The Advertiser Didn’t Like Your Traffic, Now What?
The Super Affiliate Secret To Success
A Full Time Affiliate Pays More Than Just Taxes

The Advertiser Didn’t Like Your Traffic, Now What?

Over the past month, I’ve had a few emails landing in my inbox that I wasn’t used to receiving until I made a few key changes to the way that I approach my campaigns. These were emails from affiliate managers telling me that certain advertisers were really happy with my traffic.

“Is there anything we can do to help you scale up the volume?”

Woah woah, hold on a second. What did you just say?

An advertiser… is happy… with my leads? You sure you’ve got the right email? They want me to send more traffic? Dude this is where you’re supposed to halve my payout and tell me to aim for an older demographic before I get shafted off the offer and in to oblivion completely.

It’s actually quite refreshing to be told that the leads you’re sending are backing out for the advertiser. It filled me with a sense of “Oh my god, maybe affiliate marketing CAN last longer than 5 minutes”. It also gave me the warm fuzzy feeling in my balls that what I was doing was actually working for all parties concerned. Clearly I was happy since I was still getting paid. The advertiser was happy with my leads-to-sales ratio. And presumably some creep was happy with his sparkling members’ access to one of the more shadier dating sites on the web. Everybody’s happy.

This is a stark contrast to the emails I used to receive when I started with lead gen offers. Back then, I never really stopped to consider the implications of scraping the barrel for whatever and whoever would be willing to submit my form. All I cared about was the ROI.

Unfortunately, when you’re working with CPA networks, that kind of attitude is probably going to have you jumping from offer to offer, systematically burning your bridges and relying on quick bursts of profit until an advertiser shuts you down. It’s about as stable as a wooden raft on the high seas.

And if this is you, it’s probably a good time to stop and think about why you’re getting shafted on such a consistent basis. Advertisers can be shady little shites, make no mistake about it. They’ll scrub and shave and do everything in their power to make the little man – that’s you – pay for their failure to break even. And in some cases, they can be downright greedy to the point where they’ll dick on you just to top up their Christmas bonuses.

That said, many advertisers have entered the CPA industry looking to play a fair game. They’re willing to pay for quality leads, and they do respect the work of affiliates who deliver the right traffic. It’s important to work WITH the advertiser, even through gritted teeth at times, and avoid burning those bridges that pay for your beach house.

The best way to avoid getting removed from an offer is to stop scraping the barrel. If a dating offer is open to both males and females over the age of 21, how many affiliates take that as a green light to flood the advertiser with 21 year old guys? Sure, the offer description didn’t say you couldn’t send this type of crowd to the offer, but you should probably be taking a little more responsibility and mixing it up with demographics that are more likely to produce sales. It might not matter to you – you’re paid by the lead, right? – but if it doesn’t make somebody money further up the chain, you aren’t going to be promoting it for long.

Another way to boost your “quality score” is to cut the bullshit. Don’t say something is free when the final call to action isn’t going to be free. It took me a while to axe this from my own campaigns, but it’s fundamental. Sell the trial factor to your audience, but don’t mislead the user in to thinking that the whole slice of pie is a no strings attached freebie. That isn’t good marketing.

Cutting out the “FREE” hook may lower your conversions slightly, or even dramatically, but consider this. It’s better to be running at 50% ROI for six months, than it is to be running at 100% ROI for one week.

Another factor that will influence the quality of your leads is the traffic source. Nobody can really explain it with a logical reason. But on some offers, a user clicking through from MSN will be much more likely to convert for the full shabang than a user clicking through from, say, Yahoo.

I’d love to say there’s a way to predict how certain traffic sources are going to perform on a given offer, but it’s close to impossible. I’ve been removed from offers that were backing out excellently on one traffic source, but bombing on another.

The only way to deal with unpredictable traffic quality is to ask for feedback directly from your affiliate manager. I think many marketers are shy of hassling the advertiser for an assessment of their leads. I say shy, it’s probably more like shitting bricks at the thought of doing something so potentially suicidal to their business. Perhaps you’re scared the advertiser will wake from a slumber, check over your stats, and realize you’re blowing a bigger loss than Iceland blows ash. Before you know it, they’ve shut you down and a profitable campaign is dead in the water, right? That’s rarely the case.

Simply asking the advertiser for some feedback on the quality of your leads will show that you’re serious about your job. But it also gives you some tasty knowledge that you can exploit if you’re clever. I managed to get a rough idea of my leads-to-sale ratio on one particular offer. I did a little research, found a program where I could work directly with the advertiser on a CPS basis, and it actually worked out more profitable. The only way I would have bothered to explore this avenue was by finding out that my lead quality was good and that the advertiser was happy.

