I started playing around as an affiliate in early 1997. At the time, I was working on the business side of magazine publishing (crunching circulation numbers at Ziff-Davis), and I desperately craved a job I didn’t dread.
My regular ritual was to devour the help wanted ads in the New York Times in search of a new opportunity, and it finally arrived later that year in the shape of a new startup, MedSite.com.
One of the reasons I was able to get a job in their marketing department, despite zero marketing experience, was that I was an affiliate myself, and they wanted to launch an affiliate program.
That was my first entry into the startup world, which was a crazy circus back in late 90’s NYC.
So I was interested to read what Jason Calacanis had to say when I saw a post on his blog, “How to save money running a startup (17 really good tips).”
I thought that he offered up some excellent advice there on most of the points. So I was surprised to read Duncan Riley’s hatchet job on TechCrunch.
Michael Arrington later characterized Riley’s comments as a humorous approach, but I think that was damage control over a misguided rant.
Lot’s of useful information for start-ups in Arrington’s post, too.
Anyhow, the final point in Calacanis’ initial post resonated with me, because it reminded me a lot of affiliate marketers.
“Outsource to middle America: There are tons of brilliant people living between San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York who don’t live in a $4,000 one bedroom apartment and pay $8 to dry clean a shirt–hire them!”
This is exactly what everybody from Mom & Pops to the largest online retailers have been doing since the mid-90’s.
But they don’t call it outsourcing, they call it affiliate marketing.
Maybe it should be called “bestsourced marketing”, since some affiliate marketers aren’t crazy about being called affiliates.
Anyhow, back to the beginning, my first affiliate manager job with with a startup, as was my second (with ClubMom.com).
In both cases, we successfully bestsourced marketing efforts to middle America and everywhere else via affiliate programs.
Something to consider for those startups looking to optimize every dollar.
And for anybody who didn’t experience the whole startup culture back in the day, check out Startup.com, a documentary covering the creation of a startup from 1990’s NYC.
It’s a cringe-filled trip down memory lane.