1
Thoughts on Bangkok and Staying Productive Abroad
2
6 Reasons Why Campaigns Fail (And How to Fix Them)
3
How 1 Weird Table Keeps Me Motivated in the Morning

Thoughts on Bangkok and Staying Productive Abroad

Thailand is one of the Internet Marketing capitals of the world.

Every day I hear of another affiliate moving here.

It’s an exciting place to come, but there are obvious challenges.

Most notably… The P word.

Productivity.

This post outlines some of the impact living in Thailand has on your productivity.

Needless to say, if you are a 60-year-old sexpat who spends his days propping up the bar in Nana — productivity is the least of your concerns.

Please exit this blog and return to ThaiVisa Forum.

Advantages

Let’s start with the advantages.

These are my net gains compared to London.

It’s Easy to Be Healthy

salmon-royal-oak

If you can’t live a healthy life in Thailand, you should probably stop trying.

As people who know me can confirm, my middle name has never been Mr. Vitality.

It used to be simply: Village Pizza.

The guy who would order a Meatfeast, whilst still at the pub, then sprint off in to the darkness after spotting the delivery bike, caught perilously at a red light, enroute to his empty home.

I’m over that shit.

In Thailand, my diet is much improved.

I eat well. I swim and exercise daily. I sweat out enough toxins to drown a small kitten in a bath of poison.

Because it’s so easy.

This country provides the perfect building blocks for a healthy lifestyle: bar a shit load of traffic fumes, and the constant threat of decapitation via motorcycle.

It’s easy to feel great when the tools to defeat inertia are sitting on your doorstep.

That inertia bossed my suburban life in London.

I barely made it to lunch without a trip to the local petrol station for a muffin and a Costa Express.

Think Alan Partridge’s life choices infected by the apathy of Keith from The Office.

Vitality is important for any job, but especially one with such high demands on your decision-making.

When you move here, your general health will improve.

It will have a positive effect on your work performance.

Thailand is Buzzing with Young Go-Getters

One of the more demoralising aspects of Suburban London, for me, is the infectious dawdle of life as it meanders from one season to the next: from childhood, to graduation, to getting a job, to marriage, to kids, to retirement, to a care home, and eternal buggery.

On an eventful day, I’d look out my window and what would I see?

A granny capsizing in a pothole as she battles to collect her pension. A few mums returning from their school run. Then little else for miles.

By contrast, Bangkok feels alive.

The young crowd is here by choice.

It’s like New York City.

Aspiration wafts through the street stalls and creates an environment where you can taste the hunger of other expats, all driven by the same core values: to escape the predictability of their childhood homes; to live for now.

If you are an affiliate, you’ll be shocked by the number of us that are already here.

Thailand is a melting pot of affiliate scumbaggery.

It’s fitting that the biggest conference in our industry’s history will be held in Bangkok this December:

Affiliate World Asia

Plenty of Co-Working Opportunities

I know many affiliates are put off by the idea of living alone in a foreign city, and especially working alone.

It’s not that bad.

The large Internet Marketing community provides opportunities to network and meet people with the same daily struggles.

There are a ton of co-working spaces, like The Hive, where you can leave your apartment and leverage the buzz of an office environment to get more work done.

You’ll also find plenty of Skype groups with a constant stream of spare desks offered.

The good thing about this community?

It shares the same work genes.

The networking opportunities are there — both social and professional — if you want them.

But there’s no pressure to conform to the nomadic playboy bullshit so often spouted by know-it-all degenerates on their first journey out-of-state.

“Bro do you even travel?”

If you want to stay in your man cave and focus on work, that’s fine.

The Perfect Base in East Asia

Bangkok on map

There are many countries in East Asia that are great to visit, but the trade-offs of living in them are higher — or complicated by visa accessibility.

China, Japan, Cambodia, Singapore, Vietnam etc.

Thailand is a perfect storm of Asian culture meets Western comforts.

