TaeWoo wrote an article on Why Affiliates Make The Best Entrepreneurs. And I agree with a majority of the arguments, as I probably fall into every thing he said about what makes (good) affiliates into (good) entrepreneurs.

But dealing with affiliates the past several years of my life, I’ve also noticed that there are some patterns I see now that I’m starting my own SaaS business (PAR program), that would make affiliate marketers horrible choices for entrepreneurs (especially if I was an investor and I was looking for companies started by seasoned marketers).

These, by the way, are generalizations and by no means applicable to every affiliate on the planet.

1) Greedy little bastards

calgary_condo_10th_ave_big_thing_849.jpg (849×565)The name of the game is ROI. If there is no return, these affiliates won’t stick around.

There’s a problem with this attitude. Most successful businesses at their humble beginnings had little or zero revenue. PAR program, for example, was a huge financial sink hole for me in the beginning because I was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on research & development that no normal affiliate would ever take on.

Affiliates want immediate return and immediate results. Even if they did, they would often look for the best “bang” for the buck. Make $10k/mo. on some software you wrote? I know some super affiliates that would just sell it for some small multiple and move on, even though their investment could’ve yielded 1000x return if they were to take it to the next level.

I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing, but this “make-money-now mentality” that’s going around entrepreneurs  (i.e. “lean startup“) isn’t something that may be the best for human kind. Imagine if all entrepreneurs followed this mantra. Companies that solve real deep shitty problems like cancer (i.e. pharmaceutical), global warming (i.e. renewable energies), sustainable food supply (i.e. agricultural engineering)… would NEVER exist. Some of these companies are nothing but financial sinkholes in the beginning, and highly risky.

If all you focused on was whether or not your idea was profitable from day 1, you wouldn’t swing for home runs… you’d swing for 1st base hits.

2) No patience and no monogamy

At my peak, I often had 10-15 affiliate campaigns running. Why? They made money. I would still launch more campaigns because, hell, money is money.

I am all for pivoting ideas and adapting to different business conditions, but sometimes having patience and letting that ONE thing you’ve been investing in is some times the best pay off.

I built and sold AuctionAds fairly quickly. If I kept going with that, who knows where that thing could’ve gone? It could’ve been RadiumOne… It could’ve been AOL ads. Unfortunately, the business grew BEYOND me and I did what I had to do because at that time, that was the best move I could have taken at the moment.

How many times have you seen affiliates jump from traffic source to traffic source… jump from offer to offer… and read this blog, read that blog, etc etc.

If you ever read the Millionaire Fastlane (here’s a good writeup on the book), the author MJ Demarco talks about how at first you should remain monogamous, get rewarded, then you can be “polygamous”. He’s talking about how you should focus on ONE, get the pay off, then use that pay off to invest in multiple businesses.

But no. Affiliates have been brainwashed into spreading themselves thin to a point where they are good at nothing.

3) Socially inept

Why do affiliates get into affiliate marketing? Often times because they want to work from home. Often, they don’t want to talk to other people. And I don’t blame them. If you are paying for traffic why on earth do you need to? You just need your laptop, your brain, and your room.

Unfortunately, that’s not how businesses are built. Business is a team sport, which means you gotta play with your TEAM and it requires that you to talk to people.

What about getting customers? It’s no different. You gotta get OUT there and show that you can help them and show them that you are the expert. Autoresponders and webinars can only help so much. I get a ton of customer base from giving talks and reaching out to people, which means I gotta fine tune my social skills.

And there are even more “subtle” things you gotta do – like PR, guest blogging, and media outreach because those things force you to step out of your comfort zone and interact with people who you cannot control like advertising.

If you have been doing affiliate marketing in your room for the past X years, and want to start your own real business, it might be time to start brushing up on your social skills (like brushing your teeth for example). I think Simon Sinek (TEDx speaker) said it best: “If you DON’T understand people, you DON’T understand business.”

By Jeremy Schoemaker

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of ShoeMoney Media Group, and to date has sold 6 companies and done over 10 million in affiliate revenue. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 International Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. You can read more about Jeremy on his wikipedia page here.

17 thoughts on “Why Affiliates Make The Worst Entrepreneurs”
  1. You make some good points. We do tend to be more of the ‘gimme gimme now now now’ sector of marketers. Oh well!

  2. I think there are a few good ones out there that could make the transition, but yea you gotta be in the right mindset that everything isn’t going to come as quickly and you’re going to have to change your expectations as a whole.

  3. All very valid points, Jeremy. I’m not sure I could make the transition despite really wanting to. I’m just too inclined to a certain way of doing things.

  4. Are you trying to start a turf war with TaeWoo then? hahah I kid, just find it funny that you’d both feel like addressing the topic. I enjoyed reading both of them though.

  5. I always get a fresh take on things whenever I visit your site, today isn’t any different. Have a good week, Jeremy!

  6. I think the problem arises from people who “are just in it to make money.” If that is the case, you will never create value beyond yourself and your immediate needs, and ultimately will never build a billion dollar business.
    The reason affiliate jump from source to source, offer to offer, and strategy to strategy is because they “Are only motivated by their needs, not by meeting other peoples needs.”

    If you aren’t meeting other peoples needs, you aren’t creating value.

    Affiliate essentially exploit discrepancies in value that others have created.

    The only way to build something sustainable is to actually create value.

  7. Hey Jeremy,

    I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, but I think that a lot of affiliates don’t really WANT to be entrepreneurs or businesspeople. They just want to be affiliates.

    While this may be short-sighted for someone with someone with as big a vision as you have, it suits a lot of people just fine. And hence the greed and lack of commitment you discuss in the post.

    As for social skills, well, some people are just hard introverts. And some of them end up doing OK for themselves in business with their ‘inept’ social skills.

    Great post, thanks!


  8. I really appreciate the fact that you approach these topics from a stand point of knowledge and information. This is the first time, I visited at your site and became your fan. You are bookmarked. Please keep on posting.

  9. Correct, we have to adapt different business conditions and work according to that.

  10. Well said here. I actually agree and have said this a few times myself. The average person in this niche is looking for instant gratification. When most get into trying to be an affiliate/building a business they bail when they realize this actually takes hard work to succeed. That is not a bad thing, but people need to get the millionaire by next week stuff out of their head and start thinking logically. You have to start small. Just as you, I and everyone else is and has.

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