The 8 Skills Every Successful Affiliate Marketer Needs


It takes a special kind of person to become skilled at affiliate marketing.

We’re not specialists. In order to succeed, we have to become experts in multiple areas. Almost all of us start off solo, and we’re forced to wear different hats. As an affiliate marketer, you have to create ads, manage your money, negotiate with people, manage your team, and solve one problem after another.

There’s a term in business called “T-Shaped” skills. It means to be an expert in a single field, while having a broad knowledge of several other disciplines.


People ask me what skills they need to be successful at affiliate marketing. You don’t need anything but a solid work ethic and persistence to begin. Over time, however, you will need to develop the following skills if you want to succeed.

The Skills

Problem-Solving & Decision-Making

Affiliate marketing means you’re constantly solving problems.

Did you experience huge clickloss overnight? Did a competitor just enter your territory and is outbidding you? The tough part is you’re going to face issues and problems that no one else can help you with.

There’s no guidebook you can consult. The only people that can help you are your competitors, and you don’t want to reveal your precious campaign information to them.

Decision-making is just as important. Most people rely on their gut feelings to make decisions.

If you have multiple niches to choose from, how do you decide which one to pursue?

The good news is that it’s possible to learn how to become a better problem-solver and decision-maker. This is what I recommend:

  • Study psychology. I study cognitive biases extensively.
  • Use tools such as logic trees and decision matrices.
  • Learn strategies to make better decisions. Consult with experts, consider all the options, and make rational decisions instead of impulsive ones.

Problem Solving 101 by Ken Wanatabe (Thanks Chris)  
Decisive by Chip and Dan Health

Creativity & Marketing

This is affiliate marketing, so being a good marketer is necessary in this business.

Creativity can help you find interesting angles for your campaigns.

Even though you can make money copying other affiliates, my most successful campaigns were the ones I innovated.

First-mover advantage is huge in the affiliate marketing space, and in order to capitalize on it, you have to be creative.

Besides angles, you also have to learn how to write compelling ads & good landing page copy.

Our job is to sell and to make people take action.

Your potential customer John is surfing Facebook just for fun, so you have to be mighty convincing if you want him to pull out his credit card and pay $50 for your product.

How should you improve your marketing?

I would start by understanding the psychology behind what makes humans buy. What are their motivations? What words trigger them to buy?

Study copywriting. Observe other marketers.


  1. Cashvertising by Drew Eric Whitman 
  2. 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout
  3. Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples


Being an affiliate marketer does require some basic technical knowledge.

You need to learn how to build landing pages, set up your tracker, and deal with various issues that come up. This is the bare minimum of technical knowledge you will need.

My friend is a genius programmer and leverages his skills extensively. A few months ago, he showed me his setup over Skype, and it blew my mind. He designed his own software that optimizes his bidding according to a formula. He had a Dashboard built so his employees could only access parts of the campaign.

Even though you can outsource many of the technical tasks, I recommend all affiliate marketers understand the basics of programming.

Head over to, and complete some courses (it’s free).

People Skills

Affiliate marketing isn’t as people-oriented as some other industries are, but developing social and communication skills will help you.

I credit a lot of my success to the relationships I’ve formed in this industry. I have some affiliate managers who are my eyes and ears for what’s really hot.

I’ve masterminded and created joint ventures with others. I would’ve never figured out some of the aspects of affiliate marketing if it weren’t for them.

I also have people at traffic sources who give me insider information no one else has.

The majority of affiliates are awkward and have the social awareness of a potato. The industry tends to attract introverts, and working all day alone doesn’t help.

Just treat others the way you want to be treated. Don’t let your ego get in the way of forming genuine connections just because you’re doing good numbers.

Side note: Don’t be creepy with your female affiliate manager. 


Influence by Robert Cialdini

Data Analysis

Affiliate marketing is all about buying traffic.

Those clicks tell a story.

The conversions show you the types of people who like your product. Does a certain ad convert better? Are you profitable only during certain times of the day? Does Android traffic convert better?

These are the clues you use to optimize your campaign.

You, guys, have it easy now that we have so many tools to help us. Back in my day, I had to download the SUBIDs and create pivot tables/charts in Excel myself. Fortunately today, you can use tools like, which make analyzing your data easier. 

Work on improving your ability to analyze the data so you can take the right actions. Make decisions based on data, not emotions.

Money Management

Managing your money is essential in affiliate marketing because your cash flow is the lifeblood of your campaigns. 

Start by being realistic about how much you make. Making $10,000 in profit is one thing, but it’s much less when you account for business expenses, taxes, and future failed campaigns.

