As an affiliate marketer there are many ways to make a quick sale and sneaky tactics to get your site ranking fast. But if you really want to be successful you need to plan for the long term and put together a strategy that will stand the test of time. If you missed our annual affiliate gathering this year, here’s your chance to catch up on one of the presentations; how to future-proof your affiliate business. Learn our 4 step guide to affiliate success below.

Step 1 – Planning and Preparation

It can be difficult to predict precisely what the future holds but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for it. As with any business you should make a plan, set out your targets and decide what strategies you will use to reach your end goal. Throughout this process it’s also important to think about what might happen and how you will handle changes which don’t fit in with your original plan.

As an affiliate you should avoid the ‘if I build my website they will come’ mentality. From the offset you should have a realistic approach. Once you’ve built your website you have the skeleton to your affiliate business. You then have to work on creating content and driving traffic to your site. This is where your strategy comes into play. Being organised and having structure will help you run an efficient affiliate business with ease.

You should consider the thousands of affiliate websites that already exist. How will yours be different and why should a user purchase through your site instead of somebody else’s? By researching the market and understanding how others are promoting, you can identify what works well and spot opportunities to diversify from what everyone else is doing.

Being an affiliate is a lot like running a business, and you should certainly treat it this way. Successful business owners have developed a business blueprint by setting out personal and corporate goals, time lines and strategies. As businesses do, you should also be planning for the long term, have an aim and don’t cut corners for a quick sale. Once you hit targets and reach your goals, set new ones and keep pushing your affiliate business to the next level.

Step 2 – Research and Knowledge

Knowing what your plans and aims are is the first step but it’s also important to understand what the industry is doing. By keeping up to date with industry trends and changes you can stay one step ahead of the game. If you regularly check digital news sites you will be one of the first to read about industry updates such as a new google algorithm. You’ll know what impact it’s going to have on the industry and most importantly what impact it may or may not have on your website. This allows you to react in a timely manner and make any necessary changes to ensure your site still complies with the new update.

As an affiliate it’s likely that you utilise external platforms such as social media to drive traffic to your website. It’s important therefore to understand what their terms and conditions are, be aware of any changes they make and whether updates will have an impact on the way you use that website. One example is pinterest’s decision to ban affiliate links. This doesn’t mean that affiliates can no longer use pinterest to drive traffic, but it does mean you need to consider what links you are actually placing on the site. So rather than placing your affiliate link on a pin you should first send traffic to your own landing page.

Google trends is another good research tool and allows you to see an overview of demographics, related searches and interest over time. So it’s worth checking keywords every now and again to see how things change in your niche.

Step 3 – Development

Not all networks will offer the same levels of support, but at MoreNiche we have a dedicated team of affiliate managers who are here to help and support you. To make the most of this you can get in touch to request a site review to help develop and optimise your website, get advice on driving traffic to your website, find out more details on a product, brand or new merchant, or to request additional resources such as imagery or banners.

There are hundreds of thousands of resources online and if you want to expand your knowledge or learn something new there will always be an article or website which will help you do so. As well as blogs, news sites and forums there are also many online courses which you can take advantage of. For example, Hubspot’s inbound marketing course gives you a good introduction to seo, landing pages, conversions and email marketing. Our very own MoreNiche affiliate training course is great for new affiliates and covers topics such as building a website, content writing, using your affiliate links as well as social media. Google Analytics is a great way of monitoring your stats, so you may find the Google Analytics Academy really useful to understanding your analytics a little more. Finally, if you are interested in paid advertising the Wordstream PPC University is a great introduction to PPC, keywords, ad groups and text ads. All of the courses mentioned above are completely free and are just a handful of the resources out there for you to use.

In the digital world things are constantly changing and what worked five years ago might not even exist today. For example, a few years ago desktop was dominant but nowadays mobile is the most popular device, so it’s important to have a responsive web design. Keep your website, content and strategies up to date. Promoting outdated content and design will inevitably have a detrimental effect on your success.

It’s also important to be prepared for unexpected changes and this means having a back up plan. In the unpredictable world of digital marketing you need to consider what you would do if something has a negative effect on your business. For example, what would you do if the merchant discontinues a product which converts really well for you? Or if your only website gets hit with a google penalty? A competitor might release a similar product to yours or changes in the industry could have a negative effect on your business. It’s important to consider these possibilities and ensure you have plans in place to cope with such changes.

Step 4 – Focus

Focus and motivation are important elements of becoming a successful affiliate. It’s important to not let poor performance knock you down. If you have a bad spell you should analyse your stats, identify what may have impacted sales during that period and proactively work on a new strategy to make up for any loss of sales.

Thinking about attitude and positivity, you should consider what mindset you have. Typically there are two types of mindset, fixed and growth. A person with a fixed mindset would avoid challenges. They get defensive when given feedback and get discouraged and blame others for setbacks. Whereas a person with a growth mindset would see challenges as an opportunity to grow. Feedback identifies areas of improvement and gives them something to learn from and setbacks are a wake up call to work harder next time.

To help you achieve a growth mindset you should have a positive attitude towards your business and life. Focus on growth, solving problems and self-improvement. Be committed to your plans. Being motivated isn’t enough! Be patient. Have a long-term vision and be persistent.

So there you have our 4 step guide to building a successful affiliate business for the long term. This is an ongoing cycle, so continue planning new projects, researching new things and developing your skills over time. If you want to learn more about any of the points mentioned, get in touch with one of team!