It’s a quiet week in online marketing when no one declares the end of affiliate marketing, the end of SEO, the end of e-commerce, the end of the gravy-train or something of that ilk.
This post is not about declaring the death of anything, but it’s also not a post to reassure you about the future of online business. Instead, I want to talk about the reality of online marketing and the big mistakes that come with too much optimism as well as too much pessimism about it.
A Step Back
There are many reasons to fear the end of various kinds of online business practices. Google algorithm changes are a favorite,but there’s also twitter banning tons of accounts, Amazon no longer allowing affiliates from certain states, rebill-scam offers being legislated out of existence, heavily funded “big fish” companies stomping all over your niche,… the list goes on.
However, it’s too easy to get caught up in self-pity and panic about whatever the latest change is that has affected or might somehow in the future affect online marketers. If you take a step back, you’ll quickly realize that there’s always something to complain about. And there have always been people complaining. When I first started with online marketing, there were already people whining about some Google update or other and there were already people declaring that it was all over for the “little guy”.
I’m sure this kind of thing has been going on since approximately the second day of the Internet’s existence.
The Arms Race
It’s getting harder every day. It used to be that you could buy 1-cent clicks on Google AdWords for super-valuable keywords and send the traffic directly to an affiliate offer. Those were the days! It used to be that if you created a blog promoting a ClickBank product, you’d immediately get top-listings in Google, because no one else was promoting those products, so your site ranked by default. At least, that’s what I’ve been told (I haven’t been around very long).
On the other hand, it used to be that you had to go through a lot of trouble just to register a domain, let alone build a website! It used to be that people were very cautious about buying anything online. It used to be that not many people were online to begin with. It used to be that you had to do everything yourself, when now you can use an enormous range of tools and services that make a marketer’s life easier (content management systems, shopping carts, affiliate systems, payment processors…).
It’s like an arms race. While the opportunities for making a quick buck are shrinking, the tools and systems that can help you build an online business are becoming better, easier to use and more affordable.
Distractions and Excuses
I’m not blindly optimistic about online marketing, even though I do think it’s still a great opportunity, even if you’re completely new to it all. I assume that online marketing and the Internet will keep changing rapidly and maybe everything we do now will no longer be useful or valid in five year’s time. I also believe it’s likely that a global crisis of some sort will thoroughly mess with us and our businesses, within my lifetime.
But that doesn’t stop me from keeping on working on my business. Here’s what you need to realize: while some are complaining, other’s are profiting. Some people are busy writing forum- and blog-posts about how Google has shut small players out of the search results and at the very same time, other people are getting their small sites ranked for lucrative keywords. I can guarantee you that right now, someone with little to no funding and no connections is working on a website, a service or an idea that will make him or her a billionaire in the near future. They aren’t complaining on forums. They’re too busy making stuff happen.
As an entrepreneur, you are constantly faced with a changing environment and there’s always a new challenge around the corner. And yes, sometimes changes happen that pull the rug from under your feet. It’s good to be cautious. But don’t ever buy into the panic and don’t ever let “the death of online marketing” become a distraction for you – a justification to complain and moan instead of work.
And if you do need a pinch of optimism, think about this: while we don’t know what the future holds, at least we know that people who declare the end of online/affiliate/niche marketing have historically been incorrect 100% of the time. Don’t listen to anyone with a track-record like that.
All the best,