The Rise and Fall…and Rise Again of Mr $10k (Part 1)
By on Jan 31, 2011

mr10k affiliate marketingThis is a post from a friend of mine about how he went from making $25,000 profit per month to making $0 profit. He wishes to keep his name secret so I will refer to him as Mr $10k.

Mr $10k: I’ve  been doing affiliate marketing for a couple of years now, and – at least for my standards – I’ve been doing well over the years. The first half of 2010 was financially great: I was making $25,000 profit each month, while working approximately 25 hours a month on my business. And now, 6 months later? I’m not making ANY money at all…

Even worse, taking all the ongoing costs (servers, domains etc.) into account, I’m actually losing money each month. How did I get from being a “level five” affiliate marketing making a decent amount of money, to a “level one” noob making no money at all? I’ll tell you, and I will keep you guys posted on my way back up in the affiliate game until I make a decent amount of money again!

The Good

Over the last 5 years I’ve been doing a lot of different stuff related to online marketing: I started out by running my own online shop, switched to the Adwords/Adsense arbitrage and eventually started doing affiliate marketing. At first the focus was on SEO, but later on I switched to mostly paid traffic. Even though I was running my business part-time, the business was growing steadily. Most of it was running on auto-pilot, giving me the opportunity to do a lot of other (non-work) stuff.

The Bad

mr 10k fallI would never say my business went bad because of “bad luck” or other external factors. It has everything to do with me, my strategy and especially my mindset. Even though the money was still good in 2010, it all happened late 2009. As mentioned, most of the business was running on auto-pilot, so I decided to do some traveling in 2009. Besides some stats-checking and small campaign-adjustments, I didn’t do anything in terms of work.

When I came back, these months turned out to be the most profitable months I ever had! Even though I knew there was no causal relationship (not working -> more profit), it started to change my mindset regardless. I had some other things I wanted to focus on at the time (i.e. university, girlfriend, friends, more traveling), and I shifted of to a state of mind in which I actually felt the money would keep on coming, even if I didn’t do any work. This terrible mindset did not slip in overnight, but eventually, it did slip in.. I pretty much decided to stop working and enjoy the autopilot money (at that time between 20,000 and 25,000 US dollars a month).

This mindset – and the fact that I pretty much stopped working – obviously accounts for the decline for the biggest part, but I also made some fundamental mistakes earlier on while running my business. I was focusing on the short-term instead of on the long-term, even though I knew I had to change course. The money was just to good to adjust the strategy, and thus my business was pretty much dependent on only two traffic sources. I wasn’t building any e-mail lists, or adding a lot of real value for the visitors. I was, so to say, a “thin affiliate”. Buy traffic and forward it to the highest bidder, optimize where you can and *boom*: you’re making good money.

During the second half of 2010 I saw the statistics going down month by month. Campaigns dried out, advertisers went bankrupt, all my Google Adwords accounts got Google-slapped, other PPC prices went up, etc.. At that time I was already committed to some other (non-work) pursuits, so I stood by and watched my affiliate business bleed to death.

The Challenge

Starting with this guest-post, I would like to publicly challenge myself to get back in the game.

mr10k challenge

The goal? To earn 10,000 US dollars a month (hence Mr. 10K) by running an affiliate business with a long-term strategy.

This public challenge is a win-win: you guys can read my story of how I will try to climb back up (instead of reading some random article of this guy “who made $38,39549.43 in just 5 days”), while I’m hoping to get feedback that will keep me motivated during this adventure.

The biggest struggle I will have to overcome is my mindset. At this moment I don’t have the mindset of a winner. It feels like 10K a month is an impossible goal for me, and I won’t be able to make a nickel. I feel that most of the techniques I used to make money are outdated, and that I won’t be able to start from scratch again. I had the illusion that I could get my mindset back by reading the right books and articles, but there’s only one way I will get my mindset back: by earning the first dollar again. By seeing the results of the work I will put into this challenge.

As mentioned, the challenge of going from 0 to 10,000 a month starts with this post, so I need to start with deciding which direction I’m planning to go. I will keep you all posted regarding my progress, including how much money I’m making! I bet that makes it more interesting for you all.

Do you recognize any of the above? Are you planning on doing the same? Are there specific parts of the path I’m going to take you would like me to write more about? Let me know in the comments!

Comments (47)

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  1. Dino Vedo says:

    Awesome goal but considering you've already made a ton of money, I think reaching 10k per month again should be no biggie… I'll take you up on that challenge anyways, and lookin forward on how you do it 😉

  2. Boss Reyes says:

    Exactly what happens to affiliates that think once they have it, it will stay there forever.

  3. Chris Trotter says:

    I know at least 3 people who have gone through a similar path as you. It was all because of their mindsets and just deciding to ease of the accelerator.

