How To Avoid Affiliate Marketing’s Black Hole Days
A Full Time Affiliate Pays More Than Just Taxes
The Challenges Of Full Time Affiliate Marketing

How To Avoid Affiliate Marketing’s Black Hole Days

How many affiliates have dared to count the minutes wasted in an average day? We’ve all experienced the hours spent waiting on ad approvals, offer activations, replies from overloaded account managers and the tedious matter of data accumulation.

A huge percentage of our working day is spent playing the waiting game. It’s one of the reasons the many Internet Marketing forums maintain such active communities, and why blogs such as mine retain a readership. Most of you are waiting for something to happen.

Black Hole Days, as I like to call them, are those where our productivity is stamped in to the ground. Where our goals are left at the mercy of somebody on the other side of the world deciding that an email or campaign is important enough to address. Such days are, thankfully, perfectly avoidable. But you’ll need to bagsy a lot of self-discipline along the way.

One of the many reasons that convinced me to move my efforts from SEO to paid traffic campaigns was the time that it took to see results. SEO is a messy business, full of relative variables, and a lot of donkey work. It’s easy to spend your 9-5 staying busy when there are more links to be had, and more articles to be written.

However, buying traffic and setting up arbitrage affiliate campaigns is something that can be achieved in the space of a morning. It can be done at a leisurely pace in your local coffee shop, so long as you find the seat where your fucked up dating imagery is shielded from the public eye.

It’s this lackadaisical approach to work that appealed to me while I was still in full-time employment. Yet, what they don’t tell you about making the jump from part-time to full-time affiliate is that nothing changes. Absolutely nothing.

The tasks simply expand to take up more of your time, and so you spunk more and more bandwidth on the chore of refreshing stats. Most of your work can be ticked off in two hours if you truly buckle down.

A lot of people ask me how I find time to blog regularly given the vast number of campaigns I seem to be running. Well, for one, the number of campaigns is probably much smaller than you think. And secondly, what else am I going to do? It takes 20 minutes to set up a campaign, and 2 minutes to check whether it’s a resounding success.

If we push ourselves, we can burn extra energy sending emails back and forth to various affiliate managers. For shits and giggles, you could always apply to one of these ‘2012-era’ offers that requires all ad copy, images and landing pages to be approved. Those are my favourites. They should come with a health warning.

Requires overnight planning. Likely to cause stroke and seismic mind-fuck in typical affiliate.

The truth is that blogging is one of my preferred methods of filling the Black Hole Days. When my campaigns are ‘in transit’, or waiting to accumulate data, I prefer to be proactive rather than bouncing off the walls on AIM.

If you don’t want to blog (and let’s face it, most people shouldn’t), I recommend that you keep two or three books by your desk, ideally on completely unrelated subjects. I set myself the target of writing 10 pages a day, and reading 100 pages. To the uninitiated, that may seem a little extreme, but it feeds me a steady stream of new inspiration and ideas. The writing, additionally, is a profitable side income.

Slowly over the months, I’ve learnt to embrace the idea of using time spent waiting on campaigns to plunge in to research and papers that I’m completely unfamiliar with. If you’re not striving to learn out of your comfort zone, you’re never going to match the diversity of knowledge that comes from working in a formal job.

Reading and writing are both nice ways of spending time productively, but perhaps the most important step you can take is to commit to a project that involves more than traditional CPA arbitrage. Ever since I took up this job, I’ve been looking for ways to establish a legitimate business that places me as more than just a middleman.

It’s a controversial subject for affiliates, amplified by the Affiliate Marketing is Dead extremist views.

I don’t believe affiliate marketing is dead. As a regulated industry, I think it’s only just starting to flourish. Strip away the bullshit stereotypes of how we make our money and you are left with one word that is not going out of fashion anytime soon – commission. My balls will perish long before commission.

However, if you spend two or three years in full-time affiliate marketing, you will eventually find that the waiting game begins to grate. You turn resentful of those Black Hole Days and gain an increasingly fine appetite for the power of running your own ship. It’s lucrative to be a middleman, but with so much time on our hands, it’s only logical that we take measures to develop a permanent business that is ours.

Recommended This Week

  • I hear Mr. Green has just released a brand new version of his Plentyoffish uploader kit. Sign up at the StackThatMoney Forum if you want it, along with a whole shebang of other free tools, plus a great community to receive professional treatment for your affiliate concerns.