A happy advertiser generally equates to solid sales. You can take that information and split test in a CPS campaign. If an advertiser is offering you significant pay bumps to provide more volume, the chances are excellent that you’re going to make more money by abandoning CPA altogether and raking in money by the sale.

I don’t think there’s a single affiliate who hasn’t suffered from lead quality issues at some point, or that won’t in the future. But if it’s happening too often, you need to shine a light on why. Jumping from offer to offer will only work for so long.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know that if affiliate marketing died tomorrow, you’d still be able to make money for a company? You know, by actually fulfilling the simple premise of connecting the right people to the right products? It’s easy to see why affiliates are often tarred as the lowest level of marketers, even if they’re some of the richest.

Being the delivery guy who delivers empty boxes just isn’t going to last forever.

Like this post?

Finch Sells is the anti-typical affiliate marketing blog, designed and written for real affiliates. If you’re interested in reading more and grabbing the odd tip, follow me on Twitter. I don’t sling you shitty ebooks but I do talk about my balls. So you’re morally obliged to, okay?

That’s what I thought.

The Super Affiliate Secret To Success

I know. What a trashy linkbait title, right?

Your bullshit-o-meter is probably looking for one good reason to close the page so I’ll cut to the chase. Scaling a successful campaign is the secret to success. And it’s not even a secret. But you’re here now, so allow me to continue.

One of the questions I get asked a lot, normally by non-affiliate friends, is “How much do you spend on advertising in a day?”. If you haven’t trained yourself to fire back with “As much as I can”, then there’s something fatally flawed in your mindset.

A key reason why some affiliates fail to take their earnings to the next level is simply a lack of ambition. A willingness to settle for X/day and not re-evaluate targets when they’ve reached them.

I have to admit, I was guilty of this same flaw when I first started marketing. Back when rebills were as common as the sun rising in the east, I was milking a cash cow for more money than I knew what to do with. But not everybody has the instinctive “super affiliate” trait of chasing the maximum profit. You have to think big to win big.

I was trapped in the salary mindset. I saw that if I continued to earn X/day, I’d have made X/month. And that figure, being a mind-blowing leap from my work wages at the time, was enough to kill my ambition. I didn’t look to scale my campaigns any further than I was already happy with. You can probably see where I’m going with this.

A lot of marketers end up frustrated or beating themselves up over their failures to match the success of higher earners and bigger ballers. Maybe this is you. But I can guarantee one difference in their attitude to yours. They never stopped redefining their goals. They never stopped looking to scale their campaigns.

Great ideas do not run on tap. A winning concept isn’t going to slap you in the face over morning coffee every day of the week. So when you find something that works, you have to make it work big. One successfully scaled campaign will pay for months of failed concepts. And this is how many super affiliates operate. I’m elbowing myself in the balls at every mention of the term “super affiliate” here, because it’s a fucking joke and a definition invented to keep the Warrior Forum ecosystem alive.

How many times have you had a successful campaign producing profit that you’re happy with, looked at your options for scaling, and dismissed an idea because it’s too much work for too little return? You’re happy with what you’re currently earning, right? That satisfaction can kill ambition. And it will kill your ability to grow your business.

There are several steps to scaling a campaign, and I’m going to outline my usual thought process when I’ve found an idea that’s making me money. Note that these points are catered more towards social traffic. If you’re a PPC player and you can’t think of a way to scale your campaign, you’re a retard.

1 – What other age demographics can I incorporate?

I have one dating campaign which is producing 200-300% ROI. It all started with one ad targeting American 30-40 year olds. One week on and I’ve now adjusted the copy and images to target Americans of all ages from 21-65. I could have lived quite comfortably off the original campaign. It required research in to different offers but the concept was a winner.

2 – Can I develop the same concept for the other gender?

Many of you running dating ads are guilty of this. The majority of affiliate marketers are male. We have this nasty habit of targeting males as an instinctive step towards what we know we can relate to. Are you settling for 50% of what you could be earning if you opened your mind to targeting the fairer sex?

3 – What happens if I raise my bid prices?

Are you one of the many marketers who starts bidding low and slowly raises the price until you’ve reached a level of volume you’re happy with? If you’re producing 100% ROI, you have absolutely no excuse not to raise those bids a little higher and test the results. Don’t settle for the lowest bid that hits your magic profit number. If you have the luxury of bidding higher and staying profitable, DO IT. Basement bidding will only work until somebody comes along with an equally good concept and the balls to pay more for the traffic.

4 – Can I take the campaign in to English-speaking international markets?

Do I even need to stress this one? CPA offers don’t have to be restricted to the United States. I know affiliates who earn crazy money and haven’t generated so much as a single lead in North America. If you have a winning concept, it should be common sense that scaling in to other English speaking countries is likely to raise your profits. Look for similar offers and bring your campaigns to Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and South Africa. With the right offer, you may even be able to hit Asian markets with large numbers of English speakers.

