I came across a question at Quora.com yesterday seeking to find any online business opportunity where it would be absolutely free to join and to make a lot of money.
Now, I always wondered of what is the actual intent behind such type of questions. Free to join vs. anyone being able to make ANY money are two very different things.
I know that we get bombarded with claims of overnight success with many so-called free online marketing or affiliate programs every day. Many of these gurus claim that there is hardly any work involved and you could simply lay back and watch the profits in thousands of dollars roll into your bank account.
The reality of all affiliate marketing is the same as any other business whether online or not. It involves serious commitment, taking massive actions, dedicated involvement, precise business planning, dynamic marketing plan, well-planned budgets, highly tuned strategies, flawless execution, etc. Simply put, you need to see where you want to be in 3 years from start and know how to get there.
Let me be the one to tell you that there are no shortcuts to a successful and sustainable business. Sure you could make some money here and there, but it will surely not a sustainable level of income which you can count on every month.
These so-called ‘get rich quick’ programs are what someone else’s dreams in which they want you to join. So how would you know whether it’s the right path for your dreams and success?
The reality of affiliate marketing is that there are a few who were able to become filthy rich, some are successful as generally speaking and most are simply struggling.
This is a clear indication that most people are simply trying to grab for the next ‘shiny object’, while certain types of people are trying to take advantage of this fact.
They are hoping that someone else will in turn give them thousands of dollars of profits while they simply sit around and do very little or nothing.
Does this statement not sounds absurd to you? Well, it certainly should.
Before proceeding further, let’s have a quick look at some of the common pros and cons of online/affiliate marketing.
- Low cost of entry while many are free to join
- You do not have to create your own products
- No inventory to maintain
- No products to ship or deliver yourself
- You can work from anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection
- Income can eventually be passive depending on your marketing strategy
- Can initially start as additional income
- Need a substantial amount of traffic to generate any desired level of income.
- A bad affiliate program can damage your personal credibility.
- Zero control over the affiliate product, service, or how it does business
- Some companies may not pay you when your commissions become due
- The better the affiliate program, the higher the competition
- The sales and customers will always belong to the merchant even though you had referred that customer to the merchant
Falling into the many pitfalls of the affiliate marketing programs out there can only be avoided with due diligence on your part. Some of the key things to consider are:
- Before starting your online business, consider and learn all that is required to make the business successful. But I should state here that you should not wait until you have learned everything before starting your business. If you do, your business will never start. Rather break it up into steps to getting your business off the ground. Making profits right off the bat is a fantasy in most cases. A series of successful events will lead you to profitability. Think of Microsoft as they launch their products and will keep on providing updates at later stages.
- Always choose the right affiliate program. Consider buying their products and services to judge their processes before joining their programs. Remember, you will be sending your customers to the program and any bad experience will certainly damage your reputation. For example, I am an affiliate of NameHero and I use their hosting personally and I am comfortable with their level of service. They work very closely with me to resolve any issues and I proudly mention them here without any added interest. Your relationship with your affiliate program owners should be very similar.
- Be very clear on the financials such as terms of payments to you, frequencies, special conditions, etc. Also to keep in mind that you further negotiate any with them as you go based on your performance.
- Always be marketing. Utilize any and all traffic sources available to you free or paid to drive traffic to your offers.
- Start an email list. You will constantly hear that the ‘Money is in the List’. Your list will eventually become an amazing source of profits by marketing your promotions through it. Email lists are meant to be used in conjunction with an auto-responder system. There are free and paid versions of these for you to choose from.
- For certain promotions, consider using landing pages. They are most efficient in driving sales with this singular purpose. These days there are many options for creating landing pages even if you do not have your own website.
- Lastly, always monitor your campaign performances. It’s certainly worth it to monitor the stats every day and tweak them as necessary to increase sales.
Understand that there are a few very good affiliate marketing programs to join out there. The leader of the pack may as well be Amazon. It’s absolutely free to become an affiliate at Amazon which gives you access to sell their zillions of products available online which would include your profit margins.
So the question here is that even if you sign up for a good and free affiliate program, how do you market the products well enough so that you could make a decent and sustainable income month after month?
Naturally, you will need well-planned business and marketing plans on how to go about making enough yearly/monthly profits based on specific sales targets. Hence, you will need to know how to manage this the proper way. Otherwise, you are simply swimming around aimlessly and eventually drown.
For example, if you decide to take the blogging route to promote your Amazon products, you will need to learn about domains, hosting, WordPress, on-page SEO, on-site SEO, meta tags, search engine ranking, landing pages, getting traffic, keyword optimization, sales funnel, backlinking, copywriting, catchy headlines and so on and on.
Sounds like a lot of work? Well, it certainly is.
The good news is that when you have learned and mastered how to do all that, it becomes a part of your regular workflow and will feel less and less like a lot of work.
As I had said always that there are no short cuts to a sustainable online business. It’s not going to be fast or without any great deal of effort.
So here it is, my grand advice to anyone that wish to have a successful and sustainable online or affiliate business: “Invest in yourself first”.
All successful people have this one fact in common. They mastered their craft through a diligent learning process which never stopped. In fact, they are always relentless about finding more and more things to learn relating to their business. They even study other successful people in their trade to learn their best traits.
Investing in yourself to take the time and effort to learn the best aspects of running your online business will certainly pay you back exponentially. Take the time to do this in the beginning rather than struggling with your online business throughout and eventually giving up.
Hope I have made my point clearly enough for you to take massive action starting right now.
To browse through my go-to online marketing resources marketplace which I had always used to teach myself properly, please click here.