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GOLD! So you want to get into affiliate marketing...

Vespasian

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I see a lot of threads of people who want to get into affiliate marketing. I'm always wondering why that is.
This is the fastlane forum and MJ correctly said: AM is not a fastlane.

I've been an affiliate myself (and an offer owner) and I think I can say that I'm one of the more successful guys. I'm doing well but I know that I had a ton of luck and that I met the right people. The question I ask myself is why do you want to get into affiliate marketing?

If you're looking for a way to make money to fund your fastlane businesses, think about it again.
The vast majority of people end up with a hole in their pocket because they don't manage to get any profitable campaigns. The guys that do run profitable campaigns often end with unstable income streams and usually low or medium 4 figure months. A lot of people heard of "Mr. 50k a day" or any other bullshit guru, flashing their money on instagram and milking the masses. That's not what affiliate marketing looks like.



The entry barrier is ridiculously low
Everybody can steal your campaign, go ask the guys that run adult dating what it's all about these days. Get on a spy / scraper and copy n' paste what you see. Do that with 10 campaigns and 2 will stick, until the banner blindness kicks in or other people outbid you. Spend 6 hours a day copying other peoples campaign and you can make a hundred bucks in profit every day. Trust me, after 2 days of doing this you don't want to see the tits of your girlfriend anymore.

You have absolutely no control
Scrubbing: there are lots of scammy advertisers out there who will scrub you. They'll take 10-30% of your leads / sales and won't report them to you. There is nothing you can do about it and you won't even notice it.

Downtimes / tech: you have absolutely no control outside of your landing page. Payment processor of the offer you're promoting doesn't work? You're the one that pays for the traffic. Database error when people are trying to sign up? No revenue for you buddy. This does sound a bit unlikely until you're running a high volume media buying campaign on 10% ROI and the offer goes down. On the weekend. While you're running with a 24 hour out clause.

Buying traffic nowadays: there was easy money in the acai pill boom 2006-2008, everybody could buy traffic and send it to an advertorial / flog and make a lot of money with this. People were not used to rebills and the conversions were ridiculously high, there was enough money for everybody. Times got harder, lots of offers, verticals and angles are banned now. Doesn't matter if you're buying banners on CNN, Facebook or Adwords. Affiliate marketing got linked to scam and publishers noticed this. Buying traffic for diet pills is very hard now.

Internal campaigns: almost every single offer has their internal campaign team that runs campaigns. It's very cheap to hire a media buyer compared to an affiliate who gets 75-80% of your profit. So a lot of companies cut out the middle man (the affiliate) to cash in more. This happens in all verticals now. New trial or CPS offers are only launched for affiliates when the internal media buying team runs out of good campaigns. Then they'll get all the affiliates on the offer that are doing the split testing and trying out new traffic sources. Then very often this happens: the internal campaign management finds your campaign (spying or checking your referers), copy your whole campaign and scrub you to death. You just paid for their testing and they're laughing. This happens everywhere. Mobile subscription offers, health trials, dating.

Risks: apart from the risk of loss when you're testing new campaigns you have the risk of getting F*cked for deceptive advertising. FTC is breathing down your neck when you're an US-based affiliate. You're competing with hordes of Indians, Thais, etc. who couldn't care less about using logos of TV stations or celebs. Bullet-proof company setups take time and are not cheap. The people who're running uncompliant stuff usually have a higher margin than you and can easily outbid you.

Getting paid: a lot of big networks are getting busted every year. COPEAC, EWA (lol), Ndemandaffiliates, CPAtank and a bunch of others I can't remember. Think of going direct is a better option? Well yeah, if you're not doing thousands of sales every day you won't get any other payment option that net7. Wait until your advertiser loses his MIDs and has his accounts frozen and you'll realize that risk management is a bitch in this industry. I'm owed low 6-figures of two companies that went bankrupt and I'm pretty sure that I won't see a single penny of that.

What it really is: you're just a random online salesman for another company. You're at the bottom of the food chain. You compete with other affiliates, with sketchy advertisers who work against you, traffic networks that have their own marketing department monetizing their inventory and with publishers who don't want to have your ads anymore.



