What I mean by this is that whatever your site is, if your audience has a legit interest in specific products, and the next logical step in their personal workflow would be to buy something, go ahead and put in some affiliate links. It makes sense, and everyone gets what they need/desire.
But if you are adding links and talking about products solely because you want those nickels from someone clicking it, you are not helping your audience, and they know it, and they will react accordingly.
I'm somewhat surprised that anyone would have spent 10 years flailing in this arena and not learned that.
I would disagree. I've found a lot of people - especially in tech - have this mindset. The opposite is true, most notably due to the success of giants like Facebook (for people clicking on ads) and huge affiliates like RetailMeNot (a public company).
The difference is that the most successful affiliates have realized the right call to action is _value_ (for white hat) or that they can use the "magic pill" (for black hat), and as such the market has changed drastically.
> But if you are adding links and talking about products solely because you want those nickels from someone clicking it, you are not helping your audience, and they know it, and they will react accordingly.
Why does wanting the commission also entail not helping your audience? You're making a conclusion that isn't valid here because you assume that 100% of affiliate links (because they are placed to earn money) add no value for the visitor. Smart affiliates know that if you want the commission, you have to make it valuable.
I think you may have accidentally skipped this part from codingdave's comment:
>>> What I mean by this is that whatever your site is, if your audience has a legit interest in specific products, and the next logical step in their personal workflow would be to buy something, go ahead and put in some affiliate links. It makes sense, and everyone gets what they need/desire.
I made very little money for years and had just about given up until Panda 4.1 and Penguin 3.0. Since then, when I write well, Google is sending traffic my way, and my traffic and income have been steadily increasing by 20%-30%/month. I now have the incentive to keep adding more high quality content to my blog.
Prior to these Panda/Penguin updates (Sep/Oct 2014), I can totally understand why so many attempted to do what the author did. It made more money. Even if Google algorithm changes or Affiliate changes shut you down, jumping to the next thing seemed to work.
Hopefully Google is ahead of the curve once and for all, providing greater incentive to create great content than game the system.
The conventional wisdom with blogs has always been that the way to success is more frequent short posts rather than less frequent long ones, and that still seems to be the case. I don't really care much, since I don't run ads and my goal for my blog has never been to capture a large audience anyway, but more readers would always feel better than less.
heartbleed bug what you need to know
Your post (http://jasonlefkowitz.net/2014/04/the-heartbleed-bug-what-no...) was buried. I gave up looking for it after the first 6 pages of google results.
I'm not sure why you're ranking so badly for this article. The only idea I have off the top of my head is that you have a very wide variety of content. Google tends to prefer sites focused on one topic, or perhaps just a few.
I never wrote about youth baseball on my blog until last year. The first 2 articles I wrote got virtually no traffic from Google for 8 months. A couple months ago I started writing more in depth articles about baseball. I'm now getting a significant amount of Google traffic for those same two articles - one of them is over 10 visits a day. That's still pretty small compared to my blockbuster posts (my top post on best browsers gets hundreds of visits per day). But baseball is growing, because Google is (algorithmically) beginning to believe that I'm some kind of authority on youth baseball, based on a growing concentration of quality content.
So - my guess is that you would get more traffic if you wrote about fewer topics - or perhaps split into several blogs, each with different topics. I should probably do that as my various tech topics have nothing to do with baseball.
...I basically maintain a blog just to keep notes for myself about current things that I am working on. Each post is short and to the point. The titles are not "click bait". I figured that if I needed it someone else might as well and I am leaving it up to the search engines to figure out relevance.
...funny thing is it gets decent traffic and next to 0 on monetization. I allow Google to place ads so that the url rental is free.
Next to no traffic prior to Panda...pretty decent traffic for the topics (some are very specialized and esoteric like a specific bit of code to extract a Sales Order from Quickbooks Enterprise).
"I’ve always had some type of entrepreneur trapped inside me. [...] I decided I’ll start a blog and make money via AdSense ads."
This is not the thought process of someone with the competence to know how to learn effectively. It sounds like someone who just wants to be a cog in a money wheel, both learning as little as possible and creating as little value as possible.
It is especially telling that they think their age is somehow relevant in the picture of how much money they are making or what their credit limit is.
Overall I think HN is being too harsh. This is a person taking a rather honest look at himself and giving us a glimpse into his life that also happens to capture an interesting history of the Internet.
(A) Everybody and their mothers will think the same thing and
(B) that equation doesn't have any value production in it, and
(C) what happens when the fad dies?
