If you’ve been to past Affiliate Summits, from the mid 2000’s, you might remember when there were content sites that added value and you could see all of your friends without having to look through crowds of thousands. You could make a deal with a site to give you a newsletter drop in exchange for a higher commission, and by making friends with a partner you could get higher commissions or even extra run of site exposure by just being yourself. That feeling may have started to fade when you would see PPV and Adware companies being allowed in and aggressive tactics being pushed during sessions like how to use PPV, however, after attending and having my first meet market table, Affiliate Summit may still have thousands of people, but the old feelings and great partners are back and in full force! My goal for this show was to meet at least 30 new people every day. With the new app, amazingly well organized show and the set up of the events and sessions, Affiliate Summit has taken all of your feedback and made the most kick ass, affiliate show in the country.
Not only was there a huge influx of content sites looking to learn how to monetize their traffic, but you had newbies going in knowing it will take years before they start earning a decent amount of money. You had actual relevant partners walking up to your tables instead of getting pitched all the time by irrelevant companies, and thanks to probably the best Affiliate network, the meet market was filled with merchants, many of which I hadn’t heard of and now have ideas on how to promote. If you think you made a good decision on skipping Affiliate Summit East, you actually made a horrible one and here are ten reasons why.
1. I met more content sites and partners that have actual traffic than both of the past Blogging Conferences (leaving the name out on purpose) I went to combined. The people at Affiliate Summit East are ready to go, actually know what they are doing and are serious business people. The people at the branding show tend to flake out on promises, don’t have real traffic and act as if people should bow down to them and pay a ton of money for a post on a site with no actual traffic (Just my opinion and my experience with the show). This isn’t all of them, but it does appear to be a high percentage once the show is over, they have their free stuff and then they feel like they can back out on the deals they made. (Again, this is not everyone, but it is probably 60 to 70% of the people I met and cut deals with from the previous shows I attended which is very disappointing). They were very friendly and have no problems asking me for favors or taking products, but when it comes to delivering on their end, some of these people tend to be very flakey. There is a huge difference in someone that makes promises or agrees to a business deal, then goes back on the promises and makes threats if you ask them why they are backing out. The deals were things like writing on each other’s sites, and building brands which is what the show was about. The people who attended Affiliate Summit are very different.
The bloggers and content sites that attended Affiliate Summit are ready to learn and grow a business, not live off their husbands and wives paychecks, beg for free crap and never post about or link to or follow through with what they promised. The sites and business people I met at Affiliate Summit are content relevant, niche and perfect to grow their sites into a business. If you didn’t go, you missed a huge opportunity with them. Numerous ones have already started signing up for my programs and one has already sent their first sale. I will probably not go back to the branding show, mainly because Affiliate Summit has found a way to attract the real site and business owners from those shows and can bring them to you at their events instead. It is a much better use of money and time to go to Affiliate Summit than some of the other shows (again, just my opinion).
2. The networking. No matter which party I went to, including a Clickbank one which I had never been to before, someone asked what I did and then walked me up to at least 3 new people I hadn’t met, but had some way to work with. I have never had another show where people walk up to you and help you grow your business because they have seen you speak, have heard about your clients, or know one or two of your sites. That is one thing that the people at Affiliate Summit are happy to do, they help people connect with each other to make money and grow their businesses.
3. Clients and meetings. There were in house merchants and companies going around looking for marketing firms from SEO to PPC and of course Affiliate Management Companies like mine. They came prepared with some questions, others found posts like this one on questions to ask an outsourced affiliate management company and they used them. People seemed better prepared and really knew their stuff. Others walked in blind and got back information from adware companies and networks, but at some point many of them found someone on the white hat side and learned what to look for and what to look out for.
4. People wanted to learn. Some got defensive in sessions, but most people had an opened mind, came prepared with a list of questions that they couldn’t find online and definitely gave some people and speakers a run for their money. You had everything from programming and tech questions to targeting, split testing and creating a better user experience, and even about the best types of cameras to use for shooting video and tools to distribute or make money by using video within your marketing efforts.
5. New tools and products to grow my business. I did a post a long time ago about a product called Shareist. Shareist is something I hadn’t thought about for a while, but when I sat down for 5 minutes with company founder and Affiliate Icon Scott Jangro, I learned it has now grown into a huge contender for a full marketing platform including content curation and scheduling. I also found a few new services that I am going to be testing on my different blogs. I had no idea this technology existed and once I test it I’ll be sharing the names and results of the tests.
6. Getting rid of bad impressions and gaining new opinions. I met with an Affiliate that used to work as a back door for sites I would kick out of every program I would manage. I would never have given them a second thought, except that they had knowledgeable people there and were working on solutions. (They are also non adware). We sat down for a couple of hours over the course of the show and they have now developed a system where you can opt partners and sites in and out from their content network. You can do it by state, category or niche and also block anyone you want. The reason I would consider working with them now is that I can actually go in and approve any of the sites that would have access to my offers. Anyone not approved will be blocked and not have access. This content monetization Affiliate tool has a gigantic reach and can hit a ton of sites that I would not have access to without them, or without an additional years worth of recruitment (small exaggeration). Because of the improvements they have made, and because I am helping them with their new merchant side interface to ensure it has everything I need, I will once again start working with them on select clients as a test.
7. New technologies and ideas. One thing I enjoyed was being approached by a couple of vendors that actually looked through my sites before hand. One was an adware PPV person that should have known not to bother, but the other had a really cool product. I wouldn’t recommend it yet, but I gave some feedback and hadn’t thought about what they did before and how it could help to increase sales and sign ups on my site. I am now looking for competitors if they cannot create a solution like I would need and will be writing about it once I find a good one. If I hadn’t gone to Affiliate Summit East I probably wouldn’t have found out about this technology, at least not right now when it would be relevant for me.
8. Exposure for my company and brand. I met a few people who write for some very large sites. Others have friends that contribute to them. By being at Affiliate Summit and talking about my company and my clients, I was able to pitch ideas and now need to write a couple of guest posts for some very large news sites. Gaining this type of exposure would normally need an expensive PR firm or a ton of luck. Doing it via a drink in the hotel lobby was a much easier and less expensive way to do it.
9. Rae Hoffman’s Keynote. If you’ve never heard @Sugarrae speak, you’ve missed some amazing advice on SEO. Instead of talking about SEO this time, she talked about what drives her, her personal life and what helped to make her who she is. Her keynote was a heartfelt way to motivate everyone in the audience and I don’t think a single person walked out without having gone through a million emotions. If you didn’t get to see it, go and buy the pass for the videos once they are available. If you need motivation, this is probably one of the best keynotes you will ever hear.
10. Hearing me speak. Ok, that’s probably a reason not to go. One thing that a couple people came up to me and said afterwards is that it is like reading one of my blog posts. The difference is that they can ask anything that wasn’t clear because we are there in person. They can also get examples and actually get a review of their sites depending on the time available. The same goes for any other speakers whose blogs or websites you might read. You can go up to the person after and get anything you want cleared up instead of having to guess or hope they respond to you. Sometimes you’ll have one that is a jerk and won’t help, but most of them are more than happy to clear things up from their presentations or even blog posts if you remind them what the post was about and how long ago they posted it. It is a great way to meet some amazing marketers like Will Reynolds, Rae Hoffman, Shawn Collins and many more.
If you didn’t go to Affiliate Summit East, you missed an amazing show. I definitely feel like I got my money’s worth and even if none of my meetings get me a new client, I still got re-energized about work and am ready to kick ass all Q4. Thank you everyone who made the show amazing and especially to Missy and Shawn for having me speak and Rae for an amazing Keynote.