What does Manu Cinca, a ridiculously successful super affiliate, and the founder of the WTAFF newsletter, know that you don’t?
Affiliate strategies? The secret of profitable campaigns? Our crazy industry? For sure. Luckily today you have a chance to pick his brain.
Manu agreed to be interviewed at our Voluum Tracker HQ and share his affiliate experiences, broad knowledge, and successful online strategies with YOU.
Grab something to drink, clear your head, and turn off all distractions. You’re about to learn a LOT about making money in the affiliate marketing and making a living from an online business.
Watch the second part of the interview here. If you’re hungry for more, subscribe to Voluum blog.
E: Thanks for having me.
K: Okay, so I guess, let’s start –
E: Yeah, let’s dive into it!
K: Maybe I’ll start with a tough one: How would you explain affiliate marketing to my grandma?
E: Well, does she speak English first of all?
K: Yeah, yeah.
E: Okay, so generally the way I would explain it to anyone who’s not in the business, it would be mostly saying: it’s essentially a sales job where you get paid a commission on a successful sale. Then, they get the overall concept and then, you can add a few layers of – and it’s sometimes not a sale, sometimes it’s just getting contact information, sometimes then, it’s installing a mobile app, and then, sometimes you do it online only, which affiliate marketing is, and use websites or landing pages to do those sales. That’s how I would usually would simplify it for anyone who’s not in the industry.
K: Good one! I’m very impressed with this one. Okay, now, is this – is affiliate marketing something from which you can achieve financial freedom?
E: Yeah, pretty sure it is. It’s probably one of the very good ways you can do that, but at the same time you have to think very carefully what do you mean by financial freedom.
K: Can you make a living out of it, let’s say.
E: Well, you can make a living out of it for sure. There are many people doing that. Sometimes when you say financial freedom, maybe some people mean – “Can you make enough money very quickly that you don’t have to work for the rest of your life?”. That’s a little bit more difficult with anything but make a living out of it, I would say – certainly, and you can be your own boss through it. Just one thing to consider, being your own boss means that if you’re not harsh enough on yourself, you’re not motivated enough and you don’t drive yourself enough, then you cannot blame anyone else. There’s no boss to blame if you’re your own boss. I think that’s something that needs to be taken into account when you do affiliate marketing.
K: When was the time for you, when you said “Okay, I can stick with it, actually, for a longer period of time. It’s gonna work for me”?
E: It wasn’t long after I started, it was around a month or so after I started. Because the way I started was more out of a need so the business that we had didn’t work out so well because of disagreements in the team and then, when starting out affiliate marketing, I was essentially doing it as much as spending all time on it, probably between 60 and 80 hours a week. So I don’t want to exaggerate but I’m pretty sure it was around there for about a month. And since I started, I saw it working out already within the first month, it was pretty clear that this thing we can scale it, it’s something very interesting to keep around, it’s something real and it can work, can work nicely already. So that was essentially a month or so and it was pretty clear that if nothing significant changes, it’s something that will be around for a while for us.
K: How much money do you need to start out?
E: So, I usually think in terms of 2 budgets. One, I think in terms of budgets to test out things and see if affiliate marketing has some potential for you. And for that, if you started with a lower payout offer, maybe using push traffic which is usually a cheaper way to get conversions right now for those sort of offers – probably between 1 to 2 thousand dollars. That’s to be safe and thorough in your testing. And then, you don’t lose all of it so you will have a better than -100% ROI, so you get some of it back. But then, once you have something working, you have to have some sort of scaling budget. And you don’t need that money right now, but you need maybe another source of income that you then reinvest in scaling your campaigns with lower risk, right, once you figured out that your campaigns can work, once you saw that they’re profitable you need more money. The money that you spent and, let’s say, lost on buying the data and then optimizing the campaign – you need to make up for it and then, if you spend all your testing budget and don’t have any more money to spend on traffic once you know it works, it’s always gonna be a negative ROI overall. So you need a testing budget, which I think 1 to 2k, then a scaling budget – can be a regular income that you can put aside from your job or then, let’s say, maybe have more savings and now at a lower risk you can invest more out of it so it depends how good the campaign is, how much you can really scale it but keep in mind that part as well. I think it’s pretty important.
