30 Day Challenge #5: No Caffeine

nocoffeeart

Previous 30 Day Challenges

  1. Meditation
  2. Daily Gratitude
  3. Drink More Water
  4. Stretching

I loved doing last months stretching challenge.

I logged 25 out of 30 days. The days I missed were when I was traveling for Affiliate Summit East, and the other two days were during “rest days” from the gym.

I’m extremely routine driven it’s harder for me to keep up with habits during traveling. I also use “traveling” as an excuse to relax so I’m not as disciplined. This is the wrong approach because professional athletes make sure they get their workouts and dieting in even when they’re traveling. That 1% edge adds up over-time. In the future I’ll make completing my habits a priority even during travel. 

The 25 days where I did stretch were easy because of “habit stacking.” I never miss a workout day, so I just added a stretching routine at the end of it. Doing the routine wasn’t difficult because I had workout partners who held me accountable. When you have a goal, I find it helpful to have an “accountability” partner so you guys can encourage each other. 

How was the stretching?

I was blown away at the results after only 30 days. My flexibility has increased quite a bit. I can sit in the squat position longer now. Another benefit is increased patience. The first few times I did it I kept look at the timer waiting for it be over. These days I’m very “zen” when doing the routine. I do the routine without resistance, and I’m just in the moment.  

I hope you guys enjoyed the stretching challenge. I’m going to make it a permanent part of my daily routine now. Remember the amount of damage we do to our bodies by sitting at the desk all day – this is a way to counteract it. 

Now it’s time for September’s challenge which is no caffeine.

30 Days of No Caffeine

I love caffeine.

Every morning I have a small coffee ritual. My beans are usually imported from Rwanda, I’ll grind the beans myself with a burr grinder, and I calculate the exact weight of the beans / water for my Aeropress. By the way, I always drink it black and I’ve always limited myself to one cup a day. 

When I take that first sip of coffee in the morning, I feel like I’m ready to conquer the world

If I am feeling sluggish after 2pm I’ll have some green tea. Every-time before a gym session I’ll take a pre-workout to get that extra energy boost. 

As you can see, caffeine’s is integrated into my daily life.

If I love caffeine so much, then why do a 30 day challenge? Why quit? 

I’ve been on caffeine for so many years that I forgot what life is like without it. This is an experiment to see how it affects me. 

Caffeine can be addictive and you do build a tolerance to it over time. That’s why there are people out there who can’t go through the workday without 8 cups of coffee.

Here’s what I’ll be looking at:

  1. The first one is my energy levels. I have a noticeable pattern in my day to day. I’ll be energetic 9am-1pm, and from 1-3pm is when I have considerable energy dips. I want to see how my energy levels are without caffeine. 
  2. Sleep patterns. I do have troubles falling asleep a few times a week.
  3. I want to decrease caffeine tolerance. 
  4. If you’re a heavy coffee drinker, then you could save a lot of time and money by getting off of it (especially if you’re the kind that only drinks Starbucks)
  5. I always take pre-workout supplements before going to the gym. I wonder how my lifts and energy levels will be like without it. 

At the end of the day, I don’t like the thought of being “addicted” to anything. I want to see what my natural energy levels are. 

How to Quit

There are two ways to quit: you can either stop taking caffeine period, or you can slowly decrease your consumption.

I will be quitting cold-turkey.

I’ve read about the effects of caffeine withdrawal and I’m mentally prepared. The two main effects are possible headaches, and you’re going to feel even more tired than ever.

I’ve ran out of coffee beans and pre-workout. It’s important not to have easy access to what you’re trying to avoid. 

If you’re a bigger caffeine addict than me and want to try the challenge, I would suggest slowly decreasing your consumption. Instead of coffee try green tea. Instead of 4 cups a day, try drinking just 3 cups a day your first week. Then decrease it to 2 cups a day. 

Soda addiction can be hard to break. I remember in college when I was drinking 3 cans of Vanilla coke a day. 

  1. You need strong willpower at the grocery store to make sure you don’t buy the sodas in the first place. 
  2. Replace sodas with other drinks. 
  3. Think about the benefits. I don’t drink soda because it’s horrible for your body. Instead I drink water only for the benefits. 
  4. Watch out for the type of foods you eat. I notice certain situations “trigger” wanting a soda. If I’m at the movie theaters I want a coke. If I eat Korean BBQ then I want a coke. You can either avoid the situations that trigger it, or you want exert stronger willpower during those periods. 

