|Commission SEO work: worth it or leave it|
Working upfront for commission pay in future
So...I've got this company interested in my SEM company doing some work for them.
They want to pay commission. You do all the work upfront, pay the fees for PPC, search engine and directory submissions (instead of the company or client), then in months ahead - you get paid. They seem reputable enough, that's not the issue.
I'm not too keen on providing everything, then getting paid down the road, you know?
Wondering about others experiences with this type of set-up.
I understand the concept of paying on commission. But what I don't like is providing your experience and skill with the company expectation being they want all you can give free upfront. They also host the sites they want you to optimize.
Just doesn't sound like a great opportunity to me. ;)
I would want something up front. Even if they gave you a few grand up front and deducted it from your commissions on the back end it would be better than nothing. That way you would have some money to work with and not expose yourself to so much risk.
They should pay for expenses up front: the fees for PPC, search engine and directory submissions.
IMO, the expenses should be 100% theirs... they wouldn't ask a graphic design company to design a phone book ad, and tell them "Oh, you have to pay for the ad... if it brings in business, then we'll pay you!"
Then, they can pay commission on the time & expertise you devote to their promotions, which you generously provided to them up front.
Many times, I'll contact a client with offers like that. For me, it there are a few factors which can make commission very lucrative. If they are there, I'll jump on it.
Personally its a matter of competition, predicted conversions and margins. Any knowledge of $ going into offline marketing is of course exteremely valuable as well.
Commission on what? Hits, sessions, visitors, unique visitors, or referrals from anywhere. (who determines this and how?)
This can't be sales!
Optimization in reality is only 1/2 of the way to sales conversion.
Search engine awareness potential - getting near the top.
Interest - a click through to the site based on an attractive listing. Ultimately your responsibility ends here.
Motivating a visitor to consider buying and creating that desire to buy, relies competely on site content and the owners knowledge of his market's needs -- and I assume the company has created this and know exactly what his internet markets want?
Inducing an increase in eyes to the site should create more sales consistent with any other marketing media, but if you create say:
1 million new "targeted" visitors to the site a month and no buys -- where does the problem lie, with your SEO abilities or...?
<added> If you do decide the risk is worth it... how many sales do they make now (as is). Thereafter, 100% commission on all gross sales produced via the Internet (their risk) until your fee is paid in full (also get it in writing). Regardless of what the commission is based on, the baseline fee should be higher than what you usually charge. You can't get a mortgage normally for 0% down. </added>
[edited by: fathom at 12:28 am (utc) on Sep. 7, 2002]
Yup, percentage of sales.
>>I would want something up front.
>>They should pay for expenses up front: the fees for PPC, search engine and directory submissions.
Yeah, I asked him twice about that one. Get real.
>>IMO, the expenses should be 100% theirs... they wouldn't ask a graphic design company to design a phone book ad, and tell them "Oh, you have to pay for the ad... if it brings in business, then we'll pay you!"
Thanks for your input RedEye, would like to hear more about your experiences with commission.
fathom, your whole post...EXACTLY.
>>Interest - a click through to the site based on an attractive listing. Ultimately your responsibility ends here.
Yeah, click through targeted traffic. They have the online tool to check your SEO click-throughs, etc. And no one has made it clear what happens after that.
>>You can't get a mortgage normally for 0% down.
Hehehehe. Thanks, I needed that. :)
They think this is a great deal for me. I don't know, do I look like I'm stupid? ;)
Checking my wallet...
Sounds like a completely bad deal. Do their customers recieve the products and decide to pay them ...down the road....Nope
If you want to do the "work now and get paid later bit" do it for yourself and set up some sites for affiliate programs that pay, otherwise, these guys need to give you some $$ as you go along. How do they pay their bills if no one gives them $$ for their products?
Supposedly SEO's are making a lot of money. So I'm told. ;)
It sounds like the company gets their money from clients, they are affiliate sites from what I can tell. The clients pay the company for promotion/traffic...can't get a straight answer if it is for actual sales or just click throughs.
>>Sounds like a completely bad deal.
I agree. Just curious about others experiences with this type of thing.
I just finished a contract with a company doing SEO work for a chain of retail stores. My job was just to layout the design changes they needed for their application and their staff was supposed to implement any needed HTML, UNIX and Java changes. A few months after I finished my part of the work, upper management at the company outsourced most of the work in the department and laid off the main marketing person who had been my contact point there.
I was paid a flat fee upfront so it doesn't matter that much to me. However, that experience did provide a lot of food for thought if I ever decide to do any SEO work again. If I had been paid on a percentage of the results from the design proposals instead of a flat fee upfront, there wouldn't even have been a department in place any more to work with or pay me. So personally I would think twice about doing any work with the promise of future payments. The whole company could go bankrupt or scrap the application they had you work on, and then you may not be paid anything for all for your SEO work.
This model works exceptionally well when the parties are known and a long-term relationship has been developed.
Commission does have its just rewards in that -- once the primary work is completed, tweaking is nothing at all and the monthly returns continue to grow with no effort at all.
But this rarely happens when a trust relationship hasn't already been established.
Like, how many dot.bomb's were there and how many outsource companies didn't get paid at all. Few report with glee -- HEY, WE ARE GOING BANKRUPT! Before they have to.
Up front payment. Everyone else, unless they're establised, are DREAMERS.
I'm aware of at least one online ad agency in the San Francisco area that offers deals like this to SEOs rather than doing the work themselves. Maybe their clients (who seem to be fairly respectable), don't have a clue about what's going on. I can even imagine that they have SEOs competing with each other for driving traffic to the same site, and I wonder how much this kind of stuff contributes to all that affiliate type spam we see. I'd avoid it completely.
