There are exactly TWO still-active affiliates that I know of, who started at the same time as I did, back in 1998. It’s pretty hard to believe, because at that time, we were all members of a small private affiliate forum with almost 100 members from my country. Now all of those guys are gone, none of them is active in affiliate marketing anymore, just these two guys and me. To be fair, I don’t keep contact with all of them obviously, but based on the info I have, pretty much all are doing something else now.
At first sight, it might seem weird or even unbelievable, but this is one of the specifics of AM – many affiliates don’t last long. There are several reasons for this, some are obvious, some not so much, but you should be aware of as many as possible – in order to prevent them from killing your AM career too. Let’s take a closer look at the 3 most common ones, that I was able to witness during my journey.
FAILURE TO ADAPT
This is one of the most common reasons for an affiliate to call it quits. Let me use the above mentioned “private forum” story as an example. Pretty much everyone on the forum was involved in adult stuff, there were two main strategies all of us have been using: SEO and TGPs.
At that time, search engines like Altavista and Yahoo were still killing it and Google was just starting to gain traction. In order to rank a site/page, all you had to do was stuff a page full of keywords, use all METAs that existed and bang …. $$$ were coming in.
Thumbnail Gallery Post (TGP) was a site type, where you could submit Thumbnail Galleries (one page with 15 pics and some ADs). There were 100s of TGPs, affiliates had tools that were auto-submitting these galleries and also tools that were creating this galleries on the fly. It was an automated process with very little work required.
BOTH of these methods were so EASY, that it was almost hard to believe they could generate so much money. As a result, all of these affiliates got so lazy and so certain about their money making methods, that they totally forgot to look for more ways, they didn’t build anything for the future … they took this source of income for GRANTED and they thought it would stay the same FOREVER.
Obviously this was WRONG thinking! Soon enough, Google took over the search market and introduced the Page Rank factor, putting less weight on the on-page factors – this effectively wiped out 90% of those guyswho had great ranking before. This affected 50% of the forum members in a very short period of time.
The other half, running TGPs thought they were safe forever too. WRONG again! As BW/Server costs kept on decreasing, videos started to replace photo content, slowly but steadily. For a few years, TGPs were able to survive by transforming into MGPs (movie gallery post). The system remained the same, but instead of photos, the gallery page featured short videos. This all came to an end with the rise of TUBES, that effectively killed TGPs, MGPs along with many other site types and almost the whole adult business with it.
Do you want to know what all those affiliates were doing when the downfall started? Business as usual – creating galleries and submitting them, building more pages with stuffed keywords AND bitching on the forumabout how the whole business keeps on declining and NOTHING works anymore. They refused to change their habits, they kept on doing the same over and over, like a bunch of blind people who refuse to see the reality – It worked so well for so long, it has to work like that forever, right? They refused to accept that an era ended, and they need to ADAPT and test something new. They kept beating their head against the wall instead.
Want to know what I did? I already knew that nothing lasts forever, because I had to adapt once already – I used to run “Toplist” sites (just a listing of other sites with an AD at the top) and these died at some point too, without any chance for resurrection (I wasted a lot of time on this). So instead of trying to beat the dead horse some more, when TGPs went to shit, I started a few MGPs, dozens of model blogs and a paysite review site … and kept on cashing on them for the next 10 years. And I’m sill here, while THEY ARE GONE!
This brings me to another frequent reason that kills affiliate careers.
FAILURE TO SEE THE BIGGER PICTURE
Most of the guys from the forum thought, that what they were doing was the only thing that could make them money. They could only see the TGPs and the SEO game, nothing else, like horses with eye covers. It would be funny, if it wasn’t sad at the same time
Internet offers so many opportunities, there are so many site types to build, so many products to promote, so many sources to get traffic from … never, and I mean NEVER limit your thinking to just what you already know, there is always more to explore.