Action Steps

Analyze where your sources of caffeine are coming from, and decide if you want to quit cold turkey or to decrease your consumption (I suggest decrease consumption).

Write down your reasons WHY you want to quit. I know why I’m doing the challenge, but you need your own reasons. 

Focus on progress, not perfection. Lets say last month you drank 3 cans of soda a day on average. You take on this challenge and average 2 cans of soda a day this month. That mean you’re successful because you’re closer to the goal. 

Good luck because you’re going to need it. 

 

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The Top 5 Tools for Managing a Team

3D_Team_Leadership_Arrow_Concept

Times are changing for affiliate marketers.

The top affiliates aren’t single individuals working by themselves. They’re full-fledged companies – either with a team of virtual assistants or in-house media buyers.

One of the problems with growing a team is handling the complexity of the organizational structure and function. You have to assign tasks, stay on top of the employees, and manage your own duties. In order to tame the chaos, I’ve turned to the power of systems and tools. 

These systems and tools allow me to cut down on the time required to deal with business operations. I’m not in the trenches anymore, and I have more time to think about strategies to grow my businesses. 

How important are the proper tools? It’s like a hammer and a nail. Is it easier to push the nail in with your hands or to hit it with a hammer?

Here are my 5 favorite tools for managing a remote team.

1. Teamwork.com (Team Project Manager) 

This is the heart and soul of your operation.

Your To-Do List on a sticky note is not going to cut it if you’re managing multiple employees. You need To-Do List software for the entire team. 

I’ve explored almost every project management system out there, and Teamwork.com is my favorite by far.

Mobile Marketing   Tasks   The Ngotorious

I like it because it’s simple and it works. If I were to design my “dream” project manager, it would be this program. 

Some other benefits:

  • Strong integrations: Dropbox, Google documents/spreadsheets, etc. When I assign a task that involves a picture or a spreadsheet, I can directly link that file to the task.
  • Notebooks. I have a project called Mobile Marketing. All my systems and notes on Mobile Marketing are easily available to my employees. 
  • Privacy. I can restrict access to different projects. Only my mobile media buyers have access to my mobile projects. I have blog assistants, and they only have access to the CharlesNgo.com Project.
  • Tasks. Milestones, subtasks, repeating tasks, priorities, time tracking, etc. I love the setup for the tasks. 

Sign up for a 30-day free trial at Teamwork.com. (I am on the $49.99 a month plan.) 

Alternatives: 
Basecamp
Asana
Jira 

2. Kanbanery.com (Kanban Tool)

Kanban is a scheduling system designed by the guys at Toyota back in the 1940s. They were influenced by the process grocery stores used to stock inventory. This decade has seen a resurgence of this process to improve productivity. 

I started using it 2 years ago, and it’s a game-changer. 

I use this as a supplement to Teamwork.com. First, all the tasks go into Teamwork. Every Sunday night, I bring the weekly tasks into my Kanbanery

Here are some benefits of using Kanbanery:

  • Limits work in progress. Multitasking is bad. I have a rule of only doing one task at a time, and this tool helps me achieve it.
  • Allows visualization. I don’t have to ask John what he’s working on. I can look at our Kanban to see what he’s working on and when he’s done with the task.
  • Prevents analysis paralysis. When I have too many tasks to do, I get overwhelmed and end up doing nothing. For example, seeing the number of projects I have to do in Teamwork overwhelms me. By limiting myself to a kanban board of the day, I make it easier for myself to accomplish my tasks. 

I’ve probably tested over 15 different kanban tools. My favorite is Kanbanery. It’s fast and simple, and I think I’m paying around $8 a month for it. 

The 4 Principles of Kanban

  • Visualize Work
  • Limit Work in Progress
  • Focus on Flow
  • Continuously Improve

Here’s a simplified example of my personal kanban. I have a separate one that my team uses. 

