I’m aware that many of you are running on a really tight budget especially at the beginning stage of your business. Say, your monthly affiliate marketing budget is $500 and monthly cost of affiliate marketing services is $450. $50 leftover for running traffic is completely not enough. Money is the fuel that powers your campaigns. Not having enough dough means you can’t afford to buy the data you need to split-test your way to a profitable campaign. If this looks anything remotely similar to your situation then you’re doing it wrong.
I know you’re hungry to make money, and you want every advantage you can get. And this is a really pretty good strategy, because the right tool or service can save you time and money. So now comes the question, what’s really needed? What are the bare essentials you need to start running campaigns? And when do things such as conferences, spy tools, and other services come into play?
So here are essentials on which you should spend your budget:
Traffic / Money for Campaigns
There is no minimum or maximum level of recommended budget but you should realize that the more money you have means the more variables you can test. Nevertheless, I consider pledging at least a $250 budget per campaign for traffic. The only necessary steps are to buy traffic from a DSP, Facebook, native platform or whatever, and send it to your offer at your affiliate network.
I can speak for hours about importance of using tracker. Many marketers believe that if someone already has an affiliate program, there is basically no need for them to consider an affiliate tracking platform alongside. I’ve seen guys try to use free methods like Google Analytics for CPA marketing, and it always ends in tears. Using GA for affiliate marketing is like using a horse and cart to compete in Formula 1. So why is it so essential?
The only headache with the scenario where you buy traffic and send it straight to an offer is that you don’t know who is converting. In affiliate marketing we want to drill down into EXACTLY who is converting on your offer, and target our marketing to them. The only way to fulfill this need is to dedicate affiliate marketing tracking software.
Here I recommend PeerClick as the best performance tracking solution. I really like it because of a lot of useful features at a reasonable price. PeerClick key features: the most up-to-date tracker technology on the market today and the highest speed of report generating on the market, cloud-hosted tracker, SAAS technology, cloaking, handles millions of clicks per day, click processing time is 5 ms under any server load, manual bot blacklisting, real-time statistics and data reporting, instant redirects, mobile tracking, traffic targeting and so on. Do you think such a set is worth millions? You’re wrong. The price starts at $49 per month.
So we have already discussed the need for a budget for campaigns and a tracker. And the last must-have is virtual private server. I hosted trackers (like PeerClick) that are on the cloud so you don’t need to host it on your server. So what do you need a server for?
You need to host your landers, images, scripts etc somewhere. Apparently, you use mainly landing pages in your campaigns so servers should be a big part of your architecture.
But, please, keep in mind that you are not a mommy blogger who gets up to a few hundred visits per day and is ok to use a shared hosting. You are an affiliate marketer; you’re sending thousands of impressions (up to hundreds of thousands) per hour. That’s why shared hosting is a terrible idea for use in affiliate marketing.
Secondly, we should recall that page load time and uptime are critical to your success in this game. The simple enigma will help you to learn this lesson: Who’s going to make more money – affiliate_1 with a landing page that loads in 0.2 seconds and has 99.999% uptime or affiliate_2 with a landing page that loads in 2 seconds and has 98% uptime?
A VPS is a step up from shared hosting, and it can handle spikes of traffic much better, and much more evenly than shared hosting. A solid VPS will cost you around $59 per month. When you can afford it, upgrade to a dedicated server and host your images on a CDN for even faster speeds.
So with the above three purchases alone you can make a fortune in the affiliate marketing industry. It’s something around 80% of your breakthrough. But if you want to push your game to the next level, and I strongly believe you want, here are other purchases that can help you become more successful:
I wanna say “Take every opportunity to go to affiliate marketing conferences”, but you will say that it’s too expensive and you will be goddamn right. The cost is variable, but often over $1,000 — $1,500 unless it’s in your own town.
So if you’re a newbie to this industry, it would be better for you to spend time in front of your computer and run campaigns rather than going to a conference. But as soon as you reasonably can — pack your bags and get ready to soak up new experiences.
This is a pretty good deal when you consider the alternatives to very dear conferences. But still if you want to get top secret information you’re going to have to pay for it. Nobody is going to share insights on the Internet for free. For example, one of the most popular paid forums, STM, costs $99 per month.
Some can say that it is ridiculous to pay for forum with like-minded people when there are dozens of free platforms. But I strongly recommend you not to use any of them. And not because there isn’t good advice, but due to the fact that it’s so hard to differentiate between the good advice (1%) and the people who are only trying to sell you something (99%).
Well, I think you can get enough value from blogs and articles to get started, but an online networking forum like STM might be helpful if you’re at a sticking point.
Spy tools can make your work a lot easier, but they also have problems.
Yes, spy tools make it super easy to see what landers are converting well for which verticals, you can easily rip landers so you can test them yourself, you can see which offers people are running.
On the other hand, they inhibit creativity and can cause laziness. Some affiliates snoop, change nothing and think that it’s ok. Can you guess the end of the story? Yes, with nothing but tears. Moreover, spy tools cost a lot (in average $50 – $200 per month), I suppose this might be better spent on traffic.
Therefore, I advise to start using spy tools only when you become a “responsible” affiliate and conscious of the fact that it is just a “helpful” tool, not the basis of your affiliate marketing campaign.
To succeed in affiliate marketing you should abide by the principle of keeping costs low and revenues high. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need a whole lot of tools to get ahead — there are only three must-haves to make money in affiliate marketing. It is traffic, tracking and a server. Everything else is optional and you should buy supplementary tools only when you NEED them.