While Considering the Risks for Affiliate Beginners First of all:
Be aware of the personal pitfalls of affiliate marketing
Steering clear of affiliate marketing risks online
Personal pitfalls and online risks await the beginning affiliate marketer. You can avoid allowing them to snare you and prevent you from becoming as successful as you can be. In this chapter, we show you how to steer clear of potential problems.
You need to be aware of and abide by many legal and compliance issues. You don’t want to end up being sued or even going to jail. Being in the sights of a corporate lawyer or company is stressful. If you comply with the rules and take precautions, your life as an affiliate marketer will be a lot less worrisome and more successful, and you’ll avoid a lot of unnecessary time and expense defending yourself.
Demands for our attention are constantly trying to pull us away from what we need to do and the goals we set for ourselves. It’s the ability to push all those distractions away and focus on your goals that will power you to success in affiliate marketing. Electronic media and all the alerts, pushes, and notifications have only increased these distractions. Time is your most precious commodity, and you need to bat away all those distractions and use effective time management techniques. The following sections can help.
One of the biggest advantages of affiliate marketing, the freedom to set your own hours and schedule, is also one of the biggest dangers for new affiliate marketers. You’ve probably gone from having parents to teachers to bosses tell you what to do. For most of your life, you’ve likely been following a schedule set for you by others. When you are your own boss and can set your own priorities and hours, often those hours may seem to evaporate with nothing accomplished to move your affiliate business forward.
Successful people seem to accomplish a lot more than other people, often to the point where it seems like they must be working 24 hours a day. How do they do it? Their secret is the ability to focus. The first thing you discover when you’re able to truly focus is that your ability to achieve the things you want goes up dramatically.
Unfortunately, today too many things in our always-connected lives distract us from accomplishing what we want to do. Always being reachable and always engaging in “on” behavior lead to an artificial sense of crisis. We’re always afraid that if we’re not on all the time, we’re going to miss something. How many times have you seen people walking in a park or sitting in a restaurant oblivious to their surroundings? Instead they have their heads buried in the blue siren light of their phones, busily texting away as if their life depended on it.
Experts on accomplishing what you want suggest that the first step to achieving focus and productivity is to become unreachable. Turn off the boops, bings, notifications, and alerts on your devices. Keep in mind that all these distractions are not on your agenda. Your computer — and especially your smartphone — are designed and built to distract you. Not only does that alert destroy your concentration and flow for that moment, but experts say it takes ten times as long to get back to where you were and refocus on what’s important.
You may want to check out an internet tool called StayFocusd, which is a free Google Chrome extension. You can read more about this and other internet tools to help you, especially with time management, in the next section.
Aids for maintaining focus don’t only have to be internet-based or electronic. The advantage of this was that I would get in several hours of uninterrupted writing time. No chores, no family interruptions, just writing. It was great for productivity. The second advantage of the early mornings was that I was tired and would be going to bed by 8 or 9 p.m. That meant no time-wasting TV.
I know some people who have built writing sheds in their suburban backyards to gain that uninterrupted time. There are hundreds of ways to achieve your quiet space where you can focus and avoid distractions.
Whereas focus is the ability to concentrate your attention on the task at hand, time management is scheduling so you effectively use the time you have available. Although focus and managing your time are different, they are closely related in the sense that both work to destroy your effectiveness in reaching your desired goals.
Have you ever had one of those days where you get to the end of it and say to yourself, “I don’t know where the day went”? Your time is the most valuable commodity you have. Luckily, some web tools are available to help identify the time drains in your life that are sucking up time you could be spending much more profitably on developing your affiliate marketing business.
Go to www.RescueTime.com and sign up for RescueTime Lite. It’s available as a free Google Chrome extension, and it will get you started. It tracks the time you spend on your computer in different applications and what websites you visit. You’ll probably be amazed at how some activities steal your time. A big chunk of your day may be eaten up just by answering emails. Experts recommend answering your emails once a day at a set time and putting a time limit on the time you spend on this task. (Note: The free version doesn’t track off-computer activities. For that, you’ll have to pay for their premium version.)
The best part about it is that it’s largely automatic. You get a weekly report that shows how well you’re doing, and there is even a three-month history so you can see your progress over time. You can set goals and have RescueTime email you a weekly report that tells you how close you came to meeting the goals you set.
RescueTime makes category selections for you, but you can fine-tune them by assigning categories to each web application you use. For example, you may have categories for communications, utilities, reference and learning, and business. The reports then better illustrate how you spend your day by category. RescueTime has some great reports that graphically illustrate with bar charts and circle charts how your time is spent.