1 2

3

4

5

6
7

Pro tip: The traditional kanban system has 3 columns: To Do, Doing, and Done. I’ve expanded mine to 5: Weekly, Today, Doing, Delegated/Waiting, and Done. 
Pro tip: Notice I have MIT in front of some tasks. That means MOST IMPORTANT TASKS. When I look at my list of items, I do my MIT tasks first. 
Pro tip: Do you have an office? Get a big-screen TV with Chromecast. Put the kanban board on the big screen so everyone can see what’s going on. 

Alternatives: Trello

3. HipChat.com (Team communications) 

Skype is a productivity killer. 

My team and I started communicating through Skype. We set up various groups and would message each other throughout the day. I found that Skype kept distracting me.  A quick hi from a Skype friend could easily turn into a 30-minute conversation. 

I needed to search for a communication program that was dedicated to my team only. By far, the most recommended app was HipChat. After using it for half a year, I don’t see a single reason why any team should be using Skype to chat. 

Here are a few reasons why I like HipChat:

  • I can paste a link to a picture, and it’ll automatically show the picture.
  • All links and files are automatically saved and easy to access. 
  • You can create multiple chat rooms and control who has access to what. We have a general chat room. I have another room just for my team members who are working on mobile campaigns. I also have another room for one-on-one chats with virtual assistants (they don’t get access to the main room). 
  • Notifications. I’m not checking my HipChat every second. But if someone sends me a message @Charles, I get an email and phone notification.
  • Integration. HipChat plays nicely with other programs. Here’s a list of its integrations.

HipChat_812x383_PersistentChat

4. Dropbox.com (Files)

Dropbox doesn’t need much of an introduction. It’s how I and the rest of the team share our files. Since there’s some sensitive information in this folder, I suggest you turn on 2-step verification to keep your files more secure. 

Two-step verification is a way of providing extra security. If someone has your password, that person can access your Dropbox. But with 2-step verification turned on, the other party will need a text code. If an unknown device tries to access your Dropbox, your phone gets a text message with a unique code. I use this for Dropbox, Evernote, Gmail, and Bitcoin.  

Here’s how I organize my Dropbox. Keep in mind these are made-up examples and not screenshots from my actual Dropbox.

 

  • Level 1: Main Folder (call it the Name of your company) 

1

  • Level 2: Company folder (the generic business information), Traffic Source Type

    2

  • Level 3: Verticals

    3

  • Level 4: Countries

    countries

  • Level 5: Competitor ads, competitor landing pages, the ads I’m using, and the landing pages we’re using.

    4

You don’t need as many levels as shown here if you’re running fewer campaigns.

I find the more organized I am, the more I get things done. 

Alternatives: Box (more business-oriented, but I’ve never used it); Google Drive.

5. Zapier.com (Automation)

I hate sharing this tool because it’s so good. 

Zapier is a way to integrate different apps together. You set some “rules”, and when the conditions are met, an action is triggered. 

Here are some examples to help you understand it better: 

  • If you have a blog, you can set Zapiers between the blog’s RSS and the blog’s social media page. Every time you finish a blog post, Zapier will automatically tweet it and post it on your Facebook page.
  • I have a few Zaps set up between my Facebook and Dropbox. If someone tags me in a photo, Zapier will automatically download that photo into a folder on my Dropbox.
  • I have Zaps set up between my Gmail and my Evernote. 

I started using Zapier because I wanted to simplify the workflow of assigning tasks. Before Zapier, I would create a task in Kanban and notify my employees using HipChat. 

Here is what happens now, with Kanbanery and Zapier integrated. When I set a task for employee A, it automatically notifies her via HipChat. When she moves the task to “done” in Kanbanery, I get a notification telling me that it’s complete.

The best part is you don’t need to be a programmer to utilize the program. Just pick two apps you want to integrate, and Zapier will show you the most popular pre-made Zaps.

Zapier

Project Workflow

Here’s what my typical project workflow looks like:

  1. I start by using mindmaps to visualize my campaigns and tasks.
  2. I then turn these campaigns into tasks in Teamwork.
  3. Every Sunday night, I’ll take the weekly tasks and load them into my Kanban tool.
  4. The daily campaigns and tasks are managed through Kanban.

projectworkflow

Managing a Remote Team vs Managing a Local Team

The tools above are for managing a remote team that has employees working in different locations.

