This is part 4 of my Affiliate Marketing Genesis.
“How in the hell did you find me?” I asked the guy on the other end of the phone line.
Steve had contacted me a few days earlier via email. I had no idea who he was, but he’d seen one of my SEO sites in the dating niche and got ahold of me somehow.
“It’s part of what I do…” he replied. “I found your site on a Google search, I looked up the whois information and then I found your email address, so I emailed you to see if I can help.”
At the time I had no idea that this happened. Turns out, it’s how a lot of affiliate managers create new business for their network.
Affiliate Network Spam/Recruiting
Affiliate networks employ affiliate managers to deal with the day to day needs of affiliate marketers. These managers get paid a commission on the amount of revenue their affiliates bring in. So the more cash they can generate for the network, the more money they make.
Affiliate managers are always looking to signup new affiliates. Some get out there and do the real work. They fly to conferences, go to meetups and blog to attract attention and meet new people. They make themselves useful to as many people as possible.
That way, when an affiliate needs a new offer, he/she will think “who was that nice guy/girl I met at Affiliate Summit? I should call them..”
Other affiliate managers do it all from their desk. They scour the internet looking for affiliate marketing campaigns and contact the owners to try to get them to run their network’s offers.
They send emails like “hey this is XXX from ZZZ network and I see you’re running dating offers. We have the top offers in the industry and I bet we can beat the payouts you’re getting now. Can we get a split test?”
Sometimes networks go overboard and spam affiliates so hard that it backfires and makes the affiliate network look shady as hell. Throughout my career I’ve had that happen 4 or 5 times.
An affiliate manager will send me an email wanting me to try them out. Then they email me again the next day. Then again the next day. Then another rep from the same network emails me the next day. Then another one the next day.
In cases like this I normally write the network off as a joke. It’s one thing to go out and “recruit”. But it’s another thing to spam and harass people and continue to spam and harass them for days and weeks on end.
But in this case – it was all brand new to me.
And it worked out pretty well.
“That’s crazy!” I said. “So what do you want to talk about?”
He gave me the rundown: “I see you’re running dating offers doing SEO and I know we have some offers that will do better than the one you’re using. Want me to help you make more money?”.
I figured he was probably right. I really had no idea what I was doing.
The Affiliate Marketing Newbie Mistake
Most new affiliates make the same mistake. They hear big things about affiliate marketing, sign up for an affiliate marketing network and then start choosing offers. They have no idea which offer to choose, so they just pick things and try them randomly.
This rarely ever works (99.9% failure) and most people give up and leave the game.
I did this exact same thing.
I randomly signed up for an affiliate network a few months before. It was my first one outside of Clickbank.
I had no contact with anyone there and had no insider information.
The network had hundreds of offers to choose from. So I just browsed around until something caught my eye. I didn’t know if the offers worked or if they were popular. I didn’t’ even know if they were functional.
I was working completely in the dark.
My process was something like this:
- I would randomly choose an offer and then build an SEO site and write articles about it. It would take a week or two to get in the search engines.
- Once I was in the search results, people would trickle in and I’d get to see if they liked the offer I’d picked or not. The whole process took about a month per offer… and rarely ever worked.
If you’re new – and you’re randomly picking offers, stop immediately and don’t start again until you have an affiliate manager and some insight as to what’s working.
As you’ll see in this series, a good affiliate manager’s advice can change your life.
“Cool” I said back, “I’ll test some of your offers for sure!”
“Awesome!” he replied. “I’ll get you setup on the network and send you the details… but I have something else I want to talk to you about…”
“Yeah?” I said back to him curiously… “what’s that?”
He said “Well… there’s this other thing that’s doing REALLY well. I have guys here doing $30,000 a day in revenue on it. Maybe you’d want to try it?”
< Record scratch >
$30,000 A Day
The second he said “$30,000” my jaw dropped.
At the time I was making about $2500 a month on my SEO sites. The dating site was new and was making $7 a day.
I thought I was doing good.
I’d heard of people making $30,000 a month before and to me that was as big as an affiliate marketer could get.
Now he was telling me that people were generating $30,000 EVERY DAY. I couldn’t believe it.
It was a huge opportunity. But I was also heavily invested in what I was already doing.
