When you decide to join the ranks of affiliate marketers, you become a self-employed small business owner. It’s true that you’re getting your income from a bigger company, but it’s contract work: they don’t pay you a regular salary or wage, and so you’re completely responsible for your own cash flow. You set your own hours, you decide whether your marketing job is part time or full time, and if you do shoddy work, you’re the only one you can blame.
As such, if you want to improve your income, you need to widen your audience yourself, and the best way to do so is to follow some of the same small business marketing strategies used by artisans, writers, content creators, and other individuals who sell their own products online.
Not all of them apply to affiliate marketing, but the following ideas have a proven record of success.
1. Be A Local Business
When you go online, you expose your content to a global audience – or at least that’s the theory. While anyone in the world with an internet connection can access your website or social media accounts, that doesn’t mean that everyone will. After all, why should anyone spend their time on you when they have all the rest of the vast World Wide Web to explore?
However, if you’re a local business, they suddenly have an incentive: to keep it in the community. Whether you actively reach out to your neighbors or tend to keep more to yourself, affiliate marketing is an opportunity for you to engage with the people around you and share your content (and your ad links) with people who can meet you in person and talk to you on the street.
There are several ways that you can engage with your local community specifically. You can join your local Chamber of Commerce or any other organization that lets small businesses connect and share information and resources. You can join other local clubs or groups so that other people are aware of your name and what you’re doing online. You can print out a hundred business cards and hand them out at appropriate moments. You can join social media sites like Facebook, Google+, and other social media sites that let you share your location and find the accounts of people who live nearby.
To create a good website, you need a fair number of skills. Writing, graphic design, self-promotion, networking, and so on, and so on. But while affiliate marketing is always going to be hard work, and it’s not something you should expect to seriously pay off overnight, you can reduce your workload and increase your production by subcontracting some of the aspects of your job.
For all the skills listed above, you can find businesses and individuals who will gladly offer you work-for-hire and ongoing contracts to do the job for you. Graphic and website design are particularly common for small businesses of every variety to contract out, since a good website design is absolutely critical.
Many places can give you some powerful tools to handle a lot of the design, including the affiliate marketing companies that can provide you with free websites, but a professional’s touch can give your site a unique and memorable feel. It also helps that designing a website is usually a one-time cost.
Other subcontractors you might consider include marketing groups and blog-writing firms. Keep careful track of the price of their services, however, because those costs are coming out of your revenue. While you need to be ready to lose some money on an early investment, you need to be ready to step in and take over if they aren’t adding enough value.
3. Go Visual
Text is all well and good, but nothing captures an internet user’s attention like a good graphic or video. For an article like this one, there’s only so much you can do – specifically, you can check Flickr and other sites for royalty-free images to find one that looks like an appropriate match.
However, there are other things you can put on your website to draw in a viewer. A popular type of online article is the gallery, which focuses your attention on a set of images and provides a relatively short description for each one to keep you moving through at a good pace. However, most galleries on professional sites require you to click through each entry, mostly to give them more opportunities to fill your screen with ads and popups.
But since you aren’t paid per-click or per-view as an affiliate marketer, you can afford to be more user-friendly and put the whole gallery on one page, with just one topic-appropriate ad or plug placed somewhere between the beginning and the end.
A third thing you can do is create infographics, which can turn a short list of dry facts into a visual exploration. You’ll need a copy of Microsoft Publisher or something similar, and you’ll need to pick up at least a little skill with graphic design, but you may be surprised by how much traffic a simple infographic can bring to your site once you share it with the right people.
As an affiliate marketer, you are effectively a small business owner and completely responsible for the money you do or do not make through the affiliate program. As such, your income can really benefit from learning a few small business marketing techniques and applying them intelligently.