If you are considering becoming an affiliate marketer, then you are probably thinking about starting a blog, creating a niche website, or building an online store. While these three types of website are related by the fact that they can all earn you money, each of them will put very different demands on your time and require different skills. Each type of site has its own barriers to entry that can plague new affiliate marketers, but overcoming those barriers is the first step to making money online. What follows is an analysis of various barriers to entry for different websites along with an overview of the single largest barrier that most new affiliate marketers will face.
Barriers to Building a Blog
Setting up a blog is simple, straightforward, and something you can do on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, setting up a blog is the only part of the process that will be easy. All other success is going to come from hard work, persistence, and perhaps a little bit of luck.
The biggest problem for bloggers is building an audience. Writing, whether about underwater basket weaving or local politics, isn’t just about putting words on a page. Unlike the popular saying from Field of Dreams, if you build a blog, people won’t necessarily come. You have to market your blog relentlessly online, in person, and in any other media format where you can find a little space.
There are several reasons that building a blog audience is difficult. First and foremost is the fact that you will be competing in a very heavily populated market. It seems that everyone has a blog, even kids, so if you want yours to succeed, you need to offer something unique. Offering a unique product is the second problem you’ll face when building a blog. Your audience doesn’t want to hear your opinion, they want access to facts and answers to their most burning questions. Depending on the field you are writing in, finding and verifying those facts may be simple or it may be next to impossible. Figuring out what your audience wants to know and then answering those questions is always going to be a challenge. The final problem you will is that you aren’t selling something tangible. As a result, you’ll need to make all of your revenue from ads and from working affiliate links into your writing without seeming like a shill. Conversion rates on blogs are low, so you are going to need a massive audience if you want to make any real money.
Barriers to Creating a Niche Website
Niche sites are generally easy to build, which is both a blessing and a curse. The upside is that you need very little in the way of technical skills to set up such a site. Unfortunately, that means that everyone else can also jump into your niche and start competing for clients. Simply put, the niche website’s greatest strength may also be its greatest weakness.
Niche websites will serve two populations. The first is a small population of dedicated customers who seek out your content. The second population is made up of the random users who come to your site by way of search engine. Because search engine traffic makes up such a large part of total traffic to a niche site, search engine optimization (SEO) skills are a must for anyone in this business. You can’t leave niche sites to run themselves for too long. Doing so will almost certainly guarantee damage to your search engine ranking and a massive loss of traffic. Simply put, you need to understand SEO well and be attentive to your rank if you decide to run an affiliate site.
Barriers to Opening an Online Stores
Opening an online store requires that you have a product to sell (affiliate agreements work just fine) as well as the technical skills to build an eCommerce site and the marketing skills to make your brand known. The technical skills required to build an online store are probably the largest barrier to entry for most new affiliate marketers. If you don’t have the technical know-how to build the site yourself, the options are to put in long hours learning how to do it (a process that could take months) or hire someone who does have the skills (not cheap).
Once you have an online store up and running, the good news is that revenue tends to build quickly. You can also leave the site unattended or minimally attended without facing any significant consequences. Copying an eCommerce site is nearly impossible to do, so you don’t have to worry about competition in the same way that you do with a niche website.
The Single Biggest Barrier to Entry
The above sections were dedicated to specific types of websites and their barriers to entry. Having read through those sections, you might be tempted to believe that technical skill, market forces, or some other abstract problem is the biggest barrier to entry for affiliate marketers. In truth, the biggest barrier to entry is fear. Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, and fear due to a lack of understanding of the principles of affiliate marketing are what prevent most people from entering the fray.
There is no special knowledge needed to start an affiliate site (for the instances where technical skills are needed, you can farm them out) and there is no special knowledge required to run the business end of things either. All you really need to succeed are a good work ethic and the willpower to take the first leap of faith. If you can make that jump, knowing that you won’t give up when the going gets tuff in the early months of building your business, then you will be as successful as you want to be at affiliate marketing. It’s as simple as that.
Taking the Leap
2015 is being called the year of the affiliate marketers in part because the business model is thriving and in part because more people, from all over the world, are on the Internet than ever before. Social media has revolutionized marketing, SEO is easier than ever before, and mobile devices are becoming ubiquitous. If you can overcome the single greatest barrier to entry in affiliate marketing, fear of failure, then you too can participate in the year of the affiliate marketers and build an online empire.