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  1. #1
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    Like many of you, I have gone through a real learning curve over the past several years. I have gone from being a "newbie" in e-commerce to designing and running several websites which draw thousands of people daily.

    And also, probably like many of you, I have some anxiety over where we go from here. What is the real future of affiliate marketing? How long before we're all wiped out by scumware, or a new version of Internet Explorer derails all of the affiliate programs, etc., etc.? Yes, our present world could last forever, but everything in our past says it won't. Change is inevitable.

    So here we are. We're knowledgeable, successful, probably all of us have fairly high energy levels, and we're entrepreneurs. We probably understand the nuts and bolts of basic site design and driving targeted traffic into sites much better than most e-commerce managers. We generally don't have boards of directors to answer to, so we can be creative and daring and take risks.

    So what's next? How do we harness our energies, our skills, our knowledge, and our successes to jump across the chasm to reach the next level of whatever the Internet is going to become? And how do we do it now, before our worlds crash down around our ears and we're forced to change?

    Can we - should we - maybe make the leap to become retailers ourselves, attracting our own customers, filling and shipping our own orders, and pocketing all of the profits? Or are there other possibilities for us to explore?

    I would like to open a discussion on this topic. It may be a real yawner, and this may well be the only posting on it, as it slides further and further down the page and eventually disappears. On the other hand, Haiko has a couple thousand very sharp members who just might want to trade ideas and consider their future.

    That's my two cents to start this off. Anyone else care to join in?

  2. #2
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    Tom,
    I'm optimistic about affiliate marketing, at least over the next couple of years - it's a model that really works for a lot of merchants and affiliates. I think the online shopping pie is growing fast enough to keep us all in business for a while yet.. until something beyond our control happens to change the business - I share your concerns about Internet Explorer - Microsoft have such a dominance of the browser and desktop market that they could cause real problems for us if they set out to - hopefully they have other plans.

  3. #3
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    In my most optimistic moments I share your feelings. After all, as a group we're driving a lot of traffic into our merchants' websites and we're helping them produce a lot of revenue. Who could possibly be successful without us? On the other hand, look at the mega-merchants on the web who do not have affiliate programs.

    Whatever happens to break up our worlds may not come from the merchants, however. It could be a third party interference with our business activities (such as scumware), or something (?) that completely changes the dynamics of ecommerce. I just want to be ready for change, which is coming, by starting down the next path now rather than later.

  4. #4
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    I'll have to see a significant downward shift in affiliate marketing before I switch strategies. I've looked into drop-shipping and other options for becoming a merchant, but I just don't want the customer hassles until they're absolutely required for survival... and at the point they become required, I might just opt for an office job instead.

    I started serious affiliate marketing in the Fall of last year -- it has out-performed my expectations by a loooooong shot. And while I'm a big believer in changing when change is needed, at this point, I see no reason to find a "backup plan" for affiliate marketing.

  5. #5
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    I'll ride the affiliate wave as long as it lasts and as long as I'm having fun. I have thought about selling products directly, but like Cedric I'm not interested in customer service hassles etc. (At least not with any opportunities I've seen so far.) If something happens that takes affiliate marketing in a direction I don't want to go, I'd likely just retire early. No office job for me!

  6. #6
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    While a "backup plan" may be nice, it is not really feasible to do extensive backup planning because the future is unknown.

    It's like asking what road will be taken next when there is no map and the crossroads is over the next hill! Other than the most basic comments, who knows?

    So here's the basic comments:

    I have been typing like mad! The reason is indeed the basic concern that someday the situation with the industry will change for the worse! So I want to make enough now that I don't have to WORRY about it.

    If I do not get satisfactorily rich in time, I will adapt. Since I don't know the future, I don't know what would be required to do this. But a j*b definitely is not it for me either.

    Other commentary:

    I don't think Scumware will put me out of business. What can be programmed can also be programmed AGAINST and that includes Parasiteware. I think of it more like fleas--they each suck a bit of blood and don't help, but it would take a heckuva lot of fleas to actually KILL the dog.

    Microsoft? It depends what they do. But there should be some money to be had in it, somehow.

    There was a time I was very interested in becoming a merchant, but after doing the cost/benefit analysis I came to the conclusion that it was not worth it, plus, among other pains in the butt, retailing includes doing customer service (which I DETEST).

    [ 04-03-2002: Message edited by: Leader ]

  7. #7
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    Thank you -- some good thoughts. I agree with the concerns about dealing with the public. My example of going the merchant route was to get at least one idea on the table for consideration.

    Maybe we're at the best place at the best time right now, and we realistically can't build any type of business plan because we don't know what the future holds.

    Thanks again for your thoughts and input.

