Affiliate Marketing Smackdown With Nick Reese

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I’m often asked what the best online business model is.

Blogging, digital courses, books or products, webinars, seminars, teleseminars, list-marketing, JVs, advertising, affiliate marketing?

And, the answer I’ve found is…the one you’re most drawn to.

Many different models work, but each one also takes time and most people try one for a few weeks, fail at making a jillion dollars, then move on to something else.

Well, over the last year or so, I’ve become really interested in the affiliate marketing model.

But, I’ve always had mixed feelings about the world of affiliate marketing. There’s so much bad information out there and so many questionable products, scams. really bad ebooks and courses. I know, I’ve bought most of them (research, lol).

So, when I heard that two friends, Chris Brogan and Nick Reese, who I respect immensely as successful, ethical business people were releasing a guide to affiliate marketing, I was pretty psyched.

I got a review copy (yes, yes, I didn’t pay for it, okay). I read it, and took notes. They’ve shared exactly the information and step-by-step, BS-free approach I’ve been searching for to prep me to enter the affiliate marketing world (which I plan on doing in the very near future). And, what I really enjoyed is that they went a layer deeper and got into the psychology behind each step.

But, as you guys always know, if I’m going to share something with you, I like to offer more than just a quick review.

So, I tracked down Nick, where’s he’s currently living a location-independent lifestyle in Peru and asked him some questions about the world of affiliate marketing that I’ve always wondered about.

Here’s what he said…

1). What are the three biggest mistakes you see people making when trying to start an affiliate marketing biz?

Great question, the biggest advice I can give new affiliates are as follows:

  1. Avoid analysis paralysis – This is where most affiliates get hung up and spend weeks or months researching before they even get started. This is common because in the affiliate industry there are so many ways to be successful it is hard to offer a concrete example that will work for everyone. That said, I find it is better to teach people the dynamics of the marketplace so they can find their own angle for success.Trying to follow someone else’s strategy won’t always work but if you can see the forces that shape the industry you can develop your own strategy for success.
  2. Get Started – This plays into the first question. Most people in the affiliate industry attribute their success to persistence and just getting started. You can read all you want about affiliate marketing or any business, but until you actually take the first step none of your research matters.
  3. Aim High – This is a major mistake I see affiliates making, even I made it when I first got started. My first successful affiliate website was about a popular fish… yea you read that right… a fish. I spent about a month working on it and while it was a great learning ground and was profitable (~$100/mo), if I would have aimed higher and targeted a bigger industry I would have a lot more to show for my effort. To this day my biggest successes can be attributed to aiming high.

2). As an affiliate, how important is it, if at all, to have a personal connection with the topic area, community or solutions?

I always recommend people chase an industry that they have experience in or are extremely passionate about. In the book I give an example of someone who had a ton of experience in the insurance industry yet he wanted to chase the WordPress theme market. While I can tell you first hand, the WordPress theme market is profitable, it isn’t nearly as lucrative as the insurance industry. I told him there really was no “right answer” it all came down to how lucrative of a market he wanted to play in.

If you are passionate or have experience in any professional industry (law, real estate, insurance, etc) those markets are extremely profitable. If you are passionate about other things (biking, golf, crafts, yoga, or even programming) there is still money to be made though the market is smaller.

The bottom line is this, you can make affiliate marketing work in almost any industry, however you have a trade off. Inherently the “fun stuff” often pays less than the “professional stuff.” The decision up to you, are you trying to create another job within your current industry or are you trying to turn your hobby into a source of income? Both are personal decisions and neither is wrong.

3). Realistically, to make a family worthy living, how many hours a day would you need to work on your biz?

As with any industry the longer and more experience you have the easier it is. Currently my business partner and I work under 10 hours a week on affiliate projects and there are times we go weeks without touching our existing projects. That said you can’t start out that way, you need to ramp up your business.

If someone started today and passionately chased their industry of choice as a “side hustle.” I would give them 3 months to paying most mortgage payments if they followed a solid blueprint and wrote profitable content (covered in the book). Within 6 months to year of serious work, most affiliates are making full time money, of course this is relative to the industry.

4). What are your thoughts on putting all your eggs in one affiliate basket, niche or what you call micro-brand?

