A Full Time Affiliate Pays More Than Just Taxes
How Does An Affiliate Marketer Get Out Of Bed?

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.

How Does An Affiliate Marketer Get Out Of Bed?

How many affiliate marketers hit the snooze button in the morning? It’s easy to go back to sleep when you’re not gonna have your balls ripped off for no-showing the 9am office start, right?

Motivation is a rare commodity that comes and goes. You can be rolling in money and still feel the need to work that extra campaign with just one more split test before you call it a night. Likewise, you can be struggling badly and for some reason still find it impossible to break the pattern of procrastination.

Finding the necessary motivation to keep pushing forward is something that can’t be taught, and yet needs to be found. One of my friends asked me the other day why I was so hesitant to give myself a night off, and to be fair, it was a pretty logical question. One night off isn’t going to break a business. Unfortunately I’ve trained myself in to such a hyperactive mindset that even a night off is riddled with subconscious brainstorming for tomorrow morning’s project. I instinctively check my phone for new emails even though I know I can’t reply to them (my phone is a piece of shit).

I recently tweeted that anybody who works as an affiliate marketer for more than 10 years is a wild savage beast who needs to be put down. Judging by the responses, I’m not the only one who’s felt that strain.

Since September, my mind has gone to another place. When I broke up with my ex-girlfriend, I lost a lot of the immediate strength that was holding me together through a difficult time. We’ve exchanged about two text messages in the time that we’ve been apart and there’s a gaping hole in my life where something so sure used to be. I’ve seen my attitude towards work take on a completely different life of its own.

Here’s a true story. I didn’t give up my day job because I was ready for the challenge. I gave it up because I was in a distance relationship and I felt that the best way to make it work was to give myself the freedom of self-employment. How naive does that sound? I pretty much took the plunge in to full time affiliate marketing for reasons totally unrelated to work. Money has never been, and will never be, my motivation.

When that relationship disintegrated – very suddenly – in the space of 24 hours, I found myself staring in to the abyss somewhat. Work had taken a stranglehold over my life, friends had become mere faces, and I felt as if I was drifting out to sea on a raft I couldn’t steer.

I’ve always been very honest about my aspirations. I don’t love affiliate marketing. I’m passionate about running my own business but you won’t see me on Twitter swooning over how many dollars I’ve stacked or how many zeros are on my next pay cheque. Towering riches mean very little to me.

So where does the motivation come from for affiliate marketing? We all have to feel a sense of achievement to be successful in this business without growing depressed. A musician enjoys the thrill of producing art, an actor has the pride of re-watching a movie he’s starred in, a fireman has the joy of saving a life. What the fuck does an affiliate marketer have to justify the love for his profession?

I enjoy what I do, but I don’t love it. If there’s anything I love about my job, it’s the lifestyle that it’s supposed to afford me. And even then, I work longer hours than every single one of my friends. So isn’t that just a fantasy? I could be earning less money and living in more comfort. A slave to the system, maybe, but sleeping at night.

I think the ultimate motivation is the final destination in your head.

When I get out of bed every morning, I look at my to-do list and it reads like a fist up the arse.

Every affiliate marketer has a unique image for what being successful entails. My motivation used to be to break free of a 9-5 job that dictated how I would live my life. I wanted to spend time with my girlfriend, having already promised her that I’d find a way to make an awkward relationship work. I’m not for divulging my private life any more than I already have, but needless to say, I failed.

It was quite surreal how it all happened. I posted this outburst, took a couple of days away, and then went back to work with a completely different mindset. I realized that I was being a weak little bitch and that the only way I could possibly move forward was to set a new goal.

My goal was to work so hard that my original decision to quit my job wouldn’t have been in vain. I’ve said a number of times that affiliate marketing is an extremely lonely business when you’re doing it from home. I’m sure I have readers who open up their RSS at work and wish they could be sitting on the sofa with a laptop and a beer in one hand. But when that novelty wears off, reality sets in. The magnitude of responsibility weighs down and you realize that it’s time to sink or swim.

The shock of a broken down relationship was enough to get the sirens ringing in my head. I felt how vulnerable I’d allowed my life to become and I wanted to achieve something that was mine, and only mine. I’ve seen friends stumble out of university with less direction than they entered with. I’ve seen close family chained to the daily grinds of life in jobs they hate.

If ever I needed motivation for affiliate marketing, it’s that I can escape those realities. This is a unique industry where YOU are the master of your own destiny. Success is a question of how good at your job you’re determined to become. I’m not going to preach some guru bullshit that you can be earning $XX,XXX in 30 days. Hard work is the vital ingredient of every affiliate who’s ever made it and stayed made.

I’ve made up my mind recently that I want to move to America and face the challenge of setting up a business abroad. Coming from a sleepy town where nothing much happens, those are some tough targets to achieve. My motivation is that I want to break free of everything I’ve known so far. I don’t want to settle for the 14 hour working days or the very short sleepless nights.

One of those popular inspiration tips you hear mentioned is to surround yourself with visions of your future. Pin shit on the wall, change your desktop to a tropical island, remember to smile in the mirror four times a day. Whatever.

I work in the opposite way. On my wall, you’ll find pinned a collection of memories and photos that bring back pain and regret. I’m not a sadist, but for me personally, pain is a greater motivation than some nice sunset wallpaper which has an emotional attachment of precisely jackshit in my heart.

Having to stare at some of the biggest regrets of my life is the only way I know to move forward and work hard enough to slowly erase them from my mind. If I ever find my attention lapsing during the day, or my mind wandering, I focus hard on those memories and use them to kick on. It’s easy to find a reason to put in that extra hour if it takes you one step closer to escaping the skeletons in your own god damn closet.

Copyright © 2009-.