  8. #8
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    Long term planning is difficult in this business, and that will make personal money management skills a big issue for those who earn big. Such folks could be compared to writers or sports figures who have a surge in income but have no idea how long they can sustain it. It's important to find a wise balance between enjoying some here-and-now luxuries and also building a financial base for future security.

  9. #9
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    As the visibility of individual merchant preformance becomes a reality I hope that a new affiliate network featuring only those merchants who produce commissions will evolve. Problems will exist with limiting access to this ideal network to only webmaster publishers who know how to target shoppers. Maybe the existing networks might change, but I hold little chance of that happening since they all got their roots planted as online advertising with reporting hooks. The folks at Afftrac know the results but like the networks are afraid to publish conversion ratios or rate merchants...

    Regardless of the PR spin and stream of promises the existing networks will only transistion from the abusers of their mass of affiliates to victims of their own greed or survival tactics. They will become vehicles for scumwarez and parasites until it's too late to change and these hijackers will cut their throats after milking them dry. The emerging super affiliates using these tactics forget as they eliminate eyeball competition they get the complete focus of the legal eagles. The spammers and list sharers who thrive now will find they face not loosing just their ISP service but huge fines for invading peoples privacy when the FTC puts teeth into their barking dog.

    Only thing to do is create a site that attracts and earns bookmarks and watch the thrid party commission game evolve.

  10. #10
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    So where are we going?

    Many times, a merchants agent does something stupid, or some new scum causes panic, or theres a traffic blip or whatever and we worry. (Until Leader shrinks it back down to size - we really should invent some Affiliate Oscars). But I don't think we need panic.

    Its about collectivity now. But I've already done the 'more than Arthur Scargill ever dreamed of' speech, so I'll spare you the repeat.

    Software scum has software solutions, so no panic there. Anything that doesn't respond to that and a little public education will end up as Icicle's New Hobby next time I pass the High Court and can be arsed. A mareva injunction can be had for about $100 and I *like* the High Court. A fine historic place where the judges read at light speed, comprehend instantly, and show great sympathy for a skinny little girl all alone and unrepresented with a sorrowful look on her face. (Anyone who doubts this can ask Southwark Council how much Icicle's Last Day Out cost them!)

    So I'm not panicking. In fact I'm chewing over the best way of presenting this to a geriatric newbie whenever I have a spare moment, and sooner or later an affidavit will write itself, as if by magic.

    In the past, a company could say or do what it liked and rarely get proved wrong. They owned the channels of communication and could sue the pants off anyone they didn't like - but look whats happened now! Take Andy and TigerDirect...

    That overture search for the term 'TigerDirect'? Did anyone see the result at number 13?

    It was someone moaning loud and long about how TigerDirect motherboads were complete crap and he knows this because he had three of them. Get that removed and get slapped with the first ammendment! If Andy succeeds in removing the affiliate results for his brand name he's only going to push the slagoff session further up the results!

    Because of things like this, I don't think the internet will ever be under the control of one organisation. Each action has an equal and opposite reaction, and I think the correct attitude is not a futile 'control' attempt - but more in the way a surfer deals with a wave. There are tides of opportunity and all we have to do is ride one and collectively look out for the next.

    But its broader than this. I think we're going to see a new economics where you get rewarded for intelligence rather than obedience.

    Every consumer you educate about scumware is one more who might just think 'Eh? You don't need a degree, or a rich Daddy, or anyones permission to start up? Let me at it!!'

    I don't mind. Webmasters buy too. Wealthy webmasters probably buy lots. So I'll teach anyone who'll ask me nicely. Every person saved from corporate servitude is another recruited to the cause.

    And let the scumware and scamming roll! The more 'orrible little toe-rags get involved, the more customers will chose to shop only with the sites and webmasters they trust. And once you betray that trust, there is nothing to stop anyone writing about it and having the result appear *right next to yours*.

    I think we're about to see a new style transparency and accountability! And I'm looking forward to it. Between us we have here a collective of creative *individuals* with the flexibilty to outflank any corporate dinosaur, and the ability to get on top of any new technology. The way I see abestweb expanding in the next few years is in trusted specialists offering their paid services increasingly to other affiliates who want to buy in the new skills rather than take the time to learn these for themselves.

    We're not about to die out tomorrow or anytime soon, or be surprised by some unintelligible technological advance because we are exactly in tune with the zeitgeist. The ones who'll be beating their heads against brick walls and bemoaning their mysteriously bad luck aren't the Trustworthy, and (because of the technical expertise here) not even the Technically Bereft - its going to be the the Ethically Challenged who freeze themselves out and die off with their outdated protectionism and C20th monopoly style thinking. It puts peoples back up instictively now because *it is not in tune with the times*.

    Notice the response to Nancy/Seven? We just don't fall for the fear close bollocks anymore. Its patronising and *so* fifties and its transparent as hell to anyone with half a brain that they know they are as outdated as their sales pitch - and running very scared indeed. The fear leaks out from every pixel, and its because fear is somewhat contagious we're having this discussion now. But fear is a basis for discussion only - not action.

