Dogboy, I run my own shop and I have to admit that your description above sounds very tempting... I probably answer about 100 emails/day and I will happily admit that I would love to get rid of them! :(
1. I see a large portion of my work as being an investment for the future, when I am ready to sell the business. My goal is to stabilise my sales on a million dollar per year turnover for a minimum of 8-12 months, with a gross profit before tax of say $200k/year. I then figure I will be able to sell the business for 2-3 years multiple of gross profit, and cash out with half a million and do something else instead.
Now my question is this. Do you know of any affiliate sites that were doing extremely well that have been sold? If you do, what sort of multiple of earnings were those sites selling for? My biggest fear is building something so successful and profitable, and then not being able to sell it for a reasonable price. I am figuring that without a customer database etc. it will be difficult to sell, but you seem to have taken care of that part? Let's say you were running an affiliate program for Amazon.com, (ok bad example but just take your average merchant), that were generating say $100k in affiliate income for you. How much do you think Amazon would be willing to pay for your site, instead of keeping you on as an affiliate? (If they weren’t interested originally you could always threaten to sell to a competitor to give them an incentive.)
We all know how volatile the SEO game is, and I am afraid that the "free ride" we have at the moment won't be here in 3 years from now, and I want to have sold out before then.
2. Don't you ever feel that the merchants are ripping you off? I mean if you generate $100k in sales on one of your sites and get paid the typical 10% affiliate fee, doesn't it upset you that the merchant is making $40k on those items, and you could have made 4 times as much if you made the sale yourself?
I think basically my question is; How close do you think you are getting to the merchants margins on the best affiliate programs? I would probably be willing to give up 5% or maybe even 10% to not have any work as you put it, (oh how wonderful...sleeping until midday! :)) but I wouldn't want to give up 25% or 30%... Or do you just move on to the next program, and figure that you will make more money from having free time to build more affiliate sites than you would from those extra 30%?