A New Generation of Affiliate Marketing (or A Skeptic's Guide to Tisbury Turkey)

Affiliate marketing (the kind of commission-based promoting that Tisbury Turkey uses) often gets a bad rap. Historically, some for-profit affiliate marketing companies have branded themselves as fundraising tools for non-profits, but then have been accused of keeping more than they give. So how is Tisbury Turkey different? So glad you asked.

1. We run a no-cost operation. Aside from a few start-up expenses (which we bootstrapped ourselves), Tisbury Turkey is run by a handful of individuals with a couple of laptops. Cloud hosting. Open source tools and frameworks. We're using the latest free and open technologies to make this all possible.We are beholden to no one but our users, and intend to keep it that way. We model ourselves after Craigslist--they've given millions away in free classified advertising and still turned a profit. How have they done it? By keeping costs low.

2. It's a new frontier. Affiliate marketing is not new, but consumer attitudes and business strategies are evolving. Millennials are said to expect that the companies they support--both as workers and as consumers-- give back to the communities, organizations, and causes they care about. TOMS shoes has proved that the model of buy-one-give-one can be effective and profitable. People are interested in supporting their local economies, and we believe that when they spend money elsewhere, they will welcome the opportunity to bring some support back home.

3. Our goal is to build alternative revenue streams. That means we want to support our site, and hopefully turn a profit, selling gear, adding content, and generally becoming the Vineyard brand that gives back. How many t-shirts do tourists buy each summer? What if 5% or 10% of that spending went back to island charities? Would you buy the shirt that supports Camp Jabberwocky and the Land Bank or the other one? What's more, millions of dollars are earned in tourism--t-shirts and mugs and bumper stickers and hats. What if that spending gave back to the organizations that preserve the landscape and culture of this special place? That would make a difference.

4. Crowdfunding is a beautiful reality. Other affiliate marketing sites have lured individual charities with promises of passive income, but the reality is that limited amounts of money can be made by 100, or even 1000 users through an affiliate marketing site. The Vineyard has more than 100 or 1000 people interested in supporting it. The Vineyard has in the vicinity of 100,000 who are interested in its well-being--whether as a home or as a vacation spot. At a time when citizens can raise 2/3 of a million dollars for a bullied bus driver through small cash donations, there's no limit to what we can do when we pool our regular spending. And why wouldn't we? It costs Tisbury Turkey users nothing to turn their regular online shopping into contributions to the causes we care about.

5. We're community-focused. Other affiliate marketing sites have created impersonal platforms that have nothing to do with the organizations that support them. But we're here. We are building website content of local interest. We'll be around, from the Open Market to Tivoli Day and beyond, selling shirts and spreading the word. Some people might be suspicious of an off-island crew claiming to be an organization in service of the local community, but you can find us, meet us, and ask us questions. You can tell us how our site could serve the community and its businesses better. And if we disappoint you, you can give us an earful.

Aside from the very personal connection with the island that inspired our name, we chose to start our shopping movement on Martha's Vineyard because we thought it could succeed here.The strong sense of community, the widespread community of supporters, and the influence of tourism make the Vineyard well suited for our model. All we need is you.