You can settle quickly.

The infrastructure is designed for tourism, meaning you can live as you would in any other major city.

English is widely understood.

Communities of expats have been embedded over decades.

My girlfriend tells me that Jakarta is the ‘next breakout city’ in the mould of Bangkok.

That will be interesting to see.

Until then, Thailand is the perfect base to explore the rest of Asia whilst having somewhere that resembles a home.

Some people can travel from country to country with a laptop in tow.

Try it if you fancy.

My dogs would disown me.

Disadvantages

Thailand isn’t quite paradise yet.

Once the honeymoon period is over, you will have to contend with some cultural differences that can be hard to reconcile.

Foreign Investment is Smothered in Red Tape.

Thailand treats foreign investment like a plane carrying Ebola.

Want to buy a condo freehold?

You can, but only if 51% of the units in the building are Thai-owned.

Want to get a job?

You can, but only after submitting an essay titled “Why This Job Could Not Be Performed by a Thai”.

Any business must then abide by ‘homegrown workforce’ rules:

For every foreigner hired, the company must employ four Thais.

It can be baffling to witness a situation where a) the company wants to hire a foreigner, and b) the foreigner wants to work for that company, but in order for a work permit to be issued… an arbitrary four new jobs must be created.

My girlfriend had a media visa refused after the embassy decided it would no longer apply for both newspapers and magazines — only newspapers.

The rule was changed 2 days prior.

The advice given?

“Apply again next month, we change the rules back.”

If you are not Thai, you are treated with suspicion, or forced to jump through any number of hoops.

This passive aggressive obstruction of un-Thai development is understandable for anybody who has stepped foot in a soulless metropolis, like, say, Dubai.

But as Bangkok rolls out its umpteenth luxury shopping plex — built-to-order, the chrome guise of an Arab’s wettest dream — I find myself asking:

What part of Thailand is the endless red tape designed to preserve?

The more time you spend here, the more likely that bureaucracy will get in your way.

Inevitably, visa issues will affect your productivity.

Decision Making is “Thailand Only”

There’s a saying in this country used by the natives to express their bemusement over shit that passes as normal:

“Thailand Only”

Thais are known for their great hospitality.

They are fiercely proud of their country.

Whilst they will welcome you with open arms, any suggestions on what might be improved are likely to go down about as well as a busker sipping Chang at Emquartier.

Thais will acknowledge problems, but they will often shrug at the solution.

Chains of command are rarely broken.

To question too loudly, or to criticise and cause one to lose face, is the ultimate sacrilege.

This can leave the average westerner scratching his head at some of the remarkable inefficiencies on display.

You have to accept:

There are plenty of ways to improve Thailand, but Eastern collectivism is a different beast to the individualism we celebrate in the West.

You won’t change a culture that has such contrasting values at its core.

Don’t take it personally.

“Thailand Only.”

The Heat is Sapping

When I post on Facebook that it’s too hot, I’m met by ridicule from Brits back home.

“You’ve got a problem with 40 degrees, have you? Felt the need to post about it, did you? Fuck off, you twat. Don’t come back.”

I love a scorching day by the pool, yes, but sweating buckets is not the optimal state for productivity.

At best, it’s a recipe for a gigantic electricity bill.

I spent 13,000 baht (about £250) on my AC last month.

If you take a trip out for lunch, the ferocious heat can wipe you out for the rest of the day.

I make a conscious effort to get the bulk of my work done in the morning before I expose myself to the elements.

The Thai summer is b-r-u-t-a-l.

The Traffic and General Lateness

Bangkok Traffic

Oh my god, the traffic.

As a general rule of thumb, if you have made plans for the evening, and those plans involve catching a taxi near Sukhumvit Road at 7pm… cancel your plans.

Go home.

Read a book, have a wank, or paint your nails.

The night is over for you.

Likewise, if you are one of those guys who arranges his schedule in to 15 minute chunks, Jenga’d together, and endangered by one wet fart… don’t set foot in Bangkok.

