Affiliate Summit West landed in Las Vegas last week and let me tell you, if you are thinking of attending the next one – do not hesitate!
It is the biggest affiliate conference on the planet, where you can meet your blogging heroes and party the night away – dot com style!
It was a blast and the contacts & connections I have made are priceless.
So let’s take a look at what makes Affiliate Summit awesome!
Extra Thanks To ShareASale
Without the ShareASale team I would never have attended the Affiliate Summit conference.
Brian Littleton (ShareASale CEO) reached out and offered to cover the cost of the flights and conference ticket.
This was down to how well the blog did in the Affiliate Summit Best Blog award votes which I eventually won taking 38% of the votes. You, the readers are responsible for that.
The entire ShareASale team pitched in to help plan my trip and took care of me while I was there. It is much appreciated!
Special mentions go out to Brian, David, Erica, Lindsey & Nick.
Flying To Affiliate Summit Las Vegas In Style
What I didn’t expect ShareASale to do is book first class flights from Manchester to Las Vegas.
My regular readers will know I travel a lot and I usually take the cheapest option, even if that does mean hanging off the side of a bus.
So you can imagine my reaction to find that Brian had splashed out over $8,000 on first class flights.
They had seats that turned into flat beds! The air hostesses would even ‘make the bed’ for you and pull out sheets, duvets and pillows!
I have never really being one for food on flights, I alway skip over it because lets face it – it’s disgusting. That was until they put this in front of me-
I turned that into poo quicker than you can blink!
They also slaughtered you with free booze, slippers, pyjamas – you name it!
You even got this little bag of shampoo, conditioner, a comb and this…
A Razor!!! After all the hassle of security they just handed me over a razor. That’s the sort of thing that can get you the rubber glove treatment at security!
Have I Sold My Soul?
I started to think, why would a company spend over $10,000 to get me there – had I sold my soul?
I asked Brian Littleton (ShareASale CEO) why they went to that trouble and it turns out ShareASale are not your average affiliate network.
Most networks just focus on landing the big money merchants, but Brian wants to be different. He wants to build relationships with bloggers & affiliates and get them in the same room as his merchants.
As someone that has worked on both the merchant side and the affiliate side that approach is really refreshing. Most networks are just interested in charging merchants extortionate setup fees and skimming the commission for the accounts lifetime.
But ShareASale are going that extra step to connect their affiliates with their merchants on a personal level. Rather than just blasting out the best offers this week.
So if you are a merchant looking to launch a successful affiliate program take a look at what ShareASale can offer you – as you can see, they are not your average affiliate network.
So I can safely say I haven’t sold my soul. If memes are to be believed, I didn’t have one in the first place anyway.
Affiliate Summit West Venue
Affiliate Summit was hosted at the Paris hotel which is slap bang in the middle of the strip and right opposite The Bellagio.
This was the view I had from my room in the hotel.
It was the perfect setting to get all of the best affiliates in the world in one place!
There were a bunch of different educational sessions running across Affiliate Summit hosted by some of the most experienced people in the industry.
We had sessions with John Chow, Jeremy ‘Shoemoney’ Schoemaker , Zac Johnson, Rae Hoffman & many many more.
You can check out the full list of sessions right here.
I only had time to check out a few of them though.
First Timers Orientation
As this was my first Affiliate Summit conference I hit the orientation hosted by co-founder Shawn Collins.
He takes you through everything you need to know and how to get the most out of the conference. He also handed out packs of treats and a couple of books!
Hi hello there my name is Shawn Collins, I’m co-founder of Affiliate Summit. Thank you for coming today to the first timer’s orientation.
So I’m just going to go through a bunch of quick tips and advice on how to get the most out of coming here, the best return for your investment, and afterwards if you haven’t gotten a copy already I have a book up here on how to get the most out of attending a conference.
So it’s a quick read, you can knock it out in like twenty minutes and it just has a lot of different tips, some of them will be mentioned here, some other things just to reinforce it just to really have a killer time here.
