10 Things That Affiliates Are Not. Or Are They?

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Jeremy posted a bit over a week ago at his ShoeMoney.com blog his answer to the question:

“Are you a SEO or not? You say you are not yet sometimes you say you are? SEO FLIPFLOPER!”

The answer might be confusing for some, but made me chuckle.

He basically said that he is quite good at SEO and had some success with it for some of his sites, but that he is not a SEO. It seems to conflict itself, but it actually does not and makes perfect sense to me.

It’s funny how that comes up all the time. I get similar questions occasionally too.

  • Are you a SEO? No!
  • Are you a PPC/SEM? No!
  • Are you a publisher? No!
  • Are you a programmer? No!
  • Are you a web designer? No!
  • Are you a controller? No!
  • Are you an analyst? No!
  • Are you a network administrator? No!

Now since we are blogging too hehe

  • Are you a journalist? No!
  • Are you a writer? No!

So WTF are you then???

The answer is simple: I am an AFFILIATE MARKETER!

I do everything or at least try it. I am good at some of it, “okay” at others and suck at a few of them as well. But I am interested in everything and when I started out I learned how to make things work myself, no matter if I was good at it or not and whether I liked it or not, because I did not have the money to pay somebody to do it for me.

I made up my mind about something, an idea, a hunch, whatever you want to call it and was going for it. A lot of things did not work out at all, others did yield some return and some turned out great. No matter what the outcome was, I always learned a lot of things. I learned what works and most importantly what does not work at all.

Certain things become second nature and nothing a spend time thinking about anymore. Stuff that other people don’t get at all and have a hart time understanding.

Once I did generate money, the first thing I did was outsourcing the stuff I suck at, also stuff I am only “okay” at, but have no time to do myself or/and don’t like to do. It also became a bit easier to get something going that generates income and profit. That’s because of the experience gained over the years and the avoidance of known things that don’t work or harm you, short term and also mid term.

You also get better at “hunches” that are promising. That does not mean that everything I touch turns to gold. I wish it would, but that’s okay.

I can’t know everything and never will. I keep learning though.

I wanted to post this at ReveNews.com first, but that would be like preaching to the choir. I changed my mind and posted it here at SearchEngineJournal.com since I believe that a larger number of readers of SEJ are not affiliates or active in the affiliate marketing industry and probably sometimes have a little problem understanding what affiliate marketers NOT are. I hope that I was able to settle that question :).

To learn more about affiliate marketing, check out the Wikipedia article to the subject, which got by now pretty decent, compared to the SEO articleI might add.

I also can honestly recommend my personal site Cumbrowski.com where I “dump” since last fall a lot of the resources that helped me over the years and today (see my editorial note). Kind of a del.icio.us with focus on internet marketing. The current site design in my own. I am only “okay” at that, so don’t expect it to look slick. I liked to do it, so I did it myself. However, I good a lot of praise about the content over the months and about as much complaints about its look and usability.

I outsourced the redesign and the template is ready. I did not implement it yet, since I want to change the way how the site is maintained as well. I also want to improve the tracking and analytics because the site gained some traffic since it was launched last September.

I did not make up my mind how to do it yet so I don’t know yet if I am going to outsource it or not.

This is a practical example that illustrates nicely what I wrote before.

Internet Marketing Resources at Cumbrowski.com
(click to see full size version)Â

I am ranking 2nd and indented 3rd for “affiliate datafeeds” (a specialty of mine. “I will get you Linda! Watch out! :)”) and 9th and 10th for “internet marketing resources” which used to be my primary key phrase, but I am now aiming for something higher and again, I am not a SEO professional. SEO is just another part of the mix for me and many other affiliates.

No, the site does not pay the bills for me, it pays its own bills and then some, which I use for the most part to support projects I consider relevant for the industry, such as the UK Affiliate Blog and Podcast by Fraser Edwards or Sam Harrelson’s CostPerNews.com Blog.

I make money from a lot of different things, some is organically, but most is directly or indirectly generated via paid search. None of the biggest streams of income are related to B2B and internet marketing whatsoever. It’s everything but that actually. Products and Services in various very different niches.

There are a lot of other things affiliates do without being a professional in that area. I used 10 of the most comon ones that also cause confusion among other internet markers. And 10, because it increases the chance of this article being dugg, hehe 😉.

Yeah, affiliates are also doing SMO, Buzz marketing, WOM, you name it. If it’s new and has a remote chance to reach an audience, affiliates will be there, as one of the first, before the average person even hears about its existance.

We even have our own community and social network, a mix of Bloglines, MyBlogLog and Digg. The name is BumpZee! and it was launched just a bit over a months ago by my fellow affiliate marker and industry veteran Scott Jangro who was nominated for the “Best Affilate Blogger” award at the last Affiliate Summit in January in Las Vegas (He missed it by a minor margin. Jim Kukral from ReveNews.com received the honor)Â

I hope this post does answer a number of questions you might had about this underrated industry and also clarified some misconceptions and discard some prejudices.