K: You answered a little bit my next question because you mentioned push traffic if you were to start your first campaign right now, what would it be? What traffic source (you mentioned push traffic here)? What niche? Geo? Some specifics.
E: I would say definitely push traffic would be the first one. Then in terms of the niche, it really depends. So the thing with push traffic is that it’s usually very much broad general traffic, there’s no so much targeting going on behind it, so then you have to try different verticals all the time, it’s not like you can choose a vertical and make it work with push, you have to see just what sort of push publishers there are on different traffic sources and what works for them. So I would say with verticals, test everything. Although it sounds overwhelming, it’s not that much, if you try out some spy tools, you’ll see what works, and you’ll use those to just apply to your campaigns. And then, in terms of geos, I would still think staying away from most of the Tier 1 to begin with, so non-English-speaking geos would be a good one and then, translations can be pretty cheap nowadays so it’s not that big of an investment.
K: Anyone specifically? For you? Do you have your country?
E: I was a big fan of Indonesia back in the day, India, I would say English-speaking, it’s so much volume at a lower price so those would probably be pretty good ones. But then, I think, depending on the offer type, you might want to go more like: Turkey, Middle East, so Arabic-speaking area.
K: What can help an affiliate achieve success? What tools?
E: So there are 2 things. Cause there’s one, the persons themselves, they have to build a certain mindset, so have to be okay with certain losses, they have to understand certain dynamics in the industry. And then for tools, it kind of depends how technical or non-technical you are. Although I understand the tech side reasonably, I still prefer software-as-a-service in general, as a default, especially because it’s very quickly, like you can quickly sign-up and use it, and see how it goes, and then, at some point decide – okay, this monthly fee that I’m paying maybe it’s not worth it, I’ll build it myself or something like that. So in terms of mindset, you have to be okay with losses, you have to be okay with being your own boss and being okay with pushing yourself and knowing when your limits are, don’t push yourself overboard, you know when you have to take some breaks and refresh your mind, how much you can work, how much is too much for you, how to manage your money – that’s pretty important because it’s your money that you’re risking. And then in terms of tools, for software you obviously need a tracker, it’s something that lets you control your funnel way better, gives you all the data that you need. Spy tool’s pretty much the second thing that I would say you need. And then, third, it’s not an affiliate specific tool but I’m just a fan of G Suite, all their tools, so you can share documents way easier, you can write things down. It’s a hub where I basically have all my info, it’s very useful especially if you work in teams. Those are my main 3 tools overall.
K: What are the top 3 things you think an affiliate should read to become successful?
E: So, I don’t remember the exact name but the first thing would be an ebook on finchsells.com. So, Finch was a very popular affiliate marketer a few years back and I’m not sure how much active, how active he is nowadays, but he had, I think it’s called A complete guide to affiliate marketing and it was very, very good. I remember I read it after starting, and when reading it, my thought was, okay, if someone asks me how to start affiliate marketing, this guide is the best because it explains all sides of the industry and explains the dynamics in it. So that would be the main pick and I’m pretty sure it’s still available now if you’re starting out. Some specifics don’t apply but the general idea, the techniques, there might be different traffic sources, there might be different tools but the way you use those tools and traffic sources still applies.
K: The mindset.
E: Yeah, exactly. Aside from that, it’s very hard to say, I think STM forum is always a very good resource, there are also other resources now that popped – there’s affLIFT, I know for native ads MadSociety is very popular. So these sort of forums and communities are very good. And then, probably Charles Ngo and IAmAtilla are very good blogs that are kept up to date nicely. So that’s probably my list of resources. Definitely, the book is way ahead, like the book from Finch though.
