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Affiliates and egg baskets

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Wednesday January 16, 2008 )

Ever joined an affiliate program that was doing so well that you were tempted to dump all the others merchants you promote in favor of it and basically dedicate more of your content towards steering folks towards that company? That can be risky, regardless of how big or stable the merchant appears to be.

I’ve been into affiliate marketing for some years now and have experienced a few “solid” affiliate arrangements pretty much disappear into thin air overnight. It’s not the smaller merchants who usually do this, but the big guys – the mega-corps.

They are the ones who don’t know you and really do not care. The term “partner” is a loose one indeed and while they might mention it on their sites, read the terms of service of their affiliate program and it will be quite clear it’s nothing of the sort.

I remember one instance where I was generating a nice passive income monthly from a program; had been for a couple of years and then one morning an email arrived saying basically “hey, nice knowing you, but we’re dropping this program in 5 days time and will no longer be paying your residual commissions”. That was it. I’d outlived my purpose.

Is what they did illegal? Not at all – their program, they could do what they wish. I just had to suck it up.

Another major player has recently done the same thing – it wasn’t residual income this time, but a lot of affiliates are going to be missing a ton of cash. Some of those have built a significant portion of their livelihoods around the program.

It’s just a sad fact of affiliate marketing – all your eggs in one basket with a guy poised over the top of it with a sledgehammer is a shakey plan. Don’t put all your eggs into one basket – create multiple streams of income. It will still hurt when these situations happen, but you’ll have some buffer to ride out the storm while you fill the gap with something else. If you’re really keen on the arrangement, build another site dedicated to it; but be careful how much time you invest.

This is also one of the reasons I still work a “day job” online as well as my affiliate stuff. I’ve often thought I could make the same amount of cash (perhaps more) by focusing on my own ventures, but a mortgage and family can take the edge off an entrepreneurial spirit and help ground you – thinking more about what’s safe rather than risking it all on the spin of the wheel. It’s been 6 years now of working the online world from a home office and (touch wood), the plan is working out ok.

That doesn’t mean to say I don’t admire those who take that spin, and I will too someday; but I always bear in mind that for every rags to riches story, there’s thousands more rags to rags tales I never read about.

Get rich slowly.. and keep it.

Into affiliate marketing? Check out my affiliate tips and guides!


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