Affiliate interview number four for Affiliate Summit East 2010. The affiliate had to be very active in the industry and attend the conference. Questions were emailed ahead of time but I was able to meet all of the participants at ASE10.
The first thing that comes to mind when I see Mike Allen at Affiliate Summit or talk to him about one of my programs is the fact that 25% of the time I log into the ShareAsale interface, I see Mike’s name. He’s one of the featured testimonials in the header. Which means I see his name once or twice an hour every day. That’s a pretty good hint at the respect and admiration he has in the affiliate industry.
Mike was also one of those early adopters by getting involved in affiliate marketing around 1999, “via Amazon and a few now-defunct private affiliate programs to monetize content that I was already producing. Later that year I discovered BeFree and LinkShare as I recall and Commission Junction in 2000.”
His specialty at Shopping-Bargains.com is publishing coupons and deals but he also does some small-scale blogging. “I have a good team of people helping me build on years of relationships with a lot of good merchants, affiliate networks, service providers, and affiliate managers.”
I don’t blame him for not sharing his biggest affiliate check but it’s interesting to ask anyway. He will say that the new stream of income in the beginning helped him make some changes in his life. “I remember the stunning impact of affiliate payments that were larger than my day job’s monthly salary at the time. That trend helped me clearly decide that it was time to pay off some debt and then quit the day job.”
The niche he chose, obviously is coupons but Mike says if he had to do it over again, “I would consider focusing on something more specialized and related to a personal “hobby.” Saving money, though, has always been a high-priority so it fit me nicely to go down this path more than a decade ago.”
What are Mike’s thoughts on the industry? “I see more affiliates becoming brands in their own right. This trend suggests they have established trust and are providing a high-level of customer service. I think these two issues are vital for the long-term health of our industry.”
His advice to affiliates is inspiring and makes complete sense. “Find something you are passionate about and let your enthusiasm shine through. Don’t overly market your work but instead build on your expertise in the field. The results will speak for themselves and over time you will build a following — essentially, find an itch and scratch it better than anyone else and you can make money doing it.”
Mike certainly found his niche and is a good ambassador to others. He also shared some an interesting perspective on the history of affiliate marketing. “While most people probably think of me as a geek, I really admire the land and survival skills developed by the American pioneers, homesteaders, and the Indians before them. In many ways, as they tamed the West, I feel we are the pioneers of today, taming our industry and producing an economy out of what was once a virtual desert.”