Most of the time, you will be working with affiliate networks to find offers for campaigns.
I recommend starting with affiliate networks instead of going to the source, also known as the vendor. A couple of reasons for starting with affiliate networks are dealing with one place for technology, tracking, payouts, etc. If you have many different companies with unique systems and payroll software, running campaigns would be more complicated than necessary.
In the end, it would take away time that you should be spending on marketing and buying traffic.
So Here is the Good News
These affiliate networks are market places full of offers.
You have to log in to the network site and bam 100's if not 1000's of offers to market.
Here is a sample screenshot inside my A4D back office
There are 51 pages of offers to choose from, and this is just one network! Get approved in the network, apply to run the offer, get your unique link, and the business is live. But wait, the news gets even better.
The Affiliate Network world is ultra-competitive, and there's some heavy competition to get the best advertisers and top affiliates.
They will invest in your success and get you prime offers and creatives that might not be available to newbies.Here are a handful of networks that I use regularly:
A4D MUST USE DES REFERRAL CODE: 2609 for likely acceptance.
We will revisit what to expect from an Affiliate Network later in this chapter.
Benefits of Working With an Affiliate Network
You get an affiliate manager to help you find converting offers; you get a quicker payout, get pay bumps, and help with technical issues.
You get to pick from 100’s if not 1000’s of offers and all sorts of verticals.
If you don’t want to run an offer anymore, you simply stop and start working on another.
Here is my take on why you will want to use an affiliate offer:
- They can get you specialized information on offers that are converting on their network and possibly some creatives to help with the setup.
- They can help with quicker pay outs. When you hit a campaign, typically cash flow will become an issue, and they can speed up payouts. Fast payouts have kept me afloat multiple times.
- They take some of the risk out of working with advertisers or vendors. I have been stiffed by an advertiser before; they did not pay me what they owed me. In most cases the Affiliate Network will pay you even if they get stiffed.
The main issue is they are taking a percentage, usually in the range of 10-20% of the conversion payout.
You have to look at it like this especially as a newbie, the Affiliate Network will save you a lot of time and money, better insight on converting offers, knowing you will get paid etc.
One question I get often is, "Should I just try and go direct to the advertiser and make 10-20% more?" Whoa, hold your horses.
Running direct to the advertiser is a risky business. Most advertisers are on a NET 30 payout, and it may even be longer than that.
Having secure steady cash flow is much better when you can get bi-monthly, weekly, or even daily payouts. If you are staying 100% focused on your campaigns, you will get profitable faster, make higher profits, and have campaigns last longer.
4. Running Direct instead of with an Affiliate Network
In 2016, I was killing it with student loans, and I was trying to get higher payouts out on a pay-per-call campaign (PPC).
I found a direct advertiser through a Facebook group and received a nice higher payout with weekly direct deposits. Around New Years, I remember him falling a bit behind on paying me.
Next thing you know, he was $18,000 in the hole with me, and I never ended up getting paid. Talk about getting stiffed!
I tried lawyers, collections and even had one of my UFC buddies, a 6’2” well-built dude with a mohawk show up in a tank at his house in Orange Country. Nothing worked! I still haven't seen a dime of that $18K.
I had had cases more than once when an advertiser stopped paying the Affiliate Network, and in the end, the Affiliate Network ate the loss but still paid me.
At this stage of this journey, I would stick to Affiliate Networks. If you hit some big campaigns and are profiting four figures plus a day, consider going direct, but remember the risks I have explained above.
I would consider myself a super affiliate, and I still run with almost all Affiliate Networks.
More About Affiliate Managers
I mentioned some of these already:
- They can get you increased payout or pay bump as we call it
- They can give you insider information and industry insights
- They can help with technical issues
- They can give you special advice based on your situation
- They can give you offers that are not publicly available
Let’s talk about the pay bump.
Most big offers are on multiple networks, and you can do a little research on offervault.com and see which networks have certain offers.
In many cases, we have found that Network A is paying $32 for the same offer that Network B has for a $35 payout.
Oftentimes, you can ask them to match or make sure the offer is, in fact, the same advertiser, landing page, etc.
If you are a good affiliate, they will likely want to maintain your business and “work with you” to compromise.
Just keep in mind there is almost always some “negotiation” room.
Don’t expect bumps if you are a newbie, but it never hurts to ask.
Next, is my personal favorite. When my affiliate manager gives me a tip on a hot offer and we go on to crush it, It’s a great feeling, a win for all of us, the affiliate manager, the advertiser, and me!
Are you seeing how this can benefit everyone?
The mangers can be your “insider” as to what’s going on in the industry.
They will know what your traffic is like and what offers you have done well within the past.
An offer may be “Hot” on the network but not for your type of traffic.
You must follow the rules with every offer. Part of the affiliate manager's role is to ensure you follow the rules and not do anything illegal.
