Affiliates at Dreamhost received an email last night detailing some big changes that are coming to the coupon program.
The 10% recurring payment option has already been phased out, and the latest news is that their coupon system will be the next to go. After March 15, 2016, Dreamhost promo codes won’t be working as a means of tracking referrals – and the coupon creation menu is no longer showing up in the affiliate tab.
Instead, there are just two generic promotions available to affiliates: one that provides $25 off and one that provides $50 off. These act similarly to the old Dreamhost promo codes, but they’re not specific to the affiliate.
(If you’re trying to sign up for Dreamhost and looking for that discount, here’s the link for $50 off!)
So why is Dreamhost doing this?
Well, the coupon program was great. It allowed promoters to come up with deals and discounts based on how much of their commission they were willing to share with the customer.
It was also a spam magnet. Not only was there a problem of every affiliate trying to get their coupon code on to the coupon sites, it also encouraged a proliferation of single-purpose domains and “hosting coupon” sites that are purely dedicated to aggregating the available discounts for web hosting (as an affiliate strategy). Those hosting coupon websites are also now not allowed in the Dreamhost affiliate program at all, so this gives us a bit of insight in to their thinking.
An affiliate is supposed to make the sale – not just be the person shouting the lowest price when the customer has already been convinced to buy a product. Instead of actively promoting Dreamhost’s various features and services, the affiliates have been busy undercutting each other and spamming their way to the top of coupon sites. Or just cluttering up the web with new coupon sites. The coupon sites were like a salesman at the dealership who waits for someone else to take you on a test drive, then offers you an extra $100 off the price if you put his name on the sales sheet.
Is the Dreamhost affiliate program still a viable way to make money?
Absolutely. Although this particular website isn’t hosted on Dreamhost, I do have a few dozen hosted with them – including my wife’s primary business site. As long as their hosting services are convenient, reliable, and affordable, their affiliates will be able to make money promoting the product. The rules of the game are just changing a bit, and publishers are going to need to think of new solutions to get the word out. Don’t be the guy leeching sales at the last minute – be the guy taking folks out on the test drive. Show ’em the options, Show ’em the competition, and Make that sale!