Reality Check – What Is Reality For Most Affiliates?

I got an email today from somebody I helped out a bit with some technical problems with Linkshare datafeeds. Actually I helped quite a lot and since I can not accept financial compensation for my consulting work at this time, what I told that person, did I find one day a package at my door with some nice business-casual shirts.

A little thank you present for my help. That was very nice. We kept in touch and I received this email today which touched my heart:

I read and read and read, and frankly I’d love to make enough to Quit my Day Job!!!!!!! I still only bring in about $200/month. It’s so frustrating. What are these people doing that I’m not? I devote 40+ hours per week on just affiliate stuff. Do you know what I’m doing wrong?

What about this guy’s book Quit the Day Job, does it actually teach you how to make $thousands per month — (which I deserve – so everyone tells me : ) ) ???? Or is he just selling something. I’m frustrated and $30,000 in debt.

Working hard.

I know that this affiliate is not standing alone and that a lot of affiliates, the majority actually will not make it to the point to be able to sustain their living from affiliate commissions.

I sat down and took the time to write a rather long response with some tips and recommendation, which I am also going to share with the readers of ReveNews.

Here is my response (unedited, except for a few spelling errors):
Note: since I reference often to, so I suggest to take the time to read my Editorial Note for the site first.

Jeremy Palmer who wrote “Quit your Day Job” is a good guy and for real. The book is also pretty good for newbie’s and people with content sites such as yourself. I own the book myself and read parts of it.

James Martel’s Affiliate Marketers Handbook and Rosalind Gardner’s Super Affiliate Handbook are praised by people I know and trust, but I did not read them myself nor own them.

You might want to have a look here.

There are also some good freebies like fundamental articles and even free full length eBooks.

I would also check out Affiliate Classroom. For $1 for the first month is their not much you can do wrong.

I think it is something like $20 after that, but by then should you have been able to make up your mind about it and if it is worthwhile for you to continue.James Martels Affiliate Bootcamp is pretty comprehensive but pricey though. The good thing is, that it comes in Video, Audio and Print for the people that need to hear and see it and not just read.

I for my part do more search, paid search. It’s certainly something you should at least look into and try. Most PPC Services offer free clicks $20-$100 for new customers. You can find promos here:

Greg Niland (Good ROI) did a very good episode in January which you should listen to. I very good rundown of the basics in 1 hour. It will make your head spin 🙂 Make sure that you have plenty paper available to take notes. I blogged about it at ReveNews.

Content sites are hard and require a lot of things to make them successful. Picking a niche you like personally is essential or chances are slim that you will eventually make it.

Putting up a site and nothing else does not gonna cut it anymore. You MUST build a customer base. Building an email list and providing good and relevant content via email is essential.

You want to build a long term relationship with people that they come back to you and also refer you to friends and family. Building a customer base is tough and you need to pull all strings available to get people interested in what you do.

SEO, Paid Search to promote YOUR business, Social Media, Blogging/Forums etc. are all tools and methods you should use to make people notice you. I can recommend

Read the blog and also check out his resources, free eBooks and past posts. A lot of free Gems. Copywriting is an important part for a content site, check out the resources to that here .

I consider the read of books from the Eisenberg brothers a must. “Call to Action” and “Waiting for your cat to bark?” are internet marketing and online conversion bibles.

Regarding PPC check out Brad Geddes Blog He made his book available for free. You can download it among other free eBooks to Paid Search here.

Andrew Goodman’s books are the best books on the market to paid search.

His classic (but a bit aged) book “Winning Results with Google AdWords” is fairly inexpensive compared to his constantly updated eBook “Google Adwords Handbook”. You get updates for free for life which justifies the much higher price tag.

PPC is good to promote your own business, but more important is IMO paid search arbitrage. Promoting merchant products or services directly via PPC. This can help to pay the bills while you build the longer lasting customer based business of your own.