It is a wholly selfish act, and I think it's worth the harshness. Not every mistake is redeemed by a sob story. Some are just not worth making in the first place. (Especially when they are very old and common mistakes.)
> very old and common mistakes
That's human nature and storytelling.
Affiliates are often very secretive because the barrier to entry is extremely low, and as such they don't want to reveal what they do or how. That he took that step, even in retrospect, to post it publicly is to be commended. Why not reveal the workings and the lessons he has learned? Let's value it for what it is.
I welcome posts like this. What I have read too much of is success/fail stories
that leave out the most important details; number one is daddy gave me the money to start my risky business(that business could be anything). Number two is ripping off someone's idea--blatantly(without any remorse, and continue to justify
their slimy behavior until they die). It amazes me just how selfish/sadistic some people, even family and friends can be
when it comes to money.
I have a successful sister who constantly wonders why her mother and brothers never call--it's beyond pathetic, and she doesn't have a clue to why there's no one left. Actually, she knows, but the denial is thick. We grew up poor, so I know that feeling of desperation, but screwing over people repeatedly--adds up.
I don't know this guy, but at least he was honest. To guy's
who don't have a rich family, or a license to steal; if you
make money--it seems like late 20's through your thirties, hang on to it. Don't throw it away on living like Rapper. It will eventually dry up for so many of us.
I know it's hard. You have hormones that literally shape your view of reality. Those hormones will go down. That woman you are so trying to impress will change. If you have a fear of death, that fear goes down as you age. I'm not giving advise. I just releate to this guy's financial journey.
In that same time period he could have founded real startups with real products. Instead, he got 10 years of putting his blood, sweat, and tears into bullshit money making schemes.
However, I do agree I would have better spent those years thinking about how I could solve people's problems instead preying on their insecurities.
I think what people here are saying is that given the obvious level of effort you (I assume you're the author) put into this, you could have put serious dents in a few patio11/rob walling style saas or other small product businesses. I understand there's money to be made chasing various arbitrages in online advertising, but those get plugged over time. Plus a product business would make me feel better about what I spend all day doing.
I've also read about people making serious money from advertising; it seems like the time investment to understand all that stuff is big enough that it could help you understand a small business instead.
Here's some stats (top-level, very approximate) from my own experience:
* Number of campaigns created & stage 1 testing: 500+
* % to stage 2: ~25%
* % from stage 1 to 2: 20%
* % from stage 2 to "success": ~50%
In the end, I'd say that roughly 5% of my affiliate campaigns were successful. Success is defined as eventually returning the test budget * 4.
The key was that if I got a campaign to stage 2 I had a very high likelihood of profit. Literally 50% of the stage 2 campaigns became successes (most stage 2's broke even close to it).
Of those successful campaigns, only 10% of them generated 90% of my profits on average. The end result is that ~1% of all the campaigns I made made 90% of the profits, which is quite accurate.
Over the span of 7 years of being a full-time affiliate (excluding the part-time years) 12 campaigns were the main money drivers.
So it seems likely that there are successful strategies for using these affiliate tactics for profit. I know that Wired magazine profiles a few of these people every once in a while. There was a Canadian entrepreneur who was big into the diet pill scheme and made millions (he, too, would fly down to Vegas with friends). And here is a link to another scheme that used scareware:
In 2008, I then decided to create a coupon site (think RetailMeNot) and scale this thing, and promote all sorts of products by ranking for coupon keywords. I quit my job, but couldn't reproduce that success so turned it into a content farm.
In 2011-2012, I decided to create an online gamification calorie counter, thinking stupidly some big player would acquire it. After a year of muddling success, I just turned it into a glamarous, well designed affiliate site :(... which ironically turned the site into a profitable venture.
Now I'm building a very successful, profitable product in the SEO/content marketing industry. So in a way I'm building the shovel for the gold industry instead of digging for gold like I used to :)
What I found is there's lot of money to be made in... telling people how to make money! Those guys like Shoemaker who have an almost cult following end up making an empire on those in the "pyramid" below them.
Not to say this is shady, just that the real "riches" are in charging people to tell then how ... not in actually practicing what you preach.
- Double your freelancing
- Guys who create a not-very-well-known startup and then start pushing guides on how to be successful
- Email marketing, write 3 tutorials on topic X to build your list and then spam your ebook.
Don't get me wrong, things are better targeted and less shady. It just feels like people spend more time selling their systems than they do using them. It looks like 'snake oil'.
