Seasonality in Affiliate Marketing

The issue of Seasonality in Affiliate Marketing…

…was brought up in an affiliate marketing forum. I began typing a response there but soon realized it might do more good here. (Why give content to another company, eh?)

A long time ago when I first started in affiliate marketing (circa 1999) I built two “destination” websites, specifically in Baltimore and Ocean City, MD. I sold a few guide books through Barnes & Noble that first year and added hotel reservations in 2000. Those sites grew in interest so I then built a couple of “national” sites and brought a few more city “destinations” online. Hotel reservations, especially in summer-tourism areas are, by nature, very seasonal. That’s when the AOV (Average Order Value)is highest because of higher summer rates and more multiple-night bookings. Over the years I have worked with most of the larger online hotels merchants but today find that Expedia.com, Hotels.com and Priceline.com fill the needs of site visitors quite well.

I made some serious cash back in the day but mostly in the summer – and wanted something to carry weight in the fall, winter and spring. I joined the ShareASale Network and picked up a couple of merchants – for some very niche domains I had acquired in those early years. However, being a one-man shop, I knew I didn’t want to take the time to focus on the fourth-quarter crush of holiday sales. I wanted something that might work on a year-’round basis.

Personal Checks at Girly ChecksThe folks good folks at ShareASale suggested I get involved at ABestWeb, which I did – rather extensively. ABW was, at the time, the best place to interact with real folks in the Affiliate Marketing Industry. I attended my first Affiliate Summit in Miami in July of 2007 to further expand my horizons. I found it was very rewarding, personally and professionally, to meet – face to face – many of the people whom I first met on ABW (most of whom, unfortunately, no longer interact there). I also made some new “friends” in the business – some of whom have become personal friends. One of those was Kim (Rogers) Salvino – who introduced me to checks. I told her, “I have a beach site, I can’t sell checks.” She said they have beach checks. In fact, “We have a check for everyone!” was one of her responses. She also offered to have  one of her graphics people create a page for my main beach site. (How’s that for service from a company recruiting affiliates?)

Business ChecksWhen I got home from ASE’07 I did explore the viability of selling checks. I installed the two pages of beach checks provided by Kim and the good folks at 4Checks.com – and never looked back. Today I still do hospitality (hotels) and checks – a LOT of checks. The “seasonality” with checks is that the strongest quarter is, by far, the first quarter. So, between hotels and checks, I had good sales during the summer and winter seasons. The other, focused niche domain, sites are sporadic but do help fill in the rest of the year. For example, I have a strong education domain, from which I sell school supplies. There is a surge for school supplies in the late spring and early fall.

But now I plan to – semi-retire. So I am refocusing and trimming out the “slow stuff” – to focus mainly on checks and my two original hotel/city destinations. I still interact with a several of the folks I met over the years, at ABW and at Affiliate Summits. Today, however, we mostly interact via email, social media (closed groups on Facebook) and phone. That way we don’t have to put up with all the newbie/spammer/scammer “noise” of a forum that is more concerned about post count and ad sales than developing (or RE-developing) a real community of affiliate marketers.

That early start with 4Checks.com got us a great foothold into the checks vertical but they are no longer on our “best merchants” list. We do promote for nearly all of the larger online checks merchants but find Checks-Superstore.com and CheckAdvantage.com to be the most responsive in meeting the needs of affiliates.

Retirement, or semi-retirement, will bring about additional seasonality issues. I can foresee having to deal with  summers at the beach in Delaware and winters cruising the Caribbean. 🙂