My Affiliate Marketing History

I’ve been around affiliate marketing for quite a while but I have to admit I’ve recently lost my motivation. It still pays the bills etc but I don’t think I enjoy the work as much as I used to. It’s obvious from my blogging (2nd post of 2010!) that I’m not as engaged with things but I thought I would take a look back over the years to remind myself of the high points and find that original motivation :)

15th March 2001

Earned my first ever commission via DatingDirect on Tradedoubler.

It all started here when I was amazed to earn money this way. Previously I had been running a small web development business but I was always just selling time so if I went on holiday or couldn’t find work etc then I didn’t earn.

Back then I remember getting my advice from alt.www.affiliate, an old Tradedoubler Yahoo Group which I think was started by Andrew Girdwood and of course the very early versions of Affiliates4u when it was on ezboard and still well worth a look for a trip down memory lane. Like when we all got excited about the launch of Google Adsense :)

Over the next couple of years my business started to shift away from having clients and doing web development and more into full time affiliate marketing and I seem to have been there since.

June 2003

I organised “The Limo Club” where a bunch of affiliates got together and hired a limo to go round London and try to meet all the major networks in one day.




As well as being a great day out it was a series of useful meetings and also a chance to put some pressure on the spyware issues of the day.

The following day was an affiliate get2gether at the Kensington Roof Gardens. This event was a big step up from the previous pub based events but no one could have imagined the a4uexpo in the future.

My Sites

Over this time I had expanded with a few different sites but my most successful was FullSteamAhead which is now a shadow of it’s former glory. It was a general shopping directory, list everything, datafeed & more site. I can’t track it down now but the Alexa graph showed a steady ascent with loads of traffic followed by a cliff drop on the graph when Google kicked me out. I think it just ended up being too successful and the overuse of datafeeds meant I ranked for every random product that was going. Lesson learned and time to move on.

Around this time I seemed to be doing well for Euroffice, Dabs, Figleaves & ASOS but the fields I worked in changed so much over the years. For example I’ve had a good few years of doing well from gift experiences with buyagift and also a good spell of ranking number 1 for ‘ghd hair straighteners’ which was nice. These things come and go for example I don’t think there will be an old timer in the industry that doesn’t remember jumping on the Britannia DVD Club program when it launched on buy.at

When I look back I know I should have worked harder in one field to dominate and built a brand but instead I’ve always jumped about a bit getting tempted by the next new project to work on and moving into a different field.

For a spell I did well from adsense alongside the affiliate stuff as many people did but over time my sites and interests changed again. On my best Adsense day I sent 1,457 clicks earning a couple of hundred pounds at which point I probably put my feet up for a few months and paid the price again :) Yesterday I earned £2.10 ;)

Spyware

Around 2004, 2005 spyware was really at it’s peak and the affiliates of a4u did a great job of working together to get some regulation in place by the networks. I remember taking an old laptop, getting it infected and recording just what was going on. Slowly the networks adopted some rules against this and to date I don’t think it’s as much of a problem here as it is in the US.

2006 The Podcast Years

In June of 2006 I started recording podcasts with various people in the industry. To date I think I’ve recorded 34 podcasts but haven’t added to them in the last couple of years. It was a fun way to learn and share more about the industry but the time involved just became a bit too much and had to give way to real work that had a financial return. I enjoyed speaking to everyone involved but a few of the more popular ones in terms of comments were Doug Scott for some straight talking, Kieron Donoghue about how he got started & a group discussion on discount codes. Here’s one from 2007 that’s topical now.

Recent Years

I got married in 2004 and then in 2007 my daughter was born and my business week changed completely. Very much like John Lamerton’s recent post I’ve been kind of part time since then. I don’t really work outside of Monday-Friday 10-5 and spend a heap more time with my daughter including regular half days here and there. In the early days I would regularly have been working at 2 or 3am but it just doesn’t fit with life now! Leaving the world of affiliate marketing and entering the world of mother & toddler groups has been a good change and my wife and daughter always come first for me.

