Woody Allen settles $68m lawsuit with Amazon over movie deal

Woody Allen has reached a legal settlement with Amazon Studios after it abandoned a four-film deal.

Allen initially filed a $68m (£52m) lawsuit in February amid resurfaced allegations that he molested his adopted daughter.

Amazon argued that his comments about the #MeToo movement “sabotaged” its attempts to promote his new movies.

The film director denies sexually assaulting Dylan Farrow, who lost a court case against him in 1992.

Under the movie deal, signed in 2016, Allen received a $10m advance payment. But two years later, the release of his first film, “A Rainy Day in New York,” was shelved and plans for three other movies were cancelled.

#MeToo ‘poster boy’

Shortly before Amazon withdraw from the agreement, Allen reportedly expressed sympathy for movie producer Harvey Weinstein, who was accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women.

Mr Weinstein denied the accusations against him, but has since reached a $44m settlement with some of the alleged victims.

Months after these initial comments, Allen accused Dylan Farrow of “cynically using the #MeToo movement” after she repeated allegations that he assaulted her when she was seven years old.

In an interview with Argentinean broadcaster Eltrece, Allen said he “should be the poster boy for the Me Too movement” since he had worked with “hundreds of actresses” and was “only accused by one woman in a child custody case”.

Amazon Studios said its decision to terminate the deal was justified because Allen’s comments undermined its financial security.

It also pointed out that “scores of actors and actresses expressed profound regret for having worked with Allen in the past, and many declared publicly that they would never work with him in the future”.

In response, Allen said Amazon was fully aware of Dylan Farrow’s accusation when the deal was signed.

His company, Gravier Productions, secured an international release for “A Rainy Day in New York” this year, but US distribution has not been secured.

Timothee Chalamet and Rebecca Hall, who star in the film, said last year that they would donate their wages to charity.

Have Sneaker Collaborations Finally Gone Too Far?

We get it: the Supreme x Louis Vuitton collab is hot property. However, despite a Beckham endorsement and the mammoth queues of wide-leg-trousered teens, we can’t help but think the hype is in danger of going a step too far.

Case in point, this custom creation by cult sneak cobbler Obuwnik. The remixed Adidas NMD CS1 (it’s not an official threeway collaboration) is undoubtedly set for viral greatness, yet has it all gotten a bit much? The original model is a statement in itself (and one that many would eschew in favour of something simpler), so combine that with Louis Vuitton’s often polarising print and your footwear will be speaking at a volume normally reserved for a Donald Trump rally.

It’s no bad thing if you revel in a louder wardrobe, we suppose. Though factor in the £285 price tag, and you’re looking at a phenomenal cost for something that’s neither official merch, nor likely to clinch the cost-per-wear ratio.

In short: a collab between a leading streetwear brand and a French luxury fashion house with a custom limited edition sneaker remix from an Instagram-vendor. Our heads hurt (and it isn’t just the print).

Apple’s ‘sexist’ credit card investigated by US regulator

A US financial regulator has opened an investigation into claims Apple’s credit card offered different credit limits for men and women.

It follows complaints – including from Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak – that algorithms used to set limits might be inherently biased against women.

New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) has contacted Goldman Sachs, which runs the Apple Card.

Any discrimination, intentional or not, “violates New York law”, the DFS said.

The Bloomberg news agency reported on Saturday that tech entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson had complained that the Apple Card gave him 20 times the credit limit that his wife got.

In a tweet, Mr Hansson said the disparity was despite his wife having a better credit score.

Later, Mr Wozniak, who founded Apple with Steve Jobs, tweeted that the same thing happened to him and his wife despite their having no separate bank accounts or separate assets.

 

Banks and other lenders are increasingly using machine-learning technology to cut costs and boost loan applications.

‘Legal violation’

But Mr Hansson, creator of the programming tool Ruby on Rails, said it highlights how algorithms, not just people, can discriminate.

US healthcare giant UnitedHealth Group is being investigated over claims an algorithm favoured white patients over black patients.

Mr Hansson said in a tweet: “Apple Card is a sexist program. It does not matter what the intent of individual Apple reps are, it matters what THE ALGORITHM they’ve placed their complete faith in does. And what it does is discriminate.”

He said that as soon as he raised the issue his wife’s credit limit was increased.

The DFS said in a statement that it “will be conducting an investigation to determine whether New York law was violated and ensure all consumers are treated equally regardless of sex”.

