What should you trust?
Affiliate marketing is not dead. It’s on an upward trajectory with more revenue being added each year. However, changes in search engine policies and consumer trends have changed affiliate marketing strategies.
Affiliate marketers who adapted to these changes achieved success while those who didn’t lost business
If you read on, you’ll discover not only that affiliate marketing is very much alive and thriving, but also why people might think it’s dead (and not wrongly so).
Numbers don’t lie: Affiliate marketing is not dead
I could reference countless statistics to show the rising trend in affiliate marketing.
With the expected US affiliate marketing revenue reaching $8.2 billion by 2022 (as compared to $5.4 billion in 2017), one cannot say that affiliate marketing is dying any time soon.
And if you consider the fact that internet traffic is on the rise, it is only logical to assume that the affiliate marketing industry is destined to grow.
Why do people say affiliate marketing is dying?
It’s not that people claiming that affiliate marketing is dead are lying or that they are ignorant of the numbers.
The truth is: Affiliate marketing is not the same business it was a decade ago.
One of the main reasons being that Google’s (and other giants’) harsh policies against affiliate links.
Gone are the days when spamming affiliate links, using black-hat SEO for higher ranking, and other such tactics used to do the trick.
One could say instead:
“Easy affiliate marketing” is dead.
However, value-added affiliate marketing, with top-notch content, is in demand and will be in the future.
But it’s more than that.
Affiliate marketing is essentially marketing which mainly depends upon consumer trends.
And with the introduction of smartphones, voice searches, interactive websites, social media, etc., consumer trends have witnessed drastic changes.
It is only logical to assume that online marketing (and affiliate marketing in particular) will also witness modifications as a result of changes in consumer trends.
Several affiliates failed to cater to the changing demands of the industry and ultimately lost business, which led to the notion that affiliate marketing is dying.
Is affiliate marketing easy?
The affiliate marketing industry is by far the only industry I can think of that doesn’t demand much, or anything for that matter, in the name of certifications, experience, and expertise.
The idea of an industry, worth well over $8 billion, allowing entrance to anyone is enticing, to say the least.
But that does not make affiliate marketing easy.
Most people think affiliate marketing is easy and decide they want a piece of that $8.2 billion pie without having even a basic understanding of email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, or paid ads.
These newbie affiliate marketers expect huge gains without putting in the required effort in learning, content creation and promotion, and end up not only disappointed, but several hundred dollars in loss within the first few months.
Here are some of the things that you should be ready to do if you want to become a successful affiliate marketer:
Most gurus won’t say how hard it is to land your first affiliate order, because if they do, their course won’t get many sales.
But the truth is, not only does affiliate marketing require a whole lot of upfront work in terms of adding value-added, premium quality content, research, but also learning a whole lot of skills from search engine optimization and email marketing to niche selection and WordPress blog creation and management.
Affiliate marketing demands your undivided attention and unflinching dedication before reaping the results you wish.
Affiliate marketing, as it is with most online business models, is an ever-growing and ever-changing industry that demands constant learning and testing.
No one will give you a formula that will keep on generating income for you, because there isn’t one to begin with.
Most people don’t realize this.
They work tirelessly on a single strategy and just can’t pick themselves up to try something new when it fails miserably.
The rules of the game keep changing and one needs to be learning constantly to apply new techniques to grow, or at least sustain, your income.
What might work for one product might not work for the other. What is working now might not work the next month or next season.
The best source of learning is by following the footsteps of the giants of affiliate marketing and connecting with others on affiliate marketing forums and social media groups.
Knowing your metrics
Affiliate marketing isn’t just about selling products by writing reviews and counting all the money rolling in.
There are many more intricacies involved than one might fathom, at least in the beginning.
Analytics, traffic sources, tracking measures, split testing, etc., are the things you need to know if you’re thinking about making some money out of this business model.
Even though these tools and metrics are not too tough to master, most people fail to realize their importance.
Persistence is the name of the game
If there is one thing that is a must-have if you want to make it big in affiliate marketing, apart from knowledge, it’s persistence.
If you remain vigilant, healthy dedicated, and loyal to the business, there isn’t much stopping you from achieving a handsome income.
Is Becoming An Affiliate Worth It?
Of all the ways to make money online, affiliate marketing will always be among the top 10.
Because it does not require you to have a skill, although having one is always welcomed.
All you need is a willingness to learn and unwavering persistence to make it big in affiliate marketing.
But does that mean everyone and anyone can win at affiliate marketing?
And if you look at the numbers, you’ll realize that most people end up losing countless hours and hundreds of dollars instead of making money.
I’ve mentioned some of the most common reasons for failure already, and topping the list are having unrealistic expectations and a lack of basic understanding.
Before starting any business, you must do your research, meet people who are already in the business, and learn anything and everything you can before spending your resources on it.
