What makes a successful affiliate marketer

25 July 2019
Reading: 10 min

What makes a successful affiliate marketer

Affiliate marketing isn’t what it used to be. In the sense that it’s so much more complicated now. It is true indeed. When those who sell training courses claim that affiliate marketing is easy, they are lying. Today you can’t just buy traffic in a network and start generating profit (it used to be possible back then). Affiliate marketing has long become a money-intensive and time-consuming activity that requires lots of skills and abilities. The affiliate marketing mountain can no longer be conquered easily.

In this article, I would like to dwell upon the skills and knowledge that today’s affiliates need. They can help you minimize routine work and increase your KPI, as well as, probably, to improve your performance metrics that directly influence your income.

I will share some of my thoughts based exclusively on my experience. I’m sure that mastering new skills will enable you to enhance your results irrespective of your current status: whether you are a beginner or a top affiliate, it’s never too late to learn.

Experience has shown that all the skills described below increase your profits and help you save time, and time turns into profit. So, let’s get started.

1. HTML + CSS + Javascript

The basics of web design. If you don’t have this basic knowledge, there’s no place for you in affiliate marketing. You don’t need to know how to code a landing page in a blink of an eye, but you have to understand the function of each structural element of a site and be able to change them if necessary. The same principle applies to Javascript. You don’t need to write complex scripts from scratch, but you have to understand what’s the function of a certain script on a landing to be able to remove what you don’t need and keep what you need.

There are lots of YouTube tutorials and training courses on web design, so I’m not going to give you specific recommendations — YouTube and Google will surely help you.

2. Working with browser developer tools

Browser developer tools is a professional solution for working with web pages. The tool offers you numerous opportunities, and it’s impossible to enumerate them all within the framework of this article.

However, if you have only heard of browser developer tools and have no idea how to work with them (but would like to find it out), check out this video.

3. Understanding how the Internet and server infrastructure work

If you are a beginner affiliate, then all you need to know is that the Internet travels through cables and that it is shared via Wi-Fi. You launch a campaign, and somewhere in Africa a user sees your creatives, then a conversion is generated and you receive a profit.

However, if you want to become a pro in affiliate marketing or in any other Internet traffic-associated field, then you need to have a more in-depth knowledge of how the Internet works and what server infrastructure is.

You’ll need to know what DNS, NS and A records are and how they influence sites’ download time, as well as what major hosting providers are. You’ll have to clarify what CDN is, what it is for, how it works, how it influences sites’ download time, what CDN providers are.

What Apache and Nginx are and how they differ from each other. SSL certificates: paid, free, self-signed, what they are for and the differences between them [check out our article on SSL certificates – Ed.].

IP addresses: what they are for, what different types of IP addresses are (IPv4, IPv6), how IP addresses are represented, how to convert an IP address from one form to another if an ad network works with only one type of IPs. GET and POST requests and how they are different [we discuss it in our article on automation – Ed.], what HTTP headers are and what they are used for. You’d better wrap your mind around it, as it can directly influence your profit.

4. The basics of statistics and mathematical certainty

When can you arrive at the conclusion that an offer or a publisher does not convert and when is it too early for such assumptions?

If the ROI of one offer accounts for 10%, while the ROI of the second one accounts for 97%, does it mean that you should disable the first offer? 

Check out this guide on web analytics.

5. Working in a text editor

Working with regular expressions. This is a useful skill for those who deal with landing pages a lot. For instance, you have five landing pages and you need to delete someone’s link to an offer and replace it with your link. The search and replace functionality will suffice, you might say.

Well, ok, but what if each landing has a different link? The simple search option won’t help you to perform this task. Should you do it manually? But what if you have 50 landings? Of course, you can do it manually, but it will be yet another monotonous task that will take up your time. Composing a regular expression will take only a couple of minutes, and then you will be able to edit 50 or even 500 landing pages in a split second. 

Sublime Text tutorial (Sublime Text is a cross-platform text editor for sophisticated users).

6. Programming: PHP, Python, ZennoPoster

Programming deserves separate consideration, as it allows you to implement various action sequences. 

For instance, you can set up the automatic optimization of campaigns based on certain tracker metrics, distribute postback URLs from a network’s account to several trackers or even code your own tracking solution.

