New Affiliates, Stop Reading Books.

One of the most common questions I get about affiliate marketing is “which books should I read before I jump in the game?”

I used to answer with books like ‘Cashvertising’ or ‘Scientific Advertising’. But recently I’ve decided to change my answer to…


Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that reading is bad. I love reading. But as of today, my opinion is that for new affiliate marketers, reading books is a distraction and a complete waste of time.

My Experience

In 2008, I exploded onto the scene. In a matter of months I went from being a clueless newbie to one of the top affiliate marketers in the world.

Wanna know how many books I read before I did that?


I picked up a few tips from an affiliate manager, read some forum posts and then started launching, testing and optimizing campaigns.

I buried myself in the work… and reading a book never even crossed my mind.

Reading Is A Distraction

These days, a lot of people want to do what I did and ask me for advice. They regularly request a list of books that will help them get started.

Right now, my opinion is that for new affiliate marketers, reading books is nothing more than a cleverly disguised method of procrastination. It makes you “feel busy” while you avoid doing the actual work.

Instead of playing the game, you’re reading about the game.

And that’s not how it works.

Books Aren’t Bad

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying “you should never read a book because they’re stupid!” I read books all the time and have learned a lot from them.

Books can provide endless hours of entertainment and take you on fantastic adventures inside your mind.

But when it comes to online marketing, and specifically those new to the industry, there are no books out there that can help you.

Here are a few book that are commonly talked about, with a quick review of how they impacted, or didn’t impact my bottom line.

  1. Cashvertising. I’ve tested most of the Cashvertising tactics against copy that I find other affiliates running and 99 times out of 100, the found copy wins. In truth, Cashvertising has probably cost me thousands of dollars in failed tests. I don’t even look at it anymore.
  2. Daily Rituals. This book outlines the daily habits and routines of successful artists, writers and inventors. It taught me that masters don’t become Masters on accident. They work on a rigid schedule every day of their lives. That was helpful, but did I need to read that to make money online? Of course not.
  3. Scientific Advertising. This book was written a million years ago by an ad guy named Claude Hopkins. The stories he tells are great, but they have added $0.00 to my bank account. As with Cashvertising, I lost thousands of dollars trying to fit Claude’s headlines or copy into my online marketing campaigns.

Don’t get me wrong, these books are REALLY entertaining, but I could have done everything I’ve done without reading any of them.

A Few Exceptions

There ARE a few books that I think could be worth your while.

They won’t make you a better affiliate marketer, but they’ll help you understand what’s possible and give you an idea of how things work.

Here are a few off the top of my head.

  1. The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. A general overview of how to unhook yourself from the 9–5 world and do your own thing for a living. Lots of great insights, especially on outsourcing. But it won’t help you launch and optimize campaigns at all.
  2. Nothing’s Changed But My Change by Jeremy Shoemaker. You won’t learn anything about the mechanics of marketing, but you’ll get to see how this game can change your life. Great story, his breakthrough happened years before mine, but his back story is really close to my own.
  3. The Rich Jerk’s Background Story. The guy that made millions as the made up character “The Rich Jerk” wrote his entire backstory online and then deleted it. I was able to find a copy of it on Again, it won’t help you run campaigns, but it will help you see how success in this industry happens.

All of these suggestions are for entertainment only.

If you really want to learn how to do affiliate marketing you need to do some affiliate marketing.

Hunker down and spend some time in the trenches. Then, later down the road you might read a few books to sharpen your edge.


If you’re new to the digital marketing game and want to learn how it works you should not be reading books. You should be launching campaigns.

Books can come in handy later on, when you need to add an extra 2% edge to your game. But in the beginning, it’s all about doing the work.

You can’t avoid doing the work.

Well… you CAN…

But only if you want to fail.

  • Hassen Lazghab

    Thank you Malan for this great post !

    • Malan Darras

      thanks for reading Hassen

  • Usman

    You don’t learn from “advice”, you have to go through the PAIN yourself.

    Most people never want to feel the pain.

    And so they never learn.

  • Brent Dunn

    Personally I enjoy reading but….

    you are correct reading books isn’t going to do much for ya…

    I think people enjoy reading books because they feel like they are accomplishing something that has a low difficulty… problem is it’s also low in productivity and helpfulness.

    • Malan Darras

      I love reading too – but it’s rarely actually helped a campaign.

  • Jon G

    Wow… That was a slap in the face wake up call. Cashvertising seems to have good info. Maybe its not relevant to digital ads because the internet is changing so fast…?

    • Malan Darras

      Cashvertising is a great book. Very entertaining and fun to read. But it made me $0.00 overall. 🙂