  • If you need a helping hand making this affiliate thing work, Premium Posts Volume 2 splurges over 70 pages of my tips, techniques and strategies for conquering Facebook. Reviews so far have generally been that the Posts are better than sex, so please do check them out.

  • If you’re a new reader, please add me to your RSS. Also follow me on Twitter. Thanks for reading.

A Full Time Affiliate Pays More Than Just Taxes

If, like me, you’ve spent much of the last week combing over your accounts to prepare for a new tax year, it’s likely that a thousand failed campaigns have flashed before your eyes.

One of the great advantages of taking time out to review your yearly accounts is that it often drives home your failings as well as your successes. I’ve been systematically logging in to every traffic source and every network. You’d be surprised how many bad ideas I’ve run with in the last year. The recurring thought of the week has been, “Hey Finch, what the fuck were you thinking? Asking if a Jewish guy wants a girlfriend for Christmas? You twat.” But this is a good thing, surely?

The more mistakes you make as an affiliate, the less scope you have to ruin your next great idea.

I’ve rediscovered the campaigns that filled me with so much excitement when I jacked in my day job twelve months ago. And of course, I’ve seen dozens and dozens of half arsed concepts that were always going to fail, yet I still ran with them at the time. I’d like to think that I’ve upped my game and if nothing else, put in the ground work that 95% of affiliates are scared of covering for fear of failure.

Considering this is such a young industry, I’d be surprised if there’s not a few marketers out there in the same boat as myself. Drunk on the power trip of making money, and yet somehow bigger virgins than Mary in the art of running a business.

I’ve always been very keen to stress that affiliate marketing as a career isn’t all about kicking it back and making a fortune on traffic brokering while your shit smells of roses. And I stress it because I was an absolute retard when I gave up my day job. I had just turned 21 years old, with the kind of tunnel vision that saw me calculating my daily earnings and multiplying by 365 for what I thought I’d be sitting on as I write this now.

Recently I’ve been cruising some Internet Marketing forums – yeah, I know, somehow only I can make that sound dirty – which I often do when I’m looking for topics to write about. One of the threads that caught my eye was a question posed on WickedFire. A guy asking the masses if he was ready to give up his day job and go full time affiliate marketing.

I was tempted to reply with “If you care about your career, for the sacred balls of Christ, don’t go putting it in the hands of WickedFire…” but I think I was eating a pizza at the time. Seeing how it’s almost exactly a year since I made that decision myself (to go full-time, not to eat the pizza), I thought I’d offer my own insight.

So what are the magic income figures you need to be hitting before you’re ready to exist without a guaranteed pay cheque? They don’t exist. I hate to break it to you, but anybody who tells you otherwise is throwing equations out of his arse. There’s no guarantee your wife will spend as much as his.

I’m no statistician, but I’d stake my house on the average affiliate marketer being much younger than the average businessman. Many of us are affected by sudden changes in our fortunes. Steady business development and gradual growth are two terms that you simply don’t associate with the typical affiliate. I think it’s why a large number of the successful marketers amongst us are complete and utter dicks. Overnight success can make a man feel much smarter than he really is.

If you’re trying to decide whether you can afford to quit your day job based on financial calculations alone, you’ve got a real headache on your hands. Some people will say you should be able to live comfortably for six months without earning another penny.

For me, the real challenge has never been about earning enough money to pay the bills. Of course, that should be your number one concern. Especially if you have a family to look after. But adjusting to the dozens of stresses that come hand in hand with being your own boss, that has been the story of my year.

It’s not all about the money. I’ve spoken to quite a few affiliates and one of the qualities that many of us seem to share – I say quality, it’s almost like a burden – is the difficulty in separating work from the rest of our lives. The second you hedge your bets on affiliate marketing as your future, the levels of stress take a turn that you’re simply not going to be able to appreciate until you’ve left your day job and seen the full time grind for yourself.

I’ve been sitting here dealing with my taxes, and it’s nice to know that I’ve made good money and that I can live comfortably. But then I ask myself, “what would I like to achieve in the next twelve months?” Money doesn’t enter the equation.

