UPDATE: It is official EWA is closing their doors
Yet another affiliate network bites the dust. Rumors have been circulating for months of non payments and shady activities at EWA including creating fake Account Managers to attract the ever horny male adolescent affiliates. Just like COPEAC and so many networks of the past, history tends to repeat itself and when you start seeing things like this bubble up it’s just a matter of time. I have yet to see a network recover from this much bad press, but I wish Ryan Eagle the best and hope he can steer the ship in the right direction.
Performance Insider had a nice editorial about the whole fiasco, you can check it out here
Here are my thoughts on Ryan Eagle and his impact on affiliate marketing.
First, let me start with the story of how I got into affiliate marketing.
About 7 years ago I worked at an Interactive Agency (Red Bricks Media) doing SEO work for fortune 1000 clients. The job was interesting but left me unfulfilled so I started reading some Make Money Blogs including Shoemoney and John Chow, but it wasn’t until I picked up a magazine the company kept receiving that was lying around in the lobby that it finally hit me. The article was about a single father out of Las Vegas who was able to work 2 hours a day on his affiliate business and generate enough revenues to support him and his son, and then some.
Affiliate marketing was freedom to me. Don’t get me wrong, everyone wants to make tons of cash, but it was the freedom to travel, set my own hours, and earn based on my effort that was the real draw. Most affiliates I met were of the same mentality… the 4 hour workweek affiliates.
Then came Ryan Eagle
His self promoting “balling” attitude stood out from the rest. Eagle is a marketing genius by creating his exclusive network (which wasn’t exclusive) and his “epic” guides that outed other affiliates campaigns he was able to attract a whole slew of loyal affiliates who aspired to become ballers like him. After all to be successful you clearly have to work with someone who flaunts how much cash he’s generating in the business, right?
The era of EWA affiliates began. You can recognize them because they talk “gangster” even though they are usually white suburban kids, and they all front about how much money they make. I remember a time when it was rude to ask another affiliate “how much you make” but all of a sudden it turned into the third question only after whats you’re name and where you from.
EWA provided a one stop shop for affiliates. With affiliate managers who kind of knew what they were talking about, offers brokered from other networks allowing you to hit thresholds working with one network, and weekly payouts, why would you need to go anywhere else. The strategy worked for a few years and it looked like EWA was unstoppable, but of course cracks started to appear.
The truth is affiliate networks are just a commodity. The barrier to entry is so low that the industry is inundated with networks willing to take ever slimmer margins to get traffic. In the words (paraphrased) of one of my mentors Jason from A4D ”affiliate networks are just banks”
Now that I have my own affiliate network I couldn’t agree more. As an affiliate network your main job is to assess risk and manage cash flow. That’s it, its that simple. Every network that has failed in the past two years failed due to taking on too much risk and not managing cash flow effectively.
So what is an affiliate to do, how do you find networks to work with that won’t burn you?
1. Work with networks that are trustworthy and have a good reputation among advertisers and traffic sources NOT just affiliates
2. Look for signs to indicate the network is in trouble
3. Work with networks that don’t flaunt how much money they make… remember thats money that’s coming out of your pocket
4. Find networks that have most of their offers direct. Use WhereGoes.com to track redirects and see if the offers are brokered.
5. Always split test and diversify your traffic among affiliate networks. If one doesn’t pay at least you’re somewhat covered.
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