Affiliate Marketing Blog – Finch Sells

Hi, I’m Finch.

A 26 year old high school dropout (slash academic failure) who makes a lot of money from the Internet.
This blog shows how I do it, and how you can too.

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Premium Posts 2015 Edition is Available NOW
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5 Things I Would Do If I Were Starting Affiliate Marketing Today
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New Premium Posts, Plans for 2015 and Good Reads

Premium Posts 2015 Edition is Available NOW

vol2015

The Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Marketing in 2015

BOOM.

It’s here!

The 2015 Edition of Premium Posts is an absolute monster, and it is available to download… right now.

Inside you will find a mountain of fresh insights to give your affiliate business the head start it needs in 2015.

375 pages, 65,000 words of tips, tricks, strategies, pointers, bloopers, fuck-ups, brainfarts, bad ideas, good ideas and obscure references to my balls.

This is THE definitive guide to affiliate marketing for 2015.

(I don’t know if anybody else has actually tried to write one, but if they have, it’s about to get blown to smithereens.)

Topics we’ll be covering include:

* How to survive, thrive and kick ass in affiliate marketing throughout 2015.

* Everything you need to know about mobile marketing, and how to make money from it.

* The explosion in pay-per-call offers: how to promote them, and where.

* The adult dating sector as it stands today: the best opportunities and the biggest money.

* The longest post I have ever written on getting profitable with casual dating, clocking in at 97 pages.

* How to test and optimise your campaigns effectively — the ‘Super Affiliate’ way.

* How a strategy of continual 1% improvements can take your business to the next level.

* That bloody Teespring craze, and how you can make a part-time (even full-time) living as a T-Shirt mogul.

* The art of retargeting, and how it could make a bunch of innovative affiliates very rich in 2015.

* Why you should quit ‘affiliate marketing’ and build a majestic performance marketing agency.

* A giant (extended) list of my favourite affiliate resources and tools, with an exclusive selection of dynamite traffic sources.

* And much more.

Note: The price has gone up. Why? Because the standard of content has gone up. Way up.

This release is three times bigger than any other volume in the series. It covers our entire industry. If I taught this information by the hour, you’d be paying for a lot of classes!

>> View Contents and Order Now <<

Sponsored by Adsimilis

adsimilis-meetup-dubai

‘Premium Posts: 2015 Edition’ is sponsored (once again) by Adsimilis, one of the world’s leading CPA networks, and general good chaps and chapettes.

I started working with Adsimilis in 2010.

Sean, Eleah and Mike do a fantastic job of matching the top affiliates to the best offers, all around the world. The entire affiliate management team, including my own AM Naomi, is first class.

If you are looking for a reliable team to help grow your affiliate business to the next level, then sign up for an account with them today.

I’m flattered that they continue to put their name against the breeze that flaps out of my gums. So thank you, Adsimilis!

16 Months Later… Thanks for Staying Patient!

It’s 16 months since I last released a volume of Premium Posts.

I had a new volume wrapped up and ready to launch in the summer.

After several re-reads, I wasn’t happy with the content.

It felt rushed. Repetitive.

So I shit-canned it.

I decided not to release any further volumes and I focused on my campaigns.

Then I started networking with affiliates in person.

In Barcelona, Dubai, London…

It took me by surprise just how many people had benefited, in some obscure way or another, from previous entries in the series.

That sparked me in to writing one post, which became the cornerstone of this brand new volume.

The rest of the content flooded out soon after, in gushes of pent-up energy and compressed brainfart.

What I’m releasing today is the culmination of a lot of ransacked coffee beans, and many, many late nights.

Thankfully, this time, after several more re-reads, I’m more than satisfied with the content.

It’s the most comprehensive dissection of affiliate marketing I’ve ever attempted.

It’s probably the most comprehensive dissection of affiliate marketing anybody has ever attempted.

I can’t wait for you to read it.

>> View Contents and Order Now <<

5 Things I Would Do If I Were Starting Affiliate Marketing Today

“What would you do if you were starting from scratch in affiliate marketing today?”

This is one of those questions that pops up on forums, and lands in my inbox often.

It’s difficult to answer.

Mainly because it suggests we should be able to predict where our future money lies.

