affiliate marketing cycle illustration design

I was lucky to stumble into the affiliate marketing arena in its infancy some odd thirteen years ago. I had a handful of competitors, unlike today’s millions. In fact, back then, I called most of those competitors friends. There was a YahooGroup for coupon sites where we actually helped each other out. I’ll be forever indebted to Gayle from CleverClickster for teaching me basic skills, like how to cloak affiliate links. I was inspired by Tim Storm of FatWallet and Connie from FlamingoWorld who gave me motivation to grow my brand bigger.

Then along came adware, spyware and scummy parasiteware stealing all our hard-earned commissions. I had learned to diversify over the years adding additional ways to earn revenue on my sites, from CPM banner ads to pay-per-click campaigns to sponsored blog posts to social media pushes.

And all along the way, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Google. I “google” everything from how to fix php errors to diagnose medical conditions to investigate potential date offers. Yet I get frustrated when Google Adwords denies my affiliate site URLs saying they are simply bridge pages and overlooking the compelling and engaging content that I worked so hard to create.

Now, after Google’s latest Panda and Penguin updates kicked a majority of affiliate sites out of the search results, I thought about titling this blog post “Google Hates Affiliates” but Ad Hustler beat me to the punch. Maybe the conspiracy theory of GAN buying out Performics to spy on affiliates’ practices is true? I have heard from dozens of other affiliates whose businesses have had their affiliate marketing income wiped out almost completely after the updates.

So I wonder, what is the future of affiliate marketing as we know it?

I think gone are the days of small affiliates being “super affiliates”, because seriously how can a mom and pop shop compete with Fortune 500 companies such as Chase and that are now affiliates themselves? I see Gayle now has her website for sale. Ebates bought out Fatwallet. And Connie went on to use her knowledge to develop For Me To Coupon which now powers most of the big players in the coupon space.

As for me, I’m not throwing in the towel on affiliate marketing just yet. But I’m definitely weighing my options for the future because as Vivian Greene once said, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

What’s your take on the situation?