I’d been writing articles for a few years at this point and my little SEO empire was getting a slightly bigger every month.
I felt like in four or five years I could have it making $10,000 a month. That was the dream for me, and I was on my way.
So to uproot from my plan and try something new was exciting but it was also risky. Part of me thought I should stick with what I was doing and keep the guaranteed money that I had.
But damn… I kept thinking of that $30k/day number and couldn’t get it out of my head.
Half my mind was telling me to play it safe and keep my current campaigns going. The other half was screaming “GO FOR IT MAN!!!”
I finally decided to go with voice number two and take a shot at the big time.
A day later I called him back and said “Uh, yeah man… I think I’d be down to try the big campaign thing”.
“Cool we’ll get you setup on that too” he replied.
And that was that.
The Setup and First Launch
We spent several days setting things up.
He told me the only way to hit the big numbers was to start paying for my own traffic. As I mentioned, SEO worked but was very slow and the potential was limited.
When you pay for traffic, it’s riskier but the traffic is instant and you can have as much of it as you want.
Want a million clicks a day? Not a problem, just pay for it.
So to make the big bucks, I had to spend some of my own money. I’d never done that before and it went against my entire game plan of making $10k/month without spending any money.
But I’d decided to take his advice and follow his lead so I said “sure no problem”.
He pointed me to the traffic source where he said all the big guys were running. So I signed up, added my ATM card to the system and looked at the screen.
I had no idea what I was doing, so I had to do some Google’ing to figure out how to setup a campaign, make an ad and setup a click URL. It was all new to me and took several days, maybe even a week of research for me to get it live.
I had some money saved up. Not a lot, but enough to pay my bills for about 6 months. I was willing to risk some of it on this idea – but to be honest, I was scared to death.
I decided I could only risk $50 a day in the beginning. I have no idea why I picked that number, it just seemed low enough to be safe, but high enough to be in the game.
The offer he recommended paid $35 per sale. So my daily budget was a little more than 1x the payout.
- If I made one sale a day I’d lose $15 and I could live with that.
- If I made two sales I’d make $20 profit. That was as far as my thinking went.
$20 a day was $600 a month and that would really help in my quest towards $10,000 a month. Hell, I was happy making $7 a day on the dating thing, this would be 3x that.
Before I could go live I needed to create a landing page. That way when someone clicked my ad I’d have a chance to “presell” them on the offer before they go to the Buy Now page.
- They click my ad.
- They read my landing page.
- If I do a good enough job, they buy the product.
- If they buy the product I get $35.
- If I can make a sale for less than $35, I make money.
- If it costs me more than $35 to make a sale, I lose money.
I spent two days designing a landing page from scratch.
I had spent the last decade working at marketing agencies and designing websites for clients so I thought “with my experience and creativity… I’m going to build the most incredible landing page of all time!!”
I worked on it furiously. I was so excited to do this paid traffic thing that I couldn’t sleep. I lost all contact with the outside world and stayed completely alone.
Ten years before I had imagined there was a way to make real money online. And now – I could finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. That light took me over completely.
I worked for hours on end, adding as many cool graphics and scripts as I could. The image were glossy, the text moved around the screen.
I encased all the words in a purple box and used Ajax to make the words change whenever you clicked a Next or Back arrow.
It was an awesome toy!
“People are gonna LOVE this… and I’m going to get rich!” I thought to myself.
When the landing page was done I moved into setting up the campaign.
I was doing Search, so I decided to bid on the name of the product. If people are actively searching for it, there’s a good chance they’ll buy. It made sense and was easy. One keyword in one campaign.
There were a few options for matching.
- Broad Match: any use of the keyword or phrase in any order shows my ad
- Phrase Match: any exact use of the keyword or phrase shows my ad
- Exact Match: only the exact keyword with no other words shows my ad
I decided to go with “Broad Match” because I read that I’d get more traffic that way. I had no real rationale behind the choice, I just went with my gut. More traffic had to be better.
Finally, I was ready to launch the damn thing. My heart had been racing for days… but now it was pounding so hard I thought it was going to explode.
I took a breath, opened up the campaign and took a deep breath.
“Here we go…” I said to myself “Get ready for world domination!”
I clicked the play button.
A few minutes later I saw some clicks coming in to the affiliate network.
My heart almost burst out of my chest.