When I first started affiliate marketing, my goal was to make $40k a year and live in Bangkok. Seriously, that’s it. I didn’t have any big ambitions to take over the world. I didn’t plan to outsource marketing to overseas contractors or build a big business.
I’d just read the 4 Hour Work Week and I wanted to live the “New Rich” lifestyle that Tim Ferriss talks about.
I far surpassed my income goal in my first year, but I had one huge problem:
I was spending 12+ hours every day working.
What’s the problem with working so hard?
1. You can’t keep up the pace forever. You get burned out.
2. If you have to work every day, you don’t have a business…you have a job.
3. You become your own business’s bottleneck. It can’t scale or grow beyond you and your talents.
I knew I had a problem and I needed to work on fixing it.
My plan was to do the following:
- Figure out how I can work less and earn the same (or more)
- Learn which tasks I should get others to do
- Make a decision about things I should never outsource
After some hardcore brainstorming and some trial and error, I managed to free up enough time so that I felt like I had a good balance.
What I want to show you in this article is how to outsource some simple tasks to allow you to focus on the higher-level areas in your business.
Don’t be intimidated. Start small, and work your way up.
Not many people get into affiliate marketing because they want a second job, they want to build a business.
Learning what you can and can’t outsource is something everyone should be focused on.
When To Start Outsourcing Affiliate Marketing Tasks
I have a philosophy when it comes to outsourcing:
If I don’t know anything about what I’m outsourcing, I’m gonna get ripped off in some way.
Either it’ll be through poor workmanship, long turnaround times, or overpaying contractors.
Think about it.
If you don’t know anything about HTML or CSS, how would you go about hiring a programmer?
- You don’t have a benchmark when it comes to the time it takes to do tasks, so you won’t know how long they should be taking
- It’s hard to tell the difference between big and small tasks, so your programmer may overcharge
- You’re don’t know what’s doable so you may be limiting yourself, or pushing an average developer to do things a PhD-level coder should be working on
This is a kinda extreme example, but here’s how I deal with this:
I try to learn the 80/20 of a task before I outsource it.
I’m not a tech guy, and my programming is not great, but I know the basics. I can look through a page and kinda tell how it works, and which parts do different things, but I couldn’t build it from scratch.
But because I have that base level of programming, now I have a benchmark.
Also, I haven’t coded up a landing page in YEARS, but once you learn something, you don’t really forget it.
If a potential contractor tells me it’ll take 5 hours to do a simple task, I know he’s trying to con me and I can move on to the next applicant.
I know it’s time-consuming learning new skills, but that’s what this industry is all about.
Remember, when you learn a skill, you have that skill for LIFE. Sure it might take 20 minutes of brushing up if you don’t use it for a while. But if AM is going to be your career, it’s worth it.
Here are the skills for affiliate marketing that I think are necessary to succeed in this industry.
Here’s more information on how to hire your first worker.
What If You’re A Newbie and Want To Outsource Marketing Tasks?
There are different levels of “newbies”.
Some new guys are programmers, designers, or have worked for affiliate networks / traffic sources. They have some relevant skills, and they wanna jump over to being an affiliate.
Other “newbies” in affiliate marketing are accountants, freelancers, construction workers etc. and they don’t have specific industry experience to rely on.
Some people come into this industry with a huge bank balance and they’re wanting to build up an income, while others have no income and want to get started.
Here are my thoughts on outsourcing if you’re new to affiliate marketing:
STILL learn the 80/20 of a process, and only outsource if have enough money left for running campaigns.
If you’re coming in with not much money, your have to invest your time. This is good because you’ll learn from the ground up and become a well-rounded affiliate.
There ARE successful internet marketers out there who don’t have a good base of skills, but this is CPA marketing, not blogging or building an SEO site.
We make landers, use Photoshop to build banners, upload to FTP, set up campaigns etc. and we do this DOZENS of times per day.
The faster you are with software & tech skills, the more you can get done.
What Are Some Easy Tasks To Outsource?
Photoshop is easy to learn the basics of, but it’s incredibly deep. The most common things I use Photoshop for are designing landing pages to send to a programmer, and building ads. These are two tasks that you can outsource.
I give my designer some example landing pages for inspiration, and then specific instruction on what I want. He gives me back completed .PSD files and does his Photoshop tricks so I can change text/manipulate if I need to, and then I can give this document to a programmer.
Most affiliates will run foreign affiliate campaigns at some point in their career. This is something that most people can’t do themselves, so it’s more out of necessity that it gets outsourced.
I use OneHourTranslation.com but there are a lot of alternatives out there. Fiverr or Upwork are great places to get people contractors onto your team.
Programming Landing Pages
I know some affiliates who like to build their own landing pages, but after you get a few profitable campaigns you’ll find that it’s not worth your time. Even if you’re a programmer, it will be more worth your time doing the tasks in the next list (Things to Never Outsource).
One reason why I recommend all affiliates learn basic coding is so you can make quick changes to your landing pages. There’s nothing worse than your AM telling you to pause your traffic because of a script on your page, and you don’t know how to change it.
Uploading Creatives to Traffic Sources
As soon as you start working with banners or ads, you’ll realize that it’s a numbers game. Sometimes my team will upload dozens of ads in one day, and it’s a time-consuming task.
Because you’re dealing with sensitive information, you need to make sure that you are working with the right contractor who won’t take advantage. This is one reason I like to find people through sites like Upwork – the feedback is their livelihood. If they try to rip me off, Upwork will deal with it.
Also, this is something you want to give to a worker once they prove that they are trustworthy. It’s a simple task so you can create a SOP to train anyone to do it to start outsourcing repetitive marketing.
Uploading to FTP
This is something you can get your programmer to do once they have coded up your landers.
