Revolution and Steam Punk Penguins
Are The Affiliate Walls Crumbling?
Jeff Molander thinks so in his latest piece and I must disagree, although I think drop shipping holds promise. The walls of affiliate marketing are not “crumbling”, but the boundaries are shifting. This shift is happening for several reasons and I will note a few:
- Retailers have mastered trench affiliate tactics. Affiliates tend to be early adopters, merchants lag behind.
- Quality Web and search real estate is more concentrated and therefore turf wars (i.e. keyword bidding) break out.
- Age-old “run and gun” SEO tactics will continue to falter as personalized search and social media grow.
IS SEO D.O.A.?
No. Search Engine Optimization is not dead, but as I have said for years, it is not a good hinge pin to build your business around. It is important to master rules of good architecture and reap the benefits of natural SEO. By natural I mean not contrived, but the type of growth and organic linking you receive from putting out quality. There are now more avenues for distribution of content than ever before. A few include:
- Social Networks
- Other types of media
What Should Affiliates Do?
What they do best. Zero in and master a niche, and master them quickly. Micro-production is one area Brian Clark explored years ago. Let me show you a prime example of how far we have come since 2004. Etsy.com has buyers waiting and sellers producing intricate and interesting items you cannot find elsewhere.
Think of it as an online marketplace for buying & selling all things handmade. Their mission is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers. As far as I know there is not an “affiliate” option but I think that might be a matter of time.
Show Me An Example
I mentioned sometime ago about my discussions with the Second Life citizens who embraced the Steam Punk aesthetic in the world of Caledon. I acknowledge that Second Life has myriad problems (See: Exclusive with Timeless Prototype), however it is still excellent for networking, fast prototyping, and a good place to pan for emerging trends. Second Life is all about niche and fringe. The future of healthy web profits are in niche and fringe too. Here you cannot compete as easily on price or dominate a market. Small is good. Small means fast. This calls for operations that can turn on a dime and affiliates can not only turn on a dime, they can work with less than a dime.
Wikipedia has this to say about Steam Punk:
“Steampunk is a subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction which came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely usedâ€”usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era Englandâ€”but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of “the path not taken” of such technology as dirigibles or analog computers; these frequently are presented in an idealized light, or a presumption of functionality.
In general, the category includes any recent science fiction that takes place in a recognizable historical period (sometimes an alternate-history version of an actual historical period) where the Industrial Revolution has already begun but electricity is not yet widespread, with an emphasis on steam- or spring-propelled gadgets. The most common historical steampunk settings are the Victorian and Edwardian eras, though some in this “Victorian steampunk” category can go as early as the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. ”
There is even a Western genre and Steam Punk communities are starting to take seed.
Try to find Steam Punk at your local WalMart and I doubt you will have any luck, but Etsy has dozens of unique and exquisite Steam Punk items. Steam Punk is an emerging trend and mapping it out on Google Trends we can see an increase in press and a sudden spike in search activity. The search activity tells me people are looking for Steam Punk items. Doing a little keyword research I would imagine it is around literature and fashion, I know this from exploring Steam Punk communities in other virtual worlds.
Is Anyone Micro Producing?
You bet. I didn’t get much time to spend with her at the last Affiliate Summit, but I think JGoode is a great example. Her penguins, art illustrations, t-shirts, and greeting cards are excellent examples of owning one’s own brand, producing quality, and knitting it together with niche. Look at her operation and learn.
What’s next? If I were her I would probably come up with some Steam Punk themed penguins or perhaps find a subject matter expert on Steam Punk to work and/or collaborate with and start approaching some communities and hit the niche head on. (I know just the person…)
Affiliate marketing is not dead. The walls are not crumbling and the world is not going to explode- yet. The terrain is changing and in the long run it will change in favor of the small operation who can find, dominate and serve a niche. The long tail is real. Just like the penguin Todd Crawford is holding on my shoulder from MyPenguinTravels. I must not have been paying attention.