Affiliate Anxiety: A Simple Way To Remove Stress On Your Next Campaign


In late 2008 – I moved to Los Angeles and started doing affiliate marketing full-time. It was an exciting time of rebirth, renewal and self-discovery.

During those first few months I figured out paid traffic and started making enough money to not have to find a job. This freedom gave me time to explore the new city, specifically Venice Beach.

I was excited to have a beach nearby – and I spent as much time there as possible. At one point I was spending five days a week on the beach, just walking around, body surfing and looking at the water.

I remember sitting in the sand one afternoon – in a little beach chair that I’d picked up at a local shop. The sun was shining on the water, my toes felt warm in the sand.

I pulled out my iPhone, logged into the affiliate network I was working with and looked at my stats.

I had made about $400 so far that day while at the beach.

Then I did something that would excite me beyond belief (and would later become an addiction).

I pushed the refresh button.

I had now made $430.
So I pushed it again.

As I sat there with my phone – I lost sight of everything else around me.

I forgot about the ocean, the sun, the people and the sand. I melted into my iPhone, pushing the button and feeling the rush of excitement that came with it every. single. time.

This went on for the next 5 years.

Looking Back

When I look back at it now – I see that I just replaced my old addictions with a new one. Instead of drinking and doing drugs – I pushed a button. And every time I pushed the button the numbers changed, giving me a small jolt of electricity in my body.

It was probably a dopamine shot – similar to the feeling you get when you feed any addiction, whether it’s doing heroin, gambling or jumping out of airplanes.

And while I am glad that my new addiction was related to something positive (making money) I also think that over time, it became one of the worst parts of the job.

The Anxiety of Repeated Failure

You see – when you do this online marketing thing long enough, you go through peaks and valleys. You have good days and bad days. Then you have good months and bad months. And if you stick around long enough you’ll have good years and bad years.

As long as things are going well – pushing the button and refreshing stats is a pretty great thing. Making a little more money every few minutes is one of the best feelings in the world.

But during the bad times – pushing the button can become a black-hole of anxiety, disappointment and depression.

Instead of getting a repeated feeling of excitement and happiness – you get a repeated feeling of loss, depression and regret.

Gambler’s High

Imagine you’re in Las Vegas playing blackjack. You bet $50 on the hand and the dealer deals the cards.

You get two Kings for a total of 20 – an almost unbeatable hand. You get excited and happy. Then the dealer flips over his cards and shows a 9 and a 5. He has 14 and he should bust.

Then he draws a 2 for a total of 16.
Then he draws a 5.
And he has 21.

You lose. You sink in your chair and feel terrible.

Then you tap the table with your fingers – and you lose again.
Then again.
and again.
and again.

This is kind of what it feels like when you launch a new campaign and it doesn’t work. If you stay glued to the computer screen refreshing your stats over and over and all you see is money being lost… you’re going to experience some pretty dark feelings.

It’s the total opposite of sitting on the beach watching your profits go up and up and up.

Watching your campaign fail on a second-by-second basis feels like total hell.

How To Relieve Campaign Anxiety

If you’ve been doing online marketing long enough, you’ve probably gone through what I’m talking about. Hell – you may be going through it right now. It’s rare these days to launch a new campaign that just works from the start.

One great way I’ve found to relieve the anxiety and escape the darkness is to remove myself from the moment-to-moment results completely.

When I launch a new campaign or am trying to fix a loser I set things up as best I can and then take myself out of the process completely.

  1. I set the thing up as well as I can
  2. I set a budget I can feel comfortable losing
  3. I turn the computer off and walk away.

Instead of refreshing my stats to see what is happening. I walk away and let the process happen. Then, when it’s done working I’ll go back and see how it did.

By doing this, I don’t get sucked into the emotional roller coaster ride that comes with a live campaign.

Not only do I avoid the anxiety that comes with watching live results come in… I also get out of the way so that the campaign can run its course without me monkeying around and messing things up.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had a horrible day fighting with a campaign trying to make it work. I finally give up, walk down the street to The Arclight and spend a few hours watching a movie.

Then – I come home and see that the campaign came out of the hole almost immediately after I left and has soared into profits – without me changing a thing.

By walking away from the computer – you take your damn hands off the controls and get out of the way and let the Machine do the work.

It’s a rather magical process if you allow it to be.

I’ve noticed it in several different areas of life as well.

Losing weight. You will gain and lose weight sporadically every day. Sometimes for no reason other than your body decided to hold some water from the day before. If you try to make changes to your diet based on your daily weigh-ins you’ll mess the whole thing up. It’s best to check your progress by the week or month. Then make small adjustments if necessary.

The Stock Market. People lose money in the stock market every year because they panic and sell at a loss when prices drop. They commit suicide by jumping out of office windows. The best investing advice I ever got was to just stick money in an index fund and forget about it for the next 30 years. Calm investors know that prices will go up and down week to week, but over time, the market always goes up.

Buddhist Meditation. I once attended a buddhist mediation class and a student told the teacher that she didn’t think she was “getting it right”. The teacher asked her how long she’d been meditating. She said she’d be at it for six months. The teacher smiled and said “When it comes to Meditation & Spirituality, I recommend you check your progress once every ten years.

Some Advice

If you are currently experiencing anxiety about affiliate marketing I’ll leave you with a few pieces of advice.

The next time you launch a new campaign, or test an existing one:

  1. Set things up as best you can
  2. Set the budget at an amount that won’t stress you out
  3. Walk away and do something else.

Remember, one of the best things about the affiliate marketing game is that you’re not tied to a certain schedule or office location. If you do it correctly, your campaigns can run in the background while you do whatever you want to do with your life.

