It doesn’t take a genius to see that affiliates are moving into different, and away from pure internet marketing. I’m glad to see this change, becasue It’s one we’ve been talking about on the forum for a long time.
My goal with the forum was always to get people building long term businesses.
Is Affiliate Marketing Long Term?
This depends on what you mean by long term. Things change so fast in this business, it’s hard to look at many online ventures as long term. When you talk about pure affiliate marketing (ie sending traffic straight to affiliate offers), it’s not really a good long term option.
Most affiliates seem to have a 2-4 year lifespan. Some quit after this, and some take those skills and build other businesses. Why don’t affiliates last longer than this?
– They get tired of the constant up’s and downs that are out of their control (traffic sources, offers being pulled, etc.)
– They did great in a vertical or traffic source that’s no longer viable
– They see greater opportunity elsewhere.
The affiliates I’ve seen become really successful usually follow this formula:
They get really good at affiliate marketing. They learn a specific skill, or skills that enables them to make a lot of money.
They then take those skills (and hopefully money they saved) and move into their own offer, traffic source, startup, ecommerce, etc.
Why Even Do Affiliate Marketing Then?
Good question! Why not just start with your own offer, or something in ecommerce? You can do that certainly, and people do, but the skills you learn in affiliate marketing are usually vital to make those businesses work well. Not to say you couldn’t succeed at one of those without doing affiliate marketing, but the skills you learn from becoming a successful affiliate will give you a great advantage. Many people view affiliate marketing as a stepping stone to something else.
With an affiliate background, it’s something you can always go back to or do a part of it. It doesn’t need to be an all or nothing. Maybe you can outsource the affiliate stuff you do at some point while you build other businesses? Maybe you can, like Mike Geary, send traffic to your own offer.
Even if you build the best ecommerce store, or CPA offer, you have to understand the affiliate side of things to make that business as successful as it should be.
Just to be clear – I’m not saying affiliate marketing is dying, or that you should jump ship. I think affiliate marketing in some form will be around for a very very long time. My goal, is to get you thinking about what your long term plan is.
What are you going to do when you get tired of chasing offers? What will you do when you can’t scale a campaign any further? What will you do when you realize your income could double when you become the one retaining the customers, instead of sending them to someone’s offer?
People are followers. You probably are too in some ways (Don’t worry, everyone is to some degree).
This fact is actually a very powerful tool in marketing. If you can convince people that everyone else likes what you’re promoting, you stand a good chance of increasing your conversion rates (sometimes dramatically).
The idea is called social proof. The premise is that people think that what everyone else is doing (buying) is correct (good).
How much more likely are you to click on a ‘like’ button when you see that 500 of your friends have liked it? How many times have you seen the affiliate herd blindly adopt a position because everyone else is? Those ideas are at the core of social proof.
As affiliates, we need to incorporate this into our marketing. This gets a little ‘grey’ because what most affiliates do is fake social proof. These might be fake ‘likes’ on their landing page, etc. It’s up to the individual how comfortable they feel doing some of this. Of course, you could go out and get ‘real’ likes if you wish but..
When you think about it, the classic rebill landing page is a form of social proof. You have the ‘user’ talking about how great their skin looks after using product x, which is backed up by all the ‘comments’ at the bottom of the page.
So what are some hot social proofing ideas? Facebook, Google +1 and Pinterest are probably the most relevant for affiliates right now. You can certainly incorporate other sites/idea though.
Think about putting ‘like’ or ‘+1’ buttons on your landing pages. That’s the most basic idea of social proofing affiliates can get started with. I posted some other ideas in the forum, but this is enough for a public blog 🙂
For some further reading, check out Robert Cialdini who’s social proofing ideas are very popular.
This is an interview with forum member Dr Manhattan. Dr Manhattan is a full time affiliate who got his start in the Aff Playbook Forum.
How did you get started?
I was really tired of working for other people – I couldn’t see a future in it. I started off with reading blogs, etc. and eventually joined what was then PPV Playbook. At first, I was doing a little bit on many traffic sources and really had no direction. It wasn’t until I decided to focus only on PPV until I got it working that I saw real success.
