Affiliate Marketing: Guest Post: What I’ve Learned After Reaching $1,000,000 by IamAttila
The following is a guest post by affiliate marketer, IamAttila. He is a great addition to the affiliate blogging scene. You can find more of his writings at IamAttila.com
I often share a lot of tactical, hands-on knowledge you can implement immediately to improve your affiliate marketing. This time, I decided to spice things up and talk about stuff beyond the technical details. I’d like to share with you what I learned after hitting $1 million in revenue in May 2014.
Many people dream about big profits, but only 1% make it. This is a fact. I didn’t make it up (Google it! I dare ya!) Why only 1% manage to make it big? Well, I don’t know for sure… Some say it’s a lack of action. Others say it’s a lack of persistence. In my experience-based opinion, it has to do with a combination of things.
Affiliate marketing, just like the corporate world, has a corporate ladder of sorts. The difference is you are not stuck at a desk, working 9 to 5, and you don’t have a boss who decides whether you get a promotion and retire RICH. As you advance along the affiliate marketing “corporate ladder,” you develop the mentality needed to make it to $1 million in revenue.
I’ve seen a ton of guys join paid forums like STM with usernames like ‘richdude,’ ‘ferraridreams,’ ‘guccilover,’ etc. I’m sure you’ve seen them too. They start follow-alongs with titles like “My Journey to $1 Million in 6 Months!” or “Road to Richest with…” After about 2-3 pages of posts, the follow-alongs die. And when their memberships expire, they all go back to their 9 to 5 lives with bosses, debt, and stress.
To help you avoid the same fate, I am sharing in this post the lessons I learned on my journey to making $1 million so you too can experience success.
The Saying “You Won’t Know Till You Try” is TRUE
No matter where or what you read, every single ebook, every mentor, and every premium resource will tell you the exact same thing: you won’t know till you try. What does that mean?
Let’s start with the notion that there are two ways of taking action: motion and action.
Motion is when you are preparing the campaigns, talking to reps, setting up tracking, ordering translations, doing banners, etc.
Action, on the other hand, is something that brings immediate results.
Of course, action can’t happen without the preliminary motion, but unless you complete the motion and turn it into action, you are wasting your time.
To see the difference between the two, let’s look at some real-life examples.
Affiliate A: Peter Wong
Peter is the kind of guy who likes to plan meticulously. He checks his numbers twice, and he makes sure his Excel is organized. He orders translations with a deadline set in stone and ensures that every part of an affiliate campaign is done as planned. After collecting everything, he sets it all up, waits for data, optimizes the campaign, and then scales it. He takes action.
Affiliate B: Jason McAdams
Jason is a laidback dude who loves skateboarding. He’s hardly on the computer, but he has accounts with all the top membership-based affiliate boards. His username is ‘richsk8r,’ and he loves posting about what he will buy when he strikes it rich! He’s so laidback, his motion is super slow. Offers come and go, but he misses the boat over and over again.
Six months pass, and Jason is nowhere to be seen. He’s at a punk concert because it’s great fun being with his buddies. He didn’t renew his membership, and the follow-along he started died.
Peter, on the other hand, is now six figures richer because he had a well-thought-out plan, which he implemented with precision. He took ACTION over and over again. He realized his dream. He can now help his parents, who immigrated to Canada, and can take care of his grandparents, who require medical care.
Do you see the difference between succeeding and failing? Only taking action separates the two, nothing more.
The morale of the story is if you don’t act, you’ll never win.
Whom You Know Matters More Than What You Know
In the land of affiliate marketing, every single day you will meet people who are smarter than you. Don’t be sad, don’t feel bad, and most importantly don’t feel stupid. It took me a while to realize I was looking at it the wrong way, but eventually I had my AHA moment!
I know zero about coding, and I am not the best designer. But I know many people who are great at different things, so I can ask for their help. Problem solved. I don’t need to sweat over learning how to design in Photoshop or how to code responsive landers. I just need to find people who already have this knowledge.
This brings me to a conversation about efficiency. I am all about systems that will allow me to accomplish my tasks with the fewest number of steps.
