Ian Fernando is one of those guys who can’t help liking. Known for his collection of sweater vests and intuitive nature about affiliate marketing, he’s one of the top affiliates in the space. Unlike many bloggers and “experts” he’s not flashy and prefers to let his experience and more importantly his results speak for themselves. If you haven’t already paid attention to what he is doing, note that whatever it is, it usually works, and works really well. Most CPA Networks beg for him to be an affiliate and more importantly, will do almost anything to get his attention, including sending loads of their female employees to try to convince him to move over working with them.
How did you first get interested in affiliate/performance based marketing?
I get this question all the time I guess it is typical and everyone wants to know how someone starts. For me it was the mere fact of being on my own and working three jobs just to be able to eat, pay the bills, and have a rook over my head. I was kicked out of school for misconduct and didn’t even finish a community college. So finding a decent job was hard. I started to research online about making additional income and found that the internet was the way to go.
I was always fond of the interwebs as I made my first pokemon site on Angelfire and Geocities… o those were the days….
Anyways, I started with creating an ebay commerce store. I had drop shippers and orders comingin. The problem, I was not ready for all that responsibility of customer care. I needed to find something where I can sell but not deal with customers, so I googled that and found affiliate marketing. I started in the CPS space with Linkshare, eBay, Amazon, and CJ.
I thought it was amazing, but was not resulting in what I thought it would be. Then I signed up with a CPA network. My AM helped me with a campaign that was doing ok. She help me get it from ok to amazing, where I started my first 1k check in a month.
What was your first “really successful” affiliate marketing campaign?
Just as I stated above the 1k month I made with my affiliate manage and my first CPA network. I did amazing because it was a seasonal cpa offer and it paid out really well, especially for being new. I just aksed questions and she pointed me in the right direction. This particular campaign was on Google adwords too and that is when I was first starting out with adwords and teh tier 1 seach engines. But found adwords to be extremely successful especially with the offer I was running.
What are three tools that affiliates must take a look at?
Most importantly tracking. I suggests prosper202 especially if you want to add in your own little tweaks. I fully customized my Prosper202 to do a lot of crazy stuff. It provies an immense wealth of data which you can manipulate and use to your advantage.
A Split Testing software, I have my own inhouse, which I also just recently released, SplitPistons.com. Testing is also another important factor, it gives you data which you can optimize. Understating user reactions is an important part of marketing. It allows you to leverage their usage while they surf your landing page. Des red work better than Blue? Background color or no background color? etc
Keyword analytical tool. This is also important when targeting keywords or even demographics. Understanding how people search will help you with your decision when creating an LP and targeting users. I use several tools, I recommend KeywordSpy or SEMRuch, they are both amazing pieces of softwares that provide a wealth of knowledge.
Besides IanFernando.com what are three other blogs that you recommend and why?
I really dont have a personal favorite. Every morning I wake up and go on Affbuzz and see the latest posts. If the post titles tingles me a little then I read up on it. Affbuzz just keeps me up to day with latest strategies and news about out industry.
When I did first start I was readinga bunch of make money online blogs, but I have merge to read more about affiliate marketing because that is what I like to do and it is more interesting than other MMO blogs.
I notice that you’ve kept away from a lot of the drama other bloggers engage in for linkbaiting? What is your opinion of the drama (ie, bloggers challenging each other to fights, attacking each other) and why have you kept away from this?
Its fun, but I haven’t really tried to engage in it because I have a different sets of blog readers and audience on my blog which I need to cater to as well. I want to cater to both demographics and readers, so I try to provide good insights on what is happening in the industry and as well as provide insights on how to market and make money online.
Though it does get traction by doing such things, I do not want my blog to be just a place to post but a place to find information they need help on.
You are a bit outspoken against Gurus. What is your opinion of everyone who is selling “secrets” to affiliate success?
The biggest problem I have is these gurus don’t understand marketing. In the past I have been asked to write ebooks for gurus about about Facebook, about media buys, about ppv, about affiliate marketing. It just annoys me that so called gurus calim to be an expert overnight but can’t market anything else out of the MMO scope.
You can call me a hater but the sheer fact they all get on their knees and list jerk each other just shows they are dependant on just one traffic source. They don’t understand how to scale, monetize, read data, look for new traffic source, etc.
In order to make a product especially trying to teach someone you should have some sort of experience to talk a big game.
What changes would you like to see on CPA networks in general?
Becoming a true lead gen industry, that is what I like to see. I don’t like the fact that things change overnight, lead gen should be a long term action because companies do need continuous lead generation. Ofcourse the exception goes to seasonality like taxes and some sub primes, but lead generation should be something that isn’t changing overnight and continuously being switched around. This is one reason why I like working with direct advertisers because of the longevity and the relationship I can have over time.
Another aspect is the fact that offers are being brokered several times. Just because you want to be a network doesn’t mean you should broker an offer 6 times and you not earn anything off it.
What are your favorite three networks and why?
I specifically work more so with advertisers, I have gotten to know more advertisers in my years and I have been working with many in the past. If I had to advise which network to utilize, I would say Clickbooth as they have taken good care of me while I was on their network and never ran into any issues.
But working with advertisers is by far the best way to work.
Do you think that the 1000 or so CPA networks can all survive?
No. Brokering offers is one big reason why 1000 affiliate networks will never survive. Only the big players will survive and who innovate will definitely take the ball in this industry.
What are you doing in light of all the FTC regulations? What do you recommend that affiliates do to protect themselves?
I am doing quite a lot now. With so many changes especially with the FTC I want to start building a “Orpah Empre Business”. The fact that she retired and made her own network and can control people with her words is amazing. That is why I thnk her acroynym for her network is OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) is because she OWNS YOU!
In any case I have been expanding and slowly learning about SEO and CPS marketing. I also have been turning my own personal softwares into products and services. So I am definitely expanding and doing more in the internet space and not just affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing is marketing with just another word in front of it. Te fact that I have a great foundation from affiliate marketing means I can market anything, unlike these ‘gurus’….
What areas would you recommend that affiliates currently concentrate in?
Audience and demographics. These areas I think are the most crucial because it is base on the consumers reaction to your LP and to the offer page. If you can understand people without being in front of them, then you can promote anything to them.
Having this understanding can take your campaign to a whole new level. When affiliates think about promotions, they default to its similarities. For example skating to a skating offer, fishing to a fishing lure product. Why not a hunter trying to find a date?
How much money do you think an affiliate needs to make profit to retire? Is there an amount you’d retire with?
I am not really sure, I personally wont stop until I have that Oprah money. I think it is all about satisfaction, how satisfied are you with your success or with your income. IF one person is satisfied with an additional 5k a month so be it.
What is your dream car?
I def want a Bugatti!