I decided last week to spend some time on the Digital Point forums. I wouldn’t normally do this. I consider visits to both Digital Point and The Warrior Forum to be the equivalent of self-harm for affiliates. If you were to spend all day learning on them, you’d have gone ass backwards. If you’re not selling something, there’s no reason to be there.
One of my new initiatives out of the soul searching I did a little while ago was that I wanted to make an effort to help people and not just rip the shit out of them. So while on Digital Point, I was looking specifically for why so many of these marketers are spending their days spinning in circles and getting nowhere. What stood out was the giant canyon between free and paid advertising.
Some affiliates seem to have this mindset that if it ain’t free, it loses you money. A pay per click campaign is a prime example. I hear guys and girls complaining that they’d love the traffic from Google, but they can’t afford to spend money on paid ads. Let’s get it clear. It only costs you money if you suck at it. If you spend $100 to make $120 back – the paid advertising cost you less than the free advertising that took half your day and only made you 5 bucks. Free advertising comes at a price. That price is usually the investment of your time – unless you have a bunch of willing disciples pushing your shit for $0.47/hour.
Paid advertising doesn’t mean that you’re going to be left out of pocket. It simply means that you need to find a way to balance the right spend with your current cashflow situation. The most successful affiliates are getting paid weekly. This means their PPC budget is whatever they feel comfortable shedding from their account over the course of the 7 days that it takes to get reimbursed for the investment.
If you have money sitting in your bank, you have no excuse for avoiding paid advertising. The only excuse is that you’re worried you’ll suck at it and not make your money back + profit. Well, if that’s your mindset, why are you even dabbling in affiliate marketing? You belong sat at a desk on a fixed salary.
I’m not going to pretend that scaling to paid advertising isn’t an issue. There are ways to do it well. I thought I’d share a few of the concerns I had at the start of my switch to paid advertising, and how I managed to get over them.
First of all, you need to understand that most mainstream affiliate networks are not going to move you on to weekly payments overnight. Similarly, many networks will require that you cash a cheque before they switch you on to wired payments. This is to prevent the thousands of fraudsters out there from performing mass hit-and-run jobs on various offers. Considering each network will have significantly greater risk attached to their relationship with the advertisers that are paying them – it makes sense that you prove your worth to the network before they open up all payment options.
So you’re probably going to find yourself faced with the issue of “how I can afford to pay for my advertising when I’m not getting the money back ’til next month?”. The way I dealt with the problem was by having a little patience and sending only a small amount of traffic in my first month with each network.
Take a look at the minimum payment threshold to receive a cheque. It’ll probably be something like $100. So send $100 worth of traffic, wait for the cheque, cash it and then speak to your affiliate manager about payment terms. Tell him you’re ready to ramp up the traffic if he can guarantee you a weekly wire after xxx days. You’ll have more luck doing this than by strutting up to him on Day One and asking for the big shot treatment. Like your clicks are laced in gold or your berry traffic is fatter than the rest.
To be honest, you could just copy what I’ve done here. Create a blog, talk enough shit, and let the networks come to you.
The safest way to try paid advertising is unquestionably to haggle your way in to making it free advertising. One of my favourite methods was to steal PPC coupons from local bookshops. And yes, if you’re wondering, that’s about as classy as this blog is going to get.
Back when I was still working for my old web agency, it used to be a bit of a running joke on the web team that every time I disappeared for lunch, I’d come back with more Â£30 Adwords vouchers. I realized that .Net magazine was giving away a voucher with every edition. I’d simply roll in to WHSmiths and grab the loose inserts.
While many experts would love to have you believe there’s a magic ebook with the formula for success waiting to be read – it isn’t like that. It isn’t like that at all. The only way I ever got myself earning significant money was by grabbing the free Adwords coupons and experimenting until I found a campaign that was secure enough to pour my own money in to. Once you know a campaign is profitable, you would be an absolute retard for rejecting the instavolume that comes with PPC advertising.
Of course, there’s more to affiliate marketing than PPC advertising. If you’re operating on a limited budget, you can still chase down small media buys. People complain that media buys are a waste of money, too risky, too expensive and blah blah blah who gives a shit. So take the risk out of them!
There are literally thousands of websites out there with rarely clicked “advertising” links. If I’m going to buy exposure on somebody else’s site, I like to target the webmasters who aren’t entirely tuned in with what I do as a business. Go hunt down a website that has more than one advertising space available and ready to buy. What does this tell you? It tells you the webmaster is losing money by simply leaving the ad space unfilled. It tells you he probably might be interested in letting you run, say, a 24 hour test campaign to decide before you buy…right? These are the kind of opportunities that you have to jump on while your budget is still limited. And even if you’re an experienced marketer, it never hurts to be a cautious buyer.
Remember, the intention is never to claim a freebie. But rather to use trial opportunities to test a campaign and make a sensible decision about whether it’s going to be profitable to run. I remember what it was like when every dollar I had needed to be smartly invested. It probably brought out the best in my abilities.
But you need to have the right attitude. I’m willing to bet that most of these Digital Point members would see a Â£30 Adwords coupon and think to themselves, “How can I use that to get a Â£15 sale?”.
In reality, one of the quickest ways to get smart at affiliate marketing is to put your money where your mouth is. Remember that it might only take 1 day of a successful campaign to pay for an entire month’s worth of failed campaigns. But you’ll never appreciate this if you spend 8 hours a day submitting drivel to PR0 article directories.