Affiliate marketers come from all sort of backgrounds. I’ve met marketing students who didn’t want to go into a corporate rat race and I’ve met construction workers who are running affiliate campaigns and trying to build a business in the industry. The question then comes: What are the skills required to succeed here? There’s no clear transition from what you learn in school to this, like it’s the case with most entrepreneurial endeavours. This allows people from very different backgrounds who seem unqualified for most jobs to end up doing well in affiliate marketing.
In my opinion there are 5 broad categories of skills that greatly help anyone going into affiliate marketing. They are in reverse order of importance. I will explain why I chose this order later.
Marketing and copywriting
This is something many would put at the top as a main skill. It’s certainly useful to be able to get creative and write copy that sells. It can help you out greatly at the beginning. Here’s the problem with this skill: It’s too easy to outsource! There are many talented freelance copywriters who cannot build a business because they lack some of the skills described later.
Most marketing is moving towards a performance model, and goes deeper and deeper into data. Being able to analyze this data will give you a much better understanding of what works and what doesn’t. You make fewer assumptions, you don’t go based on feeling, you act based on cold, hard data. It is less glamorous than all the books that describe that “feel good” marketing and advertising, but numbers don’t lie. It is not impossible to outsource but at least a basic grasp of data analysis is needed.
Something must gather the data. Something must redirect users through the funnel. Technical workarounds, a faster setup, automation tools, etc. all can give you a big edge. You can outsource this too in theory. In practice, it’s hard to outsource without being able to explain WHAT is needed. Therefore, you need at least a minimal understanding of technology behind your campaigns, and behind the Internet as a whole. If you come from a tech background, you need to learn a bit about data analysis, and general marketing funnels. This skill can give you a better edge than good marketing (think of AdPlexity for spying 😉 )
You need money to run campaigns. No shit!? This is the most underestimated skill in the industry. Everyone thinks $1000 will make them millionaires in 1 year if they work hard and get a bit lucky. It won’t in media buying, you must use free traffic and hit big, otherwise forget it. Why is this a skill? Because even if you don’t have your own personal cash or assets that you can liquidate, you should still learn a bit about how to raise money from investors, and you should try to build a network of people who complement your assets and skills. This means it’s a skill to connect with people who could invest in your business.
Perhaps you also know how credit scores work in your countries, and can maximize yours with loopholes to get more credit to invest. That’s also a skill. Bottom line: having money is necessary; knowing how to get money is the next best thing. Learn how to obtain it, otherwise you won’t make a business out of it. It could get you an above average monthly income, but you won’t be buying a Tesla anytime soon, or flying business class everywhere.
Mindset is the hardest to quantify. It’s also the hardest to learn. It is also built with experience. If you have a good mindset, you will seem abnormal to any 9-5 person. It means you will be able to embrace all the randomness in a business, you will understand to not make decisions based on factors you cannot control. There’s this insane notion being sold that you can make “stable” income from your own business. That’s utter bullshit! It doesn’t get stable (= firmly fixed), it gets to higher bottom line numbers, and the lows still get positive. In between, there will still be swings. More on this in a future article though.
What does change with experience and a good understanding of variance is what you count as stable: You stop counting the hourly profit you make and you draw the line every year, maybe even less often. You understand how your decision making process can be perfected but the outcomes cannot be predicted with high accuracy. You will realize what decisions are wrong not based on outcomes, but based on information you neglected to take into account. Outcomes are very bad at showing whether a decision was good or not. It tricks people into thinking they can predict the future with 100% accuracy. It makes them believe fortune tellers. There’s this innate desire we have to know what will happen, to find out the results as soon as possible; sorry to rain on your parade, but unpredictable events happen… Rarely, but they do.
To get a better grasp on variance and randomness, I recommend reading Taleb’s books: Fooled By Randomness, The Black Swan, and Antifragile. They will not only help in affiliate marketing, but in how you view everyday life as well. Once you understand variance, and don’t try to control randomness, you will be both more successful and happier.
Did I forget anything? What do you think is your main skill that can help you in affiliate marketing?
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:
Latest posts by Emanuel Cinca (see all)
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