So I’m just going to jump into it.
One thing I hope if you haven’t done already I really advise you to define your goals here so you know, you really have to know why you’re here, what your big why is so when you get home you have to know whether or not you got to return your investment but if you don’t know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish there’s no way to know that so if you haven’t already mapped that out I urge you to do that right after this or some time this morning.
One thing for as you’re networking, if you happen to come here solo I would definitely suggest that you seek out somebody just during or after this session.
Just start chatting people up and find somebody else who’s solo and go around with them. It’s just a whole lot easier to meet people and to meld into groups and things if you’ve got a wingman or wing woman. So that’s something to, I really suggest.
Our facebook group, if you haven’t joined that yet we’ve got many hundreds of attendees here, more than 10% of the attendees have been networking hard before the show, during the show and even after the show.
So it’s a place for people saying what they need, what they want, who they want to meet so it’s a great place that you can take advantage of and if you can just go to this URL just search for affiliate summit west 2014 on Facebook you can find it and we’ll add you in there.
And also Twitter, definitely take advantage of our Twitter hashtag asw14 and also we have a list if you go to @affiliatessummit on Twitter that’s our account there. Just click on list and follow all the speakers in one shot or else you can pick and choose which speakers you want to follow, that’s a great way to interact with the various speakers and the leader in the industry and just also the hashtag to see what’s going on, see if there’s an impromptu gathering or which session is good or bad or what have you. So definitely take advantage of Twitter as well.
We can always stay late, you’re only here for about 72 hours, some people longer or shorter but I highly encourage you to forego sleep as much as you can and just go out there. We have over 5400 affiliate marketers here, it’s a great opportunity.
There’s way more people here than you can possibly meet. Please don’t waste your time, don’t sleep in, take advantage of all these people here and be out there, be out and about and do business, make relationships.
To follow along with that, never eat alone is the title of one of my favourite business books. But also it’s just a good thing, a good sort of motto to think about as you’re going along here. Don’t do room service in your room or go off on some far flung restaurant but seek out people that have the yellow name tags here if you’re by yourself and just hook up with them and have some meals and do some networking.
Everything is here, the meals, the coffee, just hang out in the lobby, every time here can be networking so take advantage of that.
Our conference apps if you have an Android or iPhone we have an app for it and it has all kinds of great stuff to help you network. It’s a way you can find different attendees and send them a message. It’s got a schedule you can customize for what you’re going to be attending. We have the descriptions of all the sessions, we have the speaker bios, the exhibitor descriptions, the locations for all the booths and the tables for the exhibitors so that’s great, so be sure to get that. It works for both the tablets and for the smart phones, sorry to the Blackberry people but it’s all iphone and android.
Map out the conference. Fortunately one thing I’m really excited here is we’ve been in a lot of different hotels in Vegas and a lot of times it’s sort of a labyrinth to find the different conference facilities. This is great that Paris is pretty easier to get from the elevators to over here but even still we’ve got a lot of different rooms that we’re doing things in.
The before break out session, the meet market, the exhibit hall and everything. So I highly encourage you to look in, you should have a copy of magazine from when you checked in and the back inside cover has a map of all facilities here so you can see where things are located.
So definitely know where you’re going so you’re not having to hustle later on trying to figure things out, but even if you do have a problem, we have a lot of staff wandering around so feel free to ask them along the way and we have a lot of signage trying to help you along.
Now I’m going to ask you to make your first relationships if you don’t have them right now, if we can please stand up and just say hello to the person to your left, to your right. Just have a quick meeting.
OK so hopefully you have a couple new connections there, you can continue these new relationships after the session. Just going to brief through a couple other things really quick.
One thing is the keys to effective networking and conversations here and since we have so many people here there’s a lot of people that you want to meet, I would highly encourage you to not really occupy everybody’s time too much.
Try to do like a searchical strike and have a quick conversation instead of sort of like the kiss method. Keep it simple stupid. Don’t go there and monopolize somebody for half hour in the corner cause you have some people to meet, they have some people to meet.
