From $8k a day to $0 – Dealing with Affiliate Droughts

Written by Charles Ngo
Written by Charles Ngo

We all know that it takes hard work to become a super affiliate.

  • Late nights
  • Losing money testing campaigns
  • And wondering if all the work’s going ever to pay off

What happens when you finally get the campaigns working?
Life goes onto easy mode right? You leverage the winning campaign into more winning campaigns.
Well, that’s not always the case. The law of gravity says “What comes up, must come down.” Affiliate marketing’s not any different.
Someone sent me an email a few weeks ago and asked that I write about this topic.
He asked to remain anonymous, so I’m going to summarize his email:

  • He was doing $8k a day on average through Facebook. Not sure if that’s profit or revenue.
  • Facebook banned his accounts and his old methods won’t work anymore
  • He tried switching over to Shopify dropshipping. Spent $38k and lost $11,000
  • Now he’s spiraled into a depression. He doesn’t have income coming in but has a ton of expenses. He has purchased a lot of expensive things but feels like a “fraud” owning them.
  • His mind is in a terrible state. He’s thinking any campaign that he launches are just a waste of money and is having motivation issues.

It was a long email, but that’s the 80/20 of it.
Businesses go up and down all the time, and campaigns aren’t any different.
A common misunderstanding about super affiliates is that they’re always killing it.
You might think once a guy makes $10k a day, he’s earning that forever.
Not true.
What’s more common is perhaps a super affiliate crushes it for a few months, and then something happens to his top campaigns.
The campaigns might be dry for a while while the affiliate goes back to the drawing boards.
Now, why might a super affiliate go through a drought? Here are some reasons:

  • Key employees leave
  • Their best offers go down
  • The CPA offers get saturated with competition
  • They were using a strategy that’s no longer working
  • Their angle/ads burned out.
  • All their accounts get banned like the example above
  • The affiliate becomes lazy
  • Etc.

I’ve been in this industry for ten years now and have seen so many affiliate marketers come and go.
A common story is:

  • An affiliate hit significant success.
  • They inflate their lifestyles. New house, new car, bottle service on the weekend
  • They won’t save any money.
  • Their main money makers go down.
  • They panic now because money’s not coming in, yet the bills are still coming in.
  • Significant expenses occur that they didn’t predict (like taxes)
  • They’re unable to adapt and slowly disappear.

And that’s the main downside of affiliate marketing.
You’re only as good as your last campaign. It can be feast or famine.
It’s not like a SAAS business where you have almost guaranteed money coming in each month. Every affiliate will experience a drought (or multiple ones) during their career.
What determines long-term success is if they can adapt and make a comeback. 

Now you’re dealing with things that you weren’t dealing with before.

  • You might have imposter syndrome
  • You have the added stress of having overhead/employees to pay for
  • You have this self-imposed pressure because you’re not as successful as you should be

So I want to talk about the other side of affiliate marketing success. The one that’s far away from the vacations, supercars, and fun.
This post isn’t meant to deter you away from affiliate marketing. Remember there’s always pros and cons with any business model.

What To Do When You’re Making Money

Ok so now you’re making money. Congrats!
The most important mindset to have is to have this sense of urgency.
There are no guarantees in this industry; the only guarantee is what’s in your bank account after taxes.
Here are some things you should be doing once you’re crushing campaigns.

1. Diversify Within Affiliate Marketing

There’s a term in business called the concentration of power. It’s where too much of your business relies on one thing.
If you’re a YouTuber, what happens if YouTube shuts your business down?
If you’re all in on Facebook, what happens if FB bans your accounts?
Dangerous right?
“But Charles, everyone always talks about focus!”
You should laser focus when you’re starting off.
But once you have momentum, then your job should be to go on the defensive. Expand your team so you can handle different traffic sources or campaigns.

2. Diversify Outside of Affiliate Marketing

The average millionaire has seven different streams of income.
I know that supercar is tempting, but it’s always going to be there.
You know what’s better than Lamborghinis? Peace of mind. Finance security. Not having to go back and get a job in digital marketing because you blew your whole wad on a 500k car.
Some forms of passive income: investing in businesses, real estate, buying web properties, index funds, cryptocurrency, etc.
Think of your wealth like the pantheon.

Each income stream represents a pillar. If a pillar or two comes crashing down, then the building still holds.
My affiliate marketing blog generates income. I also have affiliate marketing courses that generate revenue. I max out my retirement savings every year, etc.
It brings me peace of mind knowing I have income coming in other than just campaigns.

