Top 9 Best Tips for New Affiliate Startups: A Comprehensive Guide. AIS 012
This episode I take apart the first 5 written interviews we did and pulled the best insights from those discussions.
Where to listen
- Affiliate Interview Series on Spotify
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- Affiliate Interview Series on Google Podcasts
- Affiliate Interview Series on YouTube
In the affiliate interview today we're gonna do something a little different. I'm going to review some of the first five guests we've had that we've done mostly as written affiliate interviews. Not the ones we've done on our podcast.
I just want to take out some of the points and highlight things to help new affiliates getting started. There's probably a lot of misconceptions of what you need to do to be successful or getting started and I'm just gonna jump right into it and I'm gonna dissect some of the points that I've reviewed from the interviews we've had and take out the key points that I think are really important for affiliates. So let's jump right into it.
First up, I probably gonna get in trouble for maybe butchering his pronunciation of his name. If you saw him on LinkedIn, you would say his name is Håvard Lehn. I think it's Håvard, but I'm gonna get to his two key takeaway points.
Håvard is self taught and when I asked him “how did you get started in affiliate marketing?” You know, getting started, whether it's in the last 5, 10 or 20 years, there's no affiliate marketing school. I mean, you will find courses on affiliate marketing but you're not really going to see this taught in many colleges or universities. That might start changing but for the most part any affiliate that I know that's got started in the business they all basically just did it. They didn't wait for a course to come their way. And what's really interesting is a lot of them didn't really have a proper education that set them up for it. I mean, I've met people that are lawyers, lawyers that have dropped out of school. Sometimes you meet some people that have a business background but there's no people that are coming into this space that have MBAs or degrees in entrepreneurship or even business. They're just basically self taught.
The next point is a really important takeaway and I think that's where most affiliates go wrong is you want to focus on long tail. Now, long tail, this is a buzzword and what that means it's kind of like a long tail search. So for example, if you wanted to break it down and say Amazon book reviews, OK, that's a very competitive keyword. So let's break it down even further. Well, how about Amazon book reviews on SEO as in search engine optimization. If you focus on a niche, this is gonna help you really drill down and get to something where you're gonna have an easier chance to rank. And when you have that easier chance to rank, it also gives you the ability to get your first set of sales.
So by focusing on long tail, this is how a lot of people make the mistake, they find like the the most popular affiliate website or they find someone who's really successful and they look at what they've built and they don't realize that there's like five or ten years or even a couple of years behind what they've done. And they basically say, OK, I want to do that. But where they make the mistake is they do a half-assed job in doing it and they get very disappointed when they don't see that initial sale come through in the first six weeks or one month or whatever it is. They just kind of give up and I think that's the journey that most affiliates take.
So if you really look at what a lot of successful affiliates are doing, you just simply got to ask them “what would you recommend?” And this is something that I like to ask as a kind of standard interview question: How did you get started and what would you recommend for new affiliates starting out? And there is a very common answer: Go niche, find something where you're not gonna have a lot of competition that you can own that space. And just don't swim against the current.
Next, in our second interview, we interviewed Markus Jalmerot and he's got a really interesting set of sites, I believe it's cryptolist.com, and he also said the same thing: find a targeted niche site with keyword research. So how do you do keyword research? I mean, you can go straight into Google and just start typing in keywords and sometimes Google is obviously gonna give you a suggestion, like as you type in book reviews, it's gonna come up with a prompt that says, well, these are some common searches. There's a lot of SEO tools that will do a lot of this work for you and it is probably recommended that you figure out what this looks like.
Now, there's a lot of SEO tools that will do this and I'm gonna go talk about one of them very soon, which is Surfer SEO. But I'm gonna get into that in a little bit. So he also says the biggest mistake is they don't understand the industry enough. This is actually, it sounds common sense for some people, but this is a critical mistake that most affiliates make. They will get into a topic like gambling or they'll want to get into something like streaming. So they're gonna create a streaming business, but they've never done streaming and they don't understand the business behind it. They don't understand the mechanics or what's required. They don't even talk to enough people in that space to go, ok, what are people looking for? You know, understand it from both sides of the fence, the people that are the streamers and the people that watch streamers. So when you think about all the different things, going back to the book example, it's obviously you want to talk about something that you're either an expert on or you're going to get your hands dirty and be able to share something insightful that's gonna be worth reading. If you're basically just kind of looking at someone else's website and go, oh, I'm gonna rewrite what they've done, I mean, it's game over. You're not gonna get the traffic, you're not gonna get the traction, no one's really gonna care about your site. So that's probably where a lot of people make a big mistake. They really don't get exposed or they don't really understand what it's like to be a user. So when you do something that comes from a passion of like things that you like to do, then it becomes a lot easier. But if you're trying to do something where it's like, ok, maybe it's online casino reviews. Well, have you played or tested at those casinos? And if you haven't done that, then that is your big mistake and you might as well basically give up or simply find another topic that you're going to either enjoy writing about or pay attention to that point. It's really understand things as a user.
