Think Like a Bear, It’s Hibernation Time – By Rachel Honoway

by Colleen on February 11, 2015


So, you had a great Q4. Record traffic, huge sales, and commission checks that are still rolling in every few weeks. While I’d like to pat you on the back, congratulate you, and celebrate your success, I can’t.feedfront-cover-29-188x240


Because I spent last Q1, Q2 and Q3 talking with affiliates that had done too much celebration and not enough hibernation. Unfortunately, they neglected one very simple fact: what happens in Q4 stays in Q4.

A report from the National Retail Federation (issued in October, 2014) estimated that more than 19% of retailers’ total earnings for 2014 will come from sales in November and December. That’s great for November and December, but guarantees lower sales for the other 10 months of the year.

So, before you run out and lease an office building, buy your staff new equipment and take your family on that vacation you’ve always dreamed of – stop and think like a bear.

Bears spend all spring and summer preparing for winter. They know that when the air gets cooler, fish are harder to find, berries don’t grow on trees and bees aren’t buzzing around leading them to honey.

As an affiliate, you need to prepare for the traffic to slow down, the customers to become harder to find, and the merchants to stop enticing you with bonuses and holiday discounts.

Now is the time to hibernate. Start planning for lower volume and fewer opportunities to earn commissions. It’s very possible that you’ll need to “live off the fat” by June and July this year – so be sure that there is still some fat laying around.

Unlike a bear, you don’t need to sleep away the hibernation season; you can stay productive if you plan wisely.

Here are 3 things to work on between now and Q4 2015:

1 – Foster relationships with merchants. Who did you love working with this past holiday season? What can you do with them during the rest of the year? How can you secure exclusive offers next year?

2 – Build more content. You’ve got a whole year to buckle down and write, design, and record great content. Take what you learned these last few months and build the content that you know consumers will be searching for and sharing.

3 – Train your subscribers. If you’re not already collecting email addresses, start now. If you have been, but aren’t sending regular messages, start now. When the holidays roll around again, you’ll be able to speak directly to your readers with a voice they recognize, not one that just popped up for the holidays.

Just please don’t be one of the affiliates that I talk to in June that says they were disappointed that the momentum from the holidays didn’t carry through the New Year. It never does.

But as long as you plan for it, you’ll have no trouble making it to another Q4 with more relationships, better content and engaged readers that combine for even greater success.

Rachel is the CEO of FMTC, a provider of tools for affiliates and bloggers.

This article appeared in issue 29 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in January 2015.

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