“Any algorithm that intentionally or not results in discriminatory treatment of women or any other protected class violates New York law.”

The BBC has contacted Goldman Sachs for comment.

On Saturday, the investment bank told Bloomberg: “Our credit decisions are based on a customer’s creditworthiness and not on factors like gender, race, age, sexual orientation or any other basis prohibited by law.”

The Apple Card, launched in August, is Goldman’s first credit card. The Wall Street investment bank has been offering more products to consumers, including personal loans and savings accounts through its Marcus online bank.

The iPhone maker markets Apple Card on its website as a “new kind of credit card, created by Apple, not a bank”.

3 Executive-Branding Lessons We Can Learn From Elon Musk

“I hate the whole idea of brands and branding.” Elon Musk once tweeted this statement in response to a follower’s suggestion that the Tesla Motors brand was too luxe to consider producing an electric truck. Yet despite the high-profile blunders that have contributed to Tesla’s reputation as a volatile stock option, Musk has maintained his position as an indisputable tech visionary.

Dubbed the world’s first “Influencer CEO,” Musk has embraced strategic branding tactics and the irreverent culture of social media to share his personal philosophies and transformational leadership style. The polarizing 48-year-old entrepreneur extraordinaire consistently manages to excite, rattle and assuage employees, investors and shareholders alike as he executes his vision.

1. Stick to the mission.
Musk has justified his business decisions by referencing his “mission of accelerating the advent of sustainable transport and energy, which is important for all life on Earth.” Even if it’s in the form of a memo discussing employee cuts sent in the middle of the night, Musk is always reiterating that his primary focus is the relentless pursuit of developing technology that best serves humanity.

Musk has had to make tough calls that many executives face, including firing colleagues and prioritizing personal projects over contracted commitments. But despite the occasional tweet-storm, outlandish statement or tantrum, Musk has achieved icon status among the Millennial generation because of his positions on renewable energy and investing in the future of the world. Simply put, he has a vision and a mission that he sticks to, and has earned loyal followers who appreciate his dedication.

2. Know when to apologize.
Reputation management is all about timing, and high-level executives must learn how to effectively own up to mistakes made either within the company or due to a personal failure. In Musk’s case, these aren’t often mutually exclusive. During one post-earnings conference call, Musk became impatient with two Wall Street analysts and chided them for their “boring, bonehead questions.” Unsurprisingly, Tesla shares dropped quickly.

At the next meeting, Elon Musk adopted a measured tone when describing the company outlook and profitability predictions. He also gave an authentic apology to the Wall Street analysts, citing lack of sleep and overwork while admitting he was in the wrong. As a result of what has been called “the most valuable apology of all time,” Tesla shares surged and added almost $5 billion dollars to its stock value.

3. Don’t chase the popular vote.
Musk didn’t become the most inspirational leader in tech by being well-liked. While most CEOs consult their legal counsel before sharing messages with the masses, Musk fires off salvos with little regard to political, legal or financial consequences to his companies.

Critics can question his messaging strategy (or seeming lack thereof), but the risk-taker boasts a net worth of more than $20 billion and has dismissed jabs at his unconventional workstyle, telling the New York Times, “If you have anyone who can do a better job, please let me know.”

Similarly, staff at NASA may be panicking due to Musk allegedly overpromising and under-delivering, but tabloid fodder ultimately brings the scope of space exploration to the forefront and invites its proponents to engage and share ideas and information. And he does at least have famed astrophyisicist and author Neal deGrasse Tyson in his corner.

Related: How to Strengthen Your Personal and Executive Presence

Though most of his projects are still years away from completion, Musk isn’t done hyping his companies’s potential to disrupt almost every major industry and global program in existence. By investing in sustainable technology companies, relentlessly pushing innovation and leveraging any and all platforms to spread his philosophy, Musk has emerged as one of the most visible business and innovation leaders of the past decade. Other CEOs would do well to revisit their own brand-messaging strategies, because as Musk has demonstrated, the era of the hyper-communicative executive is here to stay.

Don’t Learn More, Learn Smarter. A Quick Guide to Agile Learning.

Learning agility is a more dynamic and smarter approach, trimming the fat and leaving the most valuable information. So when I forget for the umpteenth time where I left my keys, perhaps that’s not a bad thing. Maybe I’m just making room for more useful data.

