Networks: Here’s How to Get More Business From Your Affiliates
Creative Mischief by Dave Trott
How Much Can You Earn From Affiliate Marketing?

Networks: Here’s How to Get More Business From Your Affiliates

Every network has a theory on how to get more business from affiliates.

I am convinced that most are wasting valuable time and money with strategies that are completely tits-up.

I have my own theory, one that I know to get more of my business. It is based around avoiding several pet peeves that I’ve highlighted below.

Please discuss this perspective at your next staff meeting so we can all start making more money.

1. If an offer requires approval, provide it quickly (where possible).

Like many affiliates, I am not particularly patient.

If two networks have the same offer, and I apply to run it on both, guess which network is going to get my business? 9 times out of 10, the one that approves me first.

There are situations where a delay is understandable:

If a merchant demands careful vetting of publishers’ advertising methods, then it is damn near unavoidable.

But what I can’t fathom is how the majority of requests, put bluntly as in the following example, can still take over 24 hours to approve:

Banner display

Approved, nearly 48 hours later.

To highlight the lunacy of this ‘barrier to entry’, here are three additional requests I sent last week:

Shouting from rooftops

Extended family

Registration URL on my balls

How many of these dubious requests do you think were accepted?

Answer: All of them, over 24 hours later.

Well, what was the bloody point in that then?

I have nothing against careful vetting of who does and doesn’t get accepted to promote an offer. Sensible business. But if you’re going to force publishers to apply for offers and then accept the requests as a matter of routine, do it quickly. Or lose the business.

2. Weekly EPC reports. I want them.

There are networks with gigantic lists of inactive affiliates.

How do you get that traffic back?

There’s one outreach method that remains vastly underrated by pretty much every network that I work with, and that is the weekly EPC report.

Networks that keep me in the loop about their best performing offers get more of my business.

Guys, I would pay you to keep your stats up to date. It saves me money in the time that I don’t waste chasing them.

Here’s a little perspective:

On Monday morning, every Monday morning, I search my Gmail for the terms ‘weekly EPC’ and ‘top performing offer’. The networks that have contacted me with this information are instantly filtered from the rest of the chaff. They are brought to my immediate attention.

I’m probably running one of their offers by the end of the morning.

What excuse do you have for not telling your affiliates which offers they should be promoting?

3. Resist the industry marketing jargon.

We work in advertising.


It’s amazing how many networks promote their features rather than their benefits.

  • High payouts are not a benefit. They are an expected feature of a good network.
  • Weekly payouts are not a benefit. They are a necessity.
  • Access to thousands of offers? That’s not a benefit. That’s a pain in the arse. CPA affiliates do not promote ‘thousands of offers’.

The language networks use to attract affiliates is littered with features, not benefits. And that’s why your marketing is so ineffective.

If you really want to get our business, here are some pointers.

1. There is no such thing as ‘unrivaled’ in the network space. No matter how good you are, we will always do business with your rivals. Positioning your brand as ‘the only option’ hurts your likeability, which as I’m about to explain, is a major unspoken benefit.

2. We are banner blind to the ‘best payouts’. If you are going to promote a real benefit, tell us what is new, exclusive, and unsaturated. Where these offers are concerned, the payout takes care of itself.

3. Make us like you.

Given the enormous competition, and how relatively little there is to distinguish you by, a simple way to get more business is to make us like you more than we like your rivals.

We are fickle, yes, but this applies to just about any industry.

The more we like you, the more we want to work with you.

How do you make us like you?

Engage in the affiliate community. Learn the language spoken by your publishers. Appeal to it. Hold your own meetups. Use Facebook and Twitter to create dossiers on your affiliates. Use what you learn to engage them before you pitch them. Use it to make outreach more personal. Assign your most amicable (and knowledgable) staff to trawl the forums offering insight and perspective; don’t wait for a negative thread with your name on it. Resist slagging wars with other networks. Never call yourself the ‘best’ network, or the ‘most exclusive’ network. Act like one. We will always be the judge.

In short…

Most networks rely on a theory that the best payouts, best terms and widest array of offers will be enough to seduce an affiliate.

From my perspective, what we are actually looking for is responsiveness, honesty and likeability.

Providing your features are ‘on par’ with other networks, it is these benefits that will get you ahead.

Recommended This Week

  • Volume X is now the bestselling release in my entire Premium Posts series. If you haven’t picked up a copy, what’s wrong with you? Are you sick?