2008 saw me get along to my first a4uexpo and it was amazing to see the change in the industry. It’s great to see the growth and the recognition that the industry gets and to have things on a professional footing but I confess I do miss the atmosphere in years gone by. No one would ever dream of sharing this kind of information in a post like this these days. What’s changed? I’m not sure I guess it’s inevitable as things grow that it can’t have that small team feeling where we all know we’re doing something new.

Now I’m working on a number of hopefully good quality content sites and slowly trying to build brands around them. I’ve learned that I can’t have all my eggs in one basket and I can’t keep starting new things. I don’t have as many working hours so I need to be careful with how I spend them and accept I can’t do everything. I’ve accepted that I don’t need to earn millions but I’d rather enjoy life. Like Kirsty I want to be a Pretty Good Affiliate and don’t wish I was ‘Super’. Slow and steady is the way forward even if it is a little dull these days!

Sorry for the self indulgent trip down memory lane but if you’ve read this far you must have some memories to add in the comments about the last ten years or so :)

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Andrew Girdwood
Jul 20th, 2010 at 1:46 pm | #

Great post. What a blast from the past. Gosh yes; I did run TradeDoubler UK for a while… by that I mean the Yahoo Group.

Mind you; back then I also sold SEO tips to poor old DGM for £50 a pop! It was a deal they offered to all their affiliates and they published the best.

Geno Prussakov
Jul 20th, 2010 at 2:04 pm | #

Good one, Fraser. I totally share that shift of focus from being an all-work type of lad to recognizing that family comes first (simply because it is so much more important). With me it also happened after the birth of my daughter 6.5 years ago.

If there’s space for us to work together (while you’re working on those content sites), let me know. I’m always open to new business relationships.

Clarke Duncan
Jul 20th, 2010 at 2:15 pm | #

Great post, brought back many memories for me also ;-) I think if I done one on My Affiliate History it would centre around the people, of course the events played their part but it’s the people and how we interacted with each other that really made it.

And thank you for not embarrassing me with recollections of the 1st Buy.at event where I was worse for wear (but you sorted me out wink, wink) but at least I turned up in the morning unlike Malcolm who worked their ;-)

I could go on and on (not like me ah!) but I won’t I save it for another time ;-)

rishil
Jul 20th, 2010 at 2:36 pm | #

Well that was an awesome read. Once again – I am gutted I missd that time in the affiliate industry when hundreds of new avenues were being opened up for intelligent and intuitive individuals.

But better late to the party than never I say – and I have had the pleasure of meetinge or speaking to a number of the people you mntion. Hopefully with many more conversations to come…

Eric Nagel
Jul 20th, 2010 at 3:05 pm | #

Too many memories for a simple blog comment, but thinking of the chance happenings that put me where I am today, I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had to work with various people & companies along the way – on both sides of the pond :)

Simon
Jul 20th, 2010 at 3:39 pm | #

Great read Fraser, thanks. Dating Direct are paying a bit more for a lead these days (£2.50!) and Match.com pay £4, so if you fancy getting back into the dating game again, give me a shout :)

Fraser
Jul 20th, 2010 at 4:21 pm | #

Thanks for the comments guys – seems rare to have blog comments in the age of twitter so it’s much appreciated :)

Andrew – I had forgotten about the £50 per tip game! I should have got more involved :) Your Yahoo group used to be my main source of info about new affiliate programs.

Geno – glad we share the same outlook, it’s funny how it changes your mind about what is important in life. Would be great to work together one day.

Clarke – always available to deliver Water & Irn Bru…

Rishi – certainly managed to meet a lot of nice people over the years, just seems to be that kind of business. Hopefully meet you at Think Visibility?

Eric – funny how the chance happenings mean you meet nice people thousands of miles away! :)

Simon – never miss an opportunity! ;) LOL Thanks for the comment. I think my days in that industry are past but I’ll know where to find you now.

