Getting Started

The easiest way to dive into performance marketing is to become an affiliate. As an affiliate, you promote other people’s products or services and earn a commission when the lead you generated takes a certain action (submits an email, installs an app, subscribes, buys, etc.). That’s the performance part. By being an affiliate, you don’t have to create your own product, and there are networks you can sign up to that intermediate the relationship with the advertiser or product owner.

The very first thing I advise a newbie to do is to sign up to It is a paid forum, it costs $99/month but it’s worth it. It gathers some of the best performance marketers in the world in one place.


What do you need to get started? First of all, you need money. You are only paid once you generate results, so you need to risk your own money before getting paid anything. I like to say there are 2 main stages in a performance marketer’s career, and they require different budgets.

Stage 1:

You are starting out and wanna see if you can make this thing work. Can you profitably promote a product? For this, you can start with a lower budget. I think you should still have approximately $500/month to dedicate to testing campaigns and paying for certain NECESSARY services.

Some people find profitable campaigns after spending <$1,000 total on tests, others have to grind it out to almost $10,000. The amount you need to start out depends on the vertical you choose, on the time you put in, on your risk aversion and many other factors.

For this stage, if you can have $500/month to spend on campaigns and services it’s a very good start. The other option is to have a fix $2-3,000 set aside for testing campaigns. Don’t start expecting to not lose money at first; you are buying data and experience.

Stage 2:

You found a profitable campaign and you want to scale. Depending on the vertical and the advertiser’s budget, now you reach a point where the sky is the limit. Don’t expect to make $1,000/day profit if your monthly budget is $500.

Everyone who makes 4 figures or more per day profit has a proportionate budget to run those campaigns too. You should have this in mind before dreaming of overnight riches. The lower your total budget, even after profitability, the longer it will take you to grow.

More on scaling budget in another article.


Next, you have to sign up to AT LEAST ONE CPA network. Maybe some of you have tried that already and got rejected. This happens very often as a newbie. In general, newbies require a high amount of time and effort to get going from the affiliate manager, and the returns are very low, they generate almost 0 revenue. This, and the many scamming attempts, make affiliate networks choose who they work with.

In order to get in, make yourself a one pager business website, show that you are serious about it, mention that you are a member, talk about your past experience in marketing and advertising. Show yourself as a professional who is unlikely to waste their time. Even if you are new to performance marketing, being a professional shows that you have a good shot of making it. Lastly, and easiest way to get into a network: ask for a personal recommendation.

You can find a list of networks we work with here.


While you wait for news from the affiliate networks, you should also sign up to one or more traffic sources. Regardless of your budget, it’s good to start out with one traffic source and then follow the data. Traffic sources are easier to get into. If you want to go with mobile display or in-app native ads as your traffic, Go2Mobi is by far the best in my book. They have what I consider to be the best account managers, and they are very good with helping newbies understand their platform. If you want to go for pop traffic, my recommended starting point is PopAds. They have many targeting options for pop traffic, quick campaign approvals, and good volume.


After you signed up to these, you MUST choose a tracking solution. You are only as good as your data so tracking is the key part of your business. All solutions have some pros and cons. I will make a more in depth post about tracking but for now have this in mind:

1. How technical are you?

2. How much money can you spend on services?

3. How much volume will you run?

4. How much is your time worth?

If you answer those questions, you can find a tracking solution that fits you. From building your own, to self-hosted to SaaS. In Adefy’s case, we use Voluum. It’s the more expensive solution but it has basically unlimited auto-scaling, setting it up is a simple sign up process, their support is very good, and they are the most mature SaaS tracking solution.

Other solutions available are Thrive, Funnel Flux, Prosper202. If you wanna build your own, you are in the software development business, not in the performance marketing business. If you are shorter on cash, are technical enough and have enough time to use a self-hosted solution, and generally saving money is more important than saving time, you should choose something else rather than Voluum. You can setup tracking as soon as you get approved on an affiliate network and start running campaigns.


All fine so far. You have signed up to affiliate networks, at least one traffic source, and hopefully also have a tracking solution in mind. The final and very important step before running campaigns is to do some spying. You should not try to reinvent the wheel, but instead start off by using ads in the style that is already proven to work. For mobile intelligence, the clear winner is AdPlexity. You can spy on banner, pops and native ads. Have a good look at what works: what verticals on which traffic sources, what kind of ads, what geos.

If you go through this whole process, you are well on your way to making money online. Some other blogs that I recommend you read as you start your journey:



Probably the leading authority when it comes to affiliate marketing. He talks not only campaigns, but also building a business, personal development and mindset.



An experienced affiliate marketer who gives many tips while documenting his journey in this industry.

Another very experienced affiliate, who gives some of the most direct advice for the industry. He’s been around for a long time and writes on more than just mobile marketing.



High school dropout affiliate marketer and author of a great newbie friendly guide, called A Complete Guide to Affiliate Marketing.

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Emanuel Cinca, aka Manu

My story starts in Lipova, Romania, a town of about 10,000 inhabitants, where I was born in a working class family. Growing up in a family that had a shaky financial base and relied solely on month to month wages, and sometimes on short term loans from friends, I knew that I a) didn’t want to get a regular job EVER, and b) I want to have true financial independence.

Fast forward to my high school days, I got admitted into the number one high school of Arad county, “Moise Nicoara” National College. Don’t ask me why they call it a college, that’s just the translation from Romanian. I had a passion for technology and computers, so it seemed natural that I wanted to get into the so called informatics class.

The 4 years here taught me that:

1. Where you come from has little to no impact on your ability to learn, your skills and their value

2. Being number one high school is overrated

3. In the standard educational system, you are not allowed to excel at something, until you have proven to be above average at everything else.

4. Grades are an extremely flawed measurement of someone’s skills

5. I know myself better than anyone else, so I should make my decisions, not anyone else, and I should be OK with the consequences.

These learnings will be reflected in some of my posts here.

After high school, I quit University after 2 months in… TWICE! One time I quit Computers and Information Technology, and the second time I quit Business Administration.

During these years I also developed a passion for poker. I was a content producer at the world’s biggest online poker school for 2 years, and I wrote a book with a Maths professor from Nottingham and TT, who also blogs here. The book is called The Education of a Modern Poker Player.

I moved to Vienna in 2013, at TT’s initiative, and had several failed ventures together, all leading up to what is now Adefy.

I have a keen interest in psychology and in data, which makes performance marketing such a great industry for me. I blog about these topics, sometimes adding education, personal development, and management to the mix.

Interested in: Psychology. Marketing. Management. Investing. Startups. Entrepreneurship.

Hobbies: Reading. Fitness. Football. Travelling.

Connect with me:




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