I don’t think there’s a single affiliate who doesn’t wish he broke in to the industry a year earlier. The ‘industry one year ago’ is a rosier place.

It always is, and always will be.

That’s because:

Successful strategies are only obvious in hindsight.

We feel pretty stupid when we miss them, but it’s a given that most of us will.

That’s why if I were starting affiliate marketing today, I would worry less about imminent opportunities — and more about the systems, processes and relationships required to take advantage of them.

Here are five tips to help you get started.

1. I would build a war chest of funds using my current skill set.

It is critical that you have a decent sized budget if you want to pursue paid traffic arbitrage.

Note: I have explained the core differences between free traffic vs. paid traffic in my updated intro for beginners.

Ideally you should be able to spend at least $100/day collecting data.

That’s not to say you should be losing $100/day.

Fuck me, if you’re spending $100/day and making $0/day — forget what anybody says about perseverance — pause that shit and get back to the drawing board.

Somewhere along the way, you’ve made a huge mistake.

Most people who land in this industry have key skills that can be used to build a war chest of funds.

Whether you are a writer, a designer, a developer, or a sales man — you can find work online.

These sites have thousands of jobs available:

Alternatively, you can get a conventional full or part time job.

Why are affiliates allergic to working 9-5? It makes no sense.

There is no shame in collecting a pay cheque from ‘The Man’.

If money is your primary restraint, I would say that it’s actually a pretty bloody smart idea.

2. I would invest in a good VPN and study my chosen market obsessively.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) lets you access websites using an IP in a different country.

Why would you want to do this?

To spy on foreign ads and affiliate campaigns, of course.

There are no secrets in affiliate marketing.

Most profitable campaigns are running in full view of the public.

You can use spy tools like WhatRunsWhere to harvest banners and landing pages, but these are often lacking in context.

The best way to see which creatives are dominant is to load up a VPN, access a placement, and note which banners appear first (and most often).

For this, I use HideMyAss. It has servers in over 128 countries, is pretty reliable, and works on mobile phones.

Note: A monthly charge to ‘HideMyAss’ is definitely one of the more interesting expenses on my bank statements. Be prepared to explain to your accountant what ’Spy Software’ actually means, lest he fear your affiliate business is a racket for the Russians.

If you don’t want to shell out on a VPN, you can crawl the web at a snail’s pace by Googling ‘proxies in [country here]’ and trying them one-by-one.

Once you have access to dozens of countries, you can start gathering intelligence on any markets that are active with affiliates.

You can see exactly what offers are being run (without getting redirected), and you can jack all manner of useful creatives.

3. I would learn by osmosis — and gain access to key players.

If you want to find an affiliate mentor; somebody to hold your hand, to teach you the ropes; then my best advice is this:

Snap off your dick, book in some surgery, reinvent yourself as a beautiful woman — and hope for the best.

For everybody else, I wish the very best of British to you.

I don’t believe mentor arrangements work unless they are mutually beneficial.

That means you need to bring useful skills to the table (available for free), or a knack for honeybadgering freebies, the likes of which is beyond the scope of this blog.

Here’s the sad truth:

Inside information is at a premium for newbie affiliates.

The guys who need the attention of their AMs (Affiliate Managers) are often the guys who the AM has little incentive to work with.

Your affiliate manager could be handling dozens, even hundreds, of accounts.

Imagine a Skype wall with “Hey, how are u?” repeated ad infinitum.

Their attention goes, firstly, to the volume players who already generate good revenue.

Forget the Pareto Principle. We’re talking 95/5 laws of revenue distribution here.

With that said, you will need to come up with some novel ways of extracting information from key industry figures:

  • Your affiliate managers
  • Traffic source reps
  • Your direct competition

Now, if I were starting my career today, I would be mind-mapping the chains of power that bind the industry together — and then finding ways to break in to them.

The one playground that is fair game for seducing all three parties above is the conference circuit.

Once you know who you need to target in your market of choice, research where (and how) to access them.

This is where you need to position yourself favourably:

Affiliate managers… respond well to the illusion of an already successful affiliate. Pretend you are running traffic elsewhere.

Traffic source reps… respond well to the idea that you are not actually an affiliate. Pretend you run a ‘performance marketing agency’.

