A few weeks back I wrote an article discussing the parallels between affiliate marketing and working out. One of the main points of the story was that new publishers have a much better chance of succeeding if they start off with a plan, rather than just jumping in and trying to figure things out as they go. One commenter asked if I could make any suggestions on how a new affiliate marketer should start developing a plan. While the specifics of any new affiliates business plan will be unique to each person’s situation, I tried to put together some basic steps to help a newbie put together an affiliate marketer’s business plan. Here are a few key points that should be addressed in any new affiliate marketer’s business plan.
Create a schedule. If you’re going to start an affiliate marketing business, one of the most important things to invest into your new business is time. You can’t just spend an hour now and again when you have some free time and expect to create a successful business. But, how you schedule your time will be based on your schedule. A schedule for someone working a full-time job will probably look a lot different than one put together by a stay-at-home mom. The point is to build a schedule that works for your circumstances and allows you to spend as much time as possible on your new business. While there are no guarantees, the more time you devote to your business, the more likely you are to succeed.
Set a budget. While affiliate marketing can be a very inexpensive business to get into, there are costs to be aware of – and they will likely increase as you become more successful. Beyond the basics, (a computer, internet access, etc.) you will likely need to invest in some software and online services (html editors, keywords tools, email services, etc.). Which ones you need will depend on what sorts of marketing tactics you intend to use (email, search, social media, etc.). A little research will help you nail down these costs more specifically. Once you get past all of the foundational costs, you have the ongoing cost of driving traffic to the offers you decide to promote. Unless you happen to already have a bunch of websites getting tons of natural traffic, you will have to find ways to get consumers to view (and participate in) your offers. As an example, if you start off utilizing search marketing, you will want to set a daily PPC budget on the search engines you work with (Google, Bing, etc.). Determine an amount that you can afford, based on your current financial situation. Remember, it is very likely that you won’t be profitable overnight, so figure out how much you can invest into the business before you need to start seeing a solid return.
Establish some clear goals. So, what is it you are looking to accomplish with your affiliate marketing business? Start by thinking long-term then break those long-term goals down into some manageable shorter term steps. While your goal may be to make $1 million a year in profit, how much do you realistically want to earn in your first month? Be realistic. Once you set those goals, you need to work out the steps to achieve them. Don’t set a goal of making $100K profit in your first month, if your budget is only to spend $50/day on PPC.
Get educated. Most beginners in this industry don’t even know what they don’t know. So, you need to start by learning the business…and there is a lot to learn. If you sat down and started a list of everything you would want to know, you could become overwhelmed pretty quickly. The key is to get a handle on the basics and then dig deeper into the specific marketing verticals you decide to focus on. You don’t need to become an expert in email marketing if your niche is PPV. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by everything there is to know. But, don’t let that deter you from getting started. Keep it simple when you’re getting started. As your business grows, you can continue to learn more about different aspect of the industry.