I am a failure

By January 10, 2010 15 Comments

I think one of the reasons I’ve done so well with online marketing is because I’ve failed more than most people I’ve talked to. Sounds pretty glamorous right? Most of the time we see people posting campaign studies or talking about their winning campaigns where they seem to be effortlessly raking in the money. What you usually don’t hear is how long they spent optimizing their campaign to get it profitable, how many failed campaigns they have gone through to find that one, or how short lived that successful campaign might have been.

I wanted to share some failures I’ve had and hopefully show people that to really be successful you have to fail.

1. In the entire time I have done affiliate marketing I have only started a handful of campaigns that have been successful right off the bat. I could show you some really successful campaigns I have now and you would think “wow that’s great!” but they would seem far less impressive once I showed you the months of grunt work and money I had to put into them.

2. A few years back I tried to do email marketing on a large scale. I spent about $10k getting everything set up and I could never get it to be profitable enough to continue with.

3. I’ve lost more money than I would care to admit testing different traffic sources & advertising methods.

4. I’ve spent months trying to copy what others were doing with the latest hot niches, trends, etc. and failed most of the time.

When I look back on some of this stuff, it’s pretty obvious to me that most of my failures came from trying to copy what other people were doing.

When I think about the success I’ve had, it’s been mostly coming up with my own way to do things.

1. Back when I did ringtones, I came up with a unique way to scrape artist names and bid on those (not a totally unique idea but it was one nobody shared with me). I made a lot of money doing that.

2. When everyone was focusing on Adwords, I was killing it on Yahoo and MSN (I still do).

3. Instead of chasing the latest hot offers, I decided to focus on pretty boring offers that most people were overlooking. While I was slowly scaling those campaigns, more and more of my competitors were dropping off to chase the offers everyone was talking about. As a result, my campaigns continued to do better and better.

4. When I first started with PPV/CPV, everyone was telling me to direct link email/zip submits using a big list of scraped URL’s. I could never get that to work so I came up with my own method for using landing pages and targets that worked for me.

A lot of people are afraid to admit their failures or if they do it’s something like “I failed so much at first but now I am a huge success!”. Any affiliate marketer who is currently successful continues to fail whether they admit it or not. You don’t reach a point where you are suddenly ‘successful’ and every campaign you put together, or project you start is a winner. Even the latest campaign study I posted in my forum is currently losing money!

You will learn more by understanding why things don’t work than by getting temporarily inspired by seeing someone’s successful campaign, then wondering why it’s not profitable when you try to copy it.

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  • Thanks for the reality check. I wonder how much money I have to spend on learning before I can reap the fruits of my labor?

  • Lorenzo

    Your a failure that’s not true, don’t be so hard on yourself. Your a success, a success at failing.

  • David

    lol thanks Lorenzo

  • totally agree David,

    I know some product that’s gonna be launched soon and that has a couple of very profitable campaigns (that have no relation to the product of course ๐Ÿ™‚ but to the years of experience of the product creator.

    there are tons of “wow-style” comments over there and the pitch seems to be really transparent, but not to the 100% since the real transparency is not in showing only profitable campaigns, but loser campaigns as well. my comment was disapproved btw ๐Ÿ˜‰ I simply shared some truth about the “this product will make me rich” VS “my own brain multiplied by my experience will meke me succeed” approaches to making money online.

    I’ve been a member of some big membership (you know David;) since 2007 and recently I found that the only 2 profitable campaigns left after my ppc to clickbank experiments were the 2 campaigns that I launched back in 2007 ( when i was a ppc newb). adwords shut down my account recently & now I’m happy to make even 300$ in a month and work like crazy to get the income coming.

    I even was lucky to be a private student of a well known super affiliate…what I mean is exactly the same – find what works for you. Someone’s profits are results of his personal experience, and you cannot copy someone’s experience, you can create yours instead, so don’t spend your time looking for another big promise )

  • Well I guess I haven’t failed enough yet then. On to more failing, later guys.

  • Youssef

    “A lot of people are afraid to admit their failures” Also, A lot of people are afraid to fail and never start anything. that’s another post on its own…

  • Joe

    Wonderful post. We do learn lot from our mistakes. It only matter that we take action and refine our action plan. I only consider it a mistake if we make same mistake twice. The experience is the best teacher. Some people sit and digest, digest, and digest then no action are made. They fear failure. But, I learn to embrace my fear and accept the failure because I know it is a next stepping stone to massive successful.

    I enjoy your blog. You wrote with great clarity. I appreciate it. It is unlike other gurus who are saying, buy this, buy this, and buy this because I will make you rich. I pity those people who shell out their money and get no return. It is hard to find honest marketer who will help for a reasonable fee.

    There is a product launch will happen tomorrow. I am curious what you think of Amish’s Magic Bullet System. You wrote about in your book. The founder of gave Amish an accolade.

    I will appericate your review.

    By the way, I enclose my link above on my perspective of how we can embrace failure.


  • I think a lot of the reason some people never succeed is because they’re afraid to fail. Any successful CEO, millionaire, and entrepreneur will tell you it’s about taking chances and, of course, hard work. Thanks for sharing the other side of success stories.

  • With success always comes failure. You have to risk failing to gain success, it’s all a part of the game. Time will be the ultimate test. Keep persisting, and you shall rise.

    Thanks for the article. Good read

  • I’ll bet I’m a bigger failure than you!

  • Sara

    Really great post ๐Ÿ™‚ One of my favorite books is actually called “Failing Forward.” Learning to leverage mistakes and turn them into success is powerful ๐Ÿ™‚ Good read, thanks for this.

  • That’s the spirit.. I’ve failed a bunch of times, I’m still failing, haven’t had success yet, but I’m not giving up, there are a lot of people out there making a killing online, I just have to think for myself and trust my instincts instead of trying to go with the rebill flow. I’ve been really conservative about losing money before, right now I’m losing quite a bit of money, not as much as you ($10k), but from what I’m currently making, it is an expressive amount.

    Depending on how much I make this month, I’m going to try the PPV source, since I’ve been disabled from Adwords and FB.

    Great post, you’re now on my blogroll ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Ilya

    Good post. One of the most important pieces of advice I got about affiliate marketing was that the way to be succesfull is to fail a lot, and fail quickly. The theory being that if you launch 10 campaigns, the industry averages dictate that 8 of those campaignns will fail and 1-2 will be profitable. If you launch 100 campaigns, 10-20 of them on average will be profitable.

    So, using the law of averages, the more quickly you can test campaigns and fail, the more quickly you’ll be able to discover those succesful campaigns.

    My affiliate marketing income really took off when I stopped being afraid of failure, and started spending $XXX-$XXXX testing a campaign without worrying about the results. If it succeeds, great. If it fails, well that happens to everyone, and its a valuable lesson learned regardless of outcome.

    Are you going to be at ASW? Shoot me an email, I would love to chat about/share some more advanced PPV strategies.

  • This is something I find most people have problems fathoming, they just want success, well this is the price of success ๐Ÿ™‚

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