Watch your bank accounts like a hawk. I know when each wire is supposed to hit each week, and I will pounce on the advertiser if the wire’s late. Make sure you cancel services you’re not using ($99 a month adds up). If you have money deposited at traffic sources you’re not using anymore, ask them for a refund. 

Live below your means. I know you are tired of hearing this, but the reason why it’s repeated all the time is because it’s true. I’ve seen too many guys disappear from the industry because they were living a lifestyle they couldn’t afford. 

Use your money to make more money.


It’s obvious that I’m obsessed with productivity.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but some people get much more out of them than others do.

People always tell me that they admire my discipline. What they don’t know is that I was the laziest student back at Georgia Tech.

I wasn’t born this way, and it’s taken a lot of work for me to develop my skill set. I started weightlifting & meditating. I block my social media during my prime working hours. I work in 50 minute focused sessions.

All this adds up. I can do more work in 4 hours than others do in 10.

I know some brilliant affiliate marketers who are realizing only 10% of their potential. Why? Because they can’t get motivated or focused.

Does that sound like you? Then know this is a skill you can improve (head over to



Sooner or later, you’ll realize that you are the bottleneck and you need to start building a team. 

Most super affiliates I know operate teams of people. I have in-house employees to manage campaigns; I have virtual assistants to help me; and I have other people who are vital to my success (maids, bookkeepers, etc.). 

It’s not easy, and it’s a skill you have to develop. You have to delegate tasks, train the workers, keep them motivated, and deal with whatever issues they have. 

Too Many Skills?

Does that seem like too many skills to learn?

The good news is you don’t have to be an expert in all of them to succeed. Some are less important than others, and some can be outsourced.

I’m horrible in the technical department. I could’ve invested time into improving my programming skills, but I’d rather hire other people to compensate for my weakness. Meanwhile, I choose to improve my skills in other areas such as problem-solving, data analysis, and all things marketing.

Another way to deal with your weakness is to think about the skills your employees bring to the table. If you have three guys who are disorganized, then bring in a hire who can calm the chaos. 

I’ve noticed that people who tend to be the opposites make for the best partnerships in affiliate marketing. You might have one guy who’s the “face” and is great at communicating. The other guy might be more of a data analyst and a problem-solver. This kind of a team will work well because its members complement each other. 

If you’re a beginner, it’s important not to be overconfident just because you have pre-existing skills.

Is it an advantage if you’re a programmer? Absolutely. But just because you’re a programmer doesn’t mean you’re going to make a lot of money. There are other very important skills you have to develop to ensure your success.


As Laozi said, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

No one is born knowing how to be an affiliate marketer. Are you missing some key skills that I listed? Then develop an action plan to improve in those areas. 

I had ZERO skills when I first started in affiliate marketing, and I had to develop each one slowly, over time. 


P.S. What skills do you guys have now? What do you think you need to improve the most? Let me know in the comments. 

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Barbara Turley: How A Non-Techy Started A Blog, Podcast & Online TV Show, And Today Makes $100,000+ Year Coaching Woman About Wealth

Barbara Turley serves as inspiration to anyone who is currently working a job they like, yet want to quit because of a desire for the kind of freedom that comes from being your own boss. [ Download MP3 | Transcript | iTunes | Soundcloud | Raw RSS ] Barbara had...

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The Definitive Guide to, The Best Affiliate Tracker Ever

I just finished writing version 1 of my guide to I’ve been using it for a few months now and believe it’s the best affiliate tracker ever created. This is a must if you run any mobile traffic.

  • The Benefits of using
  • Why I prefer over other trackers
  • Setting up and launching your first campaign. I wrote this especially for newbies since tracking can be confusing to understand. 

I’m currently working on expanding it to cover more material such as split-testing, analyzing data, and more. 

The guys behind have gone over my guide to make sure everything’s accurate.

It’s 100% free until September so make sure you give it a try. 

Read the post “The Definitive Guide to by Charles Ngo

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Steal 4 of My Profitable Headline Formulas


I had no idea how to write ads when I first started.

My understanding of copywriting was basic, and I was pretty much copying my competitors’ writing.

This didn’t work out well because I have created duplicate headlines, which were competing against the existing headlines (sorry, guys).

I was at Barnes & Noble one day browsing through the magazine section. I figured I would look at magazines for inspiration since they use professional copywriters.

I had a big “A-ha” moment when I realized most of the headlines were similar to each other. Although the magazines covered vastly different topics, ranging from cars to women’s issues and fashion, I noticed I could break their headlines down into formulas and create headline templates.

I asked myself, “Could I apply some of these formulas to affiliate marketing?”

I had to adapt the headlines to match my goals and to accommodate a limited number of characters, but finally I was able to get higher click-through rates on my ads. Better ads meant lower click costs and more profitable campaigns.

Here’s a look inside of several proven formulas I’ve used and the psychology behind them.