Agreed, and some of it (as you mention) is quite ingeniously marketed as well, e.g. pushing a load of free content that occasionally suggests using a certain SaaS app as part of the success strategy.
It just feels like people spend more time selling their systems than they do using them. It looks like 'snake oil'.
I'm not sure that it's always snake oil exactly, more that it's simply easier for these people to make their money training others, especially compared to making money with the systems they're pushing.
The final stage is selling miners to other mining companies.
I've actually had to tell some freelancers I use to RAISE their rates, because they were too busy and frazzled. The kind of advice in Brennan's book is something a lot of freelancers need.
The third is probably Patrick Mckenzie. He advice helped me create an email course that is very popular on my site. It's not spam if you write good stuff and people ask for it.
Everyone on my list explicitly signs up to get an email course, and I get tons of excited emails from happy users.
That stuff is popular on Hacker News because a big percent of the audience here genuinely needs help with those problems.
(I agree that the second one can be an issue, if they actually lack expertise. On the other hand, lots of startups are good even though I've never heard of them. It all depends at what level you're giving advice. If you're giving advice about a solo business, you don't need to have founded Facebook)
I don't know if this has anything to do with some obscure physical law like these phenomenons that best described by a normal/Gaussian distribution or just explained by the probability theory (read: sheer luck) and the success ratio of this magnitude in these "games" or life in general is very slim and thus people should not get that excited to imitate them or feel down and dejected if they don't.
Certainly, wealth and power distribution on Earth is one of these life mysteries that kept and will keep puzzling humans for a long time to come.
The fact that he blew it all after the fact just makes him bad with money. It doesn't mean that the attempts to make money online were failures, just that his personal finances were.
P.S. Not in any way condoning the things he did, and you can definitely argue it's a failure in that it didn't build a sustainable business. I don't feel like I'd call it complete failure though. Lots of people try to do the same thing and make dozens of dollars :-)
The purpose of commerce is to help us create value for one another. But there is a bunch of activity that uses the same tools that is essentially parasitic. The reason his income streams kept blowing up was that people eventually decided that they were better off without him involved.
He could have spent 10 years building products that were creating value. He could have spent 10 years learning the tools and techniques necessary to make the sorts of thing where customers can't get enough. Instead, he spent a decade as a leech on the ankle of the economy, getting scratched off and reattaching himself.
I could have gone the same way. In high school I had a job doing telephone fundraising. It turned out to be basically a scam, with ~12% of the money collected even going to the non-profit, and therefore even less being spent on actual beneficial work. There was a lot that was appealing in the work: smart, funny people; great challenges; getting paid in cash. But eventually I came to realize how morally bankrupt it was. I got lucky in that it was much easier to see how what I was doing was worthless.
So now he's basically starting over. And good for him, I say. I think this post is incredibly brave, and I wish him the best of luck in making something so useful that customers are clamoring to hand over their money.
Which is good to see, in a way. As scammy and spammy as the web is today, this shows it could be worse. Hopefully today's scammers are chasing a moving target too, and with any luck having even less success. I'm not certain that's the case (some of the crap seems to have just gotten institutionalized) but one can hope.
FYI making markets more efficient is definitely useful to society by reducing costs / bid ask spread. In particular this helps those who get the most utility from this savings, the poor and middle class.
Obviously I'm setting aside the ethics of some of his ways and speaking in general. (Although you'd probably want this competition even more so in unethical markets because at least those markets are then more efficient for those getting scammed, ie the poor and stupid.)
I'm not sure why people are focusing so much on the fact that the money was obtained, but nothing useful was created. How different is it from, say, high frequency trading?
I'm not trying to make a judgment call but the emptiness of it almost hurt to read.
I was lucky enough to find one idea that let me make a fair amount of money, relatively easily. Back in the day, Google SEO was shockingly easy. Looking back, I probably could have made many times the amount of money that I did with SEO.
All things come to an end, and eventually SEO became much harder. Fortunately, by the time that happened, I had learned enough to be able to pivot my business.
I've ended up building a business that I'm proud of. I get emails all the time from people thanking me for the free services I provide.
The OP talks about a lot of marketing techniques that have worked very well for him in the past. I think what he may have missed is this: A marketing technique is not a business. A business is a set of activities that create a sustainable competitive advantage. A product is not a business, a marketing technique is not a business, any skill, no matter how well developed, is not a business. A business is a system -- a combination of activities that hopefully support and reinforce one another.