Markus also says, don't procrastinate, just get started. And this is a common theme. If you look at everyone else, it's kind of like they didn't wait for the course to happen, they just got started. It's, you know, you could make so many plans about the business that you're going to do and that's probably what sets a lot of people back, they think they need to create the perfect business plan and creating that perfection they end up not getting anything done at all. They don't get started, they don't write that first article, they don't buy that domain or maybe they bought the domain but they don't do anything with it. You got to start somewhere and the first time you get a piece of content created or whatever it is that you're gonna offer as a value or service don't procrastinate, just get started, done is better than perfect and can't say more than that.
Untapped niches. We interviewed Mike Murphy who's got a lot of different US focused igaming websites and the two niches that he found interesting that I personally believe are worth dissecting or even taking on is the horse racing industry and lotteries. What's interesting about lotteries is I believe it's probably the fifth igaming vertical that's the most neglected in the space. When you think about how big lotteries can get where you've got like billion dollar jackpots, which is just kind of crazy, it's like you've got maybe half the world playing lottery. So the ability to grab their interest I think is very strong and it goes without saying almost everything in the world of online gambling kind of goes back to casino. So if you play lottery or you buy lottery tickets, what's the likelihood that you're gonna be interested in playing slots? Or when you get your lottery ticket, you're gonna be waiting, so if you capture that audience maybe you might be able to relay that to something else. So I'm still surprised that a lot of people haven't really taken on lottery, they kind of look at it as a low ticket item, which it can be, but it's, it's balanced by volume.
Also what I found really interesting about looking back at Mike's interview was, you know, I asked “what's the best thing about doing affiliate marketing?” And I'm kind of setting up this question mostly knowing what the answer is gonna be. And he said “you can work anywhere any time”. And funny enough, a couple of days ago on Facebook, James Dooley who's a really well known SEO, he basically said, you know, post the pictures of where you like to work from. He's like, you know, we're blessed that we can do this SEO work from anywhere. And he had a picture of, I forget where it was, I think he was maybe in Thailand or something like that. Like, you know, post where you like to work from. And for me that was posting pictures on my houseboating trips.
I do houseboating at least once a year every summer. I'm able to work for a couple hours in the morning because I choose to and you know what? I can take my computer, get up and go anywhere. I can travel and work. I can get a cottage and work there if I choose to. I'm in control of my schedule and I'm not really tied down to an idea where it's like, oh, I have to be somewhere at a certain time unless it's a conference. But speaking of this type of business, it gets you the ability to travel and, yeah, basically have control over what your work life could look like.
It's not to say that you're gonna work four hours a week, like a Tim Ferris, which is kind of like a ridiculous concept of a best selling book. But you put in the work, you can control it and you can say, you know what? I need to take the afternoon off, I need to do some errands, I need to do some stuff with the family, you know, mix it up.
The next interview we had was with a SEO named Matt Diggity. So, SEO stands for search engine Optimization. Matt is a thought leader in this space and he's got a lot of really interesting things going on. I mean, he's got a SEO agency, he's got The Affiliate Lab which is a course on basically helping affiliates getting started. So, although his questions, his answers were pretty short, they were really powerful. He threw a couple of curveball replies that I didn't think I would get as an answer. So for example, I kind of think about, you know, why you shouldn't copy other websites? And that's exactly what Matt said you should do. He's like copy them because they've already proven what works, but if you're gonna copy them, try to make it better.
Now, he's not saying copy and steal their content. What he's saying is look at what they've done and what they've created, look at their content structure and reverse engineer what they've done and just do it at least better. And if you look at that, I mean, you've got a lot of people that have kind of paved a path forward of what you can just follow in as a footstep.
Another question that I asked Matt was, I mean, he's very big into video. He's got a lot of YouTube videos that get a lot of traffic. So I asked him, would you recommend affiliates get into video? And he kind of had a pro and con set of answers for it. He said he kind of recommends affiliates should start off with creating and writing content rather than getting into video. But he did say with video that one thing that he noticed, and I think a lot of people when they get in the video notice this as well, is that video tends to have a higher conversion rate. So what he's saying is that when he does video work it ends up selling more.
