Money as a Byproduct
I’ve started to realize that earning money as an affiliate marketer is really an exchange of value that is created. There’s indeed an affiliate marketing value chain.
Of course there are advantages to be had based on using the right tools. But, gone are the days that you can just post anything and people automatically decide to buy your product or service.
Money as a byproduct rather than something you can manipulate from random visitors. People much more savvy now, value must standout and offer the solution far before a sale is made.
The old way: Just create some crappy article and throw a link to your product in it and voila you make a sale.
The new way: We’re far from the easy wins that early adopters. Accepting that and moving forward with skill rather than some hope of a get-rich-quick scheme. This is a wake-up call, affiliate marketing has changed in 2020 and here’s proof.
In honesty, I’ve probably gone too far in the other direction and begun to look at it as an art, something I’m really taking pride in.
I’d rather err on this side of the spectrum because consumers are becoming savvier and wanting more info, more testimonials, more incentive, more everything in order to vote with their dollars.
Think about it, you can find several people creating free content covering just about every topic online. You don’t buy courses because there are no alternatives, you buy courses because you want a specific course from a specific person that you see as an authority. You trust their word, their results, their approach.
This is where value comes into play. Value is needed now more than ever. Let’s explore:
Money as a Byproduct of value
One of the first rules to memorize on this affiliate journey is adding value to the potential client.
This is against the grain of much of which is promoted in the affiliate space, but it’s making more sense each day to create value through product offerings, bonuses, and basically building a brand that resonates with its intended audience.
This means you’ll want to create content at the highest value possible, not because it will get you more sales. I understand and I’ve fallen in love with the idea of improving the quality of the assets I create in the space.
Money as a Byproduct of success
The second piece to consider is that money comes AFTER you successfully add value to your client.
Mind blowing I know, but I really want to dig deeper here because it really is an important part of establishing the correct approach.
The order looks something like this:
- Identify the best opportunities (keyword research)
- Create the best assets (written, video, or image)
- Earn traffic and understand where it came from
- Offer that traffic useful products, services, or courses
If you can understand that success is the goal, you will then look at your business from the client’s perspective and gain clarity in each step of the process. It’s really a full-time job truly managing your brand image, the user experience, and the nuances of establishing yourself in the client’s and potential clients mind’s eye.
Money as a Byproduct of passion
You can’t add passion where none exists. Finding your passion is useless if you don’t then develop it into a form that can be beneficial to your business. The skill in transfer is where the art aspect comes into play. You can stand-out in a way that virtually removes competition when done correctly.
People can tell when you are in your arena. Really loving every moment. A true student of the game you’ve chosen.
This is important because we all want to connect passionately to our outside world who we really are inside. Pressing on this allows us to then get good at transferring.
There are two parts.
One says find your unique gift as connected to your passion. The other says to stay on the path and be patient as you develop an angle that you can use to express yourself uniquely.
My first Shopify store was hideous, I didn’t really put much thought into making the user experience seamless, and I didn’t curate products in a way in which I truly felt I would buy them myself.
I was caught by the ’12-’15 Shopify dropshipper craze and somewhat ashamedly paid a “Coach” $3,000 to teach me the way. I went through the process and created a Shopify store 100% reliant on paid Facebook Ads traffic, selling a cheap blanket I got on Aliexpress for $8.
I didn’t know any better at the time, so I don’t really feel too bad about those lessons, but never again will I use that business model for making money online. (I mean you know it’s bad when you don’t really want to tell friends and family exactly what you’re doing.)
As you put yourself in the driver’s seat you start to notice different routes you can take. Luckily, I found SEO Affiliate Domination a few years later and was blown away by the insights I gleaned.
It wasn’t until I scaled back my store to only a couple products that I started to really make good sales. The opposite of what I originally was taught, and a good pivot toward quality, the move became more and more about making the product and the brand feel high-end yet accessible.
Before I understood the benefit of it, I started blogging more on the site. I was just seeking to add value rather than find the quickest route to a sale. The blog wasn’t optimized it was literally just there to help inform people that visited.
I think we all start from the standpoint of making money online however we can. What’s in it for us, not taking into account what the customer might want or be interested in. We don’t initially approach it from a
No data-based decisions – No testing.