To be competitive, entrepreneurs must be able to learn with agility so they can adapt and advance in an ever-changing marketplace. Studies have found that learning agility is even more important than job performance. Here, six strategies for developing your capacity for agile learning.

1. Make reading your default mode.

As Harry Truman once said:

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

A pillar of learning agility is continually consuming information, and there’s no better way to do that than reading. Not only does it expand my vocabulary and introduce me to new subject matter, reading also helps me discover new ways of thinking. I read to learn about new mental models, for example, which give me tools for processing and organizing the world of information around me.

For a long time, I made excuses for not reading more material that didn’t pertain directly to my work. I was trying to scale my startup and still spend time with my family. Who can find the time? But at a certain point, I started reading during the “between” times: between meetings, on the train, over breakfast or even listening to audiobooks during my lunchtime walk. That way, there was no need to find the time — I already had it.

Everyone is busy. But if Mark Cuban reads three hours a day and Bill Gates finishes one book a week, then I can, too.

2. Learn deliberately.

There are three types of learning: accidental, conscious and deliberate. The first kind happens to us, e.g. you’re walking down the street and see a sign for a new streaming service. The second kind is when we learn but not necessarily purposefully, like via reading the paper or watching the evening news.

The third kind, deliberate learning, is when we’re actively trying to acquire new information. Our attention is focused and thinking is sharp. And ultimately, we intend to incorporate this material into our existing framework and be able to access it later. To become an agile learner, it’s important to make a habit of learning deliberately. And because only you know which lessons are most relevant to your work and your future, each individual’s autodidactic path will be unique.

3. Learn in short, regular intervals.

It’s crucial to set aside time for that deliberate learning every day, and a little bit goes a long way, especially if you stick to a regular habit. Though on average, knowledge workers spends just five minutes on learning each day, experts recommend dedicating between 30 minutes and an hour per day.

To make the most of your study session, entrepreneurs and Harvard Business Review contributors Josh Bersin and Marc Zao-Sanders recommend maintaining a to-learn list, advising: “Write down a list of concepts, thoughts, practices and vocabulary you want to explore, book mark them in your browser and add them to your list. You can later explore them when you have a few moments to reflect.”

Learning in small but regular time allotments is effective because they are brief, and therefore sustainable, but also consistent, helping to continually cement recently acquired information.

Benedict Carey, author of How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens, is also a proponent of the idea that knowledge should be consumed in bite-sized quantities.

As he writes:

“You can water a lawn once a week for 90 minutes or three times a week for 30 minute. Spacing out the watering during the week will keep the lawn greener over time.”

4. Learn from others with experience.

If you want to learn anything faster, start by tapping someone who has personal experience with that subject. And if they’ve mastered it, even better. Entrepreneur and author Tony Robbins captured this idea perfectly:

“The fastest way to master any skill, strategy or goal in life is to model those who have already forged the path ahead. If you can find someone who is already getting the results that you want and take the same actions they are taking, you can get the same results. It doesn’t matter what your age, gender or background is. Modeling gives you the capacity to fast track your dreams and achieve more in a much shorter period of time.”

This “modeling” technique, as Robbins calls it, enables us to learn from the experience of others, including any mistakes, and save time in our own journey. Not to mention, it’s more fun and energizing than learning alone.

5. Cross-train between subjects.

In the past, people thought success came through specialization, or achieving mastery in a single subject. As the saying goes: Jack of all trades, master of none. That way of thinking is antiquated at best and self-defeating at worst. As Vikram Mansharamani wrote for Harvard Business Review:

“Corporations around the world have come to value expertise, and in so doing, have created a collection of individuals studying bark. There are many who have deeply studied its nooks, grooves, coloration and texture. Few have developed the understanding that the bark is merely the outermost layer of a tree. Fewer still understand the tree is embedded in a forest.”

Today, people are increasingly recognizing the value of becoming “expert generalists” — understanding the forest. Because, as Vikram writes, “our highly interconnected and global economy means that seemingly unrelated developments can affect each other.”

What’s more, we learn better and with more agility when we can forge connections across boundaries and transfer knowledge from subject matter to another.

6. Practice.

Finally, like any skill, your capacity for agile learning will improve with practice. Forget the notion that some people are born better learners. As Dr. K. Anders Ericsson, an expert on expert performance, explains: “People believe that because expert performance is qualitatively different from normal performance, the expert performer must be endowed with characteristics qualitatively different from those of normal adults. This view has discouraged scientists from systematically examining expert performers and accounting for their performance in terms of the laws and principles of general psychology.”