    I mean what did he expect?? - Oh No Nancy You've Really Scared Me! If I Give You All My Money Right Now Will You Save Me? Please Please Please?

    Its called 'evolution' and Nancy and his organzation has had his day. The fact he's here at all shows me we rattled BeFree et al. He's nothing we should waste energy worrying about. We'll stick the boot in at our leisure.

    If anyone doubts they are on their way out they can do a Where Are They Now on the scumware merchants we blacklisted. All my ones got deactivated or ended up with EPCs even lower than their IQs

    My ethically inclined merchants get their sales increased by 30% each month until full roll out.

    [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    I

    [ 04-03-2002: Message edited by: Icicle ]

  11. #11
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    The amount one can make with affiliate marketing will probably stay about the same for a year or so.

    It's not all that hard to make money but it's time consuming and frustrating having to deal with the problems.

    If you can follow Leader's strategy it will work.

    Ebay offers a good alternative to affiliate
    marketing - find a specific type of product post it on Ebay as an auction and have affiliate links to similar stuff on your ebay explanation site.

    Network marketing offers the best way to make money online. If you refer 2 and help them do the same and teach them to do the same, etc in a year you have over 4,000 people in your group. If yo can make $1 from each on average you are making $48,000 per year.

    You just have find 2 people who can refer 2 people just like them - people who will work.

    The problems we all have are to make more money than we spend trying to make the money.

  12. #12
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Icicle has the right response to the flux within the affiliate industry. Hold onto and expand what works for you while the sluge settles to the bottom. Treat your site to a make over and weather out the storm as comsumers become aware they've been duped by the "tricks for clicks" scumware crowd. They too will get shafted by non paying or converting merchants but on a greater scale when the legality issues are resolved and the cooperating merchants see they can weasle out of payment once the scamm has hit the courtroom fan.

    Hiring Arthur Anderson to cook the books at the major networks no longer is an option due to the fact that nothing is secret or sacred on the internet. There will be hollering and nashing of teeth from the hidden group called super affiliates when their automation linking tools stop producing stats due to court cease and desist orders to the network enablers.

    Once the trojan horse P2P script gets enabled at Morpheous and Kazaa the real loosers ( the file sharing freeloaders) start getting streaming media Popup Ads and spamm up the ying yang ..they will revolt. The scumlords will fight over their turf by launching DOS attacks on each other and TigerDirect will sell more more replacement systems when the idiots can't uninstall the competing programs. I plan on directing some of those sales through my links.

    Adware will be purchased by McAfee or Norton and parasites will be eliminated at their point of attack when properly labeled as computer viruses. When the scumware/parasites bubble bursts like it did with CyberRebates the 40+ million duped users expecting incent offers -coupons- shopping point credits -rebates anf Freebees will get left holding the bag of crapola. Merchants who climbed into bed with these folks will have to pay to get shots at the local health clinic before legit affiliates touch them again.

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador webmarm's Avatar
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    WEll, I also don't really want to walk the walk of drop shipping yet, but my business partner is keen on it. So we'll make the effort to start slow, and hire out things like (ick) Customer Service. But I am convinced that it's a good idea to start working on it now for diversification.


    Yup, I think there might be some bumps ahead, whether in technology or major marketing changes. But in general, as I told my sceptical Dad, if e-commerce and affiliate marketing totally falls apart tomorrow, then it means the world ended as we know it and a lab job wouldn't help anyway.

    Right now the model of niche marketing works pretty well. So I'm going to keep on building on that for a few more months heavily, then invest some time in learning more programming. Another model that works for some is the brute force 10's of thousands of pages of products on the web to be spidered. Personally, I like not paying for being over my bandwidth and still making plenty more than my monthly expenses on advertising and hosting and such that niche marketing allows. So I'd like to be better at writing my own scripts to help me automate my site making better but really adapt my pages individually like when I make them each page by page in my trusty HTML editor.

    Good thread, all. It's nice to have a bunch 'o affiliate marketers in one place to gnaw on stuff with. WTG, Haiko.

  14. #14
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    If theres one thing I love about Haiko - its his timing. Anyway..

    >Icicle has the right response to the flux within the affiliate industry. Hold onto and expand what works for you while the sludge settles to the bottom.

    Hm.

    Hmmm....

    Its more fun than that. You make it sound a bit like a chore :/

    I mean what problem is it *exactly* that 2000 individuals working together can't overcome?

    Its a paradox, that one. A collective of individuals all doing exactly as they please / think best, and kicking ass while they do it.

    And have you noticed how we're staying under the radar? By the time the media find out what an 'affiliate' really is - our merchants will have pushed their merchants out of the stock exchange.

