be expected and if you experience it, don’t sweat it.
It’s all about the reviews.
Although I pride myself on writing helpful reviews and I spend a lot of time on them, I know that the reviews themselves are frequently not the end game. The truth is, reviews (especially offsite reviews) offer publicity and exposure. They bring in potential customers. In addition to this, links and keywords work to raise a website’s (the store you review for) search engine rank. Sometimes that is just more important than content.
Reviewers have a direct line to manufacturers.
As much as I’d like, this isn’t true most of the time. Most of the companies I work with are stores, not manufacturers. I assume some manufacturers read my reviews but the fact of the matter is, I review products which have already been designed and created. I am not a beta tester. My complaints do not necessarily mean a change will happen. Even if manufacturers contact me because they want that sort of criticism, nothing might happen because of it. My power is limited.
We talk about sexuality, so we want to talk about it with you.
No, just no. Unless we initiate the conversation, we probably don’t want to be having it. Back off. The same goes for pictures and videos.

To all your reviewers, what misconceptions did you originally have? Is there something I missed or something you find people assume? Let me know in the comments.

14 Comments


Why Ask a Stranger? (or “Go Talk To Your Partner”)

January 13th, 2010

Having been around the internet a time or two, I’ve sought out advice from others. Who hasn’t? But as my knowledge in just about everything expands, I find myself being the one who offers instead of seeks counsel, more often than not. I don’t mind. In fact, I thrive on it. I love helping people and answering questions. And if my advice works? Excellent. I give myself a little pat on the back and feel hopeful that someone has somehow worked over and issue in their life whether it’s communication within a relationship or just finding the right sex toy for them.

But I have come to notice a certain type of question which I cannot answer – not because I am unfamiliar with the territory or even because I disagree with something that gets someone off. No, the questions that bother me most are the questions about relationships and dynamics and communication which clearly should be asked to a partner, not random strangers on the internet. Don’t get me wrong; it’s good to show initiative. If you want to do something a little extra special, I’ve got ideas. So does everyone else and these ideas are not necessarily dependent on your partner’s tastes or relationship status. But I cannot answer these questions

  • Why is my partner less interested in sex?
  • Why does my partner no longer initiate sex?
  • Does my partner still love me or find me attractive?
  • How do I deal with my partners ED/disability/insecurities without talking to him or her?
  • What does it mean when my partner ignores my advances?

Yet, if your partner’s interest in sex has decrease or his or her attitude has altered suddenly, I cannot tell you why. I just can’t. I’m not your partner. I don’t share his or her stress at work or home. I do not react to things the same way nor do I have the same life experiences. My life influences and brain chemistry are, quite simply, incredibly different. I don’t know what makes your partner tick and, if you’re asking me, it seems like neither do you.

Perhaps the internet offers anonymity when it comes to our problems. We can say “this is going on” without saying “and my name is John Smith and I live in Miami with my wife, 2 children, cat and dog.” Sex is not always the easiest thing to talk about and I understand that but sexual and romantic relationships frequently suffer from lack of or poor communication. Sure, some relationships are completely effortless but most are not. You don’t need to talk to the world about your sex life; you just need to talk to the person(s) with whom you are having sex.

Get off the internet (after all, you signed on to ask your question) and have a heart to heart with your lover. Ask about changes in behaviour or reluctance to do a certain activity. Ask why things are different from how they were in the hot and heavy days or why things just never seemed to pick up from the beginning. Ask your partner how he or she feels and offer a shoulder to cry on. Perhaps you will find that your partner has been struggling with something and you can help.

Your partner may be relieved that you brought up the subject. It offers both of you the opportunity to make improvements, something which cannot be done when one or both partners are in the dark about the other’s feelings. Sometimes we forget that our partners have the same fears and aspirations as we may and we can fight them together, not fight one another because of them. Occasionally, you are positive something is a problem when talking can reveal it to actually be a misunderstanding. You may find that knowing more about your partner may make you feel closer and boosts your confidence in your relationship. Conversely, not speaking about these options frequently only exacerbates the problems.