Also one thing I would highly encourage you to do is to not just go full force in there and tell them what you need. Go in there and ask them what they’re looking for and how you can help them. It’s a much greater way to establish that rapport and relationship, and just get some quality networking going. You never know, you might be able to connect them with somebody who could connect you but go in there and see how you help them first.
One thing sort of I guess a weird conference etiquette thing. It’s sort of awkward when you’re approaching people and if you’re looking down, looking at their chest, some people are more awkward than others so one thing I would highly suggest is the thing that I do.
If I see somebody I want to meet, I’ll look at them from like 10 feet away. We keep the first name pretty big on here so you can sort of get their first name so you can approach them and act like a human and look them in the eye when you’re talking to them. Like Hi Joe, hi Jennifer, try that instead of doing the looking down antisocial weird thing.
Business cards. Just to make things more efficient easy and streamline, one thing that I do is I have a system where my two pockets are my inbox and my outbox. So my left pocket is where I take the cards I’m receiving from people and my right one is where I keep my business cards to give out. So just something so you’re not fumbling around trying to find your card and miss a bunch of other ones, just makes it quicker and easier to just manage things.
Benefits of attending sessions. I guess the first one is very clear, it’s a place where you can learn a lot of things. But also it’s another networking opportunity so before and after the sessions you have a chance to chat with people around you.
Also probably the biggest one to me is that we’ve assembled a pretty impressive faculty of speakers here on these different topics so after the session or during the session you can ask them questions and get some questions answered that have been burning for you but also afterwards you can get some face time one on one with these speakers and maybe get some kind of relationship going, get their card and follow up with them afterwards. But it’s a great way to meet some people that you’ve been trying to meet for quite a while. They might be unreachable otherwise.
Along with that, with the sessions we highly encourage you to fill out the feedback forms when you’re in the sessions because we’d love to know if you were totally crazy about some speaker or if somebody was awful cause we want you to be very happy and have the best speakers possible and if anybody pitches from the stage they’re black listed forever.
We don’t give 3 strikes so we’d love to know anybody that rubs you the wrong way and does weird stuff in the session or if they’re the best thing ever so please do that.
Also after the show concludes we’re going to send out an email survey just about the overall conference and we’d love to know just every element if you liked or didn’t like certain things because over the ten plus years we’ve been doing this, we’ve changed a lot of things we’ve followed based on your feedback and we’re constantly trying to improve and make it the best time for you possible and we just rely on your feedback and also if you do fill out that feedback we’ll send you a discount code for the next show to register so try to get back a little bit for you there.
Competitive intelligence, I was looking at the slide this morning. I made this like a month ago and I couldn’t remember why I would possibly put this picture on here and I’m still not sure. But this is a great place and efficient to all the networking and learning you can do here, there’s in all likelihood that your competitors are all here too.
In some cases they might have a booth or a table so it’s an opportunity to go there, just see their collateral, see what they’re up to. Don’t be a creeper and try to listen to their conversations and their pitch but you can see what they’re doing there. Maybe just engage them and have a chat and you might actually have somebody you can actually work together on some basis.
That’s something to consider too, just reach out there and talk to competitors.
The Wi-fi we do our best to get as many possible connections as we can from the hotel but sometimes with people and all the multiple devices hooking up their phone and their laptop and their tablet and everything, it gets maxed out so if you’re going to be on the internet for a meeting or something, then have some kind of redundancy if you have possibly can, a hotspot on your phone or something and hopefully we’ll be able to take care of you the entire conference but sometimes it just gets overwhelmed and we’re sorry about that but just try to have some redundancy if possible for that.
Along with that, highly encourage you to charge your devices every night. I typically at any conference am usually killing my iphone by noon or one with all the texting, pictures and stuff and so I fortunately, I don’t know if many of you have one of these but I have one of these mini chargers now that saves me but also we have a power station from eiffel down the hallway there to get some emergency juice.