Affiliate marketing is not easy and very time consuming. It's not a business and it's not fastlane. More and more people are trying to get into affiliate marketing every year and everybody is competing with you. I'd strongly advice against getting into AM without the proper contacts and a good amount of cash to play with nowadays.


If you need to fund your fastlane business, please don't get into AM. There are tons of other opportunities that are far better. Maybe this comes off as some rant (and maybe it is one), but I just want to let people know about the not so cool side of the 'ballin' AM world.
 

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tido

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Thank you for this post. I was on the brink of joining the hordes of anonymous affiliate marketers out there. Poring through and absorbing the AMA threads about AM posted here and it seems that everyone have the same sentiment. What was that saysing ...if your car mechanic is talking about doing it, it's time to get out... AM is saturated and full of uncertainties from no control like you've mentioned. This post was what I need to reaffirm my decision to find a different path. Thanks again.
 
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Vespasian

Vespasian

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Thank you for this post. I was on the brink of joining the hordes of anonymous affiliate marketers out there. Poring through and absorbing the AMA threads about AM posted here and it seems that everyone have the same sentiment. What was that saysing ...if your car mechanic is talking about doing it, it's time to get out... AM is saturated and full of uncertainties from no control like you've mentioned. This post was what I need to reaffirm my decision to find a different path. Thanks again.
Thanks for your feedback, Tido!
You just proved that the time I invested into my post was well worth it.
 

Eskil

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Yup to all of that. Same stuff I've been trying to tell people for some time - yet it seems there is no end to the number of people who want to get started anyway.
 

100k

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Are you doing AM now?

If AM is a bad way of getting money for a fastlane business, then what are the better options? Creating a micro niche blog? Writing a WSO and selling that for $7? Selling crap on ebay?

What about all the knowledge that you gain from doing AM. That's guerilla marketing skills/knowledge you can use later on to fast track your fastlane business!
 
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Vespasian

Vespasian

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Are you doing AM now?

If AM is a bad way of getting money for a fastlane business, then what are the better options? Creating a micro niche blog? Writing a WSO and selling that for $7? Selling crap on ebay?

What about all the knowledge that you gain from doing AM. That's guerilla marketing skills/knowledge you can use later on to fast track your fastlane business!
Yes, I'm still doing affiliate marketing but for my own offers and not for somebody else.

It's impossible to tell people what they should do, I don't know your skillset nor your background or business connections.

I posted in another thread that I made my first money with arbitrage (creating a brand and reselling SEO services with great profit margins). It allowed me to learn everything that's related to a real business: branding, product pricing, dealing with customers, managing a team (this is where I failed hard), defining my market... you will never learn all these things while promoting offers of other people. Plus you don't have an exit strategy. You can't sell your campaigns and if you stop splittesting / creating banners, your campaign will usually die down in a few days or weeks. Either create your own product / service you can sell to a competitor if you're sick of it or create something that is basically hands free.

Most people who get into AM leave with debt / lose their investments. They usually don't stick long enough to learn enough of the selling process that it would be worth the effort. If you want to fund your fastlane business, try to find business models which don't require a big marketing budget, because this is the hardest part: finding the lifetime value of your avg customer. You can only find that out with testing (and a big budget if you rely on paid traffic).

What about all the knowledge that you gain from doing AM. That's guerilla marketing skills/knowledge you can use later on to fast track your fastlane business!
I don't regret getting into AM as I made good money and learned a lot about selling, but I'm not the average affiliate. I had luck, good connections and enough capital to invest into testing campaigns.
 
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Vespasian

Vespasian

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Okay, so you don't regret going into AM and you are still doing AM, but you don't want others to get into AM.

Alright buddy.
Sarcasm much?

I don't regret getting into AM as it worked out fine for me, on the other hand I know 50 other guys who failed miserably. I'm not promoting the business of other people now as I have my own offers running, putting me one step up on the food chain. I'm not telling people to stay away from AM, I'm more trying to encourage critical thinking which eventually will prevent a big financial failures and broken dreams.

