My desktop is a barren wasteland. A derelict graveyard of broken down CPA campaigns, rogue index.php redirects and semi-pornographic dating imagery.
I recently made the decision to invest in a new dual screen setup for my Mac. The idea being that with two screens, I’d have one for my emails and one for whatever I’m working on. Well, it didn’t really pan out like that. Blessed with twice the space, I now hoard twice as much shit. There are icons and folders scattered all over the shop. I have landing pages tucked away in places where your computer probably doesn’t have places.
One of the benefits of having a gigantic hard drive is that you rarely need to spare a thought for your disk space. I’m not much of a digital hoarder. I have the discographies of Radiohead and Of Montreal, a slowly expanding library of The Wire, and not much else. I don’t have much reason to empty my trash can. So I don’t.
It was only last week that I took a sweeping glance over said trash can. I’d imagine I was probably young enough to still be growing in to my chest hair love rug the last time I dared open that shit. Somehow on this nostalgic voyage in to the unknown, I rediscovered every single CPA campaign I’ve ever created. All the way back to late 2006. Considering I have an output of creating a campaign on most days of the week, most weeks of the year…it was quite a collection.
It’s really dawning on me, in the time it’s taking to sort through this shit, that we can be pretty rash to disregard good ideas and interesting concepts if we fall at the first hurdle. How many marketers out there test new campaigns and then ditch the creatives that don’t turn over a profit? It’s almost instinctive and I’m guilty as sin.
There’s no such thing as a perfect landing page. Some of the creatives I’ve been familiarizing myself with took me a whole day to put together, and about five minutes to disregard. Let me tell you how my usual house maintenance goes.
The brain wave strikes and I harvest a bunch of landing pages to sit on my desktop. I upload them to my server and setup campaigns. They either fail or succeed. Most of them fail.
The next day, I’m hung up on a new concept and the previous day’s work gets unceremoniously dumped in to a folder called “To Sort”. A couple of weeks later, “To Sort” becomes “To Sort From August”. Give it a few more days and “To Sort From August” finds itself clicked, dragged and subchilded inside a new “Seriously Finch, Sort This Shit Today” folder.
What happens next?
Yep, I throw a hissy fit and it gets dumped in the trash. Never to be seen again.
Today I have been slowly and meticulously restoring each and every failed landing page in to an archive. This is the sort of task I would only normally embrace if the other items on my to-do list were building backlinks or some other lame shit. But it’s actually great for finding inspiration.
When I first started affiliate marketing, I judged the success of my campaigns on whether I could choke a positive ROI from them on Google Adwords. Well, that ship sailed and so did the optimized – and actually quite effective – landing pages that I had at the time. But for all the hours I’ve spent preaching about building assets in this industry, surely every single landing page you create is an asset that you should store and reserve for the future?
Why trash your hard work? Even if a campaign totally bombs on Facebook, it could still make a killing on POF or PPV. The traffic source and targeting are where your profit is normally made. But you wouldn’t throw your toys out of the pram and never market to “25-30 year olds” again just because targeting them once didn’t work, right?
Sure enough, a few of these old campaigns were retarded from the get-go and never destined to pay my council tax let alone make me rich.
I opened an old dieting creative and almost choked on my coffee when I saw the strapline:
“Be Honest, Love, You Can Afford To Lose A Little – Can’t You? …Don’t Be A Fat Bitch”
Vintage marketing. Offend the masses.
But in all seriousness, I’ve found some great inspiration and some excellent concepts that I was far too green as a marketer to ever make work at the first time of asking. I’m slowly working through the lot and screen-capping every landing page.
Two of the biggest stumbling blocks for new marketers are:
1. Giving up on campaigns too easily.
2. Lack of creativity.
Think twice before you disregard your failed efforts. Maybe when a new traffic source opens up, or when a new offer lands – they will suddenly become relevant again. You should remember that not many campaigns succeed at the first time of asking. If you trash everything that isn’t an overnight success, yes, you will have room for more porn on your hard drive. But you probably won’t be very rich.
It’s important to learn from your mistakes. And it can be tempting to mass delete work that ultimately flourished like a damp squib. But don’t do a Finch and bury your one moment of inspiration six folders deep in July’s “To Sort” pile. Sort that shit and keep it for future reference! You might make money from it someday.