5 – Can I be bothered to get my creatives translated for non-English-speaking markets?

Now this is where you’re going to start shaking a lot of your competition. Only a small percentage of affiliates make the effort to translate their campaigns in to foreign languages. It just so happens that the small percentage usually consists of some of the smartest and most profitable marketers out there. With cheaper traffic and much less competition, I think you already know that you COULD scale internationally if you wanted to. It’s whether you can be bothered to take those extra steps.

6 – Can I take my successful campaigns to other similar traffic sources?

This is the final step to successful scaling as far as I’m concerned. You’ve maxed out the age demographics. You’ve adjusted your offers and creatives for different international markets. What next? It’s at this point where I take a moment to glance over the test data that I’ve accumulated in the time that it’s taken me to expand a campaign as far as I already have. I’ll take the best performing creatives – those with the highest ROI – and I’ll use them as my test barometer for new traffic sources.

To take a classic example, let’s say you’ve got a PPV campaign producing the kind of profit margins that keep your bed wet at night. You’ve optimized and developed a list of URL targets that produce consistent results. Where can you go from here? I’ve been in situations like this before where I’ve explored the URL target a little further and noticed that it actually has Content Network placements on the same page.

Easy money!

Even without content network placements, if you’ve found a really obscure URL that drives converting PPV traffic to an offer – can you get in touch with the webmaster? How about paying for a single banner placement on that page? When you consider that a large number of the visitors don’t actually have Vomba installed to spring your pop-ups, a banner placement is likely to catch the rest of the traffic. I’ve said it over and over again but there are many ways to skin the cat.

Once you learn how to successfully port your campaigns across various traffic sources and advertising platforms, you’ll begin to realize that it doesn’t take a million great ideas to be a super affiliate. One good idea, developed and scaled as far as it can go, will usually put you ahead of your peers.

I’d recommend you check out this extensive list of traffic sources for ideas of where to scale your campaigns. Scaling isn’t just the secret to earning more money. It’s the secret to a stable and well diversified affiliate business. If you’re working in this industry without ambition, it won’t be long until somebody jacks your good ideas and buys a new yacht with them. Make every winning concept count.

Like this post?

Finch Sells is the anti-typical affiliate marketing blog, designed and written for real affiliates. If you’re interested in reading more and grabbing the odd tip, follow me on Twitter. I don’t sling you shitty ebooks but I do talk about my balls. So you’re morally obliged to, okay?

That’s what I thought.

A Full Time Affiliate Pays More Than Just Taxes

If, like me, you’ve spent much of the last week combing over your accounts to prepare for a new tax year, it’s likely that a thousand failed campaigns have flashed before your eyes.

One of the great advantages of taking time out to review your yearly accounts is that it often drives home your failings as well as your successes. I’ve been systematically logging in to every traffic source and every network. You’d be surprised how many bad ideas I’ve run with in the last year. The recurring thought of the week has been, “Hey Finch, what the fuck were you thinking? Asking if a Jewish guy wants a girlfriend for Christmas? You twat.” But this is a good thing, surely?

The more mistakes you make as an affiliate, the less scope you have to ruin your next great idea.

I’ve rediscovered the campaigns that filled me with so much excitement when I jacked in my day job twelve months ago. And of course, I’ve seen dozens and dozens of half arsed concepts that were always going to fail, yet I still ran with them at the time. I’d like to think that I’ve upped my game and if nothing else, put in the ground work that 95% of affiliates are scared of covering for fear of failure.

Considering this is such a young industry, I’d be surprised if there’s not a few marketers out there in the same boat as myself. Drunk on the power trip of making money, and yet somehow bigger virgins than Mary in the art of running a business.

I’ve always been very keen to stress that affiliate marketing as a career isn’t all about kicking it back and making a fortune on traffic brokering while your shit smells of roses. And I stress it because I was an absolute retard when I gave up my day job. I had just turned 21 years old, with the kind of tunnel vision that saw me calculating my daily earnings and multiplying by 365 for what I thought I’d be sitting on as I write this now.

Recently I’ve been cruising some Internet Marketing forums – yeah, I know, somehow only I can make that sound dirty – which I often do when I’m looking for topics to write about. One of the threads that caught my eye was a question posed on WickedFire. A guy asking the masses if he was ready to give up his day job and go full time affiliate marketing.

I was tempted to reply with “If you care about your career, for the sacred balls of Christ, don’t go putting it in the hands of WickedFire…” but I think I was eating a pizza at the time. Seeing how it’s almost exactly a year since I made that decision myself (to go full-time, not to eat the pizza), I thought I’d offer my own insight.

