Affiliate Marketing Blog – Finch Sells – Page 2

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.

6 Reasons Why Campaigns Fail (And How to Fix Them)
How 1 Weird Table Keeps Me Motivated in the Morning
Dear Affiliate, Are You Made Out of Sheep?
Costco Catering Menu . language of desire . ebay customer service . how to fuck

6 Reasons Why Campaigns Fail (And How to Fix Them)

It’s 300 years since alchemy went out of fashion, but some affiliates still believe in the principle of a philosopher’s stone:

A magic formula that can turn very average materials in to gold.

It’s catnip for affiliates.

“What one technique can I inject in to my marketing for transformative results?”

Be careful with this mindset.

My view is that pragmatism will bring you closer to success.

I believe ‘getting it right’ is less a pursuit of magic formulas, and more a game of cutting out enough mistakes to understand simply what is.

In this post, I have listed six reasons why campaigns fail.

We’ll start with the very obvious…

#1. You bypass research and the process of idea elimination.

If you skip research, you will launch half-baked campaigns.

Research can be as simple as asking your account manager whether an offer has received traffic from other affiliates.

“Did it convert for them?”

If the answer is no, or more likely — a polite deflection, and a suggestion to run Offer Y instead — consider that an important insight.

Many campaigns avoid failure if subjected to criticism before your mind has raced away with the imaginary profits.

I often tell affiliates to stick to one traffic source.

A good reason for this is to develop your understanding of the platform’s ecosystem.

  • What is a good CTR?
  • What is an average CPM?
  • How high do I have to bid to get traffic?
  • How much traffic can I get in this country?

By focusing your efforts on a single platform, you will establish baseline performance metrics.

This information helps you eliminate dozens of campaign ideas where the maths are stacked against you.

How fast you eliminate bad ideas is a key factor of success.

Before launching any campaign: detach yourself as the author.

Imagine you are vetting it for a complete newbie.

Now, unleash the cynic inside.

Establish the key assumptions that must be proven true for the campaign to succeed.

“He’ll need a CTR of at least 30% to break even.”
“If he’s direct linking, he’ll need to convert at 3%.”
“He’ll need enough margin to bid $1.50 if he wants traffic in Germany.”

Then ask yourself:

What evidence do I have against this amateur bumberclart succeeding where others have failed?

If you can’t find any, steal his campaign.

#2. You run too many campaigns.

How many campaigns are you juggling today?

Dunbar’s number: By using the average human brain size and extrapolating from the results of primates, Dunbar proposed that humans can only comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships.



Eat a sack of my balls, Dunbar.

You think affiliates give a shit about brain capacity and human limits?

Most of us are too busy launching a blitzkrieg across seven new traffic sources on four different continents. Are we discomforted? — yes. But only by the factory line of ripped banners spilling out of our pants.

And that is the point.

Many of us are too busy to question the wisdom of our ways.

My bet is that for every 10 campaigns an affiliate tries to manage, he loses 50 stable relationships.

Resist the temptation!

Covering so much ground creates an illusion of progress — especially if you pick up some profitable campaigns along the way.

But having equity in so many territories makes all of them harder to defend.

You’ll spend the best part of your career extinguishing fires.

Before running any campaign, ask yourself: “What is the best possible outcome of working on this?”

If the answer can’t pay for your career all by itself, keep looking.

#3. You compete in a crowded market without a competitive advantage.

What distinguishes you from every other affiliate promoting the same offer?

What is the USP of your affiliate business?

If you don’t have a competitive advantage, you have something entirely less constructive: a headache.

Understand that larger, bitter-fought markets do not weaken over time.

Many affiliates stroll on to the battlefield thinking their energy and optimism is enough to disrupt rivals who have been scrapping fiercely in that market for many years.

Energy and optimism are great traits; but so is realism.

If you are entering a crowded market, the first step is to submit to your ignorance.

Resist any suggestion that you know what you’re doing, and simply observe:

  • Who are the major players?
  • How are they succeeding?
  • What are their strengths?
  • What are their weaknesses?
  • Is there any part of the existing market they are failing to serve?

Arbitrage is a brutal game.

The only way you survive is by carving out a competitive advantage.

That could be an exclusive offer, a higher payout, better technology, the ability to monetise non-converters…

What you don’t want to rely on is your ability to work harder than everybody else.