I feel like I’ve sacrificed far more than a day job to be where I am now. For better or worse. Full time affiliate marketing is a huge lifestyle change. When the chips are down, it’s an inescapable mindfuck. There’s been more than the occasional morning coffee where I’ve been left feeling completely powerless to revive my fortunes while shit hits every fan around me.

If you’re not ready to sacrifice the little peace in your mind, right before you go to sleep, that you’ve got a day job to full back on if it all goes wrong – then no, you’re probably not ready to make that jump. You’ve got to be a little bit stupid and a little bit irrational to see the long term prospects in an industry that changes while you sleep.

Work has consumed me in the last year. I’ve had to sacrifice friendships, relationships, large parts of my social life and the freedom that came with it. I say I had to, but I really didn’t. For a 22 year old who thought this would be a piss in the park, I guess I never really appreciated the challenges ahead. And when it hit me, slowly over the months, success turned in to a form of obsession.

If you’re working from home, yes, it’s a great freedom to have. You can work anywhere. But the novelty of being able to log on to your laptop and consider yourself setup for the day is actually a burden in itself. Whenever I’m online, I feel somehow chained to my job. People can, and do, take the chance to message me on Facebook, AIM, Twitter, Skype…the list goes on.

I know some of you reading this now will have found your own ways to separate work from play. And it’s absolutely necessary if you’re looking to avoid a slow and painful mental breakdown.

Looking back at all the mistakes I made last year, the campaigns I must’ve been drunk or high to come up with, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Every successful affiliate marketer has a bunch of shit he’s tried that just didn’t cut it. You don’t suddenly find clarity when you go full-time or gain a few years of experience.

I can live with those mistakes because they’re part of the job. The mistakes I regret are those that lead to me blurring the lines between business and my personal life. And I believe they’re the mistakes that most marketers are likely to repeat if they decide to quit the day job and move in to this industry full-time.

You can’t prepare for this job with financial projections. None of us know what revenue is on the cards from week to week. But you can avoid a lot of the mistakes I’ve made by making sure that from Day One, you’re ready to work harder than you ever worked in your 9-5.

Maybe you’ve built up a nice portfolio of moneymaking websites. Maybe you’ve saved enough money to invest and you’re ready to take the leap in to affiliate marketing full-time. Give it your best shot, but don’t let it take over your life. It’s very easy to go too far and find that the dream job working out of a hammock has the potential to be a much greater prison than even the plainest 9-5 desk cubicle.

My goals for the next tax year aren’t to earn more money, or to add a bunch of extra zeros to my next pay cheque. Sure that’d be awesome. But I’d much rather be able to sit here and look back on a year that took less out of me mentally. Time for a holiday!

On a side note, – because I’m not going to donate a whole post to it – this blog is now one year old. I seem to be whoring links from all over the affiliasphere these days so I consider it a decent success. Thanks very much for reading. You crazy motherfuckers.

Like this post?

Finch Sells is the anti-typical affiliate marketing blog, designed and written for real affiliates. If you’re interested in reading more and grabbing the odd tip, follow me on Twitter. I don’t sling you shitty ebooks but I do talk about my balls. So you’re morally obliged to, okay?

That’s what I thought.

The Challenges Of Full Time Affiliate Marketing

Here comes another entry to my Affiliate Marketing Lifestyle series. Or as PPC.bz’s barman so elegantly put it:

“Dear Diary,


I would save myself from the reputation as the emo voice of affiliate marketing, but I think this is something that doesn’t really get spoken about enough. The number of part time affiliates far outweighs the number of us monkey riding this industry for a day job. I get the chance to speak to a lot of relatively new affiliates. Many have aspirations to jack in their 9-5’s and they want to know the best way to get there fast.

I find myself juggling between the advice of “fight for your dreams” and “you fucking retard, get back on the checkout desk, you’re gonna starve”.

I’ve said over and over again that a career in affiliate marketing is just that – a career. It’s not some casual job description you pin on your badge while sunbathing in the Caribbean. Your lifestyle will change completely in those first few months that you decide to go it alone.

Many affiliates forget that for whatever success they’ve been having with one hot shot campaign, it doesn’t come close to the guarantee of a monthly pay cheque. No matter how insignificant your work wages may seem in comparison, they are guaranteed.