K: What’s the worst advice affiliates get? The one that you’ve seen and you’re like “I don’t believe this one”?
E: It’s either the worst or it’s either the best. It’s like – never quit. There are some people who just, depending on their situation, they should actually quit and not do affiliate marketing maybe right now, maybe ever depending on their mindset, their financial situation, their life situation. So I think it’s unreasonable for someone who’s with a family, with a lot of responsibilities and a stable job to risk too much into affiliate marketing and still try it out maybe, but you have a different limit compared to someone who’s 18, no responsibility and not much money to lose so they just invest a lot of time. So the “don’t quit” advice, I think that’s not the best one. Just carefully reflect on your stage in life and see what makes sense. And don’t have a fear that you’re missing out too much on affiliate marketing if you find that it’s not for you, I think that’s not something to worry about.
K: So okay, I guess people with families who need to provide for themselves are the ones who need to take into consideration more how they’re doing in affiliate marketing once they start. But then, who else would you discourage from even entering and from starting with it?
E: I wouldn’t discourage anyone from trying it. I just think, for the people who have a family, it’s not necessarily just a family, but if you have other responsibilities, you have a certain situation, you can’t risk your money as much as someone who doesn’t have money and they’re risking essentially only time. Or they work as a freelance job to get some money and then do that. So aside from that, I wouldn’t discourage anyone from trying it out if they see something appealing in it. And that’s about it. It’s just considering, I think it’s considering when to quit, not if you want to try it out or not.
K: And are there any personality traits you think can block someone from achieving success in affiliate marketing?
E: Maybe someone who cannot keep their focus and be persistent I think. So that’s the thing, the best or worst advice is don’t quit, so persistence is necessary but persistence in the sense that you try different things to, you’ve learned what doesn’t work, you’ve tried different things to see, to find what works and then you have a sort of limit for how much you can do that but you should do it as long as those limits are not reached. So personality traits: being persistent, not being distracted by shiny objects and easily deterred, I think not having any sort of ADHD and jumping around with things, I think that’s the main one. So that’s the only thing that comes to my mind.
K: Let’s dig a bit deeper into your experience as an affiliate. What tasks or jobs you do on a regular basis? If you were to explain a day of an affiliate, what would it look like?
E: So typically, when you start out, you do essentially everything. So you learn how to create banners in Photoshop, or you learn how to edit HTML and CSS so you can edit your pages, or if you don’t do banners in Photoshop, you might need to do, to edit pictures for your landing pages, things like that, so you learn how to do that. You learn how to use a tracker, you learn how to set up postbacks, so generally, when you start off you have to do everything. And I think it’s very good to learn how to do everything because even though you can think “Okay, so I need to get someone to help me with that”, how can you judge how good they are, you have to have, you need some basic knowledge of the task at hand to judge how good someone else can do it. So yeah, it’s essentially doing everything from creating the ads including landing pages, to setting up the campaigns, to optimizing the campaigns.
K: So once you start already and get a hold of all the things that you have to keep in mind, how it looks then?
E: Then, you start trying to delegate a few of the things. The easiest thing that usually comes to mind that you can explain to someone else how to do is, things that have to do with graphics design because you can explain certain constraints and then let someone be more creative with that. And they know how to create anything that has to do with, they just do it better, right, cause they’re designers while most people who start out are not designers so they just do some very rudimentary sort of, banners and editing, it’s almost like, it looks like Paint. That’s the first thing. And then, the second one is probably that has to do with coding, setting up servers or hosting, those sorts of things. And optimization is probably one of the later ones because you have to know that your optimization strategy actually works consistently. And at that point, you still need people who are much more inclined to still solve problems. I don’t think there’s, there’s always things changing, and things that are hard to guess what changed, in the traffic source or on the affiliate network’s side of things, why campaign might not be working anymore, so you need people that are more inclined to figure things out themselves, that are more problem solvers. That’s a little bit harder to find and a little bit harder to teach as well. Those would be my steps when it comes to starting to delegate.