1. Hi, Amy! We are so glad you came to our blog to share your expert insights. We know that your affiliate marketing experience is more than 15 years from now. Could you tell us more about how it all started?
Amy Cheung: A bit of a story about that…
9-Jan-2006 I registered my first domain name online – had been interested in internet marketing for a while but finally took action.
Morning of 10-Jan-2006 I was super-reluctant to go into work (as a Project Manager with an international car parts company), but went anyway.
10 minutes after I arrived at the office, I got what I wished for – got pulled into the manager’s office and was told I no longer had a job (the whole plant got shut down a month later – downsizing of the automotive industry).
Colleagues that escorted me out looked mega guilty, but I floated all the way home as though in a dream. Never had another job since.
Basically, I set my intention to be free and focused on it, then let the law of attraction take care of the rest. This has always worked out for me.
I joined the STM forum in 2014 as a regular member. I loved all the discussions! I got a ton of help from other members, and I also helped other members with their questions. Wanting to offer value and help other people is what has always made me tick. Unbeknownst to me, the administrators on the forum were looking for a moderator to join the team. They noticed my activity and asked if I would like to be a mod and I said yes – and it’s a post I’ve happily held to this day.
2. Why did you choose affiliate marketing as a sphere to progress in?
Amy Cheung: Being an online marketer meant you either promote your own products and services, or those of other people (i.e. through affiliate links).
And promoting other people’s stuff is certainly easier – no need to create products or deal with customers.
It’s also lower-risk because I’m not married to anyone affiliate offer – if I test 10 and all are unprofitable I know I could still test the 11th to potentially find a winner to make it all back and more.
3. Affiliate marketing was going through a difficult time in 2020 (during the COVID-19 pandemic). Has it already recovered so far?
Amy Cheung: The way I see it, and also based on having talked to a ton of other people in the industry, the pandemic was actually BENEFICIAL to affiliate marketing and the entire online marketing industry in general.
Because so many people were stuck at home, there was a massive surge in online traffic. The e-commerce industry was among the biggest benefactors – even people that didn’t use to buy online started doing so due to the lockdowns.
Any “difficulty” we’ve had to go through during the last couple of years, was not related to the pandemic directly. I could see a few issues:
a) Ad platforms like Google and Facebook have become stricter in enforcing advertising policies by banning ad accounts. Many affiliates were affected because a subset of affiliates would promote in a misleading way, resulting in these platforms becoming ever more vigilant in spotting (and putting an end to) non-compliant behavior.
b) The iOS14 changes have made it so much more difficult to run profitably on Facebook, which prior to those changes had been one of the biggest sources of paid traffic.
c) The bullish crypto market and the rise of NFTs have lured many affiliate marketers away. I personally know of at least several big affiliate marketers that have left the industry (at least for now) to pursue crypto/NFTs.
Having said all that, there were forces that have come in to balance out the difficulties:
a) To combat account bans, more affiliates have started to run under agency accounts (at the cost of a % of their ad spend).
b) To combat iOS14 changes, affiliates started to focus more on producing amazing ad creatives. Many affiliates have also turned to Tiktok instead – and some have found massive success (as reported by threads on the STM forum).
c) Although the affiliate marketing industry has lost some good people to crypto, we’ve also experienced a surge of new affiliate marketers that have decided to pursue work-at-home opportunities. Some people lost their jobs due to the pandemic and lockdowns. Others just want to work from home to avoid the commute and save on childcare costs. So they went looking for income opportunities online – and some of them found affiliate marketing and the STM forum.
4. How does affiliate marketer 15 years ago differ from 2022-version?
Amy Cheung: 15 years ago, it was STUPID easy to do affiliate marketing! Not enough of us were running enough misleading stuff to alarm the big ad platforms. I was direct-linking from AdWords to ClickBank products and was making 5-figure profit months before I even knew what I was doing. I could throw up a dating offer on Facebook and be profitable the same day. And landing pages/pre-landers? Never heard of those – direct-linking was ALL I did and all I had to do. Those were glorious times!