I'm always looking for new ways to add stability and strength to my business. In fact, I get pretty "terrified" at any hint of weakness. Sadly, there are lots of hints of weakness. But, I've managed to do this for ten years. Hopefully I'll be lucky enough to continue for many more.
So true! This is what allowed me to succeed as an affiliate. What I tired of was the churn that kept the value I built from realizing a long-term ROI.
Turns out, there's a $740 pending balance sitting in there that just came in in the past few months. Sweet! I probably would have forgotten I ever set up an affiliate account if I hadn't read this, so thanks for writing.
*You can tell I haven't left this market completely ;)
Yeah, well you made hundreds of thousands of people spend hundreds of hours cleaning up after automated bots turn a site to crap.
The underlying issue here is a lack of understanding on the difference between taking cash and creating value.
A reader of this might think that all this stuff is in the past, but it's getting bigger and more sophisticated by the day. The tools are all automated and the money is in the people who sell 'systems' which clip the ticket for all the wannabes who charge their credit cards for the latest 'make money online' schemes.
They all convince themselves that spamming out links is providing what their marks want. I'm not surprised to hear that depression is a common result.
Something like this could be worked into a decent movie script.
Both myself and volunteer moderators of a solid and truely valuable online forum worked many hours to deal with this very problem.
Hearing this guy has great memories from a visit to vegas is exactly what I'd expect was happening with the 'value' created. Shameful.
So, I may be wrong, but if the minority of "EnlargeYourMaleParts.com" hadn't polluted my visual field 10 years ago, it would be a lot easier for advertisers to have my contribution today.
I don't think you're wrong, but many great websites that provide content people really want rely on Adsense-type earnings to sustain themselves and afford the content creators the income necessary to continue producing it. It's unfortunate that the financial fate of some really great contributors is so closely tied to that of others who seem to produce little or no value. I wonder how those who offer high quality content via their own free website will continue to thrive.
But, regarding to Ted, they have done something absolutely genuine: they run ads, yes, but at the end of the videos. And often the ads themselves are very high quality (comparing to the one on your average TV channel).
For me the benefit is twofold: I believe their behavior is rewarded by people, like me, who will stay and engage with the ads; because they don't feel betrayed and because they might learn something new or interesting during the advertisement. And, I believe it will become so difficult to make money with shady trades (because people are more and more protecting themselves), they will eventually come to disappear.
So, to be short, I think great websites which offer high quality advertisement, will earn back the trust of the users at some point. And, if they can manage to keep genuine user experience above their own greed, they will be rewarded for that.
PS: Not sure if it's relevant, but I should have disclosed this, I'm currently working for a startup who sell a recommendation engine to the travel industry. The product itself is not very far from an ad, but at least it only include references to the client's content. It's pretty ironic when you think of this.
Hands down that ^^^^ is correct.
I've spent the last year doing a lot of what the OP has done, sans the link spamming. I've built sites, did white/gray/black hat link building, promoted cpa offers with media and traffic buys, and even offers via kindle books.
What might not be clear to everyone here is that this is still going on and there is still a huge market for this thing and thusly, quite a few people making a lot of money.
I have spent a long time building software. All kinds of it - client, server, web, mobile, now watch. I'm good at this and it's second nature. I've also made a lot more money doing this vs. any type of IM or AM.
However, after getting into IM last year, part of me felt like I missed a whole part of the web 'growing up' because I was focused on spending huge amounts of time building building the tools & platforms vs. using them. Part of this was my disdain for advertising and marketing in general. However, in the last year I have developed a new found respect for those aspects of business - they are required nowadays and you can't avoid them. The few get lucky sites or app builders are just that - lucky. For the rest of us, it's marketing hard work.
I actually didn't do that bad during my foray into this last year. I probably made back 75% of my spend, which was 'only' about $5k. The easiest was bing ads -> clickbank offers. I'm still amazed that tinnitus or diabetes are still big sellers...
I feel like we programmers tend to look down on this or feel it's beneath us. I used to but I don't anymore. I posted before on HN how I thought Pat Flynn was doing a great job and got comments that what I was talking about was spam, not sustainable, etc. But Path's now up to about $1m/yr by becoming his own brand. He engages with his audience and has figured out how to bring a lot of these different types of marketing and educational aspects together.
Another great one is Brian Dean - his posts on driving traffic and capturing audience are amazing. He's definitely a hacker seo guy and I like that.
So, to each his own, but this was a great read.
Any advice for those now getting into content-based websites that would be supported by banner ads or affiliates?
