How To Disappear Completely (And Still Make Money)
The Personality Traits Of A Successful Affiliate
How To Gatecrash The Title Of Mr. Authority

The Personality Traits Of A Successful Affiliate

It doesn’t take much in the way of marketing knowledge to become a successful affiliate. This is one of the reasons the affiliate world has generally been seen as the outcast simple cousin of real world marketing. Go to a trade show that isn’t centered on affiliates and you’ll meet a lot of corporate suits who visibly wince at our presence.

Certainly at London Adtech, I felt like a caged zoo animal. Met by stares and lots of “oh, how’s that working out for ya?” as if I’d stumbled in to the hall by mistake and would swiftly return to a late bloomer college that might actually take me somewhere in life.

This outsider reputation doesn’t surprise me. The affiliate industry was never likely to smell of roses. And most of us are carrying dirt from sometime or another.

We are a different breed to the vision of marketing expertise they preach in the textbooks. I often receive emails from fledgling affiliates who are trying to break in to the business, based on their inclination that they’re well suited from whatever job they were doing before. But is there such a thing as a good career path in to affiliate marketing?

Most of us are orphans from the academic ranks. College dropouts, guys that weren’t suited to the 9-5 and just about everything in-between. I don’t think there’s a qualification in the world that makes you suitable for affiliate marketing. 95% of the challenges you face will be overcome by the attitude you bring to them.

So what are the personality traits of a successful affiliate marketer? This is just as relevant to those of you getting started, as it is to those of us looking to improve. In an industry with zero barrier to entry, the best tool you have is your attitude.

The single most important personality trait I can pinpoint is the compulsive need to complete what you start. I don’t know how many dollars have been wasted by affiliates who abandoned what they started, but I know that it’s more than I’ll ever earn in my lifetime.

Money does not get made by doing a half-arsed job of your best laid plans. If your notebook is littered with more scribbles than your FTP log, you’re probably planning too much and achieving too little. But this is a very hard personality trait to shake. It’s born out of procrastination and indecision. Two killers to any healthy business.

The only advice I can give for completing what you start is to set tangible goals and invite your loved ones to take a swing at your balls if you fail to meet them. You can start by restricting your daily tasks to the bare minimum. It’s not worth setting yourself a huge to-do list if you never follow through and complete it. I find that setting just two or three key tasks per day keeps me on track.

Hand in hand with the ability to finish what you begin, is the virtue of perseverance and willingness to fail.

Unprofitable campaigns, rejected creatives and flat-lining conversion rates do not make you a bad affiliate. They just add chapters of knowledge to your eventual scrapbook of success. I can’t stress highly enough how the difference between making money and losing money is often so tiny that you’ll be left scratching your head and wondering why any self respecting guru would want to give away such a nugget. The answer, of course, is they never do.

Successful affiliates don’t settle for failing. They use each misplaced idea as a stepping stone to the one campaign that pays for all those that failed before.

If you can’t handle losing money, or being forced to learn from your mistakes – no marketing degree is going to save you. And that’s why so many academics fail and exit the affiliate world with tails between legs. They can’t handle their degrees counting for nothing. Success goes to the affiliate who embraces each failed campaign and learns something new.

Finally, I think it’s very important to have a strategic mind when it comes to testing new variables. You should adopt a structured approach to how you attack any campaign, instead of flinging different ideas at the wall. If you’re going to promote an offer, test it properly. Every successful campaign needs a baseline around which it is built. This might be the age demographic you’re targeting, the profession of your target market, or even the landing page itself.

You can’t effectively pinpoint the unprofitable parts of a campaign if you’re forever pissing around with new variables.

Perfect example. What do you stand to gain in running a dating offer from 6pm to 11pm, deciding you’re not happy with the conversion rate, and then switching to a different offer from 11pm to 4am? How will you ever know if the dayparting or the offer itself lead to the variation in your ROI? This is classic affiliate indecision. Jumping the gun before you’ve given your campaigns a chance to sink or swim in a way that you can at least learn something.

