What Ten Years in Affiliate Marketing Has Taught Me

Written by Charles Ngo
Written by Charles Ngo

Ten years ago, I took a week off from my job to attend Affiliate Summit East.

At that time I was making more money from affiliate marketing than my job…but I didn’t have the courage to quit.

I spent a few days hanging out with other affiliates at the conference, and then I wrote my two-week notice letter on the airplane ride home.

I wasn’t a caged lion ready to be released into the jungle – more like a timid meerkat peeking around the corner. 
I was second guessing myself while writing it, and wondering if my campaigns were stable enough.

Imagine quitting your job, and all your campaigns dying a few weeks later. You can’t afford your rent anymore so you’ll have to move back to your room at your mom’s house.

And think about all the people who can’t wait to say, “I told you so” if that were to happen. (You know they don’t want you to win

These thoughts raced through my head.
But as much as I feared embarrassment, there’s one thing I worried about even more: regret.

When you’re old one day and reflecting on your life, there’s only one person’s whose opinion matters: yourself.
I took the plunge and quit.

Today marks my ten-year anniversary of being a full-time affiliate marketer.

There’s been some ups and downs this past decade, but I learned how to surf the waves.

I didn’t know what to write to commemorate this milestone. Maybe I could show a bunch of old school pictures throughout the years?

But I think what would make me happy is making sure that you get some value out of this post – that you can learn from my experience.

Whenever you look back on the past, the best place to start is to think about regrets and mistakes that you’ve made.
My biggest regret by far is that I made a ton of money from promoting offers that didn’t give value to people.
Let’s keep it real: I don’t think those diet pills worked, and I don’t believe anyone ever won an iPhone.
I felt guilty, but I rationalized it by saying that if I didn’t do it, someone else would’ve. Might as well be me, right?

You develop valuable, valuable skills as an affiliate marketer. 
You learn how to influence people. How do you choose to use that power?
Every year since I’ve been in this industry, I’ve heard that this is the year affiliate marketing dies!
The one constant in this industry is that it’s always changing.

What worked two years ago, isn’t going to work now. What’s working now, isn’t going to work two years from now.
Adapt or die as they say.

So, how do you adapt in an industry that’s always changing?

I remember Jeff Bezos was once asked that question concerning Amazon.  
He said that you can’t predict the future, but what people want will always be the same.

Ten years from now people will still want more selection, lower prices, and faster shipping.

So, that’s what Amazon keeps focusing on.
None of us know what affiliate marketing’s going to look like ten years from now. No one knows what verticals or traffic sources will be “hot.”

But some things I know will still be valuable:

  1. Understanding human psychology and copywriting.

    It’s crazy how most of the copywriting books written 75 years ago are still relevant today.
  2. The industry is only going to be regulated more and more.

    You think Facebook’s being a dick now?

    Five years from now people are going to be talking about how lenient Facebook was in 2018!
  3. “Whoever can afford to pay the most to acquire a customer, wins.”

    As “normal” companies become more sophisticated in marketing, the bid prices are only going to keep increasing.

    Instead of getting that one-time affiliate commission, we need to start thinking about lifetime customer value.
  4. People.

    You can always learn how to be a better networker, a better leader, and to give value to others.  

You always have to be thinking about two things in this space.

The first one is what true competitive advantages do you have with your campaigns?
If your campaign is easily copied, then it will be copied.

It sucks, but that’s just the way things are.
So always be thinking about how you can “move up.”
There’s one quote I remember from the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, “It’s better to be the first than to be the best.”
Timing matters so much in this space.

Always be researching and figuring out what the trends are. Always keep trying to figure out what’s next.

I’ve seen so many fortunes made because someone was at the right place, and the right time.
In regards to the industry constantly changing, nothing’s more important than staying lean.
If you’re making money, then re-invest it.
I’ve seen countless, countless people in this industry who came and went. One year they’re crushing campaigns, and then the next year you never hear about them again.
I do feel that once we “make it,” there’s a sudden urge to show off to the world that you did. So, we naturally want to buy status items like nice cars and watches.
But now that I’m older, I realize that the people who truly care about you, don’t care what car you drive or what watch you wear.

Don’t waste your hard earned money trying to impress other dudes on the internet. That’s why I avoid social media for the most part.
If you’re spending a significant amount of time on Facebook and Instagram, you’re going to feel that pressure to show off.

Stay focused. Grind quietly.

Do you want to “look rich” or do you want to “be rich?”
I’m grateful for everything that this industry has given.
I think my most significant accomplishment is that I “passed it on.”

My life has meaning when people tell me that my writings have helped them. Whether it’s getting them started in their first campaign, or even getting them into meditation.
I don’t know what the next ten years will be like for me.
Hopefully, full of challenges, growth, and fun.
Featured Image by Olivier26

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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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