Home « 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.

1
New Premium Posts, Plans for 2015 and Good Reads
2
How Much Could I Pay You to Quit Affiliate Marketing?
3
Melting in Dubai at Adsimilis Meetup 2014

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.

How Much Could I Pay You to Quit Affiliate Marketing?

There was an interesting poll up on the STM Forum this week:

What guaranteed monthly salary would you accept to quit affiliate marketing for a job in the corporate world?

Monthly affiliate salary

Just under 50% of the affiliates who replied said you’d have to pay them at least $500K per year to quit affiliate marketing.

That’s pretty remarkable.

Anybody who works in affiliate marketing knows that there’s no such thing as a fixed income.

To turn down a guaranteed bounty of $500K per year — plus a lifetime free of the aeons of stress-fuelled hair shredding — says a lot about the passion of those who turn to our industry.

Admittedly, yes, the figures are likely inflated by a sense of bravado and outward ‘who-can-grind-the-hardest’.

There’s a funny line that if you ask a man how many women he’s slept with, and then divide his response by three, you’ll be somewhat closer to the real answer.

Perhaps we can say the same for the price on an affiliate marketer’s head.

Regardless…

This poll, if even remotely close to the truth, reveals two stark realities:

1. Your competition is ruthlessly committed.
2. Affiliate marketing is more than just a business. It’s a lifestyle choice.

The Ruthless Competition

If somebody is willing to turn down a guaranteed income of $500K per year, what does that tell you about their affiliate business?

It says, either, “Hi, I’m insanely rich and 500K means nothing to me.”

Or, “I’m completely committed to making this work, to the point where not even half a million dollars is going to sway me.”

Whatever the case, this is your competition.

And that should be a call to arms.

These are the people, the pooled ruthless mindset, that you have to compete with.

Is it any wonder that the industry is so tough for a newcomer to crack?

A Lifestyle Choice

One of the things that struck me while reading the responses to the STM poll was just how many users had already given up six-figure corporate jobs in favour of affiliate marketing.

When you see a poll like this, your first thought is cynical:

“Somebody who already earns his millions in a glass-laden corner office probably isn’t going to be exchanging the view for affiliate marketing anytime soon.”

Except, that wasn’t the case.

I regularly speak to successful pros from all walks; from the finance arena, to the weary battle-hardened in law (the irony), and to unsatisfied executives.

It’s widely accepted that beyond a certain point, your salary ceases to add enjoyment to your life.

Once the basics are covered, and luxuries enjoyed, an extra 100K or 500K is pretty much irrelevant.

Time and burnout become the chief nemesis of happiness. Along with the political games that are so entwined with the corporate world.

And that’s why, for many people, affiliate marketing is not just a career. It’s a symbolic lifestyle choice.

Once you have enough money, you start looking inward at the value of your time.

Want to know the reason why so many affiliates put such high prices on their head?

Because they have something that people stuck in high-paying corporate jobs so desperately want:

  • The freedom of time
  • Self-determination

Once you have it, you don’t want to give it up.

This stubborn defiance to conform, even under the carrot of a fixed 500K salary, is what drives affiliates to be the best damn marketers in the business.

It’s the reason why corporations have to pay extreme money to attract us.

And if you want to carve your own career in affiliate marketing, this needs to be considered.

There simply isn’t room for the half-arsed.

The Price on My Head

Would I accept a fixed salary to quit affiliate marketing?

Are you shitting me?

Yes, of course I bloody would.

In a strange paradox, it’s exactly what I strive to achieve every single day.

But there’s a very big difference between working for any corporation, and working for one built in your own image through your own blood, sweat and beers.

For all the successful affiliates I’ve met, I can count on one hand those who wanted to stay middlemen in this same industry forever.

(And even then, I’m pretty sure half of them were rat-arse plastered at the time.)

We all have escape plans.

Affiliate marketing, the career choice, is 100% expendable in my eyes.

And yet the lifestyle and opportunity it represents comes at a huge price.

Is a 500K salary enough to fund that exchange?