Tell us how you went from $0 to $300 per day (The first success story you posted)
It’s really very simple: I started building as many campaigns as I could handle. What I was doing previously was making 1-2 campaigns, then analyzing them endlessly. I was trying to make every single campaign work, and was convinced I could. When I decided that I would only go after the campaigns that I saw potential in, things started to shift. I developed a system for launching and testing campaigns quickly. This enabled me to spot the campaigns with the most potential and focus more on those.
Ok so then how did you get from $300/day to $10k/day?
More of the same really, and also scaling into other traffic sources. I wouldn’t be as successful if I tried to scale into other traffic sources too soon though. I firmly believe you need to master one traffic source before moving on.
People ask me questions like this a lot, and my answers aren’t that ‘exciting’ really. There wasn’t one trick or tip that made me successful, it was just a lot of somewhat monotonous work. Everything I learned, and most of the tactics I still use, I learned from the forum. I see people in the forum gloss over lessons and tips that I’ve taken and had huge success with. It’s not just following the case studies, but really reading everything in depth and spotting potential opportunities.
Do you stick to one niche?
Not always. Right now I’m in about 3-4 verticals that are somewhat related. I constantly test new niches though. I do think it’s important to focus on a niche but that doesn’t mean you have to ignore others. I have some really stable campaigns that I can’t scale much but they earn a consistent $100-$300/day. Those really add up. I think it’s a mistake to ignore smaller niches/offers that can’t scale.
Do you see yourself doing this long term?
I definitely see myself doing something in the online space long term. As far as running offers, probably not. There is so much more money to be made out there in business models that don’t have so much volatility.
What are some things you dislike about this industry?
There’s a lot of B.S. and fraud in the CPA space. It’s a little funny, but more annoying than anything. Some networks out there today that everyone loves wouldn’t be in business if they weren’t engaged in large scale fraud.
The same thing goes for seeing these younger affiliates talk about how much they’re making. It’s funny because they have such big mouth’s that it’s not hard to track down their campaigns. Almost without fail, they’re doing something shady: sneaky coreg stuff, cloaking, etc. The affiliates I talk to who are making real money (5-6 figures) are doing it fairly (as much as CPA marketing can be anyway) legitimately.
You obviously don’t use your real name, and keep a low profile. Why is that?
I wanted to keep things private. Anything you say online is potentially there forever. I don’t want my professional life out there for everyone to read.
What are some tips you could give affiliates wanting to reach the level you have?
I would get serious about developing a system for creating and testing campaigns. Each campaign might be a little different, but you want a basic process to follow to take some of the guesswork out of it.
Stick to one traffic source until you master it fully. There is no best traffic source. If affiliates are running on it, you can make it work. Several times now, I’ve found success right before giving up on a traffic source.
Success won’t come when you think it should, so get that out of your head. Just keep building campaigns and think that each campaign is one closer to hitting on something good.
I drop tips in the forum as much as I can. Some of the tips I’ve given have made people a good deal of cash. Unfortunately, most people read them and don’t take the time to apply it.
Here are a couple of Dr. Manhattan’s memorable threads:
Case Study – $2k per day on Facebook
$300/day profit realized!
Tax season is pretty huge for affiliates. I’ve met several who only work during tax season, then take the rest of the year off. Yes, there’s that much to be made on these offers.
The affiliates who are really doing well with these offers, know them inside and out. They don’t just grab an affiliate link to Turbo Tax and slap up a campaign; they thoroughly research everything about the niche. This post will get you started in that direction…
What Are Tax Offers?
Tax offers are generally lead based offers paying out anywhere form a few bucks on up. Most of them are for a product/service that helps people file taxes (Turbo Tax, etc.).
The most important thing you can do to promote these is learn more about taxes. Sounds fun right?
Everyone in the USA has to do taxes, so these demographics are centered around people who fill out these types of offers.
Generally speaking the average visitor to a tax offer is female, 25-44, kids, middle to upper income. Don’t just base your campaigns around that, because even though the demographics are skewed that way, there is a large portion of people completing these offers who fall outside it.
Understanding Your Customer
This is extremely important. Most people living in the USA have a basic understanding of how the tax system works. Overseas webmasters don’t however, so they need to spend extra time learning all the tax lingo. Do a Google search for ‘Tax basics’ and read up on it for a couple hours.
