Can you be successful in affiliate marketing without a team?

Written by Charles Ngo
Written by Charles Ngo

I wanna take a second to show you the benefits of having a team for internet marketing businesses.
Let’s think about a few things…
Do you think Warren Buffet does his own laundry?
Does Kobe Bryant mow his own lawns?
I’m pretty sure they don’t. They’ve made a ton of money and use it to BUY BACK their time.
It’s hard to become world class doing everything yourself.
I’m not comparing myself to these guys, but what I AM saying is that once you reach a certain point, it makes no sense to do things that some guy from Upwork will do for $5 an hour – and do them just as well as you.

The Early Period (Prehistoric Ngo)

I wanna explain something to you today that could help change your perception of top affiliate marketers, and how they got there.
For starters, here’s what I HATE doing:

  • Uploading ads
  • Talking to affiliate managers (still love you guys <3)
  • Translating landing pages
  •  Going in and doing split-tests
  • Any bookkeeping related

Seriously…I’d rather sit through a sleazy MLM pitch for an hour than do any of that.
What do I LOVE doing?

  • Networking
  • Building systems
  • Brainstorming new angles
  • Strategy
  • Snapchatting (Add: charles_ngo)

I prefer looking at campaigns from a high level than to be in the trenches. I’ve already paid my dues. If you’ve read the Rise of Ngo series you’ll know I spent a long time working by myself and doing EVERYTHING by myself.
Let me say right now, that shit was incredibly stressful.
Here are the things I can remember doing:

  • Coding landers (and I suck at coding)
  • Copywriting
  • Creating angles
  • Bookkeeping
  • Daily profit/loss spreadsheets
  • Chasing up new offers
  • Launching campaigns
  • Data analysis
  • Split tests
  • Hitting up networks to get my wires
  • Research
  • Designing ads and banners (and I kinda suck at that too)
  • Uploading landers, ads, banners etc

If you’ve launched even a single campaign before, you’ll know that there are a MILLION things that go wrong in affiliate marketing.

  • Hosting can be a bitch to set up the first few times
  • Sometimes you set your bid at $0.9 instead of $0.009
  • Landers get rejected and you gotta fix them up
  • You forget to put your affiliate link into your lander and give ClickDealer a whole lot of free

Seriously, I can’t believe there aren’t rebills that run affiliate burnout therapy sessions. They’d make a killing.
Things get pretty hectic when you are the only worker. This possibly explains why so many affiliates who crack it end up blowing all their cash on models and bottles.

Image by Alla Serebrina

I kinda do my own affiliate therapy with weekly massages, but it doesn’t look as cute as this.

The Tipping Point

When I FINALLY started making good money as an affiliate, I left the US and lived in Southeast Asia to enjoy life. It didn’t take me long to realise if I wanted to have any sort of life, I had to make some serious changes.
-I was working 12+ hours every day.
-I was eating more ramen noodles than Naruto 
-I had no time for exercise so I felt like shit
-Worst of all I had no time to party and have fun
I took a step back and asked myself:

“Is this why I got into affiliate marketing? For this kinda life? This isn’t what I signed up for!”

This is when I started to look at my business from a higher level.
I had started to build systems, but I was still a cog in my system.
What I really needed was a team – people who would do the things that I hated.
I started small by hiring contractors when I needed them (coders, writers, designers etc) from places like Upwork/Fiverr.
I’m a big believer in “playing to your strengths”.
For example:
I SUCK at coding – it’s just not worth it for me to take programming courses to get good.
I am GOOD at coming up with angles, copywriting, data analysis, research etc.

Image by Spaxiax

I do what I’m good at, and hire people to do things I’m not good at.
You could spend a decade becoming “good” at all of the skills in affiliate marketing, and still not make a single dollar.
Because I have other people doing the things I don’t like, I can spend time on the activities I do like – and these things make the biggest difference to my profits.
Doing low level tasks like uploading ads to Facebook or setting up hosting takes away from the time that could be spent coming up with a million-dollar angle for an offer.

What I Do Instead

Here’s the cool part – some of the stuff I hate doing are tasks that others LOVE to do.
I hate doing anything financial but my managing director handles it, so does our accountant, tax lawyers, and book keeper. They love that shit.
I just keep track of a few numbers and KPI’s each day. They track the numbers, I analyze and strategize based on the numbers.
I focus on my STRENGTHS, and let others make up for my weaknesses.
This is one of the biggest differences between the guys at the top and the guys in the middle in this business – the ability to delegate.
Sure, at the start you should do everything to learn the basics, but repetitive/mindless tasks should not be where you spend your time if you wanna become a super affiliate.
You gotta EVOLVE. Some guys are happy being a Super Saiyan. I wanna keep evolving from a Super Saiyan, to level 2, to level 3, and then grow my tail to level 4.
So many guys are the bottlenecks of their own companies and don’t even realize it. If it’s taking you 9 hours to code up a sweepstakes lander, dude you’ve got your shit all wrong.
I know this is ONLINE marketing, but it doesn’t mean you gotta be dreaming about boolean algebra and computational logic. If you are a killer marketer – learn how to use Photoshop to conceptualize your ideas, and get a coder to build it for you.

  • If you’re a student and wanna take some coding classes at school or college, that’s a great idea.
  • If you’re a bum with plenty of time, you should be up-skilling.
  • If you’re a financial accountant who works 8-5 with a family, you can’t waste your time becoming the next Zuckerberg coder. Instead use your strengths, which are probably business analysis, capital (most people starting affiliate marketing are kinda broke) and management skills.

It kinda feels like I’m picking on coding, but that’s just an easy target.