To say there’s a yes or no answer would be to undersell the very Machiavellian nature of our industry.

To illustrate, I put this question to a friend of mine (who happens to be a newbie affiliate) and here’s what he said:

Guess I’d take the job. Hustle for a year. Demand a pay raise. I’d keep tabs on any useful data they had, any interesting connections. Try take on a few juniors to get some solo work done on the side. After 3 years, I’d leave with two Mil in the bank and blow up my own dick boost pills, or whatever’s flying at the time. Maybe Ebola. Fuck, when can I start?

And that, my dear scumbags, is why affiliates are not grown.

We are born rancid.

Melting in Dubai at Adsimilis Meetup 2014

September was a busy month.

I’ve just got back from the Adsimilis Dubai Meetup, which was bookended by two weeks in monsoon-lashed Krabi and Phuket.

A bunch of social commitments (or as I only half-jokingly refer to them: “going outside”) meant that by the time I reached Dubai, my campaigns weren’t so much suffering from banner blindness, but paralysed from the neck down by weeks of neglect.

The churn in this industry is absolutely insane.

Alas, I’m back in the trenches. Energised and motivated. Ready to tap in to brand new traffic sources.

I have to admit, meeting other affiliates is a great cure for a lost mojo.

It works in two ways.

First, we’re an industrious bunch. It is both enlightening and inspiring (and sometimes terrifying) to hear what other affiliates are working on.

Second, it’s nice to not be the biggest scumbag in the room.

Seriously.

If your guilty conscious ever needs a pick-me-up, find the nearest circle of affiliates, plaster them with alcohol and then ask: “So, what’s the shadiest shit you’ve ever run?”

I met one affiliate in Barcelona who had been engaged in marketing practices that can only be described as the ‘wrong side of borderline’. Those practices lead to his house being raided in the early hours by a SWAT team.

A fucking SWAT team!

More memorable than the confession itself was the sheer acceptance among the rest of us in the circle that, oh well, shit happens.

Followed by the inevitable, “So… are you still running the offer?”

(I’m glad to say he wasn’t.)

Besides the tales of insanity, it’s reassuring to get an idea of where the industry is heading.

Large scale meetups provide a nice general consensus of what works today, what is likely to work tomorrow, and more ‘what stopped working yesterday’ than you could ever hope to digest. A bit like a trip to the Warrior Forum.

The Adsimilis Dubai meetup was a great mix of affiliates: some just starting their journeys, others who have creamed several million in cold profit already.

There’s one concept that I think nearly everybody walked away agreeing:

Affiliate Marketing… is Dirrrrrty

Five years ago, ask an affiliate what he did for a living and he’d give you a blank stare.

“Well, um, I don’t actually like know, but it’s called affiliate marketing and it’s pretty sweet. Gotta run though bro, hookers waiting.”

Next year, ask the same question, and you’re likely to receive this canny slice of positioning:

“I’m a director at a performance marketing agency.”

There is a clear shift.

Nearly every affiliate I spoke to in Dubai was wrestling with the same dilemma:

How can we take this ugly twisted cousin of advertising — affiliate marketing — and rebrand it in to something that gives us greater opportunities moving forward?

Those megalomania days where affiliates took pride in loathing the status quo — the corporate desk monkeys — are no more. We’d rather pass through the wider advertising community undetected as mere ‘parts’ of respectable, 9-5 agencies. You know, guys who just might be up to something a little more honourable than lead scalping.

This can only be a good thing.

After all, if you want to build relationships with advertisers, you have to play the advertiser’s game.

And that means creating a perception that you are an agency built to last. Not just a lone wolf chancing his luck in his underpants.

Some takeaways from Dubai:

1. If you’re going to waste time on any social network, make it LinkedIn; network mercilessly.

Set up a company profile and fill it with recommendations from anybody who has ever worked for you.

Want to distort outside perspectives? Set up fake employee profiles.

There’s no doubt that scale matters at the negotiation table. The appearance of a full agency will get your foot in the door of the Advertiser’s World.