You don’t need to be a programming guru, otherwise you’d be working as a developer in some company rather than driving traffic. However, understanding the basics of at least one programming language may come in handy if you work in the affiliate marketing industry. Popular programming languages for app development include PHP and Python. 

PHP is a widely-used scripting language, and therefore there are lots of ready-made solutions coded a few years ago (some of them are constantly updated) that perform very well.

Moreover, the last two years have witnessed a clear trend towards more widespread use of Python. Even such giants as YouTube, Instagram and Reddit were developed in this language. 

I would recommend studying both these languages. There are lots of YouTube videos and training courses on this subject, both online and offline. You can choose anything to your liking.

Apart from programming languages, special emphasis should be placed on ZennoPoster. ZennoPoster is a software solution that enables you to automate your browser and computer actions. Working with ZennoPoster doesn’t require programming skills, as you just need to construct an algorithm from simple building blocks. This subject deserves extensive discussion, and if you express your interest in it, I will be glad to write a separate article on ZennoPoster.

All in all, programming is a skill that all affiliates need. Without it, you won’t be able to perform the following task.

7. Drawing up terms of reference for contractors

If you realize that programming isn’t really your cup of tea and you won’t ever write software solutions and apps, but you still need some unique functionality, then developers are going to help you. For instance, you can turn to freelancers or just your acquaintances to save money.

However, you should take into account that these people usually have nothing to do with affiliate marketing and have no idea what you want from them. To ensure that they get it right, you need to draw up terms of reference or TOR. 

And how would you draw up terms of reference if programming is a closed book to you?

8. Working with proxies

Proxy servers allow you to hide or change your IP address. However, everything is not that simple here. There are public and private, HTTP and Socks, datacenter and residential proxies.

You can pass yourself off as a user of a certain mobile network operator or Internet provider, and each of them has its own IP. Therefore, you can identify a mobile network operator (or MNO) based on its IP.

These skills are necessary both for those who have to use proxies to change their IP and for those who need to set up targeting in a network to show an ad only to users of certain mobile carriers.

9. Detecting fraudulent and bot traffic

It’s necessary to know what bot traffic (fraudulent traffic also encompasses bots) is and how to detect it. Otherwise, you’ll lose money.

The share of worldwide bot traffic is huge [and we have touched upon it here and here – Ed.], and affiliates have to pay for it in ad networks. To cut your expenditures and increase your ROI, you should detect and block fraudulent traffic and then prove to a network that it was bot traffic and that they should tackle the issue and give your money back.

This subject is difficult to grasp, but it needs to be done to increase your performance. (By the way, you can also cloak your campaigns from spy service bots to prevent your competitors from spying on you.)

10. Cloaking

Cloaking can be used for various purposes, and hence the approaches to it are also different. Some need to hide their landing page from strict moderators, while some want to cloak their campaign from spy service bots or other affiliates. Each area has its peculiarities and nuances, and different solutions are used to stave off bots or competitors. Therefore, cloaking methods can also vary.

To implement cloaking, you should possess the skills enumerated above.

For instance, not so long ago it was possible to cloak your campaign from the Adplexity spy service by checking the HTTP header of their request. If you don’t know what that is, read paragraph 3 very carefully. Of course, this method is not effective anymore, but those affiliates that were able to use it back then had a significant competitive advantage over those who didn’t know how to hide their campaign from the spy service.

And a bonus paragraph for those of you who have got to the end of this article.

11. Information security

Information security (infosec). This is extremely important. Mastering information security basics is a must.

If you open a site or read a Telegram channel on infosec, you’ll see a lot of information on website hacking, data leak and cyberattacks on major companies and digital services. Your data isn’t as safe online as you think.

So, you should take careful steps to protect your data online. For this purpose, you should know how to create and store passwords safely and carry out regular data backups. Two-factor authentication is also very important, so be sure to set it up wherever possible. Disc encryption. Using a VPN service (especially in facilities with free Wi-Fi) to eliminate opportunities for traffic hijacking.

It’s highly likely that not all the skills mentioned above are essential for each and every affiliate. You can generate profit without having half of these skills. However, experience has shown that at least one person in an affiliate team should possess most of them.

The important thing to note is that if you want to stay in the game and have competitive advantages, you have to continually learn and grow. We hope that this article will help you set the direction for further development.

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