Affiliate marketing is very exciting because there are so few barriers for entry. If you have a good idea and the energy to pursue it then you’re bound to begin earning money by promoting other people’s products and/or services.

However …

Affiliate marketing requires you to learn and implement a wide range of skills and strategies. Many of which can be difficult for the beginner. The upside is that the affiliate marketing community is very supportive.

When you’re stumped or stuck in a rut you can look to the community to provide insight and aid.

Knowing which questions to ask is just as important as learning the skills and strategies.

The following are five of those important questions you should be asking yourself (and the community) to guarantee your success in the affiliate marketing industry.

1. What is my two year goal with this thing?

Starting off you’re going to feel a whole ton of excitement because it’s fresh and ripe with opportunity. Ideas will flow like crazy and you’ll have no problem burning extra hours late into the night to push out your work. But after a year it’s going to sink in. You’re going to hit a wall after pushing so hard.

Do you know what you’re going to do then?

The first year is cake. It’s all those years afterward that’s going to test you.

  • Do you know what content you’re doing?
  • Do you know what products you’re promoting?
  • Do you have other projects lined up?

Think far, far ahead when you’re getting your start. Look beyond that “honeymoon” phase. Think about what you’re going to do when it turns from a fun activity into a real-world grind. If you can understand what you’re going to expect you’ll stay aligned toward achieving your goals. If you can’t answer this question you’re bound to hit the wall.

2. Who is my real customer and audience?

Affiliate marketing, as I said, is awesome because it’s so easy to get a start. With practice you can realistically slap together a site and get campaigns going in under a week.

But then when you think about it …

  • Are you doing the “shotgun” approach?
  • Are your doing a “laser” approach?

The first is what most seem to do. They have an idea, make something real quick, and hope for the best. The problem is that there wasn’t enough research done into the audience and customer data to really understand how you’re going to align your marketing initiatives.

The other (the laser approach) is when you do take the time to figure out your audience and the type of people that become customers. You’ve gotta ask yourself this question otherwise you’ll be chasing a ghost. Simply put: do your research.

3. What product has longevity & exception value worthy of promotion?

The reason why affiliate marketing is so viable is that there are so many creators of great products. This means you can choose to make an entry into just about any and all niches if you have the desire.

But this too brings up concerns:

  • What if the product/service is just a fad?
  • What if the quality of the product causes foul cry?
  • What if the company behind the offer suddenly goes under?

There are tons of great products you can find on the affiliate marketplaces and from in-house programs but you really need to do your diligence. Don’t just look at the numbers. Really figure out if the offer has value for the customers. Peep into the reputation of the company. Get an outside opinion before you start promoting unless you want to be back pedaling after promoting a crummy offer.

4. Which of the many platforms will provide me with the greatest ROI?

There’s generally a flow to how people get started with affiliate marketing and most of the time it’s about setting up a website and building a list.

But is that really what you should do?

  • What if 90% of your target audience is on a social network?
  • What if the target audience don’t regularly access the Web?
  • What if that platform is too saturated?

Advertising will help you break into the industry, that’s for sure, but most new affiliates will stick to the bootstrap methods like blogging or social media. But it really all depends where you’re finding those leads. You can cut your loss (of time) working on all these different platforms by focusing on the ones that really matter based on recording and assessing your ROI.

5. Who do I know that can help me achieve these business goals?

It’s about the hands you shake that makes or breaks you in this industry. This is especially true and you see it all the time when some new affiliate comes to a niche, produces amazing content and value, but gets overshadowed by the authority (popular) person.

So then you have to figure …

  • What technical people can help me achieve my tech-related goals?
  • What business-types can help me get my foot in the door?
  • Who can help with the promotion of my work?

A mastermind group (one in which you form a small group of like-minded business-focused individuals) will help get things rolling but eventually you need to bite the bullet and start rubbing elbows with the authorities in the niche. These big players can help you get discovered. Their endorsement can be what makes you a major player. It’s this idea of authority by association. Find the right people to mix with and you’ll have set yourself up for a win.

Your turn – what are your major questions about affiliate marketing as you get a start? Post your answers over on our Facebook page and we’ll be happy to answer them!