Lammo
Jul 20th, 2010 at 5:12 pm | #

Some great memories there Fraser – I’m celebrating ten years in AM next month so hope to do a similar post around that time.. we certainly shared some great times.

Would be nice to recreate the limo club at some point, though I doubt we’d all fit in the one limo these days! Perhaps a fleet of SUVs in an apprentice-stylee?

How good it is to see the forum as it used to be too – actually used by affiliates to talk about affiliate marketing with each other rather than the merchant “promotions” dumping ground it is now (Even if that blue did give you a headache after ten minutes of reading!)

Great photo of you and Anna there too! :)

Jules
Jul 20th, 2010 at 6:26 pm | #

You’ve got me all misty eyed with that blog hun! Big trip down memory lane there, it’s hard to believe how much has changed these past few years. Spend as much time with your baby as you can because they grow up far too quickly. xx

Jason Dale
Jul 20th, 2010 at 6:48 pm | #

Were the podcasts really 2006? Blimey!

Good post and nice to have a nostalgic look back.

Your point “I don’t think I enjoy the work as much as I used to” – that’s a shame, but I guess you have other distractions and it’s understandable. Playing out in the photo or doing AM… tough call, eh?

@Lammo “I doubt we’d all fit in the one limo” – we didn’t all fit in the first one. Thankfully one of us was slim and could squeeze in amongst the rest of you :o)

Jules
Jul 20th, 2010 at 7:09 pm | #

Who remembers the lift ‘incident’ ??

Fraser Edwards
Jul 20th, 2010 at 10:24 pm | #

The lift! brilliant :-) Had forgotten all about that one!

John – looking forward to your review of the past decade. It’s been good to share so many of the events of the last ten years.
A fleet of SUV’s could be very amusing!

Jules – I’ve been feeling nostalgic all day and writing this has just made it worse! Taking your comments about Anna on board and will carry on spending time at home instead of working :)

Jason – yeah I was surprised to find that I started the podcasts in 2006 too! I do remember the limo was a bit of a squeeze. I’m sure they told me it would seat 14 but that wasn’t equal to 11 affiliates :)

Fraser
Jul 20th, 2010 at 10:40 pm | #

That limo was actually more like a tardis..

KirstyM
Jul 20th, 2010 at 11:47 pm | #

Great post Fraser, and a really interesting read. I think I met you for the first time at that Kensington gig… not sure if I’ve seen you since or not!

Looking at the beautiful pic of you and your daughter its no surprise your focus has altered slightly.

I miss your posts, always a good read :)

Khalid
Jul 21st, 2010 at 11:12 am | #

Fraser, a fantastic wee step back in time. When you first started affiliate marketing I guess dinosaurs were still used for transportation so the limousine must have been an exciting new experience haha!

Looking forward to the catchup on Friday and hearing more stories.

Nadeem Azam
Jul 21st, 2010 at 12:45 pm | #

A fascinating trip down memory lane Fraser.

Look forward to reading your blog post too John :)

John
Jul 21st, 2010 at 4:12 pm | #

Very interesting.
I’ll forward this post to my fellow french affiliates :)

Fraser
Jul 21st, 2010 at 4:18 pm | #

Thanks for the comment Kirsty – I think we met briefly at the the expo as well! Kind of funny considering how close our home roots are :)

Khalid – that’s enough cheek young one. You were probably still in nappies when we were out in that limo.

Nadeem – thanks for taking the time to comment. It’s been good to see you so often along the way of the last 9 years too :)

John – thanks for letting anyone know about my blog.

Sinead Hernen
Jul 22nd, 2010 at 10:22 am | #

This is a great post Frazer and a really interesting read/insight for everyone involved within the affiliate industry be they old or new. Thank you! :)

Zak
Jul 23rd, 2010 at 4:31 pm | #

Great post mate!!

Blimey – I remember the Limo club – it was the first time I met you all in person. Can’t believe it was soooooo long ago!

Halcian days :-)

Got to say peeps, Fraser is one of the nicest affiliates I’ve worked with… He helped me out a lot in the early days with advice and I’m really greatful.