After brushing up on tax terms, you have to learn what goes on in the head of an average tax payer. These are some ideas:
Nobody likes to pay taxes, and nobody likes preparing for them.
Taxes are a giant pain – from getting all your receipts and paperwork together to meeting filing deadlines, it’s something almost nobody enjoys.
The last thing they want to do is spend more money on this
People are grumpy enough having to fork over their hard earned money to the government. The last thing they want is to pay a lot to have their taxes prepared.
Their taxes are complicated, but not too complicated
The wealthy usually hire accountants to do their taxes. Our target audience doesn’t. They are working professionals who don’t have super complicated taxes, but don’t know enough to do it themselves. Instead of figuring out which forms they need to file, or what deductions they can take, they want a simple solution that takes the guesswork out of things.
There are a few things you want to stress in your creatives. Take the points above and figure out how you would solve those problems for the customer. Going from the list above, some thing to highlight on your creatives are:
– How easy the tax solution is to use
– How much time it will save
– The fact it can be done from your own home, at your own pace. No more trips to the accountant.
Make sure your creative look as professional as possible. There are definitely times to use more amateur looking creative, but tax offers aren’t one of them. Remember, we want people to trust what you’re promoting. Make your creative look like they are from a professional company. Make good use of the brand you’re promoting to instill a sense of trust in the user.
Affiliates promote tax offers in many ways:
– Media Buys
– Social Traffic
There isn’t one traffic source inherently better than any other. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and also different ways of targeting users. Some affiliates promote these offers with multiple traffic types to leverage this fact.
What’s really more important than the traffic source is understanding your visitors. If you get that down, you will do well no matter what traffic source you try.
One final thing to add – most people think of promoting tax offers at the beginning of the year. Don’t forget that there are many people filing extensions and hence filing up until October. You also have people who are looking for tax settlements, tax relief, etc. Those specific types of offers can be promoted year round.
Everybody’s had those times where you just can’t get motivated to work when you’re sick or tired. When you have a regular job, it’s almost easier to keep working because you have a boss to answer to. Being your own boss means that you have to answer to yourself. This is a constant battle for a lot of people because in the short run it’s just easier to take that nap.
Of course, running your own business means you have to work even when you don’t want to. So, how do you motivate yourself to keep going? Here are a few suggestions…
Think of the negative
This is a big motivator for me. Whenever you’re feeling like skipping out on work, think of the negative consequences of doing so. Would it mean less money for bills? Less money for going out? Not being able to take time of later when you really needed to?
Does this sound familiar?
“I’ll watch the game right now, and then do those campaigns later”…
“Hmm..now I’m tired from stuffing myself and drinking…I’ll just do double the number of campaigns tomorrow.”
We all know what happens ‘tomorrow’. Running your own business isn’t like playing ‘let’s make a deal’. The more you bargain with yourself, the less successful you will be. To combat this, make a set number of campaigns you are going to work on every day and stick to it no matter what. This will really help you understand that everything is a tradeoff. If you watch a game for 3 hours, that might be 3 more hours that you have to stay up building campaigns.
Get some fresh air or exercise
Even a short walk around the block can kind of ‘reset’ your brain and body, and make it easier to get into work mode. Next time you find yourself staring aimlessly at your computer screen, try a quick walk or some pushups to find some motivation.
Focus on what you have to do
Sometimes working too much when you can’t get into will lead to burnout. Instead of always pushing yourself, try completing the tasks that are the most important for that day then taking some time off. Getting away from the computer for even a 1/2 day can mean extra productivity when you return.
Set a schedule
When you had a job, you had to get there at a certain time and work a specified number of hours. People working for themselves often don’t stick to a schedule which is a straight road to being unproductive. Human’s need habit and structure..we just function better that way. Try setting a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Eventually, it will be easier to do work when you don’t feel like it because it’s part of the schedule.
Everyone who runs their own business struggles with motivation from time to time. Try adapting some of these strategies and see if they help. If you have any good tips feel free to leave a comment!
2011 is almost over and it was quite a year both personally and professionally. As I was looking back over everything writing this post, I was surprised by just how much we had grown.
