When I first started dabbling in affiliate marketing, I didn’t want to start a business. I wanted to leave the world of business and join a Counter Culture.
I wanted to work from home, escape Society’s rules and make enough money to live a life of total freedom. That was the magnet that drew me in. And that’s exactly what I did.
These days however, I’m hearing a lot of chatter about how you have to “start a real business” or “build a team” to be able to make a lot of money and “compete with the big guys”.
Today, I will share my thoughts on why I am still a 1-Man Army and why I think “starting a real business” could be the worst thing you can do when starting out in affiliate marketing.
The Echo Chamber
I’m not sure who said it first. But somewhere along the lines someone uttered the words “you need to build a team” or “you’re the bottle neck in your business”. And as soon as they said it, the Echo Chamber started repeating it.
*Definition: The Echo Chamber is the phenomenon that occurs when someone shares their opinion and then everyone else starts repeating it as a fact. This “parroting” creates an Echo that reverberates around the Chamber.
I became aware of the “build a team” Echo because I started receiving emails about it. New affiliates contact me every week asking questions about how they should structure their team to launch their first campaign.
It make sense, a lot of people are running teams now, but what these new affiliates are missing is that most of time, the super affiliate who is now using a team – made their first million(s) as a 1-Man Affiliate Army.
It’s true. And in my opinion, if you’re a new affiliate – even if your long term goal is to build a big corporation, that’s the way you should do it too.
My Recommendation For New Affiliates
As a new affiliate marketer you need to spend your first 1–3 years – or until you make your first $100k profit, in the trenches.
Your years of experience don’t count until you’re making money.
- By understanding all aspects of the game, you’ll become a better teacher.
- By being a better teacher, you’ll create better employees and teams if/when you decide to hire them.
- By creating better employees – you’ll make more money.
Think about it. If you try to build a team before you know what you’re doing, what will you be able to teach them to do? (answer: lose money)
Here are several of the most common Echoes that are currently making the rounds, and my answer for each one. These are mainly for new affiliates who think they need to build a team to launch their first campaign.
- “Do I need to build a real business”? No. The best thing about affiliate marketing is that you get to choose your lifestyle. My recommendation is to start as small as possible and then build towards whatever your dream is.
- “Can a solo affiliate compete with an affiliate with a team?” Forget this line of thinking completely. Affiliate marketing has never been a competition. Another person’s success doesn’t necessarily equal your loss.
- “Am I the bottleneck in my business?” Probably not. In the beginning there is no bottle and there is no neck. You should be testing one campaign on one traffic source at a time. This doesn’t require more than one person. Create a simple daily schedule for the week to accomplish one important thing per day and you’ll be fine.
- “Are there downsides to being a 1-Man Affiliate Army?” Yes. You have to do all the work, so be ready to learn to manage your time well and burn the midnight oil sometimes. For me this isn’t a huge problem, I’ve managed teams before and it taught me that I like doing the work more than delegating it. For me, doing the work is part of the fun.
- “What if I don’t have any computer or design skills?” If you don’t have any computer skills you’re probably not going to do very well here. 80% of the time, the people who make it had some sort of interest in the online world before they started marketing. Go to Google or Youtube, type in the skill you want to learn and start practicing. There are outliers who have made millions without ever touching Photoshop, but they are few and far between.
- “What about Mark Zuckerberg? He doesn’t do all the work does he?” Sure, people like Mark Zuckerberg don’t do all the work now. But there was a period in the beginning where he sat in a chair and did the work himself. Most, if not all successful CEOs in the online world started off the same way.
- “Affiliate blogger XYZ said I need to build a team, is he wrong?” Not necessarily, but in most cases he/she started on their own, worked for years to master the game and THEN hired employees 2–10 years later. This is the path you should follow too.
- “What if I don’t like working alone?” You don’t have to work alone. Go to a meetup or conference and make some friends. Create a mastermind or join a forum. I have 20-30 people that I talk to on a regular basis and I highly recommend it.
- “Wouldn’t I make more money with a team?”. Yes – you would probably make more money or at least more gross revenue with a well-trained team. But you can also make a ton of money as a 1-Man Army. Nothing has changed in that regard.
- “When should I hire employees?” It depends on your desired lifestyle. There are plenty of solo affiliates out there making $1Mil+ per year. Maybe they’d make more with a team, but the lifestyle they choose is to work alone. If you want to build a team, wait until you hit a point where you have more opportunities than you can handle. Then consider hiring some help.
Let me end this by saying that I’m not opposed to building a team. If you’ve done well in affiliate marketing and want to scale it to a bigger business my hat is off to you. Many of my friends have done it and do really well.
But if someone had told me in the beginning that I needed to “start a real business” or “build a team to compete” I never would have tried affiliate marketing at all.
So I think it’s important for new affiliates, who also came for the Counter Culture to hear another side of the story.
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about being successful as a 1-Man Affiliate Army, join my email list here.