Really mostly random ideas we believe will work. It was a breakthrough period for me, and I took those lessons and applied them to Affiliate Marketing, yet at first I was back to my old tricks.
It’s easy to relapse
We get into business to make money, but the catch is and always has been that value and experience reign supreme.
Outside of convenience, our real path to success (money) and loyal customers (fans) has much more to do with what we provide and how we position it than it does dollar signs.
Like my Shopify business, I found the quick and easy way. The shortcuts were calling me. The black hat stuff was calling my name, thankfully SEO AD steered me more toward the ethical way and I’ve been concentrating on building authority ever since.
I actually began to despise shortcuts. This led me to developing my own strategies around building content that can stand up to the sea of blogs out there and rank quickly.
I know, it’s difficult starting out. There are several questions around if it will work and when. The best advice I have for beginners is here, but for those of us that might be beyond wanting to know of the actionable steps to take. Perhaps you need to refresh your approach.
Attract > Attack
Nobody wants to be sold directly, we all like to be persuaded in a way that gives us power at the end of the day. We buy to protect our safety, to feel sexy or desirable, to feel important, we even purchase things on sale to feel smart.
I love studying consumer habits and believe that the best way to really tap into business is in starting with who your customer is and how they feel about your product and brand. Consumer Psychology is king.
I recently read The Luxury Strategy and it took my awareness to an even greater level. I began to think about why people who aren’t into racing will buy a top of the line Ferrari (or Lamborghini). It’s in order to express themselves rather than use the capability of the car. The goals of the product’s use are warped and the company benefits from the emphasis on what the brand can do for them socially.
This is super interesting about luxury products in particular but I think the principles can apply to Affiliate Marketing.
Everyone is a Customer, Not Everyone is YOUR Customer
Finding a way to niche down has been one of the biggest turning points for my online business endeavors.
One skill leads to another and eventually, I’m left with a very basic understanding of not only what works, but why it works and thus your success allows you to duplicate.
It’s similar to building out one of those big 1000 piece puzzles, you work on it a section at a time. If you get one part done you don’t necessarily always continue with the same section once you reach a roadblock. It’s really a system of small puzzles that make up the larger puzzle.
Irrational Buyers: What They Believe is What Matters
Spending money is often highly irrational, yet people are still all-in on this dream that they can somehow know when someone will buy.
You may want to be made aware that it doesn’t stop with luxury products. There are tons of fast fashion companies that bombard my girlfriend with offers (much to my dismay). The ability to spend profusely is available at every price point imaginable. Quantity is the name of the game.
In the IM space and as a media buyer it’s really been highly connected to the dream of making tons of money in a short amount of time. This is what we see with all the coaches, courses, and pitches playing towards financial abundance.
Have you ever noticed they never really highlight the skill being acquired?
Instead it’s more likely they use cars and fancy houses to hint at your possession of the product or service that adds value to you socially. This is how a course seems sexy and ends up selling itself.
This is the old way, my old way.
I’m more interested in a more sophisticated approach now though. After being burned by my attraction for easy wins and shiny objects, I’m fully invested in SEO AD and all the opportunity that the Facebook group itself has provided. Let me be clear, there are several different angles within using what is learned through the SEO AD course, but the starting point is crystal clear for me now.
How can I attract the right people to take my offer rather than attack potential customers with ads they didn’t ask for?
Quality and Value’s Relationship
You want to know a secret…
“The quality and extent of the value you give should far exceed the amount of money you are asking them to spend.“ – Me
One of the first coaches I got connected with was Ryan Lee. He’s famous for saying “chase the fun” I heard it but I wasn’t really wanting to hear that starting out. I thought to myself “well having a million dollars seems fun, I’d like to do that instead.”
So for years I was trying to find a way to give enough to my business life to get what I wanted out of it. I knew better, but I just didn’t trust the prospect of doing what I love in order to earn a living. I just didn’t trust that I could do it that way.
Later I would find out that not only was it an easier way to do the work I was attempting, it was necessary to stand out.
