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General Affiliate Marketing – Categories – Finch Sells

Category - General Affiliate Marketing

1
STM London & My Plans For March
2
How to Turn $5,000 in to an Affiliate Business
3
5 Things I Would Do If I Were Starting Affiliate Marketing Today

STM London & My Plans For March

In case you haven’t heard, STM Forum is holding a massive affiliate meetup in London next month.

Somebody better call 8 Northumberland Avenue ahead of time — because to the unsuspecting waiter, bar man, or miscellaneous lost Japanese tourist, it’s going to be raining vast quantities of sausage from March 9th.

That’s the opening night of a three day networking marathon that brings together some of the biggest names in our industry.

STM has slapped together a fantastic lineup of speakers, many of which you will recognise from the forum, including:

  • Lorenzo Green (Mr Green)
  • Jordan (stackman)
  • Besmir (bbrock32)
  • Caurmen
  • Dr David Savory (Zeno)
  • Josh Mayne (Maynzie)
  • CMdeal
  • Alexander Tsatkin (The Angry Russian)
  • Tim Tetra (Timtetra)
  • Benjamin Yong (Kokofai)
  • Jim Stark (Jim)
  • Charles Ngo (Dr_Ngo)
  • John Alanis (Johna5150)
  • Alex Willemsen (Scitox)
  • Lars Kroijer (Kroijer)
  • Christian Weselak (Ratalliance)
  • Robert Gryn (Zeropark)
  • Christina Szekeres (FBQueen)
  • Rohail Rizvi (Rohail)
  • Chris Hanage (Papaya Mobile sponsor speaker)
  • An Advidi sponsor speaker TBA

That is a lot of authority in the affiliate space.

Most of these speakers are closely intertwined with the daily struggles of affiliate marketers.

(Unlike some of the speaking lists you see at other conferences, where most of the ‘authorities’ wouldn’t know the language of affiliate marketers if it slapped them square in the jubblies.)

The Schedule

You can see the full schedule of events here, but I’ll summarise the best bits and some important notes:

Monday, March 9th

Monday’s shenanigans are open to everybody, both STM members and the general public. You need to register online before attending.

Registration is free.

After registering, collect your pass between 12pm-4pm on Monday from 8 Northumberland Avenue, WC2N 5BY. You’ll need it for all events.

The highlights of Monday include 3 hours of speeches from industry veterans, and an opening party hosted by AppFlood at Forge Bar near Cannon Street.

I’ll definitely be attending on Monday, so if you want to meet up for a drink (but don’t have STM membership), drop me an email or track me down at the event.

Tuesday, March 10th

Tuesday is for STM members only.

Not a member? Sign up now.

Voluum will be kicking off a networking brunch between 10am and 1pm at the Prince Albert Suite near Regent’s Park.

This sounds pretty interesting.

Attendees will be divided in to smaller groups depending on the type of traffic sources and verticals they run.

Personally, I can’t wait to see what the ‘First Free Find & Fuck’ table looks like…

In the evening, there will be more speeches at 8 Northumberland Avenue, as well as the inaugural STM Awards.

This blog has somehow wrangled a nomination in the Blog of the Year category, despite about five new posts.

There are some excellent nominees in the ‘Success Story of the Year’ category, which will go to the affiliate who has made the most emphatic progress, as seen on the STM Forum. If you need a rocket lit under your arse, I suggest you sign up and read the stories of the nominees.

They are the true stars of the STM brand.

You will find guys who have gone from zero to $XX,XXX/month in profit. And their progress can be followed, in full, on STM.

Of course, you can meet these affiliates in person.

By coming to the event.

Adsimilis will cap the Tuesday by hosting a Games Night at All Star Lanes in Bayswater.

If you are a dab hand at foosball, bowling or Xbox, you can come along and shame your fellow peers.

Wednesday, March 11th

Wednesday is also for STM members only.

The morning starts with paintball hosted by Avazu.

Just reading the description — “We have the ultimate STM twist for this paintball experience but we can’t tell you anything else” — I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds pretty bloody ominous.

  • Guns loaded with acai berries?
  • Capture the laptop (full of campaigns)?
  • Team Affiliate vs. The FTC?

