12 Biggest Newbie Mistakes You Can Avoid (Part 1)
Reprinted from STM forum
STM - http://stm.am/join
AM is not an easy skill to master, and making mistakes and learning from them is a big part of the learning process.
During my many discussions with new affiliates on this forum and in the 6WAMC, I noticed that some of the same mistakes are being made by new affiliates - over and over again.
So I thought it would be a good idea to write a post about these mistakes, to help you avoid them.
I've also asked our experienced forum admins and mods to add to my original list - the result is this post.
We're hoping our tips below will help you to:
-Avoid wasting money
-Avoid limiting your earnings potential
-Maximize your profits
Let's get right to them!
Mistake #1: Looking at AM as the Last Resort to Financial Problems
We've all seen posts written by new members in desperation:
"Help me please! I have 3 kids to feed and just lost my job yesterday. I have 1k left in the bank so I need to make AM work before that money runs out. Please give me a magic bullet right now or my family will starve!"
"I heard that affiliate marketing has the potential of making me 4-5 figures/day! Just signed up last week and decided to quit my job yesterday to focus 100% on making AM work. I have 3k left for living expenses, running campaigns, and buying tools. Hopefully that will be enough!"
(Note: Not actual quotes, but I've seen similar.)
Being in dire financial straits, with no means of getting more money, and thinking to "invest" the last $1k in their bank account to learn AM and turn it into a stable income stream, is one of the worst decisions one could make. And judging by how most of the OPs disappeared from the forums after a short time, I'm guessing most cases did not end well.
Counting on making AM "work" by a certain date and within a certain low budget, will create a lot of stress, which will in turn drive one to make bad campaign decisions, based on negative emotions such as worry, fear, and doubt.
Not spending enough money to collect data, jumping from vertical to vertical and traffic type to traffic type, cutting split-test candidates before they reach statistical significance - are just a few of the mistakes these people are proned to making.
Recommended To-Do: Find a means to make stable income to fund living expenses and campaign costs, and don't quit until you have the experience required to feel confident that your AM efforts will at least sustain your daily living expenses.
Mistake #2: Keep Looking For the "Secret Sauce" and Not Taking Enough Action
Many people believe that there must be some secret sauce - something that's not talked about in public - without which they won't stand a chance at succeeding in AM.
Running campaigns isn't easy. And when you're a newbie losing money campaign after campaign, it's natural to start thinking "there's no way to make this work! People that ARE making this work must know some secret that I don't."
Sure enough, there are people that are cloaking and using other black magic to game the system - just look through some of the offer restrictions and you'll see the different techniques people are using.
I'm neither encouraging nor discouraging you from taking that route - just know what you're getting into before you start. Running blackhat is a lot of risk. You can lose all your commissions, lose accounts, etc. It's just a different game with a different set of headaches.
Also - I can assure you that it IS still very possible to make profits by running compliant. (Yes - even on pop! There are offers that allow aggressive marketing. So you can run aggressive while still staying compliant.)
The one thing I've noticed from talking to super-affiliates, is that they didn't get where they are just by using a single trick they picked up from somebody else.
The "secret" to their success, in a vast majority of cases, is one or more of the following:
-They're willing to test more stuff - more angles, more creatives, more offers, more traffic sources, more traffic types, different targeting, different bids, different testing and optimization approaches, etc. etc.
-They focus on learning the fundamentals, and never stop learning. They read extensively to keep tabs on current trends in the economy and in the AM industry. They read book after book and blog after blog on affiliate marketing and psychology. They talk to other people in the industry to stay current on information.
-They network with other successful affiliates by connecting on STM and attending conferences and local meetups, from which new ideas can be inspired, and opportunities to collaborate on projects will often arise.
-They invest time and money into putting together a team to do all the grunt work (and/or develop tools to automate the same), while they focus on innovating and networking, and making processes more efficient and effective.
-They're not a 1-trick pony. By staying current and continuing to learn and innovate, they're always adapting to changes. They'll continue to figure out how to make money for as long as there's traffic out there.
It IS true that super-affiliates get perks that aren't accessible by newbies. Stuff like exclusive offers, special deals with networks, insider information from networks etc. But they were once newbies themselves. And if they could get where they are now without those perks, then so can you.
