It’s now 18 months since I quit my day job. I guess the cliche thing to say would be that it feels like only yesterday. Well it doesn’t. All those vivid memories of clearing my office desk, elbowing a small mountain of coffee cups in to the trash, and setting off to live the dream. They’re pretty distant to say the least.
It’s hard to explain the things that go through your mind when you say goodbye and take your final commute home from the day job you hope you’ll never have to live again. It’s a combination of optimism, luxury and – in my case, at the time – a slightly paralyzing fear of “Oh shit, did I just quit my job in a recession?”
For those of you striving to make that dream a reality, I won’t shit on your parade. The first few weeks of rolling out of bed and being your own boss are like a paradise. But if you’ve been following this blog and reading my own journey, you’ll know that I’ve never been one to hold back from posting about the downsides.
But then, I’ve been facing several battles with myself that probably neutered any sense of reality. Most people would drop their day jobs in a second to have this luxury. And it’s something that I’m slowly starting to appreciate after the post-novelty trauma of adapting to working from home.
The most important lesson I’ve learnt so far is the importance of establishing relationships in an industry where trust and respectability are hard to come by. There’s always the temptation to become a profit scalping recluse. The kind of bastard who moves from pseudonym to pseudonym just to survive on the traffic sources that want him banned for life, only to pop up on WickedFire every now and then asking “How can I get a new Adwords account?”
This is the kind of bridge burning that can cost an affiliate dearly. And it’s the type of relationship that I showed no respect for whatsoever in my early days. When I entered the industry, I didn’t give a flying fuck how many search engine TOS guidelines I broke, or how many people I mislead with morally dubious advertisements. And it’s through a minor miracle, and some extremely exhaustive processes, that I can sit here and say that I still have access to every ad platform I might need in the future.
Other affiliates aren’t so lucky. Many are banned from Google, while a who’s who list of ballers are indefinitely exiled from Facebook. And even though last year’s profits might suggest it was worth it while it lasted, I would beg to differ. If you continuously exploit your relationships with these traffic sources, you’re inadvertently placing a clenched fist up your own arsehole. I promise you, one morning it will begin to hurt.
There is so much more value to coexisting with the Facebooks and Googles of this world, rather than forever ducking from their crosshairs. Are you happy to spend the rest of your days wincing whenever your Gmail shows a (1) because you know you’ve been a naughty boy?
I know many affiliates live and swear by the argument “Hey! It’s easy to get back on traffic sources – even if I’m banned for life! They’ll never catch me with my mum’s credit card, right? Wanna see how Gerard got ripped in 300?”
Well, yeah, I guess it’s easy to tell a girl you love her and then screw her over again. Sooner or later she’s gonna tear off your balls for going to the well too many times. You shouldn’t keep fucking with Facebook or Google’s little heartstrings. As impetuous as they may seem, your efforts are probably better spent holding hands and taking the next guideline changes with a sour lemon face but a long term vision. It’s better to be with than without where traffic sources are concerned.
At some point in the last 18 months, I started looking at my work as a business rather than a money making scheme. A different attitude is required to each. And I’m not saying you should agree with my own decisions, because some people ARE in this for the quick cash. In fact, ten minutes with the average Internet Marketer and it dawns on me how those of us who are actually here to build a business are the grand fucking minority. It’s an industry dominated by retards chasing a dream.
I’ve picked up certain tricks and exploits that could have netted me an absolute fortune in this last year. But they compromise my relationships with networks, traffic sources, advertisers, and the people who’d be reading my ads. If I was running a money making scheme, I probably wouldn’t give a shit. But I’m trying to build a business, so I’ve learnt to think differently. It’s just not worth getting greedy and burning your bridges.
I’m actually really excited about the next 18 months, thanks to the pursuit of some new projects that I genuinely believe in. In drawing up my business plans, it’s dawned on me the true value in having traffic sources like Google and Facebook at my disposal. I’m lucky to still have that luxury, and I’d be getting my little titties in a twist if I didn’t.
If you’re going to burn your bridges, make sure you bank a hell of a lot of money to justify the sacrifice. It’s a reckless streak you might end up regretting somewhere down the line.