Every network needs more publishers and affiliates.
It is wonderful to have a niche network, but in order to cover production and overhead costs, there is a statistical point on the revenue curve that you have to achieve in order to stay afloat. Since angel investors and venture capitalists still haven’t discovered affiliate marketing (yet), companies in this space have to find that statistical sweet spot quickly and efficiently in order to survive the first four months.
There is a beyond interesting conversation going on in the comments about the nature of affiliate marketers and those who need help and education and those who are educating the affiliate managers they work with. Brian Littleton of ShareASale and Jim Kukral of BlogKits have pointed out the need to help bloggers overcome the learning curve normally associated with affiliate marketing and steps they are using to do so. Jeff Molander is arguing for the need of more intelligent affiliate managers that don’t need the constant schooling from saavy affiliates.
Where is the combination for your network or merchant program? Do you rely on affiliate managers to be good salespeople and hope they know what they are talking about? Do you actively recruit people to work for your network who have industry experience on both sides of the fence?
And where do bloggers fit into all of this? Are bloggers truly the next long tailed collection of eager and willing affiliates waiting to be discovered so that they can begin to make some money from the time and effort they put into the craft? Blogging is an art, and when done well can be a beautiful thing. Is your network actively seeking out these artists to help diversify your affiliate base?
I’d go so far as to say that within three years, affiliates as we once knew them will be gone. Static sites with html banners will always have a place, but that place is constantly being eroded by the vast ocean of content. If you’re not making content or at least updating your site, you may face a daunting task as search continues to evolve and social media continues to be adopted.