Affilliate Summits–both East and West–have been drawing eclectic crowds for quite a while now. However, some of the most remarkable contributors to Affiliate Summit tend not to be the affiliate marketers, but the men and women who contribute in other capacities. We kickstart our ASW2011 Speaker Series with Andrew Bennett, who will sit in on the Affiliate Improv! panel on Sunday, January 9 at 11AM. His interests, while touching upon affiliate marketing, also run the gamut from blogging to photography.

What do you do? In the affiliate marketing world, what role do you play?

In the affiliate marketing world, I am a blogger. I don’t consider myself an affiliate marketer. I am primarily a blogger who does have a few affiliate links on his blog. I’ve done a few successful campaigns with different products but mostly I get good traffic to products on that I recommend. I try and bridge the gap between bloggers and affiliate marketers by building communities.

How did you get started?
I got started blogging in 2003 as a way to keep friends and family aware of where I was traveling. In 2006, my wife told me that bloggers were making money through a company called PayPerPost. That year I made a good bit of extra income from working with PayPerPost and I started attending conferences. Then I moved from being an attendee to being a speaker. As I learn more each year, I try to take that and apply that to helping others.

What are some positive changes you’re observing in the industry?
Companies that work well with their publishers rising to the top. I’m seeing fairness and honesty rising to the top as well.

What about negative trends?
I try to stay out of the drama of negativity. I try and back myself with good people who are fair and honest. I believe in karma.

How do you believe that affiliates can work together to improve the industry?
I see affiliates working with each other all the time. From podcasting, creating learning programs of real value, and then also working together to educate people on the ad tax. Affiliates certainly can work well together and have already been doing so.

What about this industry, or internet marketing as a whole, inspires you?
The very inspiring thing I see is how people who have worked really hard are seeing it pay off in great ways like book deals, speaking engagements, and much more. These are people who have real value to share and are doing so.

What are a couple of events or sessions you’re looking forward to during Affiliate Summit West?
I’m looking forward to the Newcomer Program. I’ve never done it before. I’m also really looking forward to the session Dominating Your Niche With Blogger Outreach. I know most of the guys on the panel and love hearing new things from each of them. Also Using Datafeeds to Monetize Sites. I know little about that topic but it sounds interesting to me. I also spend a lot of time in the blogger lounge and meet many people there.

Social media has gained a lot of attention in the news recently. How do you think affiliate marketers can best leverage such an emerging technology?
If they aren’t doing it already, why? I would think that social media would already be a tool in an affiliate marketer’s arsenal. There is so much that an affiliate marketer can get from these technologies. To best leverage it is to be there. This isn’t just fun and games–social media is a real tool to use.

When you’re not in front of a computer, what are some of your favorite past-times?
When I am not in front of a computer, I am behind a lens. I’ve taken a photograph a day for over five straight years. Spending time with my wife and daughter is one of the most important experiences in my life. Also, I love going out on a kayak on a calm lake.

And finally, a novice marketer comes to you for advice. In one sentence, what’s the best advice you can give them?
Learn something new every day and teach that new-found knowledge to someone else.

In 2005, Drew Bennett aka BenSpark hit upon his calling,, a Photo-A-Day blog capturing his daily life in photos and blog posts for 5 consecutive years. When not in front of/behind the camera, Drew is a speaker, blog consultant, video blogger, and a writer for BloggingTips. Drew has also worked with major brands such as Norelco, Sonicare and Kodak. He is also a co-host of the podcast Geek Dads Weekly. Find him on Twitter at @BenSpark.

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 190 user reviews.