They will be checking your campaign and traffic quality and be the liaison between the advertiser and you.
Always remember, they are making money off your conversions and ultimately want you to succeed.
It's as simple as this, the more money you make, the more money they make!
These are some things you should expect from you affiliate manager:
- Easy to get a hold of via Skype (we use SKYPE in the affiliate world)
- Honesty and Transparency
- Tips and tool suggestions on what you need to do and use to succeed
- Technical help with postback URLs and Pixels
- Advice on improving campaigns
If you are not getting all of these, don’t hesitate to ask for another affiliate manager. Your success depends on this relationship, just email whoever is in charge of the network.
Here are my 2 cents, not everyone gets along perfectly. If you feel like you need a change, then ask. I have had affiliate managers who were terrible at responding but gave me offers that we crushed $$ wise. You have to ask yourself what is important to you?
Things to consider with building this relationship:
- Always treat them with a certain level of respect. Typically they reciprocate.
- Try to meet them face-to-face at one of the various affiliate conferences around the world.
- Try to get information about their lives outside of work and talk to him like you would with a friend.
- Consider sending them a gift or a card on a holiday or birthday just like you would anybody you care about; stuff like that goes a long way most of the time. If you do a lot of business with them, they'll probably send you something around the holidays/birthdays as well.
Make sure you read a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People by Robert Caildini. Use some of the tactics to improve relationships with your affiliate manager and other affiliates.
Learn more about the books that helped me along the way.
What makes a good Affiliate Network versus a bad one?
Sometimes there is a considerable difference in networks.
There are hundreds of Affiliate Networks out there, so how do you know which ones to choose?
You'll probably hear of individual networks having higher payouts or exclusive offers, but there's a lot more to it than that. Below are examples of why they are different.
- Exclusive offers / Specialization in Verticals
A lot of networks specialize in different verticals like mobile, or app installs, or gambling.
Suppose they happen to specialize in the particular vertical. In that case, you want to run, and there's a reasonably good chance they may have exclusive offers or be able to potentially get you a higher payout because of their relationship with the advertiser.
Typically, the best Affiliate Networks have several verticals they're strong in, and what I've learned over the years is that generally, they have a few offers that are their bread and butter.Often, individual Affiliate Managers (AMs) are more well-versed in specific verticals on that particular network.
When you first sign up, consider asking if they are a specialist and at app installs if that's what you are looking to do.
You want to get all the possible things correct from the get-go to improve your chances of success.
2. Higher Payouts
You could generally be talking a difference between $20 and $21 on a pay-per-call campaign when I mention higher payouts.
One trick that I have learned, some Affiliate Networks have a lot better converting offers even if it's the same offer than others, or in some cases, they may be scrubbing the leads and decreasing your conversions.
I have caught that happening before, so it's always good to test one against the other even if the payout is lower, it may convert better.
3. Affiliate Managers
Like in any business, there are people with a lot of experience and some with minimal experience.
Some AMs have been around for a long time and understand the game. Knowing the ins and outs of online marketing makes a huge difference in my business.
Some of these companies hire people who are just fresh out of college. They don't know what they're doing, and if anything, they might hurt you more than helping you.
Keep this in mind as you gauge the experience level with your affiliate manager initially, never be afraid to ask for another affiliate manager but getting one with a lot of experience is a considerable advantage to help you in the long run.
I would ask around the industry about a particular Affiliate Network if you're unsure if they are legit or not; there's always a possibility that they stiffed someone in the past, and you don't want this to be you.
For the most part, if you're dealing with networks that have been around for a long time, they have a fairly good reputation, pretty safe to work with, and will probably help your business over a long period of time. You can always check the reviews of an Affiliate Network at: Affpyaing
Reputation is important, so do a little research online with some Facebook groups like mine. Brian's Facebook Group.
Quick story... one time, we promoted an eCommerce CPA offer for an Affiliate Network out of Israel. We were getting a $20 payout approximately. The customer thought they were paying $20 for their initial sale.
They ended up getting billed way more than that plus reoccurring charges and other BS, so technically I was running an offer that was pretty much a scam.
The only way we caught them was that we went in and purchased ourselves on one of my credit cards and went through the funnel. I would recommend doing this on all the offers you run. Keep that in mind that some of these Affiliate Networks might have scam offers, and if you are running them, you could be dealing with the FTC at some point because you're the one running the traffic!5. World Wide Presence
Affiliate Marketing is a 24/7 worldwide business. I run offers in Australia, Europe, Mexico, Brazil, and New Zealand.
Something to consider is Affiliate Network is our ability to advertise globally. In some cases, you may find that offers might not convert in the United States, but they crush it in another country.
In the beginning, I would focus on English-speaking countries until you get the hang of this business, and then you might want to consider some of your creatives in another language.
Individual Affiliate Networks might not be strong in other countries; others may be amazing.