This city will eat your best laid plans for breakfast.

Sometimes I emerge from my apartment in awe that Bangkok is actually beneath me — and not 15 minutes away, running late, with a gob full of street food.

Want to measure the priorities of a city?

Look at how fast people walk from A to B.

A tortoise could migrate up Everest with greater zest than a Bangkokian between meals.

There is simply no rush.

If you value punctuality, be prepared.

This country will leave you sweaty, angry, and ten degrees hotter than the laughing locals.

Conclusion

You know what?

Fuck it.

Move to Thailand.

Any criticism I have is not borne out of dislike.

I believe if Thailand fixed its flaws, it would be the best damn place to live in the world.

I’d probably never leave.

The good far outweighs the bad.

There is so much that is right about this country.

The shit that is wrong stands out like a Japanese tourist lost at Nana Plaza.

Would I recommend this place for everybody?

No.

You have to be at a certain point in your life for moving abroad to hold appeal.

For many people, that moment never comes.

For others, Thailand is an assault on the senses. It’s too crazy.

Personally, I love it here.

But I know I won’t be in Thailand forever.

I try to use that as the lens for how I view my productivity.

Even if I get 10% or 20% less work done, it’s a period of my life that I’ll never forget.

Isn’t that supposed to be the point?

RECOMMENDED THIS WEEK:

  • In case you missed it, my brand new 2015 edition of Premium Posts is available now. Need a recipe for affiliate success in 2015? You won’t find a single resource that covers as much ground as this. 375 pages of my very best tips and strategies.
  • The Premium Posts 2015 Edition is sponsored by Adsimilis. You know all about Adsims, right? They are one of the best CPA networks in the business. If you run any kind of mobile, dating or sweepstakes… then sign up an affiliate account, ca-ching.

P.S. You can read 40 pages of Premium Posts 2015 for FREE by opting in to my monthly newsletter below:

6 Reasons Why Campaigns Fail (And How to Fix Them)

It’s 300 years since alchemy went out of fashion, but some affiliates still believe in the principle of a philosopher’s stone:

A magic formula that can turn very average materials in to gold.

It’s catnip for affiliates.

“What one technique can I inject in to my marketing for transformative results?”

Be careful with this mindset.

My view is that pragmatism will bring you closer to success.

I believe ‘getting it right’ is less a pursuit of magic formulas, and more a game of cutting out enough mistakes to understand simply what is.

In this post, I have listed six reasons why campaigns fail.

We’ll start with the very obvious…

#1. You bypass research and the process of idea elimination.

If you skip research, you will launch half-baked campaigns.

Research can be as simple as asking your account manager whether an offer has received traffic from other affiliates.

“Did it convert for them?”

If the answer is no, or more likely — a polite deflection, and a suggestion to run Offer Y instead — consider that an important insight.

Many campaigns avoid failure if subjected to criticism before your mind has raced away with the imaginary profits.

I often tell affiliates to stick to one traffic source.

A good reason for this is to develop your understanding of the platform’s ecosystem.

  • What is a good CTR?
  • What is an average CPM?
  • How high do I have to bid to get traffic?
  • How much traffic can I get in this country?

By focusing your efforts on a single platform, you will establish baseline performance metrics.

This information helps you eliminate dozens of campaign ideas where the maths are stacked against you.

How fast you eliminate bad ideas is a key factor of success.

Before launching any campaign: detach yourself as the author.

Imagine you are vetting it for a complete newbie.

Now, unleash the cynic inside.

Establish the key assumptions that must be proven true for the campaign to succeed.

“He’ll need a CTR of at least 30% to break even.”
“If he’s direct linking, he’ll need to convert at 3%.”
“He’ll need enough margin to bid $1.50 if he wants traffic in Germany.”

Then ask yourself:

What evidence do I have against this amateur bumberclart succeeding where others have failed?

If you can’t find any, steal his campaign.

