The Challenges Of Full Time Affiliate Marketing

Here comes another entry to my Affiliate Marketing Lifestyle series. Or as PPC.bz’s barman so elegantly put it:

“Dear Diary,

BAaaaaAAAaaaaaAaaaaahhhh!”

I would save myself from the reputation as the emo voice of affiliate marketing, but I think this is something that doesn’t really get spoken about enough. The number of part time affiliates far outweighs the number of us monkey riding this industry for a day job. I get the chance to speak to a lot of relatively new affiliates. Many have aspirations to jack in their 9-5’s and they want to know the best way to get there fast.

I find myself juggling between the advice of “fight for your dreams” and “you fucking retard, get back on the checkout desk, you’re gonna starve”.

I’ve said over and over again that a career in affiliate marketing is just that – a career. It’s not some casual job description you pin on your badge while sunbathing in the Caribbean. Your lifestyle will change completely in those first few months that you decide to go it alone.

Many affiliates forget that for whatever success they’ve been having with one hot shot campaign, it doesn’t come close to the guarantee of a monthly pay cheque. No matter how insignificant your work wages may seem in comparison, they are guaranteed.

When I first started making significant money with CPA marketing, you would find me sitting in coffee shops with a scrapbook. I’d sit there calculating how much cash I’d have earned by Month X and Month Y if I continued earning X ammount per day. This is the single most dangerous thing you can do as a part-time affiliate – especially if those numbers are pinned on a small handful of volatile campaigns.

You only have to look at the recent Google account bannings to see how a money spinning regime can collapse overnight. I’ve rattled on about diversifying for months now. If you’re serious about doing affiliate marketing full-time, you should be comfortable moving in to any niche and working with any traffic source.

People ask me how much money I think they should be making before they give up their day jobs. Firstly, how the fuck should I know? And secondly, basing your career decisions on current earnings is like deciding to climb K2 because you fancy a workout. You’re going to run in to the unexpected, you absolute psychopath.

I know this because I’ve made some pretty drastic decisons with my own career. I quit my day job having branched out in to only two traffic sources, and a handful of offers. By all accounts, I should be slapping myself with naive disgust right about now. I’m not because I had the initiative to learn quickly when I saw the danger signs.

If you’re going to move in to this industry full-time, here are the immediate challenges you face.

Managing your time – What is the point in going full-time if you’re simply going to wake up at 11am and watch your stats all day? You should have just stayed in the day job and enjoyed your temporary riches with the security of a guaranteed pay cheque to underline it. Hell, if you’re doing that, you CAN afford to splash out on the luxuries in life.

This is a challenge for affiliates both experienced and new. Assuming you saw your success as a part-time affiliate, you’ve probably become accustomed to the idea of seeing a return on a few hours of work. It’s not so easy to motivate yourself when you know that riches are such a beautiful sight to watch when they’re flowing like gold from a tap. Unfortunately, for all of the three hours it took you to setup that initial jackpot campaign – you could spend the rest of your lifetime trying to find the next one.

If you expect to be able to turn on profit like a tap, you’re digging your own grave.

Instead of being entranced by the money I saw beginning to flow when I first hit success, I chose to remember the many hours and desperate times where shit hadn’t gone to plan. As hard as it may be, you have to turn your back on the allure of whatever riches you’re earning and get back to work. Otherwise when the tap runs out, you’re back to square one.

Social sacrifice – Do you really understand the true involvement of running your own business? If you’re managing your time correctly, you are going to be busy. If you don’t feel that you’re busy, you’re probably not doing enough to stay ahead of the pack.

Nothing prepared me for the personal burden of becoming entirely responsible for my own finances. I used to be socializing at every opportunity. Down the pub on Monday, drunk in a club on Tuesday and travelling out of town by Friday.

These days, a night out rarely passes me by where business is not somewhere close to the forefront of my thoughts. Some would see that as a prison. I’m passionate about what I do though and working has always been an enjoyable experience.

Whatever social gain you think you’re going to find by quitting your day job, rest assured that it will be neutralized by the sheer weight of responsibility that comes with slinging shit full-time.

Staying positive through hardships – I’ll be the first to admit that when I worked for other companies, I was never shy of a bitch or moan. If something went wrong that I was personally accountable for, I could play pin the blame and deflect attention from my own failures.

The biggest challenge for me over this last year has been embracing a new attitude. You simply have to be prepared to smile at the shit that gets thrown in your face. It happens every day. Every morning I open my email and instead of forwarding various tasks to my colleagues like I used to, I add them to my own to-do list. There are constant tests of your character. It may be an email that your Adwords account has been suspended, that an offer has been pulled, that your server was down for a few hours last night.

You can’t nonchallently forward these issues on to your boss. You ARE your boss. And your pay cheque will be the one taking the hit if you don’t stay on top of them.