Hope I made this clear.
 

poro78

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That's how I took it - more like "think before jumping in" than "stay out of my turf".
 

Vick

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AM has always seemed like a Greed game to me.
 

MooreMillions

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Are you doing AM now?

If AM is a bad way of getting money for a fastlane business, then what are the better options? Creating a micro niche blog? Writing a WSO and selling that for $7? Selling crap on ebay?

What about all the knowledge that you gain from doing AM. That's guerilla marketing skills/knowledge you can use later on to fast track your fastlane business!
AM is a bad "primary" way to get money. It should be a secondary, even tertiary venture, until you really know how to tame the animal for yourself.

Now, as far as ebay is concerned, I would not necessarily say selling "crap" on ebay is a bad way to go.

It is, as they say, "a race to the bottom" if you will, LOL, but I specialize in verticals where a premium is appreciated for an item.

ebay has spent that last year upgrading it's USP, it's GUI, and it's offerings. I mean, all the major brands/lines that people were hawking, well, now those major brands are actually on ebay hawking their own good wares.

If you understand how to make money when you buy your product, ebay has just as many pitfalls as AM, but like anything else, if you know what you are doing, it is a viable secondary, and eventually primary business.

I would just stay towards the high end...
 

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MJ DeMarco

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AM has always seemed like a Greed game to me.
Agreed, money chasing, arbitrage, meh.

Thanks for the great post. It gives me something to refer too whenever someone comes around here wanting to get into the AM game, which BTW, seems weekly. The AM AMA's around here always seem to be from guys who had some success, but are burnt out and come to a realization that its not consistent, stable, or predictable.

What it really is: you're just a random online salesman for another company. You're at the bottom of the food chain. You compete with other affiliates, with sketchy advertisers who work against you, traffic networks that have their own marketing department monetizing their inventory and with publishers who don't want to have your ads anymore.
Ding ding ding!
 

100k

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The only reason you should go into AM is to learn how to be a great marketer so that when you create your own products you can generate sales quickly.

For me that is the ONLY reason why I am in AM (oh and also to make some $$$). Anyone that has stuck with AM and has made $100k promoting other peoples products can use the skills he has learned to create his own offers and promote the heck out of them, make millions and build a REAL business with affiliates/a sales force.

:driving:
 

aBeats

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Great Post! I hadn't realized that all those big networks went out of business. I used to actually be with ewa, copeac, and demand in my pre-fast lane life a couple years ago.

When I saw all the good offers that were making me money go away, that's when I learned that it wasn't a solid venture that I could hang my future on. Once I got MJ's book, then it confirmed that thought, and I dropped off the CPA radar and started focusing on my own types of offers, and looking to get in a position to be on the advertiser's side as opposed to the publisher's side.

After reading this post, I just went and visited some of those networks to see with my own eyes and get wowed that they are gone.

That could have been a disaster if I continued down that path :-O
 

benhebert

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I've made a few thousand dollars doing internet marketing and even won John Chow's contest to go to Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas. I think it's a good place to start learning and doing, but you don't want to play that affiliate game.

Instead what you should be doing is learning more about the market and creating a product to solve their problems. Then sell it and worry about the affiliates that are going to try and cheat you ;)
 

Lauryn

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I enjoyed this post. I got into AM when I needed money as a military wife. One of the things I discovered is I was great at content creation, but I either hated the products promoted, didn't like the affiliate companies available (I only like ShareASale, CJ and DragonDoor - Clickbank is okay too)... or I'd have to create the products to promote them.

Money can be made, but the big money does take time and effort. I won't even touch the idea or belief you have to spin 1 article a million times or the "SEO" involved.

It's fun if you want to be creative and learn marketing strategies for offline marketing and consulting, but overall, I didn't see anything profitable until I shifted from the affiliate to the product creator.
 

Tom.V

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Totally agree, but as others have said the skills gained are worth their weight in gold. The optimization, testing, and tracking skills alone should be in every Fastlaner's toolkit.
 