Affiliate marketing is no different.
Once you know what you’re getting yourself into, it is easier for you to decide whether the kind of work you’d be doing is worth it or not.
Let us weigh the benefits and drawbacks of affiliate marketing to get a better understanding:
All-inclusive: No expertise required
The best thing about affiliate marketing, as already mentioned, is that you don’t need to be an expert. Even though having marketing experience might help, it is not required.
Most, if not all, affiliates learn along the way, trying different strategies and sticking to what works best.
You don’t need to invest thousands of dollars in affiliate marketing, which makes it an accessible business model.
However, you do need to invest in a website (or landing pages), paid ads, and tools, which should cost around $500-1,000 if you’re serious about the business.
Even though these costs tend to increase over time, so does your revenue.
The digital nomad lifestyle has gained great praise in recent years.
The idea of working from anywhere without limiting yourself to a set time frame is truly liberating.
And affiliate marketing is one of the most effective business models to achieve such a lifestyle.
You don’t make the rules
Affiliate marketers use affiliate marketing programs and affiliate networks to run their business.
This makes affiliates dependent on them 100%
The merchants decide on the rules and can change them whenever it suits them without notice.
All you (an affiliate) can do is request to make adjustments and wait for them to apply those changes (if they deem fit).
You don’t create a customer base
Affiliates need to drive new leads day in and day out.
That’s because once a lead buys through your referral, it is only obvious that since s/he now knows, s/he will buy directly from the vendor in the future.
So, there are no recurring customers in the affiliate business. However, building your own list might fix this problem.
No guarantee of earning
Affiliate marketing demands a lot of upfront work, sometimes even for months before yielding any gains.
But even if you work tirelessly, there is no guarantee that you are going to get compensated.
Maybe the offer you are promoting isn’t worth it, maybe the niche you’re working in is too competitive for newcomers, maybe the paid ad campaigns require tweaking, etc.
Even after months of content creation, promotion, networking, etc., things might not work out in your favor.
Having said that, if you learn the rules of the game and study beforehand what works and what doesn’t, you can increase your chances of success exponentially.
Not a get-rich-quick scheme
It’s not a drawback if you consider the gains you get after months of struggle and persistence.
However, it is important to share that, contrary to what many fake gurus might have gotten you thinking, affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme.
Affiliate marketing is a proper business, with its intricacies and demands.
You’ll need to keep networking, build followers, reach out to various affiliate marketing programs, etc. all of which take serious time and work investment.
Can Affiliate Marketing Make You Rich?
Super affiliate marketers can make hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit every month. Many affiliates I know make $5-10K monthly.
But that does not mean you’ll be bagging a similar amount within a few weeks.
Initially, you will lose money (bearing hosting expenses, paid ads, etc.), but after a few months, when people start noticing you (or run ads) and clicking your affiliate links, you start making some money.
So, whether or not you’ll become rich through affiliate marketing depends on how hard you work, how much time you give it, and if you follow the right strategies and correct the wrong ones.
You can earn a small income out of affiliate marketing, or you can become a millionaire through it. It all depends on the number of hours, amount of learning, and the level of persistence that you show.
Do affiliate marketing the right way
Affiliate marketing is a very promising career path if done right.
And if you follow the steps below, your chances of success will increase considerably:
Choose the right platform
Affiliate marketing can be done on any platform; however, the two easiest and most popular platforms for affiliate marketing are a YouTube channel and a blog.
Both of these platforms have their requirements and technicalities.
Setting up a blog is easy and requires little more than a few dollars per month initially.
Once your blog is up and running, all you need to do is add top-quality content that informs and excites your reader, optimize it for search engines (Google, Bing, etc.), and add your affiliate links in the content.
This is obviously a super-simplified process. It is a lot harder than it sounds.
On the other hand, setting up an affiliate YouTube channel is entirely free; however, you must invest in a decent computer, editing software, and other peripherals, to create awesome video content.
You add your affiliate links into your videos’ descriptions and optimize them for search engines.
Select the right niche
There’s a lot of competition in the affiliate marketing industry.
The most effective way of creating your own space in such a competitive market is by niching down.
When you limit yourself to a niche, you are targeting a more refined demographic.
Not only does it help you cater to a more responsive audience, but it also helps you rank on search engines better.
For example, the gaming niche is one of the most saturated niches on YouTube.
So, instead of targeting the complete gaming industry, you can target a particular game series (e.g. GTA, DMC, etc.) and build your audience around that.
And once you have covered most of that niche and build a reasonable audience, you can expand to other areas as well.
When selecting a niche, make sure it is not fatally competitive, has a huge demand, and is something that interests you.
Remember to select a niche that you are passionate about, especially if you’re the only content creator (which is common with newer affiliate marketers).
