You CAN thrive as an affiliate during tough economic times…
With the U.S. dollar sinking to new lows, oil and gold attaining new heights, and both food and gasoline prices rising quickly: corporate CEO's, the media and government officials finally acknowledged what millions have seen coming for years – the U.S. economy is in BIG trouble – and the future looks bleak.
During uncertain financial times, people without jobs don't spend money, while those who do have jobs tend to cut back on discretionary spending, postpone larger purchases or shorten their holiday buying lists – which doesn't sound like a happy prospect for those of us who want to sell to them.
However, there are many ways to survive and even thrive during a recession and diversification is typically the first key to continued prosperity. Fortunately for most affiliate marketers, making the leap from promoting luxury items to ‘recession-proof' products that consumers use regardless of their economic status or level of income is fairly simple. We can add new products to our current mix or start pumping out content on a new domain, join some affiliate programs, ramp up the marketing and be in a new business in relatively short order.
So, if your commissions from the sale of cars, diamonds and fur coats have been falling off of late, here are a number of recession-proof product and service suggestions for your consideration.
Although the employment market is perpetual, during a tough economy, mergers, acquisitions and layoffs all inevitably lead to more job seekers. Point your visitors to career websites such as Monster.com where they'll find millions of job postings along with general career advice and help to prepare for interviews. Monster.com pays a buck for each new resume posted and 50 cents for each new My Monster account created.
Resume Preparation Services
As many of your job-seeking visitors will find it difficult to get an interview because they don't have experience or their resume is out-of-date, you should also tell them how they will benefit by using a service to beef up their resume. Some services, such as Employment911.com, have market-specific offerings such as military transition resumes, a niche which CEO Frederic Thom reports was marked by a sudden increase in February. Employment911.com pays commissions of 12.5% to 25% and their resume writing package prices top out at $357.90 for executive level positions. ResumeEdge.com, which pays 12% and powers the resume writing services of The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! HotJobs, and The U.S. Air Force is another option to consider.
When, after all the stops have been pulled and the job search still fails to pan out, many people choose to stay in school or return to school to beef up their education and subsequent chances for finding a job. Companies with affiliate programs in the education field include those that help with college and university placements as well as scholarship search, which provides direct assistance to students with college education funding. Online training to improve basic computer skills or those which are geared toward technical certifications like Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco and Novell as is offered through TechnieCert.com (ShareaSale) are becoming increasingly popular. You might also consider promoting language-learning programs such as Rosetta Stone (available through CJ) for those of your visitors who decide to flee the country in search of brighter economic prospects.
While there is never any shortage of those seeking business opportunities, an increasing unemployment rate makes this market even more potentially lucrative, especially for those who have had business success and can teach others how business is done. In addition to selling instructional information products in the form of ebooks, podcasts, webinars and conferences to new entrepeneurs; affiliates can make bank promoting productivity and marketing tools as well as office supplies. Almost every business needs business cards and PsPrint, a CJ merchant that pays 15% commissions, has a staggering 3-month EPC of $521.15. When they eventually need to incorporate, you can promote American Incorporators $299.00 incorporation packages for a tidy 34% commission.
Tax Preparation and Filing Services
Economic slowdown or not, the tax man cometh every year and helping your visitors find additional spending money through deductions can be very lucrative. With over 138 million taxpayers set to file their taxes online this year, industry experts expect 2008 to be the most popular year for filing federal income tax online… until the 2009 tax season. Several IRS authorized merchants can be found at Commission Junction, including TurboTax, H&R Block and QuickTax, the latter of which pays a 30% commission on all their products, including a premium tax preparation service which costs $69.95.
In the absence of legislated universal health care, people who have just lost their employer-sponsored health plans will need to buy health insurance while they have no pre-existing conditions and are still eligible. When you partner with an insurance provider that has relationships established with over 160 health insurance carriers, you'll earn $40.00 for each health insurance application submitted for an individual or family. Assurant Health pays up to $78.00 per lead and both Commission Junction merchants have 120-day cookies.
Budgeting and Debt Reduction
Helping folks reduce or consolidate their debt load and save money is always appreciated and the subject matter is relevant to almost any niche in which you are currently working. Partner with merchants that offer secured credit cards, debt consolidation services and help with foreclosures; and consider converting your weekly newsletter to a daily ‘Money-Saving Tips' or ‘Coupons and Deals' broadcast to gain additional traffic and branding for your site. Consider promoting Leo Quinn's “How to Own Your Paycheck Again“.
Entertainment and Vices
While the wise eliminate frivolous expenses during tough times, those less disciplined tend to seek more escape from reality through various forms of entertainment. So, if you were ever inclined to go the porn route, now might be the time. If that holds no appeal for you, try adding sports, concert, and theatre tickets to your mix. NetFlix (Linkshare) pays $9.00 per subscriber for each new customer who signs up for a FREE Trial.
While the suggested items above don't represent an exhaustive list of recession-proof products and services, it should get you thinking about options that will at least keep your affiliate business profitable during the recession.
In summary, ignore the purveyors of doom and gloom. There are always ways to thrive during the hard times, if you are perceptive and swift. Choose to see opportunity and profit where others see only potential for loss and failure and use the recession as a compelling reason to diversify and grow your affiliate business.
This article is an updated version of one written for my “Affiliate's Corner” column in Revenue Magazine.