2. Refer to yourself as a “Director of Marketing” instead of CEO, President, etc.

Better to be a relevant department head than Top Dog with his fingers in too many pies.

3. Go one step better:

Actually build an agency.

Thoughts on Dubai

This was my first time in Dubai.

I’m still not sure what to make of the place.

As a committed Englishman, the concept of not being able to drink outside of hotels and restaurants — or indeed to be seen drunk in public — is, dare I say it, a trifle fucking troubling.

I struggle to see how a city can ‘meet in the middle’ with Western tourism ideals and still enforce the many punishable social offences that it does.

The reality is that if you are suitably rich, you can jump on a yacht, float a few meters off the coastline and commit just about any debauchery under the sun, all while remaining completely untouched by the law.

That, I find a little too pick and choosey for my liking.

But that’s not to take away from the immense standards of service, and general all-round friendliness.

Dubai is painfully hot in September, as I discovered on my first day:

Dubai Lessons

Thankfully Adsimilis laid on a coach to get us around the city.

I had an early flight so I didn’t descend on any Dubai nightclubs, but the restaurants and happy hours were great fun.

And more importantly, the people first class.

NUI: Networking Under The Influence

Read too many forums and you could be forgiven for tarring the affiliate community as a cold bunch.

Yet in person, there’s a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect that rarely translates online.

I guess networking is just a million times easier face-to-face.

That’s not to say you can’t make a prat out of yourself.

On the first night, whilst sipping Carlsberg in the merciless desert heat, the discussion turned to Voluum and ZeroPark.

I turned to a guy I hadn’t spoken to before and asked, “So, Voluum… you use it at all?”

(Note to single affiliates: A cracking chat-up line. Yours free of charge to abuse over the weekend.)

Said chap smiled in confusion, and pulled out his business card:

“Bartlomiej Dawidow
CTO and Founder of Voluum.”

Cue howls of laughter as I stood there, copping the flak, thinking “Well there goes my bloody discount.”

I also met Robert Gryn, CEO of CodeWise who took great enjoyment in asking repeatedly why I was crying over dinner. I wasn’t. I was sweating.

Fucking Dubai.

For the first three years of my affiliate career, I never took meetups seriously. And that was a big mistake.

While the speeches at this event were a good rallying call to action; inspirational even; it’s the one-on-one conversation with fellow pros that pays for your plane ticket.

When the booze kicks in, so does sincerity in the shit that falls out of our mouths.

The truth is that you can learn more from a drunk affiliate than you’ll ever learn from a lifetime of readings blogs like this*.

*Unless the writer is drunk, careless or stupid.

Thanks Adsimilis

adsimilis-meetup-dubai
(Photo jacked from Ian Fernando’s blog where you can read his write-up of the trip. There’s also a post by KJ Rocker)

It’s always a pleasure to catch up with the Adsimilis crew.

Cheers for keeping us all fed, watered and safely insulated from the wrath of Shariah Law.

Special thanks to Sean for smuggling a mini-bottle of Champers in to my ‘party bag’, which I promptly and rather indiscreetly popped against the hotel fucking ceiling, no less. And to Eleah for tranquillising me with Scotch before my panel.

London Adtech is just around the corner.

If you haven’t been before, I suggest you keep it that way.

Unless, of course, you enjoy the sterile wasteland of middle management blabber and beaming rent-a-pitches; most of whom think ‘performance marketing’ stands for who can shove the most coke in their face whilst still talking coherently about whatever marketing buzzword has captured the press pen and/or Twitter.

What’s that you say?

It’s all about ‘earned media’ now, is it?

Earn my balls, you gobshite.

Now that’s not to knock AdTech itself.

I’ve heard great things about the NYC show. But if you want to get value for your time in London, skip the show, avoid the snootiness, and head straight for dinner.

If anybody is in town and wants to meet up for a pint before or after, hit me up.

Otherwise, see you in Vegas at Affiliate Summit West!

Copyright © 2014.