Cashflow Tips For New Affiliates

Forget the top payouts, best looking affiliate managers and networks with soaring reputations. For a new affiliate who’s just discovered profitability, cashflow is always king. It’s likely that to scale your business quickly, you’re going to need to make some sacrifices along the way. Handling your cashflow effectively is one of them.

No industry fills my ears with as many rags to riches tales as affiliate marketing. I don’t know if what we do is seen as a last gasp stab at financial salvation, or simply a popular way to spend your last 100 bucks. But many affiliates are faced with the challenge – even after stumbling upon a successful campaign – of being able to scale that campaign without clearing everything they have in the bank. Cashflow is the difference between riches and famine.

You’ve probably got a hundred different networks whispering in your ear, all desperate for your traffic. If you haven’t, rest assured this will rapidly become the case as you begin to earn more money. One of the biggest cashflow mistakes, and probably the easiest to make, is to spread yourself too thin.

In the search for offers that convert, it’s possible to end up sending dribbles of traffic to a dozen different networks. This normally results in you rinsing your bank balance, while not a single network sees you as significant enough to be paid weekly. When your bank hits zero, you’re left waiting on those dribs and drabs to be fed back in to your account by the various networks – many of which may be operating on Net 30 cheques as a form of payment.

Forget all the hype about the top payouts. It’s much better to be running a bunch of slightly less profitable campaigns on networks who can guarantee quick turnaround of payment. The quicker your bank balance grows, the faster you can scale. In an industry that changes overnight, you can’t afford to be left trailing in the dirt waiting on a bunch of cheques in the mail.

I read somewhere that a great idea for new affiliates is to invest in a credit card and blast your way to fortunes on the plastic. I can’t remember who said this, but they should be shot and hung out to dry. I can’t think of a worse idea than racking up a bunch of credit card debt on the principle that the “repayments are on their way”. The money isn’t yours until it’s paying for your groceries, so take “Pending Commission” with a pinch of salt and an eye on the worst case scenario.

There are circumstances where using a credit card to fund campaigns is acceptable. But you have to be in control of all the surrounding factors. Factors such as the quality of your traffic, the relationship with the advertiser and the exact promotional guidelines of the offers you’re running.

I’ve said it time and time again but by far the best way of managing your cashflow during the early days is to pick up free advertising coupons. I used to raid coupons for Google Adwords so that I could fund campaigns without having to compromise my own limited start-up capital. If you’re in the UK, snap up a copy of .Net magazine and you’ll receive a free Adwords voucher every month. Or go one step further like yours truly and simply rinse the entire pile in WHSmiths when nobody is looking.

That sounds incredibly trashy and unprofessional, but when I was getting started, I had little money of my own to reinvest. Coupons were like tiny Christmas presents to myself. Here you go, Finch. Have another Adwords account.

If you’re moving in to affiliate marketing from a wealthy background with money to waste, cashflow is probably a mere tickle on your balls. And in that case, you’ll find it a lot easier to succeed in faster time. Affiliates who have managed to build up healthy bank balances enjoy the luxury of being able to run campaigns on a lower ROI, and also work with the higher paying networks who refuse to pay any sooner than monthly.

Commission Junction, for example, is simply not a viable option as a newbie marketer investing in paid traffic. I enjoy promoting their dating offers because the ROI is nearly always higher than what I can achieve with a CPA network. But it comes at a price. That price being the need to float thousands and thousands of pounds on monthly payments. And the fact that you’re working with CJ, of course. A group of incompetent bumberclarts who should start addressing their support emails “Dear Mortal Below Us,” to show how they truly feel.

Another issue regarding cashflow involves budgeting in advance. Should you spend an entire monthly budget in a few days just because you’ve found a profitable campaign? Or should you split the advertising over a whole month? I would always say that if you find something that works, scale it ASAP and get the maximum bang for your buck while it’s on offer. From my experience, dividing your budget over a whole month can have the effect of dividing your workrate too.

Plus I find it’s a very good card to play on the networks you’re working with. If they see you’re sending a boatload of traffic in the space of a few days, and then that traffic suddenly dries up, they will sniff you out in a hurry.

“Hey Finch, I see you had some success with Offer X – how did it back out for you? What can we do to get more leads out of you?”

“Oh, well, I’ve got volume coming out of my arsehole on this one. But I’ve found a network that’s willing to pay me weekly on the same offer. So unless…”

And so you should be able to wrangle some weekly payments out of the equation very quickly. This enables you to refill that bank balance and get back in the game. The faster the turnaround on your balance, the more productive you’ll become and the faster you can scale. It really is a case of get money get paid.

Recommended This Week:

  • If you’re working in the dating market, check out Adsimilis. Definitely one of the better networks with a wide range of dating offers, all on high payouts, including lots of stuff in Europe and South America. I think you’ll like them.

  • Feel free to add Finch to your Facebook. Yes, this is the right link. My real name is not actually Finch. Also follow me on Twitter

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.

15 Comments

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  • For now I’ve been lucky to have enough credit to manage some of my campaigns but it has definitely gone close!!

    But when I do get close its because I’m making a lot of money so I dont mind!!

    Great post,

    Dino

  • Nice post! Liked the last post as well but didn’t get around to commenting.

    I’ve been in the business for well over 2 years now, and i’ve not had a return on my investment.