Your competition… responds well to legitimate information, or flattery. No pretending here. Suck up or cough up.

I’ve met a bunch of newbie affiliates at events this year.

While I don’t know how their businesses have progressed since, I know for sure that they made the right decision in going to events where they’d network with legitimate affiliate marketers.

This form of learning by osmosis — for newbies and veterans alike — is vital for picking up signals about where the industry is heading.

Good places to start include Affiliate Summit, AdTech, and whatever annual meetup your network of choice is currently pimping.

4. I would focus on out-working the competition.

How do you build a competitive advantage when your competitors are richer, more experienced and better connected than you?

The answer is by starting small, keeping lean and making moves that — for whatever reason — your competitors won’t.

Stay under the radar and out-work the competition.

The best way to do this is to corner a small segment of a market that you already know to be profitable.

The German dating market is profitable. It’s also fiercely competitive.

A newbie entering these waters is going to be swallowed up by one of the many great white sharks, AKA your direct competition.

So you start in shallow waters. You ask questions about the huge German dating market and you segment it in to smaller chunks.

There are many ways you can do this: from age, to cities, to needs, to marital profiling, to disabilities, to shared hobbies.

The dating market is a great example because it serves a universal need (to find a companion) with endless smaller pockets of demographics that can be targeted.

What you will find is that your biggest competitors are drunk on their economies of scale. They won’t bother to devise campaigns for the smaller traffic sources, or the minority demographics. If they do, it will be an afterthought.

This leaves the path clear for a newbie affiliate to sweep in and serve those demographics with a message that strikes closer to home.

While a small budget demands that you out-work the competition, take note: this is not a scalable advantage once you enter the mass markets.

To be a dominant affiliate in the big-money open waters, you need to build structural advantages in to your business.

By definition, an effective advantage must not be easy for a newbie affiliate to replicate. I’ve referenced some of the more popular strategies here.

Of course, it’s a double edged sword.

Dominant affiliates rely on structural advantages to stay profitable. In doing so, they sacrifice an element of creative desperation.

Dave Trott covers the topic well with this excellent piece on Revolution vs. Maintenance.

5. I would choose a low CPA/CPI niche

There are two benefits to working with low payout offers.

The first is that they are easier to optimise.

If an offer pays out $2, you can make a decision on its viability with relatively little ad spend.

$20 spent and no conversions? Time to pivot.

The second reason is that for a newbie, breaking the pattern of zero conversions is important.

You want proof that affiliate marketing works?

You’ll get it faster by pushing offers that don’t require a large payment from the consumer — in other words, offers that don’t require a hard-sell.

This proof can morph in to motivation, which can snowball in to self-belief and more patience in the long run.

It’s easier to stay motivated while the conversion column is moving (and the data is taking on some meaning).

The good news is that there are tons of offers in emerging markets where conversions are rampant and the cost of traffic is cheap.

The Middle East and South Asia are prime examples. LATAM is another exciting growth area.

By focusing on these regions, you can get some conversions under your belt. You can learn how each traffic source works without selling off your left kidney to pay for the advertising.

The faster you get away from theory and in to the realms of collecting data, the sooner you can call yourself an affiliate.

To be blunt:

These are the five things I would do if I was starting affiliate marketing today:

  1. Build a testing budget where I can spend at least $100/day.
  2. Invest in a VPN and analyse the top-bidding affiliates in each country.
  3. Build key relationships with affiliate managers, traffic source reps and direct competitors.
  4. Search for under-served segments in profitable markets.
  5. Stick to low-paying offers and gather data fast.

What are you currently doing?

Have I missed something that can light a rocket up the arse and catapult newbies to success?

Interested to hear.

New Premium Posts, Plans for 2015 and Good Reads

Christmas is coming.

I can tell because the seasonal fatty in me aches for Gingerbread latte and industrial-sized buckets of mulled wine.

Now is a great time to be an affiliate marketer.

Mainly because it’s a bad time to be anybody else.

Take the rest of the workforce, for example:

Wake in the darkness, spaz at the cold, wrap in seven layers, power-walk through the black ice to an overheated tube where the chances of catching a nice, hearty flu increase fivefold with every station passed.

Rinse and repeat, Monday to Friday.

The thrill of watching it all unfold from my office window is the pinnacle of working from home.

