Affiliate Marketing: What Makes Someone a Super Affiliate?
Over time, I’ve grown to accept it because the term came to mean the best affiliates in the industry – the top 1%. They are the people who know how to run profitable campaigns like the back of their hands and have the bank accounts to prove it.
I feel that the image of a super affiliate has changed over time. In 2009, it probably meant someone who was extremely flashy, young, and most likely arrogant. These days, it’s the complete opposite.
Some of the super affiliate guys of the past took their skills and money and built legitimate companies. But I would say most people of that generation quietly left the industry because they couldn’t adapt.
Super affiliate dudes of today tend to be a lot more low-key than before. There’s a lot more interest in building wealth and acquiring assets than showing off money. And there’s more interest in learning about business skills. For instance, super affiliates these days tend to be extremely well-read and well-rounded people.
I want to write about what I think makes a super affiliate besides the ability to make a lot of money. I hope to provide you with some insights on what it takes to dominate and last in this industry.
“Everyone is a genius in a Bull Market.”
Affiliate marketing has its up and downs just like any other industry. What separates the pros from the amateurs is the ability to make money when times are bad.
What matters is how much money you have at the end of the year. Who is more impressive: someone who is consistent at $1,500 a day, or someone who had $10,000 for a month? See for yourself:
$1,500 x 365= $547,500
$10,000 x 30 = $300,000
The $1,500-a-day person is not going to get any “oohs” and “aahs” but will make more money at the end of the year.
How do you become a more consistent affiliate marketer?
Look at #10 of the Ngo 10-Step Blueprint. It’s a step many affiliates overlook, but I think it is the most important one for long-term success. After I get a campaign profitable, I’m still consistently optimizing and testing it. I’m able to keep profitable campaigns running for weeks after other guys quit.
Another idea I preach is to make your campaign launching process systematic. My team and I are always launching campaigns. Even if a campaign dies out due to over-saturation, we know we can relaunch it in a few months, and it’ll be profitable again.
There’s also the concept of expected value. Let’s say I launch 10 campaigns. Maybe 5 will lose money, 3 will be okay, and 2 will be home runs. In order for me to keep having home runs in my portfolio, I have to keep launching campaigns.
A key to being in the zone constantly is to make sure you don’t go through affiliate burnout. I’ve had experiences before when I overworked myself, and I had to take months-long breaks to recover mentally. These days, I can work 365 days of the year without any issues.
I make sure I keep a sustainable pace. I work 6-10 hours a day rather than 16. I take care of my health by going to the gym and making sure I sleep 7+ hours a day. I take vacations and don’t feel guilty about them.
Remember that affiliate marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.
I have a friend who made a ton of money this year, but I wouldn’t consider him skillful.
He relied on one traffic source, where he cloaked. He wouldn’t run any campaigns unless he could rip the ads and landing pages from someone else. He rode the wave as long as he could until the traffic source made it almost impossible for him to run there anymore.
Now he’s trying to do mobile, and I’m giving him some help, but he’s in a horrible position. He never learned the fundamentals of affiliate marketing. He never even learned how to split-test a campaign properly. Even though he has a lot of cash, he lacks the patience to launch and optimize a campaign.
Traffic sources come and go. Adult was HOT 2 years ago. Now, it’s mobile. I’m already starting to see the signs of what will be hot in 1-2 years. I’ve made money in every major traffic source and vertical because I understand the fundamentals.
Some of the core skills in affiliate marketing include:
- Creativity with angles/ads
- The optimization process: turning a losing campaign into a winning one through split-testing.
- Knowing where to find good verticals and offers.
If you master these fundamentals, you can make money from any traffic source.
Ideally, a super affiliate can make money in multiple niches, traffic sources, and verticals. Do you HAVE to? Nope. If you can dominate a certain vertical, then you should do it, by all means. But if you can’t make money outside of your comfort zone, you have a problem.
One way I like to keep my skills sharp is to run what I call “learning” campaigns. It’s an idea I got from reading about the culture at Google. They encourage you to spend 20% of your time working on side projects.
Most people will only launch a campaign if it’s extremely profitable. I will launch campaigns that are out of my comfort zone for the purpose of learning. If it makes money, great! It’s ironic that I actually make more money because of these special campaigns, but it makes sense: they give me new insights that I can apply to my existing campaigns.
And a few times, my “side campaigns” ended up becoming more profitable than my main ones.
There is a big difference between luck and skill. Any affiliate can get lucky with a profitable campaign. Skills are what lets you create profitable campaigns, over and over again.
3) Competitive Advantages
A common complaint about affiliate marketing is how unstable it can be at times.
A profitable campaign could die overnight for many reasons: the advertiser pauses you because of your lead quality, an affiliate outbids you, or competitors steal your creatives.
When you’re a lower-level affiliate, you’re in what I call “affiliate hell.” Campaigns tend to be unstable, and you have to scrape for every piece of profit you can.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Notice, some affiliates are always making money. Some affiliates are always #1 in the same placements. It’s not as easy as stealing their landing pages and ads to be profitable.
What separates low-level affiliates from others? Competitive advantages. Your competitive advantages will separate you from the random affiliates.
What are some competitive advantages you can have?
- Relationships. I have some networks, affiliate managers, and advertisers that I’ve been working with for over 5 years. If there is an issue, they’re going to give me a little more service than to anybody else.
- Exclusives. Traffic sources, offers, etc. Direct competition leads to a race to the bottom.
- Systems. What turns a single affiliate into a machine.
- Optimization processes and formulas. Other affiliates can see the finished product (the ads, landing pages, etc.). What they can’t see are the processes behind them. That’s where the money is.
- Operational effectiveness. How fast can you launch and make changes to campaigns? I covered the speed of implementation topic in this post.
- Your network. Other affiliate marketers are a great source of information.
- Knowledge. This essence of business. Making money off knowing what your competitors don’t.
Are you starting to see the difference between a super affiliate and a mediocre one?
Lets talks about what’s not a competitive advantage. Discovering a hot offer, niche, or traffic source before anyone else does. There are thousands of affiliates out there. If it’s making money then others will find out sooner or later. You can’t have a profitable campaign and just cross your fingers hoping no one sees it. You have to take action and build a moat around it.
Normal affiliates are reactionary. They sit around, waiting for affiliate managers to tell them what’s hot. Their campaigns are built on a house of cards. Super affiliates innovate, set the trends, and create moats around their campaigns.
If you’re a beginner or an intermediate affiliate, you should have a play-to-win mentality. If you’re aiming to simply “make a living,” then that’s the kind of money you’re going to make.
Becoming a super affiliate isn’t just about making a lot of money. Be consistent, develop skills, and create competitive advantages if you want to last in this industry.