“If you were just entering the affiliate industry now, knowing what you already know, how would you launch a successful business? Where would you start?”
This is a question I get asked time and time again, particularly by those looking to cross in to affiliate marketing on a shoestring budget. I understand the concerns. Not wanting to waste a single dollar is an admirable show of frugality, if hopelessly unrealistic.
However, condensing my hindsight in to a reliable plan for somebody else’s future is not particularly practical.
There are many things I’ve learnt by starting an affiliate business. Most importantly, the need to play to my strengths.
When you step back from the industry and forget that affiliate marketing exists, you can find a great deal of clarity by simply asking yourself: “What do I have to offer? What can I do for other people that would make some kind of difference?”
These are very fundamental questions, and probably not as appealing as the one push button formula that many optimists are craving to hear about.
But it’s only by understanding your strengths, by grasping what you have to offer, that you can possibly think about creating a business that will be valuable five or ten years from now.
If you fail to recognise your strengths and passions, I can almost guarantee that your success will hinge on chance. You’ll adopt the scattergun approach to Internet Marketing where projects look impressive on paper, but leave you feeling empty on the first day of production.
I could advise new affiliates to go and build a website about losing weight with the latest jungle superberry, because obviously there’s plenty of money to be made in that particular niche. But I’d be doing them a massive injustice.
You could expect those excited affiliates to go away, bust out their credit cards, snap up domains and hosting, and maybe even come back two weeks later with a shiny WordPress ready to sell some berries.
The problem is that most new affiliates are pretty uneducated when it comes to understanding and selling berries. More to the point, the reason they find to justify such a splurge of berry related research is that it could potentially make them money. They will build websites about random crap because there’s a bucket of gold at the end of the rainbow. But where is the passion?
You can’t be passionate about money forever. It’s a paradox. Eventually you end up with enough of it to be back to square one.
The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that even if there is a bucket of gold at the end of the rainbow, even if your berries website does make you a great deal of money, it’s not going to leave you feeling 100% satisfied. The only work that will leave you feeling 100% satisfied is work that you actually care about.
This is a ridiculous argument for many affiliates to understand. Who needs to feel satisfied when the money is in the bank and you’re still in your boxer shorts at 1pm?
It’s not a question of failing to appreciate the money, but rather feeling comfortable with your objectives. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and so I use affiliate marketing as a mechanism to monetize the passion I have for writing.
My whiteboards used to be littered with whichever projects were likely to put money in my pocket, even if the thought of getting the work done was enough to make me strangle a kitten in my sleep.
Sooner or later, the mindset grows thin. You find yourself naturally gravitating to the ideas that stir an emotion or excitement more sustainable than the appeal of making money. You ultimately realise that easy, profitable and sustainable can never exist.
I hope that one day the Internet Marketing bubble bursts, and we’re all forced to abandon the ridiculous exact match domain projects that came about simply because we saw a micro opportunity, or the thousands of Ezine processed articles, written by experts who are only actually expert in the art of getting to an opportunity first.
My number one piece of advice for any affiliate looking to break in to the industry is actually quite simple.
Imagine you’re designing a business plan for a brick and mortar store, not a website that can be quietly consigned to history at the first sniff of a challenge. Then ask, “What can I see myself happily working on every day for as long as it takes to succeed?”
Nail down your passion, research the market, and then do a better job of servicing it than the thousands of Internet Marketers wearing ‘expert’ masks in disguise.
It might take a while for the industry to correct itself, but when it does, the affiliates who are truly passionate about their objectives will have a much greater incentive to stay ahead than Mr. Exact Match Domain who couldn’t give a shit.
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