Let me show you what it looks like in the real world. I’ll use the ICQ app install offer that was ultra hot a few months ago as an example.
Affiliate A: Mr. Peabody
Mr. Peabody is a one-man army. He insists that he knows EVERYTHING. No one can do it better than him. He hates the idea of someone else doing any of the tasks because he always worries that other people’s work will never be good enough. So Mr. Peabody spends countless hours reading how to code HTML5 and CSS, how to make killer animations in Adobe Photoshop, etc. He spends six hours a day on his landers and then some on his banners.
Affiliate B: Attila Junior (I can’t say it’s me because that wouldn’t be cool :P)
Attila Jr. is the kind of guy who hates wasting time on stupid stuff. He gets his designer to do the lander. He gets his other designer to do the banners, upload everything to the server when done, and send over a report with lander URLs and DropBox links to banners. Attila Jr. loves to work smart.
It is Tuesday, and the NGO CPA Network announces that there’s a hot new offer for ICQ for Android that won’t be around for long.
Mr. Peabody thinks: “Sweet… I’m going to bank on this hard. I know ICQ is a huge brand. This will be an easy sell!” Expecting high CRs, he begins to prep. He makes a list of all the landers, all the banner designs, and all the angles he wants to test. He begins his work. It is now 5 PM on Tuesday, and he’s dead tired from working all day without a break. He’s made six landers and still has a ton of variations to make. Banners aren’t even started yet. Oh, well… It’s time to go home because the game is on at six!
Attila Jr.’s day goes like this. Once his AM at NGO CPA Network tells him about the ICQ offer, Attila makes a list of all the angles, writes down some draft ideas, and sends them to his design team (4 designers). By 5 PM, Attila has 10 landers with 5 variations of each and 50 banners.
While the designers are working on the creatives, Attila contacts his VAs and has them set up campaigns for traffic sources and campaign links. At 5 PM, the lander URLs and banners are sent to the VAs for upload. Attila Jr. is LIVE at 5 PM, while Mr. Peabody is only half-done with his landers!
The ICQ offer ran for one week only. Mr. Peabody launched his campaign 4 days after the offer went live, while Attila Jr. went live the same day the offer came out, collected data, optimized his campaign, and banked over $6,000 in profit. I don’t think I need to finish this story because you already see the point. Attila didn’t know how to make landers. He just knew the people who could get everything done fast!
P.S. I knew you were expecting to hear something else, but I like to do things differently. Yes, whom you know in the industry matters a lot, but you knew that already, so I hope you enjoyed my angle 🙂
Persistence is king, and failure is not an option!
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ~ Thomas Edison
This is one of my favorite quotes because it very much relates to affiliate marketing. If Thomas Edison were an affiliate marketer, he would’ve understood the necessity of failure.
According to Wikipedia, he held patents to over 1,000 inventions. Imagine those inventions were campaigns. Now imagine how many banners, landers, and angles he would have had to test before succeeding!
Thomas Edison was the KING of affiliate marketing long before affiliate marketing was invented. He was a man of great persistence.
I come from an SEO background. I used to build HQ sites and drive organic traffic to them until Google released the animals. July 2013 was the turning point for me. Google’s update killed all my sites that I had just recovered, and I had enough. I wanted to fire Google!
I didn’t enjoy seeing my work get flushed down the toilet overnight or my profits tumble unexpectedly. I was looking for more control. I wanted to quit my job and stop relying on Google to get paid! If you’ve done SEO before, I am sure you can relate to what I’ve gone through.
When I got into affiliate marketing, I knew it was not going to be a walk in the park like the gurus that prey on the newbies claim it would. I knew it was going to be a HUGE learning curve. And I also knew I would lose lots of money first if I wanted to make it to the big boys’ league.
From the start, I approached launching my affiliate marketing career as if I were launching a brick and mortar business. (By the way, according to US statistics, traditional mom & pop businesses don’t see a cent of profit in the first six months!)
I hired a fulltime in-house assistant and a designer because I hate doing the grunt work and I suck at design. The race was on! I read everything I could, made a plan, and handed it to my designer and assistant to set up traffic sources so we could take our motion and convert it into ACTION!