Marketing Experiments had some good posts about paid search, which you might want to check out as well.
Small PPC search engines revisited
Online marketing metrics
90 day ppc plan

Regarding SEO

I know that it is expensive, but it is the best resource in compact form to SEO I know of. I am talking about Aaron Wall’s SEO Book. I recommended him to make some Pages available for free that people can get an Idea about the quality of his book. He really knows his shit and is also a great writer, but $79 is a lot of money for an e-Book. It’s worth every penny of it, but you find that out after you buy it, which is a bit too late for some potential customers 🙂

I bought it a long while ago and it grew over time to actually 2 1/2 books. 1 book with over 300 pages is the core, another one that is already more than 150 pages has interviews with tons of different SEOs and Search Engine Employees and Engineers and a huge collection of tools and resources that are very helpful. A bunch of the resources I have to SEO at did I learn about from those add-on. He also throws in a small guide to PPC as well, so it’s actually 3 books hehe.

A cheaper alternative for starters is “Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day” which is also pretty new and thus not as much out of date as most other books. The “VEO Report” was praised by a friend, but I refuse to buy it. I will review it if I get a copy for free, but I spent already enough money on books just to check them out but not to actually learn much from them. Colin did not send me a copy yet, but I also did not tell him directly that I am waiting for one 🙂

The foundation for SEO and PPC is Keyword research. Keep this page handy, which has a lot of tools and services in all shapes and sizes to do you diligence.

And to round my 101 for you up, check the Email marketing resources. There are free guides to how to design a good newsletter, technically (HTML Guide) and content and layout wise.

All is in vain, if you don’t measure success and failure. Here are tons of good resources and services to Web Analytics. A lot are free, others cheap up to the Rolls Royce’s of Analytics

Google Analytics is good for starters and when you get more serious, check out ClickTracks. Clicktracks runs on your computer so you don’t share your data with Google.

If you are sick and tired of reading, check out the collection of Podcasts, Videos and Video Blogs here

Keep this email handy. It’s a lot to digest. Take it one step at the time and be persistent and focused and you will do fine. Internet marketing is full of opportunities, but it is no free ride to endless riches via doing nothing. Anybody who claims that is a liar and does not have your interests and needs in mind but only his own.

That’s it. I wrote it down in one piece and sent it without reading it once. I read it now one time while I made the blog post out of it and bloke up some bigger paragraphs etc. So see it as what it is, a quick rundown of the topic out of my head on the fly. May be it is a good thing or may be it is not. Tell me what you think. 😉

Feel free to share any comments or additional suggestions and recommendations. I am sure that there are plenty of people that would appreciate that. A lot of affiliates are grateful for any help they can get.

About Carsten Cumbrowski

Internet Marketer, Entrepreneur and Blogger. To learn more about me and what I am doing, visit my website and check out the “about” section.

Twitter: ccumbrowski

13 Responses to Reality Check – What Is Reality For Most Affiliates?

  1. Great post Carsten – enough resources in there to keep anyone busy for a month or two!

  2. Chris Kramer says:

    Quitting your day job to become an affiliate is just like quitting your job to become anything else – your risk level is determined by your expertise. I play poker as a hobby, but it would be a financial disaster if I quit to play poker full time because I'm just not good enough. Want to quit your job to become an actress or a singer? Go ahead but I hope you have the talent (and some luck) to make it big. Affiliate marketing is NOT SOME GET RICH QUICK SCHEME. It takes knowledge, hard work, and creativity and success doesn't happen overnight.

    Most of the successful people in this industry had some type of online marketing background before jumping in and doing this full time on their own. I'll back up what Carsten said about Jeremy Palmer, he is the real deal – a very smart guy who is very successful. Take a look at Jeremy's linkedin profile – and you'll see that he spent years honing his skills in the industry before going out on his own. James Martell encourages people to take it in steps that can easily be accomplished in nights or weekends before you quit your day job.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am an affiliate with site getting about 1.2 million uniques a month. I am making good money eahc month, but I wanted to see if you knew anyone who had the knowledge and experience I could pay to increase my revenue with positioning of ads, help me initiate an email base, etc. Any recommendations?

    Note: Name changed to Anonymous by Carsten Cumbrowski, December 6, 2008

  4. XXX, thanks for stopping by

    I have some questions for you. When you say uni ques, what are you referring to? Hits? Page Views? Unique Visitors?


