I then realized there’s not really much material on what to do after you start making money. Where should you be spending your money? Should you scale more or expand to different campaigns?
Each level of success brings its own challenges. An affiliate who’s making $1,000 a day has a different set of challenges compared to someone just starting out. And just because you made $1,000 in profit yesterday doesn’t mean you’ve made it.
I’ve seen too many hot-shot affiliates go back to working 9-5 jobs within a year because they couldn’t adapt or they became complacent. The industry can be unforgiving to those not at the top of their games.
After observing hundreds of affiliates over the past few years, I’ve come up with a few pieces of advice to help you further your affiliate career.
1. Hide Your Success, and Don’t Inflate Your Lifestyle
I always advise people to hide their successes from everyone. Success comes with distractions. Friends will ask to borrow money, your partner will want to go on vacations, and others will try to figure out what you’re doing next.
Leave your ego at the door. You don’t have to tell the world you’ve made it because you really haven’t yet. Your main goal at this point is to make more money.
I know it’s tempting to want to announce your success to the world, but do me a favor: wait.
Affiliate campaigns can be unstable, especially if you’re new to the industry. Here’s an example:
Two affiliates who are new to the industry are making $500 a day in profit.
Affiliate A: Inflates his lifestyle. He buys a new BMW M3. He has a high-maintenance girlfriend. He puts himself into a new condo at $2,000 a month. He rents a nice new office, and his expenses run up to $7,000 a month.
Affiliate B: Maintains the same lifestyle. He’s driving an old, paid off Civic. He lives in the same $600 a month studio apartment, and he works there too. His expenses are $2,500 a month.
Stuff happens, and a few months later they’re both back to $0 a day profit. (Affiliate marketing can be cruel like that.)
They’re re-launching campaigns and losing money, but they have different mindsets. Affiliate A is freaking out because it’s tough for him to handle those campaign losses. Affiliate B is calmer because he has money in the bank and his expenses are lower.
Testing out a new campaign and losing money is part of the game. Affiliate A quits campaigns early. He can’t handle the losses emotionally. Affiliate B eventually profits and is back in the game. A few months later, Affiliate A has to go back to a job to maintain his lifestyle.
I’m not saying you can’t have nice things in life, but you have to know when to do it.
I didn’t upgrade my lifestyle for a year or two. I remember having 5-figure profit days while still living in my $600 a month studio. Why? Because I was still new to the industry and I was afraid of losing everything.
2. Invest in better hardware
Samurais live and die by their swords. We’re all nerds, so we live and die by our computers.
I started affiliate marketing with an old Gateway Pentium 3 laptop. It constantly froze, and loading Photoshop took nearly a minute.
As soon as I started making money, I knew I had to upgrade my gear. I bought a new Dell computer, three 21″ monitors, a nicer desk, and an ergonomic chair. The upgrade allowed me to start working much faster.
I also upgraded my VPS to a $300 dedicated server and bought some tools I couldn’t afford before.
I’ve always prioritized investing money over spending it. Investing doesn’t just mean stocks or property. It simply means to put your money towards things that will help you make more money.
I pay thousands of dollars to attend seminars; I have no budget when it comes to books; and I’ll take people out to expensive dinners to network.
Don’t be cheap when it comes to your gear.
3. Hire your first virtual assistant
You’re the bottleneck.
Campaigns aren’t launching faster, and you can’t handle more campaigns because you’re a one-man operation. Keep your ego in check. You’re not the only person in the world who can do what you do.
It may be a little early to hire a full-time employee, but you can get some practice by hiring a virtual assistant.
Figure out what you could use help with, and start small. Most first hires are usually programmers for landing pages or ad banner designers.
You won’t get it right the first time, or even the first 5 times. But it will pay off with dividends once you find the right people and train them.
4. Scale your existing campaigns
I know it’s tempting to chase the bright shiny object. Maybe if you launch enough campaigns, one of them will be another winner.
The mistake most people make is they don’t squeeze every bit of profit out of their existing campaigns.
Let’s say you’re an expert in adult dating in France. It doesn’t make sense to jump into app installs in mobile.
Instead, you should scale to different traffic sources (because you already have landing pages, ads, and an offer that works). You could also try to use your knowledge in different countries.
In the future, you will have to expand to different verticals to scale. But most guys do it way too soon and throw away their existing leverages.
5. Develop Your Campaign Processes
Do you know what’s the core essence of being a successful affiliate marketer?
A man’s shoe factory burned down. People expected him to be depressed because his goldmine disappeared. When asked about what he’s going to do now, he said, “Tomorrow I’m going to get back to work and build another one. The factory’s gone, but no one can take away my ability to build an even better one.”
The money is not in the campaign itself, the money is in your ability to create new profitable campaigns over and over again. I have had many profitable campaigns die due to reasons out of my control. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest because I know I have the skills and abilities to create new ones.
Now that you’ve had a few profitable campaigns, it’s time to really understand the fundamentals. Create your own blueprint. Hone down on each step.
- How are you finding new offers?
- What steps do you take to improving your landing pages?
- What are your methods for scaling?
Write down your processes and always work on improving them.
6. Expand your network
You’re not that newbie begging for help from anyone. Now you can actually bring something to the table.
Go to the next ad:tech or affiliate summit. Find some affiliates in your city, take them out for coffee, and network with smart people outside of Internet marketing as well.
Some of my most profitable campaigns came from brainstorming sessions with other affiliates. Remember the golden rule of networking? Always give value. How would you feel if someone always asked you questions and never thanked you? You would start ignoring that person.
7. Get aggressive
The biggest mistake I’ve seen affiliates make is they get complacent. They lose their fire.
In the affiliate marketing pecking order, you are nothing. If you think you’ve made it, you’re aiming too low.
There is no special playground for newbies. You’re entering into the arena and going up against guys like me. You have to fight tooth and nail for what you want. If you’re making $1,000 a day, you should be obsessed with making $5,000 a day.
I met up with an affiliate at ASW 2014. He and I grew up in the industry together. The difference between us is that he messed around and blew all his money on cars, cocaine, and women. I’ve been working hard and growing for 6 years straight… Straight!
$500 Per Day is The Start
The battle is only just beginning when you have your first profitable campaign. I’m offering you this advice because I don’t want you to become a 1-year affiliate.
I’ve seen too many guys live it up for a year and end up back at 9-5 jobs. You have to be patient and make sacrifices. Work hard. Don’t let up.