12 Weird Parallels Between Affiliate Marketing and Working Out

In the last few years I have done well at some things that most people fail at.

  1. Diet/Fitness
  2. Affiliate Marketing

Millions of people try to lose weight or gain muscle and quit without any results. Millions of people also attempt to make money online, lose some money and give up.

In the beginning I failed at these things too. Here are a few quick stories of how it happened.


I read an article about Creatine, a chemical found in the body, mostly in muscles. The article said that a lot of athletes and body builders used creatine supplemnts to improve exercise performance and increase muscle mass.

I had secretly wanted to be in shape for most of my life but didn’t know how to do it and was too embarrassed to ask. So after reading about creatine I was excited to try it to see if I could get ripped.

I bought a bottle of creatine powder, took a dose with some water and walked into the garage to hit my old, dusty set of weights that hadn’t been touched in months.

Here’s what I did:

  • 3 sets of 10 barbell bench press
  • 3 sets of dumbbell curls
  • 10 pushups

After my workout, I went into the house and looked at myself in the mirror to see what happened. I looked exactly the same as I did before working out.

Creatine doesn’t work” I thought to myself, “I’m just screwed…

I never took creatine or lifted those weights in the garage again.

Affiliate Marketing

The first time I tried to make money online (waaaay back) I installed a banner ad plugin that displayed ads on my browser while I browsed the web.

The website claimed that I could earn $50 a day by just browsing normally.

After two weeks using the plugin on multiple computers I had only managed to earn a few pennies.

Making money online doesn’t work” I thought and I quit.

– –

When I look back at my life I can see that same process happening in just about everything I ever tried and failed at.

  1. I would try something once
  2. not get the immediate result I wanted
  3. I would quit.

Over and over again.

Then, in the last few years things have changed.

I’ve excelled at two (of the many) things I previously failed at – affiliate marketing and working out. And it’s kind of weird, but when I look back at the entire process I see a lot of parallels that helped me do well at each.


Here they are.

12 Parallels Between Affiliate Marketing and Working Out

  1. You have to think long term.
    • You’ve got to be in it for the long haul. You can’t go to the gym for 2 weeks and expect to be shredded and you can’t launch a campaign and expect to make a million dollars overnight. The people that succeed think long term, create a system and follow it religiously for long periods of time.
  2. You need a system.
    • If you want to make progress at the gym or make money in affiliate marketing long term you need to have a system in place. Randomly exercising at the gym and launching campaigns on a different traffic source every week don’t work. Create a workout program for the gym and a launch, test and optimize system for your campaigns and follow them religiously.
  3. You’re going to suck at first.
    • My first four months in the gym was a total waste of time. My first affiliate campaign’s landing page had a 0% (zero percent) click through rate. No matter what you do, you probably won’t be great right away. Stick with it and over time you’ll get better.
  4. You Can’t Change Your Mind Too Often.
    • There are 100 workout programs that work. There are thousands of traffic sources that make money. If you change direction too often you never give anything a chance to work. Choose a direction and give it a chance to work before moving on.
  5. You have to track your progress.
    • Can you bench more weight than you could 3 weeks ago? How much money did you make this week compared to last week? If you can’t answer these questions you need to start tracking. Time and time again you will see people who get massive results say that keeping a log is one of the most important parts of the process. For the gym use a Google Spreadsheet, for affiliate marketing I use Voluum.
  6. You can’t compare yourself to others.
    • It’s easy to feel like a failure when you compare your physique to a bodybuilder that’s been working out for a decade. It’s easy to feel like a chump when you compare your income to an affiliate marketer who’s been in the game for many years. Only compare yourself to yourself. Are you doing better this week than you were last week? If so – you’re doing fine. Just keep going.
  7. Your progress is slow and steady.
    • Humans want things to happen fast. But short term thinking can kill your chances of success. Don’t try to lose 50 lbs in a month or make a million dollars online right away. Start with a reasonable goal and grow from there. Add a little weight to your lifts every time you workout, make $50/day more each week. Over time, you’re body will change and your bank account will fill up.
  8. You’ve Got To Rest.
    • One of the most important parts of building muscle is sleeping and resting. And a 1–4 week vacation multiple times per year can keep you refreshed, feeling good and help you make more money online. Don’t underestimate the power of rest. In my recent interview with Affplaybook I said one thing I would have done differently was take more breaks.
  9. You have to choose mentors wisely.
    • Make money online gurus and personal trainers are a dime a dozen. Look for someone with verifiable results or a proven reputation of being an expert. If it’s a personal trainer – they have to be ripped. If it’s an affiliate marketing guru they have to make a sh#tload of money on their own campaigns. Pick someone who has already done what you want to do.
  10. You have to know when to stop learning.
    • There are a million and one ways to get in shape and make money online. You will never be able to learn them all so pick one or two that have verifiable results and focus on them. Once you find something that works – ride it until the wheels fall off. Take off your researcher hat and become a master at what you’re already doing.
  11. There are many paths to success
    • There isn’t a single path that everyone follows to succeed. For every success story using a system or style you can find someone doing the total opposite that is getting results as well. Some bodybuilders eat 6–7 meals a day, others eat one. Some affiliates make money on Facebook Ads others make money with email lists. There are many paths that can take you where you want to go – just pick one and focus.
  12. There is no magic bullet
    • There are millions of dollars being made from magic bullet products that promise you six pack abs or instant millions online. None of them work. You have to navigate the B.S. and find real information that is useful and then work your ass off to get results. No shortcuts.

