I am sure many of you don’t really need a push to attend affiliate conferences, and the really smart SEO will see the advantages straight away. However I wanted to highlight my top 5 reasons for SEOs should attend at least a couple of affiliate meet ups and conferences in any year.
1. Speaker Diversity
In my honest opinion, Affiliate conferences have a higher speaker diversity than you would find at an SEO conference. Take for example the upcoming A4Uexpo in London. The speakers range from well known SEOs such as Dave Naylor, Richard Baxter, Will Critchlow, Tom Critchlow, Sam Crocker, Patrick Altoft, to established self made fulltime affiliates such as Paul Madden, Kieron Donoghue, to Black hat geniuses like Fantomaster. These are traffic experts, all in one conference. But that’s not all, you have conversion experts such as Dr Karl Blanks, Social Media Specialists such as Jonathan Stewart. And these are only a few of the names. I would say a large number of UK Online Marketers whose activities I follow either via their blogs, or twitter (or simply stalking them) are on this particular conference.
The diversity in the speaker panels means that there is diversity in the talks, presentations and around-the bar-drinks and entertainment. That means you will potentially find such events more entertaining than your normal search conference, which I think of late have started becoming massive sales pitches.
2. Opportunities and Career Options
Seriously, if you are an SEO new or moderately new to the industry, EVERY opportunity to mingle with those who are industry leaders should be taken immediately. Mingling in pure SEO crowds may not necessarily give you that opportunity to move slightly out of the box – building contacts across the online world will give you the opportunity to start seeing jobs and clients that are outside the pure SEO field, but do rely on SEO as a channel. I often get work and opportunities by hobnobbing with the Affiliate industry.
Some of these guys have pretty big and profitable businesses, many of which are always recruiting. I get offers to work with many of them, and maybe one day I will. But this crowd is pretty savvy, and you are losing an opportunity to sell yourself in the future to a business model that maybe outside your radar. Suffice to say that from what I know of the industry, they don’t recruit through normal channels…
3. Learn to Make Money
I really shouldn’t need to preach this, but always learn a back up skill. And if you can’t make money online, then are you really good at what you do? As an SEO, you should be able to drive traffic to any site of your choice, but do you think you can make that pay? Kieron for example has built up Sharemyplaylists.com, and in the last year managed to sell one of his sites for over £62,000. Paul managed to buy AND sell a flat purely on his adsense earnings.
Now I wish I was in their league, I am not to be honest – probably because haven’t got the necessary dedication, I only make a about £300- £500 a month from my affiliate sites… But I now have a skill that is portable – and if I really wanted, could build up a complete lifestyle on affiliate income, with some help from my affiliate contacts.
4. Education Outside SEO
The other part of the equation is if you are a pure SEO, you may have limited knowledge of fields outside the realm – and PPC bloggers, affiliate bloggers are fewer than you would expect. Which means routes to learning anything outside SEO are slightly more difficult than normal. Personally, I have learnt more PPC tricks from affiliates than I have from anywhere else, and I say this with the confidence of a person who has run Multimillion Pound Paid Search campaigns.
My knowledge on Automation and Blackhat techniques also originate from this crowd. Kieron, Paul, Fantomaster and many others have taught me a lot over the last year that I really started investigating the potential behind Affiliate Marketing.
When I consult for Large Brands, I cannot just work with them with my knowledge of SEO, if I am armed with a good rounded knowledge of the online world as a whole I have a better chance of competing with others.
5. Because the After Parties Rock
I have been to many an affiliate party and event, from Poker Affiliate Events to A4U in Amsterdam. Seriously, if you thought that the SEO crowd rocks events, you need to attend an affiliate after party. And the after, after party.
These guys know how to party. Period.
So there you have it, there are plenty of other reasons, such as being able to pick up the phone when you have issues with a network or a vendor, many top vendors attend these. (Tust me, I have been kicked out of one of my affiliate programs for being silly, but due to my relationships in the industry I managed to explain what went wrong, accepted my slap on the wrist and got back in.) Tom did an Interview for State of Search as well and he highlights some of his reasons too. (Bas has also interviewed other A4U speakers, such as Kevin Gibbons (see interview), Magnus Nilsson (see interview here) and Sam Crocker (see interview here)
I was gutted I forgot to allow for the A4U London expo in my budgets this year, but luckily I managed to get a pass, which is awesome. So if you are there, give me a shout!
However if you cant afford to get the ticket, you may still have a chance – Kieron is giving away a free pass to the event and there is still time to enter.
If you do attend the conferences, dont forget two things:
- Make the Most of the Attendees, and learn how to approach them
- If there is free advice on the table, TAKE it!
Rishi Lakhani is an independent Online Marketing Consultant specialising in SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing and Social Media. Explicitly.Me is his Blog. Google Profile