How would I manage things differently if I had a team working in the same office? Even if the team was local, I would still design the system as if it were remote.

I travel a lot, and my system still works even if I’m across the world, in a different time zone. I can assign the task whenever I want, and my team members will complete it when they want to. I don’t have to wait until they’re online to Skype them.

What if you have a high quality employee who has to move to a different city? You already have systems in place so that person can work remotely without missing a beat.

Having everything written down helps with the execution. If you swing by someone’s desk and tell them what to do, they might forget.

Have you ever assigned someone a task, which was misinterpreted? You remember the instructions one way, but your employee says your instructions were different. With my system, we have a record of all communications so we can see what went wrong. If instructions weren’t clear, then I work on phrasing them better in the future. 

Conclusion

Don’t let this article intimidate you if you’re new. Consider this a gift because I’ve wasted a lot of time and money before I figured it out.

Start small and simple, and you’ll naturally grow overtime. 

Everyone has to start somewhere. When I started a few years ago, I communicated only through Skype and emails. Since then, I’ve been working on my systems, continually evolving them. I’m sure in a year, I’ll have a much better system that’ll make my current one look outdated. The point is to develop something good enough and to improve it over time.

One final note: don’t be obsessed with finding the perfect tool. You’re not going to magically become a better golfer because you’re using Tiger Wood’s clubs. Don’t waste your time trying to find the perfect tool at the expense of practicing your golf swings. I find many people distract themselves by chasing such tools instead of doing real work

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August Question & Answer Session [22 minute audio]

I recorded a question and answer session for you guys. I’ve gotten feedback that it’s the best one I’ve ever done. (The questions were taken from my Facebook page)

I have edited the questions from the original submission for easier comprehension

  1. What makes the biggest difference to your return on investment when optimizing your campaigns?
  2. How do you choose offers? Are variables such as payout and landing page designs involved?
  3. What would you do differently if you are starting over again?
  4. How can you tell how scalable an offer is?
  5. Are there any people that you model yourself after?
  6. What blogs do you follow most nowadays?  
  7. What systems have you recently implemented in your company that has yielded the best results?
  8. When you have a profitable campaign, when do you think it’s time to scale to additional traffic sources?
  9. When you will start your coaching program?

Listen to it here [22 minutes]. 

I enjoyed recording this and will be doing more question & answer recordings in the future.. Make sure you’re subscribed to my newsletter so you don’t miss any. 

Do you have any questions you want me to answer? Comment below! Take advantage of this opportunity because it’s rare to for Super Affiliates to directly answer newbie questions. 

 

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Are You Making This Landing Page Mistake?

When it comes to landing – or pre-sell – pages, many new, and even experienced, affiliate marketers make this one big mistake. 

Everyone knows a proper pre-sell page can make or break a campaign. Landing pages convince your customers to take action. Your average affiliate marketer will split-test headlines, images, and the sales copy to improve his or her pages. All that activity isn’t useful, however, if you can’t judge which one’s the real winner.

I was talking to a friend of mine who has been in the industry for years. He was asking me for tips on how to improve his landing page click-through rate (LP CTR). I told him that the metric doesn’t really matter. I’ve seen countless forum posts talking about LP CTR when evaluating a landing page, and yet affiliates rarely get it right. 

Let me explain what the LP CTR is. 

People see your ad and land on your pre-sell page (landing page). A percentage of them will click through to the offer page from your landing page.

Here is how you can calculate the number.

Take the number of clicks your traffic source shows. Let’s say it was 500. Now take the number of clicks your affiliate network shows for the offer. Let’s say you had 200 clicks. Divide network clicks by traffic sources clicks. It’s 200/500 in this case. This means 40% of the people click through on your page.

Screenshot 2014-08-19 10.52.15

 

Here’s the error that most affiliate marketers make: they judge how effective a landing page is by the LP CTR, when it’s just part of the equation. I’ve heard people say, “My landing page sucks! It only has an LP CTR of 20%.”

It doesn’t matter how many people see the offer page. What matters is how many people convert. A landing page CTR of 70% is not good if it results in low conversion rates. 

An extreme example of this is those “guru” sales letters that try to sell “make money online” courses. I remember seeing them years ago and thinking to myself, “Who has time to read all this? Wouldn’t they make more money if they kept it shorter so more people could click to the offer page?” 

