One of the tough things about being an affiliate marketer is that it is an extremely volatile industry. Offers go up and down, networks scrub and shave, traffic sources change, you’re constantly being outbid – these are just a few of the problems that can make an affiliate marketers job difficult. Its hard to say you can ever be 100% stable in any business though. But lets take a look at some things I’ve done, and that you can follow, to become a better marketer and hold on to campaigns just a bit longer.
I always start with research. This is something I know a lot of affiliates slack off on. They’d rather get data, then optimize off that data. I take my research on offers, demographics and psychograpics, put them all together to build a niche and tight campaigns, collect data on that and optimize further including new research information. Researching can be anything from figuring out your target market to knowing what your main competitors are doing and how you can improve off that before you launch your campaign. A smart and efficient marketer knows what they are getting into before they get into it.
So, how can we do better research? My days simply start out with reading the news or checking out new trends . Knowing what is going around in the world around you is going to help you pick niches, offers and put together traffic sources. You can target these trends on different advertising platforms through standard affiliate offers by using unique angles that other affiliate marketers aren’t going after. These aren’t always the largest campaigns, revenue-wise, but due to using a bit of creativity, they’ll last considerably longer than just broadly targeting something and inducing “banner blindness” to a larger target.
Another one of my favorite daily use tools is Quantcast. Quantcast allows me to find demographics for most larger websites on the net, or find websites that have the demographics I’m looking for. Also, they have a similar site/”users also visited” site feature which makes not only understanding demographics easier, but also getting under their head, or understanding psychographics of your market a little better, as well. The better you understand a target market, the better you will be able to manage them long term with a wide range of affiliate marketing campaigns.
You can also look into other tools such as tracking (which will always be essential), spies, and management tools that will just overall make your life easier.
Another issue I see a lot of affiliates with is cash flow. When most new affiliates start they have a couple hundred to a thousand or so bucks to their name with the hope of dropping a few ads and seeing 200% ROI. It just doesn’t work like that. You need money to make money. In your first couple months, if all you have is $1000 to work with, the max you can hope to see returns on is $2000. If you’ve got $10,000, you could possibly make $20,000. That doesn’t mean you will, but your first couple months are essential for cash flow as that is when you’ll be experimenting and learning the most. It also means networks probably aren’t paying you out on net-7 yet, which puts hinderece on whether or not you are making your money back right away.
So how can you help maintain overall cash flow? I started off in affiliate marketing by writing freelance. I still do it from time to time, as well as writing for a small group of blogs in only topics that interest me. Using your skills whether it be writing, teaching, programming, design or communicating, can be an excellent substitute income when you need that extra cash to put towards your affiliate campaigns. This is especially true when you are very short on cash. I hear way too many people complain that it is grunt work, too hard to learn, etc etc. You aren’t helping yourself out. Either stick it out for the additional cash to help you out of a rut, or keep complaining – just don’t let me hear about it.
Are you constantly building out your campaigns? I start most of my campaigns on one network, then scale out, usually with identical ads to continue to roll in money, even on old campaigns. Sticking to one network and/or one offer is an affiliate death trap. Make sure you are constantly building out new campaigns, even if you don’t have the money to run them yet, having them on lineup will accelerate you when you are ready for them. This gets much easier to handle when you have employees managing campaigns and other menial tasks for you.
Another big one I know many affiliates miss out on is having a stable business plan. If your idea of running a business is “Meh, I’ll get to it when I get to it or just wait for some better offers”, you’re not going to be having a very stable business. Network, manage, and plan your affiliate marketing. You don’t always have to stick 100% to it, but it will help guide you as you are scaling out to 4 or 5 figure days.
Here is an example daily schedule of how I manage my day and campaigns. First off, I wake up and read the news, drink my coffee, and check emails. After that, I only check emails a couple more times per day. If you can cut out access to Facebook completely, do so. Unfortunately, a lot of my business happens there, so I have to train myself to stay away from chatting with friends and only use it as a business tool. I go through any meetings and calls according to my daily planner. Another first thing I do is check the status of my running campaigns. Is ROI dropping? Are my offers all still up? I’ll do what I have to do to manage that. Afterwards, I start browsing OfferVault and talking to affiliate managers looking into new offers, campaigns and angles. If I find something worth while, I do my due research on it, send an email out to my designers to make landing pages or collect additional data (data mining and consolidating that data into a spreadsheet eases the amount of tedius analysis I would otherwise have to do on my own). I then start building those new campaigns. I don’t refresh my stats every 15 minutes, I don’t check my emails or Facebook every 15 minutes, and I avoid getting distracted by blocking myself from viewing sites that would otherwise kill all my time.
There is a lot more I could write on this subject, but I think I’ll leave you guys off here. Feel free to ask any questions on this topic in the comments section below!