When I first started making significant money with CPA marketing, you would find me sitting in coffee shops with a scrapbook. I’d sit there calculating how much cash I’d have earned by Month X and Month Y if I continued earning X ammount per day. This is the single most dangerous thing you can do as a part-time affiliate – especially if those numbers are pinned on a small handful of volatile campaigns.

You only have to look at the recent Google account bannings to see how a money spinning regime can collapse overnight. I’ve rattled on about diversifying for months now. If you’re serious about doing affiliate marketing full-time, you should be comfortable moving in to any niche and working with any traffic source.

People ask me how much money I think they should be making before they give up their day jobs. Firstly, how the fuck should I know? And secondly, basing your career decisions on current earnings is like deciding to climb K2 because you fancy a workout. You’re going to run in to the unexpected, you absolute psychopath.

I know this because I’ve made some pretty drastic decisons with my own career. I quit my day job having branched out in to only two traffic sources, and a handful of offers. By all accounts, I should be slapping myself with naive disgust right about now. I’m not because I had the initiative to learn quickly when I saw the danger signs.

If you’re going to move in to this industry full-time, here are the immediate challenges you face.

Managing your time – What is the point in going full-time if you’re simply going to wake up at 11am and watch your stats all day? You should have just stayed in the day job and enjoyed your temporary riches with the security of a guaranteed pay cheque to underline it. Hell, if you’re doing that, you CAN afford to splash out on the luxuries in life.

This is a challenge for affiliates both experienced and new. Assuming you saw your success as a part-time affiliate, you’ve probably become accustomed to the idea of seeing a return on a few hours of work. It’s not so easy to motivate yourself when you know that riches are such a beautiful sight to watch when they’re flowing like gold from a tap. Unfortunately, for all of the three hours it took you to setup that initial jackpot campaign – you could spend the rest of your lifetime trying to find the next one.

If you expect to be able to turn on profit like a tap, you’re digging your own grave.

Instead of being entranced by the money I saw beginning to flow when I first hit success, I chose to remember the many hours and desperate times where shit hadn’t gone to plan. As hard as it may be, you have to turn your back on the allure of whatever riches you’re earning and get back to work. Otherwise when the tap runs out, you’re back to square one.

Social sacrifice – Do you really understand the true involvement of running your own business? If you’re managing your time correctly, you are going to be busy. If you don’t feel that you’re busy, you’re probably not doing enough to stay ahead of the pack.

Nothing prepared me for the personal burden of becoming entirely responsible for my own finances. I used to be socializing at every opportunity. Down the pub on Monday, drunk in a club on Tuesday and travelling out of town by Friday.

These days, a night out rarely passes me by where business is not somewhere close to the forefront of my thoughts. Some would see that as a prison. I’m passionate about what I do though and working has always been an enjoyable experience.

Whatever social gain you think you’re going to find by quitting your day job, rest assured that it will be neutralized by the sheer weight of responsibility that comes with slinging shit full-time.

Staying positive through hardships – I’ll be the first to admit that when I worked for other companies, I was never shy of a bitch or moan. If something went wrong that I was personally accountable for, I could play pin the blame and deflect attention from my own failures.

The biggest challenge for me over this last year has been embracing a new attitude. You simply have to be prepared to smile at the shit that gets thrown in your face. It happens every day. Every morning I open my email and instead of forwarding various tasks to my colleagues like I used to, I add them to my own to-do list. There are constant tests of your character. It may be an email that your Adwords account has been suspended, that an offer has been pulled, that your server was down for a few hours last night.

You can’t nonchallently forward these issues on to your boss. You ARE your boss. And your pay cheque will be the one taking the hit if you don’t stay on top of them.

There have been nights in recent memory where I’ve been sat at my desk, eyes aching, wondering just how I can turn a campaign around or get back on track. A part time affiliate would probably think “eh, was good while it lasted”, and that’s exactly where you have to stay strong. The industry is so volatile that if you stick to what you know you do well, it won’t be long before you see a return on it. Just be prepared to lose money and take a battering to your confidence in the process. It can be a lonely struggle.

I’ve already written several posts about how you should be investing for the future. It’s the single most important thing you can be doing to alleviate some of the stress. Short term fast burning affiliate campaigns are a recipe for long term unrest if you’re not moving methodically towards a more sustainable business.

Copyright © 2009-.