Do I Need To Build A Team To Do Affiliate Marketing?

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”.

I disagree.

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.

You should know how to research offers, create angles, write copy, make landing pages and banner ads, optimize and split test.

  • 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)

Common Questions

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.

  1. “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.
  2. “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.
  3. “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.
  4. “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.
  5. “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.
  6. “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.
  7. 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.
  8. “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.
  9. “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.
  10. 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.

In Closing

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.

  • Nitin Patel

    Amazing blog post Malan! I can totally relate to you in this topic. I don’t want to 9-to-5 job and work for someone else. But I don’t want to “build a business” either. I just want to be someone who makes more money than he can spend. Internet Marketing is the perfect job for people like us. We can make a lot of money and outsource things which we don’t want to do. No need to deal with full time employees.

    • Malan Darras

      thanks Nitin – i get it 😉

  • Quinton Hamp

    I want a team. Badly.

    But I also don’t want to give up my freedom.

    Currently trying to build a virtual team. It’s not what I want, but it is definitely helping me to be more effective and get more done

    • Malan Darras

      I’d prefer someone make the $$ first, then hire a team. Not hire a team and then try to make $$

  • LaRoy Richardson

    Cool post brother. I don’t believe you should focus on building a team at first either. Build a campain, not a team.

  • LaRoy Richardson

    Love the Youtube Videos.

    • Malan Darras

      thanks LaRoy

  • PG

    Great post. Some valuable yet often overlooked insights here. The only thing I would counter with is that as opposed to having a team it can be great having 1-2 valuable contractors/freelancers to whom you farm out certain lower value tasks. But totally agree with the above. Thanks for sharing sir!

    • Malan Darras

      agreed. if you have the $$ to hire a few contractors/freelancers that’s a pretty good setup. I’ve tried it and ended up back on my own due to personal preference. (they annoyed me)

  • desiredpersona

    Great post Malan.
    Id like to add that it is always a good idea to hire a freelancer when you are struggling, rather than stressing yourself out. Let say you can’t code your own landing pages but want to learn. Hire someone to do the work and learn from them. Soon you will be editing that same landing page and making your own. New affiliates need to stop waisting their valuable time.

    • Malan Darras

      if that works for you – great. But it’s definitely not always a good idea for everyone.

      • desiredpersona

        I hear you. I guess i meant time=money so its best to get a campaign live rather than doing $10 an hour work

        • Malan Darras

          again, it’s not best for everyone. Some people enjoy doing the work. There is no “Best”, “always” or “right”… statements like that are the echo chamber.

  • Steve

    I fully support Malan – it is a bad idea to build a team to run your affiliate business. There is a much better alternative for super affiliates – just become investors, not business owners. Read more to learn why becoming an investor is the next logical step for burned out super affiliates.

    Currently I earn very good amount of money from affiliate marketing and I am one man army. I used to be mid level manager in big corporations, running a team of up to 10 people and complex projects which involved multiple departments and external providers.

    I escaped the Rat Race and the Corporate Jungle to have my freedom and TIME back. Now I have all this. I had to work hard in the beginning and to use most of my knowledge and experience from the past, but now I have both money and time to do whatever I want.

    Yes, I there are many opportunities to make money by running my own business and by building a team. But business means BUSY. Don’t forget that! Business doesn’t mean passive income. Yes you can make a lot of money by running your own business or buy selling it, but this will consume all of your time. And if you are not careful – your health too.

    The alternative that I preach is to become an investor. Let’s compare affiliates with investors to understand why. As an affiliates your are free and flexible. You can promote whatever you want, whenever you want. If it works, you will buy more traffic, if it doesn’t work, you will try something else. Investors have the same mindset – they search for valuable companies where to invest. Investors can buy and sell shares from any public company. If it works, they will buy more shares, if it doesn’t they will sell and search for other opportunities. However, if you start your own business you will have to dedicate 100% of your time and energy to build it and to grow it. And you have to do this for at least 2-3 years.

    Unlike SME business owners, investors and affiliates are free and do own their time. Investors and affiliates can invest/promote whatever is hot today and change their mind tomorrow. Investors have much more time for their health, family, fun activities, travel, entertainment… Think about what your priorities and goals are! But remember, starting an business after being a successful affiliate is not the only way to go!

  • Malan Darras

    no one who has a team now started with one. they all made their first $$$$$$$ as solo affiliates.

  • Ryan Saplan

    This is a great blog post. It helps me focus to understand that the 1-man show is totally okay. Thanks for confirming this idea.

    • Malan Darras