Finding The Entrepreneurial Spirit To Succeed

One of the comments posted on my piece about Investing In The Future With Affiliate Marketing has gotten me thinking recently.

It was Conv3rsion who made the comment:

“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.”

Life long entrepreneurism.

That’s pretty much what this game is about if you plan on remaining an affiliate until retirement. But it also got me thinking whether all affiliates actually possess the entrepreneurism streak that’s required to succeed. And is that what separates the top earners from those chasing the coat tails of more successful affiliates?

One of the things that I always stress very heavily to people looking to jack in the day job is that affiliate marketing is a career change – not a retirement plan.

It doesn’t matter how many successful campaigns you have up and running. You could be earning 10K a day and it still doesn’t mean you’re prepared for life as a full time affiliate marketer. Not unless you possess the mindset that will keep you ahead of the pack.

I like to look at my current situation in affiliate marketing using tomorrow’s stats as a marker.

Zero clicks. Zero conversions. Zero profit.

It’s simply no good to assume that your success today will see you through to tomorrow. You have to be constantly visualizing those zero columns and using it as the incentive to find new ways to build your income.

When I quit my day job, I made what had to be one of the most reckless decisions of all time. All of my earnings were wrapped up in two traffic sources stretching across a handful of offers. Within weeks of going full-time, those traffic sources had fallen out on me and I’d been forced back to the drawing board. Many affiliates would go up in flames at this point and never produce another profitable campaign.

So one of the first things I had to do as a full-time affiliate was stare at a list of zero columns. To rack my brain for new opportunities, new ideas, new ways to pay the bills. I’ve managed to rebuild my business on much sturdier legs now that I’ve felt the true vulnerability of the industry. But Conv3rsion is right with his comment – one of the qualities that distinguishes successful affiliates is the ability to seize on opportunity and grab success. If you want to quit the day job and never go back to it, you really need to find that entrepreneurial spirit.

How many affiliates are suffering from banner blindness? I say that with tongue in cheek, but it’s a genuine question.

If you ask an affiliate where he makes his money, you’ll probably get an answer along the lines of Adwords, Facebook, media buys or PPV. Too many affiliates do their research, learn about these well known methods of making money, and draw a line under them. That’s all they want to know about. But if you’re truly in possession of an entrepreneurial streak, you don’t stop there. You should be using your eyes and ears.

Opportunity is everywhere on the web. How many times have you been browsing a site, seen an Ad that caught your eye, written it off as a media buy and not even bothered to check the bottom of the page for an “Advertising” link?

The reality is that a smarter guy was there before you. He saw an opportunity to reach a demographic, jumped on it, and now you’re sitting nodding your head in retarded approval.

Spending so much time on the web, I see dozens of different ways to generate income every single day. I don’t always see immediate use in them for myself, but it doesn’t stop me bookmarking the pages, taking some notes and storing them in the memory bank for later use.

Here’s a tip. You never know what you’re going to be working on tomorrow. So pay attention to great marketing and keep on learning. It might just give you a headstart over your equally retarded competition when it comes to brainstorming your next campaign.

Just because a piece of great marketing doesn’t fit in nicely with your niche, that’s no reason to turn a blind eye. This is what I call banner blindness for affiliates. The ability to gloss over incredibly profitable opportunities. When money is made in every corner of the web, why are you only looking out for good keywords and good dating images?

Are you one of those guys who opens up Adwords and thinks to himself “What can I sling today?”. Maybe you make money, maybe you don’t. But I much prefer to let new campaigns come naturally to me. Find a market first, target the need, THEN decide the best method of promotion. It might be Adwords, it might be PPV, it might be some long ass email to the webmaster begging for a banner tenancy.

But if you’re actively in the trenches hunting out these marketing opportunities, you’re gonna be better placed to make some money than the dude who sprays shit at the wall in Adwords hoping something will stick.

There’s too many arbitrage affiliates out there who refuse to get to grips with what marketing is all about. They become masters of traffic sources. They start turning over fortunes using just Facebook. Or just Adwords. One day their traffic source falls out from under their feet and what happens? They embark on this route of discovery to find the opportunities that they should have been getting out of bed to look for in the first place.

That’s the difference between the guy with the entrepreneurial spirit and the guy who knows how to use XXX to make money. One can live and learn from failure – the other will probably roll over and die if his one trick pony gets shot.

It’s not always about making more money. At least for me it isn’t. I take pride in wanting to be good at what I do. I might be harming my own profit margins by spending so much time exploring other avenues, but with knowledge comes experience. With experience comes the know-how to deal with failure. And you’re nearly always going to fail at some point in affiliate marketing.

Are you prepared for it? Or are you a headless fucking chicken who knows how to open Adwords and not much else?

About the author


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.


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  • Interesting post and one thats pretty truthful. Its easy to get stuck into one form of promotion when its doing well for you. Im only just now starting to try Facebook.

    In relation to what you’re saying Ive never really felt that being an affiliate marketer was a sustainable business. If you were to drop everything today what would happen? If you ever decided to get out of the game what could you sell? For those doing nothing but Media Buy/PPC -> Flog -> Offer they have no assets but their skillset which in my opinion isn’t a business.

    Use the same skills you talk about to discover ways of building a more viable, long term business. Whether that be building a proper authority site, or creating something of your own to sell.

  • Good post finch – I was one of those “masters of a traffic source” and was killing niche markets on adwords but then got all my accounts banned. For unnamed reasons I didn’t think it was right to sneak my way back in so I had to rethink my entire business model, from a guy that just found holes in markets and brokered traffic, to one with a more solid business model in mind to build assets in various markets.

    Granted, I spent probably 2 months in a funk doing the “poor me” angle and am thankful I had the cashflow to support my whiny period but it was good in the longrun. Brokering clicks was easy and I probably would have continued on that path for the rest of my life unless external forces pushed me into something with substantially more potential.

  • Finch, I really enjoyed this post. I am working on a startup newbie friendly blog and felt that this is exactly the kind of post newbie affiliate marketers should read.

    I especially like how you talk about quitting your job with only two profitable campaigns and having to deal with it. It definitely gives me, and I hope others a better perspective of how vulnerable being an affiliate marketer can actually be.

    Thanks again,
    – Niko

  • Great post. But I think to start out, you need to have just one or two campaigns that will give you a lot of money short term. Because then you can start invest on long-term sites. Starting out with long term goals drives a lot of new affiliates nuts, ’cause the don’t see a cent for their effort.

  • “That’s the difference between the guy with the entrepreneurial spirit and the guy who knows how to use XXX to make money.”

    I hear there’s big money in XXX though…

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