“Affiliate marketing is serious business,” said Greg Shepard, eBay’s Chief Strategy Officer, in discussing both the amount of money being recently invested in affiliate marketing companies ($4 billion over several transactions) and forecasts for affiliate marketing spending in 2016 ($39 billion in U.S. eCommerce).
If you’re among the successful affiliate marketers out there, I congratulate you. I know it’s not easy. At the same time, the online environment doesn’t stand still. Google can make a change in their algorithm that completely wipes out your business, as they did in 2011, wiping out a lot of formerly thriving online businesses.
For affiliate marketers, the moral of the story is to develop several income streams. Here are five ways to do that:
1. Have a Broader Product Line
If your affiliate business is based on selling one product, know that at some point, demand for that product could drop off. So, you should have several products you can market or a front-end to back-end sales system that introduces customers to new and higher-priced products.
In MOBE, our consultants promote and sell front-end products and live events. They make little to no profit on it, but through the efforts of our in-house sales team, customers can make additional back-end purchases. If the consultant who made the original sale is positioned in the company at the highest level, they can earn considerable commissions—as much as $15,000 total on a single customer.
If you’re selling a single-sale, front-end product, consider adding or creating a back-end product line that you can promote to your front-end customers.
2. Get Into Several Niches
As an affiliate marketer, you may be marketing a product you’re not entirely passionate about. Why not start another site or blog in a niche you are passionate about?
You would need to set it up so that your existing business is running as automatically as possible. Doing that will allow you to devote time to your new venture. Or, you could outsource the monitoring to a reasonably priced personal assistant through a freelance site like Guru or Upwork.
The niche you’re passionate about might be one of the skill-sets you use in your affiliate business. For instance, Roderick, of the website One More Cup of Coffee, started his affiliate market career selling software. Two-and-a-half years later, with a successful affiliate business, he started One More Cup of Coffee, where he teaches internet marketing.
If the software business falls off, he still has his internet marketing education business (and whatever other niche sites he’s started).
3. Diversify Traffic Streams
If your blog or website is surviving on organic search traffic, that’s a great situation, since organic search is some of the best converting traffic out there. But, as I mentioned earlier, if Google decides to make another change to their algorithm, your page may lose its ranking, taking your cash flow with it.
So, it makes sense to drive traffic in as many different ways as you can:
- Paid Ads
- Social Media Promotions
- Offline Promotions (e.g., Postcards)
This installs a safety factor so you continue to drive traffic even if one stream dries up.
4. Provide Services
As a successful affiliate marketer, you have skills that businesses are willing to pay for to help them be more successful. These could include any of the following:
- Blog/Article Writing
- Social Media Management
- Keyword Research
By establishing contracts with other businesses to provide services on a monthly basis, you create additional stable income without necessarily having to work full-time for it.
There are probably certain affiliate marketing tasks that you prefer over others. You’ve probably also made contacts with others in the affiliate marketing niche who have their own favorite set of tasks.
Maybe you can collaborate with them on a new venture. Though partnering means less initial profit, it also means less initial work, as each party carries only part of the workload. It could eventually become quite profitable, at which point you and your collaborator might want to refer to point #2 above.
Direct marketing expert Dan Kennedy said something several years back that has always stuck with me: “One is the most dangerous number in business.” This applies to products, customers, accounts, employees, service providers—whatever. In business, you never want to be reliant on just one of anything because if that fails or disappears, you’re in trouble.
Create and maintain several streams of income.