Why Successful Young Affiliates Grow Up Fast

I won’t lie. There’s something incredibly satisfying about sitting on the train and listening to some suited twat big himself up on a Blackberry, all the while knowing that you’ve got the capacity to earn more than him and you don’t even have to get out of bed to do it.

Living in London, I invariably find myself in bars full of yuppy tossers and “touch base” talking clowns who’ve let the Christmas bonus go too far to their heads. Affiliate marketing is still such a young industry and it’s very rare that we get the respect we deserve for the hours we put in. But this is probably because affiliate marketers generally represent a very young demographic of businessmen and entrepreneurs. The business studies curriculum hasn’t yet had to suggest that we exist.

I was reading in the comments to the last post that much of the arrogance and drama in affiliate marketing can be attributed to a young crowd with more money than it knows what to do with. While we’re blessed with great opportunities, we have to find the discipline to ensure that they lead to long term success. For many marketers in their early 20s, like me, this is one of the biggest hurdles you’re going to face.

I think it’s great that a young generation has broken out from the academic ranks and found a successful alternative to degrees and 9-5s. Let’s be honest. Most of us in this business are stubborn individuals who want to succeed or fail on our own merit. I never enjoyed working for anybody other than myself. I think most affiliates are the same.

Thanks to the Internet, we’ve got the perfect platform to show those skills in an arena where you can’t be discriminated against because you can’t be seen. Only the output of your creativity is there to be judged. That was the huge appeal of the industry for me. A learning curve that keeps on giving.

But at the same time, if you’re a part of this younger generation, you need to think long and hard about the practicalities of what you’re getting in to. I’ve seen so many affiliates making huge profits and somehow blowing it up the wall and staggering back to their day jobs within the year. To reap long term results, you have to learn to channel the positive energy of being young, creative, and web savvy – to overcome the challenges of sudden responsibility and dealing with money. You also need to stay humble.

Why humble? Who gives a fuck about humble when you’re stacking dollar bills to the sky?

There are affiliates out there who are quite happy to boast about their earnings, shove screenshots in your face, and build up a personal brand that suggests only following their every move will take you to the riches. While I occasionally drape this blog in the necessary arrogance that it requires for a cynical crowd to take notice, it’s never a good way to run your business.

One of the most important things you can be doing as a young affiliate – or simply just a young businessman – is to learn, learn, learn and learn. It doesn’t mean shit that you’re earning crazy figures today. The second you let the money go to your head and sap away your desire to become better at your craft, you’re flirting with disaster.

There is always somebody better than you, always somebody earning more. If you forget to carry yourself with a humble willingness to learn and to listen to what other people are doing, you will completely toast your long term prospects of surviving. Or certainly achieving what you might have done in this industry.

There’s times where I browse WickedFire and it completely blows my mind that such a collective bag of dicks could ever have the social or diplomatic know-how to sustain good relations with a single network – let alone the far reaching contacts necessary to run a proper business.

I know there’s a lot of “front”, and many people will talk shit simply because they’ve established a net vBulletin post count of 10,000 in the noughties where faceless web bashing has become the norm. But sometimes, people will judge you by the only face they can see. There’s a lot more to be gained by carrying yourself with respect and actually giving something back to the community rather than shitting on it.

I often get asked what it’s like to be working for myself so young. I always answer the same: incredibly stressful but always worthwhile. I’ve had to sacrifice a lot of the boozy shipwrecked Friday nights on the lash that I used to enjoy week in week out. Not because I feel financially restricted, but because I’m carrying the weight of my own expectations on my shoulders. And I expect a lot from myself. If I’d allowed my ego to dictate my life, I would have crashed and burned long before now.

One of the drawbacks of being part of this younger generation of web entrepreneurs is that some of us simply aren’t ready for it. Teaching yourself discipline, motivation and the ability to plan ahead is not always easy when your first taste of success is as simple as refreshing stats. So many of us enter the industry full-time starstruck on the back of initial success. It’s a good idea to remember where you came from, and how your success can be as fleeting as the time it takes you to fall. Don’t let your bank balance go to your head and don’t book a worldwide cruise on the back of a good month’s work.

Networking with other marketers and sharing your knowledge is probably the single most effective way of gaining experience as an affiliate. We all have our own successes and failures to talk about. I can always tell when I’m talking to a young egomaniac with his head up his own arse. And I never share anything useful with these people. If you act like a lone riding dick with a chip on your shoulder, people will treat you like one.

There aren’t many industries where you can be so successful in such a short space of time. I hate to say it, but just because you’re making money, that doesn’t mean you’re great at what you do. I think many young affiliates will drop out of the business as competition becomes more fierce and the road to riches becomes harder to negotiate. Those still standing will probably be the ones who haven’t spent all day living the jet-set affiliate lifestyle they took for granted and thought they’d always have.

So you’re young and rich. That’s a notorious recipe for ending up old and lazy. Working hard through the good times, staying humble around your peers, and helping others to succeed. These are all qualities that are likely to work in your favour at some point. The riches for young affiliates are mind boggling. But you’ve gotta grow up fast to enjoy them.

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.

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