If you really and truly are looking to affiliate marketing for a way to earn some additional income or make a living, then you need to approach it as a business.
Sure, you can make money by running a blog, review site, etc… but the people who become successful at it and make the fat stacks are those who view these sites as businesses.
Build a brand
Back in the day (before I got into IM, unfortunately), you could churn out a bunch of targeted sites with decent content, monetize them, and earn a gainful income. Today that method doesn’t work so well. To really make it in affiliate marketing today you need a brand. People want to know who they’re buying from, being referred or influenced by, and they want to associate themselves with a trustworthy and professional web presence.
The days of spammy, keyword-rich, low-quality sites with an anonymous cast running the show are over. When your visitors hit your site they want to see professionalism. Even if it’s a mommy blog, and in fact, especially if it’s a mommy blog…visitors want to align themselves with a brand.
Because of this, you should be thinking big when you start a niche site. Think about how the ‘business’ will look five years from now, because this is what you are essentially doing . . . creating a business.
Learning from the masters
A few years ago I attended Affiliate Summit West in Las Vegas. If you’re planning to pursue a career in IM, and you haven’t yet been to an Affiliate Summit, it’s something you should definitely try to take in at least once. There is a lot one can glean from one of these events.
Anyway…perhaps one of the biggest takeaways for me was the mind set shared by most of the wealthy affiliates present at the convention. During their speeches, panels and keynotes, all of them had a similar attitude towards what they did, which was to build brands and lasting businesses.
In essence, what they preached was to encourage the development of businesses rather than ‘jobs’. A businesses is its own entity and can be transferrable, where as a job is a duty which you must fulfill.
By viewing your site as a business, you are creating an investment and building something of worth. The closer your site can get to a ‘business’, the more efficient it will likely be, and the more valuable it will be to others.
Some day you may want to ‘cash out’ or pursue a different vertical. If you’ve been busy creating a business, then chances are there will be buyers out there anxious to pay good money for all of the hard work you’ve put forth into building your brand…your identity…your business.
Early on it may be necessary, but don’t keep trying to do everything
If you’ve built your site in such a way that it will absolutely fall apart if you’re not running it, that’s not a very desirable business model because it means things aren’t very systematized. The idea with a business is to focus on your strengths and what matters most, then outsource anything that can be delegated. Doing this will not only make life easier, but it will also ensure that your website will be a worthwhile investment for someone else.
At some point, make it so that your sites can manage without you
Unless it’s your personal blog, your affiliate sites should be built with the idea that one day you will flip them, even if you don’t. Develop your sites in such a way that hopefully someday you’ll have interested competing parties emailing you with offers to buy you out. If you have an organized system in place then you can easily transfer that system to someone else, not to mention…if you ever want to take some time off, then having a systematic approach is crucial.
Even if you’re running one single site, if you become hugely successful there will likely be no way for you to handle all of it on your own. Now imagine if you were to run a few popular and profitable sites… At some point you are going to need a bit of help, so even during the early days when you can hear crickets chirping when you view your site analytics . . . imagine a successful business, because if you do, it will become a reality.
If you start out viewing your affiliate ‘sites’ as ‘businesses’, then you’ll not only be more organized, but you’ll also be thinking ‘big’ – pushing you ever that much closer to your goals…
I’m not in the website business, I’m in the empire business
I’m guilty of building ‘sites’. It’s easy for me to do, so I tend to break them off on a whim. It’s like a hobby for me, but it’s also a glaring reason as to why my affiliate fortune has eluded me.
This time is different. As Walter White would say . . . “I’m awake”.
Time to get serious. Time to build my empire. ;D