I am pretty scatter brained and over the years I work best when I get “the fire” to work on a project. As with any business there are some boring parts to getting a new project up and running. For me, I typically launch two projects around the same time. When one gets less exciting, I have the other one to focus on. This will cycle on and off until both projects are running on their own.

As for industries, I would recommend picking two related industries, say Car Loans and Car Insurance. I would then build out both until I feel they can cook on their own and cross promote as needed. I would say for beginners, pick one industry you are passionate about and when you begin to fizzle, instead of taking a break (giving up) build a related site where you can continue to grow your audience.

5). You talk mainly about building your affiliate biz with organic traffic and say paid traffic isn’t something that’s so great for newer affiliates? Tell me a bit more about why this is true..

Paid traffic is a double edged sword, you can make a lot of money or you can lose a lot of money. I recommend beginners to work on organic traffic first because it gives them a route to build an audience which has long term value.

In order to sell a product as an affiliate to paid traffic, you often need a irresistible offer or too barrow a lot trust from another source to make the sale. With organic traffic, making the sale is often much more straight forward because you already have the viewers trust.

6). What about paying others to write for you? Can the economics of this still work?

When I am first starting out on a site, I always do the writing myself until I get a feel of what works and what doesn’t. From there I may find a writer and put them in charge of content and check back regularly.

For new affiliates I recommend the same strategy, write your core content yourself and find out what people want to read. From there use and place direct orders to find writing on the cheap. When using direct orders you can get a much cheaper rate per word and sometimes can stumble onto awesome writers. Final hint on direct orders – target writers who have written 50-100 texts, they are the up-and-comers and often have the quickest turn around time.

If you have more questions about starting out in affiliate marketing, ask them in the comments below and I’ll see if I can get Nick to check in and share some answers.


And if you want to learn more about Nick, follow him at @nickreese, you can check out the full table of contents for the guide at Traffic And Trust.

[FTC disclosure – I am not an affiliate for this affiliate marketing guide. Here these guys are living the life, traveling the world, being famous and making bajillions and I don’t make a dime off this puppy. How friggin’ ironic is that?! It’s a good thing I like both of them so much. Oh, if you’re new to this blog, that was snark, I really do like these guys and wish them only success…even if Nick was looking at beachfront property in Peru when he did this interview. Okay, I feel better now…]

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23 responses

23 responses to “Affiliate Marketing Smackdown With Nick Reese”

  1. Vivek Parmar says:

    Thanks for such a great review. Well i have never buy any books till yet and learn about affiliate marketing by affiliate gurus. They share their own experience and help guys like me.
    Wish i could get a review of this book 🙂

  2. Irina Avtsin says:

    Thanks, Jonathan. As always, great post. I’d be curious to see the numbers for affiliate books market for the last few years-must be exploding!

  3. Keep up with the FTC disclosures, that was my favorite part.

    This part did concern me “I would give them 3 months to paying most mortgage payments if they followed a solid blueprint and wrote profitable content (covered in the book).”

    While I’m sure there are cases that this is true, I suspect that it is a rarity. Go forth with caution people. If this were so easily “bankable”, more would be doing it.

    There are lots of pieces to get the equation right. Having just come from reading Chris Brogan’s blog, you should know his “reach” is 200,000 people at present.

    That’s a very different starting point than the “average joe or jane”

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hey Faith – Good point..BUT…that part was Nick speaking, not Chris. And (Nick, if you check in, feel free to clarify) Nick started with a cold start and zero followers as an affiliate marketer. He wasn’t a blogger with a big following first. Nick’s message isn’t “get rich quick,” which I liked, it’s “treat this like a serious profession and you can build some very substantial assets.”

      And the reason you’re probably right about it being a rarity is that most people dip their toes in the affiliate marketing water expecting overnight cash with an hour a month work and it doesn’t work that way. Certain assets may eventually get to a place where they’re tuned well and don’t need much work to keep generating revenue, but getting them to that place takes a lot of work. It’s a real job launching them and Nick’s upfront about that, especially in the guidebook.