However, 15 years ago, there weren’t one-tenth as many affiliates offers in as many verticals as is available today. Also, there weren’t as many traffic platforms or traffic types – by a long shot.
But there’s no need to think, “so I’ve missed the boat!”. There is and ALWAYS will be more opportunities in the affiliate marketing industry, plus there’s always more room for innovation. You don’t need to dominate the whole pie to be wildly successful – you just need a small sliver of that 12-billion affiliate marketing pie to make your efforts worthwhile.
5. What about push & pop traffic as well as calendar, in-page, and redirect? What are their perspectives this year?
Amy Cheung: You’ll find very comprehensive answers to this question in our recently-released, 300-page “What’s Working in Affiliate Marketing in 2022” report – which can be downloaded from here.
Personally, I know that pop and push traffic still has lots of potential. Compared to Google or Social, they’re relatively easy to run, have relatively few compliance restrictions, and are certainly a lot cheaper to learn and master.
6. What verticals to drive traffic to this year? Which ones seem the most promising to you?
Amy Cheung: According to the “What’s Working in Affiliate Marketing in 2022” report, some of the most popular verticals this year are:
• Mobile Apps / Utilities / Antivirus
But this is across all traffic types – some of these don’t apply to pop/push traffic. If you want to see what’s working best with pop and push, please read the report and look for entries submitted by pop and push traffic networks.
7. Tip for newbies from Amy Cheung: how to start with a limited budget?
Amy Cheung: If you’re considering pop/push, your wallet will thank you! Because these are the cheapest ways to start when learning paid traffic.
Focus on tier 3 or 4 geos (i.e. what are considered “developing” countries as opposed to developed countries). And test low-payout offers (<$3, or better, <$1).
This way, you can collect a lot of data on the same budget.
8. What about GEOs? Tiers to make a profit in?
Amy Cheung: I’ll stay general – as any specific advice would become outdated fast.
Pop and push traffic campaigns are so easy to set up that I would encourage everyone to test as many geos as possible.
Of course, if you’re a new affiliate with a limited budget, focus on Tier 3 or 4 geos. Cheaper CPMs + lower offer payouts = you can collect more data on the same budget, which can help you to maximize your learning, as well as allow you to test more offers and landers and ads on the same budget.
But if you have the budget, by all means, test any and all geos. One of my favourite things to do is find a well-converting offer that accepts worldwide traffic and test and optimize the heck out of it. It can be so much fun!
And don’t skip over the small and obscure geos either – they can sometimes surprise you by giving consistent (albeit small) profits for a long time.
9. 5 must-have instruments for campaigns running?
1. Quality Source of Traffic (such as RichAds)
2. Quality Offers (from reputable affiliate networks and/or advertisers)
3. Spy Tool (such as Adplexity)
4. Tracking Software (to provide you with detailed stats to help with optimization)
5. Education and Networking (that’s what the STM forum does best! Apply coupon code RICHPUSH22 for 25% off 1st month’s subscription.)
You can get from 10% to 30% off for AdPlexity depending on the plan using the RichAds promo code.
Get the promo codes for spy tools, trackers, and so on in the bonus section.
10. Let’s speak about STM Forum. Why should any affiliate become a part of the community?
Amy Cheung: There are lots of good reasons why every affiliate marketer should be on STM, but I’ll generalize to two reasons:
1. Education. With over 48k threads consisting of 400k+ posts, you can learn to be a better affiliate marketer, no matter your current experience level.
We have success stories to keep you motivated, and case studies to provide inspiration. You can also start a “follow-along” thread to tell us how you’re running your campaign, and update it regularly to get advice and suggestions on how to improve your game.
We have a large forum section catered to newbie affiliates, with step-by-step guides that will get you up and running in a short time.