    My biggest problem is time. Juggling a full time job, a house and now a child, just takes up the majority of my time.

    Good advice on money situation though. I’d never be so stupid to whack it onto a credit card.

    I’ve had a few people over the years pulling their orders after a week or so, when you assume it’s money in the bank.

    It’s not an easy business to break into, and people looking from the outside need to take notice!

  • Back in the rebill days I got myself an Amex with an at the time ridiculous overdraft of £35k, which at the time converted to about USD$70k, so I could keep slanging berries. Not something I would recommend unless you know your gonna be able to pay it back.

  • Perhaps with the aggressive advice of gaming Google with multiple coupons / accounts should be a how to do it without getting perma-banned. Maybe at the very least a warning to newbs that unless they take certain precautions trouble is ahead.

  • Great post Finch. That’s what I call giving value to your readers.

    I do agree that you should avoid the credit card at all cost. I’ve at over 50k on credit cards alone when one of my start-ups took a dive in 2008.

    Don’t leverage with money you don’t have in your pocket and you’ll have a much easier time starting again after failure.

    The last thing you want is to get hung with debt and no income.

  • @Open – I’ve never heard of somebody being permabanned from Google simply for having multiple accounts. Those getting booted from the service are probably those who are promoting sketchy products on those accounts…

  • Best line: “A group of incompetent bumberclarts who should start addressing their support emails “Dear Mortal Below Us,” to show how they truly feel.”

    A close second: “I’ve got volume coming out of my arsehole”

  • My tips

    – Some of the smaller networks will automatically put you on weekly payments no matter how small your volume is. This wasn’t around when I started, minimum was $1k a week in volume.

    – Live on less. When I started my budget was about $500 a month. It increased to $900 a month when I cut down on a LOT of costs. Stopped eating out, stopped clubbing at night, etc. Temporary sacrifice.

    -I do believe in credit cards if you use them right. If a campaign is PROFITABLE, and you are getting weekly payments, then it’s a great way to scale. Somehow I was able to get a Amex Plum card with unlimited credit and that really help me scale. The 2% cashback doesn’t hurt either.

  • If you keep the below link note the “hXXp://” so it is not click-able.

    This is not my blog just one of the many causalities in the last year and half I have seen. The below site has been dead for over 9 months now.

    hXXp://ppcicon.com/featured/banned-from-adwords-for-life/

    A search will show many threads looking for how to have multiple accounts because they were banned. It would appear most were just trying to push common cpa offers.

    I’m guessing it was sometime back when you didn’t have a problem with funding accounts with more than one coupon?

    A year plus ago I ran across one of your old posts that described the gathering and using of multiple coupons. I was all set to give it a go when I started coming across multiple perma-ban descriptions. There is a lot of steps now you have to go through to make it happen today. Couple of descent threads on WF about it.

    Just thought I would say something because the landscape seems to have changed and if not careful can be detrimental to ones momentum.

    Thanks again for your blog here. I should probably be sending you a commission check for how much it has helped me out over the last year or so.

  • Guess i should mention, i setup an account with google with the idea of using it. I haven’t done so yet. Been concentrating on SEO for the past year until my projects are running smoothly.

    Google went and sent me £50 of credit to try and get me to use the credit i already had in the account. So may be another tactic that’s worth mentioning.

    Setup an account with a free voucher, let it sit there. I know this could be your potential gold mine. I guess it’s more people like myself that aint in a rush.

  • Bottom-line for cap networks is we male money on the volume of traffic. So with that said I think you’ll find some networks will pay you as fast as you need to be paid to keep that traffic flowing in the largest volumes possible. Sure CJ’s of the world could give shits but mid-sized cap networks should be able to facilitate his for you. We have a handful of guys on dailies. They had no money to start and figured something out so we pay them fast and everyone wins. Keep in mind as a network were sticking our neck way way out to do this. Paying you daily and maybe not getting paid for monthly net 30 terms. But if you transparent with good communication I think you’ll find if you have a good network they’ll do whatever they can to help you grow your affiliate business.

    Success,
    Smaxor
    President, Ads4Dough

  • Hey love the tip on Google. For the guys just starting out and wanting to take google for a ride go for it they got plenty of Cash.

    Its easy to get $100 adwords credits (it dont last long with there rediculous bid prices) So dont be a fool make sure you do it all the way Use a Proxy service (if you dont your guaranteed to get banned for life) Preferably use different computers (and never log in from the wrong acct from wrong computer) or you can use different browsers,different gmail accts, then of course you need a different tracking domain for each acct. Dont forget your network links have identifiying info as well so better Cloak them.

    This really can be a lot of work to scam them but once you get it setup why not get 10 or 20 accts or even 100 at a 100 accts $100 credit that’d be $10k in free ad’s if you can make a dollar for each dollar you spend ur sitting on 20k of free money. Turn around buy your traffic from a better source and double up again and again and pretty soon your a fricking super affiliate ballin all over town. Yes you to can live the dream with a little imagination.

  • “Or go one step further like yours truly and simply rinse the entire pile in WHSmiths when nobody is looking.”

    I lol’d 😀
    Nice post, finchster, your words ring true.

  • Nice post. Liked the bit about WHSmith, ever got in trouble for that? Just an extra $100 or so from digitalpoint a month wouldn’t go amiss :p

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