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Is Affiliate Marketing Dying? - Truthfully?

mattdrish
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Is Affiliate Marketing Dying? - Truthfully?

I have been researching some of the potential issues with affiliate marketing, and I am wondering if affiliate marketing is truly dying. It seems as though it's hard to deny. However, I am not an expert in the field. I will be playing the Devil's advocate in this post; so please keep that in mind when you respond.

For your consideration: The Affiliate Marketing Dilemma:

Anti-virus software and browsers:
-More and more, anti-spyware/adware/virus programs, as well as browsers, are beginning to add functionalities that delete or block cookies and tracking cookies in almost any form. Cookies are, of course, necessary to track affiliate commissions. Some people claim that cookies will still be needed, but If Google Chrome has taught me anything, it is that browser based functions like autofill could easily replace, in part, the need for cookies.

"Taxation without representation":
-States are continuing to hop on the taxation bandwagon, forcing affiliate sales to consider state-related tax laws. This means that companies will be forced to pay taxes (based on the state) for all sales that come from affiliates. Due to the complexity of trying to calculate different sales taxes -> based on each affiliate -> based on the state they ship to, companies such as Amazon have opted to simply delete their affiliate program for any state in question that is passing the law. Example: Every Amazon affiliate in Illinois lost their job at the drop of a pin. Furthermore, due to the intricacies of affiliate marketing, the government doesn't seem to understand that it is digging its own grave.
As noted, Companies like Amazon (and Overstock) have simply removed their affiliate programs from these states instead of attempting to compensate for the change. Likewise, smaller companies who represent digital products, for example, won't have the manpower or money to even ATTEMPT to adjust to such changes. Sadly, it is not like we have anyone lobbying for us. The subtle differences between marketing and online marketing are what make affiliate marketing so unique and lucrative. However, at the same time, it's these same nuances that are potentially killing the industry. No government body cares, nor understands, that 'they' are completely destroying the industry by making such ill-considered changes. They simply want a piece of a pie; they want to eliminate the deficits they created. (It's time like these that I question my political orientation. The elephants seem to know whats up. It's time to dump some tea into the harbor)

PPC and me:
-After the recent changes to Google's Adwords, you can no longer place an ad that leads to an affiliate landing page (bridging page). This means that it is technically against the TOS for you to use Googles PPC to market. The solution is to use Adwords to link to pages that have completely original and useful content which is not intended to make sale (unless it is your own product). Because of this, you will be adding another step into the conversion process. You will need a page of such high-quality, that your potential buyers decide to wander on over to your other pages, and then click your affiliate links.
Some of you will claim that those who don't create original high-quality content are just lazy, however it completely undermines the concept of affiliate marketing. If I had intended to make a "real" website (you know what i mean), I would have chosen one of my hobbies, began writing about it, adding news, articles, features, etc. After spending YEARS worth of time, effort and money, I would then naturally begin to start monetizing my website; traffic would already be one of my assets. Based on that model, it would be completely unreasonable for me to approach my website from the 'affiliate marketing standpoint', I would instead take the "create an original website" approach. I was under the impression that I would be MARKETING and PROMOTING products. If I actually planned on spending the amount of time required to create completely original high-quality websites, it would likely be more advantageous for me to spend that time building a "real website" instead of a "marketing website". All of a sudden, my affiliate world is crumbling.

The affiliate paradox (as I, somewhat inaccurately, like to call it):
-It is becoming infinitely more obvious that all "super affiliates" are making their money teaching people how to make money as an affiliate. That's right, although the super affiliates may be teaching you a method they used to initially start marketing, the only reason they are making an extremely healthy income is because they are TEACHING YOU that information, and not actually focusing on marketing themselves. It is akin to a restaurant owner who cant seem to make a legitimate income from his restaurant; he decides instead to create a program that teaches people how to open a successful restaurant. After acquiring enough money to ACTUALLY open a successful restaurant, his "How to Open a Successful Restaurant" course is considered legitimate, even though he wasn't qualified until AFTER THE FACT. I have even noticed that those of you doing moderately well for yourselves are promoting your own SEO ebooks, or other affiliate-related creations. This creates a sort of "phantom industry" if you will, as I will touch on in the next paragraph.