#2. You run too many campaigns.

How many campaigns are you juggling today?

Dunbar’s number: By using the average human brain size and extrapolating from the results of primates, Dunbar proposed that humans can only comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships.

What?

WHAT?

Eat a sack of my balls, Dunbar.

You think affiliates give a shit about brain capacity and human limits?

Most of us are too busy launching a blitzkrieg across seven new traffic sources on four different continents. Are we discomforted? — yes. But only by the factory line of ripped banners spilling out of our pants.

And that is the point.

Many of us are too busy to question the wisdom of our ways.

My bet is that for every 10 campaigns an affiliate tries to manage, he loses 50 stable relationships.

Resist the temptation!

Covering so much ground creates an illusion of progress — especially if you pick up some profitable campaigns along the way.

But having equity in so many territories makes all of them harder to defend.

You’ll spend the best part of your career extinguishing fires.

Before running any campaign, ask yourself: “What is the best possible outcome of working on this?”

If the answer can’t pay for your career all by itself, keep looking.

#3. You compete in a crowded market without a competitive advantage.

What distinguishes you from every other affiliate promoting the same offer?

What is the USP of your affiliate business?

If you don’t have a competitive advantage, you have something entirely less constructive: a headache.

Understand that larger, bitter-fought markets do not weaken over time.

Many affiliates stroll on to the battlefield thinking their energy and optimism is enough to disrupt rivals who have been scrapping fiercely in that market for many years.

Energy and optimism are great traits; but so is realism.

If you are entering a crowded market, the first step is to submit to your ignorance.

Resist any suggestion that you know what you’re doing, and simply observe:

  • Who are the major players?
  • How are they succeeding?
  • What are their strengths?
  • What are their weaknesses?
  • Is there any part of the existing market they are failing to serve?

Arbitrage is a brutal game.

The only way you survive is by carving out a competitive advantage.

That could be an exclusive offer, a higher payout, better technology, the ability to monetise non-converters…

What you don’t want to rely on is your ability to work harder than everybody else.

This advantage is only viable in the short-term.

It is blunted by time and success.

A good plan is to build structural advantages in to your business.

These are advantages that cannot be replicated while you sleep.

#4. You lack judgment with your blacklisting and whitelisting.

The heart of optimising a campaign is learning when to blacklist, when to whitelist, and when to shut up, stay patient, and do nothing.

This is something I talked about extensively in Premium Posts 2015.

Blacklist: to block placements, devices, ads or other targeting criteria from your campaign.

Blacklist example: SiteABC.com is unprofitable so you blacklist it and prevent your ads from appearing there.

Whitelist: to allow a pre-defined list of placements, devices, carriers, etc.

Whitelist example: Nokia is your most profitable device, so you whitelist it and show your ads only to Nokia users.

Affiliates are notoriously trigger-happy with blacklisting and whitelisting.

Understandably so.

It’s their money at stake.

Larger companies, and brands, are embarrassingly slow.

“Hey, I need to set up a meeting with John from Marketing. It’s about our blacklist.”

“Shit, you mean we don’t have one?”
 
“Yes… next Friday is fine.”

Your optimisation philosophy will define the type of career you have as an affiliate.

Will you soar to dominate mass-markets with gentle use of blacklisting and offers that appeal to the mainstream?

Or will you whitelist your way to profit using obtuse targeting combinations that deliver healthy margins… at the price of scalability?

What I see all too often is affiliates choosing strategies that do not align with their goals.

My view is this:

The big money is made with a blacklisting approach.

The seed money, on a tight budget, is made with a whitelisting approach.

No money will be made if you adopt either approach before it is merited.

Mastering this feel for optimisation is essential for any marketer who wants to pay for advertising and remain solvent.

#5. You spend too much time looking for cheaper traffic.

I often get emails from affiliates asking if Traffic Source X is ‘cheap’ compared to another, or if $3.00 is a good CPM for Country Y.

