Earlier this year Fraser Edwards and John Lamerton blogged about their affiliate experiences over the last decade. To follow on from that I asked a few affiliates who I’ve known for some time just how they feel about the affiliate industry now compared to a few years back. Getting involved are Clarke Duncan (UK Internet Sites), Jason Brockman (Easy Content Units), John Lamerton (Easy Content Units), Elaine Forth (All Kids), Fraser Edwards (Red Wine) and Keith Bond (Fashion Style You).

1. Do you still enjoy affiliate marketing? If yes why? If no why not?

Clarke: Yes and No. Yes, I enjoy the fact you can still make money from using your skills online without having to hold stock, deal with customers etc. No, cant stand the scammers always hanging around the space but guess with money comes the undesirables.

Jason: Yes I still love affiliate marketing though I do find myself getting frustrated with things easier. Whether that’s grumpy old man syndrome or genuine cause, is to be decided.

John: Yes, I’m enjoying it more than ever as I’ve embraced it as a business that suits my life rather than the “who’s making more money than who?” ethos that so many people (including myself in the past!) adopt.

Elaine: I certainly get satisfaction from it, but the main sites now are very ‘professional’ and do need to be treated as such. But I still enjoy ‘playing and messing’ around with my lesser spotted sites – and look forward to spending more time doing that soon

Fraser: Not as much but on reflection I realise that I still enjoy the lifestyle more than the actual work. I think it’s just due to the novelty wearing off about building websites etc that makes it less enjoyable however it’s a small price to pay for freedom from a 9-5 job.

Keith: Loving every day probably more so these days, made a conscious decision about a year ago to work smarter not harder, not quite at the 4 hour week but probably under the 4 hour day now even if the hours are at opposite ends of the day I’m not trying to do 14 hours solid anymore.

2. Are you now where you hoped to be say 5 years ago? (e.g. retired on a yacht etc)

Clarke: Nope, still have a long way to go but everything is coming together, all be it much slower than I would like

Jason: Well yes and no, we always thought that we’d have to move with the times, but creating a successful affiliate tool wasn’t on the horizon. The idea that we should be working less was a goal, but that’s not yet achieved.

John: No, I’m in a completely different place. 5 years ago I WAS retired having got so fed up with the willy waving and back stabbing that was becoming more prevalent in AM. Now I’m a part-time affiliate once again, which still gives me the drive and hunger to drive things forward, but also gives me precious time to spend with my children (well, child at present, but if Er Indoors has her way…)

Elaine: Geez, we’ve so surpassed what we hoped for. We thought we’d always have a ‘good’ income from AM, but it now provides a ‘good’ living for the kids, and we’ve just taken 2 more full timers on – so BIG WOW.

Fraser: No I think I hoped things would have gone better but to be honest they haven’t gone badly. One or two ventures haven’t quite worked out as hoped but then others have been better than imagined. Overall I think that approaching a decade of self employment feels good to me.

Keith: 5 years ago the aim was to make a living, that was achieved, couple of reinventions along the way, don’t think I’ll ever retire but working from a place in the sun inside the next 5 years would be nice.

3. What’s been your affiliate highlight (personal or other) of the last 5 years or so.

Clarke: Buying my home, providing a life and future for my family all from nothing and all because of Affiliate Marketing

Jason: I have to say stumbling across the idea for Easy Content Units and watch it be born and achieve lots of milestones… that has to be the biggest highlight. However, coming a close second to that is the limo club. It was my second week of working at Big Idea Media, and was definitely a baptism of fire, met some great people, all of which I’m still friends with now!

John: It’s a toss-up between selling NFS, and launching ECU – The end of one era, and the beginning of a new one!

Elaine: Personal highlight, has got to be being able to give the kids the opportunity to join us in Children’s Rooms – although it’s an online store, it wouldn’t have been possible without Affiliate Marketing.

Fraser: Recording the podcasts was great fun but more recently it’s been the chance to just concentrate on something interesting i.e. Red Wine & White Wine rather than trying to build sites about something random like perfume etc to just chase commissions. Managing to find and negotiate prices for really good quality domains has been a good starting point on these projects as is a good feeling.

Keith: Has to be moving into fashion in 2007 and building Fashion Style You to be a successful fashion blog. Also turning things round from 90% ppc to 95% seo.

4. Is there anything you wish you’d done differently or anything that just didn’t work as planned?

Clarke: Always, wish I launched ukcoupons.com or ukvouchers.com back when I bought the domains, yes in 1999 I was thinking about that market but things moved quickly and before I knew it I launched the Network Paid On Results instead, I had no idea just how much time that would take up initially!

Jason: Trying the corporate route of offices/staff and all the shenanigans that go with it. I have to say it was probably the one thing I hated about my 8 years in the industry.

John: There’s loads of things that didn’t work out – a quick look at the domains I’ve allowed to drop over the last few years will vouch for that – I still see the odd one now and think either “what was I thinking??” or “that should have been a great site!”

Elaine: Wish I was more techy!! – never going to happen though.

Fraser: I should have focussed on a few main sites and established a brand rather than jumping about and doing too many different projects. I also should have established more of a quality domain name portfolio years back instead of building sites on hyphenated domains etc.

Keith: With hindsight I should have outsourced more.

The second part of the interview, which covers the affiliate community side of things, will be posted shortly.