So what are the magic income figures you need to be hitting before you’re ready to exist without a guaranteed pay cheque? They don’t exist. I hate to break it to you, but anybody who tells you otherwise is throwing equations out of his arse. There’s no guarantee your wife will spend as much as his.

I’m no statistician, but I’d stake my house on the average affiliate marketer being much younger than the average businessman. Many of us are affected by sudden changes in our fortunes. Steady business development and gradual growth are two terms that you simply don’t associate with the typical affiliate. I think it’s why a large number of the successful marketers amongst us are complete and utter dicks. Overnight success can make a man feel much smarter than he really is.

If you’re trying to decide whether you can afford to quit your day job based on financial calculations alone, you’ve got a real headache on your hands. Some people will say you should be able to live comfortably for six months without earning another penny.

For me, the real challenge has never been about earning enough money to pay the bills. Of course, that should be your number one concern. Especially if you have a family to look after. But adjusting to the dozens of stresses that come hand in hand with being your own boss, that has been the story of my year.

It’s not all about the money. I’ve spoken to quite a few affiliates and one of the qualities that many of us seem to share – I say quality, it’s almost like a burden – is the difficulty in separating work from the rest of our lives. The second you hedge your bets on affiliate marketing as your future, the levels of stress take a turn that you’re simply not going to be able to appreciate until you’ve left your day job and seen the full time grind for yourself.

I’ve been sitting here dealing with my taxes, and it’s nice to know that I’ve made good money and that I can live comfortably. But then I ask myself, “what would I like to achieve in the next twelve months?” Money doesn’t enter the equation.

I feel like I’ve sacrificed far more than a day job to be where I am now. For better or worse. Full time affiliate marketing is a huge lifestyle change. When the chips are down, it’s an inescapable mindfuck. There’s been more than the occasional morning coffee where I’ve been left feeling completely powerless to revive my fortunes while shit hits every fan around me.

If you’re not ready to sacrifice the little peace in your mind, right before you go to sleep, that you’ve got a day job to full back on if it all goes wrong – then no, you’re probably not ready to make that jump. You’ve got to be a little bit stupid and a little bit irrational to see the long term prospects in an industry that changes while you sleep.

Work has consumed me in the last year. I’ve had to sacrifice friendships, relationships, large parts of my social life and the freedom that came with it. I say I had to, but I really didn’t. For a 22 year old who thought this would be a piss in the park, I guess I never really appreciated the challenges ahead. And when it hit me, slowly over the months, success turned in to a form of obsession.

If you’re working from home, yes, it’s a great freedom to have. You can work anywhere. But the novelty of being able to log on to your laptop and consider yourself setup for the day is actually a burden in itself. Whenever I’m online, I feel somehow chained to my job. People can, and do, take the chance to message me on Facebook, AIM, Twitter, Skype…the list goes on.

I know some of you reading this now will have found your own ways to separate work from play. And it’s absolutely necessary if you’re looking to avoid a slow and painful mental breakdown.

Looking back at all the mistakes I made last year, the campaigns I must’ve been drunk or high to come up with, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Every successful affiliate marketer has a bunch of shit he’s tried that just didn’t cut it. You don’t suddenly find clarity when you go full-time or gain a few years of experience.

I can live with those mistakes because they’re part of the job. The mistakes I regret are those that lead to me blurring the lines between business and my personal life. And I believe they’re the mistakes that most marketers are likely to repeat if they decide to quit the day job and move in to this industry full-time.

You can’t prepare for this job with financial projections. None of us know what revenue is on the cards from week to week. But you can avoid a lot of the mistakes I’ve made by making sure that from Day One, you’re ready to work harder than you ever worked in your 9-5.

Maybe you’ve built up a nice portfolio of moneymaking websites. Maybe you’ve saved enough money to invest and you’re ready to take the leap in to affiliate marketing full-time. Give it your best shot, but don’t let it take over your life. It’s very easy to go too far and find that the dream job working out of a hammock has the potential to be a much greater prison than even the plainest 9-5 desk cubicle.

My goals for the next tax year aren’t to earn more money, or to add a bunch of extra zeros to my next pay cheque. Sure that’d be awesome. But I’d much rather be able to sit here and look back on a year that took less out of me mentally. Time for a holiday!

On a side note, – because I’m not going to donate a whole post to it – this blog is now one year old. I seem to be whoring links from all over the affiliasphere these days so I consider it a decent success. Thanks very much for reading. You crazy motherfuckers.

Like this post?

Finch Sells is the anti-typical affiliate marketing blog, designed and written for real affiliates. If you’re interested in reading more and grabbing the odd tip, follow me on Twitter. I don’t sling you shitty ebooks but I do talk about my balls. So you’re morally obliged to, okay?

That’s what I thought.

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