Affiliate Marketing: How a Blog Reader Made $500 a Day Using 4 Learning Hacks
He knew from my reading list that I’m a fan of “learning hacks” because I recommended books such as The Art of Learning and The Talent Code. I don’t think you need 10,000 hours to be an an expert at a skill, and you can use different techniques to speed up the process. John wanted to know if there were any “learning hacks” for affiliate marketing.
This question is interesting because most emails I get are “hey I am a newbie, do you have any tips for me?”
I thought about it for a while and came up with my theories. I gave him a 10 minute call since it would be easier than writing it out. He thanked me and promised me he would repay me by becoming a success story.
I didn’t hear from him for about 3 months. Most people I give advice to don’t really take action and just disappear. But I was surprised when I received an email from him that he made his first $500 profit day. That’s astonishing because I know many guys who have been trying this for years and haven’t even earned $500 total.
I jumped on a call with John to deconstruct his process and how he did it. I wanted to know how a newbie in 2014 succeeds. The guy’s smart and I’m not taking credit for his success. What I will do is share the advice I gave him, and I will share how he applied it.
If anyone ever makes money because of my blog, please let me know. It’s the main fuel that keeps me writing these days.
1) Find Mentors or 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 how fast your learn, 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.
Instead 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? There are other successful affiliates in the industry that might be willing to teach you.
Where can you find them? I told John that there’s mainly 3 places to look: see if there are any local affiliates, meeting people at conferences, or on forums.
Don’t tell yourself, “I can’t.” Ask yourself, “How can I?”
John just happened to be in a city that’s an affiliate hotspot. A meet up was coming up and he went. While at the meet up, he met a successful affiliate who was friendly and willing to answer his questions. The affiliate casually mentioned he loves coffee, and John told him, “Bro I know the best coffee spot in the city that kind of a hidden gem, let me take you out this week. I’d love to pick your brain if you don’t mind.”
Later in the week they went to get some coffee and the super affiliate answered a lot of his newbie questions. John asked him, “I’m a programmer. If you ever need any programming work done, I’d love to do some work for you in exchange for some advice here and there. I can spare 3 hours a day for anything you need. I respect you and would never do anything shady with your material.” The super affiliate agreed because he had trouble communicating with his programmers, and it would be awesome to design pages in person.
John built out some beautiful mobile landing pages for the super affiliate that converted better than his past ones. The super affiliate then told John could use the landing pages for his own campaigns. Because of his networking, John now had optimized landing pages and he found a vertical.
Now some of you guys may be thinking he 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.
2) Laser Focus on a Traffic Source and Vertical
John decided to focus only on mobile because it’s what I recommend a lot. My next advice was 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 he offer page is not everything. What 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? Your typical affiliate will start at PlentyofFish. He hears mobile’s hot and spends a month there. He’s not making any progress in mobile so he jumps over to adult. He loses his money and now he hears all the money’s in Facebook. After he gets his account banned, he quits affiliate marketing.
In the meantime, John spent all his time in mobile and stuck to one vertical for three months.
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.
1) Stick with what works. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel.
2) Set a game plan budget. In the Rise of Ngo, I had a problem with traffic source / vertical A.D.D. I told myself for my next campaign, I wouldn’t quit until I spent $1.500. After half the budget was gone, that familar feeling was coming in. I wanted to quit. But because of my gameplan, 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 only. Once he’s an expert, then he can play other games.
It takes time to become an expert.
3) 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.
I learned about this concept from Josh Waitzkin in the Art of Learning. Read about it from his website.
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 just play countless games of Starcraft. 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 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.
I told John his first 3 circles should be
- Setting up proper tracking. You’re blind without proper tracking. Fortunately it’s easy to learn with my Voluum guide.
- Angles / Ads. Next I told him to 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. 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.
The first step to improving is to committed to improving your skills. The second step is to know what you have to work on.
4) Game Plan
My last piece of advice is to create measurable game plans.
I asked him what his goal and game plan was. “Well, I want to make $100 day profit within 3 months. I don’t really have a game plan”
Here’s an example if you don’t know the difference. A goal would be “I want to gain 5 pounds by January 1st, 2015.” A process would be:
1) Workout 4 days a week using the xxx workout.
2) Eat 3,000 Calories a day with 50% Carbs / 30% Protein / 20% Fat
3) Sleep 7.5 hours a day
4) Drink 3/4 gallon of water a day.
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 of one 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
- Brainstorm 3 angles. Create 5 ads each.
- Research landing page of competitors
- 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. Everyday he takes action.
Sometimes success is about the questions you ask.
There’s no speed limit to how fast you can skyrocket in this industry. Learn from others, develop laser focus, understand how to learn faster, and create game plans.
Don’t make excuses. Take action.