(edit out of prompting questions that sounded like I was looking for help on being a bad guy on the internet)
Now imagine this: had he spent the time building a consumer-facing brand instead of hocking affiliate scams and other such bullshit, he'd actually be somewhere.
I've been down this road too, and could write a very similar story. At some point, though, shouldn't you learn the lesson instead of constantly making the same short-term mistake for ten years straight??
You would see marketers justifying these products by saying that the customers were suckers for not reading the TOS or that nothing was wrong with rebilling(citing Netflix,which is totally different; people knew it was a subscription unlike with these shady stuff) and stuff like that. It was amazing the lengths people went to fool themselves into thinking they weren't ripping people off.
I never got into some of the things he did, and it did definitely hold my peak revenue back. I went down a different - and much more technical - route and had a more consistent income over time.
The big thing that most people don't realize is how the "churn" will get you in the end. At every moment as an affiliate, it doesn't matter how good you are - the offer you're running or the network you're buying traffic in can kill your best campaign in a second, and there is little/nothing you can do.
For example, I had an AMAZING search site for the food & bev space with a major beverage company as a client. We made a ton of money for them and they loved us because we were super-white-hat and never had issues. But after 5 years the parent company of our client killed the entire affiliate program.
It didn't matter that we were their top search affiliate - we were a drop in the bucket for a multi billion dollar company. The campaign ended and the site is dormant for lack of clients to work with.
This churn gets affiliates all the time. You have to stay one or more steps ahead of it and constantly be searching for new methods to succeed. In the end, I looked at that game and decided it was no longer one I wanted to play with the rules as they were.
Nothing nearly as seedy as skinny pills, but I ran a service that would alert people when "hot, got to have it, out of stock everywhere" items were back in stock at online retailers. It was a great system that grossed about 45K in the first three months with little work.
I had started with one product and a simple website, so after the initial success I doubled down. I spent two months creating a site that would allow me to add more products, a subscription management system for users, and added a bunch of retailers to my web scraper.
I also calculated how much revenue I made per user to figure out how much I should spend to acquire more users. Based on the result I started aggressive spending on Google adwords with the expectation of future affiliate commissions.
But then the retailers caught on that I was earning commissions on items they could barely keep in stock and the gravy train came to an abrupt halt with no warning. I turned off the adwords just in time to break even. If it wasn't for Amazon.com staying true, I would have been in the red.
I'm not sure, but he did get into YCombinator
I though we could build relationships with some of the lower cost skilled labor providers in our area. They are on craigslist or we know them in other ways. Unfortunately, their English and their customer service skills are often lacking. I've seen where they don't follow through to make the sale, or don't give nice estimates/invoices, etc.
I really just want to be a middle man for this market, using Twilio (IVR), invoicing software, the phone, etc, to give clients a warm-fuzzy. Yeah, my wife or I may have to drive around, and make sure the jobs are getting done well, but I want it to be as low touch as possible.
What forum can I research this on? Any one know or have experience in the same thing?
In the latter you will be competing with the labour guys for clients using local SEO and ads. In the former you won't rely as much on search engines as the pool of customers is limited to the business owners - more relationship building and outreach.
I've never found useful stuff on a public marketing forum - the good ones are probably unknown and selective entry only. Try reading some of the blogs linked here by other commenters. Hopefully their discerning tastes will filter out the bs :P
Things get a little better if you sell an ebook, for example, although most money spent on ebooks is money lost. Progressing on the benefit curve you will see that things get very different when you create new technology (think of Apple or IBM) or invest your capital in something that people need to survive (food, oil, housing, etc). My philosophy is that you should work on anything that you like, but the money you make you should invest on things that have real value.
If you love what you do, it's not work...
I suppose the difference is in the value of the content, but then Facebook got their start by spamming everyone to death and even today actually has negative value to me. They make a significant portion of their revenue from scammy affiliate ads, so they aren't all that different (except that Facebook is worth $230 billion because they sit at the top of the affiliate marketing food chain).
Affiliate marketing is an emotional roller coaster, not just in the sense that the money goes up and down so much. It is evertything, constantly watching traffic and analytics is very draining. It becomes almost impossible to go on vacation when things are bad. Almost worse wehn things are going good because all you are worried about doing is scaling.
Like a few other people in this thread, I've been out of the game for a while. I still have a few profitable campaigns that I am lucky enough to have nailed down to the point where I'll dominate as long as the niche is alive. I stopped innovating and testing new things because the industry is so god damn shady. Not just the CPA offers, I've had affiliate managers steal my campaign creative ideas, networks continually not pay me out and so many people fk me over.
