Business Insights: The 5 Different Team Structures of Top Affiliates
Hopefully there comes a point in your career where you realize you need more help. You start getting burned out from overworking, you miss opportunities because you don’t have the manpower, and you realize your cash pile can’t grow because you’re the bottleneck.
Something I realized is most affiliate marketers are uncomfortable with the thought of building a team. Part of it stems from trust issues. The other part is most of us are young and have never managed anyone before. It’s easier to just push ourselves a little harder, than it is to take a risk and hire people.
It’s important to remember what your goals are, and what is your ideal lifestyle. I spent the past 3 years traveling Asia and my team structure was me and virtual assistants. My first two years were extremely busy and I benefited from having an office with full-time employees.
Look at some of the ones I suggested and see what would fit you best.
1. Lone Wolf
This is where everyone starts off at – a one man army that does everything including the grunt work. This is the way it should be. The best chefs in the world start off washing dishes and peeling potatoes.
You have to wear many hats in the beginning – dealing with strategy, the technical parts, graphics, and writing the ads.
It’s possible to make a lot of money as a one person army, but you’re nowhere near your true potential. Energy and time are finite.
Pros: They don’t have to manage anyone. Complete freedom to do anything. Don’t have to worry about people stealing campaigns.
Cons: They are their own bottle necks. Easier to get burned out. A lot of missed opportunities due to lack of manpower.
2. Working with Virtual Assistants
This is a very common first step for affiliate marketers to take. The concept blew my mind when I first read about it in the 4 hour work week a few years back. I can hire a full-time designer for $200 a month?
Common uses for VA’s include: Banner creations, landing page creation, programming work, low level campaign management, personal tasks, research, bookkeeping.
Most of the time the affiliate will handle all the “high level” activities and outsource the grunt work in order to keep their trade secrets. Remember that you get what you put in. You can’t expect someone brand new to do everything right the first time because there’s a training period you need to invest in.
Last year I had one VA 100% manage a a campaign. I launched it and then he came in and took over after a brief training period. For a while I was paying him $300 a month, while he was bringing in $xx,xxx a month. A few months later he started coming up with better angles than I could, and I pretty much just sat back and did nothing. That’s what’s possible with a good virtual assistant.
Pros: Workers are cheap, Easy to end contracts compared to a local employee, fills holes in your weaknesses, still have the freedom of a Lone Wolf
Cons: Workers can be hit or miss, time zone differences if you’re in USA and they’re in Asia
Jobs & Wozniak
Larry & Sergei
Some legendary companies actually started with two co-founders, and there are plenty of top affiliates who actually work in teams of two.
What works well for partnerships? Complimentary skills and personalities. You can’t have two Steve Jobs because their egos would constantly clash.
Some people just work better with a teammate. You have more confidence knowing that no matter what happens, your partner has your back. Also when you’re going through the burnout or un-motivated phases, the right partner can push you right back on track.
There’s no set way in how partnerships work. You can have one guy as the marketer and the other one as the more technical one. Another option is to divide campaigns where one guy focuses on Dating, while the other guy focuses on Gaming.
Pros: The right person can fill your weaknesses, twice the manpower
Cons: Give up 50% of profits, difficult to find the right partner, bad business relationships can ruin friendships
4. Master & Apprentice
This is where the affiliate marketer trains the employees to have the capabilities to run campaigns on their own. Typically the employee will then get a salary + a percentage profit of whatever campaigns they run.
The positives are obvious: You create someone that’s almost as knowledgeable as you and that you can bounce campaigns off of. Not only that but they can start launching their own campaigns and you have an additional stream of income.
The downsides is finding people competent and loyal enough. If someone sees that you can make $5k a day profit, and they have all the knowledge, what’s their incentive to stay?
Pros: More income that doesn’t involve you, create employees that can think rather than follow orders
Cons: Difficult to keep employees loyal, long training periods
5. Alpha Companies
These guys technically are affiliate marketers, but they’re on a whole ‘nother level. They can be teams of 4-10 people with full-time workers on staff. Some positions can include a programmer, designer, media buyers, data analyzers, managers, etc. It can be really difficult as one person to be able to compete against a well oiled team.
While affiliates can bounce from trend to trend, these guys tend to be more stable and really focus on dominating large niches. They also start exploring the deeper levels of the industry such as owning offers and monetizing data.
Cons: Managing a lot of employees, a lot of overhead costs
Think about your current situation and where you can improve. Are you doing too much work that someone else could easily do? Remember that at the end of the day, this industry is a competition. It can be difficult to compete as a single person against large teams.
The people who can test more and test faster are the ones that end up dominating. Don’t let yourself be that bottleneck.
– Ngo Out