I recently received a question from one of my students and I thought I'd answer it here as a blog post.
"What would you do if you had to start all over again?"
Well, to answer that question in detail, I'll give you some background on what worked when I first started, what I'm doing now, and then what I would do if I had to start over from scratch....
When I first started in affiliate marketing back in 1999, it was almost too easy. You'd put a webpage online, put the keywords you wanted to target in the title and headline of the page, submit it to yahoo, excite, etc, and bam... a week or 2 later you were ranking #1 in yahoo, and top 10 in excite for that search term.
Earning money as an affiliate was easy, so long as you picked the right search terms and a profitable affiliate program.
Nowadays I'm doing extremely well in affiliate marketing, but not in the same way.
I've had to do more than just be the middle man. Unless you have a big budget for doing media buys and driving traffic directly to CPA offers, then you'll need to do what I do, which is build authority sites, and build a newsletter mailing list.
An authority site is where you build a website that has a substantial amount of great quality content on your niche, and one that you keep building on over time to make it better and better (as opposed to a tiny set-and-forget website).
In niches where I'm doing really well, I usually have chosen to create my own products too. That way I can bring higher quality products to the niche and affiliates can also promote my products.
Right now, I'm working on entering the Paleo niche (it's basically a raw food diet). This is a project that we're working on, on the side, so it doesn't take up too much time each day.
A few of my staff and I have been filming ourselves cooking a lot of different Paleo friendly dishes, our intention is to launch a website with 100+ different recipes, videos etc. And later monetize the website with affiliate weight loss offers and also eventually with our own Paleo products, including kindle books.
In fact, the plan is to launch our first Paleo kindle book in a couple of weeks from now, even before the site itself is online in its fullest form.
We have already been filming a lot of these recipes etc, so we plan on releasing a kindle book that has 25 of these recipes, this book will be on Paleo Smoothie Recipes, and then we'll sell it for say $2.99.
People will then be able to go and opt in to our mailing list in order to get access to the video versions of these recipes.
We'll then build a relationship by releasing great quality free recipes and weight loss tips in our newsletter, and we'll monetize the newsletter with affiliate promotions of high quality weight loss offers, and also the occasional promotion of our own kindle book(s).
Later we'll create and sell our own larger Paleo related digital product, that affiliates can also promote.
I've mentioned the Paleo example because it relates to the initial question of what I'd do if I had to start all over again.
I do already own some really high performing websites, particularly in personal development related niches such as dating and relationships e.g. www.meetyoursweet.com
However that kind of website would be tricky to build right away if I had to start again from scratch.
Starting from scratch, I'd plan out an authority site in a niche that I was interested in. In this case, I am starting from scratch in the Paleo niche.
I'd then look to create a 30-60 page book for release on Amazon Kindle, at the same time as planning and making content for the website.
I'd make some sort of 'opt in bribe' to encourage people to opt in to my newsletter series.
Then I'd produce an autoresponder series that included a lot of high quality relevant content, and promotions of relevant products.
If anyone bought my kindle book, then I'd hope that maybe 30-40% of them would opt in to my mailing list (as I'd link people to the opt in bribe).
I'd also be doing a lot of guest blogging, and participating on forums and the like in order to spread word about my website and the kindle book, to get it off the ground.
If I had the money I may even buy traffic to start building that mailing list faster.
If things were going well, I would either grow the website to get more natural organic traffic and/or make more kindle books.
And at some point I'd make a product that other affiliates can sell and earn commissions from promoting.
The real money is in the list, the key is to build a strong relationship with that list by providing great quality content, and then to promote products that will enhance their lives.
I hope this answers the question and that I haven't blabbed on for too long here :)
I look forward to your comments and suggestions!
All the best to your success,