When I started out in affiliate marketing I made a big mistake. The same mistake that a lot of new people make that keeps them from getting that initial “win”, that first sale or first profitable campaign.
I was working alone, in a vacuum.
My first year was spent working totally in the dark. I took a 30 day course, learned the basics and was doing SEO with a mini-fleet of blogs and websites. I picked products at random from Clickbank and tested them, sometimes spending 4 weeks before knowing if the thing I was trying to sell would convert or not (SEO is a slow game).
At one point I pulled a dating offer from an affiliate network and started a Dating review website called “Malan knows Dating” or something like that.
I would check out the offers, test the service and write 100s of articles about my experience. Each time someone signed up using my links – I made a few dollars. After several weeks of churning out dating articles I was getting some SEO traffic and making a tiny profit per day.
Then I got this weird email.
It was from someone I didn’t know – who worked for an affiliate network I’d never heard of. He had found me somehow and emailed the contact information from my Dating website’s registration. He included his name and number and wanted to “talk about my business”.
I stared at the email for a minute. What the hell is this? I wondered.
Finally my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to call this guy. We’ll call him Steve. The phone rang, he picked up and our conversation went something like this.
Steve: “Hello this is Steve”
Me: “Hey Steve… um… I got this email from you and I’m trying to figure out if this is real or not”
Steve: “Oh haha yes what’s the name of your website”
Steve: “Oh sure! I saw your site in the search engines and noticed you were promoting dating offers and I wanted to see if I could help you in any way. I work for XYZ company and we have plenty of Dating offers that convert better than the ones you’re using now”
Me: “Um.. what?”
Steve: “Tell me about your business, what else are you promoting”
Me: “Um, well a few ebooks here and there but I’m focusing on the dating thing now”
As it turns out Affiliate Scouting is a regular part of an affiliate manager’s job. They go out looking for websites and contact the owners hoping to bring in new people to their network.
Here’s where it get’s good
Steve: “Hey why don’t you just quit doing dating and do this other thing that’s going on?”
Me: “What other thing are you taking about”
Steve: “It’s called (product name) and guys are making tons of money with it right now, way better than dating”
Me: “Well, I’ve been working on this dating site for months now”
Steve: “How much money are you making on it?”
Me: “about $300 a month, but I think I can grow it”
Steve: “Ok, well my guys are making more than that every day on this other thing and I think you could do it too”
Ok so at this point I need to say something.
As I was building my Dating website and dreaming of all the big dating money I was going to make I felt like a genius. I had picked an offer at random, built a site full of content around it and was making a few sales here and there. I thought I had cracked the code. My dream was to make $100 a day.
Here was this guy – telling me to drop my magnificent creation and do this new thing. My stupid pride woke up and started saying things like “Hey don’t let anyone tell you what to do” and “you’re the master of your own destiny” and on and on.
For some reason I said “Ok let’s do it.”
I immediately stopped working on my dating site and began building a site for this new thing.
Over the next few weeks Steve answered all my questions, pointed me to forums where other affiliate were hanging out and convinced me to do paid traffic because results came much faster than SEO.
I agreed to everything he said and allowed him to tell me what to do.
It was the best decision I ever made.
Within 30 days my daily profit jumped from $10/day to $70 a day.
2 weeks later profits had quadrupled.
Then… it exploded.
I ended up running that campaign for a long time. It allowed me to fire all of my freelance clients, pay off all of my debts and gave me all the necessary tools to never work a job again.
Sometimes I wonder where I’d be now if I didn’t listen to that Affiliate manager’s advice. I could still be running that Dating website, making very little money and telling myself I was “going to make this work”. More than likely I’d be back at a 9-5 job somewhere, rotting at a desk.
If you’re struggling to get things going, here’s my advice.
- Immediately stop thinking you’re a genius who can figure it all out on your own
- Sign up for an affiliate network or two
- Call them on the phone and get a manager as soon as possible
- Add the manager on AIM, Skype and to your contacts
- Ask them these questions
- What is hot right now?
- How are people advertising it? (Direct linking, landing pages, etc)
- Where are they getting traffic? (FB ads, Google, POF, etc.)
- Do whatever they say is working for others
Affiliate managers get paid a commission on the sales you make so you can be damn sure they’re going to set you up for success. If you can find a good manager you’re going to get set up with offers that you know will convert. You’ll have a real shot at making some money.
Then, it’s just up to you to make it work.
A quick note (and a warning) before I go.
If you’re passionate about something and want to do it for the rest of your life that’s fine. Do that. What I’m talking about here is finding a campaign that you can run quickly to get some profits under your belt and allow you to exit the 9-5 workforce forever.
Passion projects can take years to make a profit – a hot campaign can make money from day 1.
Also – while Affiliate Managers can be a huge help they can also become very distracting. They may pitch new ideas to you all the time. “This is blowing up!” or “Hey this new shiny object is really hot!”.
You have to filter out the hype and focus on what’s working. If you find a campaign that works and you’re making money with it – laser focus on it and tune out the shiny objects as much as possible. (harder than it sounds)
If you do this right – if you put in the drive, a lot of patience and a little skill. You may just change your life forever.
P.S. Thanks again Steve