*Warning: This post is a long one, like world record long, like the amount of time it take for Facebook interns to respond to emails long. You might want to warm up some milk and bake some fresh cookies before stepping into the deep end.*
Last week while I was procrastinating, surfing the web for a new sensation, I came across a post “How to Become a Millionaire in Three Years“. My initial reaction was “Sigh…let’s see what this guy is trying to sell.” But I was pleasantly surprised by the content. “Good stuff” my brain said. Basically it’s a list of general sound advice on how to become wealthy. Three years is just a number thrown out there, but it’s certainly achievable.
Anywho, whilst reading the list, I kept matching a lot of these points with my success in affiliate marketing. You can call me DJ Cut N’ Paste, here’s my affiliate remix to “How to Become an A Million in Three Years”:
“1. Surround yourself with smart people – Smart people whom are successful usually get there by doing the same and have an innate desire to help those do the same.”
I have a list of successful affiliates on my AIM and Skype that I bounce ideas off all the time. I’ve even got a few small mastermind groups that I’m part of. Forums and conferences are a perfect place to start. I would have never been this successful without these groups.
“2. Say no way more than you say yes - I bet almost every web entrepreneur has encountered this: You demo your product / explain what you’re doing and someone suggests that you do “X feature/idea”. X is a really good idea and maybe even fits in with what you’re doing, but it would take you SO FAR off the path you’re on. If you implemented X it would take a ton of time and morph what you’re doing. It’s also really really hard to say no when it comes from someone well respected like a VC or famous entrepreneur. I mean how the fuck could they be wrong? Hell, they might even write me a check if I do what they say!!!!! Don’t fall for that trap. Instead write the feedback down somewhere as one single data point to consider amongst others. If that same piece of feedback keeps coming up AND it fits within the guidelines of your vision, then you should consider it more seriously. Weight suggestions from paying customers a bit more, since their vote is weighted by dollars.”
Oh I love my affiliate managers I really do. They tend to get the beating stick more then they deserve. They present us with so many great converting offers. But, learn to say no. I’ve struggled to say no for a while. I’m still learning now, but I know that Mr Money lives in Focusland.
“3. Get as many distribution channels as possible - In general online business there is some weird sense that if you build something they will just come. That a few “like”+retweet buttons and emails to email@example.com will make your traffic explode + grow consistently. It fucking won’t. Get as many distribution channels as possible. Each one by itself may not be large, but if you have many it starts to add up. It also diversifies your risk. If you’re a 100% SEO play, you’re playing a dangerous dangerous game. You’re fully dependent upon someone else’s rules. If Google bans you, you will be done. You could easily replace the SEO example with: App store, facebook, etc.”
I’m a firm believer in mastering a source of traffic. HOWEVER, if you do have a campaign that is burning hot on your traffic source, then allow an exception to scale with other channels.
“4. Go with your gut and do not care about fameballing – Go with what your gut says, regardless of how it might look to the rest of the world. Too often we (I) get lost in caring about what people think. It usually leads to a wrong decision. Don’t worry about becoming internet famous or appearing on teh maj0r blogz. Fame is fleeting in the traditional sense. Become famous with your customers. They’re the ones that truly matter. What they think matters and they will ultimately put their money where their mouth is.”
The top gurus have got this down to a fine art. They don’t care about the affiliate horde or bloggers that bash them. They care about the people making them money, their customers.
“5. Be an unrelenting machine- Brick walls are there to show you how bad you want something. Commit to your goals and do not waver from them a one bit regardless of what else is there. I took this approach to losing weight and fitness. I have not missed a single 5k run in over a year. It did not matter if I had not slept for two days, traveling across the country, or whatever else. If your goal is to become a millionaire, you need to be an unrelenting machine that does not let emotions make you give up / stop. You either get it done with 100% commitment or you don’t. Be a machine.”
I believe that if you want something, you need to have 100% commitment mentally, not just physically. What I mean by this is that you don’t need to work for two days at a time, or stop yourself from traveling across the country. Just set targets. Hit them, work smart, and don’t let anything veer you off course.
“6. If you do focus on a dollar amount, focus on the first $10,000 - This usually means you’ve found some repeatable process / minimal traction. ie- if you’re selling a $100 product, you’ve already encountered 100 people who have paid you. From here you can scale up. It’s also a lot easier to take in when you’re looking at numbers. Making 1 million seems hard, but making $10,000 doesn’t seem so hard, right?”
“7. Get out and be social - Even if you’re an introvert, being around people will give you energy. I’m at my worst when I’m isolated from people and at my best when I’ve at least spent some time with close friends (usually who I don’t know from business).”
I play football around seven times a week. I go out 3-4 times a week. If I stay inside for long periods, I go nuts and start becoming “busy” and unproductive. Going out and being social also gives you a good chance to give yourself perspective on your business.
“8. Make waves, don’t ride them - There was a famous talk Jawed Karim gave from youtube. He described the factors that made youtube take off in terms of secondary/enabling technologies. I think they included (1- broadband in the home 2- emergence of flash, so no codecs required 3- proliferation of digital cameras 4- cheap hosting 5- one click upload 6- ability to share embed). Find those small pieces and put them together to make the wave. That’s what youtube did imho. The other guys really just rode the wave they created (which is okay).”
Riding waves will allow you to be semi-comfortable, but pioneering campaigns is the way to hit the big time. I’ve written about this argument here.
