How I nearly became an Advertiser, became an Affiliate and transited to an Affiliate Manager

Just really focused on work


I spend quite a bit of time reading stories and follow-alongs on forums such as STM. Many times they were inspiring and motivating. I loved how people can be in the same stage of their lives, but their journeys getting there can be so different.

Life is a journey, not a destination

So I would like to share a little of my own journey in the affiliate marketing industry, how I started out as an affiliate and transited to my current role as an affiliate manager.

Before I got into the world of affiliate marketing, I was doing a few different things. I got my first real job 11-12 years back at Garena as a graphic/web designer. Back then I really appreciate good design and creating them. Garena was a startup at that time, and not the behemoth it is today. I left when things got stagnant after one and a half years in the company. Looking back, if I had stayed on till their IPO, I might have gotten employee stock options and things could be very different today. The all too familiar “what if”.

After Garena, I started my own design agency. I was a one-man show, handling everything from prospecting (Freelancer, Elancer – now Upwork, etc), marketing, account servicing, designing, and accounting. It was long hours and a lot of work. My returns were not quite worth the amount of effort I put in though.

Then things changed. A very good friend of mine (a real smart guy) came back from UK and approached me with a startup idea. We wanted to do a Betfair in Asia. Asia is HUGE in the gambling/casino market. Armed with adrenaline rush and an idea I believed to be the holy grail, I took the plunge, stopped everything I was doing, and went to Indonesia to focus fully on our startup.

We did extensive market research, came up with pitch decks, hired an IT team,  developed a prototype, ran campaigns on Facebook for lead generation, and met potential investors (one of them a sports betting site owner). We were set for glory.

A year later, reality sunk in. We were running out of money soon and we made a few major fundamental mistakes. We realised it does not matter if you have a good idea or able to raise seed capital. The Asian market, while crazy huge, is still a black hat industry. There’s an inner circle who controls the market. You can’t just disrupt the long-standing working mechanics of the industry. Also, we took on a project which is too big a scale at that time.

Do I regret my one year in Indonesia? Not a bit, given a chance, I would do it all over again. While I failed, the experience that I gained was paramount. So yeah, I could have been an advertiser had it all gone well!

After my stint in Indonesia, I was back at designing and deciding what to do. This is also my first experience at affiliate marketing. Back then, online file hosting sites like Megaupload, Hotfile were popular. You get a commission out of every X amount of downloads of your uploaded file or out of selling premium account from your referral link.

So, I decided to try it out for some side income and I started thinking of verticals. I chose adult. How can porn go wrong?! There is always a demand for porn stuff. Next I got to think of a few traffic sources to push. I don’t really wanna spend money, so I did some traffic analysis and selected a few popular forums to post. It’s pretty routine, everyday I will download and upload a few files, think of angles, do some copywriting, and duplicate posts across the different forums. The result? I made 100+ USD for a month’s work. I decided to ditch it.

My current boss came to me at some point. He was a pretty successful affiliate and he wanted to build a team of media buyers. At that time, mobile was just starting. I pivoted and thus began my official foray into the world of affiliate marketing. I started off with mobile subscription offers. It was all the rage then. Had a couple of losses for a few months before campaigns turned Hulk (green). Antivirus and sweepstakes are my bread and butter. Was doing 4-figures profit on pop and display traffic sources before I started adding CPI into the mix. CPI was relatively new, and most offers do not have the current many KPIs that we have now, nor the fraud detection tools, so it was easy to smash utilities. CPI has evolved and matured quite a bit now.

I also tried sweepstakes lead gen, but it wasn’t doing too well for me. It was not consistent and quality wasn’t the best always, so it’s on and off. My next breakthrough came from Nutra. The vertical has been around for a long time when I came to testing it. Diet and skin trials were the hot offers and I tested them in a few native sources using the evergreen celeb angles. Got to optimise for a while before I finally found the sources and placements to make it really profitable.

About 4 years back, my bosses wanted to pivot from a media buying agency to a full-fledged affiliate network. I turned from running campaigns as an affiliate to managing affiliates like myself.

The only constant in affiliate marketing is change

So Wewe Media has a few changes along the way. We started off as a mobile subscription network, dabbled in smartlinks and right now we are focused on Nutra, Dating, CC Trial, some lead gen and CPI. If you ask me whether I like my transition from an affiliate to an affiliate manager, my answer is I hate not being able to control traffic like I used to. It’s all in the hands of the affiliates that I manage. But what I really do like about being an affiliate manager is connecting with new people and making good friends. As an affiliate myself, I work alone and within my team and talk to my affiliate manager only. So long as I make money, I don’t really care about other things too much. An affiliate manager is different. You make money with friends together. Regardless, you got to hustle end of the day.

My story will end here. Will I be in Wewe Media in few years to come or revert back to running campaigns. Who knows.

What’s your journey? What’s your story?