Well, the sales letters are long for a reason. They make more money because of the increase in conversion rates.  

The Proper Way to Measure the Effectiveness of a Landing Page 

What is the proper way to judge a landing page? It’s simple: split-test the landing page to see which version brings more revenue. The total revenue will account for the LP CTR and the conversion rate. 

Here is an example.

Screenshot 2014-08-18 14.07.07

Landing Page A has a much higher click-through rate than Landing Page B. It would be a mistake, however, to conclude it was a winner because, as you can see, Landing Page B makes more money. 

Landing Page A might have a better LP CTR because it’s simple. It has a picture of the product and a “click here” button. People may click through it because it’s an easy path, but your pre-sell page gave them no compelling reasons to convert. 

Landing page B has a lower landing page click-through rate but higher conversions. It could have a lot text on it, pictures and testimonials. All these could cause the LP CTR to lower, but you’ve made the users who do click through more interested in buying. 

Instead of balancing LP CTR vs Conversion Rate, just look at the total revenue each page produces. It’s really that simple. 

  • Split-testing headlines? See which landing page makes more money.
  • Split-testing images? See which landing page make more money.

I still look at the LP CTR more as a tripwire that something’s wrong. A niche I’m in typically has an LP CTR of 35%. I tested out a new page and noticed the LP CTR was only 5%. I knew something was up with my landing page if only 5% of people were seeing the offer. 

I used SauceLabs to test the page in different browsers. Long story short, the button was OFF the page in Internet Explorer, and the audience couldn’t click through.

Improving Your Landing Page Conversion Rate

Now you know that getting users to convert is more important than getting them to simply click through. The next question you might be pondering is: how do you increase your landing page conversion rates? Here are 5 simple things I do on each landing page that you can too:

  • Pre-qualify your visitors. The 3-questions dating landing page is a popular example. When people have to put in a little work, it makes them want the reward more. 
  • Call them out. An example of this is “You are the Lucky Winner Today from Atlanta, GA”, where Atlanta is a script that looks up their location. 
  • Use social proof - as seen on TV, as seen on…, etc.
  • Use testimonials - “I lost 10 pounds with this!” with before/after pictures of Bob.
  • Add urgency. If an offer’s going to disappear, e.g, a warning that offer expires in 1 minute, people will want it more. 

Relevant posts:
Landing Page Tips Part 1
Landing Page Tips Part 2

Conclusion

Your landing page click-through rate is important, but it shouldn’t be the metric by which you judge your landing pages. A much better way to measure the effectiveness of your landing pages is simply split-test them to see what the total revenue is for each.

The revenue takes into account the LP CTR and the conversion rate. 

p.s. Voluum (affiliate tracking program) is coming out of beta at the end of the month, check out my guide on how to setup your first campaign. 

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I Killed Almost All My Income Streams, And I Did It On Purpose…

It felt like deja vu. Two years ago I found myself in a place I didn’t think I could return to. I was lost. I didn’t know what to do next. The deja vu feeling appeared when I realised I was making mistakes I had made before. I was jumping...

The post I Killed Almost All My Income Streams, And I Did It On Purpose… appeared first on Entrepreneurs-Journey.com.

Affiliate Networks vs Going Direct: Which Is Better?

When you’re starting off in the industry, you should sign up for and run through a few affiliate networks first. It’s convenient, and you’re at the stage where affiliate managers can be very helpful.  

But as you mature in the industry, a time will come when you’ll have to start dealing with your advertisers directly, bypassing your affiliate network.

Let’s look at the following example. Who has an advantage in this situation?

  • Affiliate A is running an offer and getting paid $6.50 
  • Affiliate B is running an offer and getting paid $5.00

Most people will say affiliate A because she gets paid more per lead. But what if she ends up not getting paid at all from the advertiser? She loses over 5 figures. Affiliate B gets paid because the affiliate network ate up the costs. Now it’s affiliate B who won.

As you can see, it’s not as clear as black and white when it comes to deciding whether to be with an affiliate network or to deal with advertisers directly. Each option has its own distinct advantages, and a good affiliate is able to tell which is better for each situation. 

In this post, I’m going to explain the benefits of each and give you some advice on how to go direct.

