2010 was an interesting affiliate marketing year for me. I probably spent the least amount of time while having the best year ever. This is largely in part to the foundation I laid in place in the prior years. Sites are aging and content is getting better, etc. The disturbing thing to me, is knowing that I could have made a TON more if I was working it harder.
Areas that I did work on in 2010, analyzing sites and how they’ve performed historically. Basically, find the crappy sites and make them better… or get rid of them. Even though sites might be poor performers, that does not mean they still don’t have potential. I often make test sites to see if a niche has potential with Amazon, EPN, Adsense, etc. These test sites are usually the losers and need tweaking. They might create low traffic and horrible EPC in EPN, so they might be a good candidate to focus the site to Amazon or Adsense or at the very least a *support* site. I also find sites that were good.. and aren’t so good now. What’s changed? Is it a SEO deal? Is it PPC deal? Figuring out how to get it back is a good direction to focus energy.
In 2010 I hardly created new sites.. a few here and there, but nothing like 2008/2009. I know that optimizing my sites helped with my bottom line. I should have maintained a more consistent build schedule to keep the average growth up, but these are items / goals I’m setting for 2011.
I know my decision to scale back came from the obvious data that was looking at me straight in the face. The sites that I spent the most time, that had the best content, and generated the best buyer/reader loyalty…. made the most money. Weird? Not really. My crappy thin, just whip-it-out-on-a-evening sites that I never rework… make the least amount of money. Weird? Not really.
Every year, I set up goals and expectations for my efforts. I exceeded my 2010 goals, but I feel like I left a lot on the table and sold myself short, so for 2011, I’m going to set up a few things to account for this. Normally, I set up a monetary goal figure for the year, and that could be the reason for laziness. This year, I’ve set up percentage increase over 2010 (I’m thinking 30% gain in gross), and divided this across four quarters. This way, I’ll be really seeing how it’s breaking down.. and I want a fluctuating goal to constantly challenge me. If in Q1 I’m looking at 32% gross increase, that will be the new bar, and so on.. but it won’t go down. This will push me in Q2, etc. I’m also getting to focus on Q4 a little differently for 2011. I normally just maintain consistency, and don’t go too hog-wild for x-mas. I’m thinking about adjusting my PPC budget for x-mas this year, also devote some time in Q1 for building sites targeting for Q4. This will be a little test with the Q1 sites – I’m not going to go too crazy (possibly creating 5-10 sites with the emphasis)
One consistent goal that I seem to have problems with is diversity. For 2011, I really want to improve my Amazon/CJ sales. Amazon has definitely improved, but is crap in the big picture. CJ has been consistent and I want to improve that as well. So for 2011, I set up dollar goal amounts for these networks. By separating them and analyzing their growth by quarter should help gauge where I need to focus on.
One other goal I have for 2011 is getting back to basics. I feel like my lack of time on affiliate/internet marketing took away from some of the basic SEO strategies and traffic generation. For me, it’s often hard to justify the time spent creating backlinks, commenting, etc. The basic rules for traffic generation. I know the sites I spent time on this… get good traffic. Weird? Not really. But, I remember the work is difficult, tedious and takes a while to propagate. I know that’s the game, and I need to do it, but when PPC is so quick, it’s some times hard to justify. But by going back to basics, and diversifying traffic generation methods with PPC – is a good thing. I know that. So I’ll try to be better with it.
Goals are important for staying on track, but to successfully goal set, you need to understand your history and not to extend past your potential. You don’t want to get discouraged either – so find the right balance that works for you.