With few exceptions (e.g. height and the ability to play basketball), most factors that determine our performance aren’t genetically prescribed. Ericsson and colleagues argue that “the differences between expert performers and normal adults reflect a life-long period of deliberate effort to improve performance in a specific domain.”

Similarly, your effort vis-a-vis learning should be deliberate. But don’t consider it another task to add to your routine. Instead, think of agile learning as a lifestyle, one that will improve your business and hopefully enrich your life.

Top 15 Fashion Accessories For Men

Men’s fashion has always been popular in the spotlight, however the attention to the finer details often gets overlooked by most men. Accessories for men tend to be ignored, while the front runners of apparel such as shirts and jeans get our top focus and consideration. This is unfortunate considering accessories can easily make or break our outfit and style. In return, we’ve outlined below the top 15 best accessories every man should own and wear. While fashion is cyclical, the advice given has held true for a long time, and will probably hold true indefinitely in the future. Never underestimate the power of wearing good men’s fashion accessories.

1. Rings

Generally, a ring should be fairly understated. Large jewels, real or not, tend to look gaudy and are ultimately distracting from the rest of the outfit. Simple bands are usually best. Do not be afraid to try exotic materials. Men’s rings should not be limited to marriage, nor should they be limited to gold or silver.

2. Eye Wear

Good glasses can really elevate an outfit. If you don’t need prescription glasses, stick to sunglasses; as fake eyeglasses look weird. Consider your facial shape when wearing eyewear; rounder faces look better in glasses that are more rectangular, and faces with sharp features, such as a strong jawline, can more easily wear round glasses.

3. Scarves

Scarves are great; but only when the weather necessitates it. A heavy scarf in the heat is completely inappropriate. Scarves are a very large accessory and can easily help provide a pop of color to your outfit, or rein in louder pieces. There are many tie knots to choose from.

4. Ties

Most people think of ties as only for office wear. Ties can easily be worn in a casual setting though. Keep the conservative silk ties for business meetings. Experiment with rougher textures or interesting patterns for more casual wear. Wool knit ties are always an interesting choice when you want to dress up, but still have fun with what you’re wearing.

5. Hats

Hats can often be very difficult to wear properly. Avoid wool or felt hats, such as the classic fedora or trilby, casually. The clash of formalities is awkward and now has bad connotations for the wearer. Keep the wool hat when you wear a suit. For very casual wear, beanies, baseball caps, or bucket hats are more appropriate. Reserve hats with a real brim, such as the panama, for a time you wear a collar. Straw hats are great in that they’re lightweight and make the hat more casual.

6. Tie Clips

Nowadays tie clips do not provide their original purpose to keep the tie pinned to the shirt. Instead, these ties are purely for fashion. Keep the clip conservative in a formal setting, opting for gold or silver colors, but have fun when wearing a tie more casually. Casual tie clips are made in a variety of styles.

7. Necklaces

Necklaces seem to go in and out of style in men’s fashion. If you want to wear a necklace, keep the pendant somewhat understated. Similarly with rings, a large pendant is distracting and gaudy. Leather cords can work well for a casual look.

8. Bracelets

Recently, bracelets have exploded into popularity in the men’s fashion world. Leather cord bracelets are very popular and look good. Avoid leather cuffs as they look fairly dated. Mala bracelets are popular, though somewhat controversial as Buddhists wear them religiously.

9. Belts

Belts are somewhat simple, yet really help tie your outfit together. In a more formal occasion, match your belt and shoes. In a casual setting, you can opt to wear mismatched shades; in fact, matching belt and shoe casually can look odd. For a more casual or militaristic look, consider a web belt.

10. Bags

When choosing a bag, never forget that their primary purpose is to hold your items. For a dressier or sharper look, choose leather. Many people like to match all their leather goods. Messenger bags are great and the cross-body strap is comfortable. Only use a briefcase for the more formal meetings.

11. Wallets

First and foremost: wallets are used to hold money. Fashion is a secondary purpose. Stick with leather of some sort. Chunky or bulky wallets are fine for casual usage, but slim wallets are best for more formal wear. The most popular colors are black, brown, and oxblood. Some like to make all their leathers match, though that is a stylistic choice.

