While many key principles to running my businesses have come through testing, trial/error and self-realization, there are a lot of things I’ve learned from the most successful people in the space (many who have gone on to bigger things). I’d like to share a few of those principles I’ve picked up over the past 7 years. While most of this is oriented to affiliate marketing, the principles can be applied to other businesses online and off.
1) If You Need It – Buy It
This is a principle I picked up early in my affiliate business and I’m glad I did. I had been working on my own affiliate campaigns for almost a year and then started working with a parter that had a couple more years experience than me. We knew exactly the campaign that we were going to run together, so we went through the process of setting up a corporation, buying domains, getting hosting, affiliate accounts, etc. When we got to the hosting portion of everything he said something like “Ok, we have a call with Rackspace and they’re going to manage our server.” Sounded fine by me. After a call with Rackspace, I find out the server cost $650/month. Having paid $10-50/month hosting up until that point, my mind was blown. I asked my partner “Do we really need to spend that much on hosting? I’m sure we could find a nice server for $100/mo and scale up as we need it.” The response was something like, “We’re planning on making hundreds of thousands of dollars with this, why would we be cheap with our server? The extra revenue we get from clicks that the server doesn’t miss will make up for the cost in a couple days. If it’s something that’s going to help your business make more money, buy it, no matter what it costs.“
It’s something that immediately stuck with me and still has. That next week I threw out my laptop and spent $5k on a kickass computer with dual 30″ displays…immediately helped productivity and multitasking. If you’re already a frugal person it makes it even more difficult because I know what it can feel like to say “Do I really need to spend $300 on a better printer?” But when your goal is to run a high profit business, a few thousand on supplies is nothing in comparison to the return you’ll get from it. In addition to the physical productivity that came from juicing up my workstation, I mentally felt badass, “Look at this legit setup…I’m on another level now.” It sounds silly but the increased motivation/productivity from an invigorated mentality can’t be measured in dollars and if it can – it’s certainly worth more than the few thousand it took to buy it.
Next time you’re at BestBuy, don’t buy the horrid $30 mini-bluetooth headset that will make you feel like you’re in the Sahara desert making a phone call…get the Jawbone.
2) Always Look For Scale
Especially in the affiliate space, we know that good things don’t last. The campaign that you think you’re going to retire on is sure to plummet in the next few months. For that reason, it’s always important to assess the scalability of a campaign/project before pouring more of your resources into it.
While Numero Uno is always making sure you can take care of yourself and your family living happy and debt-free, don’t look for affiliate campaigns with the goal of making $100/day. While everyone’s benchmark is different, I like to see the potential for at least scaling to $1,000 profit/day on a campaign. If I work on something for a couple weeks and it’s up and down but there’s no steady increase in overall revenue…scrap it, or if it’s profitable let it run on autopilot and move on.
That’s not to say that lower scale higher margin projects aren’t worth testing and aren’t fun to mess around with, but don’t let it affect too much of your time during the day where you could be working on the big scale projects. It’s a common thing I’ve seen with the more successful people I know…they’ll immediately shoot down otherwise good ideas if they can’t see it scaling to $10k/day.
3) Get Things Up FAST
I got to work in a corporate environment a little bit over the past year and while it was technically still a startup, I could see how painfully slow things move as they become more bureaucratic. Good ideas either get lost in translation or are abandoned because there are too many hoops to jump through.
Which is quite contrary to a great skill I’ve seen in my peers that’s rubbed off on me – get things up quick, because why not? If there’s a good campaign idea in your head, why would you think about it for a day, read blog posts about it, Google articles related to the idea, dissect every single similar site to make sure yours incorporates all elements? For an affiliate, launching and testing a campaign takes a couple hours (assuming you listened to me and know how to design/code things for yourself). More often than not it’s either fear or general laziness that prevents you from testing an idea spur of the moment, every time. Just get the idea up and testing and worry about perfecting it after you’ve proven the model generates revenue.
This can also be applied to full products, not simple affiliate campaigns. Have a cool infoproduct idea you think will kill it? Design the sales page in a few hours (or couple days), create the credit card submit page and then say “Sorry, we just ran out of stock! Your card was not charged and we’ll notify you when things come back!” when you make a “sale”. You’ll spend $1,000 and find out if your product has potential to make sales in a couple days rather than taking a month to fully build out the product, invest 10x as much capital, figure out customer support, fulfillment channels, etc.
Not only with launching websites and campaigns, making quick decisions is an important skill to have in any business. The most savvy guys I know are incredibly fast at judging a situation and making snap decisions one after the other.
4) Stay Under the Radar
“The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room.” — my man Denzel Washington said something similar to that in American Gangster.
While I’ve blatantly violated that by making a public blog where I post personal earnings, there are many things I would have loved to blog about but didn’t. Especially when you hit success on your first big campaign, it’s hard to contain your excitement. You want to tell your online buddies about it, you want to post on forums about it where people helped you, you want to blog about it (oops)…shut up about it.
The biggest affiliates out there are unnamed/unknown to most people outside of their ring, and that’s because they want it that way. Driving any sort of public notoriety to yourself will always bring attention from people asking “So what’s he running? How’s he making this money?” While 9/10 of these people are just jealous cronies that wouldn’t do anything with your campaign even if they did discover it, all it takes is 1 guy outbidding you to take thousands away from your income.
Those are a few things off the top of my head that I’ve mainly learned from others…I’ll jot down any more that pop in and maybe will write a Part 2 when I have 3-4 more.
Thanks for reading!