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Launching an Affiliate Business on a ShoeString – A4U Expo London 2010

13 October 2010 BY

Dixon Jones – MajesticSEO and Steve Brown of ShareMyPlaylists

It’s the “doing it in your bedroom session”, is Dixon’s opener. (Cool!)

Dixon hands over to Steve, who tells us he will be talking about ShareMyPlaylists (SMP) and how it achieved such quick and early success.
Steve is co-founder of Buy.at and is now advising and working with Kieron Donoghue as Director of SMP.

SMP – launched March 2009, focused on Spotify, enabling users to discover and share, so adding an additional social dimension to Spotify.
Launch budget was precisely nil.
Today received 300k uniques per month.

Initial strategy in terms of getting the word out; “shy bairns get nowt”, (LOL Kieron) essentially meaning reaching out to friends and contacts for initial publicity and links.
PR on a shoestring – Sent out T-shirts, finding that with this brand the question “what t-shirt size are you?” Solicited a 100% response rate, which I’ve never heard of a press release acheieving. One of the bigger achievements here was TechCrunch coverage.

Twitter – used to seek out journalists in the relevant sectors, the t-shirt idea acted as an ice-breaker and really did open up some conversations that more formal communications might never have facilitated.

Effect – linkjuice = Number 2 on Google for “spotify playlists” and second only to Spotify.co.uk

FB Like button worked extremely well (with it’s viral exposure effect) and helped immensely with traffic growth in a natural, quality way.
Same principle with retweet buttons. Making it easier for organic message distribution.

Ultimately a Business Needs Revenue

SMP is about having users and reveneue. There are costs (design, tech, commercial developments).
Site has a great commercial proposition – active engaged users that have a passion for the application.

Branded playlists e.g. IronMan 2 worked really well. Over 500 people created IronMan2 playlists.
Current competition is with Angels Fancy Dress company.Built a dedicated Hallowe’en channel for them.

Important to look after your users, enable them to become brand ambassadors.

Steve hands over to Dixon…

Dixon has set up and ran a number of online businesses, and many of us already know him for the SEO tools and business interests, such as link intelligence tool MajesticSEO.

Dixon wants to give some tips on how to move your affiliate income up to the levels of a living wage. I think this is a great level to pitch this for the audience, as for many it is at this level that can be difficult to get to.

Some business basics:
- Get a (trading as) business bank account first thing
- This act forces you to formalise many things such as cashflow
- Forces you to get ideas down on paper
- Also means your PayPal account can be set-up properly

DO YOUR BOOKS! Who wants to go under because they couldn’t/didn’t do the admin?

CASHFLOW – cash is King (I completely agree), not profit. Profit is irrelevant if it isn’t in the bank yet. You need to be cautious with cashflow early on. Dixon has even managed to do cash up fromt deals with merchants on the strength of owning the domains and having a good footprint in the space.

Don’t always go for the merchant with the highest comission, consider all the other things, how established they are and also their payment terms.
Keep up the day job, as a way to keep the cashflow in there.

Showstring budget – doesn’t mean do a shoddy job. (I think that is something evidenced really well in the earlier SMP case). Do spend some money on looking professional. Consider a cost-effective WP theme, don’t just go for the free one’s.
Act like your in it for the long haul – it will shape a professional outlook and approach to the whole project.

Always be nice to people on the way up as you never know who you will meet on the way down!

AUTHORED BY:
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Nichola Stott is owner and co-founder of theMediaFlow; online revenue optimisation and audience services (including SEO, SEM and SMM). Prior to founding theMediaFlow, Nichola spent four years at Yahoo! as head of UK commercial search partners.
  • http://www.receptional.com Dixon Jones

    Hi.

    Thanks so much for blogging our session Nichola. You are a star as always! x

    Let’s be clear though… MajesticSEO is not my making. There are a team of hundreds that collectively have WAY more influence in what MajesticSEO has done to date and they were there long before me. Alex, the company founder, is the brains and there’s this Dutch guy that provides financial muscle. That said, Majestic did start from a bedroom… well many bedrooms around the world collectively… but it’s not “my” baby by any means. I’m just a nanny :)

    I have set up several successful businesses – all starting from home – over a 20 year period, so I did feel pretty “qualified” at that session – but Majestic is something way bigger than me.

  • http://www.themediaflow.com Nichola Stott

    No problem Dixon. I really enjoyed it, as for a search person it is really interesting to get some insight into the whole start-up process. I’ve always gone the corporate route until setting up my own company theMediaFlow, so it’s really interesting for me to hear the advice from Steve and yourself.

    Thanks for the addendum regarding the operation at Majestic. I referenced in order so that our readers, who are no doubt familiar with Majestic, wouldn’t think that was the example you were brining to the table here; but definitely important to clarify that particular business is a not an affiliate or small operation. ;-)

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