The Headline Formulas

1. A Big Promise without the Pain

Everyone wants the benefits without paying for them. In other words, we all want gain without pain.

What’s the pain of losing weight? People HATE going to the gym or dieting. Everyone knows what the solution is, but implementing it is a different story.

Promise your readers they can achieve their goals and tell them it doesn’t involve their biggest pain or fear.

The Formula: How to [desired goal] without [common, painful method]


  1. How to Lose Belly Fat Without Dieting or Going to the Gym
  2. How to Make $438.99 a Day without Selling
  3. How to Look 7 Years Younger without Botox

2. The Comparison Headline

People make judgements based on something they are familiar with. This is called the anchor effect in psychology.

The Formula: [Your Offer] is Better than [Known Product]


  1. This Game is Better than Angry Birds
  2. Our Acne Cream Works 250% Better than Proactive
  3. eHarmony Is for Old Guys. Our Website Works!

In this scenario, we’re claiming the product we’re advertising is better than the product your audience is familiar with.

Apple said they are better than Windows. The cheap cereal brands claim to taste the same as the name brand. People are always trying to improve what they’re already using.

3. Promise Instant Gratification

We lack patience. That’s why we always crave instant gratification.

Domino’s promises your pizza to be delivered in 30 minutes or less. Progressive promises you a car insurance quote in 15 minutes or less.

The Formula: [Get Desired Result] in a [Time Frame]


  1. Get Your Credit Report in 2 Minutes or Less.
  2. Single? We’ll Find You a Date by This Weekend.
  3. Repair Your Android Battery in 60 Seconds.

4. Rebel Against the Experts

I saw a commercial a few years ago for a drain cleaner product. The company’s slogan was “Plumbers Hate Us.”

Plumbers are the experts, and they hate this product because it’s so good that it’s taking business away from them.

What if you implied your product was so good, the experts in that field didn’t want others to know about it?

The Formula: The Secret the [Experts] Don’t Want You to Know


  1. The SEO Tool Matt Cutts Doesn’t Want You to Know
  2. The Weight Loss Trick That Personal Trainers Are HIDING
  3. Dentists Hate Her. Mom Discovers Teeth Whitening Trick

Action Steps

  1. Analyze the psychology behind these headlines
  2. Look at popular headlines and see if you can turn them into templates
  3. Practice writing these headlines
  4. Take action and practice these headlines
  5. Create an Evernote file containing some of your favorite headline formulas you can refer to.

If you want to check out headlines of other affiliates, take a look at SocialAdsNinja. It is a great tool I use (Coupon: CharlesNgo for 15% off).


When it’s time to write headlines for my ads or landing pages, I don’t write them from scratch.

Instead, I consult my Evernote file, which has over 100 headline formulas. It doesn’t matter what niche or vertical I am writing for. I can always find a relevant headline and adapt it to my needs.

I know these formulas work. They save me a huge amount of time, and they will do the same for you.

P.S. Take a stab at writing a few headlines using the formulas above and put them in the comments below. I’ll read through them and give suggestions to a few people.

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Tom Menditto: Pittsburgh ADHD Coach Goes From $300 In The Bank To $30,000 A Month Applying Online Marketing To His Local Business

Get ready to be inspired… Tom Menditto is one highly passionate fellow! Tom rose from a previous life suffering from the mental illness ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). He mastered his own condition and today helps other people do the same through his coaching practice based in Pittsburgh. [ Download...

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When to Leave Your Job for Affiliate Marketing



There’s one huge moment in every affiliate’s career. It’s the moment you decide to step up your game and become a full-time affiliate marketer.

No more steady paycheck every two weeks. Your destiny is now in your hands.

People ask me all the time, “Hey, Charles! When should I quit my job?”

Some people literally want me to make the decision for them. 

There’s no proper formula. What I have to offer is my own experiences and what I’ve seen worked for others. 

Questions to Ask Yourself

I believe in being conservative when you quit get your job. 

Most affiliates are too eager to make the jump, and they make the mistake of transitioning into full-time affiliate marketing careers too soon.

What happens if you make a rush decision?

Your campaigns die; you don’t have enough savings; and you have to go back to your old job. 

Now, you are demoralized, and you’ve lost your motivation. It can crush your soul to experience such a setback. 

So, when is a good time to quit? 

Ask yourself:

  • How good of an affiliate marketer am I?

  • Did I make my money from luck or skill?

  • If someone took away my top 3 campaigns, do I still have a system to make money?

The rules of the game may change, and not all of it is in your control. You might be doing everything right, but your campaigns can still die. Facebook dating affiliates had no idea the ban was coming. 

To sum it up, my question is: if your best campaigns died, do you have the skill to create some new profitable campaigns from scratch?