My first response is obvious: “I don’t know. And until you run the campaign, neither will you.”

But I can see how this mindset is fed.

An affiliate enjoys some minor success on Platform A; makes some money, then gets driven out by rising click costs.

He turns his attention to Platform B.

“It’s 20% cheaper and converts just as well,” he says, “I’m back in business!”

This model — a form of cruising the advertising world for ever cheaper clicks — is not fit to sail.

It ignores the elephant hanging from the mast, which is this:

A competitor who can muscle you away from one platform, can do the same on another. And another. And another.

The solution is not to run towards cheaper traffic.

(Your competitors will find that too.)

You must build slack in to your campaigns instead.

That means increasing the revenue from your funnel to above the market average.

Until your campaign is inherently ‘better than average’, it will always be next in line to turn red.

Costs will not stay the same whilst mediocrity = profit.

The guy who has slack will pay more to take that profit away from you.

Stop looking for cheaper traffic.

Aim to squeeze more revenue from what you already have.

#6. You are competing fairly in a market that resembles the Wild West.

I hear industry veterans preaching that success is created by sacrifice and hard work.

Whilst this is partly true, the reality is somewhat less marketable.

Many of the top affiliates earn their money using techniques considered misleading, or disingenuous, or quite simply — a bannable offence from the platform where the advertising is placed.

What does this tell you?

It says that risk aversion and moral disposition may be slightly more relevant to success than often credited.

It says that behind many an affiliate’s Success Story lies an equally sizeable Confessions page.

I’m not here to lecture on whether this is right or wrong.

It is reality.

There is a clear correlation between how far an affiliate is willing to push his creative license, and how many opportunities are open to him in this industry.

For every step you take away from the grey lines of affiliate marketing, you will have to work that much harder to catch up.

Remember: the prices you pay are controlled by who can profit the most.

Who has the most slack?

It shouldn’t take a genius to see how the methods that work so well for some, may be untenable for others.

This bears consideration in your choice of niche.

Are you muddling through a market that has been cornered by wolves?

Barring a spectacular effort, you will find yourself out-gunned by affiliates who could not give a solitary shite what a ‘T&C’ stands for.

The only response is to focus on markets, platforms and specific offers that are well regulated.

(Don’t be surprised if you find yourself naturally gravitating away from CPA at this point.)

Conclusion

These 6 reasons for failure are a constant threat to your affiliate marketing career.

They are regular circuit-breakers.

They can strike at any time.

Knowing that there’s so much you can’t change about our industry, make it your mission to cut out the unforced errors instead.

I believe it’s true that while most campaigns do fail, it is not for a lack of creative spark.

(There’s very little true innovation in affiliate marketing.)

They fail because you commit a fundamental mistake.

The market punishes this mistake.

The market will continue to punish this mistake until you address it.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

By deconstructing the way that you work, by questioning the processes and beliefs that you routinely follow on auto-pilot, only then can you succeed in changing them.

RECOMMENDED THIS WEEK:

  • In case you missed it, my brand new 2015 edition of Premium Posts is available now. Need a recipe for affiliate success in 2015? You won’t find a single resource that covers as much ground as this. 375 pages of my very best tips and strategies.
  • The Premium Posts 2015 Edition is sponsored by Adsimilis. You know all about Adsims, right? They are one of the best CPA networks in the business. If you run any kind of mobile, dating or sweepstakes… then sign up an affiliate account, ca-ching.

P.S. You can read 40 pages of Premium Posts 2015 for FREE by opting in to my monthly newsletter below:

How 1 Weird Table Keeps Me Motivated in the Morning

Affiliates have a daily scorecard.

“Profit per day.”

There are many ways you can track your progress in this industry.

The one method that doesn’t lie is profit taken.

The problem with measuring profit per day is that it exposes your morning ritual to one of two negative emotions:

Complacency and impatience.

A good day can breed complacency.

A bad day can breed impatience.