There have been nights in recent memory where I’ve been sat at my desk, eyes aching, wondering just how I can turn a campaign around or get back on track. A part time affiliate would probably think “eh, was good while it lasted”, and that’s exactly where you have to stay strong. The industry is so volatile that if you stick to what you know you do well, it won’t be long before you see a return on it. Just be prepared to lose money and take a battering to your confidence in the process. It can be a lonely struggle.

I’ve already written several posts about how you should be investing for the future. It’s the single most important thing you can be doing to alleviate some of the stress. Short term fast burning affiliate campaigns are a recipe for long term unrest if you’re not moving methodically towards a more sustainable business.

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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  • Wow, brilliant post dude, I like your style, although many people think negative of swearing, I like it, as I swear a lot myself lol.

    Yea, I agree with you. Although I don’t make any significant money yet, I never really TRULY believed that people make money on the internet doing nothing.

    I can imagine that someone who makes for example 10k a month can afford a few months of inactivity, but I am sure that those few months would eventually deteriorate his income.

    Therefore, one must maintain his business, as the market constantly changes, and a hot trend today can be casted to oblivion tomorrow.

    I think I must subscribe to this post, nice to see someone posting true stuff without censorship.

  • “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.”

    can’t remember where i lifted that from…

  • […] The Challenges Of Full Time Affiliate Marketing | Finch Sells I would save myself from the reputation as the emo voice of affiliate marketing, but I think this is something that doesn’t really get spoken about enough. The number of part time affiliates far outweighs the number of us monkey riding this industry for a day job. I get the chance to speak to a lot of relatively new affiliates. Many have aspirations to jack in their 9-5’s and they want to know the best way to get there fast. (tags: affiliate-marketing) […]

  • Profound stuff, a lot of which I agree with. I left my job just under a year ago with nothing saved, I have not looked back – I would recommend people insure they have sufficient cash reserves to break away from the 9-5 though as I’m only now starting to get the capital needed for good PPC campaigns.

    I disagree that a paycheck is ‘guaranteed’ though, I sure as hell feel more comfortable looking after numero uno as opposed to depending on some guy not going bust to pay me.

  • I just quit my job 3 days ago. Holy shit this is going to be one hell of a ride, but I’m ready to hustle my face off.

  • Good luck dude. It’s no easy ride but the best encouragement I can give is that you’ll succeed or fail on your own terms.

  • full-time definitely ain’t easy. During the hour I spent telling my boss I quit, my top campaign died! On top of that, so did my top traffic source, haha. 6 months later, I’m still self-employed. It’s no fantasy land doing this full-time. It’s a real business, which I think most people who fantasize don’t realize.

  • Great post Finch.

    I can understand having the drive and enthusiasm to quit your day job to focus on making living online. But unless you have a lot of savings, I think this is a bad idea.

    I personally continued working in the finance industry for a few years before I started making decent money online around 2004, at which point I went self employed.

    I love working online. It allows me a great deal of freedom both in my personal life and in my work. But it isn’t all plain sailing. As you say, you need to work your butt off because if you don’t, you’ll lose money.

    I must admit I do miss the social aspect of working alone. And although I do mostly enjoy my work, it can get quite repetitive at times as well. However, I still enjoy it.

    For anyone who is thinking of going full time working online. My advice would be to go for it but be practical. Don’t quiet your day job if you have bills to pay and kids to feed. If you live at home with your parents then this might not be a major concern but don’t put yourself on the breadline in your quest for dollars.

    Again, great post Finch. Keep em coming 🙂

  • Yeah, it’s a good point about having kids and extra responsibilities. I never had that problem. I have rent to pay, and the overwhelming costs of living in London, but I’ve never had to think for somebody else that relies on me.

  • Been reading your blog posts for a while now, and I can connect with you on so many levels when it comes to the “burden” you have mentioned a few times. Try having a wife and 2 kids and being self employed! I quit my job this past May (6 months ago) and you’re right that it’s been one hell of a ride.

    Totally agree with you that people shouldn’t just up and leave their jobs at the first site of a $1000 day doing AM, because that can go to shit overnight. You need to be consistently making more than your dayjob for at least a few months, and have months worth of savings banked up in case everything tanks. I have to admit I took a hit when all this banning/slappage took place and have struggled to diversify as what I was doing was “easy money”. But I’ll tell you I’ve had to force myself to learn alot more new shit and I’m pretty proud of myself for diversifying my portfolio while doing it. Being “forced” to make money (i.e. supporting a family doing AM), is stressful but you become a better marketer for it.

  • I’m just starting out in affiliate marketing and pretty much sucking ass so far. However, I have had my own business for a long as time. I’m at the point where I need to either get this affiliate stuff working or I need to find a job. Holy crap, that is scary! The last job I had was 10 years ago.

    While this post is not all unicorns and sunshine, props for keeping it real. It is reassuring to know that even experienced marketers worry about and deal with the same stuff I do.

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