Now that you've started making some income from your affiliate websites, you've got to figure out how to expand, increase, and keep those earnings. Anyone who's started to make money through affiliate marketing has at one time or another felt the pressure of a ‘down day', where you just aren't seeing those awesome numbers you hit just a couple days ago.
Depending on your particular niche and time spent on it you could be stressing. Heck, if you just quit your job and the next day you see Today's Earnings: $15.43 you're probably thinking, “What did I get myself into!”. I've been over and over those thoughts in my head even though I've been doing this full time for four years now, and here are some tips I use (or have considered trying) to keep myself from going crazy and/or poor.
How To Diversify & Strengthen Your Affiliate Income Earnings
1) Enter Multiple Niches
This is a pretty obvious one, but it's worth mentioning. If you are in just one niche, you are definitely putting all your eggs in one basket. Even if your earnings have been strong for a period of 6 months to a year, there still a chance that a go-getter competitor could start outranking you tomorrow or a Google algorithm is going to decide it doesn't like your site (fairly or unfairly).
There area million things that can happen to one single website. There are just a few things that can affect multiple websites across multiple niches.
When you start to make a decent amount of income from one website, find out where you ‘comfort zone' is for posting, sharing, and whatever else you have cooked up for the campaign. Get it running on semi-autopilot either through cooling down the growth phase and moving into “maintenance”, or outsourcing some of your work to a writer or virtual assistant. Then start researching other niches that you can expand to, and rinse + repeat.
Is there something related to your current niche that you could create a ‘sister site' for? I used to follow a site called ChinaSMACK. After becoming a hit in China, they started KoreaBANG, JapanCRUSH, RussiaSLAM, and IndoBOOM. Keeping your brand across multiple niches could be a really savvy investment of your time, growing your trust with each individual community as they see you creating awesome content in different areas.
Did you start in a profitable niche but want to move to something more interesting? I started selling software, but enjoy teaching internet marketing. I sold software as an affiliate for 2.5 years before moving into the online business niche with One More Cup of Coffee. I still maintain my other sites, but they are not growing at the speed of the website where I focus my efforts now.
You probably have some great ideas that you just haven't taken action on. Obviously you've been doing this long enough that you're making money. Haven't you ever said to yourself, “Man, I bet that guys is making some BANK with that site!”. You're a pro now, and anything is possible with the skill set you have, so maybe it's time you set some plans in motion! Starting One More Cup of Coffee 2 years ago was pretty scary considering I would be leaving my other income in “maintenance mode”.
Luckily, everything worked exactly as planned, and eventually I'll probably repeat the process and start another niche site somewhere down the road, further expanding my portfolio of websites.
2) Partner Up
Affiliate marketing isn't always just about being the sole owner of a website. There are many different types of partnerships that can lead to profits for all parties involved. Think of some cool people you've connected with over the course of your learning, and see if their up for anything. It can't hurt to ask.
What do you enjoy most about affiliate marketing? Keyword research? WordPress setup and design? Writing blog posts? Social media? Imagine a world where you ONLY had to do the things you like. Now imagine that there are other people out there that hate doing these things. Now imagine YOU + THEM = a complete marketing campaign.
It's definitely possible to build successful websites with a group of people. Profits might be less in the beginning, but so is the work, and you'll have someone else there for motivation, support, or just picking up slack and finding your mistakes. If you have three people working on a website, each publishing just 2x per week, that's a post every day, which can bring some huge traffic to your website. Plus, since you are only posting 2x per week yourself, you can spend more time doing proper research and writing excellent posts!
3) Buy a Website
You can use some of your (hopefully) saved earnings to purchase a website on an exchange. You can either “flip” a site you feel you could improve, then sell for more, or just pick one you think you could increase the earnings on. It's a lot like real estate.
Flippa is a bidding website where you can buy websites and online businesses. It is a
great place to get started rife with scams, so if you buy anything on there, be careful and make sure you know what you're looking for. My one piece of advice about buying businesses: Find and buy something you can handle.
Empire Flippers is website broker, and their sites sell for about 20x monthly earnings unless you negotiate something different with the seller. They are much better about selling quality websites and being honest in their advertising.
FEInternational is another place worth looking at, though they seem to have less inventory than Empire Flippers.
Wherever you buy, there's bound to be a few websites available at any one time that fit your style of marketing. If WordPress is your thing, then get something on this CMS. There are also drop shipping, ecommerce, Adsense, Amazon, FBA, and service-based websites available.
This is a great way to save yourself the work of buying a domain, ranking, getting up content, an all that grunt-work that goes with setting up a new site. Invest in your business by acquiring another business just like the pros do.
I almost bought a website selling shoes a few months ago through Flippa. It made about $1000 dollars per month, and ended up selling for just over $7,000. That means in about 1/2 a year I could have had made all that money back, and I would be absolutely profitable within the year. Unfortunately the bid ended in the middle of the night and I forgot about it and dropped the ball. I'm looking again, but I do regret missing out on that opportunity.