    Looking forward to your progress!

  4. Steffen says:

    You should have employed someone capable of doing the work you did before for some of your 25$ / month. Everything would have been fine as long as you would have kept an eye on it for a "long term" 😉

    • Mr. 10K says:

      Spot on! That's one of my weaknesses: I'm afraid to share too much info / secrets with others, which makes it hard to let someone take over my accounts..

  5. Aldi says:

    the affiliate-world is a fast moving business, so everybody who is an affiliate or try to become one should always keep an eye on his projects. I'm looking forward to read the part 2 of your story.

  6. Hey Mr. 10K, i am wondering what traffic source you are going to use to start your journey? paid traffic or free? Thanks.

  7. vintres says:

    Hey Lorenzo,

    i hear you. I have also been doing fairly well on Affiliate income with paid traffic, then got my google account slapped. I was working really hard on my campaigns, but realized that I had to do long-term strategies that are more sustainable. We are in the same boat 😉

    Looking foward to see how you go about it? What is your plan?

    • mrgreenam says:

      Just to clarify I did not write this post.

      I will let Mr10k answer your questions :).

    • Mr. 10K says:

      The plan is to focus more on quality websites instead of being a "thin affiliate" (which I've always been so far). I'll share more details regarding the plan in the next post!

  8. 2stepup says:

    Dude, when I get my first consistent $1000 a month I will be in my eyes, a raging success and I can not imagine after all the damn hard work I have put in, to get even half way there, I am sure I will be making sure my golden goose is well fed and looked after.

  9. Steve says:

    Yup I've suffered the same kind of problem, easing off once you reach a certain income then suddenly the people who are still accelerating steal your money, or your traffic sources dry up etc (on a much smaller scale though, about 10% of what you used to earn!). So I'd be interested in the whole thing, which method you choose, how you implement it and of course what results you get along the way!

  10. Aff Gossip says:

    Hopefully with friends like Mr. Green around you won't be too far away from $10k a month. While the mindset may be a damn hard obstacle, also finding something that works these days isn't as easy as it once was, as you clearly know. Some of the "thin affiliate" tricks remain among the few things that are working for me, though I've been building something to add value that has yet to launch. Good luck with it. Looking forward to the future posts…

  11. Sharon says:

    You don't need a mindset, you just need to buy a Guru's product for $97 or even $47 and you will see how you can become Mr. 100K on auto-pilot in few days.

  12. paul says:

    I'm in the exact thing you are. litterally. I actually made it all the way up to 100k a month, took a year off and am now in the exact same boat. just curious if you were doing uk secured loans like I was.

    I'm finding myself looking forward, as you are, building lists and other assets that I own to where it's stable and not going to go away. the only problem with that is it doesn't necessarily happen overnight like ppc in the past. stuff happens so fast in this industry that if you don't just keep working it or you don't build a long term asset, you're eventually screwed.

    • Mr. 10K says:

      From 100k to 0, auch.. Even though I wasn't as big as you were, I feel your pain.. And no, I never did UK secure loans.

      Building lists and Facebook-groups is exactly what I'm going to be working on this year. Like you said, build a long term asset or else you're screwed 🙂

  13. Joe says:

    Good luck man, this sounds EXACTLY like what happened to me.

    Late '09 things were good, money was coming in on autopilot, but then shit started happening. Adwords ban, facebook changing their terms every 5 minutes and retro-disapproving all my ads, etc.

    By mid-2010 I was working 60 hours a week just to break even, and still ended up losing money a lot of the time.

    Eventually I just said screw it. I got my old job back doing email marketing, running a list of 800k for a small company. It's nice to not have to think about work all the time anymore.

    I still keep an eye out for the "sure things" and keep up my relationships with my GOOD a.m.'s, but I'm my aff income is down to a few hundred bucks a month.

    • Mr. 10K says:

      Sounds like the path I'm trying to avoid, but even if that's the "worst case scenario": that's OK. If I'm going to screw up (not being able to get back in the game), I can still just get a job. Not planning to, but it's always good to have a backup plan in case everything else screws up 🙂

  14. lee says:

    I wish you luck, I will be watching

  15. Lovin it. Good Luck Mr. 10K! I can't imagine how your lifestyle must have took a huge hit!

  16. I love posts like this: challenges. Even thought he challenge is to you only I feel as though I can participate. While now close I'm closer to $100 my challenge is to first get to $1000 per month.

  17. Carl says:

    Hi Mr 10K,
    Looks like you are in good company. I'm fighting the exact same problems as you – thinking what I know is all outdated and sort of useless…having to combat some major self-inflicted negativity. If you've done it once though, you can do it again. Like you said, it's all about seeing yourself make that first dollar that will turn all those mountains of doubt into mole hills.