The last time I indulged in paintball, I got — what’s that quaint British term? — oh yeah, absolutely fucking smashed.

I almost ended up on the motorway after attempting my best Rambo impression with less than 20/20 vision and a fundamental ignorance of the ‘Out of Bounds’ signs.

From 8pm onwards, a legion of bruised, battered and hungover affiliates will be tapping up the Core Bar on Queen Street.

Wednesday’s grand closing party is sponsored by Advidi and has an equally ominous 1990s theme.

Come on, suckers.

Who’s gonna bite the bullet and go Full Geri?

Geri 1990s

It’s your last chance to drunkenly extract campaigns network with the best in the industry.

STM is known for putting on the wildest affiliate shows in town.

If you are in London — or willing to travel — this is going to be a HUGE three days that will inspire, motivate and hopefully kickstart your campaigns to the next level.

Sign up to STM today, and register for the event!

Special kudos to the sponsors:

My Plans For March

This blog has been quiet recently. I’ve had to prioritise my business with a focus on training employees, at the expense of splurging my views to you cretins.

Life is busy.

I’m moving to Thailand with my girlfriend on March 14th.

She’s already secured a job in Thailand, and the final arrangements have been made for us to say Au Revoir to the Big Smoke.

We’re counting down the days with a combination of excitement and dread.

  • The excitement of starting a new life in Asia
  • The dread of dealing with final ‘logistics’ while the calendar closes like a spiked ceiling in the Temple of Doom.

Who am I kidding?

It’s mostly excitement.

I have a house full of belongings to shift:

Furniture, appliances, a huge pile of books… a Lazy Spa…

Is there such a thing as owning too much crap? I think so.

I was going to blow a fortune putting my stuff in storage, and shipping over my office essentials — but fuck it, why bother?

There’s a good saying: “The more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you.”

The only thing I’m taking to Thailand is my clothes — and my dogs (back to their homeland, the expensive little arseclarts).

Everything else is getting sold, donated to charity, or trashed.

Of course, ‘dealing with everything else’, as anybody who has moved house will attest, is a great aphrodisiac… for shitting your pants.

It will be worth it in about 3 weeks!

I can’t wait to touch down in Bangkok.

RECOMMENDED THIS WEEK:

  • In case you missed it, my brand new 2015 edition of Premium Posts is available now. Need a recipe for affiliate success in 2015? You won’t find a single resource that covers as much ground as this. 375 pages of my very best tips and strategies.
  • The Premium Posts 2015 Edition is sponsored by Adsimilis. You know all about Adsims, right? They are one of the best CPA networks in the business. If you run any kind of mobile, dating or sweepstakes… then sign up an affiliate account, ca-ching.

P.S. You can read 40 pages of Premium Posts 2015 for FREE by opting in to my monthly newsletter below:

How to Turn $5,000 in to an Affiliate Business

Here’s an interesting question I received from a reader:

Say you are starting affiliate marketing today with a $5,000 budget — what’s the best way to turn this type of budget in to a long-term affiliate business? And how long would it take?

I see this dilemma often.

“I have XXXX in the bank. My skills are A, B and C. Please tell me how to turn the above in to an affiliate machine that prints money.”

The obvious answer is that there is no obvious answer. But I don’t think many people are satisfied with that, so let’s try and piece together some rough strategies you could follow.

$5,000 is a pretty decent budget.

First of all, some key assumptions:

#1. The $5,000 has to be completely disposable.

If you are intending to draw down the $5,000 to cover living expenses, or to rely on as savings, then it isn’t a genuine budget. It’s a package with emotional strings attached.

It’s better to start with a $1,000 budget that you can afford to lose, rather than $5,000 that you’ve mentally invested elsewhere.

#2. Your living expenses are paid for until the affiliate business has succeeded.

$5,000 is a nice amount for testing campaigns, but it’s not enough cash to run a successful long-term affiliate business.

We’d have to assume that your living expenses are covered by a secondary income and that you won’t be drawing down any profits until you have a successful business in place.

Where to Start?

Let’s run through some of the popular affiliate verticals, as well as some other well known money-making strategies.

