THE PRE-REQUISITES to read this post:
- A basic Affiliate Marketing understanding (Check out my “What is Affiliate Marketing?” post.)
- A Tracker and Landing Page Hosting Setup (If you don’t have that yet, check out our beginner section post for how to do it.)
STEP 1: PICKING THE BEST KIND OF OFFER
For anyone just starting out I would highly recommend picking a sweepstakes vertical. There is a ton of different landing pages available and the vertical just refuses to die.
It does not matter if you choose to promote on desktop or mobile devices, if it’s done correctly then the ROI should be up there.
Yes, even in 2020!
Most affiliate networks have a lot of very hot converting offers. These are the closest thing to an ATM machine you can find online since most offers only require a username, email and password for the user to enter and for you to get paid!
If you have a limited budget (let’s say around $1,000) then these types of offers are perfect for you to start with. You can typically gather data relatively quickly with a small ad spend, and you’ll have a good chance of finding something profitable that you can work with if you follow the steps in this post!
With a tight budget of $1,000 or less, you definitely want to start with an international offer outside of Tier 1 countries (US CA AU UK NZ IE).
This is because competition and bid prices can be fierce, especially when you are just starting out and have no any real competitive advantage!
Ask your Affiliate Network Account Manager for Tier 2/3 Geo converting offers, sorted by EPC (Earnings Per Click), and most will be able to gladly accommodate you.
Remember, the more you earn, the more they earn!
You can choose a web or mobile offer but be aware that even though mobile offers typically have lower pay-outs, they can run profitably for a much longer time than web can. This is because it is much harder to spy on mobile, since you may have to be a certain carrier and have a specific phone model in order for you to see an affiliates’ ads.
There are many more levels of protection and traffic available on mobile than on web, but you can just pick an offer that allows both web and mobile traffic.
STEP 2: STEAL A LANDING PAGE
What? But stealing is horrible!
That’s true, but you know what else is horrible? Being poor!
The easiest way to start making money is to spy on other affiliates and see what offers they are promoting, what landing pages they are using, and in what GEOs.
You can use a combination of manual spying and counter intelligence tools like Adplexity to see what high volume affiliates are doing. They are likely to have their funnels and banners dialled in and profitable, otherwise they wouldn’t be spending all this money on traffic!
If you are running international GEOs, I would recommend using a VPN service like HideMyAss or PureVPN to go on top Torrent, File Sharing and Video Streaming websites and spy on the first sites that pop up.
Write down all the information, including offers, GEOs, verticals and common landing pages that keep popping up and save them in a folder.
Use similarweb.com to see how many impressions the domains you are manually spying on are getting per month. People with over a million visits per month are typically people who are making a lot of money, so take note of that!
STEP 3: CAMPAIGN SETUP
As a rule of thumb (and being on a smaller budget), your initial campaign test should consist of:
- 3 landing pages (that you stole from spying or check out our landing page section if you are Premium Member)
- 2 offers (make sure they are recommended by your Affiliate Manager. Do not just pick offers at random)
The more variables you include in your initial campaign test, the higher the budget you will need to have. You need to have enough significant spend on each variable to determine whether a combination of landing pages and offers is a potential winner or a loser.
Then you will need to make sure that your tracker is set up correctly and everything is working! For your very first campaign, set a small $20 budget (or go as low as the traffic source allows) for your campaign to begin with, and run some traffic to make sure everything is running smoothly.
Do not forget to properly configure a postback, to see where conversions are actually coming from.
STEP 4: LAUNCH AND ACQUIRE DATA
You have a 99% chance of losing money on an initial test and if you don’t have the balls for going through with this, making money with affiliate marketing is likely not going to be for you!
Here is the good news:
When you finally find a profitable combination of traffic, offer and landing page, it will pay for all of your losses quickly and create a personal ATM machine for you!
The majority of traffic sources will have a recommended bid displayed when creating a campaign (or a separate page indicating average bids).
I suggest using that, plus 10-15%, but never bid maximum or take the first position as a newbie.
You will get in a bidding war with other seasoned affiliates who are running highly converting, optimized funnels, and you will lose! Trust me.
Now, this is where it counts! After proving that your setup is correct, add more budget ($50-$100) and let your campaign run. Do not pause anything on your initial test. You need to acquire data!
Yes, it’s a horrible feeling watching your campaign go through your budget without showing any signs of profit, but trust me, you don’t want to kill off a potential 6 figure winner just because you couldn’t handle the pressure.
Set it and forget it! The maximum it is going to spend is whatever daily budget you indicated in settings!
STEP 5: CULL AND OPTIMIZE
Your campaign has spent its budget, and more than likely you will be seeing a nice negative ROI. This is what really separates the boys from the men.
Culling and optimizing is the part where you get rid of the least profitable elements and continue running the ones that show the most potential.
Here is a what a typical lifecycle of your campaign looks like and how you can take it from a loser to a clear winner:
Day 1: -50% ROI
(Your initial campaign test where you essentially throw things against the wall and see what sticks.)
Day 2: -20% ROI
(You pause the least performing offer and continue running traffic to collect more data.)
Day 3: -5% ROI
(You pause the landing page that has the lowest ROI and continue testing.)
Day 4: +10% ROI
(You run the winning landing page/offer combo and find 2 more similar landing pages to test.)
Day 5: +20% ROI
(You blacklist all under performing placements (aka zones, targets, sources) in your traffic source and continue running the ones showing the most potential.)
Day 6: +25% ROI
(You continue testing different landing pages and blacklisting placements. At this point, if your traffic source allows, it is recommended to create a separate whitelist campaign, targeting only the most profitable placements, landing pages and offer)
Day 7: +35% ROI
(You continue running both whitelist and blacklist campaigns, blacklisting/adding profitable placements and asking your affiliate manager for a pay-out bump!)
STEP 6: SCALING & MAINTAINING PROFITS
Now you have your first profitable campaign. Congratulations!
But there is more! Scaling is the difference between turning a campaign from one that makes $10 a day to one which does $1,000+ a day on consistent basis.
1. Duplicate your campaigns on the same traffic source, but this time with a higher bid to test more placements that are not available to you when you bid low. It’s a no secret that money makes money, and this is especially true in the fast-paced world of affiliate marketing – Double your budget, double your earnings.
2. Increase your frequency cap to get more impressions on the profitable placements you are already running on.
Increasing your frequency cap from 1 impression per 24 hours (recommended for the initial test) to 2 impressions per 24 hours will double your impressions and expose your ad more frequently to visitors who may have dismissed it the first time.
1. Run your winning campaign on other traffic sources.
2. Duplicate your campaign over to other traffic source types (i.e. Native, Push and even Facebook (Advanced)).
3. Create desperate campaigns for every possible device that the offer allows (I.e., IOS, Android, Mac, Web).
4. Run the winning whitelisted placements across multiple GEO’s that your offer accepts.
That’s pretty much it!
If you have any questions or something is not quite clear in the steps above, feel free to ask anything you like in the comments. More additional help, make sure to read our beginner section if you are unsure on where to start with your affiliate marketing.