Should affiliates have one primary operator, or several as backups? Even if the online gambling industry weren’t undergoing a fierce attack from U.S. authorities, the question would still be well worth considering.

The question seems obvious, and the answer is what you might expect: Yes, of course you should have a backup operator. As in any other part of your life, whether it’s the business you work for or how your personal finances are kept, a backup plan in an essential component for success.

Why should you get a backup operator?

A backup operator is essential to maintain diversity in your affiliate marketing plan. Last week, CAP looked at some of the changes forced upon U.S. affiliates because of the government’s crackdown (and shut down) of the leading online poker sites. And the key lesson from all that discussion? Now more than ever, affiliates need to diversify their business plan and make sure all their earnings aren’t coming from just one source.

“Those affiliates who have diversified within the affiliate space are more confident and in a better position to move forward,” Poker Affiliate Solution’s Herb Jenkins recently told Casino Affiliate Programs in a discussion of the recent “Black Friday” crackdown.

And that lesson is universal. It shouldn’t take an industry catastrophe like Black Friday to make affiliates realize how important it is to diversify their business plan.

Choosing a backup operator

Of course, diversifying your operators, or the casino affiliate programs you work with, is a different matter than diversifying your vertical — and yet, those strategies can work together, too. Here are two ways to approach your hunt for a backup operator.

1. Find a backup operator closely related to your primary partner. This might not be as simple as it seems. Some webmasters might question the wisdom of enlisting another operator that’s similar to whatever your bread-and-butter client may be. The problem is that you may be effectively creating competition for your own most profitable advertising partner.

But, as in business in general, competition is a good thing. Even within your site, giving visitors a choice will go far in making your site seem more trustworthy and unbiased. And it’s an opportunity to create new content: While you may still favor your primary operator, you can write content about the merits of other operators, too. Campaigns like this could even have the result of pushing a backup operator up to the top spot and becoming your biggest earner.

2. Find a backup operator unrelated to your primary partner. On the other side of the coin, think of a backup operator that’s outside the vertical in which you currently work. This can be as dramatic as creating an entire new affiliate vertical or niche, but it doesn’t have to be on that scale, either.

Think of this as scaling your business. It’s strategic growth, increasing your single-site, one-niche affiliate marketing business into a multi-vertical network of ideally co-branded affiliate portals. You’re not abandoning your niche. You’re growing new revenue streams to help support your main niche in case of economic necessity.

This can be done creatively, to make sure you’re not straying too far from that primary niche that’s so close to your heart. If you blog about international poker tournaments, then why not promote a travel affiliate program? If sports betting is your niche, consider all the sports affiliate marketing options out there, from fantasy sports to Hooters girls calendars.

Action items

You know what to do. Now, here’s your action plan.
1. Using, choose at least one backup operator related to your niche.
2. Using, choose at least one backup operator not directly related to your niche.
3. Implement them both and track their success via Google Analytics over a period of 60 days.
4. After 60 days, alter your strategy to build on what’s working and eliminate what isn’t.
5. After another 60 days, you should have an idea of what kind of supplemental earnings you can expect on a scaled timeframe from these backup affiliate programs.

Get to it! And leave us your comments, to let us know how you do.

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