This advantage is only viable in the short-term.

It is blunted by time and success.

A good plan is to build structural advantages in to your business.

These are advantages that cannot be replicated while you sleep.

#4. You lack judgment with your blacklisting and whitelisting.

The heart of optimising a campaign is learning when to blacklist, when to whitelist, and when to shut up, stay patient, and do nothing.

This is something I talked about extensively in Premium Posts 2015.

Blacklist: to block placements, devices, ads or other targeting criteria from your campaign.

Blacklist example: is unprofitable so you blacklist it and prevent your ads from appearing there.

Whitelist: to allow a pre-defined list of placements, devices, carriers, etc.

Whitelist example: Nokia is your most profitable device, so you whitelist it and show your ads only to Nokia users.

Affiliates are notoriously trigger-happy with blacklisting and whitelisting.

Understandably so.

It’s their money at stake.

Larger companies, and brands, are embarrassingly slow.

“Hey, I need to set up a meeting with John from Marketing. It’s about our blacklist.”

“Shit, you mean we don’t have one?”
“Yes… next Friday is fine.”

Your optimisation philosophy will define the type of career you have as an affiliate.

Will you soar to dominate mass-markets with gentle use of blacklisting and offers that appeal to the mainstream?

Or will you whitelist your way to profit using obtuse targeting combinations that deliver healthy margins… at the price of scalability?

What I see all too often is affiliates choosing strategies that do not align with their goals.

My view is this:

The big money is made with a blacklisting approach.

The seed money, on a tight budget, is made with a whitelisting approach.

No money will be made if you adopt either approach before it is merited.

Mastering this feel for optimisation is essential for any marketer who wants to pay for advertising and remain solvent.

#5. You spend too much time looking for cheaper traffic.

I often get emails from affiliates asking if Traffic Source X is ‘cheap’ compared to another, or if $3.00 is a good CPM for Country Y.

My first response is obvious: “I don’t know. And until you run the campaign, neither will you.”

But I can see how this mindset is fed.

An affiliate enjoys some minor success on Platform A; makes some money, then gets driven out by rising click costs.

He turns his attention to Platform B.

“It’s 20% cheaper and converts just as well,” he says, “I’m back in business!”

This model — a form of cruising the advertising world for ever cheaper clicks — is not fit to sail.

It ignores the elephant hanging from the mast, which is this:

A competitor who can muscle you away from one platform, can do the same on another. And another. And another.

The solution is not to run towards cheaper traffic.

(Your competitors will find that too.)

You must build slack in to your campaigns instead.

That means increasing the revenue from your funnel to above the market average.

Until your campaign is inherently ‘better than average’, it will always be next in line to turn red.

Costs will not stay the same whilst mediocrity = profit.

The guy who has slack will pay more to take that profit away from you.

Stop looking for cheaper traffic.

Aim to squeeze more revenue from what you already have.

#6. You are competing fairly in a market that resembles the Wild West.

I hear industry veterans preaching that success is created by sacrifice and hard work.

Whilst this is partly true, the reality is somewhat less marketable.

Many of the top affiliates earn their money using techniques considered misleading, or disingenuous, or quite simply — a bannable offence from the platform where the advertising is placed.

What does this tell you?

It says that risk aversion and moral disposition may be slightly more relevant to success than often credited.

It says that behind many an affiliate’s Success Story lies an equally sizeable Confessions page.

I’m not here to lecture on whether this is right or wrong.

It is reality.

There is a clear correlation between how far an affiliate is willing to push his creative license, and how many opportunities are open to him in this industry.

For every step you take away from the grey lines of affiliate marketing, you will have to work that much harder to catch up.

Remember: the prices you pay are controlled by who can profit the most.

Who has the most slack?

It shouldn’t take a genius to see how the methods that work so well for some, may be untenable for others.

This bears consideration in your choice of niche.

Are you muddling through a market that has been cornered by wolves?

Barring a spectacular effort, you will find yourself out-gunned by affiliates who could not give a solitary shite what a ‘T&C’ stands for.

The only response is to focus on markets, platforms and specific offers that are well regulated.

(Don’t be surprised if you find yourself naturally gravitating away from CPA at this point.)


