Affiliate Marketing As A Complete Business Model

By Jamie McSloy / April 27, 2018
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Alternatives To Affiliate Marketing As A Business Model

Yesterday I posted about the downsides of affiliate marketing as a business model.

Reader Leo left a good comment:

I mean, it seems contradictory that the guy with hundreds of articles on affiliate marketing-related subjects is telling you to think twice about affiliate marketing.

Am I contradicting myself?

Let’s find out.

Why I Posted Yesterday’s Article

I have had a few questions recently about various business models for online business. One of them was about affiliate marketing.

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Now, the problem I have with a lot of business stuff is that it isn’t honest about the work required and the expected outcomes. Affiliate marketing is a big offender in that regard.

People think that they can get some traffic, send it straight to an offer for a product they haven’t created, and just bank the cheques at the end of the day.

In reality, there are downsides to affiliate marketing. I talked about them all in yesterday’s article, so read that.

Now maybe I went a little hard on the cautionary tale, but it’s important to know the gory details of a business model before you get into it and waste your time, effort and money on something that won’t work.

Case In Point

This week, blog buddy James Holt released Start Dropshipping Stuff, a course on creating profitable dropshipping stores.

I promoted this offer because I’ve been through the course and it’s great. I’ve offered bonuses to make it better. I believe that some of you guys are well-suited to dropshipping and it might be for you.

That said… a couple of guys messaged me to ask about whether the course was right for them, and a couple more read my review and said that it had persuaded them not to buy.

For the guys that were in doubt, I laid it out: Dropshipping isn’t for everyone. There are costs involved and risks involved. These are the costs, these are the risks. How well can you handle these and do you want to?

And a few people said “no” and didn’t buy the course. (Sorry James.)

I consider that good and right. If you look at the dropshipping business model and say, “Hey… I don’t like the idea of sitting fulfilling orders and I’ve no desire to learn about PPC advertising,” then that’s fine, but the business model won’t work for you and you should save your time and money for something better suited to you.

Affiliate marketing is exactly the same. There are costs and risks involved and it’s great for some people and not for others.

 But Jamie… Aren’t You An Affiliate Marketer?

Leo mentioned niche sites and creating good content. You should absolutely create content-based businesses in my opinion, and that’s why I have done so.

I don’t consider myself an affiliate marketer, even though there are affiliate links dotted around and I occasionally run campaigns. I also have a lot of niche sites.

And here’s where your overall business approach and strategy comes into play.

Affiliate marketing gurus will recommend you buy traffic and send it to an offer. Maybe you put an ad or a landing page in there. Maybe you build a list and send some emails first. But essentially:

Buy traffic > Ad > Landing Page > Sale > $$$

In this model, you don’t control the traffic and you don’t control the offer on sale. This is a weakness in the model. If this is the whole of your business model, then it’s a weak model because of that lack of control.

Let’s talk about niche sites and building authority sites.

I recommend you create sites as valuable resources.  Affiliate marketing isn’t your business model, but it is a potential income stream.

Buy traffic (or SEO) > Your Site > Landing Page > Sale > $$$

Your site is an asset in this model. The value of your site is that your visitors are yours.

If the traffic source dries up, you still have a resource and hopefully it’s one people check repeatedly.

If the affiliate offer dries up, then you still have a website with traffic and you can send people to a different recommendation.

When affiliate marketing doesn’t take off, you can still use your site to sell your own products or services.

Eggs In Baskets And Better Business Models

The old saying goes, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

With affiliate marketing, you have eggs in multiple baskets… but not all of those baskets are yours.

The philosophy I work by is to have as much autonomy with your business (and by extension) life as possible.

Use affiliate links as a source of income. Do some affiliate marketing and certainly learn the skills that you need for affiliate marketing because they’re skills that are useful for any online business.

But don’t fall into the trap of building funnels and assets that only serve someone else who then in turn lets you have a cut.

Build a niche site to be a valuable resource, and you’ll make money as an affiliate. You’ll also have an asset that you can use to build other assets and also sell your own products.

As part of a wider goal, affiliate marketing is great in my book. I’ve made thousands from affiliate marketing.

However, for me it’s part of a wider strategy and that, in my opinion, works better than using it as the totality of your business structure.