Hong King Kong

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To give an idea of the lack of control you have,

I've still had an AM campaign running passively bringing in a couple hundred a week. My affiliate manager decides to cut my payout by over 200% out of no where... I have him on skype and he doesnt even bother to shoot a message, instead just sends an email.

Imagine having that as your primary source of income, that could definitely ruin your day!
 

kamanuci

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Thanks for the post. I was also one of those sheep that was about to go into AM. I'm even a member of one of the "gurus" in the space. I also about to ask if any knows of a good one on one coach in affiliate marketing. You saved me a lot of time, money and heartache.
 

brambel

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Over the last year I have been creating a blog (in a travel niche sector), but a great deal of the year I had to spend time for university and sometimes on my job, which is sales job I got this year. The sales job pays quite well for my age, but only part time a couple of months every year. Good on my resume and for my skills, though, which is good.

I aim for quality content but it is not really earning yet, but I see some opportunities to monetize if I continue to write content and place guest posts etc.. I have some reserve cash and enough free time in the coming years as well . I have placed a couple of affiliate campaigns next to adsense, just to experiment. Of course I lost some money already, but thats learning I guess..

All of it is time consuming, but I do feel motivated to continue with my blog and maybe a second one later. Furthermore, I want to learn languages and travel and pursue a masters degree, which could lead to interning at companies that are related to companies in the sector of our family company, to educate myself in the field in which the family business operates. I don't like the idea of working at offices other than internships, yet. Like to be free.

Is there any internet marketing that is worth pursuing (adsense, affiliate, travel niche)?? or should I focus the entrepreneurial side of me on creating my own products , other than selling other people's product (which could give me knowledge about what I would like to create later:an information product about lifestyle and education.
Is quality content on a blog a product that could serve a market need? Or am I bullshitting myself with it? Are the writing and researching skills gained in the process useful for later fastlane ventures?
 
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Vespasian

Vespasian

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I aim for quality content but it is not really earning yet, but I see some opportunities to monetize if I continue to write content and place guest posts etc.
The monetizing isn't the hardest part, it's getting stable traffic. With a blog, you're usually bound to two traffic streams:
  • search traffic
  • direct hits / recurring visits
both is very hard to control if you deliver no unique value. If you can place yourself as an authority in your niche, you might have a chance to actually make some money.


Is there any internet marketing that is worth pursuing (adsense, affiliate, travel niche)?
Adsense is one of the worst ways to monetize your site. You get a few cent per click and the CTR is usually low.
Promoting affiliate offers will likely make you more money, but you're dependent on the offer owner (scrub, getting kicked off the offer, etc).
Creating your own product (ebook, video course, membership site, gadget, service...) will make you more money and puts you in control.

A great follow-along by Ccarter can be found on Wickedfire (Wickedfire is NSFW and you'll have to register to view the enlightened member section there btw).


Is quality content on a blog a product that could serve a market need?
Quality and unique content. There are tons of great travel blogs with good content out there. What separates you from the rest?


Are the writing and researching skills gained in the process useful for later fastlane ventures?
Absolutely.
 

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brambel

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The monetizing isn't the hardest part, it's getting stable traffic. With a blog, you're usually bound to two traffic streams:
  • search traffic
  • direct hits / recurring visits
both is very hard to control if you deliver no unique value. If you can place yourself as an authority in your niche, you might have a chance to actually make some money.
The way Pat Flynn and people on wickedfire promote to make money seem , although not Fastlane, as a nice side project (with spare money) to work towards real passive income (better than a job since I'm young and will not be paid very good in employment yet, study at university but even with a degree it won't pay that much, what i want to say is that I consider myself motivated enough to continue spending time to learn how to make money online. I think I have a feeling for this..

Adsense is one of the worst ways to monetize your site. You get a few cent per click and the CTR is usually low.
Promoting affiliate offers will likely make you more money, but you're dependent on the offer owner (scrub, getting kicked off the offer, etc).
Creating your own product (ebook, video course, membership site, gadget, service...) will make you more money and puts you in control.
A great follow-along by Ccarter can be found on Wickedfire (Wickedfire is NSFW and you'll have to register to view the enlightened member section there btw).
Quality and unique content. There are tons of great travel blogs with good content out there. What separates you from the rest?