The affiliate dilution (coined that too):
-I cannot search a for legitimate review online because of affiliate marketing. No matter what item review you search for, all of the reviews are either "positive reviews - from an affiliate" or "negative reviews - from a rival affiliate". The same goes for the information. No matter what you type in, you will likely find yourself reading an affiliates article that targets your keyword. In fact, when you take a step back, you will notice that affiliate marketing, for all intents and purposes, seems to be comprised of a giant PHANTOM network containing haphazard ebooks, information, and reviews. The industry appears to focus entirely on marketing, and has very little substance to it. It is amazing how I never noticed that nearly every site I visit has a distinct affiliate agenda, until after I learned about affiliate marketing myself. Similarly, this goes to show how incredibly inflated the industry is becoming.

Now, instead of nit-picking my conclusions, I would prefer that those of you who have become successful affiliate marketers give me your truthful, honest, and well-thought out opinion on the future of affiliate marketing. I understand that you can pretty much counter any of my arguments by simply stating "well, that's just business for you".
Although I am a newbie, I have already invested a great deal of time and effort into affiliate marketing in hopes that college wont siphon me straight into a 9-5 lifestyle. I am even taking a break from college, after only receiving my associates, so that I can make it concrete in my mind that "college is only a back up plan". In fact, I did months worth of research before finally concluding that affiliate marketing would be the only way for me to take real control over my working future. After a late-night research binge, I am feeling as though my future in affiliate marketing will be short-lived and futile. I can't deny that I am seeking reassurance, but it is critical that I put things into perspective.

Any input or information is appreciated. I really hope I don't receive ONE RESPONSE, as I do with so many of my other threads. #IShouldHaveSpentThisTimeWritingContentForMyWebsite.
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mcooooo
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I too am anxious for a response to your question. You have made some great points. I just wanted to tell you that you are an EXCELLENT writer. I love how concise you are at making your point.
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janet123
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I tend to agree with your perceptions/conclusions. I have been studying affiliate marketing for awhile now, and it looks like it was easy in the beginning but not now. If you look on this site, people seem to be getting very little traffic to their sites, few newsletter signups and little or no money.
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chris72
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As with all business models affiliate marketing is just entering the 'refining' stage.... you know when an opportunity first appears it is kinda like the wild west.... everyone running around yelling "there be gold in them hills!"

Those days have passed, the scammers have moved in and suddenly the new world (the internet) has to get some laws and law enforcement.

This is an exciting time for those new to the business because you have an opportunity to observe without having to risk your entire business model.

Watch what the experts are doing to subtly alter their business. Frank Kern was one of the first to pull back, take all his videos off You Tube and write his memoirs. Others have 'last ditch' mentoring programs available and others are going into drop shipping and service industries.

Affiliate marketing will continue, just as it does offline, but it will be far harder to do properly and will be network/relationship/quality based - just like offline marketing.
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mattdrish
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McOOOOO wrote:I too am anxious for a response to your question. You have made some great points. I just wanted to tell you that you are an EXCELLENT writer. I love how concise you are at making your point.

Thank you very much.


chris72 wrote:As with all business models affiliate marketing is just entering the 'refining' stage.... you know when an opportunity first appears it is kinda like the wild west.... everyone running around yelling "there be gold in them hills!"

Those days have passed, the scammers have moved in and suddenly the new world (the internet) has to get some laws and law enforcement.

This is an exciting time for those new to the business because you have an opportunity to observe without having to risk your entire business model.

Watch what the experts are doing to subtly alter their business. Frank Kern was one of the first to pull back, take all his videos off You Tube and write his memoirs. Others have 'last ditch' mentoring programs available and others are going into drop shipping and service industries.

Affiliate marketing will continue, just as it does offline, but it will be far harder to do properly and will be network/relationship/quality based - just like offline marketing.


Well, is affiliate marketing still the best option then? Is it really even a good option anymore?, or would i be better of starting a gardening service if I plan on becoming a business owner? I am only on my 12th content article (I am not outsourcing until I am certain that this will work) and I am already worried that, by the time I finish my website, my affiliate product no longer be relevant and Google may have rendered the Affiloblueprint course entirely useless.

The anxiety I have comes from the fact that I am currently not working, and not going to school. I have entered affiliate market with the mindset that I am teaching myself a trade that could very likely allow me to become a successful business owner. Yet, it is starting to seem like all doom and gloom. I find myself hating anyone born in the 80's for not taking advantage of online-money-methods while they were still in their infancy. If I hadn't of been 9 years old, I'd be rich off domain names right now. Likewise, all of the super-affiliates started back when it was still extremely lucrative, and I think it would be safe to say, THAT is the reason they are able effectively deal with the changing industry. They already have their empire.