  • The volume is sponsored by Adsimilis, a network that does a better job of appealing to affiliates than most. Register an account if you haven’t already.

Creative Mischief by Dave Trott

If you work in advertising, and particularly if you are British, this book is essential:

Creative Mischief by Dave Trott

I couldn’t put it down.

Very few advertising books qualify as ‘page turners’, but Creative Mischief races you to the last sentence. It packs anecdotes so good you’ll be itching to rehash them as your own.

Trott has razor sharp wit, the kind you’d expect from one of Britain’s greatest copywriters.

Entertaining from front to back, I’d give this all my stars. If I had any.

Other recommended books I’ve stumbled across this month:

If you have any recommendations, don’t be shy. My Amazon Wishlist needs re-padding.

And don’t be shy about ordering the entire Dave Trott collection.

You won’t regret it.

Recommended This Week

  • Volume X is now the bestselling release in my entire Premium Posts series. If you haven’t picked up a copy, what’s wrong with you? Are you sick?

  • The volume is sponsored by Adsimilis, one of the top networks for CPA affiliates. Adsimilis has hundreds of top offers (specialised in dating), with industry-leading payouts, and international coverage. Get onboard and start making some money!

How Much Can You Earn From Affiliate Marketing?

Two questions I often get asked:

“How much is it possible to earn from affiliate marketing?”
“If I quit my job, how long will it take me to earn X/day?”

Both answers depend on your competence, but I realise there’s an insatiable hunger for concrete figures. So, here’s my take on the matter…

There are five earning brackets in this industry.

  • Affiliate Apprentice – Losing money.
  • Low Level Affiliate – Anywhere from $0/day up to $300/day.
  • Intermediate Affiliate – Anywhere from $300/day up to $3,000/day.
  • High Level Affiliate – Anything above $3,000/day.
  • The ‘Bag of Dicks’ Affiliate – He who considers anything less than $10,000/day to be ‘doing it wrong’.

Bare in mind that we’re talking about profit here, not revenue.

Technically, a guy earning $300,000/month in revenue could be worse off than the guy making a steady $100/day with no outgoings. Admittedly he would have to be blind, dumb, deaf, drunk and stupid to continue swallowing such a skinny margin, but it highlights one of the rare laws of affiliate marketing:

Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity.

A unique characteristic of our industry is how the mighty can fall overnight, often in spectacular fashion.

You can go from earning $3,000/day to sod all in the space of a lunch break. And vice versa.

An Intermediate affiliate may drop a level after losing his best campaign, while the Affiliate Apprentice can turn Top Doggy Baller overnight if he stumbles in to an unsaturated niche and makes it pay (a daily occurrence in 2009, rare in 2013).

The Bag of Dicks Affiliate may continue to prosper, or complacency may bite him in the arse, but he’ll always be a bag of dicks as long as he judges others for how happy they should be with their income.

$300/Day vs. $300/Today

Many affiliates can’t seem to tell their daily income from their today’s income.

The volatile nature of the business makes it mindless fantasy to calculate your annual salary on the back of one day’s profits.

If this is your first day of affiliate marketing and you earn $1000, don’t assume that you’ll bank $365,000 in the next year.

Your current earnings, in relation to a salary, are $2.73/day.

Repeat your success tomorrow, then the day after, and so on in to the foreseeable future. Only then can you start throwing out whimsical multipliers on an income that isn’t yet yours.

What Are Established Affiliates Earning?

In the established affiliate community, I would say that most of us operate in the Intermediate earning category.

Note that by ‘established’, I’m talking about affiliates working full-time in the CPA space.

Just recently a poll was held on the STM Forum (I recommend you join) asking, “How much do you earn in a year?

Here were the results:

How much can you earn from affiliate marketing?

Obviously, what an affiliate says he earns does not always correlate to what he actually earns, but it says a lot about the competence and/or the bluster of these affiliates in that almost 20% reported over $1 Million per year profit.

That’s a lot of moolah in anybody’s currency.

If you take the median of this small sample ($81,000 to $120,000), it translates to between $221/day and $328/day in profit. I would put this at the very start of the Intermediate bracket, partly because the income has to be sustained over the course of a year. And this bracket is where most established affiliates stay.

Note: Not all affiliate forums are created equal. If you were to take a median sample from The Warrior Forum, I’d bet my shit that the average earnings would barely cover the typical London gas bill.