As most of you know, we changed our name from PPV Playbook to Aff Playbook. This change reflects the fact that the forum has tons of content in addition to PPV. I was a little nervous about the name change because ‘PPV Playbook’ was so well branded. I really wanted to not appear just focused on PPV however, so decided to pull the trigger. The name change was really well received and I’m glad we did it.
2011 saw solid growth of the forum and each month we set a new record. One of the things I am most proud of is all the success stories to come out of the forum. We had people posting everything from their first $1 of profit, into the thousands. Here are just a few…
What’s even more impressive is the people whose lives have been changed as a result of joining the forum. That might sound a little cheesy I know but I meet a lot of affiliates at shows who tell me how they got their start on the forum.
We continued to deliver awesome case studies & lessons. It was really cool that we had so many members sharing their case studies too. It’s always great to get ideas from multiple sources. We didn’t just have your run of the mill ‘My campaign that made blah blah on blah blah traffic source’ type case studies. We had some of those sure, but we also had case studies on building email lists, direct mail, product creation, offline marketing, and even manufacturing. Here are a few examples…
Another addition in 2011 I am really excited about, is the addition of the adult marketing section. This section is lead by an adult industry veteran, and the content is really great!
We continued our webinars and had some great guests like Traffic Vance…
Corey continued to develop the Affportal toolset with great new additions like the jQuery landing page generator. We also got some API access to build out the SEO toolset. Corey has a new tool coming out (preview in the forum) that I can’t talk about publicly, but it’s something that everyone is going to want. Funny story – I’ve know Corey for years, yet only met him for the first time in person at the last ASE!
Speaking of ASE, we had a lot of great meetups – ASW, adtech SF, ASE. We do them at most of the major shows and they are always a great time. Instead of doing the loud music and activities, we usually keep it mellow with drinks and networking. People love these events because they can actually hear each other and talk. I know a few people who have developed very profitable partnerships from meeting at our parties.
If you’re going to be as ASW, you should come to our celebrity Penthouse meetup.
2011 was also the year everyone decided they were going to start a forum. This was …flattering? Funny? Entertaining none the less. Some people found out that Vbulletin + a few case studies wasn’t quite the easy money they hoped.
I’ll take it as a compliment if I make running a forum look easy, because it’s anything but. To do it well anyway. The increased number of forums actually helped solidify what Aff Playbook is all about. Based on all the comments I received, people realized that Aff Playbook is full of helpful people who are interested in building a real business.
In 2011 I started some new businesses. Some went well, but some totally bombed. I’m going to be documenting those in the forum. I think you can learn as much by failures (and often MORE) than you can from success. One of my most recent ventures has some potential venture capital funding. We are really excited about this and it will also open up a whole new area of growth for the forum.
Thanks & Stuff
I have a lot of people to thank for all their help this last year. In no particular order..
My friend Mark from CTR Tard did numerous projects for me and helped me out of a few technical jams. He helped finish the move to Aff Playbook, and got the mobile version of the forum working.
Corey for bouncing ideas around with me. We’ve had a lot of good ideas, some bad ideas, and everything in between. I’m glad we get along so well.
My awesome mods (some who have come and gone) Lee, Tracy, Jon, Mike, Joe, Mark, Andrew, Brian. I hope you guys know how much I appreciate all the help. I know you are busy running your own businesses and can’t always post, but I really appreciate all the help.
My cats, who somehow became super affiliates and Affbuzz mascots. I would also like to say thanks to my friend Justin from Affbuzz. He was one of my first good friends in the industry and has helped me a lot.
Adam Bunch who has helped out in the forum (when he feels like it) and our mastermind sessions. It seriously wasn’t too long ago that Adam was a forum member struggling for success. He told me “I’m just going to build 5 campaigns every single day from now on”, and it wasn’t too long before his income grew exponentially.
I also want to thank all my members for helping grow the forum. I try to help you guys as much as I can whether it’s telling you to suck it up keep going with a campaign, or trying to make the content in the forum the best it can be.
2012 is going to be the biggest year for the forum yet. I’m not going to outline everything just yet, but you won’t want to miss this. We’ll have the usual great case studies, lessons, and webinars, but even more resources and opportunities for members to grow their business beyond what most affiliates achieve.
Have a great New Year!