3. Ride the Momentum

making money affiliate marketing
If you’re crushing a campaign then it’s NOT the time to travel.
Milk that shit as hard as possible.
Got a campaign making money? Your affiliate manager is going to be telling everyone about it. They might even share your landing pages.
A competitor might discover your campaign.
Be aggressive and make your money while things are hot. Don’t assume the campaign’s going to last forever.

4. Keep Your Life as Lean as Possible

I know it’s tempting to upgrade your life.
Trust me, hold off as long as possible
Read this blog post by James Clear.
As soon as you upgrade your condo or your car, then the rest of your life needs to be improved.
I remember the first time I built an “office.” All the offices asked me for $3,000 a month. I didn’t want that kind of overhead.
Instead, I rented a two bedroom apartment and put all my employees in there. It was $800 a month.
That’s $2,200 a month extra for campaigns!

What Happens If You’re Going Through a Drought?

Droughts happen for whatever reason.
What happens if you don’t have income coming in and your bills are adding up?
That’s a ton of stress and pressure.

Are you willing the make the hard choices?

1. Lower Your Overhead: Affiliate Marketing Earnings > Expenses

Business and personal.
If your campaigns are dry, then you might have employees sitting around doing nothing. If they’re on salary, then that’s tough.

One solution is to drop them to part-time hours.

It might not be efficient to fire them. You’ve already put the time in to train them and they are valuable.
What happens if the campaigns blow up the next month and your affiliate marketing earnings would’ve been back to where they were?

2. Drop the Ego

Egos area problem with entrepreneurs.
If you’re used to doing large numbers, then it might be tough to drop down to campaigns that don’t make as much.
If you’re used to making $10,000 a day, then a $1k a day campaign may seem like it’s not worth your time.
But that $1k a day campaign is the seed for bigger campaigns.
How else might ego hold you back?
You might not want to ask other people for help. Get back in touch with some of your people on Skype. Talk with your friends in the industry.

3. Don’t Give up on the Old Campaigns

You had effective campaigns before.
One of my biggest mistakes in the past is giving up too early and thinking a campaign’s dead.
Sometimes I’ll have a campaign burn out and die. But if I turn it on a few months later then it’ll be profitable again.

4. Keep Your State High

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The worse thing that can happen is to feel sad or depressed. I know it’s natural, but that’s going to cause a downhill cycle.
Make sure you keep your physical state high. Workout, go to the gym, eat right, etc.

5. If you did it once, you could do it again.

Powerful mindset. You made money before right? Tons of it?
You have more money and more experience than you had the first time. If you can do it once, you can do it again.

My Advice for Him

Back to the original email that sparked this post.
What advice do I have for him?
The first one is to cut costs. Fire employees. Get rid of the house and toys if possible. Get lean. You have to drop the ego to make these moves.
I’m also really confused why he’s so depressed because the numbers aren’t that bad.
I think losing only $11,000 on a $38k spend is pretty good, especially if he was averaging $8k a day on average.
If he was making $8k a day on average, I’m wondering where all the money went.
The issue is that he’s tying his self – worth to how much money he earns.
He’s thinking…”I’m not rich anymore…I’m worthless. I’m worried about other people finding out the truth. I’m worried that other people won’t respect me if I can’t make money again.”

I’m not a psychologist, but it sounds like there are some deep issues here. It seems like he did not come from a lot of money growing up and probably grew up with confidence issues.
Once he started making money in affiliate marketing, then his confidence/self-esteem / and respect from others rose up considerably. So once the campaigns came crashing down, there’s a lot more at stake than just money. It’s his entire identity at stake.
You’re the same person regardless of how much money you make. If some people view you differently, then they’re not the kind of people you want to keep in your life.
I remember when I quit my job ten years ago. I was making $10,000 a month at that time, and then all my campaigns died.
I was depressed.
Everyone was congratulating me on quitting my job and calling me such a huge inspiration. I felt like an imposter.
I started drinking. I started playing poker until 5 am each morning. I wanted escapism.
One day I looked in the mirror. I smelled like cigarettes. My eyes were bloodshot.
I realized that if I’m going down, I’m not going down without a fight.
What would happen if I ran out of money? No big deal. I’ll get a job again and re-start all over.
I confronted my biggest fear, and I realized it wasn’t so bad.
I kept moving forward.

Without The Tough Times, There Are No Good Times

Life’s full of setbacks that no one can predict.
A Walmart opens up next to the local grocery store.
A business gets destroyed by floods or hurricanes that no one saw coming.
These are the times that test your character the most. Don’t give up without a fight.
In the words of Rocky:
“Life’s not about how hard of a hit you can give… it’s about how many you can take, and still keep moving forward.”

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                The posts published by Charles are prepared and analyzed, including the author’s own experience…

The posts published by Charles are prepared and analyzed, including the author’s own experience…

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