Would it be better for me to get into something like drop shipping instead? My plan was to create a 500$ a month website after one year, or less, of work. With all of these quality-related issues, and changes, it seems that a 500$ a month website will require 4 years and divine quality control skills. Massive sites like Marks 'dog training site' are probably required, and I don't have the time or resources to create websites on that level.
The whole idea here, was that it would be easy to get me feet wet in affiliate marketing, and that I would then be able to build off that. Now everyone is telling me that I just have to build an incredibly amazing ultimate content site with a 10,000 person email list, a free mini-course that I create, dozens upon dozens of super high-quality articles, Dozens of rewrites for those articles, then I must market this across 50 different platforms and spend endless hours upping my rankings. If I am lucky, I picked a good niche. If I am not, I just spent a year creating an asset that is worth 50$. If I don't do this I am considered "lazy", while successful affiliates entirely ignore that this process completely counteracts the reason most of us got into affiliate marketing in the first place. "It is cheap, relatively easy, and the money you make will be proportionate to the effort you put in". WRONG, you must create a mega-site or you immediately fail. Talk about having your legs broken right out of the gate.

Anyways, don't get me wrong. I am continuing to write content for my website AS WE SPEAK. It is just beginning to seem like maybe affiliate marketing is far second step to creating my own business and no longer the initial stepping stone. Again, would my time be better spent learning drop shipping? or is there something better?
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chris72
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Well, is affiliate marketing still the best option then? Is it really even a good option anymore?, or would i be better of starting a gardening service if I plan on becoming a business owner? I am only on my 12th content article (I am not outsourcing until I am certain that this will work) and I am already worried that, by the time I finish my website, my affiliate product no longer be relevant and Google may have rendered the Affiloblueprint course entirely useless.


The short answer is yes it is still a good option for long term residual income and the basics that you have learned with AB will stand you in good stead with all of your online efforts.

It is harder to make money as an affiliate today than it was even 2 years ago, but as long as you are providing the quality of content that the reader wants (and by the look of your writing and questions you can provide good relevant content) then you will be OK. This is not just because of the changes within the major players, it is also due to the internet savviness (is that even a word?) of your readers who are tired of what is effectively one or two page ads when what they really want is good information.

AB teaches you how to set your site up in a way that Google wants as well as how set it up and fill it with content that your readers want. The rest is just traffic generation and to be honest I don't think that anyone has a proven, consistent system for that.

This does not just apply to affiliate marketing but all enterprises offline and online. If you were opening a retail store offline, starting up a gardening business or drop shipping you would still need to find a way to get customers.

Once you get the customers you have to make them believe that you know what you are talking about - would you buy from someone who had a small site with a couple of articles who was obviously only there for the sale? Or would you rather buy through a site that instilled confidence in you that you were making the right decision with your money?
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mattdrish
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chris72 wrote: It is harder to make money as an affiliate today than it was even 2 years ago, but as long as you are providing the quality of content that the reader wants (and by the look of your writing and questions you can provide good relevant content) then you will be OK. This is not just because of the changes within the major players, it is also due to the internet savviness (is that even a word?) of your readers who are tired of what is effectively one or two page ads when what they really want is good information.


Thank you for the quick response. It does help put things in perspective. I will keep chugging away, but I am still curious for other marketers to weigh in on this topic. Especially Mark himself.

On a completely separate note (assuming you are experienced), I am somewhat confused on how to provide quality articles. At first, all of my articles just gave brief information on my keyword topic and all ended with a sales pitch. As per advice I got on this forum, I mostly removed the sales pitch portion from my articles so that my site won't seem pushy and lack content. However, I find myself still ending all of my articles with some form of "the products recommended on this site contain the actual information, not this article itself". here is an example:

How to ride a bike with no legs - title
biking has been done for centuries, here are the health benefits, here is why biking is awesome, generally it is done using legs, however just because you have no legs doesn't mean there isn't hope! biking can be done without legs! The "legless bike site" is here to help. The information and products on this website contain expansive information on how legless bike riding is within your reach. the end.