You have to realize one thing, whatever you are doing $$$ with right now, it is just one SMALL and ISOLATED part of the internet business. Naturally, you also network with people who are doing the same more or less. Think about the masterminds that are being formed all the time, on STM Forum for example, the thread titles are usually like: “Mid XXX mastermind for people running sweeps on POPs” OR “Nutra on Facebook Mastermind”.
Running NUTRA on Facebook or Adwords? Take a look at the communication with your affiliate friends for the past few weeks or months. There have been some changes that made it harder to run these offers on Adwords and many people are struggling with getting more FB accounts lately too. So I guess, the messages you send each other are not so “happy” and the profit figures are lower than they used to be just 6 months ago. But this doesn’t mean that the whole Affiliate Business is dying, it’s just your isolated part of the business that is facing difficulties. Or maybe it’s just one particular method that you and your friends have been using, that is not viable anymore and you need to ADAPT and make changes where necessary.
Whether you want to admit it or not, you’re living in a relatively small bubble at any time of your AM career, there is simply only SO MUCH that you, and your brain can handle. Having a team will help you widen your reach, but you should always stay focused anyways, instead of sitting at several chairs at the same time. There is nothing wrong about it, just be aware of the bigger world our there.
Many new affiliates fail because of this very reason too. They come in motivated, test the most obvious combination “Sweeps on POPs”, they blow $500 and leave the business with a bitter taste in their mouth, feeling cheated by the system. The truth is, they barely scratched the surface. There is so much more to try with paid traffic – PINs, APPs, SOI/DOI leadgen, Games, Lottery, Horoscopes, Solar, Dating, Nutra … building an email list, viral arbitrage … the list could be a mile long.
Always keep this in mind, when you start thinking that the world of AM is falling. Because most likely, it’s not and it’s only about your isolated part of the business or your methods.
FAILURE TO TREAT AM AS A REAL BUSINESS
I have to get back to the private forum example again, many guys over there were looking for an exit since day one. They made several mistakes straight away : some didn’t think that it could last, some were ashamed of what they were doing, some were looking for a quick buck, some wanted to make a few bucks so they could later start a “real” business with that cash …
All of these people failed to understand that AM can be a real business. With all the pros and cons that come with it. I still remember how some guys were sharing one account in submission tools that charged $39 per month, because they thought it was “too expensive”. I remember some guys who’s sites went down pretty often because they were hosted on a shitty host, but hey, it was a cheap one
These people failed to understand that they need to invest money in order to make money. This is one of the mysteries that surround online entrepreneurship actually, people understand that they need to buy goods to have something to sell in their brick&mortars shops, but paying for tools online? NO WAY! We want FREE INTERWEBS!
Don’t be like this! Invest in proper tools, get a solid hosting, invest in further education … properly spent money, will only help your business to grow further.
Another problem is trying to do everything on your own, it’s hard to operate this way. A successful businessman usually has a team that he can delegate tasks to. You don’t necessarily need a team, but don’t try to learn how to do everything. Don’t try to be a coder, designer, accountant, optimizer and media buyer at the same time! Focus on what you are good at and hire people to do the rest – employ them or use freelancers.
Many people who start in AM, end up doing something completely different, by using the $$$ they made in AM, to fund their future activities. But even if AM isn’t your final destination, always treat it like a business. Give it what it takes and the rewards can be immense.
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU DO TO IN ORDER TO SURVIVE IN AM?
Let me sum it up, from the back to the start
1. Treat it like a business, invest when needed, educate yourself and don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to other people. Especially those, that you are not good at!
2. Just because you started with SWEEPS, it doesn’t mean you have to stick with them FOREVER! There is so much to do on the internet, look outside of your bubble!
3. Nothing is ETERNAL and affiliate campaigns are no exception. All of them die at some point, rules change, methods stop working and habits of the users change too. Be ready to ADAPT when the need comes. ADAPT OR DIE!
This was a guest post by my friend Matuloo who recently started dropping knowledge bombs for free on his blog at www.matuloo.com, check it out!