Either emotion can have a ruinous effect on your decision making.

And that’s why we should look beyond daily performance metrics if we want to stay motivated.

One of the methods I use involves gamification and an imaginary league table.

Hold on tight. This could get a little geeky.

‘League of Affiliates’

At the start of every month, I create an imaginary league table of twenty affiliates and how much they will have earned by the end of the month.

I set prizes for finishing at the top.

Here is how the table might look for an intermediate, mid-level affiliate:

League of Affiliates

Make sure that first place is attainable, and not so far detached from your current affiliate level that it triggers a nose bleed to look at.

In this example, $30,000 profit represents ‘the perfect month’.

What I like to do is tie 1st place to a big reward.

Something that I really, really want, or somewhere that I’d really like to go.

It could be a dream holiday; a big purchase; the proverbial jackpot that keeps you ticking.

If you have debts, it could be ‘Pay down Credit Card X‘ or ‘Wipe X% off the mortgage‘.

The idea being that if in 30 days time you have equalled or bettered the John Doe affiliate in 1st place, you get to treat yourself.

And not feel guilty about it.

I also create rewards for positions 2-4.

These positions should represent very good performance relative to what you would normally expect.

The rewards might range from a fancy week-long holiday in second place, to dinner at a top restaurant in fourth place.

For beginner affiliates, lower targets and smaller rewards will suffice.

(If you really want to be ironic, you can set a 5th place reward as a trip to the underbelly of Europe on Thursday night — and a Liverpool shirt. That’ll fucking teach you for getting complacent.)

In one of my own recent tables, I rewarded a ‘top four’ finish with the laser eye surgery I’ve been wanting for five years.

It was a real incentive to keep pushing myself for 30 days.

At the bottom end of the table is your absolute minimum income target. Set it in 17th place — just above the relegation zone.

No rewards for surviving relegation, or for doing a Stoke.

(‘Stoke’ is what I call my pub quiz team in Bangkok, btw. Or it was until last week — when we became QPR.)

If you succeed in getting yourself relegated, I’m not sure of the best action.

Perhaps a fist in the balls and a change of niche.

How does this improve my motivation?

Next to my table in Excel I have a running tally of my total profit in the current month. This is divided by the number of days in the month so far.

I take my average profit per day, times it by 30, and the table will tell me what position I’m in… and what rewards (if any) I have to look forward to.

Every day is another chance to improve my position in the table.

Sound fucking crazy yet?

Probably.

I hope so.

This form of gamification may seem obscene to some, but I get valuable motivation from it as a form of data/progress visualisation.

Without a running monthly tally, it’s tempting to ‘write off’ bad days, or reward yourself prematurely after one good day.

Most importantly, the table is directly tied to your goals.

I reset mine every month.

I set new rewards that I have to earn.

Visual representation of your performance is better than merely writing what you earned yesterday on a post-it note, soon to be buried by tomorrow’s avalanche of data.

It’s so easy to become obsessed with the last 24 hours… or the next 24 hours.

But a month is a loooooong time in affiliate marketing.

Use that knowledge to deflect any impatience or complacency that might be creeping in to your morning ritual.

Monthly targets
+
Imaginary competition
+
Real-time ‘keeping score’
+
Rewards you actually want
=
A healthy fire under the arse.

What unusual ways do you have to stay motivated?

RECOMMENDED THIS WEEK:

  • In case you missed it, my brand new 2015 edition of Premium Posts is available now. Need a recipe for affiliate success in 2015? You won’t find a single resource that covers as much ground as this. 375 pages of my very best tips and strategies.
  • The Premium Posts 2015 Edition is sponsored by Adsimilis. You know all about Adsims, right? They are one of the best CPA networks in the business. If you run any kind of mobile, dating or sweepstakes… then sign up an affiliate account, ca-ching.

P.S. You can read 40 pages of Premium Posts 2015 for FREE by opting in to my monthly newsletter below:

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