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