So I wanted to highlight an interesting point behind that. It's when you get into video, yeah, there's gonna be my answer to that is there's less competition, there's less people that want to jump right into video because they're kind of shy and they're perfectionists and even if they make a plan to get started they just don't feel comfortable getting in front of a camera and they're worried about saying the ums or just not being perfect at it. But I mean, I like to think about, you know, Pat Flynn's first podcast where he listened to it and, you know, he's kind of like, it's like your first band that you listen to when they're kind of raw and they're inexperienced, it's just get started.
So what's really interesting with video is that you got to remember that people are starting to want to connect with other people, that sounds like common sense or like a common thing to just say. But when you get to see the person behind that article in a video format, you get to connect with that person and you're going to probably trust them a bit more than if it was a written article which could be ghostwritten by anyone. So I think when Matt says that the pros of videos that it can convert better, I mean, think about it this way, you can write a book review or you can do a video of a book review which can be transcribed as content and you're gonna get both done. So what's going to be more powerful the book review as a podcast, as a vlog, or as a written piece of content? Well, at the end of the day, how many people are gonna go out of their way making that video? Not a lot. There's gonna be probably too many of the written content reviews of that book and in this day and age, when it's so easy just to kind of spin content or get AI to do it for you, your competition is gonna be pretty tough.
Next we have… Well, actually I wanted to get back into tools that Matt Diggity recommends and he basically said I would stop doing my work today if I had to give up Ahrefs as well as Surfer SEO. So these are two must have tools and they're probably some of the most common SEO tools that advanced affiliates will use, they'll use it for keyword research. They'll look at breaking down any sort of competitor analysis. And for me, they're, they're kind of essential tools in my SEO toolbox.
The last I'm gonna finish with is talking with a guy named Paul Puolakka, if I've said his name correctly. Paul at the time was working with Viabonus, but he's moved on to another company. But one of the answers that he gave that stood out was, like a different answer that I wasn't quite expecting. He kind of emphasized that if you're getting into affiliate marketing, the one of the most important things you can and should do is networking.
So if you think about it, if you're new and you start networking, well, most people don't like doing that at the very start because they're kind of shy and timid. But you know what? I find in the affiliate marketing communities, there's a lot of people that are willing to help you out. So if you were to, let's say, create that blog post and maybe it's not going well. Well, what's great about networking is that you can start saying, “hey guys, what am I doing wrong?” You know, you're basically putting yourself out there to get that criticism and feedback that's going to help quite a bit. You gotta think about this, you do networking with the mindset that this is gonna be a long term game. So if you're going to network, people are going to encourage you to not give up and they're going to share what they've gone through and they're also gonna share what they see in other successful affiliates.
So I think networking is probably something that is very important to do as a new affiliate. It's something that's not common sense to do. But what's great is that if you look at a lot of the affiliate marketing courses that help newbies get started, especially with courses like The Affiliate Lab by Matt Diggity, what's great is they've got Facebook communities. So anywhere where you can find a community is a chance where you can say, “hey, I've got this idea, this is what I want to do. This is what I want to create”. Or you've basically launched that website and maybe you've only done two blog posts and you're kind of like, where's my money? And you know what's gonna happen? It's that community's gonna say, keep working, don't stop but be committed and stay consistent with producing content. I mean, no one's going to just write two blog posts and make $10,000. I mean, if it was that easy, we'd all just do it and simply retire. So it's all about staying long term in the game. And networking is gonna help you get in that right mindset to go, hey, what should I do? Or where can I get answers to certain questions or where can I do some research? You know, talk to the people that have been in the space for a longer period of time and I believe you'll find that a lot of people are willing to help within a limitation of, you know, not asking too many questions where you're slowing someone down. But this is why communities are so important.
So that's all for today. Just basically tips focusing on helping new affiliates get off the ground. I think in a lot of articles that you will read that say like, hey, how to get started as an affiliate? You're gonna find a lot of, I don't know, kind of like fluffy inspirational things, but I found that in the interviews and podcasts that I've been doing these are some really interesting answers that stand out and I think would help a lot of people get started and make sure that they don't give up and understand what's at the core of failure for most affiliates that do get started. And I can tell you with a lot of these answers, the theme that comes up the most is not doing enough research and the biggest fail is not getting started. And then once you get started, if you do like one, let's say, let's say you're even doing a podcast, you do one podcast and you do that for four weeks straight and then you stop, then it's game over. You might as well have just not started in the first place, but the most important key takeaway is get started.