Carsten Cumbrowski
Affiliate Marketer and Entrepreneur


Carsten Cumbrowski has years of experience in Affiliate Marketing and knows both sides of the business as the Affiliate and Affiliate Manager. Carsten has over 10 years experience in Web Development and 20 years in programming and computers in general. He has a personal Internet Marketing Resources site at Cumbrowski.com.To learn more about Carsten, check out the "About Page" at his web site. For additional contact options see this page.
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  • http://www.jangro.com Scott Jangro

    Carsten, please, please launch the new template. I cannot view your current site in Safari.

    As for the subject of your post, the first one anyway ;), I’m with you. Affiliate marketers will not be pigeon-holed!

  • http://www.cumbrowski.com/CarstenC/ CarstenCumbrowski

    I know, I know. Working on it. Where are the Bumzee! widgets? … Ohh they are already there…

    shoot. You had to show off and make me look bad, didn’t you 😉 ? Just kidding.

    I need to decide about how to manage the backend for the site. I need to get the whole content into a Database, that’s priority 1. Flexibility is key, but I don’t want to write something myself. decisions, decisions hehe.

  • http://www.seobrien.com SEO’Brien

    Are you not an Interactive Marketer? (or what happened to plain old online marketing)? I have the same frustrations you share early in your post; companies want an SEO or search marketer, they think datafeed management and marketing is something entirely different. I do it all; if all you want is search marketing out of me, I’ll get bored really quickly and if you think you need someone dedicated to paid search and nothing else, you’re fooling yourself and giving that person a cush’ job without the visibility to other things that are important to paid search.
    The fact is the good marketers online are those that understand the big picture, all of it, how everything affects everything else and how managing only one opportunity online sets you up for failure (or at least far less than what you could be capable of delivering)
    You might say you are an Affiliate Marketer and that does mean that you work with search, social networking, seo, feeds, banner advertising, etc. but to me it means you only do so with your affiliates.

  • http://www.cumbrowski.com/CarstenC/ CarstenCumbrowski

    Hi Brian, thanks for your comments. I have been an Affiliate Manager for several years as well, but I see myself as an affiliate. I started as one before I managed a program for a retailer for a while.

    I am a bit handicapped at the moment that limits me with regards to the things I am business-wise allowed to do (lets call it a technical problem that is beyond my control), but that does not stop me from what I am doing. It cost me a lot extra money and time and whatnot, but it does not change what I am.

    Actually Affiliate Marketer is broader than Internet Marketer or Online Marketer, because Affiliate Marketing does not stop online. There are thousands of affiliates active in offline marketing as well.

    Even “Marketer” is limiting what people in affiliate marketing actually do (you won’t believe how diverse individual affiliates are).

    Most successful affiliates are very intelligent marketers that have a lot of practical knowledge about a large number of marketing channels and how they interact.

    Call it practical experienced interconnected marketers.

    At least the interconnected part is a characteristic a good marketing manager should have to manage cross channel marketing efforts effectively.

    I want to point out that the affiliate marketers are often underestimated in their capabilities and knowledge and yes, even belittled some times.

    Believe it or not, affiliates have it harder than SEO’s, because one part of people thinks that they are scum backs and the other side that they are amateurish soapbox marketers and worthless. SEO has a smaller problem with the one side and the same problems as affiliates on the other.

    Successful Affiliates are no Superheroes. The have their weaknesses. Most I know have a very big problem with authority and corporate political games. Out of the box thinkers might be applicable literally here, since a cubicle is for a free entrepreneurial spirit what a cage is for a migrant bird.

    I do not down play any other specialized marketer, because I respect and appreciate the some times much deeper knowledge of a specialist in his field. Some Affiliates also end up in one specific area sometimes and becomes a professional SEO or SEM or both.

    My point is to demonstrate that affiliate marketing is a lot more than a lot of people think and that it is often very much misunderstood.

  • http://www.cumbrowski.com/CarstenC/ CarstenCumbrowski

    Oh, also important. In affiliate marketing is not everything peachy and sunshine, like in SEO/SEM/SMO etc. are also in affiliate marketing a lot of players working in the gray or black areas of marketing.

    What makes things a bit more less transparent is the fact that in AM very often are more than just 1 or 2 parties are being part of the mix.

    Affiliates, OPM’s, Networks, In-House Staff of the Advertiser, the Advertiser himself and the Customer on the receiving end, being not always aware of the scam that is going on.

    So dirty laundry to clean in AM too? Yep Affiliate Marketing also has the need for that, like SEO and most other areas.

  • http://www.seobrien.com SEO’Brien – Paul O’Brien

    Touche! You’re points about Affiliate marketing being more than online are spot on.

    I have to rebrand myself… SEO’Brien was an attempt at a play on words with SEO and O’Brien
    Being called Brien has happened twice now!

  • http://www.cumbrowski.com/CarstenC/ CarstenCumbrowski

    I actually called you Brian 🙂 I knew that SEO’Brien is not your real name. O’Brien. Gee now I have all 7 seasons of Star Trek TNG on DVD (and watched them all) and did not even see the O’Brien in your nick name. Shame on me, shame on me hehe.

  • http://www.ezbusinessneeds.com SEO Web Design

    SEO and other related internet marketing skills are learnt through experience from hands-on trial and error. It is always important to be curious and how other succeeded and learn from them. True?