And the truth is – things will probably work much better if you’re not there monkeying around with the controls…

Don’t micromanage results.
See it.
Believe it.
Release it.

Then… let the magic happen.

  • Justin Garza

    Great article – sent it to a few friends that are working in paid traffic scaling right now having a hard time. Your content changes people lives – thanks for all you do. Always have a fan here Malan!

    • Malan Darras

      thanks for passing it around man. hope you’re well

  • Raviraj

    Nice article. I havent reached to this level. Still learning and stuck as a newbie, I dont know when will I make big move and make some success in AM

    • Malan Darras

      keep pumping Raviraj

  • Gil Herrera

    I can totally relate it to what I read on “What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars” by J. Paul & B. Moynihan.

    When refering to rules regarding investing:

    – “You must develop parameters that will define opportunities and fetermine how and when you will act.” “Your rules are “if…then” statements.”
    – “There is no perfect decision. One always has to pay a price which might mean passing up an opportunity.”
    – Next step in decision making, establishing controls. “The exit criteria that will take you out of the market either at profit or loss.”
    – “Control follow strategy”, “Controls should be consistent with the strategy, not that they should be selecter after the strategy is implemented.”
    – “Regardless of the methodology used, before you decide to get into the market you have to decide where ( price) or when (time) or why (new information) you will no longer want the position”.
    – “In the markets and in business don’t concern yourself with being right. Instead, follow your plan and watch the money.”

    These are some quotes from the book that I can relate to this post. A good read I’d recommend to anyone who would like to deepen on your post Malan. Great work!

    • Malan Darras

      these are all great quotes. i’ll skip reading the book and just put these in Evernote for future reference 🙂

  • Will Oviedo

    Malan great post man!! I can totally relate thanks for sharing brother!! Sometimes it helps knowing your not the only one going through it, even top guys deal with it. I think the most important thing is to not let the fear of losing money stop you.

    Best advice one of my AMs gave me was “scared money don’t make no money”

    • Malan Darras

      you are not alone Will. We’re all going through the same things, just at different levels. (and i have nevvvverrrr been scared to lose money, quite the opposite actually, I’m a raging bull)

  • Tuhin Parvez

    Thank you very much for the awesome article! 🙂

    • Malan Darras

      you bet, thanks for reading.

  • Yussef Gilkey

    Funny thing happens when you have experienced ups and downs in business you kind of get immune to failure. I for one cannot wait until I get that winning day, my refresh button will probably explode. But I am confident I know how to manage not micro-managing my camps. But that first one…..I just want to enjoy the high.

    • Malan Darras

      haha i get it. there is nothing more exciting than hitting a button and having more money every time you push. It’s captured my awe for the last 8 years

  • Mickey Free

    Living in our current society, it’s just so easy to get caught up in a rushed, results oriented, inadequate mind set. That feeling that you’re just barely away from “making it right” when you don’t feel like it is. That little piece of doubt…if you let it compound, it’ll rip you apart.

    As always, wisdom from an experienced vet Malan. Much appreciated. If I threw in my own 2 cents, I would advocate and suggest doing something that will EASE your mind. Remind yourself that you’ve set things up as best as you can, and that you will reassess later.

    Walk away and do something else? Rest your mind. Don’t obsess. The world won’t fall in a day <3

    • Malan Darras

      i like your idea about easing your mind. good stuff

  • Fred

    Excellent post, as usual from Malan. Perhaps meditation can also help to calm the mind, I’m trying to make it a daily habit with the Headspace app. Or like Malan does, focusing on helping others, not only yourself (family, charity,..?).

    • Malan Darras

      i meditate off and on. helps, but i rarely stick with it for more than a few weeks at a time.

  • Desmond

    Hi Malan,

    I noticed a pattern in your article, starting with story, explaining the problem and gave solution/recommendation. I guess it would work great for presell pages/articles?

    • Malan Darras

      test and find out 😉

  • Mitesh

    The stress is when I’ve spent $70.00 usd dollars and only seen one conversion. Still got my day-job malan 🙂

    • Malan Darras

      i remember those days

  • Francisco

    Hi Malan,
    When you are considering an offer & vertical, how do you know/see whether you’re entering the vertical too late and now there’s over-saturation? Are spy-tools enough, or don’t serve the purpose?

    • Malan Darras

      never too late. the more saturated the better.

  • Chris W

    Hi Malan, Thanks for the great post! You are my favorite successful affiliate by far! Hope to meet you in person one day!

    • Malan Darras

      thanks Chris – i’ll be at ASW 2016 in Vegas. If you’re there…

      • Chris W

        Note taken! I will see what I can do to make that happen!

      • Zingali

        Do they offer the “Broke-Dick-Tire-Kicker” Pass? #stickershock

  • Erwin Caniba

    Hi Malan.

    I just had my 1st campaign about 2 weeks ago. I spent $500 on Facebook and got 0 conversions for a nutra offer.

    When deciding to “set the budget at an amount that won’t stress you out”, how much (in dollar figures) do you usually set as initial budget to test?

    Is my $500 too much?


  • Willy Enrione

    thanks Malan, needed this!

    • Malan Darras

      you bet

  • Dario IM

    Sometimes us control freak should just remember that Life is a game isn’t it? Thank you Malan

  • jesse pichardo

    Great tips Malan.
    I like Leo Babauta’ definition of addiction. An addiction is something you do, usually repeatedly, that gives you instant gratification but you often feel worse after doing whatever it is you keep doing. I can certainly see how making more $$ could be addictive.