Affiliate Marketing Strategy for Beginners
Your strategy is something that nobody can steal from you.
Picking the Right Offer
I wanna share a quick story about one of my friends who’s trying to get started in affiliate marketing.
He has been reading my blog for a few months now and is ready to launch his first campaign.
His budget is pretty good actually – $1000 each month (what a baller, that’s twice as much as I had when I first started).
Now he’s stuck at the stage of choosing “what vertical or offer to run.” He logged into an affiliate network for the first time and had information overload when he saw there were thousands of choices.
I’m pretty sure you can relate to this.
For his first campaign, he wants to run a beauty offer that pays about $50 a sale. It’s interesting to watch his thought process on choosing what to run.
“My affiliate manager told me that this was the most popular offer on the network. That means other people are making it work”.
And the second reason is because of the high payout.
“Why would I run an offer that pays $2, when this one pays $55?”
Do you agree with this logic?
Actually, I like his thought process. Most people make a decision and can’t explain the thought process behind it or how they arrived at it. He could’ve been reading “Affiliate Marketing for Dummies”, but he’s taking action instead.
I gave him my perspective.
He mentioned he wants to run the most popular offers because they’re proven.
#1. He’s forgetting that those offers may be too advanced for his level.
Keep in mind he has never launched a campaign before!
Yes, there are some campaigns that are too advanced for newbies to run. The guys could be making the most revenue because they have access to tools, traffic sources, and the manpower that he doesn’t.
#2. The offer payout doesn’t matter as much as he thinks.
I can’t stress this enough. You probably think the more an offer pays, the better right?
I’ve had $10k+ profit days running $.70 offers.
If your clicks are cheap enough, and the offer converts well enough, it can do damage.
The payout is only one part of the formula.
Hint: How great is a $55 payout if you get scrubbed 15% of your conversions, or if it doesn’t even convert in the first place?
I couldn’t care less about the payout. My team and I just split-test the offers, and let the numbers speak for themselves.
The problem is that he’s so eager to make money, rather than trying to learn affiliate marketing.
There’s a big difference!
Let me give you two examples:
If your budget is $1000 and you run a $55 offer.
Let’s say by some miracle you break even.
How many conversions is that? 18.
How many split-tests can you do with that? Maybe one, and even then I’m not sure the stats are statistically significant.
How many conversions is that? 1000
That’s a lot of conversions…That’s a lot of split-tests… that’s a lot of learning.
There are LEVELS to this game.
If you’re a newbie trying to learn basketball…you start off by practicing how to dribble and then you learn how to pass the ball.
After you get the fundamentals down, then you can start working on layups and dunks.
Do you see my point?
Aim for low payout, high converting offers. You get a lot more data for your budget.
Don’t Swim With The Affiliate Sharks
Let’s say you’re new to poker and you’re out to make some money tonight.
There are two tables you can play at.
One features some of the top poker players in the world such as Phil Ivey, Scotty Nguyen, Daniel Negreanu, Tom Dwan, Phil Galfond, Patrik Antonius, etc. (lol sorry but I love poker).
The other table features a bunch of drunk billionaires who think they’re good at poker.
If your goal is to make money, which table would you rather play at?
Duh, the table with the billionaires! You can make more money if you avoid head-on competition against the sharks!
A big part of success is choosing which market you compete in.
There’s a great book on this called The Blue Ocean Strategy.
How does this concept apply to affiliate marketing?
I’ve seen too many newbies mess up because they go into overly saturated, and competitive markets. They go into traffic sources, GEOS, and verticals that they stand no chance in.
Some of you guys are making it 10x harder on yourself.
Personally, I love competition. I love competitive traffic sources and running in the biggest countries. I have the money, team, and experience to compete there.
But I didn’t start running on those places overnight.
That’s like being a newbie poker player and playing with the sharks. Yes you can get lucky and win a hand here and there, but you won’t win over the long run.
Why are so many newbies going for traffic sources, verticals, and countries where the big boys are?
Two reasons really :
Can’t fault someone if they don’t know!
They see others hitting it big somewhere, and wanna jump right in.
Now you’re wondering where you focus your efforts then.
Talking about traffic sources and verticals will take far too long.
My recommendation for you guys is to go for less competitive GEO’s.