Of course, there are some guidelines to follow when talking about sexual issues and many of them have to do with when to bring them up or, rather, when not to. Don’t bring up your concerns at any of these inopportune times:

  • Right before sex
  • In the middle of sex
  • Immediately after sex
  • In public (or in front of the in laws)
  • During a fight (especially not as ammunition)
  • When there are distractions (computer, TV, kids, phone, while preparing dinner et cetera)

Every effort should be made to express your feelings and concerns without putting blame on your lover. Pay attention to your partner’s responses, both verbal and nonverbal. Body language can serve as a guide to the success (or lack there of) of your discussion. Allow your partner to speak freely and avoid making assumptions; ask for clarification when need be. Finally, be open to suggestions. Ask how things can be improved and avoid dictating measures your partner “must” or “should” do. After all, you probably don’t want to be commanded yourself.

Unfortunately, sometimes knowing what is going on in a partner’s heart or mind (or pants) can pose problems that we cannot overcome. Sometimes talking paints a clear picture but it’s not of a happy ending (Cinderella style, not massage). I think sometimes people reach out to strangers, looking for a way to deal with symptoms of larger problems rather than admitting to themselves or their partners, all so they can continue to avoid the inevitable. But sometimes the inevitable (especially when it’s a parting of ways), although difficult in the present, offers the best possible future.

Either way, talking to your partner will truly shed light on a situation. It may not be the best light. Let’s face it, the truth is not always comfortable but the truth, as they say, can set us free.

I am just a stranger on the internet who has no ideas what is really going on in your head or in your bed.

1 Comment


Does Your Affiliate Program Suck?

December 8th, 2009

Hi, my name’s Adriana. Welcome to my website! Today I am here to talk to you about affiliate programs, specifically adult affiliate programs through sex toy shops (Adam and Eve, Babeland, Good Vibes et cetera), manufacturers with online shops (Liberator, For Your Nymphomation) and specialty shops (BDSM Gear, Stockroom, Xtreme Restraints). Now, I have not run any of these programs myself but I have used enough of them as an affiliate to know what makes one stand out amongst all the others. Some are good enough that I go out of my way to use affiliate links and others are such a hassle that I will risk the loss of commissions simply because it’s not worth it. You don’t want to be one of the latter because, although sales will continue even if your affiliates aren’t enthusiastic or if you have no affiliate program at all, we are all well aware of how powerful word of mouth can be. After all, isn’t that really why so many shops offer toys to us reviewers? Like it or not, your affiliate program is in direct competition with other programs, as well as your shop.

So what can you do to ensure that your affiliate program doesn’t suck?

KISS (Keep it simple, stupid!)

This acronym should be the basis of nearly all operations. Your affiliate program should be simple (read easy and efficient) to sign up, sign in, create links, get banners, view reports and recruit others. Ideally, links for signing up or in to the affiliate program will be easy to find even amongst the rest of your navigation. Everything within the control panel should be only a click or two away and your links should be simple and to the point. No need to reinvent the wheel here. Creativity is something you can do with the rest of your product/store. While allowing an affiliate to add a link by manually adjusting an URL is a good option, I am personally fond of Babeland’s link creator tool which simply requires me to input the page/product link and my affiliate code. EdenFantasys allows affiliates to link from any page by clicking a button on the page. On the other hand, I know more than one affiliate programs makes it difficult just to link to the store front without a banner.

But not overly simple.

And by this, I mean that users of such programs expect certain things and when we see a program that is incredibly limited in functionality or potentially design (you know, basic things like “Home” links, a page for banners and links or being able to edit account information), we may form some ideas. Like that you don’t value your affiliates or that your program was simply an afterthought. And if you don’t care to put any thought into it, why should we? If I can’t even view reports about how much I’ve made (let along click throughs or display counts), what good is your program to me? Or to you? Babeland’s affiliate control panel is simple yet effective (now if only I could link to it with my affiliate code!)

Let me spell this out: Do not put every single banner on a single page. That is effing ridiculous. Even more ridiculous is if you somehow try to include all your affiliate content on a single page. What are you thinking crazy people? And while I’m add it, don’t you think it’s polite to at least let us log into something?
All together now.