My issue is that, the information people are seeking in my article is the same information I am trying to sell. So how exactly do I create a quality article while, at the same time, not giving them specific information on the solution??? Should I buy a copy of the book I am promoting, and just give them a few solutions from the book in my article? It seems like that could potentially reduce sales; they will read my article, see that it contains 2 potential solutions, apply those solutions, and they will either a)work or b)not work and ruin my credibility. I know that when I read an article containing solutions, I try those solutions. I don't ever buy a book the writer is providing simply because it contains MORE solutions.

Thanks.
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chris72
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This is an interesting subject and one that many people want to know the answer to so I would first copy what you have written above and then paste it into its own new thread - in a relevant section of the forum .. you'll get far more replies that way :)
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thebigventure
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mate you should post this same thing on the Warrior Forum. Might get more insight... Can you post it and link us here to the thread?
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mattdrish
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chris72 wrote:This is an interesting subject and one that many people want to know the answer to so I would first copy what you have written above and then paste it into its own new thread - in a relevant section of the forum .. you'll get far more replies that way :)


Yeah, I couldn't figure out exactly where to post it here on Affilorama, can you point me in the right direction?

Also I will post it on the warrior forums in a bit.
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thebigventure
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This is fine here in this forum... but this forum simply isn't as big as some of the others, and I reckon a place like WF will be great. Just make sure you back up your statements with the stuff you included here because you will be met with a huge influx of marketers who'll criticise if you don't present some decent thought out reasons.
Plus more successful marketers are active on WF, compared to here, not that Affilorama isn't great, it is, but most people who become successful rise up and spend less time surfing here, and more building an online empire.
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mack45
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I see all the negative thought's on here and see that the word affiliate is hard to take but Google has its own affiliate program so that is some encouragement.
I also have read that most search engines will follow Google in getting rid of the junk websites from there ranks to make searches a more viable option.
In all my marketing I am going for quality Back linking and quality original writing.
The worst thing killing most affiliate systems is the lack of % going into our pockets .
I really know of very few marketers making any money using any of the main publishers.

Like linkshare or commision junk shop or Pepperjam. share a sale . Most pay out so bad and are your biggest competition once you start with them at 3 or 4 % you are wasting your time.
Any marketer I have met that I came to trust says that you need to only use those sites to test then bypass them and get an offer from a supplier to whole sale there product from a really good website.
The idea is that you can not make any decent cash at those low rates and if you can make any sales at all most good suppliers will pay you up to twenty five %.
What would you like to work for.
The way I look at is as a local consumer I can go into most any store or service supplier and get a three to ten % discount just for asking. If you look at what most publishers are paying it would serve you better to tell them to shove it.

Marketing will never die just the rules will change and the methods. The only constant in the equation is change. As long as we are willing to advance into the future there is always a great chance of success.

My thoughts on theon the Warrior Forum are it is a good place to stay away from most people there tend to make there money off the people who hang around there .
That is said after I went there and got took many times even as a war room member.
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sirmatts
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I Have hard to see that affiliate marketing would ever die... Its just our own creativity that has died if we are not capable of making income. As long as we have learned some marketing skills. One thing that is often forgotten about blueprints is, the more people that utilize a certain blueprint the sooner the tactics is going to die. If all car manufacturers produced the exact same car just different colors... a lot of them would die a few would do great marketing and take the biggest market share.

In my own opinion you should learn tactics , blueprints and after a while forget it and just use it in your own creative way. Sure you can utilize some of what you have learned but its so much more important to stand out and make a difference. Anyone that have made it big in any area of life has gone against what the average persons does. Because if you do what average persons do you get what average persons get...
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samb
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Hi All,

Really interesting debate here. I am new to AM and I am also investigating the current state of the market. I have accidentally setup another topic on this. However it is interesting to read here about observations of more Super AMers selling courses on "How to be a great AM..."

From what I know of marketing it sounds like the sector is maturing with the "wild west days" gone, and the rubbish being brushed over the edge or simply becoming inactive. It is amazing how many potentially interesting domain names now seem to go to a "domain for sale" page.... a bit like the boarded up retail store !!

Yes it is true that customers are now more internet savvy and therefore expect far more from sites rather than a popover asking for an email address. Interestingly I get a little bored of the typical "Affiliate Site" with all the sales copy so I just scroll down to the bottom to see what the price is ! Well OK if the copy is concise and relevant and in my interest zone then I may be more interested. My passion is singing and I have recently purchased Brett Manning's course... but that was via Google... and the course is very enjoyable. No I am not earning commissions here.