If I had to throw in one more personality trait of a successful affiliate, you can never go wrong with some controlled desperation. A lot of affiliates succeed because the final destination far outweighs the alternative of slaving away in a shelf-stacking day job for the rest of their lives. Not to belittle the shelf-stackers among us, because I’ve been there myself.

But if you see the industry as a fast track to making money, you’re as handicapped as the guy who sees a golf club as his ticket to challenging Tiger Woods. Not because you’re lacking the skill – we don’t need much – but because your attitude is all wrong. Desire is the driving force behind any successful affiliate, entrepreneur or human being for that matter. Without it, you’ve already failed.

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How To Gatecrash The Title Of Mr. Authority

It’s not easy establishing a website when your name counts for nothing. You can have the best content, the swankiest WordPress theme and even the biggest marketing budget. But without gatecrashing your niche’s network of influential people, it’s all going to feel like shoving crap up a hill. A constant struggle for little reward.

This meandering post is going to give you a few pointers for how to attract influential people to your site.

One Follower = One Backlink?

In many ways, I consider people to be the new backlinks. It’s very easy to buy a thousand Facebook “Likes”, just as it’s easy to blast a thousand forum profiles with xrumer. Most people are agreed that where link marketing is concerned, quality beats quantity. And that is also the case with acquiring fans or followers.

Look no further than the self-proclaimed social media experts on Twitter to discover just how irrelevant numbers can be. So you’ve got 15,000 followers, a shiny custom background and a name that rings out to your mother and close friends. It doesn’t mean shit if you’re a nobody in the eyes of the people that matter.

Every niche market has a select group of influential people that exert power over the rest of the marketplace. I would suggest that instead of spending your days preaching to the dumbfounded choir (Hello, WSOs on Warrior Forum), you go after these trend-setters and attempt to get in bed with them.

In the same way that one authoritative backlink is much more valuable than a thousand directory submissions, one influential fan holds considerably more power than a small battalion of “Who The Fuck Are You Again?” Followers.

So how can you gatecrash the party of influential trendsetters in your niche? How can you get behind those closed doors where opportunity awaits? Much has to do with building a brand, as I spoke about in my last post. But you also need to be relentless in your pursuit of the people that matter.

Understanding Who Controls Your Niche

Ask yourself a simple question: Where are my customers or readers likely to be found on the web?

When you know where your audience is hiding, you can begin to draw rings around the people you need to be reaching if you want to crack that network of influence. Let’s say your market is heavily populated by messageboards and forum communities.

Stop Whoring Yourself On Messageboards

The first step, as recommended in every shitty How To guide under the Digital Point sun, would be to register a profile and start posting in the hope that people click your lame signature link. This sucks. It’s not going to do much for your readership. Especially if all you have to your name is seven posts and an introductory thread.

A much more effective method is to hang back and look for the forum’s most popular posters. Find out who has the adoring affections of the community, and approach them with a private message asking how much they’d charge to endorse your site in their signature. Not many posters will turn down the chance to be paid for what they already do.

If you’re going to compromise the value of your time by posting on messageboards, at least make sure you have something valuable to add to the argument. Playing Devil’s Advocate is often a good ploy.

Breaking The Blogger’s Ego

What if the most influential people in your niche consist mainly of other bloggers? It can be very difficult for a blogger to gain status with other bloggers. Especially if his shit is actually good, and deemed threatening by the others.

The best way to breach a circle of influential bloggers is to deceive them with flattery. Comment on their posts, retweet their statuses and do your best to engage them in conversation. If you can squeeze in a guest post or two, all the better. The sooner they begin to associate you as a fan of their work, rather than a direct competitor, the easier you’re going to find it to get them engaging in your site.

Flattery will get you on the good side of your blogging peers, but to really leverage their power, you have to maintain excellent content. It has to be better than theirs, period. This is the only way you’ll earn their respect. Bloggers are much more willing to help others who have already stroked their egos.