Start by building a relationship with one or two, then go from there as you progress this industry.
In the story above, you can see that it's not easy to tell if an Affiliate Network is shady. We went above and beyond, purchased the product, and uncovered what that Affiliate Network was all about.
It would be best if you did some research first. Below are some things to consider before applying.
- Does their website list the affiliate managers? Are they findable on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook?
- Check the forums and Facebook groups; ask around to other affiliates about their reputation.
- Find out if they have a physical location and if they are registered in that country to pay taxes.
- How long has the company been around?
- Can you tell if the affiliate managers are happy?
- Ask about the culture of the company. Again, this is a 24/7 business, and if you got people who are only working 8am-5pm, and they are impossible to get ahold of after they leave work, it might not be the best fit for you.
Remember: The Affiliate Network is your business partner, and you need to get to know them before you work with them.
Application Process and Getting Approved
Applying to a network will not always get you accepted; rejection might come as a bit of surprise to you, but it's not that easy to get accepted into these Affiliate Networks.
I used to think the same thing, why wouldn't they want me, I spend money, and they make that money.
There are bad Affiliate Networks, as I mentioned earlier, and there are rules for every offer; maybe a specific offer is not supposed to run social traffic or exclude networks like Facebook.
You go out and run Facebook traffic to an offer, and somehow, they find out. In that case, that gives the Affiliate Network a black eye with the advertiser.
You might ask why they wouldn't want specific traffic. Potentially the advertiser may have an in-house team, and they run their own Facebook traffic. They might want you, the affiliate, to run other traffic like native ads, to give you an example.
Another thing to consider is that these affiliate managers have other affiliates. They only have so much time and energy in a day to work with affiliates, especially new ones.
Imagine an affiliate manager out there working with a guy like me who spends $200,000 a month regularly. Do they have a bunch of time to devote to someone who might only have a thousand-dollar budget a month to spend?
Which affiliate should the affiliate manager devote their time to?
These AM's are in the business to make money, and if you make that money, they're more likely to work with you.
They're going to want to know your budgets, your traffic, and your experience level in the beginning.
Expect an interview process and be prepared with proof that you are a real affiliate and a genuine affiliate in the industry.
If you're a newbie you might want to start on networks like ClickBank, you don't have to go through an interview process.
For the record, in all 2020, my team and I are pushing $3 Million in sales on ClickBank, so don't let these gurus tell you ClickBank is garbage.
Some common questions include:
- What traffic sources are you using?
- What's your monthly advertising budget?
- What offers are you currently running?
- What networks have you run before or currently? Will you need Proof?
- Do you have a website for your company? (You will need this)
- Do you have a team of people?
- Do you have some examples of some landing pages you've run in the past?
Usually, after you apply, there's a little bit of a waiting period, sometimes two to three days, maybe up to a week.
If you haven't heard from them, wait at least one day before you contact them. They want to make sure you are a real person. They do get a lot of junk. Another piece of advice is if you have a company website, which you should have, make sure you have an email that is NOT a gmail.com. For example, www.surrealllc.com is my site, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
The network will want to make sure you're a real person with alegit company. They take this business seriously.
You're going to want to have an LLC and an EIN in the United States, which is a tax number for businesses. There are other reasons to have an LLC. I would get this from the outset. They will also want to see proof that you work with other affiliate networks. Usually, a screenshot of a campaign will do.This first one is the hardest one to get in, but once you get that one under your belt, then you can use that as leverage to get into more.
So what happens if you get rejected?
I wouldn't worry about this too much; there are so many Affiliate Networks out there. Just apply at another one that might have a little less stringent guidelines to get in.
You can always get some results and apply to the Affiliate Network that rejected you later with some more proof of your campaigns.I want to mention that if you are from a country outside of the United States, potentially a third-world country, acceptance might be significantly harder.
Apparently, for these networks, there's a lot of fraud that goes on in third world countries. In this case, you might want to consider getting a referral from a friend who may already be an affiliate with them.
Follow The Rules is My Final word on Affiliate Networks
I have been burned once before when one of my media buyers ran a technically not approved page.
If the copy on the page is not up to the advertiser's standards or is misleading, you are potentially asking for trouble.
I have had to negotiate with the Affiliate Network in the advertiser to get the traffic money that I spent on the offer back, certainly not any profit. The "Dirty Landing Page was converting better, and we are making more money, but in the end, the slip-up cost me money.
Making a little less is better than making nothing at all or losing money.
It would be best if you think long-term here. You don't want to burn a bridge with an Affiliate Network and a good advertiser.
You're a business partner here, and generally, what goes around a business comes around from my experience.
Make sure you read the rules on these offers and stick to them. If you have questionable stuff, ask your affiliate manager what their thoughts are on the situation.
Again, I will stress this is a long-term business and you should treat it like that.