Together forever sounds great … in theory. But in the world of affiliate marketing, pledging your undying loyalty to one income source could be result in a divorce between you and your money. Many marketers select one partner and put all of their time, energy, and love into that relationship. It’s easy, convenient, and comfortable. But what happens when that partner tags you as an underperformer and kicks you to the curb? What if that merchant decides to reduce its costs by cutting referral programs, commission rates or bonuses? Even worse, what if that merchant abruptly goes bankrupt? Chances are, you are left holding an empty money bag and looking a little foolish.
It’s certainly acceptable to develop a long-term relationship with a partner, and you should. But when you approach affiliate marketing with the “player” mindset, you greatly reduce your risk of ending up broke and brokenhearted. Being a “player” in our line of work simply mean that you diversify your portfolio.
Be a two-timer. Court at least two merchants for each category in which you sell. That way, you always have a back-up if one partner bails. Some industry experts advise working with 10-15 solid merchants instead of just a couple of rock stars. What if your main squeeze demands that you sign an exclusivity agreement? Sign away if you must, but keep a list of potential suitors close at hand. Additionally, play the field with different industries to cushion any industry-crippling blows. For example, suppose you market sock monkeys for 15 merchants and PETA suddenly decides that selling sock monkeys is inhumane. Its campaign gains enough support to seriously affect your sock monkey sales. If you diversify your industries, you can suffer that financial blow a little easier.
Flirt with other search engines. Dating Google is like dating a Homecoming Queen, and it can be just as spendy. Check out Yahoo! Search, Bing, and Ask.com. While these sites take a backseat to Google, they certainly aren’t sloppy seconds.
Pimp other stuff. Don’t get stuck by depending on just one source for your web site traffic. Think about ways you can monetize some of your other site content by offering services or related information. For instance, considering selling your industry-insider knowledge as an e-book. If you are a gorilla with web site design, offer that as a service. Woo your customers – and pad your income – by expanding your offerings.
The hardest part of diversifying your business is coming up with creative and innovative ideas to keep the money flowing. Deep down, all of us have a little bit of that player mindset. Now’s the time to unleash it.