Direct vs Network

Payouts

Payout is the main advantage of going direct. 

Since you’re bypassing the affiliate network, you get its cut. Sometimes, it can be significant (someone has to pay for those fancy offices and affiliate trips).

A few years ago, I was running a dating offer at a network, and the most I could get paid from any network was $5.50. By going direct with the advertiser, I increased my payout to $6.50.

Here is another example. I ran a supplement on a network, which paid me $52.00 maximum. By switching to the advertiser directly, I started getting $60.00 per sale.  

What happens when you have a 25% margin advantage over your competition? 

  • You can outbid them for more volume
  • You can scale to other traffic sources that they can’t

There’s also one more pay bump no one ever mentions: click loss.

The click you buy from the traffic source goes through many redirects. A typical funnel looks like this:

Traffic Source -> Tracking software -> Affiliate pre-sell page -> Affiliate network offer link -> Advertiser’s landing page.

That’s a lot of redirects, and you will always lose clicks along the way. 

By removing the affiliate network, you could potentially see 5-10% more clicks. 

Another consideration is scrubbing/shaving. 

Some affiliate networks scrub/shave leads (aka stealing from you).

Here’s a common example

Newbie John threatens to stop promoting the offer if he doesn’t get a pay bump on his $5.00. Affiliate Network X can’t give him a pay bump because their margins are thin on this offer. How can they make Newbie John happy if they can’t give him a pay bump?

They bump Newbie John to $5.50, but they use their software to scrub/shave leads from him. If he sends 100 leads tomorrow, the network might keep 10 of those leads, and John only sees credit for 90. 

That’s why it’s important to always split-test affiliate networks, even on the same offer. To learn more, read my article on split-testing affiliate networks.

Getting Paid

Some advertisers are slow when it comes to payments.

Maybe they have a policy of paying only once a month or every 2 weeks. That’s where affiliate networks come in and act like a bank. They take the risk, float you the money, and pay you every week. Faster cash flow is always good! 

When you run with an advertiser, you have a higher risk of not getting paid. Let’s say their merchant processor goes down, and they decide not to pay. What are YOU going to do about it? You can’t do much. You’re a single affiliate without any power. Good luck suing a corporation located in a weird offshore country. 

That’s where an affiliate network comes in. Even if the affiliate network doesn’t get paid, they will pay the affiliate out of their own pockets (if the leads are legit, of course). Nothing can sink an affiliate network faster than rumors that they’re not paying their affiliates. 

Affiliate networks can put pressure on advertisers because they send a lot of traffic and they have lawyers, stronger relationships, and  access to Russian hitmen.

Advertisers have various risk levels. Be smart, and do your research. I find that going direct with dating advertisers who are backed by large companies is very safe. But if you’re doing nutraceutical trials, then you are assuming a significantly higher risk. 

Make sure to use common sense. If someone ever misses a payment, stop traffic immediately. Don’t keep sending traffic for the next month, hoping that you’re going to get paid. You’re just increasing the amount of money you could potentially lose. 

One last benefit to using advertisers is you can get more cap space. If an offer is good, there’s a chance the advertiser can only accept so much volume. If they have 500 leads a day in total, the advertiser has to be strategic about to whom they allocate the cap. They might want to give most of it to affiliates with whom they work directly because they have a direct line of communication with them.   

Privacy

Let’s say you take a risk on a new offer, and you’re destroying it. If you have a good affiliate manager, he or she is not going to tell everyone to run whatever you’re running. They value your business and relationship.

But what about the other affiliate managers on the network who can see what the top offers are? They’re going to tell their affiliates what you’re running, and maybe even share your landing page. There’s no honor when you work on commission. 

I hate to say this, but sometimes affiliate managers go rogue. It means after work, they go home to run their own campaigns, using data and resources of the existing ones. Why reinvent the wheel, when you know x offer works and you have a working landing page? 

Some networks also have internal media buying teams. These guys can be tough to compete against because they have higher margins to work with and they can see some of your data. But let’s keep it real. If they were that good, they would be running campaigns on their own. 

I run a large majority of my campaigns direct because I value my privacy. In general, advertisers are much, much better at keeping your privacy. 