These 6 reasons for failure are a constant threat to your affiliate marketing career.

They are regular circuit-breakers.

They can strike at any time.

Knowing that there’s so much you can’t change about our industry, make it your mission to cut out the unforced errors instead.

I believe it’s true that while most campaigns do fail, it is not for a lack of creative spark.

(There’s very little true innovation in affiliate marketing.)

They fail because you commit a fundamental mistake.

The market punishes this mistake.

The market will continue to punish this mistake until you address it.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

By deconstructing the way that you work, by questioning the processes and beliefs that you routinely follow on auto-pilot, only then can you succeed in changing them.


  • 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 1 Weird Table Keeps Me Motivated in the Morning

Affiliates have a daily scorecard.

“Profit per day.”

There are many ways you can track your progress in this industry.

The one method that doesn’t lie is profit taken.

The problem with measuring profit per day is that it exposes your morning ritual to one of two negative emotions:

Complacency and impatience.

A good day can breed complacency.

A bad day can breed impatience.

Either emotion can have a ruinous effect on your decision making.

And that’s why we should look beyond daily performance metrics if we want to stay motivated.

One of the methods I use involves gamification and an imaginary league table.

Hold on tight. This could get a little geeky.

‘League of Affiliates’

At the start of every month, I create an imaginary league table of twenty affiliates and how much they will have earned by the end of the month.

I set prizes for finishing at the top.

Here is how the table might look for an intermediate, mid-level affiliate:

League of Affiliates

Make sure that first place is attainable, and not so far detached from your current affiliate level that it triggers a nose bleed to look at.

In this example, $30,000 profit represents ‘the perfect month’.

What I like to do is tie 1st place to a big reward.

Something that I really, really want, or somewhere that I’d really like to go.

It could be a dream holiday; a big purchase; the proverbial jackpot that keeps you ticking.

If you have debts, it could be ‘Pay down Credit Card X‘ or ‘Wipe X% off the mortgage‘.

The idea being that if in 30 days time you have equalled or bettered the John Doe affiliate in 1st place, you get to treat yourself.

And not feel guilty about it.

I also create rewards for positions 2-4.

These positions should represent very good performance relative to what you would normally expect.

The rewards might range from a fancy week-long holiday in second place, to dinner at a top restaurant in fourth place.

For beginner affiliates, lower targets and smaller rewards will suffice.

(If you really want to be ironic, you can set a 5th place reward as a trip to the underbelly of Europe on Thursday night — and a Liverpool shirt. That’ll fucking teach you for getting complacent.)

In one of my own recent tables, I rewarded a ‘top four’ finish with the laser eye surgery I’ve been wanting for five years.

It was a real incentive to keep pushing myself for 30 days.

At the bottom end of the table is your absolute minimum income target. Set it in 17th place — just above the relegation zone.

No rewards for surviving relegation, or for doing a Stoke.

(‘Stoke’ is what I call my pub quiz team in Bangkok, btw. Or it was until last week — when we became QPR.)

If you succeed in getting yourself relegated, I’m not sure of the best action.

Perhaps a fist in the balls and a change of niche.

How does this improve my motivation?

Next to my table in Excel I have a running tally of my total profit in the current month. This is divided by the number of days in the month so far.

I take my average profit per day, times it by 30, and the table will tell me what position I’m in… and what rewards (if any) I have to look forward to.

Every day is another chance to improve my position in the table.

Sound fucking crazy yet?


I hope so.

This form of gamification may seem obscene to some, but I get valuable motivation from it as a form of data/progress visualisation.

Without a running monthly tally, it’s tempting to ‘write off’ bad days, or reward yourself prematurely after one good day.

Most importantly, the table is directly tied to your goals.

I reset mine every month.

I set new rewards that I have to earn.

Visual representation of your performance is better than merely writing what you earned yesterday on a post-it note, soon to be buried by tomorrow’s avalanche of data.

It’s so easy to become obsessed with the last 24 hours… or the next 24 hours.

But a month is a loooooong time in affiliate marketing.

Use that knowledge to deflect any impatience or complacency that might be creeping in to your morning ritual.

Monthly targets
Imaginary competition
Real-time ‘keeping score’
Rewards you actually want
A healthy fire under the arse.

What unusual ways do you have to stay motivated?


