How to Survive in Affiliate Marketing During Coronavirus?

No one expected Coronavirus to come along and wipe up the economy.

But it did.

A quick look at the stock market will show you that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unstable economy, and there are numerous factors here.

  1. The first outbreak of the coronavirus in China interrupted the global supply. 
  2. 3.28 million were laid off and filed for unemployment benefits (in the US alone!), and that is a record. 
  3. When the short-term consequences settle, the long-term economic impact will ripple for at least a few more years.

While there are a lot of factors that have affected the economy, both short-term and long-term, what we can say for sure now: it shook the market and consumer behavior, and no one was prepared.

How did COVID-19 affect the industry?

According to JP Morgan, the vast majority of all businesses are “small businesses” and they employ half of the population in the US. In fact, a whopping 99% are by definition “small businesses”. Typically, most small companies lack the financial reserve to overcome a 2-3 months-long interruption. They either shut down completely or lay off their employees.

Entrance of metro railway station for cripple.

While giant corporations, like Apple, can afford to shut down their stores yet keep their employees, smaller businesses cannot provide that luxury.

The traveling industry was impacted the most by the COVID-19 thanks to trip cancellations, restaurant and pubs closures, and low consumer trust.

Construction and building industries have mostly held off on layoff decisions, but these businesses could begin to feel the pressure as buying demand will drop in the upcoming years.

What about the Affiliate Marketing industry?

If you read trusted sources like Bloomberg, Business Insider, or Washington Post, you get a diversity of conclusions. Some say it’s the end of affiliate marketing, while others say it’s the only trusted business to stay in.

Who is right?

While opinions vary dramatically, we can still rely on solid data. What we know for sure, is that organic traffic dropped globally. But some niches did experience a nice boost.

Have a look at the chart below, it illustrates perfectly which niches had a rise (or fall) in organic traffic to their affiliate websites, during the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown.

Source: Neil Patel

People were naturally buying more food or baby diapers online during the lockdown but didn’t shop around for tickets.

Data shows that conversions in affiliate marketing were lower in most countries. But the market wasn’t completely paralyzed.

Moreover, the demand for hand sanitizers, face masks, toilet paper, or even paid media sources – raised high. People were afraid to miss out on the important COVID-19 news, so many paid news portals experienced a financial blossom.

The economy and the affiliate marketing industries were turned up-side-down, but they kept going on. Savvy affiliates have adjusted quickly by selling the items in soaring demand.

How to work in affiliate marketing in 2020 and beyond?

In order to understand how to adjust and survive in affiliate marketing after the Coronavirus crisis, we have to look at the facts. And the facts are: people are still shopping online, and still have a buying potential.

That’s good news.

The bad news is, however, is that you will need to do thorough market research and perhaps completely rebuild your business. For example, study the post-COVID-19 sales data closely and you will see, that even a deeply discounted gym membership is not in hot demand.

But, immune-system boosting vitamins are selling like crazy. No one even noticed that they cost more than ever before.

In my opinion, your ability to survive during or after the Coronavirus crisis depends solely on your adaptability and willingness to adjust.

Should we follow the trail of demand in 2020?

So far we know that certain industries and products are in higher demand than before. Video conferencing software (such as Skype or Zoom) is becoming more popular for schools and businesses, as a part of home office employees management. For example, Team – Microsoft’s video conferencing software, reported a mad 500% increase in online conferences and calls.

Focus on what’s in demand. However, not what’s in demand today, but will be in demand tomorrow.

With that being said, I’d like to emphasize that creating a new website to match the current customer focus is a 100% bad idea because by the time your website will get traction, it likely won’t be relevant anymore.

Think strategically. Think long-term.

Concentrate your efforts on building and expanding websites in niches where there is a lot of spending. Focusing on industries and products that solve problems is an easy way to ensure your websites stay relevant during tough times.

People will always spend money to solve problems. People will always spend money on a service they can’t do themselves.

“When the COVID-19 would be behind us, most of the people would realize that their jobs are temporary, and most of the things around us are going to change. I would recommend staying alert to new trends in fields like homeschooling, pharmaceutical companies, and home-based work that would become more popular in the near-by future.”

Lior Amar – Business Consulting & Personal Development for Journeyborn.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to diversify your revenue sources. If you’ve accumulated some savings from your pre-Coronavirus affiliate income, now is the time to purchase other affiliate sites that are struggling (at an unbeatable low price), or start working in new niches perhaps even with new affiliate programs.


Coronavirus hit hard across all business industries, but it didn’t kill them. Perhaps, it made them stronger and more resilient. Affiliate marketing, as an industry, definitely wasn’t wrecked as much as other businesses. Now is the time to re-think your strategy and build upon the ashes of the economy.

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Elizabeth Sramek
Elizabeth is a Senior Content Manager at Scaleo. Currently enjoying the life in Prague and sharing professional affiliate marketing tips. She's been in the online marketing business since 2006 and gladly shares all her insights and ideas on this blog.
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