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The Affiliate Lifestyle – Categories – Finch Sells

Category - The Affiliate Lifestyle

1
My First Month in Bangkok and Laser Eye Surgery
2
How Much Could I Pay You to Quit Affiliate Marketing?
3
Melting in Dubai at Adsimilis Meetup 2014

My First Month in Bangkok and Laser Eye Surgery

It’s one month since I moved to Thailand.

I haven’t posted for a while, so I thought I’d throw up a quick narcissistic update to confirm that, no, I haven’t been digested whole by a black widow ladyboy, and yes, I will be posting about affiliate marketing (the alleged theme of this blog) very soon.

In the meantime, here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve been up to since the STM London meetup.

(There’s a subtle clue in the title and header image.)

A Skirmish in London

Unfortunately, I only caught the first day of STM London.

A cracking day it was, though.

I’ve never seen so many affiliates in one building.

Don’t get me wrong. There are larger affiliate events held around the world. But you’ll find a conspicuously small percentage of actual affiliate marketers at most of them.

(And an abundance of hot air.)

One of the things I appreciate about STM gatherings is their ability to attract Internet Marketers who operate daily in the trenches. It’s a ‘clued in’ crowd; some might say cynical.

That’s good.

Anyway, the first night was a blast. It was a pleasure to meet so many new and old faces.

As for the rest of the week, that was a different kind of chaos.

While the rest of the affiliasphere was gallivanting merrily around old London town, I was playing a furious game of Sell, Chuck or Donate with my entire belongings.

It’s not easy condensing a house full of clutter in to one 20kg suitcase to be exported to your new home on the other side of the world.

It’s even more problematic with two very live dogs who are coming along for the ride.

Alas, we have made it to Bangkok, and we have spent the last month settling in to our new home.

Even the pups have adjusted to the searing heat:

Pups in pool

Before moving, people would ask me, “Why Thailand? What’s the appeal of Asia? Wait– you’re not one of ‘those’ guys, are you…?”

I would try to answer, “For the beaches! The food! The weather! The way of life!”

Well, I can’t be bothered to elaborate anymore.

My short answer? Because it’s fucking awesome out here, that’s why.

Seriously, Bangkok feels alive.

Like it’s crawling up your shorts alive.

For some guys on Soi Cowboy, it probably is.

The New Apartment

You get a lot of bang for your buck in Thailand.

I’m paying 60,000 baht (around £1275) for a 250 sqm, 3-bedroom apartment on Sukhumvit Soi 31.

It’s a great area with a ton of amazing restaurants at a stone’s throw. Plus, a pool and a gym downstairs.

Living area soi 31

apartment in Sukhumvit

viewonsoi31

Special thanks to Don at Bangkok Real Property for hooking us up with a fantastic place to live.

Our apartment is in the Japanese district.

I have a karaoke club directly across from me.

I suspect it will remain untouched.

Partly thanks to my lack of dulcet tones, and partly because I think it might also be a brothel.

You can never be sure. The Japanese are unpredictable — especially when they’re horny.

Karaoke and sushi bars aside, this is a really cool place to live.

Awesome coffee shops, amazing restaurants and 5 minutes access to Phrom Phong BTS, which is becoming one of the trendiest hubs of Bangkok, and not only because I’ve just moved in to it.

We’re also close to Craft: the second most handsomely stocked bar in Asia for ales and draft beers.

(I have no idea what the first is.)

It’s like a tiny beer festival nook in amongst the chaos of Sukhumvit.

Craft received a visit from the famous Daniel Thaiger burger van over Songkran.

Now, this burger… is kind of a big deal.

Daniel Thaiger burger

I didn’t know what the fuss was about until I ventured to an affiliate meet up organised by Nickycakes and a group of Internet Marketers in BKK.

Seriously…

I’m no food blogger, but I’ll tell you this much for free:

If the opportunity arises, grab a fucking Thaiger burger and stick it in your face.

You will not regret it.

They are sold every day at the Game Over Lounge, which is a sort of restaurant slash bar slash ultimate nerd station with pool tables, a pile of board games, giant screens of Fifa, and lots of western expats.

Very good fun.

Fixing My Eyes

It was over a particularly strong 8.7% IPA at Craft last Sunday that I decided to book an appointment for laser eye surgery.

It’s not the first time I’ve tried to have my eyes repaired by lasers.

I had a consultation back at a London clinic in 2010.

Back then, I couldn’t have the surgery because my eye pressure was too high.

Ironically, I ended up spending the money that was supposed to go towards LASIK on moving to Thailand the first time.

Anyway, why laser eye surgery?

I’m not against wearing glasses, but they have always been an inconvenience.

If you want to play any kind of sport, say snooker or golf, they are a big burden. Likewise, if you want to swim in the sea…you better pitch a flag where you left your towel.

Many people settle for contact lenses, but I have never been able to insert them properly. Mainly because I am the ultimate pansy when it comes to things touching my eye.

It’s not that it physically hurts. I just instinctively blink, or twitch, or refrain.

All of my attempts to wear contact lenses failed miserably, so last Sunday I decided to go for the jugular, get over the fear, and book in another LASIK appointment.

One week later and here I am, three days after surgery, with the crispest long distance vision I’ve ever had in my life.

It’s an amazing feeling.

I’ve had a few people ask me about the surgery itself, so here’s what happened.

LASIK in Bangkok: Consultation to Operation

My initial consultation was on Thursday at Bumrungrad Hospital.

I had my vital signs taken, plus a basic vision test and an eye pressure measurement (it was fine this time).