    Every sale I make for my merchants makes me a very happy Icicle indeed - and this has more to do with the financial stability I'm giving my merchant friends than anything the Check Fairy sends. And therein lies our security, I think. Merchants are our natural friends - more so than CJ who I've realised *is* nothing more than their agent.

    And do you know, if I'd walked into any of their merchant offices and said 'here's my CV can I have a job?', they'd have looked at it and looked at me and wondered politely how *exactly* a life of depravity, Camberwell Carrots, drumming and lighting engineering, attitude problems, talent for losing things and general mayhem qualifies me for a check every month that isn't from Welfare?

    If they felt like being charitable I suppose I might have been allowed to make the tea, under close supervision.

    So damn right we're anarchists, (Nancy. If I were you I'd be wetting myself too.) We're 'anarchists' and our customers are 'anarchists with credit cards'.

    Anarchists are people who think no-one else has an inherent right to tell them what to do. This suits a lot of us round here who saw what corporate wankitude cost our parents' and grandparents' generation.


    That 'riding the wave' rather than 'controlling the flow' analogy is a good one - but not exact. It works in that I'm on one merchant at a time, and when I see another promising Something on the horizon I'm on that one instead - but really I'm on that one *too*. And I ride each wave in a technologically more sophisticated fashion than the last.

    I still, emotionally, haven't got to grips with the fact I can do *no work at all* on a merchant and they still pay me a decent living wage! Like eh?? How does that work?? Its against *everything* I've been taught (except Wicca).

    Ok. I suppose I know how it works, but I still don't *believe* it.

    I mean last Christmas Strawberrynet said (just after I said I was dumping them over the cookie thing and they had a rapid rethink and got forgiven) "We wish all our affiliates were like you" - and they hadn't seen nothing yet! Their sales through me increased 50% a month *every* month since then. They must want my babies by now...

    I don't think any decent merchant is going to be in a hurry to dump the Likes Of Us and I've even started getting congratulatory emails from grateful customers! They *like* the fact they can send me a 3am email and get an answer in 5 minutes with a link to the product. Surprises the hell out of them! They start out all formal and polite, get a response using only their Christian name, casual grammar and liberal use of smilies (ie - a human response from a peer). This inspires more trust than any corporate auto-responder ever did.

    I don't think such happy customers are about to desert me because of some scumware infection they picked up somewhere.

    I'd suggest to everyone here that our main advantage lies in our personalities and our sites should be, in a very real sense, *ourselves* - from my spartan no-sales-pitch-Virgoan 'Here it is buy it if you like' to Leaders (presumably - I never looked) 'You know you wannit' to Freds 'Get rich quick. Really'.

    No corporate bully boy structure can pull off all these simultaneously, because a strict hierarchy requires *control*. - just look at Nancy's writing and see how often the theme of hierarchical control crops up. It requires an artificial homogenity that channels the subject into the right response. Its an *offensive* sight to postmodern eyes.


    The best these wanks can hope for is a series of scumware companies to take the rap for unlawful conversion / theft / whatever. They can be deniably hung out to dry whenever its expedient and neither affiliate nor merchant will be crying into their beer over it.

    I think, maybe, we should let the scumware get on with it until they have sufficient ill-gotten to be worth taking, (but not enough to buy off a High Court Judge). Consider it a corporate savings scheme.

    Then, rather than work out whose money is whose exactly (which will only cause grief) - we use the proceeds for a big party.


    I

  15. #15
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    I,

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>If theres one thing I love about Haiko - its his timing. Anyway..
    >Icicle has the right response to the flux within the affiliate industry. Hold onto and expand what works for you while the sludge settles to the bottom.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Huh? It was Mike who said that, not Haiko [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    I'll read your post now.

    Haiko

  16. #16
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    I,

    Was this post intended for the "red pill" post in the ParasiteWare(TM) forum?

    Haiko

  17. #17
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    Not really, except in that I was also thinking of where I'd like the Parasites to go from here.

    But if you want to move it, or post warning signs or something, feel free!

    And the thing about your timing was a response to the WTG from the post just above mine.


    I

    [ 04-03-2002: Message edited by: Icicle ]

  18. #18
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    I,

    Gotcha.

    Andy did do a great thing, many managers / adnetworks don't dare / care and just F around.

    Haiko

  19. #19
    ABW Ambassador webmarm's Avatar
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    I, you're on a roll, babe. Great post.

  20. #20
    ABW Ambassador mousejockey's Avatar
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    [my spartan no-sales-pitch-Virgoan 'Here it is buy it if you like']
    lol..
    The future?
    Icicle said it all...
    I'm a Virgo too [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

  21. #21
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    [Removed because I don't like natal chart info out in public too long.

    Paranoid? Moi??]

    [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    I

    [ 04-04-2002: Message edited by: Icicle ]

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