12. Cufflinks

Cufflinks go hand in hand with French cuff shirts. By their nature, French cuffs are very formal. Choice of design is wholly up to the wearer; just avoid gaudy designs, such as large gemstones. The formality of French cuffs may be toned down using colored, silk-knot cufflinks.

13. Gloves

Generally speaking, the best gloves are leather or wool. Color is the wearer’s choice; just do not wear dark brown with black. Leather gloves can run the gamut from casual to formal, while wool is only casual.

14. Footwear

While not a true accessory in the sense, footwear is arguably one of the most important pieces of clothing in an outfit for men. Shoe styles are incredibly varied. Leather is best for all but the most casual of times. Sandals should be relegated to very casual, or beach wear, and should be worn without socks.

15. Watches

Almost every man owns a watch. Most like to match their watch strap to their belt, if it’s leather. Fabric straps are more casual and metal straps should be gold or silver. Keep the watch somewhat plain and avoid skeleton watches unless the watch is of very good quality and uses an interesting movement.

Facebook and YouTube ban naming alleged Trump impeachment whistleblower

Facebook and YouTube are removing content that potentially names the anonymous whistleblower who sparked a presidential impeachment inquiry, with Facebook saying it violates rules against “coordinating harm” on the platform. The decision follows Facebook’s earlier choice to remove ads featuring the name — which Republican political figures, including Donald Trump, Jr., have publicized on Twitter.

BuzzFeed reported attempts to spread the alleged whistleblower’s name earlier this week, confirming that Facebook would remove ads targeting them. BuzzFeed noted that the person, a former Obama administration staffer and current CIA officer, has been a target for conservative commentators since 2017. But recent articles by the conservative sites Real Clear Investigations and Breitbart raised the officer’s profile, especially after the Breitbart article was shared by Donald Trump, Jr. It’s since cropped up across social media.

Following Facebook’s announcement, YouTube also confirmed to CNN that it would remove content that mentioned the alleged whistleblower’s name in the title, the description, or the video itself. Conversely, a Twitter spokesperson told CNN that tweeting the name didn’t violate its rules.

President Donald Trump has pushed for the release of the whistleblower’s name, but US officials and many media outlets have refrained from printing it. (It’s not clear that the person named in those articles is actually the whistleblower, either.) In a statement, Facebook concurred.

“Any mention of the potential whistleblower’s name violates our coordinating harm policy, which prohibits content ‘outing of witness, informant, or activist.’ We are removing any and all mentions of the potential whistleblower’s name and will revisit this decision should their name be widely published in the media or used by public figures in debate,” said a spokesperson. A search for the name on Facebook found only a handful of results.

Facebook has recently defended taking a hands-off approach to political content, particularly with ads, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg argues should not be fact-checked by Facebook. In this case, though, it’s justifying the decision under policies closer to its anti-harassment rules — at least while the name isn’t widely reported.

Update 5:30PM ET: Added confirmation that YouTube would ban mention of the alleged whistleblower’s name and Twitter would not.

Affiliate Marketing in 2019: What It Is and How You Can Get Started

Wake up at an ungodly hour. Drive to the office through total gridlock, streets jammed with other half-asleep commuters. Slog through email after mind-numbing email until the sweet release at five o’clock.

Sound terrible?

What if, instead of dealing with the monotony and stupor of the rat race to earn a few bucks, you could make money at any time, from anywhere — even while you sleep?

That’s the concept behind affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is a popular tactic to drive sales and generate significant online revenue. Extremely beneficial to both brands and affiliate marketers, the new push towards less traditional marketing tactics has paid off. In fact:

  • 81% of brands and 84% of publishers leverage the power of affiliate marketing, a statistic that will continue to increase as affiliate marketing spending increases every year in the United States.
  • There is a 10.1% increase in affiliate marketing spending in the United States each year, meaning that by 2020, that number will reach $6.8 billion.
  • In 2018, content marketing costs were gauged to be 62% of traditional marketing schemes while simultaneously generating three times the leads of traditional methods. In fact, 16% of all orders made online can be attributed to the impact of affiliate marketing.
  • In March of 2017, Amazon’s affiliate structure changed, offering rates of 1-10% of product revenue for creators, providing the opportunity for affiliates to dramatically increase their passive income based on the vertical they’re selling on.
  • The affiliate marketing of Jason Stone, otherwise known as Millionaire Mentor, was responsible for as much as $7 million in retailer sales just in the months of June and July in 2017.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is the process by which an affiliate earns a commission for marketing another person’s or company’s products. The affiliate simply searches for a product they enjoy, then promotes that product and earns a piece of the profit from each sale they make. The sales are tracked via affiliate links from one website to another.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Because affiliate marketing works by spreading the responsibilities of product marketing and creation across parties, it manages to leverage the abilities of a variety of individuals for a more effective marketing strategy while providing contributors with a share of the profit. To make this work, three different parties must be involved:

