Ricky Ahuja, a serial entrepreneur, is a ten year veteran of the online marketing industry and currently serving as the CEO and partner in Affiliate Venture Group, a privately funded performance based network located in Richmond, VA.
1. Tell us a little about yourself. How old are you? How long have you been in affiliate marketing and how did you get involved?
First of all, I would like to take this time to thank you for conducting this interview. You have a great site and I frequent it quite often. I am probably the oldest person in Affiliate Marketing â€“ bordering 43, which seems to be ancient in this industry. I have been involved in AM for over 10 years, dating back to 1998. I got into affiliate marketing by accident actually. One of my customers in a coffee shop I had wanted to get a site built and optimized I had some partners that enabled me to do that and truly find out the benefits and rewards and havenâ€™t looked back since.
2. Give us a little glimpse into what a typical day in your life looks like.
My day starts at approximately 7:00 a.m as I prepare my daughter for her school/camp or summer activities and see off my wife. I then head to my remote office (Starbucks) and work for a few hours, check stats, reach out to my affiliates and business partners. Working in this industry gives you the flexibility to tend to important family matters and then pick up in the wee hours in the night when the time does not conflict with any personal obligations.
3. Tell us a little about Affiliate Venture Group and what you do over there?
This part truly excites me, this is my baby and I and my team has spent countless nights to get it to where it is now. We are a private network which initially focused on internal subprime offers but with the recent acquisition of AVG by Pab67Media, LLC â€“ it has opened doors for us which were otherwise not reachable. As evident by the posts on AffiliatePaying.com â€“ we have built a niche for being very affiliate/customer centric network and going above and beyond the call of duty. At the end of the day â€“ it is all about the brand and the trust and I feel we at AVG have done a great job of establishing both.
4. There are already so many affiliate networks out there. What makes Affiliate Venture Group different?
There are many networks out there but only one Ricky Ahuja. I am not so concerned with what others are doing or not doing as I am with what I am able to provide. We do not hide behind a privately registered website from some off shore country but at the forefront of affiliate marketing industry, compliance and transparency. I am probably one of the most easily accessible person there is and call it like it is. You can get more insight into who I am at my blog (cheap plug) at www.rickyahuja.com.
5. Which campaigns are performing well on your network? Which traffic sources prove to be the most effective for your top earning affiliates?
We have numerous offers on our network but some of our top performers have been debt, edu and the penny stock campaigns. We have numerous exclusive brands which we have had for over a year now and continue to deliver steady results for our partners. The effectiveness of these offers is predicated by the traffic being driven to it and I am proud to say we have some of the best affiliate partners in the industry.
6. What is the biggest mistake you made when you first started doing Affiliate Marketing?
I think my biggest mistake was to always build a successful business for others and then worry about myself. I think this industry more so than others is all about the relationship, trust and the face and I think I was somewhat late in trying to establish my and the AVG brand. Live and learn.
7. What was your biggest success to date?
Without a doubt it has to be my wife and daughter. I would trade any of what I do in a heartbeat if it didnâ€™t enable me to spend as much time as I do with them. Thatâ€™s the beauty of having your own business, after all why do we all work as hard as we do if not to enjoy each other and what life has to offer.
8. What advice would you give for a newbie affiliate?
Great question â€“ I am reminded of a quote by Theodore Roosevelt: In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
New affiliates take in a lot from the over load of information out there (not all of it good mind you) â€“ but many do nothing at all. There is this fear of failure thatâ€™s inherent to all of us â€“ but I assure you, once you get started â€“ itâ€™s gets easier. Remember, a long journey starts with a single step.
9. Whatâ€™s the difference between a Super affiliate and an Average affiliate?
Ready, Aim, Fire. The average affiliate can often get ready and know what exactly what they want to do or market â€“ but they never pull the trigger. If they do â€“ lose money, they call it a wash and donâ€™t bother trying to make it work. They also do not know how to truly figure out if a campaign is backing out for them, what their costs are, what their returns are, etc. A Super Affiliate is not afraid. He is not afraid to try new offers, new media types, new ad copy, new targets. The difference is that the Super Affiliate learns from his testing and spends countless time optimizing his campaigns. My definition of a Super Affiliate goes one further â€“ they truly WANT to help people without expecting anything in return. We see all these â€œgurusâ€ who have systems and can make us a gazillion bucks â€“ all for a little cost of $249. They are in it for their own well being (not that there is anything wrong with that) but letâ€™s call a kettle what it is shall we.
10. What are the keys to building successful relationships between Affiliates and Affiliate Networks? What are some of the challenges of being an Affiliate Manager/Owner?
We all tend to over complicate things â€“ in my mind the keys to building a successful relationship is all about Transparency and Trust and Relationships. Do you feel comfortable working with the network? Are they credible? Are they at the forefront of Industry trends? As a network manager/owner â€“ do you truly know who your affiliate is? Do you know their tactics as to how they promote? Are they forthcoming in discussing potential issues?
I am a people person â€“ a minute or two of face to face meeting goes a long way for me. This way you canâ€™t hide behind a proxy server.
11. If you could change one thing about the affiliate industry, what would it be?
Obviously we would all like to do away with the fraud aspect of it but as in life you take the good with the bad. It is this dynamic nature of our business that constantly enables us to move forward, develop new technologies, new ideas, new businesses and new success stories. Isnâ€™t that what affiliate marketing all about â€“ trying to outdo the next person and develop a better widget?
12. What do you think about where the industry is going? Where Affiliate Venture Group may be going? What advice would you give to affiliates to keep up the pace.
The industry is always evolving, what may be big today â€“ may not be so hot tomorrow. It is the ones who are able to keep up with this trend that stand to profit. There are a lot of blogs out there, industry newsletters, forums that can help you stay abreast of these trends. As far as AVG â€“ we try to take things one day at a time and focus on what is working for our affiliates today and what we can do to help them increase their earnings.
13. What are the criteria for a marketer to be accepted at Affiliate Venture Group?
There are several things that help to increase your chance of being accepted into this network â€“ but the single most important factors for us are transparency and trust. Knowledge about the industry and referrals from other industry veterans always helps.
14. For those who are interested in working with you and your affiliate network â€“ Whatâ€™s the best way/time to reach you?
The best way to reach me would be on Facebook (RickyAhuja), AIM â€“ TheGoogleGuy or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I have heard smoke signals worked well in the past also.
15. Whatâ€™s your favorite movie and why?
This may sound a bit cheesy, but any move that puts a smile on my daughters face and makes her laugh. We all work real hard day and night and to reap the rewards by enlightening the lives of my family is first and foremost.
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