Part of me thinks I would still be in the hustle if I didn't get married and have a kid, but for me it isn't something you can do if you want to responsibly sustain a household.
For anyone looking to get into this: pick a product (CPA, CPS) that you can get behind mentally. Can I promote this? Do I know how to sell this? Do I know how to write creative ads that will be better than the next guys?
I will never understand though how people manage to just "burn" serveral thousands of dollars after they got them. I like to save and don't need any of this funky stuff. Why would I want to spend 1200$ on some vodka? WTF, seriously!
I own an automotive business and it is amazing how much networking goes on at SEMA after parties every year in Vegas. It's really truly depends on the person and who you are with.
Why would you spend 2300$ on some laptop?
Could be value, status, money to splurge? Different people different preferences. To a millionaire there is little difference between a 1200 bottle and a 500 bottle, yet for 'regular people' there is. Perspective ...
The main thing is on you great months you have at act as if you're still "broke" just because you have a great month doesn't mean the next one will be.
A few months ago I made a large sum but have only made chump change sense. If I had spent it all the day I got it, I'd be fked.
How come you never tried to make something people wanted?
When you're making tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in your 20s, why would you want to do something different?
<a href="https://www.paidverts.com/ref/ednihs" >https://www.paidverts.com/ref/ednihs</a>
Fortunately, I decided it didn't make sense to jump straight into a real money-making idea until I knew what I was doing. So as a little project to learn the ropes, I'd make a site to help with something I was doing at the time - shopping for a used portable air conditioner on nearby craigslist sites.
So, I made a really simple little site that just generated links to craigslist results pages with criteria you specify. Using a mix of really ugly js and (iirc) Dreamweaver I even programmed some selection boxes that let you choose multiple states and cities in a more convenient way than a default multi-select. It was hideous, but I was kind of proud of it, and it cut my air conditioner search time considerably (although obviously by not nearly as much time as it took to make the site!)
When I signed up for $5/month GoDaddy hosting (which I've fortunately left far behind, but that's another story!) I got a $25 Adwords credit. So I used that, because why not. Also, earlier in my air conditioner search, before I'd even considered making the site, I had found a few forum threads while looking for a site like the one I ended up making. So I replied to those as well, in case it might be useful to anyone else.
A handful of people found the site those ways and started using it. (Like, probably double digits.) One day one of them posted on some other random forum to tell people about it, and a few more people trickled in. I certainly didn't have Adsense at that point, and wouldn't have made anything if I had. But gradually those people told more people, and I had a slow exponential growth curve going. They started requesting features, and so I made them. Once I got up to a few hundred users a day, I decided to try some adsense ads, and made maybe a few bucks a month. Then a few tens, then hundreds. I remember how exciting it was when it covered the rent for my basement suite. A little while after that, I looked into other ways to monetize, while hopefully adding to the user experience; the first really successful one was adding (optional) search results from eBay.
Eventually I contracted, and then hired, a designer/developer who helped make the site look halfway professional. Then I quit my day job to focus on it full time. Then hired another developer and built a spinoff site. We've got a team of 4 now, and are looking to add a couple more. It's been 9 years now since I started work on that first prototype, and about 6 since I quit my day job. Thankfully I never got the chance to try my "real" idea. (But seriously, HotOrNot for ads? How could that not make money?!)
In fact, the business I started 4 years ago, which is still profitable today, came from an idea I saw in Wickedfire. Only, all of the people in the forum that tried it got banned because they wanted to do it the scammy way..and I built it like a real business and gave people real value (and still do).
Even the guy in the article seems like he thinks like a gambler and not a business owner. He makes $100K and what does he do? Blow it on expensive cars, trips, and other luxury items. He should have taken the money and created a service or software based on what he has learned from affiliate marketing. Another route could have been a legitimate marketer. He might be in a happier place now.
What was that original idea?
If you have something that works and share it with the world, you'll quickly find yourself with 1000 competitors. They'll probably be poor competitors, but because of the nature of SEO, they just might outrank you for no good reason at all.
Or the competition might bid up (at their loss, but yours too) whatever you need as inputs (like traffic sources).
Many believe that ideas are worthless, but I don't. Especially on a business/startup forum. I really don't want the competition.
Like they say, you can get a man out of the bad neighborhood but you can't get the bad neighborhood out of a man, and this is coming from your typical low middle class guy.
Turned out to be a humblebrag with no new insights into the affiliate networks. I think it basically states that the train has left and you are 10 years late.