Whatever it is though, make sure you have it charged because it’s so difficult, I mean I sort of wonder how we possibly lived like I was a high school kid in the 80’s, how I ever found my friends without a phone but now it’s sort of the toy necessary to have one so don’t let yours burn out.
Also don’t waste time on random booths. We have hundreds of exhibitors here and I really ask you to look at the exhibitor guy and see which companies that make sense for you to go and visit with. It’s not advantageous for you or the booth you’re visiting if you’re listening to the pitch just to be nice and courteous if you have no business dealing with them so just be sort of selective on who you’re going to talk to because there’s so many companies here and you don’t want to waste your time or their time.
Hydrated. It may seem like some basic advice but since we’re in the desert here it’s very easy to get all dried out. The day I got here I walked over to the Walgreens over by the Venician and got tons of water.
I’ve been panning it down every night every morning and I highly encourage you to just drink as much water as possible cause with all the talking and everything and the dryness here, you’re going to be in pain if you don’t have the water intake.
Get off your computer if all possible. It sort of pains me since we try to make such a great environment for everybody to network and do things here and I see people sitting in the hallway on the floor checking Facebook, reading TMZ or something and there’s so many opportunities here.
Certainly if you have to do some mission critical stuff for business it makes sense but if you’re just messing around it’s just a tragic waste of human spirit and be sitting there doing lol on facebook. So be present while you’re here.
Also hopefully this should be very basic but don’t lose control. There’s a lot of temptation of course in Vegas, lot of very fun parties and everything but it’s such a waste if you end up going out thinking you’re the big rock star and then you sleep through a meeting or a session the next day.
We start things a little bit later than other conferences to try to accommodate people and their sleeping schedules but still though just to keep it in moderation because there’s a lot of great stuff, a lot of opportunities here and I’d hate to see you miss them.
Finally the follow up. The whole trip here is sort of for naught if you don’t go and take care of the follow up afterwards. So at a minimum I would highly encourage you to make the phone calls or the emails to circle back with people but also one thing I think that’s been very good results for me is to actually go out and get a bunch of old thank you cards and hand write thank yous.
Just a little one or two line thing and it just has such a bigger impact, you’re looking at likely 100% open rate when you send the snail mail and it just puts the relationship on a different level and probably maybe 1% of people in here will do that and the great thing there is that it has so much more of an impact as most people are too lazy to do it.
The final, if you have any questions we have the information booth there as well as our registration booths down the hallway. All the staff have these black tshirts with staff written on the back so if you have any questions, feel free to ask us.
We’re here to help you, to serve you to make it the best possible conference for you so ask away and this is my business card here. I’m not sure if you can read that but on Twitter I’m at affiliate tip and my email address is [email protected] affiliate summit. Feel free to reach out to me anytime here, during the conference, after the conference or whatever.
Thanks a lot for coming, we really appreciate it and have a wonderful show.
If you do attend the Affiliate Summit conference for the first time I highly recommend you check it out!
Thanks to Shawn for sorting out access to the blogger lounge, I had some of the best conversations in there!
Writing Pages to Rank in the Search Engines
This session was a basic look at on page optimisation – there were some great tips for beginners-intermediate SEO’s.
Unfortunately I was called out half way through so had to make an exit.
Secrets of Top Six Figure Bloggers
John Chow, Zac Johnson, John Rampton, Syed Balkhi
This was one of the sessions I was more excited about – I have read John Chow & Zac Johnsons blogs for years and had crossed paths a couple of times online in the past.
The talk was great as each blogger shared their perspectives on a range of blogging related subjects.
Generating Affiliate Income with a Branded Blog
Rae Hoffman (sugarrae)
Another blogger I have follwed for a while is Rae Hoffman. I jumped into her talk without hesitation.
She shared her strategy for starting with a blank piece of paper to build a branded affiliate blog.
There were 3 awesome partys open to all Affiliate Summit West Las Vegas attendees with open bars and superstar performances.