    One wise thing to do regarding managing your income for the long-term would be to make a plan for every dollar that comes in. I know it doesn't seem like a necessity when you have more money coming in than you could possibly need, but if and when the industry takes another shift, the capital you have put aside instead of spending frivolously will really come in handy while you float along looking for some solid ground to stand on again.

    I wish you the best and look forward to following along as you chronicle your climb back to the top of the affiliate marketing game.


    • mr10k says:

      Thanks Carl! I totally agree: don't spend it all. Even though I was spending a bit more than my friends, it wasn't that much: most of the money that came in went right to my savings account! 🙂

  18. Jonathan Volk says:

    Very down to earth and real article. Love it. 🙂

  19. ryan says:

    yea can totally relate, thats what happened to me as well. I keep thinking "If only Google would leave me alone! I would be making so much easy money!"

  20. AffPortal says:

    Looks like a lot of people can relate. We have all made mistakes and usually it revolves around lack of diversification. I went from 8k down to nothing then much higher and bounced around quite a bit. Now I focus on diversifying everything. From traffic, to campaigns to income streams, I diversify everything. I have also put more stock in learning seo and a solid site framework strategy based on the wonderwheel scraper app I just coded.

  21. Martin says:

    Dosh Dosh, is that you?

  22. Smaxor says:

    Sounds like you're hanging around the wrong people. I've been around this business a long time and there's always ups and downs. But just have to focus on the outcomes and not fall into a point of caring about where you are right now. Know there's guys making 10k/month profit in their sleep. Hell there's people making 10's of thousands a day. It's not hard just have to know the right people. Set the some solid outcomes and do whatever it takes to get there.

  23. Decker says:

    So you neglected your campaigns and the money dried up. Wow…Great story.

  24. Gabriel Zota says:

    I used to think 1K a day is hard but it's not. If you think it is, then it becomes hard.
    For me, worked to write down the steps to create a succesfull campaign and then re-apply them to each offer.

    Find the exact process to get great ads and cheap prices and you'll make a lot in no time. It took me 6 months to get to 1K a day and I'm sure many made it much faster…

    It wasn't gradual…i went from 20 to 100$ to 500 then 1000 in a matter of days once I figured it out.

  25. Azeem Ahmed says:


    What do you mean by long-term strategy?


  26. Complacent says:

    This feels like perfect timing, thanks to mr 10k and mr green.

    I've recently hit 10k a mos on one campaign, and it takes maybe 3-4 hours a month to tweak. I've found myself complacent since this happened. However its very easy to see how I could be back to zero, with one swift move from my traffic source or my advertiser. Would love to hear more about how people in similar situations have found the motivation to go bigger. I'm constantly battling the need to "buy more shit" so making lists of shit I want to buy, doesnt exactly work, as I end up selling all my shit and going minimalist eventually anyways.

    Where does the true intrinsic motivation to go bigger come from? Fear of death? Fear of failure? Is it really from just "wanting" more?

  27. JMoney88 says:

    Wow, this story is pretty scary because that is EXACTLY what happened to me. I went from making 30-50k a month to now nothing. I was running a lot of diet products at the time and now everything is so strict and by the book, advertisers dropped off or got kicked off. My income was pretty much on autopilot the whole entire time as well.

    Your story couldn't be any closer to mine! As of now I have to get back in the mindset and hopefully get that kind of success again! I wish the best of luck and if you want to talk about this, hit me up

  28. Geek Face says:

    Wow this is like an AA meet but for failed marketing geniuses…. Part of me wishes I could say I made this kind of money each month (what do I mean part of me, I mean all of me) but then another part thinks it must be hugely tough to be faced with the reality of going back to square one again.

    Great post, I will follow this with interest!!

  29. Hi,

    I can completely relate to this as a few years ago I was doing very well with google adsense arbitrage and one morning I woke up and it was all gone. I have now learnt that you have to work with alot more patience and a comprehensive traffic generating strategy. Good luck with your journey and I will follow your progress.

  30. Great article and very profound.
    affiliate business is still business.
    The way I see it…every entrepreneur should set out and re-invest his profits not only on his business
    but also in solid investments (Real Estate for example for passive income), the utopian state is having an average passive Cash Flow that is higher then your daily funds.

  31. MYo says:

    Can we talk about what you used to do to make the $25k/mo?

  32. shakemymoneymaker says:

    I made 100k in 6 weeks driving traffic from an incentive site offering their members a special, co-branded offer. I pre-paid almost 20k for the campaign…then thought there'd be no diminishing returns and pre-paid another 47k…it converted like shit and i lost money. Since then i've spent everything I made originally and am clawing my way back

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