All the big boys wanna fight over GEOs like USA, UK, Canada, Australia, etc. because that’s where the most volume is.
The thing is, there’s plenty of volume in other countries and not nearly as much competition.
I recommend regions like Southeast Asia, and South America in general.
This map of the world scales a country by how many people live there. It gives you a good idea of how big the opportunities are out there.
There are plenty of great offers there and not as much competition (well…before I blasted this guide to the world).
It’s kinda funny how people wanna avoid running international because it’s more “work.”
It’s not that hard to translate ads and a landing page.
Nobody does it themselves anyway.
OneHourTranslation.com and you’re done.
What’s more work?
A. Translating your creatives, or
Find Mentors and Mastermind with Other People
Imagine you want to learn how to play basketball.
The quickest way learn would be to find a mentor or a coach. They have experience and a good teacher can 10x your learning curve and prevent you from developing bad habits.
Naturally, everyone wants to learn from the best or the most famous basketball players.
But what are the chances of you getting mentored by Michael Jordan or an NBA player?
They’re probably too busy.
You could learn the basics from a local basketball coach. You could also learn a lot from a friend who has been playing his whole life.
I’ve noticed when newbies want a mentor, they will email me or other high profile affiliates in the industry.
As much as I want to help, I don’t have that much free time to help people 1 on 1.
But guess what?
A Real-Life Example of “Free” Mentoring
I had a guy email me a while ago asking me to mentor him (let’s call him John).
He asked me for mentoring and some tips to get started.
I didn’t have the time to mentor him, but I gave him a few tips and told him he should contact other affiliates locally.
I recommended he should offer to trade his skills for some affiliate marketing tips/mentoring (he was a programmer).
He found a successful affiliate who lived in his town and they met up.
He ended up coding up landing pages for the affiliate. John spent time to learn about how landing pages should be built to optimize conversions, and he came up with some winning concepts.
The affiliate decided to let John use the landing pages for his own personal campaigns. The affiliate gave John some other big tips that helped him build his first $500 /day campaign.
He emailed me back to tell me his success story a while later. I sent him a few more tips because most people will ask me for help, then I never hear from them again.
(I’ll share the tips I gave him in the next few sections)
Now some of you guys may be thinking John was lucky.
But was he?
He had the social intelligence to take the guy out to coffee and to offer a trade to work for him for free.
You have to take action sometimes if you want to be lucky.
Smart people know the key to networking is to give value first.
Laser Focus on a Traffic Source and Vertical
A lot of people get stuck here because there are so many choices.
How do you choose?
Focus only on traffic sources I recommend for newbies:
My next advice is to pick a vertical that you know works.
“But isn’t there a lot of competition?”
True, there is.
But at least you know the offer makes money.
Too many times a newbie will look at an offer in a network and try to guess if it’ll work or not.
The design of the offer page doesn’t really mean much.
What does matter with offers?
- Have you thought about the payment processor?
- What if the advertiser scrubs?
If there are 100 people making money in this vertical or offer, you just have to be better than affiliate #100.
What do most affiliates do?
Here’s the typical newbie affiliate journey:
- He starts out on native ads and loses $200
- He quits native, hears mobile’s hot and spends a month there
- He’s not making any progress in mobile so he jumps over to adult after reading a success story of a newbie hitting 1k /day
- He loses his money in adult and now he hears all the money’s in Facebook after reading an article about lead gen offers working well
- He gets his account banned and he quits affiliate marketing
- He thinks affiliate marketing “doesn’t work”, and hates on the industry forever
What if he spent all his time in mobile and stuck to one vertical for three months?
Constantly getting more skills in one area is better than chopping and changing right?
He’d have a deep knowledge of the traffic source, he’d have some killer angles, and he would be making some serious progress.
He would probably have a mastermind or two with other serious affiliates and he’s outlearning his competition.
He’s getting some profitable campaigns and making some money because he knows more than 75% of all the affiliates in that vertical.
He’s run dozens of campaigns, hundreds of landing pages and offers, and he’s getting a sixth sense about what’s going to work before he uploads it.
Meanwhile the affiliate who skipped around verticals and traffic sources only has a tiny amount of knowledge about each area.
I know it’s tough.