2. Networking. Many STM members have formed masterminds to join forces and run campaigns together. As well, some talented affiliates that have the skills but lack the adequate budget, have found investors with deep pockets but lack the know-how, to fund their campaigns. I’ve witnessed many successful collaborations happen on the forums over the years – and it all starts by making that first post on the forum so people can get to know you.
Also: Many affiliate sources and traffic sources have representation on STM. It can be way easier to get accepted into a network when you make that connection with their rep on STM.
When you’re a member of STM, it’s easier to get accepted by networks in general – because they know they won’t need to do hand-holding – as you’ll be receiving a good education from STM.
11. What affiliate marketing aspects must a professional and experienced affiliate marketer pay attention to in 2022?
Amy Cheung: That’s quite a broad question! A few things immediately come to mind:
1. Build a list. With rising traffic costs and increasing competition, affiliate marketers that can squeeze the most profits out of the same traffic wins.
Instead of just sending the traffic to the offer and then losing the visitor forever, why not build a list you can monetize later?
The simplest way to do this is by putting a push-collection script on your pre-landers. Doing so will often not hurt the conversion rates to your main offer significantly, and the profits you can stand to make from the push subscribers often makes this arrangement worthwhile.
Alternatively, collect emails or phone numbers and monetize via email marketing or SMS marketing.
By building a list, you own “free” traffic that you can monetize repeatedly, without having to pay for it (beyond the first time).
2. Continue to Change and Adapt! As we’ve all noticed, the online world is changing at the most rapid pace as it never did, and the changes can only happen faster and faster (according to my belief and prediction).
So, if something is no longer working for you, change SOMETHING! Tweak it, see if you can get it to work again. If not, try something completely different.
Staying in the know about all the changes in the industry is mandatory. If you don’t know, you can’t adapt. This is where the STM forum can help.
And do keep in mind that certain fundamentals will not change very readily, for example, human psychology will remain similar. Go back to basics. Do your research. Choose an offer vertical that is either evergreen or hot currently, do audience research to find out what the ideal audience looks like and where they hang out. Figure out their pleasure and pain points to craft the right message, then put the ads in front of them on the platforms they hang out at the most.
And test EXTENSIVELY! There are only so many major campaign variables – traffic targeting, audience targeting, creatives, offer. But don’t just start throwing everything against the wall to see what sticks! Do as much research as you can by reading and networking and talking to people, to come up with the right traffic + audience + creatives + offer combinations to test. You can narrow down the scope of your testing drastically in this way.
Beyond that – test, test, and test until you find something profitable, then scale.
12. Your main personal key to success in affiliate marketing?
Amy Cheung: My advice – which I follow myself religiously:
a) Being unconditionally happy. If you’re thinking, “what does this have to do with anything”, please know that when you’re happy, you’re in energy alignment. And when you’re in energy alignment, it’s SO much easier to get everything you desire.
b) Keep testing, and never believe in the word “failure”. If nothing is working out so far, I know I’m not testing enough. I don’t beat myself up thinking I’ve “failed”.
Also: Don’t try to set a goal you have no control over, e.g. “I want to reach $100/day in profits within 2 months”. Doing so will just stress you out.
Instead, set a weekly or monthly test budget for yourself, then aim to use it up as efficiently as you can. THIS is something that is entirely within your control. Whether you can spend that budget profitably is out of your control, so you shouldn’t worry too much about that – but if you keep spending your weekly/monthly test budget efficiently, sooner or later, something WILL give.
c) Network. Talk to 10 people, and you’ll get 10 different new ideas. If even one of those ideas can give you new inspiration, it would be worth all your effort.
In addition to intel, if you know the right people that can pull some strings for you, you’re all set. For example, access to special offers or high-quality traffic.)
Not to toot our own horn, but the STM forum is one of the best places for networking. Many fruitful collaborations have started with a simple discussion in a forum thread.
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