ASW 2011 Speaker Series: Jonathan Volk, An Affiliate Force

Affilliate Summits–both East and West–have been drawing eclectic crowds for quite a while now. And as we head into the 2011 edition of Affiliate Summit West, we close out this series with a look at Jonathan Volk’s approach to affiliate marketing–truly outstanding advice to start 2011 off with!

What do you do? In the affiliate marketing world, what role do you play?
Although I make money in other areas than affiliate marketing, it has been my main source of revenue for about the last 4 years now. I have done this primarily through paying for web traffic from search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN; Facebook Ads; email marketing, media buying, and other techniques.

What is the most difficult part of your job?
Making campaigns profitable for the long term. Affiliate marketing is great but unless you really work at it, most campaigns come and go pretty quickly. I can’t even begin to imagine how many campaigns I have worked on over the years. The funny part is the biggest money comes from the long term campaigns–not the fads. The tough part is finding those long-term campaigns.

How did you get started?
Really, my affiliate marketing journey started when I decided to find out how to make more money on my arcade site. At the time, I was spending 5 cents per click on Adwords for the keyword “games” and making 6 cents per click on average. Certainly not huge… but at the time, it was amazing to me.

Affiliate marketing came from me trying to research how I could increase that 6 cent average. Then I learned about landing pages, affiliate networks, etc. After a couple years of trying to make money I finally went full force with affiliate marketing…and never looked back.

What about Surge Marketing—how did you end up creating that company?
Surge Marketing Inc. is the company I founded in 2008 simply because I realized I had a passion for online marketing and wanted to get serious with it. At the time, I was seeing consistent growth in large amounts so I needed to incorporate to not only protect my new assets but also help save on taxes.

Communication is critical in sales. What are some positive changes you’re observing in the industry? Negative?
It seems that there will always be people looking to deceive customers but thankfully, it’s becoming a lot more difficult to do so.

How do you believe that affiliates can work together to improve the negative trends?
Look to the long term rather than making that quick buck. I recommend AdHustler’s posts here and here.

What about this industry, or internet marketing as a whole, do you say inspires you?
The thing I love about the internet is that is opens huge possibilities. You can sell to the entire world, 24/7. The possibilities are really limitless, you just have to find the right thing at the right time. As the internet continues to grow at a rapid rate, I know that the best days are ahead of me.

What are a couple of events or sessions you’re looking forward to during Affiliate Summit West?
I’m really looking forward to DK’s Poker Tournament. I look forward to it every year! Also, Shoemoney is having a session announcing a new product for the affiliate space. Really interested to see what it is and what it does. There are also a ton of meet-ups I’m excited about. And while I’m not not really much of a party type of guy, I’ll show up to a few, for a little while.

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?

Spam. Haha, just kidding. It’s hard for affiliates to take advantage of social media in a lot of ways. Because you don’t actually have a physical product or service of your own, you have to be a lot more creative. A cool idea I have seen is gaining a large following and having “sponsored” daily messages that help pay for the content creation of whatever the account is.

When you’re not in front of a computer, what are some of your favorite past-times?
Spending time with my wife and dog, drumming, going to church, swimming/beach, going to San Francisco (I live right outside the city), and hanging with friends. Oh and I’ve recently really gotten into racquetball–I’ve been playing every Wednesday for about an hour and a half for the last couple months.

And finally, a novice marketer comes to you for advice. In one sentence, what’s the best advice you can give them about writing copy?
Sell benefits, not features, by first focusing on the headline, then the calls to action. And remember always to be split testing.

Jonathan Volk is one of those “make money online” guys. He is a full-time super affiliate, blogger, speaker, and online entrepreneur. Jonathan started his quest to make money online in 2004 and has been working full-time online since early 2007. Now his company generates several million dollars per year. He also enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife, drumming (for over 10 years now), and volunteering at his church. He also has a popular blog with tips and tricks to make money online at JonathanVolk.com. Follow him at @jonathanvolk.

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