Anthony Sarandrea is one of my favorite marketers, and takes this even further in his lead generation process:
Convenience as Status
Then there’s this resurgence of the customer looking for convenience and value over price. For modern times, now you have Amazon Prime, Favor, and Uber dominating this pocket of consumer. I can’t really call it a pocket, because it’s so common now if you’re in an urban area. I live in downtown Austin and I definitely check all the boxes (except for Favor lol).
Lastly, the most difficult in my opinion, the super bargain hunter. They don’t care much about actual quality, they find ways to justify it. For example:
- The size of the TV is valued over the brand
- The brand of the clothing is valued over the quality of the fabric
- The discounted price of the item is valued over the shopper’s health
The bragging right isn’t on the value or exclusivity of the product, instead the focus is on the ability to spend as little as possible. The outcome being you appear smart for doing so. So buying is still a social thing for lower price ranges on consumer products.
For us marketers, this is super toxic as you can get stuck with customers who want to pay less and receive great value. Especially if you are that type of consumer, you need to check that at the door as your role is to market effectively and give much more value than is asked. Your win is in doing a great job, not “winning” through getting over.
The flip side is if you give those types what they pay for the complaints on quality can be contradictory. As you can see I’ve been here before, call me N.B.A. Jordan. Never Bargain Again (don’t worry, ultra-specific target audience with that reference).
It’s a thankless job to sell bargain products to bargain hunters.
I just refuse to serve that market because the long-term customer value is usually not there. It’s one and done, and I’m no one’s one-night-stand (most the time lol). All this to make an important point. Don’t do it, I’ve done the free plus shipping offer. I’ve dealt with rough personalities over a $10 blanket. People will fight you over $10, it’s ridiculous.
Only a few came back to buy after waiting 2 weeks to get their dropship blanket from Aliexpress. It’s not worth it. After literally 2000 sales I decided to retire the offer. The problem was that my satisfied return customers could be counted on one hand. No one was opening my emails, and I maybe had 20 people buy more than one item from my store. All that for only a couple of dollars profit.
People were using my store to get a deal instead of willingly going to my store happy to spend $100s of dollars. This was a huge turning point for my online business life.
Never again – Just sell good quality and provide decent shipping and your price becomes a non-issue. Not everyone is your customer, stop selling cheap products. I started selling a $400 meditation cushion. Super niche, different mindset for the demographic I was reaching. Happier business with a product that I use and enjoy myself.
We are here to make money (Wrong)
We are here to earn money by providing great service and value over time.
I’ve learned that the best way to do that is through pursuing excellence in how you approach and execute the task at hand.
This along with solid branding can and will allow you to identify people it’s for and meet them in a way that adds value. So yes that means not spamming people with ads and emails. It means providing an opportunity for them to reach you when it’s time for them to reach you.
For me this means having a solid foundation in SEO in which to grab the best kind of traffic possible. Natural curiosity fueling the visit rather than happenstance. Organic traffic reaches my sites everyday, not everyone is going to buy, but not everyone needs to buy either. But the mentality is flipped on it’s head often when affiliates pay for ads NEEDING a return. The problem isn’t in the platform, (hell I love Google Ads) the problem is in the expectation, timing, and lack of effort in adding value can quickly derail an affiliate.
The truth of the matter is, selling things online can be pretty damn hard, and if you’re in it for just a few months and undercapitalized or of a desperation mentality you can quickly find yourself either questioning your decision to get started or the training itself and fall victim to shiny object syndrome which is the worse disease known to many affiliates (including me).
Moral of the Story
Focus on bringing something great to the market in order to get noticed. This might be more commitment than some are ready to accept. I acknowledge that. Here are the areas of improvement I’ve identified so far:
Yep, that’s about it. No we don’t need more review sites (although this is one, I’m focused on the 3 listed areas of improvement above to stand out).
We need more people that care enough about creating a badass product (as a blogger that means content) and an even better user experience (SEO AD community).
I knew that this blog needed to be created because I never experienced an Affiliate Marketer blog about the pros and cons of the products they promote while also being actual users of said products. It takes one to know.
I hope this makes me and my team money, but I’m more focused on getting really good at building an experience. Money is a byproduct at best, before that I need to make sure my shit is on point and if you’re still reading this, I’m doing OK.