Everything in affiliate marketing is temporary. The offers, the campaigns, the income, even some of the networks are all very short lived. Nothing lasts for what would be considered a long time in the business world. This presents an interesting challenge to the Internet Marketer. How can you continue to make a living is such a volatile and fleeting industry?

One way is to accept the fact that everything you build and work on is temporary and always be working on the next thing to replace revenue sources that are dropping off.  Unfortunately this is equivalent to living paycheck to paycheck with a regular job.  Eventually your luck will probably run out and you will be left without an income stream.

A more stable approach is to try to build sources of lasting and growing value alongside your affiliate work.  This might include things like an authority site, community site, real products, a service or tool, etc.  These are the types of things that increase in value as time goes on, provide recurring revenue for the future, and have a residual value if you want to sell them.   I like to think of affiliate marketing as a temporary income that can help fund long term projects, but I am always thinking of the long term projects as the main goal of Internet Marketing.  If you look at almost everyone that has made it big in an online business, they have built something of real value.

I have tried building countless new sites and services. Most of them have failed miserably, but I have learned something from each failure.  Some examples: I built a large dog community site that never worked out, a cooking site, a social networking site, built a business planning tool, gamer sites, etc….  Probably 90% don’t work out, but a couple have done ok which makes it all worthwhile.  Once you hit upon something that brings real revenue and customers the payout can be great.

What kind of site or service should you create to build lasting value?  It’s been said a million times but it’s still true: find a need and fill it.  Sure that is easier said than done.  You can start with things that interest you, then it seems less like work.  Or you can look for trends and emerging niches and try to get in on the ground floor.  Whatever method you use, provide value to customers and the revenue will come eventually.  Instead of thinking “how can I make money online”, think  “what do people need or want that I can provide”.

When considering a new online project, there are 3 factors that I consider the holy grail of an Internet business:

1.  Automated sign up/delivery service – This means that once your system or site is built, there is no input needed for new customers to sign up and start using your service.

2.  Infinitely scalable – Which means it doesn’t take any more effort to have 10 customers or 10,000

3.  Recurring monthly revenue – Customers pay to continue to use your product or service so the revenue stream keeps coming.

An example of perfect internet businesses that meet these 3 criteria would be any online tool that charges by the month for use.  It fills a customer need, they can sign up and use it without your input, you can add more customers with minimal extra effort, and they continue to pay as long as they use the service.

In short: affiliate marketing can be rewarding in the short term, but don’t forget to invest some time in building long term value projects – whatever they may be.