Once they have earned your trust by completing projects on time and doing several jobs, you can give them your login details to get them to set everything up on your server.
Just like with other tasks, never hand over the keys to the kingdom. Allow more access as they gain your trust.
Setting up Servers / Hosting
There are levels to servers / hosting. There’s the newbie level which is getting a managed VPS and uploading your content onto it then sending traffic.
Then there’s the super affiliate level of optimizing your servers for speed, security, encryption and stability. I get experts to do this work because it’s not worth it for me to learn. Once you get this work done, it’s not much work to maintain it.
Applying for Affiliate Offers
I know some affiliates who will test 20 offers per day trying to find good offers. It’s not a huge amount of work applying for a few offers each day.
But when you have to apply to run them, see which ones can be run on which sources, which settings they have (carrier vs wifi), and you’re doing 10+ per day, it’s a big job. This is a super simple way to start to outsource marketing tasks.
You can hire someone to go into your dashboard and select all offers for your GEO that allow wifi traffic and then gather the links that go into your tracker.
Your affiliate network dashboard has sensitive info so you should give this task to someone who has earned your trust.
Accounting / Bookkeeping
You should be keeping a close eye on your online business finances. I have a daily P&L sheet sent to me at the end of each day, plus weekly/monthly overviews. As an affiliate your time is better spent on marketing, not chasing down expenses.
Protip: Learn the difference between an accountant and a bookkeeper.
Combing Through Affiliate Manager/Traffic Source Emails
The weekly email blast that your affiliate managers send you is valuable, but when you get 20 of them it’s too much.
I have someone who goes through these emails and gives me the 80/20 of what’s hot.
Sometimes your traffic source will open up new placements or widgets so this is something you want to keep an eye on.
Blacklisting / Whitelisting Placements
If you’re running mobile/native, you know this is a big task. There are options here – you could get some software built to take care of this, or hire someone to do it manually.
Software would be expensive, but if you’re doing big mobile numbers it could be worth it for you.
The secret is to create different formulas that they can easily follow.
Things You Shouldn’t Outsource Until You’re Advanced
Ultimately the goal is to outsource everything technical, repetitive, and even eventually the creative stuff like angle generation. It all depends on how far you want to go.
I know guys who do the whole Four Hour Work Week thing and outsource marketing and others who run huge operations because they want to become billionaires.
But while you’re earning your stripes, only you should perform the following tasks:
- It takes time to get to know who you can trust as contractors
- There are a lot of things to learn, and you want to become a master before you outsource it
- These will be your competitive advantages
- Some of these are very difficult to outsource unless you pay someone a lot of money
For example, if you want to hire someone to network with affiliate managers, you’re basically hiring someone to go to conferences, strike up deals, and act for you. To get someone who you trust, and who’s good at this would cost a lot of money.
This is one of your competitive advantages. Even telling someone else who is in your mastermind is a bad idea. I keep tight lipped about EVERYTHING to do with masterminds.
It’s also dishonest if you share secrets from your masterminds with others. It reduces the effectiveness of the techniques / strategies, so you’re hurting the other party in your mastermind.
This is something that you’ll need more and more as you progress as an affiliate. You’ll learn which affiliate metrics are important, what are the leading indicators that a campaign is going to be a success, what can be optimized etc.
You can’t just go onto Upwork and search for an “affiliate marketing data analyst”. They might claim to be able to do the job, but this is what a skilled media buyer will be good at.
Your #1 goal is to become a skilled media buyer, THEN you can bring on someone to replace you when you are skilled enough to get profitable.
High-Level Decisions on Verticals / Traffic Source / Business Strategy
A skilled affiliate will have a feel for what’s going to work before they launch it. A newbie is throwing shit at the wall.
Don’t fall into the trap of letting a contractor or employee tell you which direction you should be going. If they knew, they wouldn’t be working for a wage.
Once you hire a media buyer you can slowly let them take over decisions such as traffic source selection, but this is at a later stage of the game.
Anything in Your Affiliate Tracking Software
Some guys will encourage you to outsource tracking.
This is a terrible idea.
There are two reasons why:
#1 Tracking isn’t exactly a “secret sauce”, but it’s a fundamental skill in affiliate marketing.
You need to have solid grasp of tracking and know how to set up all types of campaigns like the back of your hand. You need to know your tracker inside and out, which only comes with running a lot of campaigns and doing some serious time analyzing data.
#2 This is the most sensitive information you have.
If someone can see your offer, traffic source, and landing page, they can jack your entire campaign.
Note: Some trackers like Thrive allow you to restrict access to parts of your tracker. This is one of the reasons that I started trying out Thrive and it’s one of my recommended trackers.
Once you start to grow your business from a one-man band, you’ll start to hire media buyers.
You can make the decision to give everyone access to Voluum, get them their own Voluum account, or use Thrive.
This is something I love doing. Brainstorming new ways to make money from old verticals is one of the biggest advantages you can have in this industry.
The better you get at this, the more first-mover’s advantages you can claim.
Your media buyer will take on this duty when you hire them, but coming up with angles is something that you should become a master at as an affiliate.
You’ll want to train your media buyers to get good at this, so you need to be first class at this.
Only Outsource Low-Risk Tasks At The Start
Tasks like making up new banners are very low risk. Worst case, you lose $20 on a crap designer. Best case, you find a killer designer who makes profitable banners 10x faster than you.
Even though these tasks are low risk, you should still learn the basics of them (Photoshop, programming, design etc.)
Only outsource higher level tasks when you’re making good money, and you haven’t got the time to do them yourself. Even then, don’t give new contractors (or experienced contractors) access to everything.
Always keep an ace up your sleeve.
Let me know in the comments!
Featured Image by nevarpp