Recently, I got to know James Nardell of Shopster. We spent quite some time discussing his business and how it works. It’s an interesting model, but I have no tangible products to sell. However, James and his team are a wealth of information about work with affiliates. So I asked if his team would write a series of blog posts on myths and misconceptions bloggers have about affiliate marketing and how it works. This is the first in that series.
Myth 1: Affiliate Marketing Is Easy
A Guest Post by Raymond Lau
First off, no business is easy. If it were easy and you could make good money doing it, everyone would be doing it. Any successful business requires two things: hard work and risk.
In the early days of search marketing, affiliate marketing was a relatively easy and low cost technique for generating revenue. It was cheaper to buy traffic and easier to optimize rankings in Google. There were fewer rules to follow and Google wasn’t in competition with affiliates. Advertisers werenÃ¢â¬â¢t adopting search marketing tactics whereas affiliates were giving it a whirl.
“Affiliate marketing has evolved and it’s difficult for newcomers to jump in without any capital and start making money,” says Chris Finken of OrangeSoda — a successful affiliate and search marketing company.
Times have changed for the affiliate marketer, but search engines are still the best way for people to find what they’re looking for online. For the affiliate, traffic-generation techniques have been focusing blogging. “Blogs remain a popular tool for affiliate marketing ‘on the cheap’ “, Finken says. Still, he warns about no- or low-cost Web publishing tools.
Affiliate marketers canÃ¢â¬â¢t just set up junk blogs, plug them with poorly written (or completely spammy) content and expect to start generating leads. Think about itÂ¦ If that’s all that was required, no one would hire affiliate marketers. Companies could easily do that themselves.
Blogs are spider food. They are constantly updated with targeted content. They are exactly what search engines are looking for. If affiliate marketers spend the time writing decent blog posts, optimizing them for keywords, focusing on some SEO tactics, they can generate visitor traffic.
To make money, prospective affiliate marketers have to consider four things:
1. Proper perspective. Affiliate marketing as a side gig or hobby is increasingly difficult due to time and cash commitment needed to attract and retain shoppers that are referred to marketers.
2. Money. You need hard dollars to invest in site design, SEO, and paid search advertisements. Your site won’t sell itself.
3. Competitive advantage. You need to compete with HUGE sites like www.fatwallet.com (multiple value propositions to their members) and www.revtrax.com (taking affiliate marketing directly to customers who shop in stores — allowing marketers to track and reward the affiliate for store-based purchases). What do you offer?
4. A marketer’s temperament. You have to be willing to try stuff and fail. For everything that works, there’s going to be way more that doesn’t. You have to be up on the current techniques, be aware of upcoming strategies, and have a firm understanding of your competition.
The bottom line:
Marketers want affiliates to innovate into new distribution points that they don’t know about or cannot access. That can take time, money, and hard work.
Raymond Lau is a marketing analyst for Shopster.com — a company that provides Web sellers with a dropship product source and e-Commerce storefront tools to build their online business. Shopster gives retailers and affiliates access to over 1 million products they can sell on auction sites or their own storefront. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks, James and Raymond!
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!!