“9. Market opportunity - A million dollars is not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it certainly is a lot if the market opportunity is not large enough. Spend time on offers that have been around for a while and that appeals to a broad demographic. Forget about offers with caps. With traffic sources don’t spend all your time and effort optimizing a small demographic that you can’t possibly scale. Even if you put Bill Gates and Steve Jobs as founders in a new venture with a total market size of 10 million, there is no way they could become too wealthy without completely changing the business (ie- failing).”
We are lucky with affiliate marketing that we can have our fingers in a lot of small cookie jars. However, it gets tedious and hard to manage. My advice…spend time in niches where if you hit it right, you can win big.
“10. Always keep your door/inbox open - You never know who is going to walk through your door + contact you. Serendipity is a beautiful thing. At one point Bill Gates was just a random college kid calling an Albuquerque computer company.”
We all get flooded with affiliate network offers and traffic opportunities, most absolute garbage. But there are always a few delicious crispy nuggets here and there that make skimming through the junk worth it.
“11. Give yourself every opportunity you can - I use this as a reason why starting a company in silicon valley when it comes to tech is a good idea. You can succeed anywhere in the world, but you certainly have a better chance in the valley. You should give yourself every opportunity possible, especially as an entrepreneur where every advantage counts.”
I live in a country where I only know two other affiliates who have been successful in this industry. I believe my path to success would have been easier if I was living in San Fran or LA. This point I’ve failed at big time.
“12. Stick with it - Don’t give up too fast. Being broke and not making any money sucks + can often make you think nothing will ever work. Don’t quit when you’re down. If this was easy then everyone would be a millionaire and being a millionaire wouldn’t be anything special. Certainly learn from your mistakes + pivot, but don’t quit just because it didn’t work right away.”
Things were not easy for me at the start. I had a tough time making my way. Learn from every failure. Look at it as a positive step forward. People get into am with the idea of instant success. If it were easy, affiliates wouldn’t be around.
“13. Don’t Be Emotional – Emotions can let you make stupid decisions. It can make you not walk away because you’re attached to something. Most importantly it will lead to indecision and a loss of confidence. Put your emotions into your product or save them for your lover, family, friends,etc.”
Have you ever burnt a ton of money on a test campaign because you got excited when one conversion came up very early on? Or tested a campaign so briefly, because you had little confidence in yourself that you could make it work? I used to be like that, but over time became very apathetic. To not be emotional is easier said than done, but it comes with experience. It definitely helps a lot to not let your judgment become clouded.
“14. Don’t Leave Things Up to Chance - People feel that things will just work out due to carpe diem. They usually don’t People can be unreliable, deals can fall through, and shit will always happen. Prepare for multiple scenarios and contingencies. You can mitigate this by working with smart AND reliable people.”
Work with solid offers, solid traffic sources, and solid affiliate networks. No point in doing anything risky, there are many great safe options around to pick from.
“15. Don’t Get Comfortable - You will probably get comfortable somewhere around 200k, maybe less or more, but it will certainly be before 1 million dollars. If you get comfortable you start getting off balance and having the hunger to move forward. Reward yourself a little bit, but live as frugally as possible. I have friends who have made some okay money, but blow it all away on stupid shit because they got comfortable.”
This is a ‘that’s a bingo’! Another relevant point is that with your long term campaigns, it is close to impossible to have a fully optimized campaign…keep pushing yourself.
“16. Don’t Skimp on the Important Things - When it comes to things that need to be reliable such as infrastructure, delivery, or even your own personal tech equipment – don’t skimp out. These are the tools that ensure reliability and your product being delivered. You can skimp on the office space, the desks, coach airfare, budget motel in mountain view,etc.”
Invest in good web hosting, ad servers and tracking. Make sure you get the absolute best fit for your campaigns. As soon as you have a dodgy web hosting provider, you add more guess work to your campaigns. Absolutely basic common sense.
“17. Keep The Momentum Going - I’ve had projects where things were moving a million miles an hour, then BOOM, they just lost a lot of momentum. That is the worst possible thing you can have happen. Keep moving the ball everyday.”
We’ve all had campaigns where we’ve had this initial burst of enthusiasm, completed half the campaign, then just left it to rot because a hot new idea came up. Stick with an idea and run with it. Failure is better than no result at all.
Here are a couple of points I’ve written more focused at affiliate marketing.
- 18. NEVER Ask “Do You Think This Will Work?” – If you get an answer 90% of the time, it will be plucked out of thin air. Do you know who is the only person that knows the answer like that? The Mightly Super Captain Test-it.
- 19. There Is No Best Network – So you did well with one offer on a network and became emotionally attached. Don’t get blinded and only running offers on your ‘buddy buddy’ network. Let ole pops tell you a wee story…last year I ran a test for offer X on my favoritest cutest network, “network X”. That test failed. “Woah is me!” I said. How could this be? I had experience with similar offers. It didn’t make sense to ole pops. So I tried running offer X on network Z. I jumped out of my slippers when I saw the ROI was 1:4. It ended up making mid $xx,xxx profit.
- 20 Learn How To Filter -I’ve written over 20,000 words on my blog. Some of posts are even contradictions. As soon as you start adding in other blogs and forums you will feel like you’re being pulled in a five million directions. You then become indecisive. Take in information, and then filter the good bits while synthesizing them to be a part of your overall plan. What works for person A does not always work for person B.
Did I leave anything out?
Summary for my A.D.H.D readers (15 words):
Meet the right people.
Keep to large markets.
Don’t get lazy.