Thursday, 23 June 2011
Jason wrote an excellent blog post back in May posing the question So What Happened To The UK Affiliate Bloggers?. In it he talks about the lack of fresh affiliate orientated content from some of the most prolific affiliate bloggers in the UK and beyond. My initial reaction was that affiliate bloggers have moved onto social media as an alternative. However, more recently I've been wondering where all affiliate marketers have gone, not just the bloggers.
My main tipple of choice is a glug of A4U every now and then. I use it substantially less now for a variety of reasons: lack of time; over-complex functionality; spam; lack of engaging discussions; etc. This isn't the fault of A4U but is simply a reflection of the changing times.
I'm busy here in Fiske towers and have been for some time. I wish I had an extra pair of hands to help but it's not viable at the moment so I make do. As such, time is precious and ebbs away very quickly indeed at the moment. We're half way through the year and a few days off the "6 months to Christmas" countdown so it doesn't look like it'll ease any time soon.
A4U has adapted over time to meet the need of the changing market. In trying to be more than a forum I believe the proposition has been slightly diluted from an affiliate perspective. I've rarely looked at News, The Pool, The Hub, Jobs and Events mainly as I get my fix of these through Twitter and RSS feeds.
Spam is a big problem in my opinion and is more a sign of success than weakness in my opinion. In relation to reading and commenting, I must spend a good 10% of my activity (at least) reporting spam. Other spam comes in the form of a string of identical posts from merchants promoting themselves in several threads. This has got better in recent times but the solution of having on thread a day for network launches, movements and closures means a lot of stuff I'm interested in is buried away. It's a fine line between duplicate content and usefulness and I reckon there's still scope. It would be much easier if merchants chose a single network to work with ;-)
In terms of the lack of engaging discussion, this is probably the most prominent area of concern. Whilst reading a thread yesterday cdr268 had suggested A4U was re-branded Merchants4U due to the ratio of merchants to affiliates on the board. I remember not so long ago a healthy buzz around the forum. Prominent affiliates offered help and advice and fresh blood and less successful affiliates were engaged in conversations. All was well.
Now it seems that most of the influential affiliates in the industry have either moved onto pastures new. Perhaps that's just the ecosystem at work. I joined the forum in December 2006 and joined the fresh blood of that year as well as the affiliate greats who had joined well before that. Fast forward 4.5 years and now many of the greats no longer comment but a new set of influential people exist on the forums, with a different style and attitude. Perhaps it's the circle of life at play.
So if affiliate marketers have moved off forums, they've surely moved back towards blogs? Erm, no. As Jason elegantly portrays, there's pretty much nothing going on in the world of the usual suspects.
I personally feel the culling of the Blogger of the Year Award at the A4UAwards was probably a right move given the lack of posts in the arena but this could have contributed to such a lack. The chance to win industry recognition was enough for me to post some blog content. Whether it was well received is another point entirely but being nominated for the Award was a good day.
On the topic of awards, this years winners list sees very little in the affiliate publisher arena. There's a couple of major names but nothing for small aspiring affiliates. Cynics could say this backs up the Merchants4U comment above. It would be great to see the introduction of a selection of affiliate awards to balance the awards back out. The logistics of collating entries and determining winners would no doubt be wildly complex and perhaps ambiguous which may explain why the awards don't exist at present.
So if affiliates have moved away from the forums and the blogs, surely they've moved to social media?
Well not entirely. I, for example, easily spend far more time on twitter than I do on the forum and my blog combined. The discussions are varied though, and generally is more concerned with daily life. The same seems to go for other affiliate marketers. There is a bit of gold out there but it is few and far between. The chat is interesting and varied usually but it's rarely about affiliate marketing.
So as a group of affiliate marketers we've deserted chatting about what we do. As such, could it be argued that there are less active affiliate marketers in the market, or even that there has been a shift in economic priorities?
Before the credit crunch and subsequent recession, you couldn't move for "I make millions" articles written in a derogatory manner, usually in such a way that reads "I make loads of money and don't need to help you, but I am bored and want to share my wisdom". There were loads of them, all pretty much recycling the "get rich quick" mentality.
All that seems to have disappeared, at least for a while anyway. Perhaps their business models weren't as solid as they once thought or perhaps they've encouraged other affiliates to copy them and are no struggling themselves. Perhaps it's just the fact that no one is listening or maybe it's just a case that they are still making loads of money but have also moved away from the forums and blogs so we don't hear about it often.