Keep up the good work buddy :-)

Zak.

Mansoor
Jul 26th, 2010 at 4:47 pm | #

Glad to have you back up and blogging. Being a Dad I can emphasize working less and spending time with your family. What motivates me is the off chance I can leave something substantial and sustainable for my son.

Paul Wright
Jul 27th, 2010 at 2:56 pm | #

Fraser

Brings a little tear to my eye. I remember all of this, the spyware vids, meeting you all at Roof Gardens afterwards and the many many more get2gethers that followed.

Perhaps I’ve got my rose tinted glasses on but I swear everybody was completely open back then with earnings, tactics, best ways to make money with a view to helping others “join the club”. When and why did it all get cloak and dagger. What happened? Is it just the forum is now to commercialised and full of ads, promotions where as before it was all about community and helpign others?

Good to know that most if not all of the old crowd are still around in some capacity , quite a few look like they went for the world record for the most amount of people squeezed into a limo by the looks of things.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Paul

Fraser
Jul 27th, 2010 at 3:29 pm | #

It’s been nice to see this post get so many comments! Thanks for them all :-)

I must have the same glasses as you Paul because I can’t quite put my finger on exactly when it all changed but it has. I think as the market got bigger it just got more competitive and less friendly but those were good days in the past!

Paul Hardingham
Nov 3rd, 2010 at 11:49 pm | #

Yes indeed a trip down memory lane. For me it’s a bit like looking back at the days as a teenager getting the arrival of my ZX Spectrum after waiting about 10 weeks for delivery from Sir Clive. It’s amazing I’ve been able to make a living from this for almost 10 years now, but with a 9 year old daughter (and a 3 year old too now) it’s even more amazing to know she’s never known a time when her daddy hasn’t been there for her. Isn’t technology great?! However, needing to refocus at the moment as this recession has really had an impact. Thanks for posting and sorry for the delay in finding your post. All the best to you and your family. Look back in another 10 years and this will seem a crazy time too!

Fraser
Nov 4th, 2010 at 12:18 pm | #

Thanks for the comment Paul. Looks like we’ve had a similar ten years and I totally agree that time with family has been the best part of it all :-)

Fanis
Nov 6th, 2010 at 6:01 pm | #

This is one of the greatest posts I’ve ever read. I agree that family always comes first and I wish all the best for you, your wife and daughter.

The old post from 2003 about the top 5 programs was great. Reminds me the old days that will never come again as everything in the affiliate industry changes rapidly.

I beleive I’m older than you (as I can understand from the photo) and I’m getting married in 3 months. It’s a priority but I don’t think I’ll ever stop playing with marketing ;-)

Take care
Fanis

beverley Charlie
Nov 10th, 2010 at 9:31 pm | #

I totally agree with you about the family values and I hope that I can get 10 good years from it. Best of luck for the future.

piehole
Jan 27th, 2011 at 11:29 pm | #

Well done, Fraser, I really like the “what I need to earn” approach to money – rather than “I want to earn more and more…”. It just enables you to live a life, rather than just chase money all the time. And fully agree – family is the no. 1 priority.

William
Feb 3rd, 2011 at 8:02 am | #

Really its a great post and thanks for sharing this. I agree with your point and also happy to know your views, that family always comes first and I wish all the best for you and your family.

voice overs
Mar 15th, 2011 at 4:56 am | #

Good one, Fraser. I totally share that shift of focus from being an all-work type of lad to recognizing that family comes first (simply because it is so much more important). With me it also happened after the birth of my daughter 6.5 years ago.

If there’s space for us to work together (while you’re working on those content sites), let me know. I’m always open to new business relationships.

Bill Affiliate
Apr 17th, 2011 at 5:48 pm | #

Great post, you are able to do things with your daughter that many people can’t or wish they can do, good luck with your new sites.

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Fraser Edwards has been involved in affiliate marketing for more than 10 years after starting out in business as a website developer and stumbling into affiliate marketing instead.

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