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Coping With A Summer Lull In Affiliate Sales

Discussion in 'Black Hat SEO' started by Scritty, Jul 23, 2012.

  1. Scritty

    Scritty Elite Member Premium Member

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    The Summer Lull - Time To Take Action

    Back in about 2006 I noticed for the first time a huge lull in my affiliate sales during the summer months. At that time I did what many now call micro site marketing. I had a three figure number of very small sites spread across an awful lot of niches.

    My sales dropped dramatically in July and August. Coinciding with the main summer holiday from most of northern Europe and much of the United States. How dramatically? Well, we're talking about 40% overall but with some sites as much as 60%.

    Year-on-year the same thing has occurred. And every year I got a little bit better at mitigating the financial downturn over this 8/9 week period. There are some pretty obvious things you can do of course I guess the main reason for this post is to say that doing nothing, or quitting, should not be an option for somebody really looking to make money on the Internet.

    Google claims they perform a certain number of searches per day on average over any twelve-month period. Year-on-year this number has increased so talking about the specifics is largely meaningless as they are already out of date. However, there is an annual trend. The peak summer months in the areas above (Europe, USA) show a decline in basic search volume through Google of around 20%. A big lull for sure, but not enough to account for 40 to 60% revenue drop.

    The main reason affiliates will see a drop is due to the seasonality of the products are selling. Unless you're selling surfboards and swimsuits the chances are you're going to see a decline. I suppose the first thing to say is not to worry too much about it. It happens every year and in September things tend to get back to normal. But what can you do that is practical, how can you ensure that this negative impact doesn't ruin your year or even put you out of business?

    I hooked up with a company that sold camper vans, another one that offered adventure weeks for kids during the long summer vacation, outdoor DIY/gardening was certainly popular as of course was stuff like barbecue equipment. If you are doing micro-niche marketing then the very latest bikes, tents and summer sports gear that have just come onto the market can be easy pickings. You might find the exact product name available as an EMD. Of course the nature of fashion items or those that are updated yearly is that things go out of fashion, but half a dozen trending EMD sites put up by somebody who knows what they are doing can see through the summer even if you ditch the sites at the end of the year.

    It would be sensible to save a bit of cash during the better times. From October through to March I find a good level of sales overall. September, April, May and June are not too bad either.
    Thanksgiving in the US is a massive weekend as is the week just after Black Friday. New year also sees another peak and it's pretty steady through that six or seven month period. Ample opportunity to put a little bit aside to see you through the lean months of July and August.


    "Bricks and mortar" marketing is another idea. Consider taking on some real clients and giving them a two months "blast" using your SEO skills during high Summer.
    Of course you'll need to line up well in advance and probably should be planning this from March/April onwards. But offering two days work a month on two consecutive months for overall cost of (say) $2000 will keep the pennies rolling in.
    I find that "bricks and mortar" clients like this kind of thing as it doesn't seem like a bottomless pit. You're telling them your going to push the results in a relatively short period of time and the cost is not ongoing. This is a pretty big selling point. Remember to actually outsource or use automation for this kind of work. $2000 gross for a total of say 16 hours of your time, factor in $500-$800 for content, outsourcing or services to actually get the job done for you and $1200 to $1500 profit.
    B&M clients often really prefer an SEO deal that is not going to drag on forever.

    Improving your existing sites or adding some sort of seasonality buffer to them if possible. This works particularly if you are developing authority sites. Monetising them in slightly different ways during the summer months will sometimes reap benefits.
    This can be adding new products or just changing the affiliate deal you are using to one that promotes in a different part of the world. Once again a little bit of planning a few months in advance, checking out what other products it will be promoting or what other affiliate scheme she might be joining.

    Adding content to your existing site during these months can give you sharp rises in search engine rankings. You'll find many affiliate marketers and SEO experts take very long summer vacation as they simply consider it not worth their while carrying on.
    If you have a mind to, you can take advantage of this. See it as a weakening of the competition, at least in the short term. A chance for a newbie to IM to get ahead and when the good times come again to be a little bit ahead of the game.

    Taking the time to learn new skills or research during the summer is also something that is pretty valuable. A lot of Universities are close this time of year to normal students are open to all sorts of courses which might be of value to those of you that take Internet marketing is a serious business. Courses that are not immediately obvious such as how to fill in your tax return properly or how to do a business plan are often available at local Chamber of Commerce. Copywriting, graphic design and other short courses are often taught on the otherwise deserted university campuses during the long summer months.
    You might use this time to scale up and again, it's all about preparing yourself to be that little bit better than the next annual cycle.

    I guess the best policy is to have a mix and match of all the above depending on what suits your personality and the sort of sites that you're trying to build and promote. The only message I really want to give here my fellow Black Hatters is not to give up during this time.
    And if you're new to it and has started in the last few weeks, it often gets better in September.

    Good luck folks.