For me I guess the answer is to innovate, to step into one's customer's shoes to give them what they want and also put across good values like integrity and quality.

In some circles affiliate marketing has acquired a negative reputation.... a sort of cheap selling operation... "anything for the quick buck..". I suspect because of this it is now so important to create more authentic and sincere content in one's site. In addition the content needs to contribute real value to the readership.

I guess one of the key questions for me is whether products, that are available in Clickbank, are still in good demand with our customers. Would be interested in views on this one.

Finally, I was interested in the above points about the new tax situation in the US. So does that mean that as a UK affiliate I would have to account for some US state Tax? Perhaps this is where potentially the Clickbanks of this world would come in to do this extra processing? An equivalent may be the UK VAT system. Many international suppliers simply use companies such as Digital River to outsource this complexity.

Just thoughts,

Ed
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jmpruitt
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This all comes down to the mindset that you have towards your business. Affiliate marketing is changing, as the internet changes, but it is not dying. However, you have to do more and more.

The days of slapping up a few affiliate sites and getting rich in a few months have died away. consumers are more aware, and they want real value, not the BS that most people throw out there.

The reason so many potential affialiates fail is because they focus on the wrong things.Although we are here to make money, you have to understand that if all you think about is the advertising on your site, and how well it converts to sales, you will always struggle.

To me, monetizing my sites has always been a secondary action. I build sites that fall in line with my personal interests and knowledge. The sites are geared towards helping people with problems within the niche. The affiliate offers are like adding a comercial to the site, it isn't a bad thing to have an advertisement, but the purpose of the site is not the advertising.

When you watch a tv show, do you watch it because it has good comercials? (well, okay, other than the Super Bowl...)

Probably not. Yet, when people build an affiliate site, their focus is on the advertisements and not the content and consumer.

This is why so many affiliate sites suck. If you focus on building a website that is helpful to your readers, and treat the ads as an advertisement and not the purpose of your site, then you will succeed.

When you are writing articles, dont worry about whether the information is also in the product that you are promoting. Worry about if it is effective and valid. Actually, it is better if the product and your content agree. A few articles will never be able to give as much detail as a book will, so there will still be plenty to learn when they purchase a product from you.
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Your Focus Determines Your Reality
 
samb
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James,

Thanks for your great post. It sounds as if you have a lot of experience. I like your pragmatic approach and anology to TV advertising. Of course one does not watch for the adverts. It is interesting to hear an AMer describing how some sites have got this balance badly wrong.

Getting the content right would have been my approach... It just feels right to do this. It is how I do business. I give a lot and then folks trust me and offer me business. I have this favourite word.... Serendipity..... Give and you never know what might come your way!

My questions were more based around whether there was sufficient opportunity in this area to be worth me going forward with an affiliate venture. I am an IT consultant and developer so have the skills. I have long had a fascination with opening up an internet venture. I also have passions particularly singing which I can talk about all day !!! Apparently I can write !!! And finally I do have a interest in marketing.

It sounds from your post that you are doing well and you believe the market is there as long as your do it right and professionally. Am I right?

Cheers and thanks again,

Ed
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jmpruitt
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hey Ed, I answered your other post, but basically Yes, you can get into this business with some work. It does take time though. Even the most competetive niches always have room for growth. There will never be total saturation for anything.

Also, as you create content focus on niches you know. it will help. When it comes to evergreen niches, there really arent that many things that change within the industry. What will set you apart is not the facts but the opinions that you can share and personal style of delivery. If you can add your personality and engage people who come to your site, you will be successful.
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Your Focus Determines Your Reality
 
samb
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Thanks, James. I appreciate the candid view.
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gradyp
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I think it is important to note the NUMEROUS "offline" examples where when a change happened, people said an industry was dead. Here are just a few that are still around, but have evolved in some way:

Railroads
painting
books (this one is a bit more recent and is in it's own transition)
music
the "paper" office (How long have they claimed the "paperless" office is coming, and yet we use more paper today than ever!)
farming
factories


This is just a small list, but you can go around and find many more offline examples that evolved to find more of a niche. Affiliate Marketing (as a sub-niche of Internet marketing) is probably going through a similar growing pains email marketing experienced just a few years ago.

Affiliate marketing probably won't die. But it will evolve.
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