Here are some sites worth looking into.
4) Invest in Stocks and Bonds
Now that you have some money, you need to find out how to keep it. Investing is something not a lot of people do until they are actually worried about retirement. An example I see over and over again is that a guy who invests $1k per year from age 25 to 35 and then stops investing (never touching the principle) will retire with more money than someone who starts at 30 and invests 1k every year until he retires. I have no idea if those exact numbers work out, but you get the idea.
Personally, I try to invest in stocks that pay a dividend, meaning that you get paid a percentage of the companies earnings every quarter. I am by no means a professional investor, but you can be pulling in regular income through dividends and paying investments, as demonstrated by Mr. Money Mustache who retired young by creating a passive income portfolio.
He saved $800 thousand dollars, then quit his job, and now lives off of the interest (4% per year, for a yearly income of $32k). That may not seem like much, but take out your daily commute to work (gas, car maintenance), eating out, and get a bit frugal on a few other items, and you could enjoying a nice bit of passive income in addition to your affiliate earnings. Sounds like an early retirement to me!
5) Sell Some Services
You're an expert! If you are at the point that you can actually make money on the internet, you are now ahead of the pack. There are many people who just can't figure it out. Maybe they're too lazy to actually do it, don't' have time, or like partnerships mentioned above, just dislike one particular part of their business.
Selling services can provide you with a more stable way to make money on the internet. Rather than depend on sales from some invisible place on the interwebs, you can communicate with real people, offer physical services, and get paid each time a job is finished.
One of the most stressful parts of affiliate marketing is never knowing how many sales are going to come in over the course of a day. Sometimes I make $500 per day. Sometimes I make $0. Knowing that a client is paying $500 or $1k per month for you to help them out with their business in some way can give you peace of mind. Here are some ideas.
- web design
- graphic design
- article writing
- blog posting
- project manager
- keyword research
- blog commenting
- social media manager
- account creation + management
- affiliate marketing consulting
- local marketing
Just remember that with this kind of income stability comes some negatives aspects. Your client becomes a kind of “boss” that you need to make sure is satisfied with your work. Sometimes it means you have to re-do things even though you don't want to, or spend more time on a project than you originally planned. It's not as free as just earning from affiliate income, but it's still better than a ‘regular' job.
Looking for Clients? Find them on these sites.
6) Outsource More
Outsourcing can allow you to follow the same path you are on now, while freeing up that time to devote to other projects. Get someone to do the daily grind work you do, while you take care of the ‘thinking' parts of the business. That's called management baby!
If you haven't outsourced before, it can be intimidating. Start slow!
You don't have to hand over the keys to your castle right away, but slowly look for responsible people to take over certain aspects of your business. Find a writer, coder, designer, and a blogger. Delegate a few responsibilities over the next couple of months. Once those individuals know their jobs and you trust them to do it well, get a project manager. You talk to the manager. The manager takes care of your individual hires and basically runs your business for you.
Most of what you'll need to take care of is payments and miscellaneous problems that come up. It's not “autopilot” per se, but it is pretty passive. You just need to make sure that the business is earning more income than you are spending on contractors.
7) Develop a Product
I haven't done this, but there's a lot of money to be made in product development. After you've tried some of the strategies outlined above and you have some extra time, energy, ideas, and maybe even a business partner, it's might be extremely profitable for you to design and sell your own product.
You could design a product that relates to your current niche. Maybe an ebook, a video course, a how-to guide, or even a physical product. If you have been collecting email addresses and have a ‘list', now you have thousands of people that will be interested in buying your product, and you can market to all of them in an instant with an email blast from your autoresponder.
It's also possible to develop a product in a niche you are not currently involved in. Like I wrote above, maybe your first profitable website was not something you are particularly interested in, and now you want to move on to your real passion. Another option is to simply identify a high-interest niche and outsource the entire project.
8) Change Or Supplement Your Advertising Model
One last thing to mention is that you can always change your advertising model. I am doing this as well. For three years now I've depended solely on free traffic from search engines. This includes article marketing, social media marketing, and good ‘ol keyword research.
Now I'm trying to break into Adwords and Bing Ads to do some paid traffic methods. I have seen some serious dips and spikes in traffic over the years, all due to fluctuations in Google's algorithm and the constantly changing position of my websites' pages. It can be very disheartening to see #1 rankings and hundreds of dollars rolling in one day, and dropping off into oblivion the next (meaning $0).
If you're a PPC person, then try some search engine marketing. All it takes is a few well written blog posts and some healthy (natural) links from other authority sites, and you could be in that coveted #1 spot in Google. For people using Adsense, do some affiliate promotion posts. If you only do affiliate stuff, put up a couple of display ads and see if you can add some income to your monthly budget without affecting conversions. There might be money on the table you haven't been taking advantage of!
I talked a lot about growing out to other niches in this post, but to be honest, you can also just work on diversifying traffic sources and income models on a single website. They say don't put all your eggs in one basket, but if that basket is secure, why not? You can have diversified income on a single website!