Next thing to consider is your money game. 

1) How much money are you bringing in with your campaigns?

I recommend you make at least twice your monthly salary, for at least three months straight. For example, I was making $2,500 a month after taxes at my old job. I waited until I was making $5,000+ a month in profit, and I did it for three consecutive months. 

Making sure you have a three-month profit run is important because it shows you are consistent.

2) How much debt do you have?

Do you have credit card debt? You’re not ready to quit yet. Be patient, and pay it off before you make the jump. 

My friend wanted to make the jump into the full-time career, but he didn’t have any savings in the bank. What he did have was a newish BMW 3-series he already paid off. Did he really need that nice of a car to work from home all day? Nope. 

He sold the car for $25,000 and downgraded to a $5,000 Honda Civic. His pride took a hit, but his confidence soared, now that he had $20,000 in his savings.

Half a year later, he became a killer affiliate. One year later, he was in a good enough financial position to upgrade his car to a BMW M3. 

Sacrifice your short-term needs for your long-term gains. 

3) What is your cost of living?

Lower your expenses as much as possible

Just because you’re now making $10,000+ a month doesn’t mean you have to spend on a grand scale. Get a roommate, clip coupons, and eat at home.

4) How much money do you have saved?

Your next step is to make sure you have some cash saved. You need that safety cushion because affiliate marketing can be like a roller-coaster ride, with lots of ups and downs. I recommend having enough money saved to cover at least three months of your living expenses.

If your bare minimum cost of living is $1,500 a month, then have at least $4,500 in your savings. By the way, this is money that doesn’t include campaign expenditures.  

Can You Handle the Freedom?

Can you handle the freedom of being an affiliate marketer?

Here’s a thinking mistake many people make. They assume if they can make $10,000 a month working 3 hours a day on affiliate marketing, they can make much more working 14 hours a day.

That’s not how affiliate marketing scales. 

My friend John quit his job. Even though he now had 14 hours a day to work, he was less productive than before.

That doesn’t make any sense, right? But it does.

He was less productive working 14 hours a day than 3 hours a day because he couldn’t handle the freedom of being his own boss.

Having a job gave him “time constraints,” which helped his productivity. He also didn’t have as many distractions as he did now, e.g., video games. 

I suggested he look up co-working spaces close to him. That was the magic bullet he needed. He was much more motivated when he was surrounded by other working people. 

How I Made the Jump

By the time I quit my job, I had already made $90,000+ in profit. I paid off my car; I had no credit card debt; and I had substantial amount of money saved.

I also re-invested heavily into my business. Now I had a proper accountant, virtual assistants, three computer monitors, and a top of the line computer. 

I still had trouble biting the bullet and quitting. What made me change my mind?

  • I was young. At 23 years old, if I failed, I had plenty of time to pick myself up. Failing is not the end of the world. 

  • I went to Affiliate Summit East and met many people who were my age and full-timers. It gave me the confidence to make the leap. If they could do it, I could do it too. 

  • Regrets. After high school ended, I promised myself to live my life without having any regrets. If I wanted something, I was going to go after it. If I didn’t pursue affiliate marketing full-time, I would always wonder, “What if?” 

At the end of the day, I want to look at myself in the mirror and respect the man I see. 

Other Advice


DON’T burn your bridges with your company. 

Quit properly, and give your employer a two-week notice. Help train your replacement, and leave on a good note. 

What happens if affiliate marketing doesn’t work and you have to go back to a job? It’s better to have good connections and references rather than a boss that hates you. 

One more tip is to keep quiet about your goals. Most people will tell you quitting your job is a horrible idea, but that’s just society giving you advice to avoid risk. Some of the co-workers who told me I shouldn’t quit my job were laid off within a few months of that conversation. 

Nothing is guaranteed in life, but I want to have control over my own fate. 


Listen, it’s not easy to make the jump. It’s natural to be scared and question your decision. I’ve been there and done that. 

For every Super Affiliate success story, there’s always a larger percentage of people who failed and had to go back to the corporate world. 

You can’t let fear hold you back. Why? Because the reward is greater than the risk. You can always get another job. You can always bounce back. 

The winners are the ones that see opportunity and strike. What happens if you fail? Nothing. It’s temporary, and you’re going to keep going and try again.

I’m all about that “do or die” mentality. I don’t want to just survive. I want to experience life to the fullest. 

Audentes Fortuna Adiuvat – Fortune Favors the Bold

p.s. If you’re a full-time affiliate marketer, how was it to leave your job? I’d love to hear your story in the comments.

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Nicola Lees: Founder Of TVMole A “How To Pitch Your TV Program Idea” Blog Explains How She Makes A Full Time Income In Such A Unique Topic

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