As a newbie affiliate, the wettest of all wet-dreams was hitting the illusive $x,xxx day. The even wetter dream was being able to sustain that figure and more on a consistent basis, but running fly-by-night campaigns, on low volume traffic sources with low ticket offers was never going to cut it. It sure is a great way to learn and to build up a little capital. My first real affiliate money came from direct-linking to PeopleMeet offers from Plenty Of Fish, and rotating through multiple networks, on multiple accounts because of quality issues.
This got old, and tiring real fast and it bothered me how unsustainable it was, but it was how I managed to hit my first $xxx days.
I hit my first $x,xxx day only months into beginning AM, with the help of a FB campaign I managed to get profitable over the course of 3 days, which I ran in Colombia (some pin-submit offer on Mundo) before it stopped converting. That in combination with my PoF campaigns got me there. I was excited, but it was only a taste. It literally only lasted a day.
So here are some ideas I want to share with you of ways you can potentially get yourself up to that level, and maybe even make it sustainable.
Strategy 1 – Master A Niche
Try to go niche with higher ticket offers and squeeze every bit of volume you can out of it. Just ensure you spend time understanding your demographic and target them accordingly.
After my POF (PlentyOfFish, for those late to the party) days as a newbie, I moved into testing higher ticket offers on other, higher-volume sources (but still considerably low volume traffic compared to the giants, FB and Google), and this is where my breakthrough eventually came from. It took a while to achieve it – around a year, but I found something that worked, and worked out how to scale accordingly.
My method to testing?
I started out with offers paying between $30-40$ a lead in a certain vertical that I heard was working on a certain type of traffic, and developed, tested and innovated my own pages, angles, targeting and various other backend tweaks that I could use to my advantage (since I am tech, this came in handy). I remember that my first converting page was purely something I created from scratch, as back then, I had no idea how to spy, and spy-tools didn’t really exist for said traffic in the past.
Strategy 2 – Mass Appeal
Go broad with easy to convert offers, such as Single-Opt-In, Email-Submit style offers.
At some point, I realised, I had all my eggs in the one basket and needed to diversify. I tested, tested and tested new campaigns and failed over and over until I got pointed to one particular offer by one of my AM’s. It was being run heavily on mobile, but at the time, I didn’t really know mobile well. The same traffic type that was working out for me previously had more potential and I knew it. So I took what I found to be working on mobile (the angles/pages) and used it to inspire my own take on the campaign and adapted it for desktop users.
The payouts were much lower ($0.30 to $2.00 range, depending on country), but the appeal was not as niche – it was much broader. I could open up the floodgates to looser targeting, given the traffic quality was there, and chances are it would be profitable. Doing this led to a nightmare in campaign optimization. Many times I was up to 7am optimizing and trying to scale over 50 individual campaigns (14 countries, 4-5 traffic sources). But it was all worth it in the end.
Eventually competition stepped in, stole my pages, lowering the volume and quality of traffic. On top of this, my payouts were dependant on another currency, so my payouts kept dropping each day as the USD rose in value. This campaign lasted about 6-8 months before finally dying out. It was fun while it lasted, but I knew my traffic had more potential, I just needed to find a way to beat the competition.
Strategy 3 – Imitate Then Innovate
If the above worked, test the same stuff but with higher-ticket, similar offers
Because of the aforementioned issues affecting my campaign, I had to find a way to combat it and get things back into greener numbers. I stumbled across something that could be promoted in a similar manner, as it had a fairly broad appeal to the general public, but it had a much higher payout. I modified the angle to suit and ran the same targeting, same traffic and found that after butt-loads of split testing, it worked!
There are a few caveats here, and that is, it’s much harder to convert, given the higher payout, as it usually means the user is required to cough up more personal and potentially financial info. The payouts tend to make up for the lower conversion rates here, and can end up being more profitable in the long-run (not always the case, some offers plain suck).
This also led to needing to spend more on testing, which, in a broad environment can get quite expensive.
Strategy 4 – Follow The Herd
Go where the masses are…
This one goes without saying… Go where the traffic is, and do your best to figure out that platform. Google & Facebook being the major players here, have excellent traffic quality for the most part, if you understand how to run there. The unfortunate thing is most verticals in affiliate marketing are considered too spammy or non-compliant to run on those sources, hence why a the majority of successful pubs cloak, and have a system in place for getting accounts.
Do note, there are “white-hat” campaigns that can work well, and can prove to be longer-lasting winners, but you admittedly have to work harder to make money and the margins won’t be nearly as high.
Anything outside of beauty and health (there are some whitehat b&h products, though), adult dating (even mainstream is hard), bizop, sweepstakes, binary options, etc… is going to be a good place to start looking for cleaner verticals to promote.
You’ll then need to become familiar with all of the latest compliance rules of said traffic sources if you want to get anything off the ground and running.
Just food for thought, hopefully this info can help propel you into discovering campaigns that generate $x,xxx or more.
Other Pro Tips:
After finding an offer that works, don’t be lazy and stay complacent with street-payouts. Ask your manager for a bump, and in return, tell them with a higher ROI you can increase volume and mathematically, they’ll take home a bigger paycheck. Monitor the conversion rates (on your side, not the network) to ensure your EPC actually increases, however, as it’s common to see offer-bumps that coincide with lower conversion rates (scrub) as a common trick to ‘beat a payout’.
See my previous article 6 Truths for more insight.
Better yet, if the advertiser show’s a good history of paying their bills, see about contacting directly and working with them on that level. Just ensure you can sign a legally binding document, and get put on weekly-payments at minimum, unless you truly trust the advertiser (I’ve worked with monthlies directly, many times, but I knew the advertisers weren’t shady).
Seek out new traffic sources as often as you can and don’t be afraid to test them. I’ve found some real nuggets this was, so I’m always on the lookout for new sources to scale to, or sources I’ve yet to try. Remember, it’s a risk, and don’t be foolish to deposit large sums unless you can get a guarantee for a refund on unused funds should the traffic be trash.
I’m still waiting on a few refunds myself. One source I found was ripping and running internally, ended up pausing my traffic after my accusations insulted them, has promised me a refund but I have yet to see it.
Network network network! I can’t stress this point enough. The best managers, and affiliates, will often help push you in the right direction towards what’s currently working. Get to know people on a human-level, meet them in real life, go to the conferences, offer value to people and the value will be offered to you in return. Some of my best campaigns have been because of word-of-mouth tips which I received from industry friends.
And Just Remember:
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– Andrew, aka Andy D
If you’re looking for further Affiliate Marketing Guidance, check out StackThatMoney. Best community of experienced marketers from around the globe, exclusive meetups, follow along’s, tutorials and the knowledge of a thousand sun-gods.
Can’t Decide on Tracking Software?
I’ve recently switched over to a new tracking platform called Thrive by the guys over at iPyxel which I love. It’s still in development, but is constantly improving and making strides, and the best part about it is it can be self-hosted. The offer a 30-day trial and it’s $99 a month thereafter which is well worth the investment.
Those on a smaller budget can still opt to go the CPVLab route, another favorite of mine but a little more outdated. It is, however, more suitable for PPV traffic if that’s your traffic of choice.