To put it plainly, keep your affiliate content together. There are numerous sites who have a control panel for their affiliate program yet still display the same content elsewhere. Sometimes it’s even different content so, as an affiliate, I am forced to check multiple sources to ensure I know about latest banners et cetera or to fully utilize the program. I’ve had affiliate programs e-mail me information that isn’t even available via the control panel. Because I am going to save your message forever and ever and always make sure I have access to it just to snag a banner? Um, no. Adam and Eve’s affiliate program has everything (and the kitchen sink) in one place.

Be Flexible

At least a little bit. Allowing your users to customize online stores, specify payment methods and amount, choose to link certain pages or pick from a few different banner options allows us to use your affiliate program in the way that is most beneficial. Not all affiliates are the same, nor should they be. Variety is the spice of life and helps to direct different potential customers to different areas of your site for different reasons. Most of the affiliate programs I use allow me to link different pages but a few only give me some options, leaving me out in the cold if I want to link to anything else. Although not all affiliate programs offer hosted stores like SexToy.com, their program allows much customization as well as several payment options and the ability to change the affiliate code which is a plus!

Be Open to Suggestion.

Because not everyone or everything is perfect. We all know how disappointing it is to roll out a new idea only to face criticism from every direction but taking that criticism in stride and using it to improve your program instead of denying that anything could possibly be wrong with it. Ever. It shows that you care what we think and that you want to be the best that you can be. It shows you care about a little bit more than the bottom line and it makes us want to continue to bring business to your store. I’m the type of person who makes suggestions. I see what’s wrong before what’s right but it’s usually not because I want to dash your dreams and stomp all over your efforts. It’s usually because I want to help and I appreciate when you appreciate the fact that I care. The folks at Babeland have personally and positively responded to my requests for more banners.

Reward Us.

Okay, you don’t have to but you’ll get bonus points if you allow us to have referrals (and include snazzy referral banners) to increase our commissions. This also helps us to spread the word that, yes, your affiliate program is worthwhile and trustworthy. It’s really a win-win situation. I definitely urge other webmasters to join programs like Stockroom.com which allow me to make 5$ of my referrals’ commissions.

Last but not least.

Make Sure it Works, People.

Seriously. I once signed up for a program which confirmed my application and said I needed administrative approval (but gave me no idea who was the admin). More than a week later, I still was not approved nor could I use my affiliated account but, when I contacted them, I was told everything works fine and given no alternative solution to my issue. No offer of what could have happened. Hell, they practically suggested I hadn’t even signed up (and this goes back to being open to suggestion). Sure, I could keep signing up (if the system would even let me), until something went through but you know what I actually did? I said “See ya” because if you can’t be bothered to make sure your program even works, then I can’t be bothered to send customers your way. That’s how that works.

I know my demands may seem high but, the truth is, most of the details are well covered if you take the time to invest in quality affiliate software. The programs in which I participate seem to be pretty equally split between commercial and proprietary software; although proprietary software may work well within a site, most commercial software works just as well. It’s not a requirement that your team creates software from the ground up. Sometimes out of the box is just as good (and perhaps easier, more cost efficient and better documented). Interestingly enough, only 2 of the programs I use which are obviously using commercial software are using the same product. There are certainly enough options out there for everyone.

And that, my friends, is how you prevent your affiliate program from sucking.

P.S.

Since originally writing this article, I realize that I ommitted something damned important:

Communication.

I don’t need a phone call in the middle of the night when something goes out of stock. No, I am talking about keeping affiliates up to date when there are major changes. Redoing the entire system and we need to sign up again? That is precisely the sort of thing you ought to tell us. Adam and Eve just redid their affiliate program, actually; and sent out several e-mails detailing the changes. (You’ve only been seeing broken links because I forgot to update them, my bad!). But another program redid things (and, really, the updates are awesome) but i received no contact and all of a sudden, my blog was riddled with broken links.

Affiliation is all about links and banners and doing something which drastically alters the way those links or banners opperate requires communication. Sometimes URLs are changed, products are dropped (or are seasonal) or the entire server setup is changed. It’s inevitable and many of these changes are good. But what do you expect us to do with those existing links? Is there someplace else we should direct visitors? Do you even care about SEO or exposure? A simple e-mail can mean the difference between someone who continues to direct customers your way or someone who says “You know what? You don’t want to shop there. They don’t know how to treat people.”

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