WebRookie, I've been following along with this thread, and while it involves two concepts, it's been ringing a bell. Apparently it rang a bell with Robert, also.
Robert, I'm familiar with a company much like what you mention and in fact have spoken to someone at the company because there's one product line that's closely related to a particular niche I work in and am very familiar with. The company I'm referring to is no different from any "normal" affiliate program when you come right down to it, it's just presented in a different way. So from my point of view, it has to be approached in the same way as any other affiliate program.
fathom>>This model works exceptionally well when the parties are known and a long-term relationship has been developed.
I'm putting up pages for just such a relationship this very week. I know the keywords and the market and how well it does will depend entirely how much effort is put into it, which will depend on how much time is available. It was originally discussed as a split of profit per item, as of a phone conversation yesterday, it will be a *very* decent percentage to try out with a handshake, which I see as no different from being a commissioned sales rep.
So it's like working on commission, which I would NOT do for a site belonging to a company. Hosting is no major concern, but I've got to be the one who owns and controls the domain name. Before anything gets considered, CJ (or the equivalent) is checked to see if it's replaceable with a garden-variety affiliate association.
If a site is promoted for yellow widgets and does OK, if one widget supplier isn't satisfactory, it doesn't go to waste. With a partnership site like I just mentioned, it's easily all replaceable within a day. There's already a highly satisfactory working relationship that's been established, but there's independence through potential portability.
What I've looked at from the company similar to what Robert mentioned, which might or not be related to what you're asking about, is a product line or two that could be promoted in conjunction with other sites I'm associated with; it's no big extra effort to give it a start, and frankly, because of certain established associations it would be relatively simple to pick up a second tier.
>Supposedly SEO's are making a lot of money. So I'm told.
Some SEOs make a lot of money with any number of affiliate programs; it depends on which SEO and which product - how lucrative the product is, the amount of time put in and the level of skill. Others aren't, but are starting to get the idea that if they promote sites that make money for clients, hey! why not do it for themselves?
imho, it's got to be *your* site you'd make, that you decide YOU can make money from based on what you know about estimating the probabilities through researching the market.
One of my favorite quotes: Pull up a chair and start reading through the Advertising and Affiliate forum.
I'm sure the method I've been told about would work for some people but I'm not sold on it myself.
>>imho, it's got to be *your* site you'd make, that you decide YOU can make money from based on what you know about estimating the probabilities through researching the market.
Yeah, my thought is also, if I'm going to do this type of work...make my own site and market it. At least you know what you've got going and can track what's happening on your own.
Most commission deals "evolve". The deal you are describing is not something I would pursue in any way.
They haven't offered anything, so why would you expect anything? They will only think you are stupid if you take the "deal".
I pretty much knew from the first conversation I wouldn't be taking the job, but wanted to find out other views of commission work.
My impression of what I've heard from my contact is more of a doorway page situation than websites, I could be wrong however.
It's whatever you are comfortable with and in this situation, I'm not.
To be fair to board members - this particular sitution is a third party affiliates program. Unlike most affiliate programs though you don't work with the primary client(s) but through a third party and as WebRookie has pointed out it's more like developing doorway pages (or somewhat less informative doorway sites) so that the visitor will be obligated to click through to the (third party's) client sites to receive any true understanding of products, services and fulfillment.
It is quiet apparent (after a number of sticky mails) that this third party company has either a "tag team" as forum members (or could be just lurkers) that read certain threads, identify those individuals who seem to have an auhtoritative understanding of web design and/or SEO type work and then contact them directly.
They do leave out all of the important details until they have entice you enough. In their defense though the company does have a very well thought out business model - the model only works well if you are indeed an expert to some form of marketing (not just SEO) to end users (B2C) and have experience in certain (product/service) industries.
In addition, I have identified 2 major holes in this model:
1. You are basically operating a new business (under your current one) and I'm quite positive there will be time conflicts should anyone attempt offering their services to them. As I stated before commission fees can be very, very lucrative but consider how much time and effort you put into your primary business to make a living (you will need to do the same here)
2. If you build it, they will come -- I don't care how exceptional your abilities are in SEOing or any other marketing media - if you don't have expertise in the markets being attracted sales will not occur. You must develop the site's content (copy and motivators)yourself (to be approved by the third party). Driving visitors to a site is the easy part. Get them to take the next step is somewhat more difficult, particularly when you have nothing to do with fulfillment. You have no direct contact with the "real client", therefore in this particular business model all of the burden to produce relies solely on you.
In short - you are developing a completely new business where you except all loses, as well as the drain on your primary business in both time and cost.
>>more of a doorway page situation than websites<<
>>this particular sitution is a third party affiliates program<<
These are the conclusions I came to about the SF Bay Area agency... When you're getting a commission on sales, I don't know how else the situation can be structured, unless you have a more one-on-one kind of relationship, as Marcia discusses.
In some industries they pay per application.
They tend to saturate a niche and may even be in the game for their own account as well with inhouse SEOers. I bought 3 domains and then walked away having better things to do with my time.
If a company approaches you offering a commission deal, run.
If a company approaches you offering a good lump of cash, consider going tenfold-or-nothing and countering with a commission deal.
I prefer commision deals because they are very profitable and easy to sell. The client love commision deals because you take all the risk, which just means that they have to pay for that "insurance". As I see it the worst problem is your cash flow.