ShareASale Superheroes VS. Supervillains
The first party to kick things off was ShareASale’s Superheroes VS. Supervillains – with optional fancy dress and an open bar it was a great opening.
They also had amazing tableside magician Joel Givens performing. I got up close and personal with him at dinner the next evening, I have never seen table side magic like he does it.
He is so good, he had to remove all his videos from YouTube because everyone was stealing his tricks!
The Affiliate Ball was hosted at the Chateau nightclub and again, the open bar ensured the drinks were flowing.
The night was hosted by Flavor Flav with performances by B Real (Cypress Hill) & Too $hort.
While it was an awesome party the jet lag got the better of me and I was falling asleep drink in hand so knocked it on the head early doors!
Last but not least was the Affilaite Nation party at club Tao. The same deal applied, open bar and awesome performances.
This year featured performances from Warren G, Tone Loc, 2 Live Crew, Young MC & V.I.C.
Affiliates certainly know how to thrown down the best partys! There is no doubt about that!
Never Meet Your Heroes
Whoever said you should never meet your heroes is an idiot.
I’ve been a long time follower of John Chow, Shoemoney, Zac Johnson, Missy Ward & Rae Hoffman to name a few. I’ve read their blogs for years and any books they have published.
Affiliate Summit gave me the opportunity to meet and network with my internet marketing heroes.
I bumped into Shoemoney, spent time with John Chow in the blogging lounge and went to dinner with Missy Ward, Rae Hoffman and the ShareASale team to name a few.
Each and everyone of them was open and approachable, it was great to finally meet everyone!
The #ASW14 twitter hash tag was going absolutely crazy for the hulk!
They did a great job promoting the new company and blew HostGators crappy basketball game stand out of the water!
Not only that but the offer is great as well. You get your first 6 months hosting completely free!
Planting The Seed
The biggest value Affiliate Summit provides is the opportunity to network and form relationships. Don’t be scared to talk to strangers, if they have an Affiliate Summit badge they want to talk.
It’s easy to shy away from people but approach the conference with an open mind and speak to as many people as you can, you never know what might happen!
I have only being back for a few days but those new relationships are already opening some doors-
WPEngine have being testing my patience for the past few months now.
The backend of the site is awfully slow, it takes nearly 40 seconds to login, 30 seconds to approve a comment – all that extra time adds up. The front end is razor fast though!
Support used to be awesome and take ownership of issues, now it seems they just push them back on you.
They even deleted a bunch of data from the live database without my permission OR taking a backup first.
So when I spotted co-founder Ben Metcalfe we had a pretty direct conversation. Needless to say they now have their best talent looking to resolve the problem.
It’s just a shame I had to fly half way around the world for that to happen.
Your Legal Questions Answered
I spoke to Paula Brillson (DigitalLawGroup) who has agreed to answer all of your legal questions on the blog free of charge.
If you have a legal question you want an answer to, then just post them here.
I will get them all answered for you!
CDN Case Study
After speaking with a couple of guys from MaxCDN in the bloggers lounge I managed to hook up a special treat for you.
I use MaxCDN across most of my sites so I have spent this weekend collecting data for a new case study.
You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference it makes!
Opt In Case Study
Off the back of his advice I’m going to deploy a new test this week to collect data and report back.
I spoke to Michael Geneles who is the co-founder of PitchBox about his outreach system. I grilled him very hard on the tool and he knocked everyone of my questions out of the park.
Expect an awesome case study off the back of this.
I’m not going to ruin any surprises here but I was able to secure a huge range of competition prizes for everyone.
I’ve given away thousands and thousands of dollars worth of tools and software the past year.
It looks like that trend is going to continue this year =D
See You At The Next Affiliate Summit
All in all the Affiliate Summit experience was an awesome one.
3 days of wild partys with the most talented and experienced people in the industry.
Whats not to love about that?
The connections and relationships you make will be priceless.
Affiliate Summit East takes place in New York on August 10th-12th. I will see you there!