At the risk of posting too frequently, I did want to get this one out as it is rather timely. It just happens to be his birthday today – Shawn Collins of Affiliate Summit so what better way to start the day then to be featured on my blog. ;-)
Although I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting Shawn almost at every single Affiliate Summit it was not really until an event took place at the Rio that my respect for him (and his team) truly grew. Seemed the whole community came in support of the situation and that has left a lasting impression for me.
Ever since then, I thought about doing this so what better time than the present.
1) Hey Shawn, thanks for doing this. Let’s get right into the questions. Could you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and how Affiliate Summit came to be?
I got into affiliate marketing back in 1997 as an Amazon affiliate. At the time, my site was an AOL homepage, and I learned how to write HTML from an AOL tutorial. Shortly after, I got a job as an affiliate manager for a new startup, medsite.com. I spent the following years figuring out how to be an affiliate and an affiliate manager, since there weren’t resources to help back then.
In 2000, I was writing a column on affiliate marketing for ClickZ.com, and was approached by Que Publishing to write the book, “Successful Affiliate Marketing for Merchants.” The book came out in April 2001 and featured my process for running affiliate programs, based on my experience.
In May 2003, I approached Missy Ward about starting a new conference for the industry, because we had spoken and neither of us was satisfied with what was out there. Six months later, we held the first Affiliate Summit in NYC, and we’re now in our 8th year of continued growth.
2) What made you decide to pursue a career in Affiliate Marketing? What are some of your recognizable achievements?
It was more a matter of desperation than anything. I was working in the magazine publishing business and feeling both bored and underemployed. So, I became an affiliate to help pay the bills, and later an affiliate manager, because I wanted to break into marketing, and I was the only candidate for that position who had heard of affiliate marketing.
I’ve gotten some awards along the way, but the most important achievements to me have been quitting my day job in 2004 to go out on my own as an affiliate and outsourced affiliate program manager, and also having brought together tens of thousands of people over the years through Affiliate Summit.
3) How does your previous experience influence the way you do business now?
From 2000-2004, I worked at ClubMom.com, and one of the founders, Bill Hoogterp, used to repeat the mantra of “ask moms what they want, and give it to them.” I think applying that to Affiliate Summit is a big reason for the success. Our goal is to make the conference a profitable investment for everybody involved, and we have constantly evolved with the feedback we’ve received.
4) You have a very active blog at blog.affiliatetip.com, can you tell me about it, and how it came to be?
I created a site, newsletter, and forum at affiliatemanager.net to help launch my book in 2001, and I felt a little constrained to covering affiliate manager issues there. So in 2004, I created an account on Blogger and started writing tips for affiliates. I soon migrated over to Movable Type and got the affiliatetip.com domain for my blog. And about a year later, I moved to WordPress.
I got a bit addicted to my content getting indexed in Google, and started writing 365 days a year 5 or so years ago. As of right now, I am just shy of 4,000 posts.
5) What’s the advantage of your content versus some other so called “gurus”?
I am not trying to sell anything when I write, unless it’s news about Affiliate Summit. I am trying to give useful tips and realistic expectations to affiliates. It makes me sick to my stomach to see people selling garbage advice with promises of getting rich.
6) You actually have a product “Unguru.me” – can you tell us about that?
That was a joint project with my friend Jim Kukral to provide a forum where we brought together a number of experts to share information and answer questions. But we didn’t invest the time we’d intended and it never really took off, so we’re actually auctioning it off now at https://flippa.com/132234
7) What’s been your biggest challenge in running Affiliate Summit?
As we’ve scaled up in size, we’ve worked hard to maintain the quality of the event with a very small team.
8) Tell me of a couple of trends you see happening in this industry and how we as affiliates can position ourselves to take advantage of it.
I think pay-per-call is the strongest opportunity out there, and it’s available to leverage by any affiliates with relevant traffic for the affiliate programs using it. RingRevenue has published some really provocative case studies on it. Also, I think mobile apps from affiliates could be a great move, but you’ve got the threshold of getting something of quality developed. Also, I’ve been waiting for video to break out for years – that’s probably the easiest, as so few affiliates are creating DIY video to review products or services.
I’d say they were one in the same. When I was 15, I got a job at Friendly’s, which is a restaurant in some parts of the U.S. I started out as a dish washer wearing a scratchy polyester uniform and working in unpleasant heat and a constant barrage of gross dishes, pans, pots, etc. This was back when minimum wage was $3.35/hour and they gave us a slight discount on the food, so basically 3 hours of an 8 hour shift would pay for a meal. After several months of toiling in the back room, I got promoted to scooping ice-cream. That might not sound glorious now, but it was a big step up for me.
10) What’s your favorite thing to do outside of affiliate marketing?
I love to just totally unplug and hang out with my family, whether it be an outdoor concert, BBQ, walk in the neighborhood, or a minor league baseball game.
11) For our final question: If you could offer one piece of advice to our readers as it comes to understanding and partaking in social media and affiliate marketing, what would it be?
Stop looking for strategies and secrets, and just be yourself. Get out there and share advice and information – give more than you take. Also, whatever it is that is your specialty, start curating the quality information in that area. Also, figure out the one username you want to go by, and try to get it on every service. It can take a while to do it manually, so check out http://knowem.com/ to expedite the process. Oops, that’s more than one piece of advice. One paragraph, though.
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