The question here being, “Which strategies are suitable for newbie affiliates with $5,000 to burn?”

‘Go Mobile’?

When newbies ask for guidance, what’s the recurring piece of advice you hear?

“It’s 2015, buddy. Time to go mobile…”

Mobile offers are all the rage these days.

That’s nice, but it’s pretty bloody useless as career advice.

When was the last time you heard an affiliate say, “There’s money in Desktop”?

The thing is, there is money in traditional web-based ‘desktop’ offers — but nobody phrases it like that because to do so would be to completely miss the point.

‘Going mobile’ is a term used by many affiliates seeking the next big trend, but until you can actually pinpoint what market you plan to serve, it’s the equivalent of a Walmart Wannabe deciding to ‘go retail’.

There are four main models we can attack in mobile marketing:

  • App installs
  • Pin submits
  • Mobile lead gen
  • Pay-per-call

For somebody with a $5,000 budget, this is how I would rank them:

1. App installs — These have low payouts (cheaper testing), with simple conversion flows, and they are available in many different markets including some that are unsaturated. You can test these offers cost-effectively. A good choice.

2. Pay-per-call — Second best bet. As I explained in Premium Posts 2015, it’s difficult to make a huge loss promoting pay-per-call on AdWords and Bing. The metrics are simple. You can cut your losses fast. There’s much more signal in the data with these offers.

3. Mobile lead gen — Mobile lead gen offers pose the same challenge as those on the web, although quality issues can be difficult to predict. This isn’t a bad starting point, but it’s probably not the best while advertisers are still coming to terms with monetising mobile users.

4. Pin submits — By far the toughest nut to crack on a $5,000 budget. Pin submits generally have higher payouts and higher testing costs. Finding a winning formula can be obtuse, to say the very least. You are tied to mobile carriers, and they are notoriously up-and-down. I recommend you avoid them on this budget.

Once you decide to ‘go mobile’ and focus your efforts on one of these four models, there’s still more work to do.

Ideally you should be narrowing your search to a single market or region (preferably one that isn’t saturated), and a single vertical that operates under your chosen model.

For example, you could choose to focus on:

  • App installs > Utility apps > South East Asia.
  • App installs > Gaming apps > DACH
  • Mobile lead gen > Dating offers > AU/NZ.

In short, one does not simply decide to ‘go mobile’ on a $5,000 budget and live to refresh his stats happily.

You need a strategy that cuts much deeper than simply: “Hey, you know what? I’m sick of desktops. All these bastards using their mobiles? I shall convert them starting Monday.”

CONVERT THEM TO WHAT?

Facebook

To succeed on Facebook in 2015, most affiliates rely on three structural advantages:

  • Excellent cloaking.
  • Access to accounts (infrastructure).
  • Cashflow to hit a winner hard while it lasts.

$5,000 doesn’t buy you even one of the above.

It’s not a traffic source I can recommend to newbies.

Adult Dating

Networks like TrafficJunky, ExoClick and TrafficForce provide easy access to the big money adult dating vertical.

It’s a popular starting point for newbie affiliates, probably because so much of the vertical is, err, graspable at first sight.

In truth, adult dating traffic has become so fragmented that you’d do well to blow through $5,000 without learning a lot along the way.

That’s unless you were to do something stupid — like place top bids on Xhamster in the United States.

The problem most affiliates have isn’t losing money, it’s not making money. There’s a huge plateau of adult affiliates stuck perennially at break even.

If you want to grow your $5,000, you’ll have to focus on out-working the competition by scalping pockets of profit that are ignored by larger advertisers.

Or you can tackle Tier 3 countries where low volume still trades for a decent ROI.

Avoid advertising to Tier 1 countries with a $5,000 budget.

That’s not to say you can’t strike success, but the ROI will be much lower than if you execute the same strategy on a less saturated market.

PPV

Pay-per-view networks (PPV) exploded back in 2009 and 2010.

They have declined in popularity since then.

HOW IT WORKS: PPV networks serve ads to users who have installed third party software (usually a toolbar) on their computers. The advertiser can target users based on their current browsing activity. For example if you were browsing Pets.com, I could target you with a pop-up saying, “HI PETS LOVER, PLEASE LIKE & SHARE MY DOG.” In reality… I probably wouldn’t do this.