It would be interesting to see whether the amount of active affiliates has reduced in the past couple of years. It would be more interesting to see whether the reverse is true as more people look to get involved in affiliate marketing.
So Where Have Affiliate Marketers Gone Then?
In a nutshell they've left the blogging arena, seem to have left the forum arena, don't really talk much about work on social media and some prominent affiliates I've noticed are moving further away from affiliate marketing entering related business fields or service fields.
Perhaps it's a sign of the times or they've all simply joined a more exclusive club I don't know about ;-)
It would be great to read more insightful articles from respected affiliate bloggers in the UK. It would be great if the forums started buzzing again.
Perhaps one day this will happen but I fear it's more of a slippery slope than a dry spell.
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I went through a period of reading many blogs, forums etc until I realised that most people who were claiming to make large amounts of money online for just a few hours work, affiliate or otherwise, were basically selling formulas for.... You guessed it, how to make money online for just a few hours work.
Just this week, I was pitched a one hour long video presentation with the grand headline "The internet is dead" Five minutes in, you realise that it's only one hour long due to the fluff, smoke and mirrors.... Close that tab on my browser.
I think the successful people work very hard and don't share secrets. They certainly work more than a few hours a day and affiliate marketing is just part of the mix
Written on Thursday 23 June 2011 at 12:24:38 GMT (Permalink)
You mean you aren't in the club? I'm shocked. I thought everyone knew! :D
Written on Thursday 23 June 2011 at 14:12:17 GMT (Permalink)
There are still a few people around! I wonder if many of the blogs are just quietly bubbling away behind the scenes. Us Brits don't go in for the hard sell US "make money online" style blogs that seem to dominate.
As someone says above, many of these more prominant blogs seem heavily orientated to selling products. But that said they are affiliate marketers so why should we expect anything different! It seems that these promises of easy cash and winning secrets are much more enticing than the website software tips, case studies and plugin chat that goes on in a blog like mine.
I stopped using a4u as I found the forum impossible to use, I just kept getting logged out everytime I changed page!
Written on Friday 24 June 2011 at 15:42:38 GMT (Permalink)
I think also that there is an issue with perceptions - with Google constantly cracking down on affiliates both thin and thick through algo updates and adwords bans it seems less and less useful to brand yourself as 'an affiliate' rather than as a conventional business.
I enjoy reading and learning from others experiences on the few occasions there is a good post, however I wouldn't really wish to 'out' myself as a high profile affiliate in case it had implications on my websites and earnings - I feel the more you make an affiliate site look like an online 'brand' the better chance you have of building a sustainable income, so why spoil it by revealing you're part of the 'not wanted' club?
Written on Sunday 03 July 2011 at 11:58:23 GMT (Permalink)
In my view I think affiliates are just branching out. You've done amazing to get to the top of Google but for newbies it is very difficult to compete - there is just too much competition in a niche which, whilst having buyers, is not actually that huge and massively saturated.
People are therefore choosing to separate themselves from the crowd and are using social networks to promote high quality content - being a traditional super posting, super blogging affiliate is just no longer fashionable.
Written on Wednesday 13 July 2011 at 22:02:22 GMT (Permalink)
I've been researching UK affiliate resource websites and blogs for an article I am writing and we are definitely in a dry spell. There is a big gap for a couple of bloggers to fill IMO, but that takes a lot of time and effort. I noticed a few have tried but it is such as commitment to keep up.
Written on Monday 15 August 2011 at 13:58:40 GMT (Permalink)
I agree that the A4U fell foul ever since the reskin. There were a number of bugs which made the site useable in IE 7/8. Although not my favourite browser, there is still a considerable user base for it.
Gone are the days when you could buy a keyword targetted domain, stick up a 3 page website and expect to rank.
Competition between affiliates can be immense - Google itself is competing with affiliate sites. How long before we see affiliate links and "buy now" buttons in Google Shopping. The recent Google Panda update has wiped Kelkoo, and othe product price comparison sites off the radar. It just makes it more and more difficult for new affiliates to muster in.
Written on Tuesday 16 August 2011 at 08:26:16 GMT (Permalink)
Thank you to all previous commenters.
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