“What would you do if you were starting from scratch in affiliate marketing today?”
This is one of those questions that pops up on forums, and lands in my inbox often.
It’s difficult to answer.
Mainly because it suggests we should be able to predict where our future money lies.
I don’t think there’s a single affiliate who doesn’t wish he broke in to the industry a year earlier. The ‘industry one year ago’ is a rosier place.
It always is, and always will be.
Successful strategies are only obvious in hindsight.
We feel pretty stupid when we miss them, but it’s a given that most of us will.
That’s why if I were starting affiliate marketing today, I would worry less about imminent opportunities — and more about the systems, processes and relationships required to take advantage of them.
Here are five tips to help you get started.
1. I would build a war chest of funds using my current skill set.
It is critical that you have a decent sized budget if you want to pursue paid traffic arbitrage.
Note: I have explained the core differences between free traffic vs. paid traffic in my updated intro for beginners.
Ideally you should be able to spend at least $100/day collecting data.
That’s not to say you should be losing $100/day.
Fuck me, if you’re spending $100/day and making $0/day — forget what anybody says about perseverance — pause that shit and get back to the drawing board.
Somewhere along the way, you’ve made a huge mistake.
Most people who land in this industry have key skills that can be used to build a war chest of funds.
Whether you are a writer, a designer, a developer, or a sales man — you can find work online.
These sites have thousands of jobs available:
Freelance Writing Gigs
Get a Coder
Or try the service sections of Internet Marketing forums (I regularly comb these for short-term hires)
Alternatively, you can get a conventional full or part time job.
Why are affiliates allergic to working 9-5? It makes no sense.
There is no shame in collecting a pay cheque from ‘The Man’.
If money is your primary restraint, I would say that it’s actually a pretty bloody smart idea.
2. I would invest in a good VPN and study my chosen market obsessively.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) lets you access websites using an IP in a different country.
Why would you want to do this?
To spy on foreign ads and affiliate campaigns, of course.
There are no secrets in affiliate marketing.
Most profitable campaigns are running in full view of the public.
You can use spy tools like WhatRunsWhere to harvest banners and landing pages, but these are often lacking in context.
The best way to see which creatives are dominant is to load up a VPN, access a placement, and note which banners appear first (and most often).
For this, I use HideMyAss. It has servers in over 128 countries, is pretty reliable, and works on mobile phones.
Note: A monthly charge to ‘HideMyAss’ is definitely one of the more interesting expenses on my bank statements. Be prepared to explain to your accountant what ’Spy Software’ actually means, lest he fear your affiliate business is a racket for the Russians.
If you don’t want to shell out on a VPN, you can crawl the web at a snail’s pace by Googling ‘proxies in [country here]’ and trying them one-by-one.
Once you have access to dozens of countries, you can start gathering intelligence on any markets that are active with affiliates.
You can see exactly what offers are being run (without getting redirected), and you can jack all manner of useful creatives.
3. I would learn by osmosis — and gain access to key players.
If you want to find an affiliate mentor; somebody to hold your hand, to teach you the ropes; then my best advice is this:
Snap off your dick, book in some surgery, reinvent yourself as a beautiful woman — and hope for the best.
For everybody else, I wish the very best of British to you.
I don’t believe mentor arr