And if anybody disagrees, trust me — their priorities are all wrong.

I’m only half-joking.

I enjoy London in the winter.

But I’m still excited to get out of here.

My Plans for 2015

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll be aware that I am perennially on the edge of moving somewhere that isn’t London.

I have a success rate of about 20%.

Well, something will have to go seriously wrong for that not to change.

My girlfriend and I are moving to Thailand in March.

We’ll be based in Bangkok, which already feels like a second home.

It’s difficult to explain, but South East Asia has a magnetic pull. Once you get a taste for the food, beaches, pools and blistering heat, you start to ask why you wouldn’t live there if you could choose.

I’ve been three times in the last year. Every time I leave, it’s through gritted teeth and a death trail of mango sticky rice.

The expat community in Thailand is, of course, well known. It’s getting younger and younger thanks to flexible working arrangements and the smaller world that we live in.

I know more British affiliates based in Thailand than I do in London.

Jesus, I need to get out more.

Bangkok, besides being a balls-to-the-walls awesome city, is a great base to explore the rest of South East Asia and beyond.

I’m stoked to see some countries that I’ve never been to before: Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Vietnam and more. Suggestions welcomed.

It should be an exciting year!

New Premium Posts Next Month

In other news…

It’s 18 months since I released the last volume in my Premium Post series.

I had a new release ready to go in the summer. Unfortunately business got in the way of writing, and by the time I returned to finish it up, I wasn’t happy with the content.

So on to the scrap heap it went.

One complete rewrite later, and the next volume is almost ready to be unleashed.

It will cover a huge amount of ground: from adult dating, to mobile campaigns, the current Facebook and Google landscapes, to new areas like pay per call, Teespring and several ‘unfashionable’ sources of traffic that can blow up your earnings biggie style.

This is going to be a mammoth release. The chapter covering adult dating alone is bigger than the entire Volume X (which was dedicated to it).

I think you’re going to struggle to find a more definitive pillaging of the affiliate marketing industry as it stands today.

Stand by for a lot of brain farts when it goes live on December 17th.

In the meantime, here is something every affiliate should read at least once. Maybe even twice.

How to Build The Future…

I read a lot of business books. Sometimes mindlessly.

When you’ve chowed your way through the entire Amazon bestsellers, you become familiar with the arcing topics that every writer and his dog likes to bark about. There’s only so many times I can relive the story of Maslow, Kitty Genovese or a room full of marshmallows.

The mind doth start to play with its balls.

Zero to One, by Peter Thiel, is the rare type of business book that stops you dead in your tracks.

Zero to One Review

“Notes on Startups, or How to Build The Future” sounds like a bold strapline. If anything, it undersells.

Thiel outlines the concepts that can make or break a startup, without resorting to magic bullet steps to pique interest. He talks innovation, technology, team-building and — most effectively — how to stand apart from your competition.

The book is a page-turner that demands to be put down. A rare thing.

It opened my eyes, my mind and my notepad.

It forced me to digest its concepts slowly, chapter by chapter.

Any book that begs to be placed aside while you question the wisdom of your current beliefs deserves the highest praise, especially when it’s so much easier to publish the opposite.

Thiel is a legend of the tech sphere. He didn’t need to write a book.

Likewise, when you have Mark Zuckerberg (“This book delivers completely new and refreshing ideas on how to create value in the world.”) and Elon Musk (“Peter Thiel has built multiple breakthrough companies, and Zero to One shows how.”) singing your praises, you don’t need lowly blogs like this to sell a book for you.

But I enjoyed the read so much that I have to recommend it.

Probably the best business book I’ve read this year.

Surprise, Surprise. Penguin Goes Viral

Finally, did you see the John Lewis Christmas advert?

If you’re outside the UK, then probably not.

Here it is:

I’m no brand advertiser, but I’ll tip my hat where it’s due.

That is some proper next-level Mad Men shit.

There’s a fine line between ‘going viral’ for the sake of sapping bandwidth, and going viral in a way that showcases a brand with goodwill that turns in to sales.

John Lewis are one of the best at getting it right.

Alas, this ice-cold fart will be shitting penguins — I repeat, SHITTING PENGUINS — before he goes anywhere near John Lewis at Christmas.

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