      • I totally agree with your comments. I believe 95% of people who get into internet marketing look for and expect miracles overnight. Often times they haven’t even put in any real work to get honest results. You cannot just purchase a product and expect miraculous commissions flooding your paypal account. It takes work, time and real comittment.

    • Nick Reese says:


      My reach is no where near Chris Brogan´s, that isn´t my thing. I am more interested in flexibility of lifestyle than then the number of people who keep up with what I say.

      To help show you how this is doable, let´s take a look at how I answered another commentor´s question.

      Lynn (below), expressed that there where few high end home appliance with affiliate programs. I suggested that she look at vitamix.

      According to wikipedia the average mortgage is $1,295.

      To give you some perspective, to cover the average monthly mortgage payment you would need to sell 19 vitamixes a month.

      15% x $449 = $67.35
      $67.35 x 19 = 1279.65

      By writing a thorough review of your Vitamix and promoting it on even a small blog with the right audience I bet you could seel 3 or 4 vitamixes a month without a ton of effort.

      Now imagine if you ranked in the top 10 for “Vitamix Review” which gets quite a few searches a month (google keyword tool is down here in Peru or I´d give you an exact number). I bet you ranked for that keyword would sell more than 19 vitamixes…

      The key most affiliates miss is to promote their content. Most new affiliates just write a review or other peice of profitable content and leave promotion out of the equation.

      Hopefully this makes sense.


      • Thanks Nick (and Jonathan) –

        Understand all the comments and appreciate your taking the time to outline the math. For a frame of reference, I only WISH I had Joe average’s mortgage.

        Some of it was thinking about it from what I’d have to clear to pay mine – so different frame of reference.

        I’m not sure affiliate marketing isn’t really in my space (somehow think it would seem odd on the site of a Strategic Organizational Change Consultant) but it’s all good to learn about and work to understand market dynamics.

        Thanks for sharing and teaching. Your book is on my list to read.

        Keep rocking and selling.

  4. wilson usman says:

    I really relate with what nick said. Being in aff marketing for almost two years now I remember the beginning when I would just think small, mostly because other people told me to.

    You need to eventually stop listening to other people and do your own testing and focus on producing not consuming all the tips and tricks that everyone wants to give you for free.

    I am a big big fan of Chris and I just started knowing Nick really like the transparency and honesty they both bring to the table. I hope that more and more people like them can help us make the affiliate marketing industry look better.

    Cheers, great interview!

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ivette Muller and Alltop Lifehacks, TwittyBean. TwittyBean said: Affiliate Marketing Smackdown With Nick Reese […]

  6. You can do fantastically well if you’ve built up an audience. If you obsessively curate your affiliate offerings to match your audience and add in full transparency & authenticity, you’re golden.

    In this situation you can go from zero to OMGWTFMONIES pretty quickly.

    Do what’s best for your audience and the money takes care of itself. If you start focusing on the money and lose sight of your audience, and you’ll go down in flames.

  7. marie-jeanne juilland says:

    Our minds are tracking re: affiliate biz models, so thanks for the perfect timing 🙂

    Here’s my question: What’s Nick’s take on an affiliate model like

    While I see a real value in sharing a lot of programs with my “tribe,” I’d really want to “vet” a program before recommending it and becoming an affiliate — and that seems very time consuming. Maintaining my reputation of offering only quality stuff would be key.

    How much work involved to make this kind of affiliate biz model really “sing” from a revenue standpoint? The founder, Janet Beckers, offers her free “manifesto” on how to do what she’s done, but having learned from my own business experience over the past years, these are often overly simplified.

  8. Sean says:

    I’ve read Nick’s book as well, and I can honestly say that it’s the best affiliate marketing product I’ve come across.

    It sets it self apart by not being sleazy, in an industry thats full of products that suck.

    I’ve seen the strategies presented work extraordinarily well with my own sites, and if you’re willing to work this product will give you the tools necessary to do exactly the same.

    Thanks for the interview!

  9. Lynn says:

    I’ve looked into affiliate marketing in the past and was disenchanted by the products that were available. I am skeptical that there will be any good/honest affiliate offers in the high-end home/design/appliances arena, which is my passion and interest.

    Are there really high quality affiliate opportunities for any niche?

