With the current state of affiliate marketing, it’s a fair question as to whether it’s losing its appeal among marketers.
For beginners, it’s not a bad way to get started in online marketing. You don’t need your own product or service or need to deal with customer service. You can sell somebody else’s and get a commission in return. In some cases, you don’t even need your own website.
But for the vast majority of people, it’s probably not worth entering the affiliate marketing industry in 2021 as a standalone business model.
There are a few reasons:
- Many affiliate networks are going out of business, so you may need to pair with companies directly.
- The level of activity in well-known affiliate marketing forums (e.g., the STM forum) has declined.
- Past “super affiliates” are going up the food chain toward developing their own products and services to sell (e.g., e-commerce), opening marketing agencies, investing and venture capital, and other fields.
Affiliate marketing has changed a lot from 2010 to 2021:
In the early days, media buying was a skill that few people mastered.
Now companies like Apple and Disney run ads on Facebook and Google. It’s become easier than ever to launch a campaign and big players have pushed up CPMs.
And as e-commerce and dropshipping have become popular business models, there’s competition downstream as well.
Rules and regulation
Getting a Facebook campaign banned has become a ritual.
Back in the early 2010s, you could be more aggressive and run certain kinds of offers that nowadays are banned.
This is also true for every other traffic source (e.g., Native, Google), not only Facebook.
The viability of alternatives
Today, it can be hard to get your ads approved on Facebook.
But it’s easier than ever to have your own offer. You can set up a store in an hour on Shopify.
You can use Amazon FBA or ShipBob to handle fulfillment. You can outsource the customer service to Zendesk.
So, should you get into affiliate marketing?
There are several reasons why affiliate marketing is still great, including getting more revenue out of your site. It can be as simple as mentioning a product in a blog article and linking to it on Amazon.
But you should get into it only if:
- You love media buying and are not a fan of everything else involved in selling products.
- You want to market certain verticals that have high barriers to creating your own products. Like insurance or finance offers, for example.
- You don’t want the commitment involved with starting an agency or an e-commerce store.