Investing For The Future With Affiliate Marketing

It seems funny to think that I’ve only been a full-time affiliate marketer for six months – and I’m already planning what to do next. There will probably be a large number of you who think that jacking in the day job to work from home is the ultimate retirement. The chance to put your feet up, bust out the cocktails and wake up when the sun goes down.

The problem, of course, is that affiliate marketing happens to be one of the most volatile industries to be making a living in. At any point your campaigns could go to bust, your traffic source could eject you, or an inexplicable server downtime could cost you thousands of dollars. My ex girlfriend once told me that I’d been talking to her about affiliate marketing in my sleep. Besides bowing my head in shame at the obvious, I was quite shaken at how quickly this industry has enveloped my day-to-day thoughts, concerns and ambitions.

As much as I love what I do, I’m slightly paranoid about the long term prospects of it all. Can any of us honestly say that those $35 commissions are going to be there in 15 or 20 years time? The industry will evolve and so will the techniques that we use to reach the millions of users online. But that in itself is a constant challenge. No matter how much money you’re making today, the Internet is transforming at such a rate that you always have to be learning. Or you’ll get left behind.

Take the art of SEO as an example. I know guys who work every day on building long term websites that rank well in Google. If that’s not hanging your balls on the line, I don’t know what is. Your riches and fortunes are hinged on some Google suit deciding not to tweak the algorithm in somebody else’s favour. I would not want to be sitting there knowing that everything I have is prospering in a virtual universe that could change tomorrow and completely forget me.

I think enough affiliates have been banned from Google and Facebook for me to assume you already know the dangers of being a one traffic source wonder.

Affiliate marketing is a game of cat and mouse. The mouse being very rich, and the cat being a Warrior Forum sized stampede of nobodies. Every last one of them would enjoy your riches and it’s up to you to stay one step ahead. If you’re sitting at your desk and thinking it’ll only take one lucky break, one lucky campaign, to turn your life on its head – well, you’re wrong.

Try one lucky campaign, every week, for the rest of your working life.

That is the reality for marketers who intend to make hay forever as affiliates. Personally, I’m working hard now to provide greater opportunities for my future. I see affiliate marketing as the launch pad to something else, something better, something that doesn’t have a stinging acai aftertaste. If you’re not investing in your future, you’re setting up your eventual fall. Nobody’s luck lasts forever – especially for an affiliate.

Security is the word that springs to mind when I consider what I’m trying to achieve. And that’s ironic because most affiliates who’ve achieved great things have had to risk it all at some point. I think the mass banning of Adwords accounts back in the summer acted as my warning. Since then there hasn’t been a day where I haven’t forced myself to think several steps ahead.

It’s very easy to watch a successful campaign rake in several thousands of dollars. But you should assume that the offer caps tonight. What’s your next move? Say some Wickedfire dick has outed your campaign and the whole world can see what’s been making you money. Your work ethic needs to be such that they’re only talking about the weaker split test. If you’re constantly evolving and seeking out better results, you’ll find them before your competition catches you.

I had a couple of emails after my last post about “outing” successful Facebook techniques. It’s never my intention to harm anybody else’s campaigns, and it’s true that the tactics I talked about have been good to me over the last few months. But do you really think I’m so stupid to post how-to guides on what’s currently making me money? This is the big problem with affiliate marketing blogs and why you shouldn’t be reading them all day every day. By all means go ahead and teach a bum everything they know, but don’t teach them everything you know. Most affiliate bloggers are very good at that. In fact, they don’t teach shit to begin with.

What I’m trying to say is that to enjoy long term success as an affiliate, you simply have to learn as much today as you did yesterday. To do that, you need to be humble (under the surface), willing to learn from your mistakes and constantly seeking improvement.

If you check out my profile, you’ll see a quote that I believed in when I started this blog:

“Entrepreneurs live for a few years the way most people won’t so they can live the rest of their life like most people can’t.”

Maybe I’m still living those few years, but I don’t believe it anymore. If you truly have the dedication to achieve something, the desire to improve your business, you’ll never start working less. And that’s a good thing because determination, drive and commitment are qualities that some people will never dream of having until the sirens of failure are ringing in their ears.

You might work smartly. You might move away from the daily grind that contributes to so much stress – but will there ever be less work? Less on your mind? I don’t think so. When I look back and ask myself “when was the last time I had nothing to worry about?” I think my answer is when I was sitting at my day job. That’s the truth. If you take the solo road, you are going to carry a burden. You might not feel it through the good times, but it’s waiting to reveal itself to you when shit gets hairy.

About the author

Finch
Finch

A 29 year old high school dropout (slash academic failure) who sold his soul to make money from the Internet. This blog follows the successes, fuck-ups and ball gags of my career in affiliate marketing.

14 Comments

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  • Meh.

    If you’re bored as an aff, you can launch your own offer. Go to China, buy something at $1 and offer it at $5.95 S/H trial with a $50/mth rebill and a $40 payout.

    You got freaking Europe as your oyster, man.
    What the hell.

    Get back to work!

  • I think the most important thing when you’re somewhat successful is managing the money you make. Spread your risks through different campaigns, sure, but also invest in non-affiliate related projects. Most importantly, don’t spend the money on crap until you’re rich enough to never have to worry about security again. Easier said than done though, there’s a lot of temptations out there 🙂

  • Let the ones that live in the spur-of-the-moment suffer and we who plan for the future thrive! Always planning for the what’s next and never saying where you going.
    Give advice but don’t advise how to do it.

  • Epic. One thing being an affiliate marketer can teach though is that there is always opportunity out there. You can always out hustle someone else and get some of the pie. If anything, this life style breeds life long entrepreneurs. I don’t think I can ever have a job again where I’m not the boss.

  • yes, another great post. youre right about investing in things or figuring out the long-term moves. this game is so up and down. excellent quote too

  • Great post. I’ve heard stories of people who use to net a million or so a year promoting ringtones via Adwords and are now looking for a job.

    Affiliate marketing is high risk, high reward. You enjoy the reward, but it is crucial to have a backup plan or be building on something else. I’ve told numerous people I’d rather have 10 campaigns netting me $100 each than 1 netting me $10K a day.

  • The best thing to do is create/source your own products.

    Benefit: higher margin + affiliate marketing skills = destroy competition

    Downsides: takes longer to set up, sourcing products, setting up site, cc processing etc

    One of the problems with AM, is the bigger your adspend gets, the more ‘glued’ to your computer you need to be.

    I’ll write a blog post soon on how to source products from Asia, and not appear like a newbie.

  • Damn, this just makes me depressed. Every time I think about aff marketing I get excited..right now I’m working on the SEO route of it, but see PPC in my future. Is the future really this grim for SEO/PPC/media buying. Some days I just don’t know what to do…

  • Easily one of the best posts I’ve ever read Finch. I was strictly a publisher once myself and I saw/felt/anticipated much of what you were saying and that was when I really started to diversify. Not so much out of the industry in a whole but in different branches from within.

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