  1. Seller and product creators.
  2. The affiliate or advertiser.
  3. The consumer.

Let’s delve into the complex relationship these three parties share to ensure affiliate marketing is a success.

1. Seller and product creators.

The seller, whether a solo entrepreneur or large enterprise, is a vendor, merchant, product creator, or retailer with a product to market. The product can be a physical object, like household goods, or a service, like makeup tutorials. Also known as the brand, the seller does not need to be actively involved in the marketing, but they may also be the advertiser and profit from the revenue sharing associated with affiliate marketing.

2. The affiliate or publisher.

Also known as a publisher, the affiliate can be either an individual or a company that markets the seller’s product in an appealing way to potential consumers. In other words, the affiliate promotes the product to persuade consumers that it is valuable or beneficial to them and convince them to purchase the product. If the consumer does end up buying the product, the affiliate receives a portion of the revenue made.

Affiliates often have a very specific audience to whom they market, generally adhering to that audience’s interests. This creates a defined niche or personal brand that helps the affiliate attract consumers who will be most likely to act on the promotion.

3. The consumer.

Whether the consumer knows it or not, they (and their purchases) are the drivers of affiliate marketing. Affiliates share these products with them on social media, blogs, and websites.

When consumers buy the product, the seller and the affiliate share the profits. Sometimes the affiliate will choose to be upfront with the consumer by disclosing that they are receiving commission for the sales they make. Other times the consumer may be completely oblivious to the affiliate marketing infrastructure behind their purchase.

Either way, they will rarely pay more for the product purchased through affiliate marketing; the affiliate’s share of the profit is included in the retail price. The consumer will complete the purchase process and receive the product as normal, unaffected by the affiliate marketing system in which they are a significant part.

How Do Affiliate Marketers Get Paid?

A quick and inexpensive method of making money without the hassle of actually selling a product, affiliate marketing has an undeniable draw for those looking to increase their income online. But how does an affiliate get paid after linking the seller to the consumer? The answer is complicated. The consumer doesn’t always need to buy the product for the affiliate to get a kickback. Depending on the program, the affiliate’s contribution to the seller’s sales will be measured differently. The affiliate may get paid in various ways:

1. Pay per sale.

This is the standard affiliate marketing structure. In this program, the merchant pays the affiliate a percentage of the sale price of the product after the consumer purchases the product as a result of the affiliate’s marketing strategies. In other words, the affiliate must actually get the investor to invest in the product before they are compensated.

2. Pay per lead.

A more complex system, pay per lead affiliate programs compensates the affiliate based on the conversion of leads. The affiliate must persuade the consumer to visit the merchant’s website and complete the desired action — whether it’s filling out a contact form, signing up for a trial of a product, subscribing to a newsletter, or downloading software or files.

3. Pay per click.

This program focuses on incentivizing the affiliate to redirect consumers from their marketing platform to the merchant’s website. This means the affiliate must engage the consumer to the extent that they will move from the affiliate’s site to the merchant’s site. The affiliate is paid based on the increase in web traffic.

Why Be an Affiliate Marketer?

What are the reasons to become an affiliate marketer?

1. Passive income.

While any “regular” job requires you to be at work to make money, affiliate marketing offers you the ability to make money while you sleep. By investing an initial amount of time into a campaign, you will see continuous returns on that time as consumers purchase the product over the following days and weeks. You receive money for your work long after you’ve finished it. Even when you’re not in front of your computer, your marketing skills will be earning you a steady flow of income.

2. No customer support.

Individual sellers and companies offering products or services have to deal with their consumers and ensure they are satisfied with what they have purchased. Thanks to the affiliate marketing structure, you’ll never have to be concerned with customer support or customer satisfaction. The entire job of the affiliate marketer is to link the seller with the consumer. The seller deals with any consumer complaints after you receive your commission from the sale.

