So you read about affiliate marketing and how easy it is to "earn $19.234,43 in just one hour"? And of course, you want that too, right? Imagine how many iphones you could buy with almost 20k... hell yeah! So you set up a blog and you just to proof the world you're 100% serious about your new career you hired some Indian guy from some shady "very high quality, sir"-SEO forum, right? And you paid him WHAT? An astounding amount of TWO dollars for five hundred "high quality words, sir"? Haha, okay. Good luck with that. But before spending another fortune to skyrocket your new career even more, give me ten minutes of your valuable time and allow me to shatter your dreams and send you back to McDonalds.
For each of us, there must have been the very first moment of googling "SEO" which itself is somewhat weird. I wasn't any different and the same way most of you fell for some gurus sales page at one of the bigger forums I did. As long as you're not familiar with the psychology behind the sales strategies of most SEO providers that's nothing to feel ashamed about since they all make use of the very basics in human nature. While I don't want to go into further detail here, briefly let me remind you about the way the majority of sales threads in these forums are structured: They're all "highly trusted" and "established providers" guaranteeing "long-term results" or "money back" (with a million strings attached of course), each of them is "penguin / panda / some random animal"-safe and "proven to work" and of course this one package for $19 is especially meant for those for which "none of the other services worked" - strangely enough each and every service within the same forum states to be exactly that. While it doesn't take long for any newbie who enjoys the blessing of some god-given common sense, many of them stick with the "huge" gurus for years and years.
Understanding the fact that some cheap-ass Indians barely able to form a proper English sentence with a sales graphic that contains more spelling mistakes than the homework of a 6 year old playing too many video games most likely aren't making money with anything but spotting the next-dumber idiot on the downwards spiral towards debility, the multimillionaire guys that get invited to Oprah where they tell their astounding success story are a little harder to debunk. Now I don't wanna say that all of them are hypocrites - in fact most of them are indeed very successful and still bank hard, but what they always fail to tell you is how dramatically the world has changed since they made their first millions. Back in the days it was literally easy as pie to make six figures a year only from creating a few websites, simply because (inter alia):
No what these guys also notoriously fail to mention is that nobody on earth makes it big without a huge percentage of luck. Think about all the inventions that brought mankind to where it is today, find out who invented it and see who eventually banked. Most of the times, the most genius scientists never make it far money wise but the corporations that employed them - if they had any permanent job at all. The thing is, once you happen to be lucky and earn a few thousands, it's not that hard to repeat things, upscale them and apply proven strategies to new products, audiences and markets. If a person's success was 100% based on individual skill and talent, it could be repeated forever. Well, how many gurus, movie stars, it-girls do you know that went completely broke and managed to rise again? Just to give you a hint: Most of them either commit suicide or enjoy the rest of their failed careers as C-stars in rehab and cheap talk shows far away from the primetime formats.
Given the presumption that the majority of people are greedy and egocentric, especially in internet marketing (where the stakes are higher than anywhere else) there surely won't be lots of altruists crossing your way. Each time someone's offering you to "share his secrets", there's one question you instantly have to ask yourself: "Cui bono", more or less meaning "Who profits?". Though I agree that in a very few occasions other marketeers suddenly popped up sharing some really useful insights and methods, don't waste your time searching for it.
Even if at first glance you feel like someones generously sharing his best hidden secrets with you because you're such a great person, do yourself a favour and think twice. Many scammers use the psychology behind what I call the "First-Glance-Win-Win", for example by introducing you to some roulette winning system in order to trick you into depositing at some casinos where they're being paid hundreds of dollars in CPA revenue in exchange for referring idiots. Many of their sales page answer the Qui-Bono question the following way:
"I share my secret super-system with you because I can't sign up more than once at a single casino. Take your time to convince yourself that my strategy makes you rich and after you earned the first hundred thousand dollars I'll send you more casinos where you can apply my strategy. I'm just asking for 20% of your additional revenue in exchange."
Now of course any straight-headed human being would have its alarm ringing instantly by hearing "casino" and "make money" in one sentence, but people in general are not only ugly, greedy and egocentric but also stupid as fuck. Once they have dollar signs in their eyes, whatever's left of their little brains tends to follow suit and vanish.
Of course this all doesn't mean that whenever you find words like "revealed" or "secret" in a headline you necessarily have to skip it on order to avoid being ripped off. As a matter of fact, especially newbies tend to produce high clickthrough rates on such headlines and at the end of the day, we as marketers can't be blamed for playing by the rules of the game. I just advice you to keep your common sense running whenever a promise seems to good to be true.
In order to become a long-term successful affiliate, you basically have three options to crush your competition and stand out from the masses - you either gotta be more talented, more criminal-minded or more hard-working. Considering the fact that only the first 3 positions in Google receive a reasonable amount of traffic, being average won't bring you nowhere. That being said, you must find something in which you're better than 90% of your competition. If you aspire a career in content marketing, copywriting etc. you'll better turn out to be a brilliant writer and I'm not talking about the lousy little poems your mom used to pin on the fridge with a shake of the head while considering to increase your daily dose of Ritalin. If you manage to publish articles that Hemingway himself couldn't write any better, be sure there'll be ways and means for you to become an authority within your niche.
For the not so gifted writers there's a good chance to succeed over the rest if you simply let go of all morals and ethical concerns. The mildest form of that could mean producing sales pages offering discounts that your customers will never see reflected within the purchasing process. If you want to take it a little further, just write reviews about stuff you never tested yourself or that you even found to be total crap. Now these are just soft forms of shady marketing - using persuasive language and promising people their stupid lives will drastically change after buying the latest piece of crap through your affiliate link is daily business and nothing that could bring you to prison. Not even cookie-stuffing and using blackhat spam techniques will. If you wan't to belong to the top 1% of shady marketers you'll need to at least do negative SEO on your competitors websites. Real man simply hack them and do MYSQL-injections. Make users download toolbars stuffed with malware, steal credit card informations, sell guns. Just be aware of the fact that you might spend a long time imprisoned after turning that shady so at least make sure it pays off.
The last way to stand out from the masses and be more than average (which is always crap, okay? Try to associate average with CRAP from now on!) is the least enjoyable: Work your ass off and after it bleeds so much you can't sit anymore continue. You won't call it a day anytime soon, not before you passed out twice at least. Now while this might sound like being some Chinese manufacturing worker who basically got born to die from exhaustion while putting together your new iPadPhoneBullShit3.0 there's a little twist to conventional capitalist exploitation of human beings: You do it to yourself and all fruits that might yield from it solely belong to you. Should you fail to prevail just by working harder than the rest, feel free to make use of natural and chemical stimulants likewise. A little bit of crystal meth here and then won't get you hooked directly and most likely working 20 hours straight into your own pocket feels better than working only one for some greedy ass of boss.
Now that you know about all that you might find yourself wondering if successful online marketers necessarily have to be Einsteins, Capones or Heisenbergs and the answer is clearly "No".
If you can spot the difference between some auto-translated spun content and Goethe's "Faust" you're already doing better than 50% of all so-called "marketers" that most likely never earned a single buck online anyway. You also don't have to become a career-criminal just to make a few dollars from your website. If you're okay with using standard marketing-slang and have no problem with online marketing not being comparable to a confessional box, go ahead. And last but not least, of course there's no need to completely stop sleeping. Just be aware that your competition is out there 24/7 and if you're equally skilled, the only way in which they might crush you is by outworking you.