I’m not saying all affiliate networks are shady, but take some time to educate yourself about the networks. Keep your guard up, and never reveal more information than necessary about your campaigns. 

Exclusivity

I don’t like to compete against other affiliates. I’m fighting for the same cap, and sometimes it feels like a race to the bottom. Being a super affiliate is about having an edge and having competitive advantages

I spend a lot of time building strong relationships with proven advertisers. They stop seeing me as just another affiliate, and they start seeing me as a business partner.

Some of my best offers ever weren’t on networks. I worked with my advertiser to create exclusives just for me. It could be as simple as an exclusive landing page that I created/optimized. Or it could be a completely new vertical that I helped design from the bottom up. 

If I have the exclusive, I don’t have to worry about other affiliates taking my cap space or stealing my pre-sell pages. 

If you’re stuck at the intermediate stages, then re-read this section. 

Information

It’s always tough communicating with the other party when there’s a middleman involved. You can ask for a quality check, and it’ll take days before you get a report. 

That’s another reason why I like going direct. I get real information and much better communication. 

There was one vertical last year where I was breaking even. No matter how many split-tests I did, I could not make it profitable.

Then the advertiser took a look a my funnel and gave me a few suggestions to optimize it. They had 5 years in this vertical compared to my 5 days and could identify the following problems and solutions:

  • The offer had absurdly low conversion rates in certain states. I stopped sending traffic to those states and saw an immediate ROI increase. 
  • I got detailed demographic information on their customers.
  • Apparently, my translations were not that great even though I was using onehourtranslation. They had their guy translate it properly. 
  • They provided me with detailed reports on the higher converting times/days of the week. I used this information to day-part my campaigns. 

The campaign went from breaking even to 75% ROI because of their help. Once I researched and understood the vertical more, I was able to optimize it to over 150% ROI. If it wasn’t for them, I would have given up the campaign and the potential profit.  

Affiliate managers can be a great source of information when you’re starting out, but the quality of them can differ drastically. It can be tough for a beginner to get help from a good affiliate manager, since they rather spend their time on proven affiliates. 

Ways to Go Direct with the Advertiser

There are two main ways you can go direct with an advertiser. 

Google

Google the offer to see who owns it. For some verticals, such as dating, it’s really easy. Just look at the bottom of the page for a link for affiliates. 

If there isn’t one, you have to do some more work. Find the contact form, and send an email. See if there’s a phone number, and call.

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Ask Other People

This is where the power of networking comes in.

If I can’t find out who owns the offer, I ask the experts. If I need to go direct on a certain dating offer, I know that Ben at PlentyofFish has the connection (he has to help me because we’re Asian brothers).

If I want to go direct on a mobile offer, I get in touch with business developers – and I know plenty of them – who have the right connections. They help me because I’m going to get to the right person sooner or later, so it makes sense for them to provide value to me and strengthen our relationship. 

I also have good connections with other affiliates. Some of you might be wondering: why would affiliates help each other out? Aren’t we competition?

Not really. I’ve discovered that I always make more money by helping others and providing value. What you’ll find as a super affiliate is that the competition isn’t you vs other affiliates. The real competition is against yourself, trying to outperform yourself, and against the traffic source (Google, Facebook guys). 

Another way to meet more advertisers is by going to conferences. I was just at Affiliate Summit East, and I met more advertisers than I can handle. Go to parties, hang out with social connectors who can introduce you, and take the initiative to walk around, meeting people.  

Conclusion

As you can see, there are different pros and cons to going direct with an advertiser. 

This post is NOT meant to bash affiliate networks, but rather to educate my readers. 

There are many affiliate networks out there, and most of them aren’t special. They are running Cake and brokering the same offers everyone else is. I’ve been hearing the same “highest payouts, exclusive offers” pitch forever, and it’s not a competitive advantage if everyone says it. 

Start thinking higher on competitive strategy. How can your network offer value to affiliates? If I could go direct on your offers, and 10 different other networks are offering the same offer to me, why would I run with your network? It’s time for networks to evolve. 

P.S. Here are some affiliate networks that I will personally vouch for. Sign up and run with these guys if you want to make more money. 

The post Affiliate Networks vs Going Direct: Which Is Better? appeared first on CharlesNgo.com - Advancing Affiliate Marketers.