Biography: The Rise of Ngo: Chapter 8
Some people think that you’ve made it once you quit your job, but the battle’s just begun.
Now I was experiencing the harsh realities of the affiliate world. It kinda feels like the game of Craps (Wooooooooooooooooooooo!!!)—the highs can make you feel like you are the king of the world, but the lows make you feel like…well…crap.
Campaigns die; new regulations come in; accounts get banned; your ads and landing pages get stolen; you get kicked off offers, etc. I was starting to learn that failure is a part of this game. Being a great affiliate means to be able to adapt and come out on top, no matter what Murphy’s Law throws at you.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t handling the failures very well, and I would have been on my way back to the corporate world soon if I didn’t snap out of it. I was basically avoiding reality and distracted myself as much as I could. It was weeks of video games, poker, and drinking. It now seemed to me that being an affiliate marketer was from another lifetime.
One night, I literally spent 10 hours straight playing poker at an underground place in Atlanta. I came home at 5 a.m. with $10 worth of winnings. I smelled like cigarettes from the venue, felt like shit, and looked like shit. I looked in the mirror and asked myself, “What are you doing?”
I closed my eyes and thought about the past. It was only a year ago that I discovered affiliate marketing. I remembered the excitement I had for this industry as a beginner, and I needed to channel that energy. I got out my notebook and wrote down the reasons why I had to succeed:
- I need to take care of my family and make money for my future family
- I need to see the world
- I need to be my own boss and be in control of my future
- I need to prove to myself that I could really be good at something
- I need to make this work so I can help others do the same one day
There’s a big difference when you need something as oppose to want. Need meant I couldn’t survive unless I met these requirements, and it meant I was willing to sacrifice whatever little energy I had left to keep going.
Think and grow rich
The bounce back is largely mental. When you fail campaign after campaign, it can affect your confidence and your willpower to keep going. I had to step back and re-evaluate how I approached things.
- If I did it before, I can do it again. I knew how to optimize campaigns—it was just a matter of my persistence. Even Jordan goes through periods of bad streaks. Maybe I was doing everything right, and I was just having bad luck.
- Back to zero. Something that intimidated me was that I wasn’t sure if I could do $3,000-profit days again. I told myself it didn’t matter. My only goal now was to make a $1 profit. With a much smaller goal, I felt a burden was lifted off my shoulders. This is actually a big reason why people fail. They’ve done $10,000-profit days, and then their campaigns die. From then on, they want to do campaigns only that big even if the times are different. They have too much pride to go back to $500-profit-a-day campaigns.
- I stopped all the bad habits. I started hanging out with people again, got rid of the video games, and stopped playing poker. If someone asked me how my business was, I just told them I was having troubles and not doing very well. You know what happened? I got nothing but love. People would tell me their own stories of failure. Basically, this stopped being a burden I had to hide and be ashamed of.
- Do or die. I still had a healthy amount of cash in the bank, so I wasn’t doing bad financially. I told myself that all that money would go towards my campaigns. I didn’t care if I lost everything—the money was already gone in my mind.
- Know your worst case scenario. I knew I could always go back to a job and rebuild. It’s not the end of the world. No matter what happened with affiliate marketing, as long as I was still handsome, life would be okay.
The comeback kid
All right, no more messing around—time for beast mode. I had my coffee ready and my playlist full of T.I./Lil Wayne songs on repeat.
I messaged all my affiliate managers for their advice on campaigns. By this point, I had enough experience to know which affiliate managers were bullshitting me and which ones were the real deal. I created a bunch of fake accounts on Facebook and did some spying to see what everyone else was running.
Most campaigns failed. One campaign hit hard…really hard. I thought the affiliate network was having a technical glitch because the numbers didn’t make sense:
$100 spend and $500 profit?
I haven’t even optimized this campaign yet.
A few days later, that $500 turned into a $5,000 profit a day.
I went to Ad:tech New York in November 2008. At this point, I was mainly running my ads on Adwords and Facebook, but I decided to test a bunch of display networks (media buys). A week after that conference, I hit my first $10,000-profit day.
By January 2009, I made my first million dollars in profit.