  • 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:

Dear Affiliate, Are You Made Out of Sheep?

Are you an expendable affiliate?

Or a great affiliate?

Only two steps separate you from the best, or the worst:

Step 1: Deliver more revenue than you take in commission.
Step 2: Generate this commission at a profit.

An affiliate offers no value if he neglects Step 1.

His business goes broke if he neglects Step 2.

Every day, hundreds of new affiliates conspire to cheat this founding principle of performance marketing.

And every day, they fail.

Like a herd of hopeless sheep.

If you want to become an indispensable affiliate, there’s one thing you need to understand.

The Value Chain

Affiliates who are capable of delivering paying customers, whilst sustaining their own margins, are a dying breed.

Seriously, newbies…

The numbers are against you.

The majority of affiliates fail to turn any profit on the leads they generate.

They lose money.

A small percentage go on to turn some profit — for themselves.

(Their paymasters are unable to translate those leads in to sales, so the affiliate is cast aside and banned from sending any more. Forever the bridesmaid.)

A tiny percentage of affiliates succeed in producing profit for both parties.

They are the affiliates who understand the Value Chain.

This post is to explain how you can become one of the lucky guys.

The Problem with Optimising For Leads

There are three main models you can use to make money.

PPL — Get paid per lead delivered.
PPS — Get paid per sale delivered.
Revshare — Get a percentage of the customer’s lifetime spend.

By far the most popular model is PPL (pay-per-lead).


It’s simple.

And easier to optimise.

Leads are faster and cheaper to attract than paying customers.

Breaking the long list of 0s from Conversions adds some signal to your data.

Unfortunately, this signal is what leads so many affiliates astray.

A lead is only ever worth $0.00 — unless it becomes a sale.

Optimising… for LOLs?

Log in to Voluum, or Thrive, or whatever tracker you use.

What do you see?

You see your total revenue generated for the day, and hopefully some profit.

If you are promoting PPL offers, this information is purely theoretical.

But that’s not how most of us treat it.

We treat conversion events as gospel.

They are not merely ‘leads’ to us.

They are hefty transactions where value was added, our methods were vindicated, and everybody got a little richer.

Except that’s rarely what happens.

And too often our leads are about as valuable as a fart in the Hadron Collider.

The truth is…

A business model focused on optimising for leads will only last as long as you can find new suckers to sell them to.

“But Finch! A birdie told me my lead quality is awesome! The advertiser wants more leads!”

Whilst this is great, uplifting news for any affiliate to hear — it shouldn’t be such a surprise.

It certainly shouldn’t be the Email of Reckoning that it is for so many.

You should know exactly how many sales you are delivering.

Because it should be the only campaign variable that makes a difference to every single decision you make.

You have to measure sales.

(I’m afraid this may appear comical advice to anybody but affiliate marketers and Silicon Valley.)

Sales has to be the primary metric that governs how you optimise your campaigns.

That banner with the insane CTR and twice as many leads as your next best creative?

It could be horse shit.

If it doesn’t lead to sales, it’s even worse.

That placement where you’re pausing after 24 hours at a -50% loss?

It could be gold.

A lead priced at $2 might actually be worth $XXX — if it produces a sale.

Most affiliates swear by their data, without asking:


If that data reveals thousands of conversions with a lifetime value of $0.00, and no way of tracking the sales, then you have to question what exactly you are truly ‘optimising’.

(Because it sounds like choosing whether you want to face left or right, whilst buried firmly in the recess of your own dark arsehole.)

Let me ask you:

  • Are you busy optimising your landing page for more leads — instead of better leads?
  • Are you obsessed with attracting a higher CTR to your banner — instead of more paying customers?
  • Do you cull placements because they have a higher cost-per-lead, regardless of any sales they might produce?

If you answered YES:

How will you ever know that your To Do list is actually worth doing?

Let’s go back to basics.

Step 1: Deliver more revenue than you take in commission.

You can’t measure an increase in revenue if your currency is the theoretical value of a lead.

I’m stating the obvious, but acting on this can have a profound effect on your bottom line.

If nothing else, you will escape the herd.

The irony is that Step 2 — Generate this commission at a profit — will become a lot clearer once you start measuring the correct data.

And so will the sense of control you have over your work.


  • 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:

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