The low barriers to entry for starting a blog and making money with affiliate marketing are what makes it so exciting. If you have a good idea, the energy to pursue it, and keep blogging, then you’re bound to begin earning money by promoting other people’s products and/or services.
Affiliate marketing (and blogging) requires you to learn and implement a wide range of skills and strategies.
Many of these skills are difficult for the beginner because there’s more to it than following a step-by-step guide. The upside is that the community is very supportive. When you’re stumped or stuck in a rut you can look to the community to provide insight and aid.
Want to survive?
- Know what questions to ask to ensure your longevity
- Keep blogging
The following are those important questions to improve your chances of success in the blogging and affiliate marketing (and blogging) market.
1. What is my 2/5/10 year goal if I keep blogging?
You’ll feel a ton of excitement when starting because it’s a fresh idea and ripe with opportunity.
Ideas will flow like crazy and there will be no problem burning extra hours to work on projects. You’ll spend hundreds of hours pouring over affiliate marketing blog posts. This will lead you toward related strategies like email marketing, membership sites, infoproduct creation, and so much more.
You’ll keep blogging… more than enough time will go into creating the content.
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’ll do?
- Do you know what products you’ll promote?
- Do you have other projects lined up?
Think far, far ahead when you’re getting your start and look beyond the “honeymoon” phase.
Think about what you’ll do when it turns from a fun activity into a real-world grind.
Blogging can and will become tedious after you’ve exhausted a lot of the early ideas. This is an industry fraught with dead blogs because of content exhaustion. It’s quite common to see blogs wither after a few, short years.
How to plan and overcome the eventual wall
This is no easy feat considering it’s still far, far into the future. You never know what will happen within that timeframe. Something may pop up in life that drags you from blogging. Or, maybe you’re given an irresistible offer to take your efforts elsewhere.
Here’s how you can prepare:
- Create a strong community that’ll provide regular feedback used to generate new ideas
- Open the platform to user submissions and guest posting in between your publications
- Outsource some of the development or hire one or two writers to fill the content gaps
- Plan big, challenging expansions such as leveraging your work into a spin-off business
I want you to think where blogging will take you since you’re developing real skills.
Keep blogging because could take you into:
- Freelance writing
Or, maybe you’re developing your craft along the way and finally have the support to open a shop.
Do this: Look at the milestones instead of the day-to-day and you’ll find ways to get there.
2. Who is my real customer and audience so my efforts to keep blogging have an impact?
Affiliate marketing, as I said, is awesome because it’s so easy to get a start. With practice, you can throw up a site and get campaigns going in under a day if you’re pushing it hard. Hell, you don’t even need a website to start if you really wanted… that’s how low the barriers are.
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 marketer/blogger keeps publishing content hoping something will stick. Some pieces will but a lot of the efforts fall flat.
Enter… the echo chamber.
This is what happens when you start to overvalue your work.
When you’re so convinced you’ve created a great piece you’re stubborn when it doesn’t get the reception you want.
- You’re not working with the right influencers
- You’re not listening to the community
Believe it or not, you can create viral posts with sub-par content.
Don’t believe me?
Just look at any “funny” Facebook page reposting memes and cringe-worthy videos. People love that stuff. The page does so well because they’re catering to the community. Not tooting their own horn, doing content they want to see, and brushing off whenever someone points out they’re missing opportunities to build a community.
Then… you’ve got the follower-minded types.
These are the types that take a laser approach to defining their audience and community.
They’ve taken the time to:
- Learn the community demographics
- Learn the platforms they frequent
- Learn the content they enjoy
The point being is to do your research.
Look at the analytics and see exactly what people are looking for on the blog. Hop over to your social channels and measure what’s being shared so you can replicate that success. And, respond to followers since the discussion could spark new ideas for upcoming content they’ll love.
3. What offers have longevity and deliver exceptional value worthy of your promotion?
Affiliate marketing is viable because there are so many great offers. 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 drops due to creator neglect?
- What if the company behind the offer suddenly goes under?
… and the biggest question: Am I promoting a legitimate, worthwhile offer?
There are tons of great products you can find on the affiliate networks.
Sorting by best sellers, highest EPC’s, and payouts are what many new affiliate marketers will do when choosing offers. Few look beyond the metrics going far as never touching the product they’re promoting!
Snake oil, anyone?