An easy way to get an influential blogger to share your work is to namedrop them in a post, lace it with a sweet compliment, and then make sure they find it close to a retweet button. Or you could hand out your own blogger awards – voted by the people, of course – giving the target every incentive to repost it on his own blog in a bid for votes.

There are many ways to skin the cat, but you can’t go too linkbait crazy. Your site has to earn their respect before they’ll see you as anything other than a permanent oral fixture on their balls. Which, at this stage, let’s face it, you probably are.

If You Can’t Assert Authority, Be Happy With Mediocrity

Once upon a time, I ran a pro wrestling news site. If you’ve ever delved in to professional wrestling “news” journalism, you’ll be aware that about a hundred different journalists rely on the same one source for their news. One single whisper in the wind controls what all the websites are able to publish.

Readers would gravitate towards the sites where news broke first. If you couldn’t get the news before your competition, the best case scenario was hiring an overly keen sixteen year old to copy and paste like a whippet on coke. In this niche, the network of influence was restricted to a bunch of undisclosed sources (eg. Hulk Hogan’s makeup girl selling a hearsay backstage rumour for fifty bucks) and established journalists who’d been reporting from the same behind-the-scenes pedestal since the 80s.

As soon as I understood this, I moved on. I wasn’t passionate enough to immerse myself in breaching these sources and getting to the news first. Where would I even start? The Yellow Pages and a wiretap on Vince McMahon’s cellphone? Give me a break, I’m no real journalist. Without the exclusives, I’d always be a step behind the other news sites. If you can’t beat them, join them. If you can’t join them, why are you wasting your time?

Some projects are just too ambitious for one man in his basement. But I learnt something very important that I try to remember before I embark on any new project. You have to understand what your readers want, and be capable of delivering it.

How To Become Mr. Authority

Not every person of influence in your industry is going to have a website or blog. You shouldn’t be drawn in to thinking that you have to befriend every blogger or every high profile Twitter user. Sometimes, it pays to look further afield than rival sites for gaining authority.

I know one successful music blogger who has never given the time of day to linkbuilding or competing with rival sites. She doesn’t bother with SEO, commenting on other blogs or leaving crappy forum replies. She simply sends email after email to new and upcoming artists, introducing herself and letting them know what her blog is all about.

Inevitably, she gets sent a ton of free shit. Passes to a bunch of shows, free festival tickets, signed albums…just about anything she wants. But most importantly, it’s allowed her to establish a reputation as a trend-setter on the music blogging scene.


By understanding where she can add the most value to her blog. The value is in the relationships.

When was the last time you took the effort to introduce yourself to the companies you spend so long writing about? The best bloggers aren’t merely respected by their readers and rival webmasters, but by the very companies they’re writing about too.

The easiest way for you to gain influence isn’t to jostle for supremacy with the guy ranking above you on Google, but to instead chase down the owner of the product you’re trying to rank for. It never ceases to amaze me how much easier it is to build influence in a market, when you have an ear pinned to the ground of the companies that matter.

This could be as simple as building a list of the top five companies, then contacting their PR departments, introducing yourself and stating what you can offer with your website. Nothing has to materialize straight away. But good things come to those who put themselves in the right places.

And I can guarantee, most bloggers are too busy worrying about yesterday’s stats to be actively engaging with the companies they write about. The only relationships they bother chasing come hand in hand with affiliate commission, which is perfectly fine, but selling yourself very short if you want to be a true authority in your niche.

There isn’t a business in the world that doesn’t like a slice of friendly publicity. Get the exclusives that your rivals were too busy waiting to read about in their Google Alerts, and you will quickly discover it’s actually quite easy to gain influence.

Most of us who own websites or blogs are simply middlemen, wrestling with other middlemen for backlinks, search engine rankings and god knows what else. The quicker you turn your attention to understanding your readers, and the companies you write about, the sooner you’ll be able to forget about the other middlemen formerly known as your competition.

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