I did this over and over again for five months, losing many thousands of dollars (not counting the cost of employees and other overhead). But every single month, I had more experience, and I was getting better.
In the sixth month, my persistence paid off when I hit it BIG! I remember that second AHA moment. It felt like real enlightenment to ‘get it.’ If I had given up in my first month after losing thousands of dollars, I would’ve never made it to seven figures.
It was a journey, and my destination was success. Failure was not an option!
Good Employees Are Hard to Find
As I mentioned, I like to work efficiently and map out my path before I embark on it so I can take the fewest number of steps to get to my destination. My employees play a major role in this process, and that is why I can operate three successful businesses AND spend time with family whenever I want.
If I want to have a Tuesday off, I can, knowing my employees have my back. If my family wants to go to Disneyland Paris so our son can have some fun time with Mickey, I can take a week off, knowing everything will be fine in my business when I return. I have no BOSS who can say no to me, and I don’t have to do everything myself.
It wasn’t always like this. It took me a lot of time to learn how to get the best people for any given job, and I can tell you it’s not just about paying them well.
It all started back in my SEO days when I was hiring people who were willing to work for little money. I would take any person – skilled or not – because I thought I could train them.
I didn’t look into their backgrounds, call their references, or check what hobbies they had. I just hired employees thinking they were like monkeys performing a function.
While it’s true that employees perform certain functions, they are still people. As I realized I needed to get to know my future employees first, I started conducting two-part interviews. They became three-part interviews, conducted by a team, in which we would take our time getting to know our prospects before making a hiring decision.
We’d ask them:
- what hobbies they had,
- what music they liked,
- what their parents did,
- whether they’ve travelled anywhere,
- what languages they spoke,
- what their special skills were,
- what their weirdest ability was,
- and what goals and expectations they had.
We’d inquire about everything to form a well-rounded picture of people sitting in front of us. And then we’d see how they’d fit into our company. If we felt that they were a good fit and would enhance the team dynamics, we’d offer them a job.
Today, I have gamers, rock stars, rap stars, travel buffs, programmers, nerds, and jocks on my staff. The balance is amazing, and there’s never a dull moment. Plus, the mix of backgrounds, intellect, and personalities brings different angles and ideas to the challenges we face and helps us grow.
I am rich not because I run a 7-figure business. I am rich because I have great employees that allow me to have enough time to do what I want when I want.
Systems Are a MUST
I am obsessed with systems, flow charts, and planning. Which is ironic because if you look at my desk, you’ll see it’s a total mess. Papers are on top of papers. Pens are all over the place. Calculators and water bottles are scattered around. If you are wondering, I did try to organize my desk, but then I couldn’t find anything. So I went back to my old messy desk setup. 🙂
When it comes to work, however, I have everything nice and neat. But it wasn’t always like this.
I used to be all over the place, trying too many traffic sources and offers and throwing stuff against the wall to see if it sticks. It wasn’t until I made a system and stuck to one traffic source and one vertical that I arrived at my destination: success.
Today, my team works like clockwork. In fact, the entire media buying process is very organized. So much so that I only have to tell my team to run offer X, and they know what to do. There’s a chain, not unlike that of McDonald’s when their team sets out to make you your Big Mac. Each person has his or her own task, participating in a system that prevents bottlenecks. I do top-level stuff like talking to AMs, getting exclusive offers, and networking with super affiliates.
Systems are like good employees. They enable me to have free time to do what I love: learn new things, expand my horizons, and network. I highly recommend systems if you want to have an edge in the world of affiliate marketing. If you’d asked for advice to help you set up your own systems, I’d say keep it simple. Learn your craft first, and after you succeed with one offer, mind map the process from A to Z.
Once you have a detailed, step-by-step guide of your process, see what tasks you can give to someone else. Train a VA or an in-house employee to do those tasks. As you grow, divide the entire workflow among multiple employees, a.k.a. specialists. You will find that such setup is ideal for many reasons: cost, time, and effectiveness.
Systems are a must in your affiliate toolbox.