    Plus, I have this hangup about referring readers to a product I’ve never used (or read). Does one have to get beyond this in order to make a family worthy living?

    • Nick Reese says:


      I would check out Vitamix, they have an affiliate program. I love my Vitamix and think it is a great product to promote.

      Also sign up for CJ. They have a ton of stuff that you can promote in that niche with a Cost Per Sale arrangement.

      I think there is huge opportunity in the “high end appliance” arena.

      You might also check out amazon associates. It doesn’t have the best payout but you could sell anything on Amazon as an affiliate. I know there are high end appliances that people would like that you could recommend with a healthy conscious.

  10. Peru is still the home of Pedro Lopez the monster of the Andes, known to have killed over 300 girls when he was caught in the 1980s. Released from prison in 1998, he’s known to be still killing. We can only hope that your friend doesn’t have any girls as they tend to go missing there…

    See, not so jealous now.

  11. Thank You So Much Jonathan For Sharing These Notes!!!

    I love what Chris Brogan has accomplished by being a really cool dude who people want to know, like and trust.

    Last week I finally finished my 180 pages of notes for Eben Pagan’s “Guru Blueprint” program. In the 11th of 12 weeks of training he shares his perspective on building affiliate programs that kick butt.

    It’s coming from the standpoint of someone who’s got a product to sell but I know some sharp people here can use the core of this strategy in their affiliate business.

    Here’s one of his outstanding concepts…

    Don’t just set up an affiliate program and then hope people sign up for it!!! Call people up on the phone or go meet them in person

    Go to their website, find their number, pick up the phone and call.

    If there’s no phone number, only an email, send them an email and say, “Hi, I found your website and I offer this training or product and I think I figured out a way where you can make a lot more money with your website. Can I give you a call and discuss it with you?”

    Then when they send you their number, call them and while on the phone, use everything that you’ve learned in this course…

    Ask them, “What are biggest challenges and frustrations? What are you trying to do with your website? What are you trying to accomplish? What do you need right now?”

    And then use everything you’ve learned about sales and marketing here, to frame your offer as a benefit to them.

    Whatever they tell you, you can say, “Great, I’ve got some ideas I can give you for doing that,” then try to connect them to other folks or do whatever you can to help them out and then say, “Let me show you what I’m doing.”

    Then show them the free valuable content that you’ve created whether it’s a free video, report or whatever it is, that you’re giving away on your site and then show them your product and your marketing.

    And say, “I think this would be great for your customers, why don’t we give away my video to them and then everyone who comes, we’ll give it to em and anyone who buys, I’ll give you some of the money. It’ll be a real benefit to them. They’ll all get something for free and if anyone buys, we can share the profits.”

    This is a much different approach than most website owners or list owners get.

    Most of the time the call or email they get is, “Will you send my stuff to your list?” not “What are your needs? What are you trying to accomplish? What are your big frustrations? What are your challenges? Let me see if I can help you with those and then let me show you the cool stuff I’ve got and let’s give this away to your list.”

    This is a different approach that works much better.

  12. Sukhi says:

    Jonathan Thanks for sharing this. It helps me understand things better from the affiliate’s end.

    Do you have any resources for the other side? In other words, having the product and looking for affiliates. That’s the boat I am in. It’s a brand new world for me as I’m taking what I have been doing offline, now online. I’m having a hard time with the authenticity and integrity of the affiliate world and am being very cautious with whom I align my brand with.

    Any book, site, blog would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!

  13. I bought and read this book yesterday. It is well written, but I didn’t get much of anything new from it – other than I’ve basically been doing the right things and have a good sense of what I need to do better. But you know, I’m still really new at this, so I guess just learning from a pro that my instincts don’t completely suck was worth the price of the book.

  14. […] early press Traffic and Trust is getting by industry professionals such as Sugarrae, Shawn Collins, Jonathan Fields, Willie Jackson, Adam Baird, and Sal […]

  15. Rob says:

    Thanks for the forthright and thorough info. I am learning that this is not a MAGIC business. You get back what you put in. Thanks Note Taking Nerd #2, your input helped me

  16. Thanks for nice review! I think that the most difficult thing in affiliate marketing is to get started, to make an first action…what do you think?