Even TrafficVance, the crème de la crème of PPV sources, just recently ditched its long standing requirement that new members must have a referral in to the network. It’s a pretty open playing field these days.

PPV networks may offer a shrinking audience, but that audience is large enough to make good money from.

Some of my highest ROI campaigns in 2014 came from combining PPV traffic with pay-per-call offers, often under dubious circumstances (See Premium Posts 2015).

The precise nature of the targeting means you can easily find small volume campaigns with high ROI that are perfect for growing capital and cutting your teeth in the business.

On a budget of $5,000, PPV is a good choice.

Plentyoffish (POF)

Another traffic source that was massively popular 2-3 years ago.

It’s unlikely you’ll stumble in to the same $1000/day campaigns that were bread and butter back then, but POF remains a good choice for high ROI, low risk profiteering.

The amount of targeting available means that you are unlikely to miss the mark so badly that you’d blow through a $5,000 budget.

I just read a success story on STM of a guy who only started on POF in October 2014, with no formal experience in ‘web stuff’.

He’s now making a comfortable $500/day profit, whilst building out a team of employees to help him scale.

His budget getting started? $4,000.

Whilst these success stories are reasonably common in affiliate marketing, that does not mean that ‘anybody can do it’.

When you read through the actual follow along, it’s clear that his success = application, hard work and the ability to think like an affiliate.

In short, the guy earned his success.

As for POF?

There’s always money in the—

Pops and Redirects

If you have success with broadly targeted PPV campaigns, the natural progression is to move on to pop and redirect traffic.

Here you get access to a lot more volume because the ad is triggered by JavaScript (or a redirect) rather than third party software.

I had some major successes with pop traffic in 2014.

You can get started on a tiny budget using networks like PopAds, PopCash or AdonNetwork.

One thing to note is that while every other traffic source mentioned here (except PPV) can be targeted on shared hosting, you would be a bloody fool to try your luck with pops or redirects whilst HostGatoring on your technology.

Your server has to be lightning fast and able to deal with hundreds of page loads per minute. This will eat up some of your initial $5,000 budget.

Pop traffic comes with a big learning curve, but redirect networks like ZeroPark are easy for newbies to master — and they have good targeting options.

Again, a good choice for the mid-range budget.

Invest in Web Assets

The guy who sent me this $5,000 question already had a rough idea of how he wanted to invest the money.

He wanted to buy a site that he saw on Flippa, in an industry that he was familiar with.

The site was producing around $400-$600 revenue per month, and it was selling for $4500+.

There aren’t many businesses you can buy that pay for themselves within 10 months (and a suspiciously high percentage of them find their way on to Flippa).

That is always my concern with sites that are put up for sale.

The most important thing you can find out is why sell?

If you are looking to invest $5,000 in to an existing website or app, the golden rule is to know your market better than the existing owner.

I think many wannabe site flippers overestimate growth potential whilst dramatically underestimating the work that would be required to break the plateau and flip at a profit.

If you want to do this well, you have to almost reverse the equation and greet every site-for-sale with cynicism.

In this case, I told the guy to go right ahead.

He said he knew the industry and saw an opportunity.

Well, that is a simple recipe for success that has no comeback from a crusty old affiliate like myself.

Good luck to him.

Launch Own Product

Can you design, create, launch and market your own product — one that turns in to a sustainable long-term business — for $5,000?

Yes, you can.

If you understand an industry and spot an opportunity.

A lot of affiliates try to execute this strategy and get it tits-up, for one of four reasons:

  1. They don’t actually understand their chosen industry.
  2. The opportunity that exists doesn’t translate in to paying customers. (They misinterpret the non-committal “Sounds like a good idea“)

  3. The market simply doesn’t scale in to a big money business, either in the size of the transaction, or the number of paying customers.

  4. The product never reaches the market.

My advice, before you spend $5,000 on a product or website that isn’t proven to work:

Design just the sales page, then run a PPC campaign to test that people are willing to buy.

You don’t need to have an actual product.

Only the sales page.