RescueTime also has some great integrations that allow you to connect to other applications. For instance, you can connect to your Google calendar and RescueTime will update your calendar to show how you’re using your days.
For me, the most important function was to simply identify how I was spending my time; RescueTime showed me I was spending too much time on email and shopping sites. For gamers (as another example), it would show the time they were spending on gaming.
I’m a really frugal person — some would call me cheap. I had a daily ritual of following a site that offered different tech bargains each day. I told myself it didn’t take much time and I was saving money. However, whenever I found an item that interested me, I’d spend some time researching the item, looking at user feedback, and checking Fakespot and ReviewMeta. I kept telling myself I had to cut this time waster out of my day but never did. That is, until I installed RescueTime and saw how big a chunk of time this was taking out of my day. I was able to go cold turkey eliminating this time waster, saving money and no longer ending up with stuff I intended to use but didn’t. I got a whole chunk of time that I didn’t even realize I had before to spend on my affiliate marketing business and things that matter.
Another free tool to help you stay focused and reduce or cut out web time wasters is called StayFocusd (notice there is no “e” before the “d”). As is usual with all free tools, a paid version is available that has more features, but the free version is all you need. StayFocusd is a Google Chrome extension (check it out at https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/stayfocusd/laankejkbhbdhmipfmgcngdelahlfoji).
StayFocusd gives you the ability to set a time allotment for each application you use. When the time you have allotted for a specific application is used up, you’re blocked from using that site for the rest of the day. You can’t just add another ten minutes, for instance. So this is a tool for people who are serious about cutting out or restricting web time wasters. It’s great for enforcing rules you determine. If you have a serious video game problem you are trying to curb, for example, you can set up the maximum time you’re allowed to play per day, and StayFocusd will hold you to it.
Say that you set up a 20-minute limit for Facebook. When you start work in Facebook, a timer starts counting down the time limit you set to zero. When it reaches zero, it actually stops the application and goes to a screen that reminds you, “Shouldn’t You Be Working?” You can’t get around it by going to another application and coming back — you set a daily limit and that is your quota for the day.
You can set daily and weekly maximum time limits for each website and app. You can set specific days of the week and hours of the day when it is active. Another measure of the seriousness of this application is that you can set up a challenge question that you have to answer before you can change any settings. That makes changing the time settings a little more difficult for those whose willpower occasionally falters and allows more time to reconsider.
StayFocusd also has what it calls the Nuclear Option, which allows you to block or allow all the websites on your list for a preset amount of time. I (coauthor Ted) found it to be very good at curbing my time spent on time-wasting sites. However, I felt annoyed when my time was up for an application and I just couldn’t get that extra time. And of course, it was a little infuriating when I was in the middle of an email and the time ran out. So I just use StayFocusd without limiting the time for a specific app (though I still have the option of setting more restrictive times when I want to). In that way, it runs more like RescueTime (see the previous section), tracking my application use but not enforcing the law.
With both StayFocusd and RescueTime, you’re just tracking web applications. If you want more features, you can either pay for the premium versions of RescueTime or StayFocusd, or check out Time Doctor or Zoho Projects:
- · Time Doctor (www.timedoctor.com/) is a more complex time tracking application that adds things like payroll. We believe it’s more suitable for teams. After the 14-day trial period is up, the cost is $9.99 a month.
- www.zoho.com/projects/) is more complex project management software. It gives you many more capabilities, like tracking team time spent on projects. The free trial is ten days, and after that, you can choose one of several packages.
One more idea: Set up your email program to automatically route emails to an appropriate folder. I (coauthor Ted) use Gmail and have set it up with primary, social, promotions, updates, and forums folders. You can train Gmail to know which emails go in which folder. It’s a huge timesaver. You can always change the routing of your emails if you find one that you want in primary or another ad slips through that you want to move to the promotions folder. Gmail recognizes and automatically routes emails to the appropriate folders in addition to the ones you manually route.
By far the most emails go into the promotions folder. Sometimes I delete all promotion messages, and within a minute, 30 more appear in the folder. You can do a mass delete. I’ve deleted 5,000 promotion emails at a time. Great timesaver — they are all gone with a click of a button.
There are many other popular email programs besides Gmail. All modern email applications have their own way of automatically processing and routing your email. Outlook is a good alternative email choice. It is Microsoft’s mail product, and it integrates well with Microsoft Office, Skype, and other Microsoft products.
Because getting started in affiliate marketing is so easy — there is no big investment, and you have the freedom to choose how many or how few hours you work as well as when you work — some new affiliate marketers have a tendency not to treat it as a business. Competition is tough today on the internet, though, and the internet isn’t forgiving to people who don’t continually update their websites with new content. Whether or not you post new content, you can bet your competition will. Google will notice there is nothing new on your site, and the Google spiders won’t update your listing. Your competition will rise in the rankings, and your site will sink.
