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Why you can’t make money and how to fix it

Published by Papa Whale Affiliate Marketing

Are you struggling to make money online as an affiliate? You're not alone. Each problem has a solution: learn how to put your online marketing efforts into gear.

Money & power. Probably the two most sought-after goals for a vast majority.

No one becomes an affiliate for altruistic reasons. We’re all willing to go to great lengths chasing that bill and stick. However, sometimes it feels like an endless run on a treadmill with no end in sight. You’re putting in the legwork, but those precious dollars — and fame, if you’re into that — are still out of reach.  Just… why?!

Maybe you’re a sinner without even being aware of it. Or maybe you just lack the required skills. It can be a lot of things, to the point it makes you feel overwhelmed and confused about affiliate marketing as a whole.

Today, we’re going to share some tips on how to *really* start making money online. But just as a good doc wouldn’t prescribe medicine without knowing your symptoms, we’ll try to first diagnose your “illness.”

Finding (and understanding) your strengths and weaknesses

You feel sick. Okay, maybe not literally, but you have to deal with a growing pain. One that pushes your health — both mental and physicial — to its limits. A feeling you can’t shake off, slowly drawing you into a vicious circle of failure.

What started as a chronic non-malignant annoyance slowly evolved into a real, persistent problem. Because you didn’t bother listening to the warning signs, allowing your symptoms to proliferate and feed upon most of your energy.

It sucks and you don’t know what to do.

You see, to make money online you have to know who you are as an affiliate. Don’t underestimate the power of introspection.

The solution? Grab a pen and a piece of paper, then start writing down everything that comes to mind about your current situation. Separate your thoughts into two categories: strengths and weaknesses.

Something like this (but obviously in your own style!):

make money strengths weaknesses

You’d be surprised how effective this simple exercise can be at painting a picture of yourself. Well, in this case it’s more like scribbling, but you get the point.

Online marketing is all about your skills, so it can be a very humbling experience. You can blame external factors repeatedly, but at the end of the day, you and you alone will always be responsible for your own success.

Strengths

The driving force behind all of your endeavours. Strengths are your fuel and they allow you to shift into high gear. It’s also how you’re able to distinguish yourself, build your own identity. Even though affiliates share many points, how they do things varies greatly.

Use your strengths to build a solid foundation for self-improvement. They’re the most powerful tools in your arsenal.

Weaknesses

Even more important are your weaknesses. How so? They’re blockers to your progression. Big roadblocks, barriers to take down. It’s what you must actively fight against. They slow you down: consider them like having a millstone around your neck.

As far as your strengths go, you probably already know what those are. It’s always harder to come up with weaknesses since that’s not something we like to do.

Defining your goals and ambitions

With your strengths and weaknesses combined, you now have a better understanding of how things will play out in the future.

The next step is defining your goals. And the answer can be anything you want, as long as you’re comfortable with the idea.

The higher you aim, the harder it’ll be. At the same time, if you’re not ambitious enough, why even bother?

What you want is equilibrium. Not the Christian Bale-featuring dystopian movie, but the state of mind.

Equilibrium brings stability. That might sound weird coming from a business that is ever-changing, but it’s nonetheless true. You want to predict how your traffic will behave to minimize risks. Part of your goal should be to reach a state where it’ll be easier to make decisions based not on intuition, but solid data — and experience!

If you need help defining goals, write down what you want to achieve. SMART goals are something we can attest to:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating)
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable)
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based)
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)

Of course, you don’t have to be that specific. It all depends on the scale of your project and your ambition as an affiliate marketer.

Here’s a quick and dirty example of how you could come up with your own goals, again using pen & paper:

I know myself better… what’s next?

That’s already a huge feat!

Here’s a quick succession of powerful and easy to use tips that will come in handy when it comes to making money online.

Optimize Links & Banners

Make sure you treat your links with care. Same goes for banners. If you want people to click on your ads, you better make them attractive and relevant.

Test Your Stuff

Alway try to aim for at least two different variations between your ads if you’re into media buying. A/B Tests are great for a number of reasons, number one being higher conversion rates. But testing goes beyond ads: it can be something as seemingly trivial as a color scheme on your website or how you display content. It’s pretty worth it to experiment, as long as you give it enough time to gather some real data.