Everyone says to stick with the same traffic source or vertical, but how do you know if you even picked the right one in the first place?
I have two pieces of advice for this:
- Stick with what works. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel.
- Set a game plan budget.
After half the budget was gone, that familiar feeling was coming in. I wanted to quit. But because of my game plan, I stuck through it.
That campaign ended up making me $75,000 profit and was the catalyst for me to quit my job.
I know a lot of my readers play poker.
What if a newbie wanted to becoming a professional poker player and switched games every few weeks. One week he’s playing Hold’em, another week Omaha, and then he switches to 7-card stud.
He would’ve made more progress sticking to Hold’em the whole time.
Once he’s an expert, then he can play other games.
Make the Circles Smaller
Affiliate marketing is more complex than it was when I started in 2007. You can easily get information overload because there’s so much to learn. And maybe you’re not taking any action because you’re scared of making mistakes.
What’s the answer to this? Instead of trying to learn everything at once, try making the circles smaller.
A few years ago I played Starcraft 2 and was able to achieve the rank of Grandmaster (Top 1% of players in the world) within a few months. Most guys play countless games of Starcraft and never get anywhere close to that.
I decided to see if I could improve by using learning concepts such as “making the circles smaller.”
I focused really hard on improving just one aspect of my game plan. For 100 games I had to make sure I made a certain amount of “workers” by the 10 minute mark.
Nothing else mattered.
After 100 games my economy improved because I internalized that part. Next I realized I was weak at defending rushes. I pinged some of my friends who were really good at rushes. For the next 100 games I just defended rushes. That one aspect of my game improved.
I became a better player because now I had a superior economy, and I could defend myself against rushes. I made more improvement doing that, than if I were to play 200 games.
I highly recommend reading this article on improving at Starcraft even if you don’t play the game.
You need to look at affiliate marketing the same way. Break down campaigns into smaller circles. Don’t just mindlessly launch campaigns.
Here are the first 3 circles I told John to focus on when he started affiliate marketing:
You’re blind without proper tracking. Fortunately it’s easy to learn with my Voluum guide.
Next I told him to concentrate only on ads because they make such a big impact He was launching 10 ads a day every other day. He tracked the performance of each ad and angle, and he studied the copywriting books I’ve recommended. After a few weeks his ad writing skills were amazing for a 1 month old affiliate. Now it’s time for the next circle.
Landing pages can make or break a campaign. It just so happened that a landing page would benefit his particular vertical. He studied the landing pages from the competition. He programmed his own versions which were faster and cleaner. For two weeks his mind concentrated on improving each aspects of his landing page. The headlines, pictures, adding scarcity, etc. His landing page was actually better than a lot of other super affiliates. He took theirs and improved upon them.
Set a Game Plan
My last piece of advice is to create measurable game plans.
I asked him what his goal and game plan was.
My last piece of advice is to create measurable game plans.
I asked him what his goal and game plan was.
Here’s an example to help you understand the difference between a goal and a game plan.
I want to gain 5 pounds by January 1st, 2018.”
Game Plan Example
1.Drink 3/4 gallon of water a day
2.Sleep minimum 7.5 hours a day
3.Workout 4 days a week using the xxx workout
4.Eat 3,000 calories a day with 50% Carbs / 30% Protein / 20% Fat
That’s my process to gain muscle. I stick to the process and make sure I follow the steps. I don’t care about the goal because I know it’ll come if I follow the system.
You probably have a set amount of money you want to make and a deadline, but that’s not good enough.
You need to make an actionable plan for each day, and each week.
Here’s an example game plan I suggested to John:
Outcome = Launch French adult dating campaign on xxx traffic source.
- Ask my affiliate managers for the best offer. Decide on 3 offers to test.
- Brainstorm 3 angles. Create 5 ads for each angle.
- Research landing page of competitors from spy tools.
- Rip 2 landing pages, design one of my own.
That’s his game plan for the day.
When the next day comes, he’ll create another action list.
He takes action daily.
1. Choose an offer that has a low payout
2. Run campaigns in less saturated GEOs (SE Asia, Africa, LATAM)
3. Find a mastermind or a mentor (optional)
4. Decide on a single traffic source and vertical to master
5. Make the circles smaller by focusing on mastering one or two concepts of affiliate marketing