After meeting the doctor and discussing the risks (“In thousands of operations, we have never lost an eye” — I should fucking hope not!), it was off for more tests aimed at measuring peripheral vision, the strength of my cornea and the composition of my tears.

I then had my pupils dilated whilst the doctor disappeared for lunch.

It’s funny, but Thais don’t often differentiate between breakfast, lunch or dinner. They call all three meals ‘Eat’.

And they are pretty bloody adamant that you do not fuck with ‘Eat’.

Woe betide the poor bastard on life support as the clock strikes feeding hour.

This break gave me about 45 minutes to stumble downstairs in to Au Bon Pain for a motivational Whoopie Pie.

After one more eye examination — the most awkward of them all, where the doctor inserts a weird lid on to each eyeball — he gave me the sweet music to my ears.

“You are a good candidate for surgery.”

Followed by a strange Thai hard-sell, “You want it – yes or no?”

I was delighted just to have passed the tests, “When’s the earliest I can have it?”

“Tomorrow, 4pm.”

Well fuck a rubber duck, OK then.

I was relieved to get a slot in the next 24 hours.

It gave me no time to worry about it.

I went home with sore eyes, ate at Au Bon Pain for the third time in a day, then sloped off for my first Thai lesson.

Surgery Day

My girlfriend had work so I went in for the surgery alone, marginally bricking it.

My vital signs were taken again — blood pressure through the roof.

No surprise.

The doctor gave me one last examination then sent me outside with a cup of water and some Valium.

A gift from the Gods.

A few sips later and I was being hauled out of the building in a wheelchair and whizzed over to the 5th floor of the adjacent hospital.

This was news to me.

I thought the surgery took place in the clinic.

I wasn’t expecting to be wheeled past intensive care, asked to change in to full hospital garb (with an ill-fitting pair of pyjama bottoms that I had to hold up) and then parked in a busy ward.

The valium definitely took the edge off the experience.

I was transferred on to the trolley, and then rolled in to the operating room.

Very strange seeing the fluorescent hospital lights passing above you. Eerie, even.

I was pretty relaxed.

Relaxed, but still not happy to be there.

The nurse scrubbed my face down and applied a couple more eye drops.

The eye drops were local anaesthetics. They burned initially, but pretty quickly my eyes were numb and being drawn on.

The doctor then talked me through the procedure, which involves staring at a blinking red dot while the machine clamps around your eye, lifts a flap in the cornea and surgically corrects the retina.

You don’t feel pain, but you certainly feel the dull pressure of machinery at work.

It was uncomfortable and took a lot of fist clenching to keep my head steady and eyes from twitching. But ultimately, it was over pretty quickly.

5-10 minutes per eye, I’d guess?

When the laser went to work, I lost vision completely.

All I could see was a fuzzy haze of stars fluttering.

The doctor then cleaned up, ‘brushing’ each eye as my vision returned and the red dot reemerged — sharper, clearer.

Good signs, I thought.

As I was wheeled away from the machine, I didn’t want to open my eyes again — they were streaming and shell-shocked. But when I did, the operating theatre was in sharp focus.

The results were good, and the valium took over immediately.

I just laid there, let the nurses wheel me back, plastic cones taped over my face.

They gave me 30 minutes rest; took me to fetch my clothes.

Not easy getting dressed immediately after laser eye surgery.

Think my bare arse was parked in the sink at one point.

My girlfriend had arrived from work by this point.

I delegated all existential functions to her, kept my eyes closed and felt myself bundled in to a taxi home.

Post-Operation

A lot of people have asked about the initial 24 hours after surgery.

I was encouraged to go straight to bed when I got home (it was 8pm), and I did.

I had trouble sleeping from the mental exhaustion, and the awkward position required by plastic eye protectors taped to my face.

When I woke up, my eyes felt sticky and sore.

A bit like conjunctivitis.

Not painful, but again, I didn’t want to keep them open.

The discomfort went away within an hour or so.

I started looking around my apartment, looking outside, focusing on Terminal 21 in the distance.

And it was amazing.

Seeing clearly, for most people, is an afterthought.

Something you take for granted.

Not being able to has troubled me since I was 14 or 15, when I would struggle to follow notes on the school whiteboard.

I remember my vision declining rapidly through school, but being too self-conscious to get reading glasses. My grades would suffer. I’d dread the classes where I wasn’t sat at the front.

(Try algebra with bad eyesight.)

I would squint, and deny, and squint, and deny, and laugh about how bad my eyes were but never actually address it.

Well, it’s only April. But getting 20/20 vision for 80,000 baht (around £1700) is the soundest investment I’ll make this year.

Since the operation, my long distance vision has continued to sharpen to the point where it’s now as close to perfect as I could wish for.

The downside?

  • My near-distance vision is blurry, and will remain so while my muscles heal.
  • I have to wear sunglasses almost constantly for the next month.
  • I can’t wash my hair for 4 days (it’s a bit like Glastonbury, except I can’t get rat-arsed either).
  • I can’t use my pool for a month.
  • I have to apply eye drops, four times per day, for ten days.
  • I have to limit my time at the computer for the next two weeks.

Oh, and I have to wear these fucking things to bed for the next two weeks:

Bug eged Finch

A great look!

All in all though, zero regrets.

One of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

If you’re considering LASIK, I’d say… go for it.

There are a few hairy moments along the way, but nothing too bad, and the end result is life changing.

That’s what I’ve been up to.

Loving life in Thailand so far.

I’ll be back posting affiliate marketing bollocks in May.

Rayong sunset

On beach Rayong

Beach time Rayong

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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.