April marks the two year anniversary of my luminous full-time career as an affiliate marketer. I could use this occasion to celebrate the arduous hours spent scratching my balls, surfing for dating pics, or munching reheated pizza over my inbox. But where would be the sense in that?
Two years is a long time in an industry that doesn’t know how to stand still. I quit my day job at the height of the rebill boom back in 2009. And I must’ve pissed off Lady Luck somewhere along the line because my last day at work happened to coincide with the death of all my profitable campaigns. What do they call that in the corporate world? Something like “a difficult period of transition”?
You haven’t felt a “difficult period of transition” until you’ve been sat in your new home office, on the first day, wondering how to make a living for the rest of your life.
The answer, as I eventually came to discover, was by scrapping and slaving away. It might not have been the most graceful jump in to running my own business, but I just about managed to keep my shit in tact. The first year was an eye-opener in every sense. I moved slowly from promoting rebills towards more sustainable offers that didn’t require a WHOIS registration just to sleep at night.
For all the success I enjoyed pushing shameless rebills, my business was in no way equipped to deal with any serious growth. That’s the price you pay for being obsessed with dollar signs but blind to the supporting acts that lay the foundations of any successful business. If you don’t have an accountant, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. If you don’t have somebody you can go to for expert business advice, bam, there goes your kneecap too.
Christ knows how much money I surrendered in 2009 through taxes alone thanks to my stupid tunnel vision. The attitude I adopted was paramount to poison.
“Taxes? What do you think I am? A banker?” I didn’t register a company, I didn’t bother taking on an accountant and I sure as hell didn’t treat my work like a real job.
I had to learn that it wasn’t all about me. And no individual is smart enough to make the correct decision every time in all aspects of his work. So if my first year as a full-time affiliate marketer gave me a reality check, I suppose the last year has been spent acclimatizing to that reality.
I’m still no closer to being able to explain what exactly I do for a living (“Err, I build websites and market products… Ahh, forget it. I’m just a web programmer“), but at least I feel like my business is not about to be swept from underneath me.
One thing I can say for sure, if you’re making those first tentative steps in to affiliate marketing with a very limited budget, it gets easier. It might not feel like the shit is even possible when you’re still turning up negative ROIs, but it does get easier.
It’s amazing how in two whole years of doing what I do, the actual success formula has changed very little. Sure, the traffic sources come and go. The offers are swings and roundabouts. But making profitable campaigns is very easy once you’ve locked down the method in the madness. So much of affiliate marketing is about finding that one sweet spot, and then running with it until it stretches no further.
One of my most successful dating landing pages is something I threw together back in 2009 and have barely changed since. While I’ve learned a lot since then, and keep pushing myself to learn more, you’re never more than one small break away from making it in this industry. One moment of genius, one great idea…and so much can snowball from so very little.
The basic mechanics of affiliate marketing are as simple as they ever were. But moulding everything around it in to a successful business takes a lot more thought, a lot more work and a lot more time. Something tells me two years is just the start.
Recommended This Week:
If you’re based in the UK and worried about your affiliate taxes, now is the time to sort them out. Before the new tax year! I highly recommend Crunch for their flat-rate £60/month service. It takes a few days to get setup, but it’s worth it for peace of mind if you don’t already have an accountant – or fancy shafting your old one.
If you’re not already registered on PPV Playbook, you are missing a beat sunshine. Easily the BEST place to learn from marketers who are actually making money. It has some awesome case studies. The catch is that you will need to pay some of your hard earned pesos to access it. I swear from the bottom of my black heart, joining is worth every penny
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