How I feel when people email me asking for outsourcing tips when they haven’t launched a campaign yet.
Affiliate marketers need a broad range of skills, but you don’t have to be a champion at each of them.
I’ve talked about T-shaped skills before. This is the concept of being really, REALLY good at one thing, and being “okay” to “not that good” in other areas. This gives you a competitive advantage IF it’s a skill that not many people have. If you are God-level at setting up hosting, that’s probably not gonna give you a competitive advantage.
For example one of my friends is awful at programming and design, but he can come up with a ton of crazy, creative angles that most people would never think of, and he is a great manager/delegator. He also had a good job when he started affiliate marketing, so he could afford to outsource the things he couldn’t do.
You can learn how to use Photoshop and do basic HTML/CSS changes in a day, which is good enough to get started, then if you’ve got the resources, start outsourcing and focus on your strengths. You will learn some of the skills in affiliate marketing by osmosis and on a need-to-know basis anyway.
And before you say you can’t afford a team, look at Upwork pricing. You can hire someone to do basic tasks for such a small price.
Affiliate marketing IS a competition.
Some good offers have caps.
Wanting that top spot on a traffic source? There’s only room for 3 people.
Having a team means you can run more traffic sources…more GEOs…more verticals.
It’s a way of being focused…yet diversified. It’s how you can ride the waves.
If you’re a marketer at your day job, you probably dream of angles for existing products. You see people running the same old angles and you feel like giving them a top-rope suplex for being so unoriginal

If you could sell leather back to the cow it came from, you gotta focus on being the best marketer, and hire help in the areas you feel deficient in.
You’ve gotta bring something to the table in affiliate marketing – I had some guy email yesterday asking how he could start affiliate marketing without a computer… Seriously?E? 
Most people who crack affiliate marketing do so come from a certain stance in life:

  1. They are persistent, patient, and hardworking, and even though they don’t bring any skills from previous careers, they learn fast, work hard, and constantly improve.
  2. They are programmers, designers, copywriters, or have worked in digital marketing long enough to know exactly how it works. This gives them an advantage.
  3. They have a lot of capital to invest. Often these guys have a great job and savings, and just want to diversify their investments.

If you’ve got no skills, no money, and no work ethic – don’t even bother with affiliate marketing.
The absolute minimum trait/skill to become successful in this business is a good worth ethic. The more you come into this business with, the better your chances of success are, but I’m NOT saying you’ve gotta be skilled in every area. You’ve gotta be pretty good at one thing, and then you can spend your time becoming better than most of your competition at that one thing, while you hire other people to do stuff you don’t like.
Affiliate marketing is a kinda simple business model – you send customers to an offer and try to get them to take action. There are heaps of technical obstacles in the way, but that’s basically it.
It’s a rare person that starts an online business and is successful without having any skills… That’s just kinda common sense. Imagine trying to start a cafe, a carpentry business, or a financial advice business without any skills. It’s crazy how many people think affiliate marketing is something that anybody can just walk into and start making massive profits without doing anything much.

The Problems Nobody Talks About

Of course there are good and bad sides to having a team.
Organisation becomes difficult, miscommunication happens and sometimes it’s just a nightmare managing people.

How it feels sorting out problems in my team
There’s no right or wrong answer though, it all depends on your goals in life.
I’ve noticed affiliates tend to fall into two categories: lifestyle or domination.
Lifestyle means they work to live. They’re into work life balance, and just use affiliate marketing as a means to an end.
Other guys wanna dominate.
Some of my friends do well with their businesses as a one-man army, but I wanna crush it. I wanna dominate. I did that “digital nomad” lifestyle a few years ago and hated it.
I do quite a few things:

  • I run my affiliate marketing team
  • I run my blog / branding
  • I run AFFcelerator

I know I’m productive and all…but I couldn’t do all those things at a world class level if I was by myself.
There’s only 24 hours in a day and you have limited energy.
I wanna have time in the day for working out, watching Game of Thrones, and taking random vacations whenever I want.
Even the maid who cleans my apartment and the business that deliver my meals every day are kinda part of my team – they allow me to focus on the aspects of my business that I’m best at.
You wanna know who else is in my team?

  • Managers
  • Media buyers
  • Marketers
  • Lawyers
  • Accountant
  • Researchers
  • Editors
  • Designers
  • Programmers (front and back end)
  • Admins and assistants
  • Bookkeeper
  • Copywriters
  • Social media managers
  • Mentors

Most of these people are part-time contractors by the way.
But seriously, imagine if I had to play the roles of all these professions…

What happens if you’re in the hospital?

A few years ago one of my mentors taught me a lesson that blew my mind away. One of his friends was hospitalized for a few months and couldn’t work.
Yet he was STILL able to bring in 5-figures profit each month. He had income from stocks, real estate, and most importantly….his team / systems kept everything running without him.
If you’re a 1-man army, what happens if you can’t work? Most people will have $0 income coming in if they were in that situation.
Some food for thought. I know building a team isn’t easy, but you’ll never know unless you try. Everyone starts somewhere.
Oh yea one more benefit…it feels good to provide jobs. I love being an American. I don’t need to walk around waving the American flag or saying it. I’m a man of action. I demonstrate it by creating jobs in this economy.
If you’re interested in learning about teams and systems, The Super Affiliate Intensive will be launching in a few weeks.
Let me know your thoughts about teams and how your business operates. Are you aiming for a lifestyle, or domination?
I’m interested!
Featured Image by Maxutov

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                The posts published by Charles are prepared and analyzed, including the author’s own experience…

The posts published by Charles are prepared and analyzed, including the author’s own experience…

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