The jump from earning $300/day to earning $3,000/day and sustaining it is what separates a successful, established CPA affiliate from the very best in the business.

It’s worth noting, the best in the business are not always the happiest with their incomes.

Aligning Expectations with Earning Potential

My answer to the question, “If I quit my job, how long will it take me to earn X/day?” is often a swift “Forever“, and here’s why.

Many affiliates fail to align their earning expectations with work that is actually capable of delivering the desired income.

Here’s a breakdown of where each type of affiliate is likely to invest his time:

Low Level Affiliates: Focuses on pockets of profit around the web. He ignores economies of scale in favour of high margin campaigns on smaller traffic sources that tend to be extremely volatile. Examples include POF dating campaigns, small scale Facebook Ads, Juicy Ad buys.

Intermediate Affiliates: Focuses on high volume traffic sources with smaller margins than the Beginner, but more volume. Obscenely clustered around the dating niche (and more recently adult dating). High competition on large traffic sources reduces the size of the pie for all. Smart movers in this category target mobile marketing and pop traffic.

High Level Affiliates: Focuses on mass market media buys and hugely scalable traffic sources. Often trades convenience (self serve traffic sources) for direct buys with better margins and all of the pie. Greater risk involved, more capital required.

Apprentice Affiliates – Focuses, invariably, on all of the above, to his own detriment.

Bag of Dicks Affiliate – Focuses on Fox News.

So, what do you want to be? What are you happy to be?

If your expectations are such that you are delighted with an extra $100/day, then fuck anybody who tells you to throw down $10,000 on a costly media buy. POF is a brilliant low-level traffic source (with a few Intermediate exceptions who rely on economies of scope) and you need never risk your coat.

If you are happy with the intermediate earning bracket, then likewise, you can afford to avoid direct buys and risky investments but you will probably need to advance beyond the low-risk pockets of profit favoured by newbies.

However, if you are the type of affiliate who’s going to feel like he has a ball missing until he’s earning $5,000/day, then take a reality check.

Are you committing your time and energy to the types of campaigns that are statistically and logistically likely to open up the earning potential that represents what you want?

There’s no point in carving out micro-niches on POF if your heart beats for a million dollar salary.

It’s basic strategy.

What are you going to work on that can deliver an income that you’re happy with?

Fuck, that’s a commandment for life, not just affiliate marketing.

We CPA affiliates tend to gravitate towards High Level income targets, probably because we are young, greedy, obnoxious, unshowered mountain trolls with an appetite for life’s luxuries.

And that’s fine, but there’s a catch.

Everybody has an earning threshold that represents a point of diminishing returns. And many fail to recognise it.

Your life situation might dictate that $200/day is the pinnacle of financial motivation. You can drive yourself to attain this goal, but any further and the motivation begins to slip. That’s a point of diminishing returns. Call it your comfort zone. Any work to advance beyond this point comes with the additional burden of pushing you out of that comfort zone. And so procrastination sets in, along with the dual crippling fears of failure and success.

Many affiliates struggle to take their businesses to the next level because the nature of the game is such that you can be an ‘Intermediate’ banking one of the top 1% of salaries in the population.

Why push it further?

Well, there’s a good reason why we have to be aggressive, greedier and pushier than most. Affiliate marketing is not a career ladder in any traditional sense.

We are only ever as successful as our last campaigns.

We can’t progress through the ranks. There aren’t any. There are no fallbacks, no safe landings, no room for a performance marketer to live off past glories.

The guy at the top can become the guy at the bottom in the time it takes to shit his pants with campaigns burning around him.

And that’s a good thing. If you’re sporting shit-stained pants and a negative balance, you might not believe me, but it’s true.

Performance marketing is what it is. An industry that rewards the deserving and punishes the lazy, the unworthy, the bullshit mongers and the just plain wrong. It’s everything I wanted but couldn’t find in a 9-5.

The amount you can earn is almost as staggering as the amount you can lose, which is one very good reason why you should focus less on counting notes and more on your value as a marketer.

Enjoy the ride, and get a good accountant.

Recommended This Week

  • Volume X is now the bestselling release in my entire Premium Posts series. If you haven’t picked up a copy, what’s wrong with you? Are you sick?

  • The volume is sponsored by Adsimilis, one of the top networks for CPA affiliates. Adsimilis has hundreds of top offers (specialised in dating), with industry-leading payouts, and international coverage. Get onboard and start making some money!

Copyright © 2009-.