Recommended To-Do: No matter whether you're planning to do whitehat or blackhat later on, as a newbie, you need to work on your fundamentals. Once you do, think of ways to do the same thing better, faster, and on a larger scale.
Mistake #3: Either Testing Too Extensively, or Not Extensively Enough
Many newbies in the beginning would just set up a camp with a random offer and lander/banner, pray for good results, and when they see none, would repeat the same - until lots of camps later when they're hundreds or thousands of dollars in the red.
They would have stats scattered across multiple geos and verticals, but not enough data in any one geo+vertical to make any sort of useful observations or optimization decisions.
Here we can see 2 problems:
1)Not testing enough offers and creatives will seriously limit the chances of finding something that works.
2)Testing too many traffic types/sources, and/or too many verticals, and/or too many geos, can really spread you thin. Make sure you have enough budget and experience before you attempt to test many TSs/verticals/geos at one time.
Aside from testing offers and creatives, there are a ton of other things you can test. Traffic source settings, targeting options, same offer on different affiliate networks, different offer pages for the same offer, just to name a few.
Recommended To-Do: Pick one traffic type and 1-2 traffic sources to start. Start with a hot vertical to learn the ropes so you'll be guaranteed to get conversions, and don't test more than a couple of geos at a time in the beginning to avoid paying for the same mistake across multiple camps.
Mistake #4: Challenging High-Payout Offers
High-payout offers are tempting no doubt - each conversion can bring on an adrenaline rush.
However, high-payout offers will not necessarily bring you more profits than low-payout offers. The payout is only 1 part of the equation, with 2 other major variables being Conversion Rate and Traffic Cost. Thus, higher offer payout does NOT automatically mean higher profits!
It takes more budget to test and optimize high-payout offers. Let's say we're looking at promoting a $2 offer vs. a $20 offer. All else being equal (i.e. CR, traffic CPM), it will take 10 times as much money to optimize the latter.
And when you're a newbie, you WILL make various mistakes while learning the ropes. By running a high payout offer, you'd essentially be spending a lot more money to make the same mistakes.
These threads explain why low-payout offers are often better for the beginner:
Recommended To-Do: Pick low-payout offers to run, at least when first starting out. <$3 is good, <$1 even better if you don't have much cash.
Mistake #5: Challenging Competitive Geos
Tier 1 geos can be appealing with their high traffic volumes, and also the fact that many of them speak English, a language we're all familiar with.
However, there is also greater competition in these geos, which means more expensive traffic, and more volatile campaign performance.
When you're new, you don't want to go against the 1000-Ton goliath. You'd get chewed up and spat out.
Also, many of the lower-tier geos have a lot going for them. Traffic from some developing countries can convert better than that from developed countries. This is partly because people from developing countries haven't been subjected to advertising as much as people in developed countries have, and are just less tech-savvy in general. Plus, some of these geos have large traffic volumes as well. (Heck, you could do 5-figures/day just targeting AIS for Thailand!)
Recommended read: http://stmforum.com/forum/showthread...ve-TIER-1-GEOs
Recommended To-Do: Instead of running in Tier 1/2 geos, try Tier 3+ geos in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Mistake #6: Not Cutting Based on Statistical Methods
No matter what you're testing - offers, landers, placements, whatever else - you'd always be faced with a dilemma:
When should I pick a winner?
Pick one too early, and you haven't collected enough data to make an accurate decision.
Pick one too late, and you've wasted more money on testing than you needed to.
This is where statistical tools come in - they will help you to pick winners at just the right time, with a high degree of certainty but without overspending.
These threads will tell you everything you need to know:
Having said that - one drawback of cutting based on statistical significance, is that it can get expensive. Testing important campaign elements such as offers and creatives is definitely worth the money. However, when cutting less-important stuff, such as placements in a RON pop camp that's getting traffic from thousands of placements, it may be better to use rules-of-thumb to save time and money. For more details please see these threads:
Recommended To-Do: Use statistical tools, especially when evaluating offers, landers and banners - elements that can make-or-break your campaign.