Be Fast! Full Speed Ahead!

If you run your own websites or landing pages, you’ll want these pages loading fast. Page speed, also referred to as the “page load time“, can and will affect your ranking in the search engines — and how potential customers receive your site.

Use free tools like GT Metrix to check whether you should worry about potential lost sales due to your pages loading sluggish. Make sure images are optimized for the web and don’t overdo plugins (we’re talkin to you, WordPress users!).

If you want optimal results, adopt a mobile-first philosophy to web design.

Know Your Audience

What does your traffic want? You wouldn’t sell gloves to the handless or a sweater to someone hiking in the Mojave desert. Get to know more about your ideal customers, their tastes, what they’re looking for. How? You could start by creating personas: representations of your visitors. This way, you’ll be able to answer 3 important questions: who your visitors are, why they’re on your website and how they’re using it (e.g. with an iPhone X).

Don’t Be Afraid to Spend Some Money

True or false time: you need money to make money. If we had to answer, we’d be inclined to say that money is a huge help, but not necessarily needed to be successful. There are multiple methods out there requiring little to no investment at all. For every paid solution, there’s a free alternative.

The problem with never spending any money is how it limits your potential. A .com will cost you as little as $0.99 with some registrars and we know that this Top-Level Domain (TLD) is still prefered. While you could get a free one, for instance .tk, it’s a huge red flag to your credibility. Plus there’s the fact such domains come with their own problems  poor rankings and ad injection, just to name a few.

Educate Yourself

By reading this blog you’ve already proven a willingness to learn about affiliate marketing and how to make money online, so that’s something to be proud of. Unfortunately, we still see so many people asking questions that could easily be answered with a 10-second Google search. If your affiliate account still hovers at the $0 mark, you either haven’t started yet or need to read some more.

Start to follow influencers in your chosen niche. Join communities (forums, social media, etc.) of like-minded affiliates who are willing to share their valuable experience. Read answers that have already been given. The Internet is a gigantic pool of knowledge from which you can draw from.

I Still Can’t Make Money… HELP!!!

At this point, you should already have a pretty good idea of how to make money online, at least what it implies.

We don’t believe in spoon-feeding, but what we do believe in is clearing the path to begin your affiliate journey.

Here’s some food for thought if you are still hungry for tips on how to get those conversions rollin’:

  • Choose content marketing: choose a niche and create a blog with unique, valuable content so you start getting organic traffic from search engines. Choose offers that are best suited for your traffic (we have many!) according to the niche. The reason why you’ll be focusing on a niche is because it’s easier to rank for specific keywords than broad ones.
  • Build a mailing list: one of the oldest and most proven ways to make money online involves mailing. If you have a website/landing page, be sure to include a mail catcher so you can send targeted offers to your subscribers.
  • Buy ad spots: maybe not on the biggest ad networks to begin with, but try to find websites with good traffic where you can advertise for a lower fee. Let’s say you want to promote a cam offer: there are thousands of websites out there in this niche, but what you’ll be targeting are cam sites with lower traffic so you don’t end up ruining yourself in case the spot nets you negative ROI.
  • Mimic what others are doing: this is valid for every existing method. Know about something that used to or still works? No shame in copying it and adding your own twist! In an ideal world, you’d be thinking of unique ways to engage with your traffic, but that’s not what happens most of the time. Adapting a proven method can be really lucrative. Think outside the box!

Final thoughts: give it some time! If you’re still lost, you can read some more tips found here.

Before crossing the finish line

Making money online is far from being saturated, but it’s super competitive. Most affiliates give up after less than 6 months. Truth is, it can take up to a year before you see any significant results, depending on your strategy. We’re not trying to discourage you or anything, we’re just laying out the facts. Media buying is a different beast, but it’s also a long-term effort where you can easily lose it all if you’re not careful.

Point being, affiliate marketing can be a gruelling undertaking. That’s why you can’t simply jump on the bandwagon — you need to be prepared. That’s the secret: hard work and planning. Knowing yourself and building your skill set will be of great help.

If you’re to make money online, treat it like a marathon; it’s an endurance test and you need to train a lot to stay competitive. You’re an athlete, nothing less. So start acting like one!

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