Thanks, i send a PM. The design needs to get much better but i'm starting to post guest posts on quality websites and everything..

The broader point I want to make is, I need to make money SOMEHOW to be able to live independent, and internet marketing seems like a legit route.. My degree will definitely not allow me to make a lot of money..
 

Option

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Thanks for the great info.
I am not into AM but would like to learn about optimization, tracking and split-testing my product-offers and getting traffic with my written unique content.
You mentioned Wickedfire, do you think this is a good place to learn? Just found out about it and liked it, seems to offer much more value then digitalpoint and warriorforum for example.
 
OP
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Vespasian

Vespasian

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Thanks for the great info.
I am not into AM but would like to learn about optimization, tracking and split-testing my product-offers and getting traffic with my written unique content.
You mentioned Wickedfire, do you think this is a good place to learn? Just found out about it and liked it, seems to offer much more value then digitalpoint and warriorforum for example.
Wickedfire is for fun, trolling and making connections, not for learning IM.
Sign up for the stack that money private forums instead, it's 99 USD a month I think. I'm not active there, but I know that it's a good place to learn the basics there.
 

100k

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LOL... just read through this thread again... I'm such a troll sometimes ... sorry about that. You make some very good points in your original post!

Low entry, no control, time (unless you do SEO with tools)...

Have a good weekend.
 

MyDuckets

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Yes, I'm still doing affiliate marketing but for my own offers and not for somebody else.
What processes have used to create your own offers? What types of offers have you created (not the niche but the medium: e books, video courses, etc)
 

Coalission

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This thread reminds me of why I now stay away from AM forums despite being an affiliate marketer, and instead came here, to a place where most people hate or failed at affiliate marketing. Everyone on those forums has such a limited view of what affiliate marketing actually is, it's either adult dating or diet pills, and the fact that they lump in affiliate networks with affiliate marketing means they have no hustle to go out and get business, and instead will just rely on a network to come serve them offers on a silver platter along with the other hundred bozos running the same shit.

Once you step outside of that world, you realize AM can be so many things, you can develop your OWN book of business, and it can indeed be fastlane but it'll never be with the mentality most affiliates have. Of course if you're stuck in the mindset of most affiliates on forums, you might as well have a job if you're gonna let affiliate managers crack the whip. Affiliate networks are like temp agencies. If you lack the hustle to go out and get business yourself, they'll do it for you and take their cut on the backend and do whatever trickery they can.

The advice I always give to people who want to get into "affiliate" marketing, is to get into marketing. Learn all the aspects of marketing that would help you learn to sell your own product, your own brand, and once you've developed a good skill set, you can practice using other people's product. Let them sweat inventory, customer service, refunds, etc. while you just bring revenue and make money. Now you can take all that data you've gathered and you can implement those skills into your own business. Why is it one or the other? Why would all affiliates have to worry about the FTC? Why would I need to worry about "hordes of Indians, Thais, etc. who couldn't care less about using logos of TV stations or celebs" unless that is the only way you think you can sell, and you actively CHOOSE to offer the same scammy products they do?

All the stuff described in the OP about affiliate marketing is just one small subset of it. That is to affiliate marketing as payday loans are to lending. It's much bigger than your struggles with the FTC or spy tools, and much bigger than your sitting around praying the next Google update doesn't destroy your business.
 

Sean DeSilva

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I respectfully disagree with the message here, even for off-line businesses.

If you've crafted your brand & personal message well, then you focused yourself as a specialist in one area, which allows you to charge more for what you do (specialist bias).

This also necessarily means that there will be other specialists outside your core that would still benefit your audience. They have their own unique knowledge, insights, and products that would benefit your audience, and also you if you have the vision to think in terms of value versus costs.

Of course this also requires breaking the "your product/their product" way of looking at business. It requires taking a step back and understanding that a blend of both approaches is probably the best option.
 

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