The arrival of Spring marks 4 years since I quit my day job, dropped a brick through the alarm clock, and chose full-time affiliate marketing as a career. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll be familiar with my annual outpouring of ‘what I’ve learnt in the previous 12 months’, and the gory detail it so often entails.
Well, hold on tight…
What happens to the human brain after four years in affiliate marketing? Is twenty-something dementia an inevitability? Does the industry have a future? These are questions that have been landing in my inbox with increasing regularity since the launch of my Affiliate Marketing Survival Guide 2013.
I’m going to condense one of the hardest years of my life in to 7 takeaway brainfarts. Make of them what you will.
You Can’t Live Off ‘Potential’ Forever
I had a slight identity crisis through the winter. You might refer to it as a first world problem, but I live in the first world, and we all have our battles. Sucketh on.
When I launched my affiliate business, I was 21 years old and a lot of my identity and self-worth was built around being a young entrepreneur instead of a slave to academia. As the years have gone by and my friends have left University and started their own careers, I’ve struggled to rationalise how this particular brand of entrepreneurship – affiliate marketing – correlates to the type of business figures and moguls I’ve come to admire.
My own identity has been placed under the hammer, and while I can justify advertising until my face burns blue, I’m not entirely at peace with the legacy of it.
I read a fantastic piece of advice in The Chimp Paradox that goes like this:
Imagine that you are 100 years old and on your death bed with one minute left to live. Your great-great-grandchild asks, “Before you die, tell me, what should I do with my life?”
Pause for a moment now and try to honestly answer the question immediately within the next minute. You have just one minute, start now and then when the time is up and you have worked out what you would say to them, continue below.
Many people will answer with statements such as, ‘it doesn’t matter what you do’, ‘be happy’, ‘don’t worry’, and ‘make the most of it’.
Whatever your advice was to your great-great-grandchild is really the advice to yourself. If you are not living by this advice, which is the essence of your existence, you are living a lie.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the transition from a young guy in the industry with stars and dollar bills in his eyes, to being an established part of that industry and then not being sure if the industry is what he would want on his tombstone. This, in large part, has forced a dramatic shift in where I spend my time, and where I see my future.
Writing 1000 Words Per Day
One of the best decisions I’ve made in the last year is a commitment to write at least 1000 words every day.
Sometimes my writing involves commercial products that I intend to release, sometimes it involves blog posts (like this), and sometimes it means wave after wave of scribbles in one of about 5,000 moleskines.
I went through a phase of brutally recommending the 1000 words a day as catharsis to anybody and everybody who would listen. The truth is, everybody is different. Writing is just one of many different forms of expression, it only so happens to be the one that best erases my stresses and strains.
Whether you are a writer, an artist, a social butterfly or somebody who can only think straight with adrenaline coursing through his veins, it pays damn well to get in touch with the medium that allows you to express yourself and ‘get it out’. Finding what works for me (although I already knew) is definitely one of the plus points of the last 12 months.
A Bad Diet is a Big Handicap
After growing sick of Masterchef breakfasts, I recently rocked up to Whole Foods and pillaged the supplement and shake aisles for more vitamins than I’d previously ingested in my other 25 years combined.
While I have slipped back in to bad patterns recently (a broken fridge will do that to a man), there is no mistaking the benefits of eating well. The effect a good diet – and particularly a nutritious breakfast – can have on your productivity is absolutely mindblowing.
I have a sweet tooth, some might even say a McTooth. But I’ve seen what difference processed crap has on my ability to think clearly, and to sustain that focus for hours at a time. I will be damned if I don’t consolidate some major dietary changes in the next 12 months. It’s money on the table in billable hours.
Mind Power Experiments
I recently followed a tip from Charles Ngo and have been taking L-Theanine supplements mixed with caffeine and Green Tea before the more intense parts of my day. Kiss my balls in advance, I’m not talking about RedTube.
L-Theanine is an amino acid that can lower anxiety and reduce the psychological and physiological effects of stress. It is relatively free from side-effects (everybody reacts differently, do not assume I wear a white coat), and one of many nootropics that *may* boost cognitive performance. If Limitless grabbed you by the gooch, they are worth checking out.
While I have started to build up a tolerance to L-Theanine, it remains a pretty badass supplement when used sparingly to trigger a 3 to 4 hour burst of lucid focus, something I swear by when I’m writing. I kicked back a dose before writing this post and my eyes haven’t left the screen. Godsend.
Another ‘mind hack’ I’ve become very familiar with in the last year is hypnosis. No, not the apocalyptic Derren Brown kind, but gentle, relaxation techniques. I took 7 hours of professional hypnotherapy from Darren Marks in Harley Street (recommended), and the sessions have helped me to get a grip on some damaging personal issues that were getting my titties in a twist.
Cheap self-hypnosis tracks are available all over the Internet, for just about any pursuit imaginable. Even if you don’t ‘believe in hypnotism’, they are excellent relaxation tools for 20 minute breaks.
Relationships can’t be immune to change
The last time I mentioned my relationship, it was in glowing terms with an engagement and a move to America on the horizon. Well, that didn’t work out so well. I broke up with my ex in February, and the quiet on this blog has a lot to do with the force of the change ripping through the rest of my life.
There was no hatred, no resentment, no posturing to spare the blame. Just a sad mutual realisation how something that once felt so right; over days, weeks or months; had splintered in to something that no longer was. That’s the story.
I resent the 24/7 gossip mill culture that says scapegoats need to be found, drama made, or an opinion of a person has to shift if you break up with them. It’s Grade A bollocks, and I have no time for the bloodthirst.
Even worse, there’s judgment from the passive observer (who could only possibly find fulfilment in an episode of Hollyoakes); he or she who thinks that two grown adults making a decision has to reflect badly or tellingly on one of them.
“Where did it go wrong? Who did what?”
C’est la vie.
Sometimes life throws you lemons.
Instead of making lemonade, I prefer to throw them back at the idiots who need conflict and bitching to get through their days. That’s pretty much all I want to say about it.
This is an affiliate marketing blog. And yes, I use the term loosely.
I Cannot Dance
Being single again has reminded me how garishly offensive-on-the-eyeballs I can be when unleashed on a dancefloor.
My friends knew this already, but I had forgotten the fact over time.
I want to take this opportunity to say sorry in advance for the empty bars, clubs, etc.
It’s not you, London, it’s definitely me.
And what about Affiliate Marketing? Is it Dead?
No, she lives.
There were times in the past few years where I felt overly paranoid for questioning when Lady Affiliate Marketing would pop her clogs and we’d all be forced to look for a day job.
The bottom line is that any change is gradual, and even our worst fears (traffic source meltdowns, offer implosions) are negotiable by diversifying carefully, not resting on your laurels, and reading your RSS once in a blue moon.
Basically, don’t live under a rock, don’t pretend you’re invincible, don’t brag about your success (Karma is a bitch) and you should be okay.
One day, the industry will resemble a completely different beast. That’s true. And yes, one day the tactics that worked in 2013 will be laughed at by the Internet nerdscallions of 2017.
Who needs to lose sleep over it?
The rest of the ‘unanswerable questions’ have a time, a place and a name.
They’re called 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Keep your eyes open, work hard, don’t be a complete fuck-up, and you’ll be just fine.
Recommended This Week:
- For a more complete dissection on where affiliate marketing stands, I suggest you pick up this Survival Guide, updated for 2013.