ASW 2011 Speaker Series: Shawn Collins, Industry Leader

Affilliate Summits–both East and West–have been drawing eclectic crowds for quite a while now. In our penultimate installment of this series, we’re featuring one of the ASW masterminds himself–Shawn Collins.

What do you do? In the affiliate marketing world, what role do you play?
I am a co-founder of the Affiliate Summit conference, which started in 2003. Also, I am co-publisher of FeedFront Magazine, as well as a host of the Affiliate Thing podcast on GeekCast.fm for the past four years. I’ve been an affiliate since 1997.

How did you get started?
Back in 1997, I learned HTML from a tutorial on AOL, and created a truly horrible site about New York City. Back then, Amazon was the only affiliate program I knew about, so I tried monetizing the site with books about NYC. It was slow going at first, as the site was hosted on AOL and nobody was going there. But then I got my first domain, and many more to follow and my design and marketing skills progressed.

What are some positive changes you’re observing in the industry?
In the past couple years, many parties from the industry have banded together to fight the “advertising tax” laws in various states. It was great to see so many giving their time and resources for a common goal. Also, most in the industry have been increasingly self-policing, which has helped to reinforce the positives in affiliate marketing.

What about negative trends?
There are always going to be some rogue affiliates that cheat in various ways. Due to those players, it’s essential that affiliate managers know their affiliates, and they should be focused on quality over quantity when it comes to the affiliates in their program.
How do you believe that affiliates can work together to improve the industry?
The easiest method is to simply work within the system – adhere to the terms of affiliate programs. Also, there has been continual innovation in online marketing from projects initiated by affiliates.

What about this industry, or internet marketing as a whole, do you say inspires you?
The success stories. I don’t mean the pictures of people in front of their cars or flashing wads of cash. I’m inspired by the people who have been able to improve their way of life through affiliate marketing, whether it has been from earning incremental income to make things easier, or those who were able to start their own successful companies that were powered by affiliate marketing.

What are a couple of events or sessions you’re looking forward to during Affiliate Summit West?
I take pride in the agenda from top to bottom and don’t play any favorites. The sessions were selected through a voting process with the public and our advisory board, so we have as broad a voice as we could bring together when assembling the speaker roster.

How do you think affiliate marketers can best leverage social media?
Affiliate marketers were all over social media when it was in its infancy. Facebook is hot now, but MySpace offered lots of affiliate opportunities years before. And affiliate marketers have been leveraging Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, etc. pretty much since their inception.

When you’re not in front of a computer, what are some of your favorite past-times?
I recently relocated to Austin, TX partly because I love the outdoors. But I love spending time outside with my wife and kids. Also, I’m a big baseball fan and try to catch a game in any city I visit.

And finally, a novice marketer comes to you for advice. In one sentence, what’s the best advice you can give them?
Be patient and work hard, because most people are impatient and lazy, and you greatly improve your chances of success just by sticking with it.



Shawn Collins has been an affiliate marketer since 1997 with a number of active affiliate projects, and a decade of affiliate management under his belt. He is a Co-founder of Affiliate Summit, the leading global conference and tradeshow for the affiliate marketing industry and Co-Editor-in-Chief of FeedFront Magazine. He authored the book Successful Affiliate Marketing for Merchants, blogs daily at AffiliateTip and co-hosts the weekly Affiliate Thing podcast on GeekCast.fm.

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