While the parallels drawn in the list above were applied to affiliate marketing and working out for this post, I believe you will also find them in many other areas of life.

Things like long term thinking, slow and consistent progress and resting could help you in almost anything you’re trying to do.

Maybe you’re making the same mistake I made, trying a new thing and expecting immediately results. It’s not all your fault, Billions of dollars are spent every year on advertising campaigns that convince you that “Product X” can solve all of your problems overnight.

The problem is – that’s not how things work and those promises are empty.

So, if you’re stuck – take a look at what you’re trying to accomplish…

  • Are you looking for overnight success?
  • Do you have a crappy mentor?
  • Are you trying 20 different things at once?

If so, use the 12 Parallels above as your guide. It may take a little longer to get the results you’re looking for, but if you put in the work…

They will come.


  • http://joegaines.com/ Joe

    Good stuff! I’m trying to get out of the rollercoaster part of that graph on both counts 😉

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      yeah, that’s the learning curve Joe – we all start there… but only the strong make it to the other side 😉

  • Stan Oleynik

    Brilliant post Malan, I really enjoyed it!

    I gotta say, your writing and posts keep getting better and better, keep up the great work man!


    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      thanks for checking in Stan, good to see you.

  • Petre Veluda

    Nice article Malan! Really enjoyed this one. I’m lucky enough to have found many of the things you mention a while back. Of course I’m still learning but I did improve a lot over the past few months/years.

    “Only compare yourself to yourself” maybe one of the most important thing to remember and definitely a post to come back to and share with the ones that struggle.

    Keep it up!

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      hey Petre – yeah comparing is the worst. Even the biggest online marketers in the world are poor compared to Zuckerberg.

      • Petre Veluda

        haha :))) yes, nice one! 🙂 very true

  • Ronny

    You’re going to suck at first.

    Stick with it and over time you’ll get better.

    So true, but damn hard to digest and so painful 😀

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      right Ronny, and it seems to apply to everything. So it’s definitely worth the pain and time to do it.

  • David M. Đinh

    Phenomenal post, I’m glad you were able to draw so many parallels between the two. I’m looking forward to starting my journey in AM with the same mindset as lifting!

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      you bed David. Thanks for reading and good luck

  • Mike M. Lin

    Thanks for the solid advice presented in a very useable way. I often find I’m trying to pursue too many things in life. I’m going to use this checklist to confirm that I can commit to every point for each activity. If not, I’ll drop it. Better to make progress in one or two things than to half-ass a dozen.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      Yeah mike – I’d rather do 1-2 things well than 10 things badly haha