The Harder the Situation, the Higher the Profit Potential
Imagine you live in a third-world country, where the banking system is so outdated you cannot cash international checks. The banks allow credit cards in local currency only and don’t support Internet purchases.
Now, picture this: this country is chosen to host the meet-up of the top 1% super affiliates – the guys making $1 million and more per month. (It doesn’t matter why they pick this third-world country.)
The event goes off without a hitch. The guests hang out at bars, party, and network.
Everyone goes back to their comfortable lives, posts pictures, and comments on videos from the trip. Then the news breaks. J.S. lost his laptop. The laptop has mind maps, notes on how to run a cloaked campaign on Facebook, projections on ROI, and data from past campaigns. People ask each other: “Did you see it?” The efforts to locate the laptop are eventually abandoned. Laptop is gone for good, and with it are gone the data and insights into how to make millions on Facebook.
But the laptop is NOT gone. A 19-year-old gamer Josh and his buddy Eli find it. They are jumping for joy. “Oh, my god! MacBookPro with Retina display and SSD!” Sure, scoring the laptop is sweet, but they don’t know that the real diamond is inside. They realize it when they boot up the laptop and start reading its contents.
They quickly learn what campaign to run with what offer and how to target and structure it. They also see they can make $100,000 IN A FEW DAYS!! “Sounds amazing!” they think. “Ferraris, hot chicks, and travel!”
But there is one problem. They live in a country isolated from the business world. They also live in a country that doesn’t allow anyone to advertise on Facebook. Sure, they have accounts on Facebook, but they can’t buy any ads!
Eli says, “Ah, man. It would’ve been so nice to make money and buy a nice car and stuff, but we can’t do it. We live in a shitty country, and we just can’t pull it off.”
Josh agrees with him, “Yea, man, it sucks…” But at the back of his mind, an idea is brewing. He is thinking, “Hell, yes, this is going to be a really HARD challenge, but if I solve it, the high profits await!”
To make a long story short, Josh tried, and then he tried some more. He sent emails and made phone calls. He battled the obstacles and persevered. He found a way to buy ads and get the campaign going, and he reached his goal.
Josh moved from that third-world country and now lives in Thailand, surrounded by beautiful babes and AMAZING scenery. He is wining, dining, and living the life others only dream about!
Sure, the campaign he cut ‘n’ pasted died, but his character allowed him to implement other campaigns because Josh is a guy who isn’t scared of obstacles. He solves challenges and fixes problems – the reason why he is successful today.
In case you are wondering what happened to Eli, he doesn’t speak to Josh. He’s too jealous of Josh and feels he was entitled to his success. And yup, he still dreams of Ferraris and hot chicks.
Like Josh, you will be faced with many challenges. But if you are willing to battle the hard times and not give up, you too will reap the benefits – the big $$$.
You can get to x,xxx,xxx figures too!
But you MUST go in with the right mindset. Affiliate marketing is not a walk in the park. The saying “Money doesn’t grow on trees” is very true.
One of the most important things is not to believe the hype because making it big in affiliate marketing is not easy. If you still want to continue, then the next step is to make a plan.
Make a plan that outlines what you need to do to get to your first destination, which should be a very modest $1 a day. If you can’t get to $1 a day profit, there is no point dreaming about $1,000 a day.
If you don’t take action, you will never have a chance!
Charles Says: Thanks Attila for the guest post. It’s a long post full of great lessons, and I know everyone appreciates the effort that went into this.
About the Author
IAmAttila is a mobile media buying expert, systems obsessed perfectionist and blogger. He first had his jab at affiliate marketing in 2007, then took a break and worked in Sales for 4 years quitting after his affiliate marketing took off.
Up until 2013, iAmAttila was specialized in SEO but when Google released the animals he got sick and tired of not being in control. That is when he switched to media buying and after 5 months of losing money, success hit BIG!
Today, iAmAttila generates 7 figures a year in mobile with his in house media buying team. He is dedicated to evolving his team so they can keep doing things more efficiently.
You writes at iAmAttila.com and you can follow him on twitter at @iAmAttila