    What is your website about? What does it offer and who is the audience?

    This will help to determine who would be the right type of help for you. Do you have already contracts with any 3rd party advertising or marketing agency? What are you doing today to promote the business?



    Name removed by Carsten Cumbrowski on December 6, 2008

  5. Thanks XXX, got the email and responded. Did you see it?

    I will not repeat my full response here, but the part that Jim Kukral is available for Consulting and doing exactly what you are looking for.



    Name removed by Carsten Cumbrowski on December 6, 2008

  6. I don't make any money because my book doesn't sell at all I well not be quiting my day job for years to come . Their may never be any money oin what I do but I enjoy doing it and I just hope someone out their other then me has benifitted from what I do . I am a writer .

  7. John says:

    It's pretty good to have articles like this one, where somebody invests his valuable time in order to get a list of the best for list building,internet marketing.No doubt you've heard that list building is an absolute must,Resources to help internet marketers and online business people use eBay for list building and cash flow generation.

  8. Thank you for taking the time to put this together. I really appreciate you guys who are making it in the affiliate space letting those of us who have the potential but just haven't turned the key yet to gain from your experience.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hi, thanks for getting back to me. I hadn't checked on this post in a while, but I appreciate your prompt reply.

    My site is about gay rights, and it gets about 1.2 million (now more like 1.5 million) unique visits a day. I'm active in the gay community and looking for ways to maximize the monetization of this audience.

    As a gay man, this poses a tough situation for me: On the one hand, I want to support the community, but on the other, I want to make money as an affiliate!

    At any rate, your input is greatly appreciate.

    Note: Name changed to Anonymous by Carsten Cumbrowski, December 6, 2008

  10. Hi XXX,

    Eight months later is quite a while 🙂

    Anyhow, we are all busy and have our own priorities and time schedules…

    Without knowing the exact purpose and audience of your site (that is the first thing you should find out, if you don't know that already) am I have to make some assumptions. I assume that most of your audience is gay or lesbian who seek to get organized in the fights for their rights. Is this assessment correct?

    You have to decide for yourself what type of advertising on your site and newsletter (If you don't have one, start one) is appropriate and what is not. If your site is about community, something related to that would maybe something to consider. Single sex dating and networking sites were always very popular. Most of those subscription based services have an affiliate program.

    I don't know if direct product advertisement is appropriate for your site. The one thing you don't want to do is divert from the purpose of the site. People come there with a certain mindset to solve a problem or fulfill a need. If your site is already focusing on community building (and not just provides passive information). Niche music promotions are a basic example.

    I have some gay and lesbian friends and have been to "mixed" and "gay bars" here in Fresno. Those are the only places here that play other music than either hip hop or country music. I am from Berlin, Germany and like Techno, EBM and Industrial Music, which is for whatever reasons a niche here in the US.

    Clothing and make-up might also work. Anything that would be interesting for your audience, not be intrusive, divert from the purpose or meaning of your site. It does not have to be something specific to gay, but related to general subjects on your site. Referrals to legal advice services, tax accountants etc. States have different laws regarding same sex partnerships and their status in the eyes of the tax collectors.

    Well, I hope you got the idea.

    Cheers and good luck!


    Name removed by Carsten Cumbrowski on December 6, 2008

  11. Another Day on the Darkside of …

    Another bad example of an affiliate that does not help to overcome the reputation problem of affiliate marketing. Deception and cheating does not get you anywhere except into trouble. Wake up folks!

  12. clyde seckel says:

    I was just wondering if an affiliate program is the right way to get into an internet business

  13. Carsten,

    I met you at the Summit in Boston, I headed up the mentor program for Shawn and Missy. I want to thank you for being an awesome Mentor at the Summit, but also want to thank you for mentoring me here and on your personal site. I have been reading and looking at the links you have posted, they have helped me tremendously. I have bookmarked your sites and I will continue to read and learn. It is hard for a person getting started to find good information, much less so much information on one site. I appreciate you for putting together such a complete information package on all aspects of affiliate marketing. You do an excellent job of explaining things. I will not be at the Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas this week as I have a lot going on with family. I just wanted to thank you for your willingness to share your knowledge.