My Affiliate Marketing Experiment – Part 1

Spending a lot of time online I run across the term “Affiliate Marketing” all the time. I even go to an “internet marketing” event once a month here in Austin to meet other entrepreneurs, but always found some of the people doing affiliate marketing a little perplexing (and sort of shady).

When prying into what they do, they never gave me CLEAR answers. They would always say things like, “I do lead generation” or “performance marketing” or “sell an online product” and other buzzwords I didn’t fully understand. I’d ask, “Ok, give me an example of a product you generate leads for” and they’d state a general industry at most (such as insurance, health or real estate). Some of the people said they do “PPC arbitrage” and that they “promote products” but wouldn’t go much further into detail about their business.

I was never satisfied with these responses and just presumed these people were really shady (which some of them are).

So here I am trying to find out what these people do and they keep skirting around the actual details…WHAT THE HELL?

I can tell them I own a rave store and sell light up stuff online. It’s a pretty straightforward, and they can even see the website for themselves. Why were these people acting so shady? They were obviously hiding something or lying about something.

Many of the people I met in the affiliate marketing world seemed to sell herbal pills online or get rich quick schemes for the masses. Most of the products they were promoting seemed relatively useless once purchased, and most had “interesting” billing plans.

In my mind, I saw “affiliate marketing” as referring to a website that promises to get you rich quick…something like this kind of crap:

(You should be PUNCHED if you even TRY to click that image).

I’ve read many bloggers like John Chow and other guys who make their living from blogging and they frequently talk about affiliate marketing. I kept wondering what exactly it was, especially since they correlate so much of their income to it… I decided to do some research and find out…..

Go to Part 2

Blog posted on: February 11, 2010

16 comments on “My Affiliate Marketing Experiment – Part 1

  1. Lillie Anonymous

    If you found a money tree that sprouted hundred dollar bills everyday and somebody said “hey where’d you get that money?” Would you tell them “i found a money tree” or would you draw them a map of how to get to the money tree that you found?

    Affiliate marketers aren’t shady they’re just not gonna tell you specifics because when people find out big money affiliate products the market becomes saturated and they’ll no longer be able to make money from it. If you know what you’re doing you can make a ton of money for very little work with affiliate marketing.

  2. Anonymous

    There are only a couple guaranteed ways to get rich
    – Prostitution
    – Drugs
    – Selling things to people telling them how to get rich

    Most affiliate marketers are snake oil merchants.

  3. Neville

    Anon 1,
    I agree they won’t tell you everything right off the bat, that’s what I found out later. Not all of them were necessarily shady, just “protective” of their niches. Shhh….you’re spoiling where I’m going with this ;-)

    Anon 2,
    Yes, a lot of them are. Like any new form of industry, it’s generally the shady people who get in first.

  4. Jay

    Nev…you can punch me in the arm once. I tried to click the image then read what you wrote….sigh.

    ps how do I get to part 2?

  5. Dave

    Carbon Fiber Gear started out as an experiment in affiliate marketing (not the shady stuff) and has now turned into a full-time job…although not from the affiliate marketing aspect.

    I’ve found that people in the field you’re talking about don’t seem to talk about all the details because they are worried about copycats that would take revenue away from them.

  6. Mike

    I did a stint with it but I lost a hundred or so bucks in the process. One thing I was doing was selling JDate subscriptions through Facebook. I basically found a JDate promotion through an affiliate resource and then made targeted facebook ads to direct people to my affiliate linked site.

    After building and tweaking my “landing page” and trying many different ad/demographic combinations, I found one magic combo that broke even. And then I saturated it until I was losing money again. (Facebook ads aren’t free).

    I’m not affiliated, but is one of the better AM blogs out there, and he’s pretty free with information. (See the newbie guide)

    If I had the time I might get back into it again and keep trying, but my day job is giving me better prospects at the moment.

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  13. jenny bender

    Yeah, there are a lot of tight-lipped people who are on the shady side. But for everyone one of them, someone is making money as an Amazon affiliate or something that’s totally over the top legit.

    It’s always the freaky bad apples that spoil the perception of full barrels, isn’t it?

  14. Pennyroll

    Sometimes it’s easier to generate leads rather than sales at least for me.

    My site is about making money not spending it so it would be difficult to sell things (I think) Maybe that’s the wrong perspective.

    So I focus on quality sites that make money and then I use them personally and refer people to them.

    You mentioned shady, I personally won’t refer someone to a website unless I’ve used them and approve of them myself. Otherwise people wouldn’t trust the recommendation I make and I would be shooting myself in the foot. Ouch.


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