You never forget your first time.
I'm talking, of course, about sales. There is no greater buzz in business than the first time you get a sale. The first sale I ever made was a $500 sponsorship for a charity event I ran in high school. We were running an event to raise money for World Vision, and me being the budding 17-year-old business wannabe that I was, had devised a grandiose (in my mind) corporate sponsorship package for local businesses to pitch in at $500 a pop. My first sale came from a local furniture store, and I must admit to doing a little victory dance in class when the teacher running the event burst in to tell me that she'd just received their confirmation. Yeah, I was cool in high school.
The truth is that when you're first starting out in any kind of business, all you really care about is making the sale. How, what and who take a backseat. When becomes the most important factor - and when equals now!
I see the same thing with many people who are just starting out in affiliate marketing - it's all about making the sale now. That's completely understandable. After putting in massive amounts of hours to learn the skills of building a website, optimizing it for search engines, effectively monetizing the pages, etc, etc, you don't really know whether it's all been worth it until you see some money starting to flow into your bank account.
And there's nothing wrong with trying to make sales. This is business after all, and affiliate marketing is quite simply the business of making money. The trouble is, many affiliate marketers are shooting themselves in the foot and they don't even realize it. You see it's very easy to take a "sell, sell, sell" approach to affiliate marketing. After you go to the effort, either via SEO, PPC or and other traffic getting technique of actually bringing a visitor to your site, you either want that person to buy now, or they're a waste of time, right? Well, not necessarily.
If I said that I'd give you $1 right now, or $10 tomorrow, what would you choose? Many of you might immediately say "Well the $10 obviously! It's more money and I only have to wait a day!" That might be a simple decision, but what about $100 today and $1000 in 6 months? Sometimes the thought of immediate reward is just to enticing to pass up - and if you need $100 right now, it's somewhat of a different equation all together.
But that is exactly the decision you have to make when you build an affiliate site - are you going to focus on short term or long term gains? One of the simplest illustrations of this is the process of building an email list. An email list is an investment in future sales. It takes work to build and maintain a list, as well as work to create new and interesting content to send out to a list .But run a list well and it can become one of your biggest assets as an affiliate marketer.
Instead of bringing in a single visitor, selling something to them, and then never hearing from them again, strategies like building an email list allow you to make multiple sales to the same customers. And if you want to know where that $10 tomorrow is coming from, that's it - repeat sales. Newsletter series, regularly updated blogs and even ebooks can all be very effective ways of turning a single visit into an long-term income stream - one which cannot be turned off overnight by a Google algorithm change or Adwords slap. By building up multiple, long-term income streams, you will ensure far greater security in your business.
But, it is a trade off. Just like giving up the $1 today, you have to decide what your current goals are, and what's of most value to you now. If you are just starting out, then perhaps focusing on short-term sales could be in your best interest. Focus on learning the process of site building and monetization. Build up capital that you can use to develop a more sustainable business in future. But, if you do go this direction, my advice is to set a strict time frame. Do this for a couple of months while you're learning the ropes, but be sure to move onto the phase of creating long-term sustainable profit after that time.
Whether it's adding to your existing site, or moving onto a completely different niche altogether, start thinking of ways that you can focus on long-term sales to the same people, rather than just selling whatever you can to whoever walks in the door of your site, so to speak. Because, while the first sale might be a big buzz, once you start making your second or even your hundredth, the novelty wears off and things get serious: You're in business. And in business, the $10 tomorrow is worth more than the $1 today.