Verify that real-life customers are willing to read your pitch, and then click the buy button at the end of it.

Once they click to buy, you can announce — COMING XXX 2015 — and place them in to a mailing list.

And then build your product.

You can do this several times on a $5,000 budget until you find a product that people are actually willing to pay for.

Managing Cashflow and Scaling

If you decide to focus on arbitrage — buying traffic, sending it to affiliate offers — then it’s important to manage your cash carefully.

A budget of $5,000 offers some slack, but the reality is that industry margins are shrinking.

$5,000 won’t go as far as it used to.

Your first objective must be to increase the amount of capital you have at your disposal.

Back in the days where 100% ROI was second nature, you could turn $5,000 in to $10,000 in the space of a week.

It only took 3-4 weeks of concentrated scaling and suddenly affiliates had budgets where previously they only had their parent’s money.

These days, if a newbie does very well and secures a 20-30% profit margin, on weekly payments, whilst utilising his entire $5,000 budget, he can expect to add $1,000 to it each week.

One of the reasons why it’s so important that you have a secondary income outside affiliate marketing is that you want to keep any profits inside your business.

Turn $5,000 in to $6,000.
Turn $6,000 in to $7,200.
Turn $7,200 in to $8,640.

Money in the bank is so important for affiliates.

Not least because you will experience down times, but also because a bank balance heading in the right direction is a massive psychological boost when it comes to exploring new traffic sources and investing in data.

Two of the big mistakes you can make at this stage are:

1. Spreading your commission across too many networks.

It’s better to work with one network that pays you weekly, rather than three networks that pay you monthly.

To get paid weekly, you usually need to send at least $1,000 in commission for that period.

Working with multiple networks will spread your money in too many different directions and increase the time it takes you to bank it and reinvest.

2. Spreading your ad funds across too many traffic sources.

I’ve lost count of how many traffic sources I have sitting there with unused ad funds.

Just last week I stumbled across a PPV network I haven’t used since 2011 holding $750.

Needless to say, if you are sitting on a $5,000 budget, you have to make that money work for you.

Avoid spraying payments all over the place.

Inject those dollars in to the campaigns with the highest ROI.

ROI = GROWTH

If you get lucky and have Campaign A producing a 30% ROI, vs. Campaign B producing a 50% ROI — you should be pausing Campaign A and loading the funds in to Campaign B to maximise your return and capital growth.

When I hear stories of affiliates spunking through their monthly budget in 3 days, I can’t help but think:

“Why the hell were you bidding so high?”

If you know that you have $X to get you through the next 30 days, and you have a profitable campaign that is rapidly guzzling the funds, then your next step should be:

1. Lower bids to decrease volume (and raise ROI).

or…

2. Day-part aggressively to run only at the most profitable hours (once again, raising ROI).

What you shouldn’t do is treat all profitable campaigns the same.

Cash is king.

Whatever strategy gets you more of it, banked quickly, is where your attention should lie.

(And yes, for many aspiring affiliates, this may be your existing day jobs!)

In Conclusion…

I know most affiliates aspire to run gigantic campaigns that print money by the hour.

Hey, it’s nice to be ambitious.

But unless you have the budget to match, you are going to have to get practical and hustle your way out of the basement.

With $5,000 in your pocket, it’s about learning to walk before you can run.

In that sense, there is no use in copying super affiliates.

They are on a different playing field.

For further reading, here are 5 things I would do if I was starting affiliate marketing today.

If any of you have managed to turn $5,000 in to a well-oiled money printing machine (and I know many of you have), feel free to explain your strategy below!

RECOMMENDED THIS WEEK:

  • In case you missed it, my brand new 2015 edition of Premium Posts is available now. Need a recipe for affiliate success in 2015? You won’t find a single resource that covers as much ground as this. 375 pages of my very best tips and strategies.
  • The Premium Posts 2015 Edition is sponsored by Adsimilis. You know all about Adsims, right? They are one of the best CPA networks in the business. If you run any kind of mobile, dating or sweepstakes… then sign up an affiliate account, ca-ching.

P.S. You can read 40 pages of Premium Posts 2015 for FREE by opting in to my monthly newsletter below:

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.

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