I was having a conversation yesterday with an affiliate manager and we got round to talking about them becoming an affiliate. “Don’t do it” I said! My reasoning for this is that affiliate marketing has got a lot tougher, especially for new starters who are basically coming in from scratch. Yes it is easier to start up a site with the likes of wordpress and there are more affiliate programs, but emerging from the search engines shadows and earning a living without doing PPC and instead relying on SEO and rapid organic growth requires a bit of luck, effort and dedication.

Then I start to think some more and perhaps should have answer “yes, do do it…”! As above getting a site together is fairly easy, and if you’re passionate about a subject creating content shouldn’t be too much of a chore – add a bit of luck and some decent affiliate programs you could be off and running.

However, there are some “buts” to consider, and these are things that if I was about to get going on the affiliate marketing trail that I wish I’d considered many moons ago!

1. Make Sure You Have The Time!
New content is a necessity for most websites, but make sure you have the time and inclination to keep it updated. A site like Loquax requires a lot of time and management to make sure we’re up to date – anyone with any degree of sanity should not run a site that requires 7 days a week attention!

Consider how you can keep your site up to date on a daily and weekly basis – plus what you can do if you’re on holiday. Running a site isn’t just about content.. you might have to answer emails from users, contact networks/merchants, seek out link relationships, sort out images, do coding – plus of course manage your finances.

2. Be Passionate – But Make Sure You’re Not Alone!
Everyone advises a newbie to be passionate about the subject of their new site – and yes it’s important for you to be passionate about the subject of your site – but it’s equally important that there are others who might share the same interest.. and that there’s enough of them to make your time and effort worthwhile.

3. Make Sure You Have The Content Today & Tomorrow!
I’m sure many an established affiliate has done this before! You think of a great idea, buy the domain name, create a couple of pages and then hit a brick wall. Your “next big thing” falls apart simply because there’s just that not much call for “sadlookingbrownceramicducks.co.uk”! In other words, do your research! Do a search on the subject, check the news, look at potential competitors!

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4. Consider How Much User Interactivity You Like!
Forums are great, and user interaction can be a real buzz when you have a good community…. it also has it’s downsides! For every 99 decent users, you’ll get 1 who’s a right pain in the whatsits! They can be dealt with, but a forum needs to be nurtured, maintained and managed – ask yourself if you have the time and inclination to do that? Aside from forums, think about user comments, reviews and how they communicate with you too.

5. Make Sure You Have Some Affiliate Programs To Work With!
Your great new “whyiloveorangescissors.co.uk” site might sound great on paper, but if there are no merchants you can promote, then you’re going to be stuck and unable to earn any commission. If there’s only one merchant you can promote, be mindful about what you’d do if they stopped their program!

6. Make Sure You Don’t End Up Working For Others!
Sites that update on a daily basis, e.g voucher codes, offers, competitions etc, often suffer from having their content posted to saving money type forums. You may even find your content gets scraped to be used by another site – lock, stock and barrel! Either be vigilant and belligerent or do something that’s a lot less hassle!

7. Be Patient & Keep Your Feet On The Ground
If at first you don’t succeed, add some more content and keep plugging away! Once the sales start coming and Google starts loving your site don’t go nuts and proclaim yourself an affiliate genius – keep your feet on the ground. It might be great that this week you’re Number 1 for “Blue Cups Featuring a Clucking Chicken”, but next week you could well be off radar.

So should you start being an affiliate?

Well, why not… you don’t have to be mad to do it, but it does help!