Thursday, 01 April 2010
It's no secret that the affiliate industry is ever changing. What was in fashion last year is probably old news today. As it's approaching the end of the 2009/2010 tax year, it makes sense to re-assess my business strategy. If you've got a huge portal website (the likes of a popular voucher code site, a competitions site, a freebies site, etc.) then the chances are you don't need to do this as much as a small non-specialised affiliate although it's probably still a worthwhile activity.
I thought this process might be of some use to other affiliates so here's my thoughts on the matter.
1) Take Stock
It's important to map out what you do now. If someone asked me what market I focussed on I don't think there's a single answer, nor could I reel off all my sites. I'm the proud owner of nearly 100 domains although many of which are parked at present sat on my to do list.
Once you have a list you need to see how well each is performing. Sites that I relied on at the start of 2009 no longer are my bread and butter, partly thanks to the recession and partly thanks to trends. I can no longer identify a single site that is my flagship which could suggest I've spread myself too thinly.
2) Look For Trends
Now you've taken stock, it's time to look to the future. In my portfolio I can see a couple of sites that have potential but in traversing through the site stats, I've found some niches and new markets I would like to pursue.
Google Insights for Search is quite a handy tool for finding out trends whilst the Google AdWords Keyword Tool is quite handy for working out the competition together with search phrases. Every affiliate has their own preference and some trumpet paid search tools to identify and exploit new markets. Others prefer freebies though ;-)
Affiliate account managers can help here. Your new and existing relationships may be of some help to identify markets you are keen to go into.
3) Formulate a Plan
It's all good and well thinking about what 2010/2011 will bring but you need to make a move. Sitting still in a moving industry is not a good tactic.
Think about what you can do to develop a site. Take a look at the site now and assess what works and what does not. Sometimes the things you think will be an absolute hit are not and vice versa.
Make sure your sites are up to date and see if you can find a use for the new banners, content units, videos and widgets merchants and networks have spent a lot of time developing.
If you are developing new sites or strategies for moving it forward, consider the long term. The problem I have with a couple of my sites is that I've built for short term growth and have had to either re-develop or re-design sites to offer a more sustainable platform long term. That's time that could have been spent writing content or optimising keywords.
4) Don't Over-Plan!
It's important to have a plan (in my opinion) as affiliate marketing is a business. If you need to make money, you need to treat it as such. The thing is, there is a case where you can over-plan. Spending too much time planning and not enough time doing can be a problem for some. This is also true for the reverse (under-planning), especially if the revenue you earn is paying your mortgage.
Planning is good but over-planning is wasteful. On the other side is that familiar mantra "fail to plan? Plan to fail".
My Plan In a Nutshell
This year I am looking to scale back on the amount of sites I have, focussing on developing and growing a handful across a range of niches. I am looking to move into new sectors this year as well as remain in existing ones. I can't divulge much more but you get the drift.
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Fairly good insight, reassessing the market and my method of operations is something I never thought of. I guess I too am victim of thinking I have everything figured out, when that is hardly ever the case.
I also agree with you scaling back the number of sites you have, having 100 domains is excessive and it must be a challenge providing a quality user experience on what I believe is too many websites. I don't think you run 100 websites, but I think owning 100 domains is a sure indicator that you may be doing too much. Unless you are investing in them for future sales.
Written on Monday 14 June 2010 at 21:48:36 GMT (Permalink)
Thank you to all previous commenters.
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