I can hear you saying, “Ted, where is the freedom you were talking about if I have to stay glued to my computer!” You don’t have to! There are plug-ins and apps that let you set up one, ten, or a hundred new posts and schedule their release so they drip out over a one-month, two-month, or ten-month period. To your loyal audience, it appears as though you never left! Your engaging and informative posts and emails continue coming on the schedule you set.
Avoiding Internet Risks as Affiliate Marketer
In addition to the personal risks covered earlier in this chapter, the internet brings some additional risks that the new affiliate marketer should be aware of and avoid. The following sections have the scoop.
On the internet you’ll see lots of “gurus” selling “instant businesses.” To hear them tell it, you just give them your money, and in a few minutes your website and business are completely set up and all you have to do is count the cash. But you need to think about a few issues:
- · Ask yourself this: If it’s that easy and that profitable, why is the “guru” selling these “instant businesses”? Why isn’t he setting up these automatic cash-generating stores for himself 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? We know we would if we discovered these automatic continuous money fountains.
- · Consider the concept of fingerprints. What does running a cookie-cutter business mean for the affiliate marketer? Well, look at it from Google’s point of view. Google’s mission is to answer users’ queries by delivering the best and most informative information it can. Google’s life and advertising revenue depend on it. All of a sudden, Google sees thousands of new sites looking very similar, like they could be from the same cookie-cutter mold. Google sets its engineers to work to see what they can find. What they find is that all of these sites have a common “fingerprint” — whether it’s the same software, the same underlying code, or the same collection of plug-ins.
The effect is dramatic. Google then cuts the ranking of all the sites with this fingerprint, moving them to the bottom of the listing. Owners of these websites see their income seemingly vanish overnight.
This actually happened several years ago to a company that was selling instant stores. Even though the stores were selling different items, and from that standpoint they were different, from Google’s point of view, they all had the same fingerprint and, as such, were thin sites that didn’t bring much value to visitors and deserved to be dropped. A thin site is one where the owner doesn’t do much work to develop it and add value — after all, instant businesses are advertised to purchasers as not requiring any work on the buyer’s part.
You don’t want Google to view your website as a thin site bringing little value to the web visitor. Your goal as a new affiliate marketer is to develop your site to have at least 50–100 pages.
Internet marketers are constantly bombarding people with their latest “get-rich-easy” plan for the new affiliate marketer. They sing about the magic of the latest Google, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, or Twitter secret hack they have discovered. They say they have unearthed a way to fool all these billion-dollar companies (never mind that these companies employ hundreds of engineers working every day to make sure they can’t be fooled!). The pitches sound so alluring. But that is what they are designed to do; after all, they are advertisements!
But all these pitches destroy focus, and you end up like the circus clown trying to keep all of these spinning plates up in the air at the same time. Many of these different promotional methods work. But the truth is, especially when you’re a novice, it’s tough enough to keep one plate spinning. So that’s why we recommend, especially in the beginning of your affiliate marketing career, that you pick one promotional method — YouTube, Google, Facebook, email, or social media. At least temporarily, forget all the others.
Warning Using all the marketing methods you can get your hands on — falling for that “next bright shiny object” — is probably the biggest danger that the new affiliate marketer faces. This has torpedoed the success of new affiliate marketers more than any other pitfall lurking to snare them. We’re not underestimating the danger when we say it may exceed the risk of falling prey to all the other risks combined.
Don’t follow others too closely in your affiliate Journey
In your journey to become an affiliate marketer, you may meet many teachers on the internet who are willing to sell you their prescription for success and accompanying instructional course. Some of them will work, some of them are based on old, ineffective methods, and some of them will be outright scams. Even if the internet teacher is giving you great training, it’s important to follow his methods and not duplicate the site or information he is using to illustrate his method. No matter how many times an internet teacher tells a beginner not to research the exact same keyword or use the same niche that the teacher is using to illustrate his training, he knows from experience that many of his students will follow exactly what he is doing.
Why does this lead to failure for the new student? After all, many new students are thinking, “He is the expert, so if I do exactly what he is doing, I’ll be successful.” But copying exactly the same keyword, creating the same niche, just leads to hundreds, if not thousands, of new affiliate marketing students all trying to compete in the same niche, with the same keywords, the same techniques, and the same level of expertise.
Follow the methods taught to attain success, not the exact keywords or niches. After all, if you develop your own niche using your own interests, expertise, and passions, you’ll be much more likely to persevere and succeed. Haven’t you had enough of trying to follow someone else’s dream? It’s time to follow your own!
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