Then, came the dreaded Google algorithm updates. After ranking number one for "electronic cigarettes" and "electronic cigarette reviews," which were steadily driving massive amounts of traffic to his blog, his rankings fell off of a cliff. He tells me had made a huge mistake by solely relying on Google for traffic and not leveraging it to build an audience elsewhere. 

The first mistake a lot of affiliate marketers make is that they register with too many different affiliate programs and try to promote everything. Pursuing affiliate marketing down this path can become very overwhelming and you won’t be able to promote any product properly. All you need in order to be successful is a handful of good products to promote. Try to understand the market needs and look for products that align correctly with the topic of your site.
If you try to sell a product that is in low demand then chances are that you are not going to get many sales no matter how hard you try. So it is a good idea to spend a bit of time researching and finding out if a product that you are thinking of promoting is a product that your audience needs. If your site gets decent traffic then you can conduct an online survey and easily get input from your visitors.
Yes is the short answer. Any time you are planing on generating money, you should have a plan. No plan means no real focus. There may be some 1/1000 percent of a chance you will succeed, but I haven't met them yet. If you have already started and have generated an income, record how. Doing so will give you material for use in expanding your business faster.
As someone who's been immersed in a number of online industries for quite some time, I know a thing or two about what it takes to succeed in this arena. However, just like you, I started at ground zero with little knowledge, but a great deal of passion. What I learned along the way were some invaluable lessons from failure that hurt at the time, but helped immensely in the grand scheme of things.
But don't make the mistake of thinking this will be a passive source of income—you're on call whenever you have a guest and you'll always need to keep the place clean for incoming visitors. On top of just renting on Airbnb, consider offering your guests paid add-ons, like Lauren Gheysens', Royal Day Out in London, England—where she gives visitors a local's only tour of the city, complete with bespoke 18th century costumes.
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