If you are passionate about your niche, you will create value-added content with more rigor and zeal. However, if you are not interested in the niche, there’s a high chance that you’ll get exhausted after a few months (which is, by far, the number one cause of failure in newer affiliate marketers).
Once you are successful with that niche, you can choose other niches you do not know much about and outsource the process.
Join the right affiliate programs
Technically speaking, one can do affiliate marketing without joining any affiliate programs.
For example, if there’s a product that your audience is crazy about, you can ask the company if they’d be interested in setting up an affiliate relationship.
However, such a scenario is rare to new affiliates, which does not make it a viable business option.
Affiliate programs, on the other hand, not only provide you with tons of products to choose from but also become intermediaries that handle the technical side of the business, such as payment processing.
Affiliate programs can be divided into three categories:
1. High paying, low volume
These types of programs include CRM software that can be promoted to small business owners. These types of programs are usually tough because the big players (affiliate marketers with more traffic and bigger pockets) are usually interested in them.
2. Low paying, high volume
These programs offer cheaper products, with a commission in the single digits ($2-$3), that have a huge demand.
Most affiliates start with these programs because of their ease of promotion and mass appeal.
Amazon affiliate program is one of the most popular among this category and offers anywhere from $3-$9 for its wide range of products. Walmart affiliate program pays a bit more but it does not have as many categories as Amazon.
3. High paying, high volume
This category is the hardest to target as the affiliate marketing veterans are after these programs, and it gets almost impossible to make an earning through these programs.
Products like credit cards that not only have a higher commission but also have mass appeal are offered by such programs.
When selecting an affiliate program, consider the following:
- It should offer products that your target audience is interested in (this one’s obvious, I know).
- Do proper research to know how much commission is being offered. Now, it is important to note that not all affiliate programs offer a commission on sales. There are other options as well, such as cost per action (commission is paid when a lead completes an action e.g. filling out a forum), low-ticket, high-ticket, and recurring billing.
- Make sure you select a program that offers support in the form of live chat, email support, etc.
- Only select an affiliate program that has a good reputation.
Create value-added content
Regardless of whether you are blogging or making YouTube videos, if you’re not making content that your audience is interested in, there’s no chance you’ll make it big in the industry.
Great content ideas can be gathered by being active in online communities, forums, social media groups, or anywhere else your target demographic might be found. There you can find hot topics being discussed or problems your audience is facing.
Once you know these things, it becomes easier to curate content that addresses these issues and topics in an informative and engaging manner.
Promote your content
What’s the point of tirelessly working on creating great content if it’s not in the limelight?
Promoting your content is another facet of the affiliate marketing business that is of crucial importance.
Because the more people who read your content, the more sales you’ll make.
Here are a few methods to promote your content:
Paid ad campaigns
Running paid ad campaigns is a great way of generating more visibility, but it comes at a cost, literally.
Paid PPC campaigns will generate traffic as long as you keep running them, but whether they’ll generate sales is a different topic.
That is why it is quite common for newer affiliates to lose money running paid campaigns without knowing much about the strategies of converting a cold audience, creating sales funnels, A/B testing copy ads, etc.
If you want to get traffic through this channel, it is best to first learn all the right strategy or hire a professional.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization is not only free (if you are doing it yourself), but the traffic is also consistent, as long as you have a high ranking.
SEO strategies are easy to learn and mainly deal with knowing what interests your audience, how to make your content more engaging for your audience, and following the best practices of search engines, e.g., Google.
However, it is hard to implement and execute right.
Building an email list is the best way to direct more traffic to your website. Before sending traffic to the affiliate offer, you should ask your visitors to sign up.
But you’ll need to provide an incentive, something of value, e.g. a free ebook, in exchange for their email address.
Once you have built your email list, you can use it to drive more traffic to your website or send direct promotional affiliate links.
Affiliate marketing is not dying anytime soon.
Changing marketing trends forced the affiliate marketing industry to change.
Some affiliate marketers couldn’t make the necessary changes to their affiliate marketing strategies and lost business, causing many to believe that the industry might be collapsing when it was just modifying.
Affiliate marketing is a promising avenue, and if you’re wondering about the future of affiliate marketing, you’d be glad to know that the affiliate marketing industry will only grow in the coming years.
Industry leaders like David Vogelpohl of WP Engine and David Tile of Nimble Media predict some changes in affiliate marketing, e.g.
- Increased importance for micro-influencers;
- Increased demand for mobile-friendly content; and
- Decreased push traffic
But all of them agree that affiliate marketing companies and spending will only grow in the coming years.
So, if we cruise away from the outdated and black-hat (spamming) practices and focus on the upcoming trends and effective strategies, all we need then is some persistence to create a decent revenue-generating affiliate marketing business.
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