This was (and still is) a HUGE problem in affiliate marketing:
- You’ve got some products that turn out shady
- You’ve got a lot of “marketers” promoting bad stuff
This was the deal for a good while which put a lot of people off from affiliate marketing. Google and other search engines certainly gave these affiliates a slap. The market pushed back.
It was hard repairing that image but affiliate marketing is in a renaissance. More and more people are open to the idea of this business model. A ton of legitimate businesses are seeing its value and offering their well-accepted products and services on affiliate platforms.
This brings me to my point:
You really need to do your diligence.
Don’t just look at the numbers — figure out if the offer has value for the customers — peep into the reputation of the company. Get multiple opinions from people you trust before you start promoting.
Your reputation is on the line.
One bad promotion and you’ll burn the community… it happens. Lose their trust and you’ll have a helluva time regaining your authority. So, tread lightly when you’re sourcing affiliate promotions else you could find yourself part of those dying off after the first 100 days.
4. Which of the platforms will provide the best ROI?
There’s a general flow to how people get started with affiliate marketing:
- They find a niche
- Set up a blog
- Create content
- Add offers
- Promote on social
That seems to cover the basics of what you’re generally taught about “starting an online business”. It’s sound because, yeah, you have a direction and platform to spread your message.
But… is that really what you should do?
- What if 90% of your target audience is only found on a social network?
- What if the target audience don’t regularly access the Web?
- What if that platform is too saturated or there’s simply not enough interest?
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. It really all depends where you’re finding those leads.
I’m talking about offline leads.
Yes… they do exist and you can make money as an affiliate referring these people.
The tactics to reach these offline leads include:
- Direct mail. Consider purchasing a mailing list and sending postcards with an offer. The postcard (or letter) could include similar call-to-actions as you’ve made on a landing page. The landing page would include links to your affiliate offers.
- Events. Break from your comfort zone and start networking in real life. This means attending a conference, local meetups, and business events. Why? It’s about getting on the radar of others; use the interactions to point people to your site where they’ll explore and land on affiliate offers.
- Cold Calls. I don’t like calling people and I’m sure you’re the same. But, you could keep up-to-date with new businesses launching your area, cold calling them, and referring them to a landing page with resources. These resources? Yup, your affiliate offers.
What I’m trying to say…
Is that online isn’t the only platform you should explore when getting into affiliate marketing.
The Web is saturated with millions of websites. The amount of information and ads we see each day is mind-boggling. What don’t you see? A lot of omnichannel marketing efforts from affiliate marketers.
Use this as a way to explore and test your creativity and expertise.
If you can sell an online, affiliate product to your neighbor over a conversation… you’ll definitely do some great sales when it comes to everything online.
5. Who do I know that’ll help me achieve these business goals?
It’s about the hands you shake that makes or breaks you in this industry.
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.
The small affiliate (you) worked their ass off creating awesome content. Pouring hours into its production, covering every detail, and adding tons of multi-media to make it engaging…
… the authority shoots off a blurb and social goes nuts.
How are they doing so well and you aren’t?
- Their site’s domain authority certainly helps
- They’ve built a large set of passionate followers
- They’re working with other influencers
It’s all about who you know this game.
There… I said it.
But this isn’t a new concept.
Of course, people want to follow strong, established brands. And of course, these individuals will have connections with other influencers. Many have paid their dues. Now it’s your turn.
Build your own network of influencers.
Think things like:
- What technical people can help me achieve my tech-related goals?
- What business-types can help me get my foot in the door of that company?
- Who’s creative and got connections that’ll help with the promotion of my work?
A mastermind group (where you form a small group of like-minded individuals) will help get things rolling.
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.
Here’s how to influence the influencers:
- Outdo their content by making it bigger and better
- Be on their radar by commenting, emailing, and offering feedback
- Meet and chat with them at conferences and meetups
- Get to know their gatekeepers who’ll pass on the good word
- Link their content or mention their name since it’ll ping their alerts
- Provide something value their way and they’ll reciprocate
I really recommend you look around at who’s “coming up” alongside your blogging and affiliate marketing adventure. These are the people that’ll grow with you. Form alliances and friendships with your peers. Do so and you’ll have an easy way to help promote blog posts, get more social shares, and feedback.
Keep working on getting on the radar of the bigger influencers in your market since one good word could change everything. If you need to… buy your way into their space through targeted ads and overlapping market segments.
What are your questions do you have about affiliate marketing? Finding it difficult to just keep blogging? What are your long-term goals with within the industry? Post your answers with a comment below or over on our Facebook page.