3. Work from home.

If you’re someone who hates going to the office, affiliate marketing is the perfect solution. You’ll be able to launch campaigns and receive revenue from the products that sellers create while working from the comfort of your own home. This is a job you can do without ever getting out of your pajamas.

4. Cost-effective.

Most businesses require startup fees as well as a cash flow to finance the products being sold. However, affiliate marketing can be done at a low cost, meaning you can get started quickly and without much hassle. There are no affiliate program fees to worry about and no need to create a product. Beginning this line of work is relatively straightforward.

5. Convenient and flexible.

Since you’re essentially becoming a freelancer, you get ultimate independence in setting your own goals, redirecting your path when you feel so inclined, choosing the products that interest you, and even determining your own hours. This convenience means you can diversify your portfolio if you like or focus solely on simple and straightforward campaigns. You’ll also be free from company restrictions and regulations as well as ill-performing teams.

6. Performance-Based rewards.

With other jobs, you could work an 80-hour week and still earn the same salary. Affiliate marketing is purely based on your performance. You’ll get from it what you put into it. Honing your reviewing skills and writing engaging campaigns will translate to direct improvements in your revenue. You’ll finally get paid for the outstanding work you do!

7. Do Not Underestimate the Power of SEO.

There’s a ton of organic traffic you can get from search engines if you do SEO properly. The days when Search Engine Optimization was about cheating Google are gone. Today, it is about making your website better for visitors. People naturally look for information online. That’s why you should learn the basics of on-page SEO, keyword research and link building to be the information source they find first. Who wouldn’t want to rank #1 for terms such as “best product” or “product review” in Google?

Common Types of Affiliate Marketing Channels

Most affiliates share common practices to ensure that their audience is engaged and receptive to purchasing promoted products. But not all affiliates advertise the products in the same way. In fact, there are several different marketing channels they may leverage.

1. Influencers.

An influencer is an individual who holds the power to impact the purchasing decisions of a large segment of the population. This person is in a great position to benefit from affiliate marketing. They already boast an impressive following, so it’s easy for them to direct consumers to the seller’s products through social media posts, blogs, and other interactions with their followers. The influencers then receive a share of the profits they helped to create.

2. Bloggers.

With the ability to rank organically in search engine queries, bloggers excel at increasing a seller’s conversions. The blogger samples the product or service and then writes a comprehensive review that promotes the brand in a compelling way, driving traffic back to the seller’s site.

The blogger is awarded for his or her influence spreading the word about the value of the product, helping to improve the seller’s sales. For example, my article on the best email marketing services includes product reviews and affiliate links throughout.

affiliate marketing blog

3. Paid search focused microsites.

Developing and monetizing microsites can also garner a serious amount of sales. These sites are advertised within a partner site or on the sponsored listings of a search engine. They are distinct and separate from the organization’s main site. By offering more focused, relevant content to a specific audience, microsites lead to increased conversions due to their simple and straightforward call to action.

4. Email lists.

Despite its older origins, email marketing is still a viable source of affiliate marketing income. Some affiliates have email lists they can use to promote the seller’s products. Others may leverage email newsletters that include hyperlinks to products, earning a commission after the consumer purchases the product. Another method is for the affiliate to build an email list over time. They use their various campaigns to collect emails en masse, then send out emails regarding the products they are promoting.

5. Large media websites.

Designed to create a huge amount of traffic at all times, these sites focus on building an audience of millions. These websites promote products to their massive audience through the use of banners and contextual affiliate links. This method offers superior exposure and improves conversion rates, resulting in a top-notch revenue for both the seller and the affiliate.

Tips to Help You Become A Successful Affiliate Marketer

1. Develop a rapport.

When beginning your affiliate marketing career, you’ll want to cultivate an audience that has very specific interests. This allows you to tailor your affiliate campaigns to that niche, increasing the likelihood that you’ll convert. By establishing yourself as an expert in one area instead of promoting a large array of products, you’ll be able to market to the people most likely to buy the product.

2. Make it personal.

There is no shortage of products you’ll be able to promote. You’ll have the ability to pick and choose products that you personally believe in, so make sure that your campaigns center around truly valuable products that consumers will enjoy. You’ll achieve an impressive conversion rate while simultaneously establishing the reliability of your personal brand.

You’ll also want to get really good at email outreach to work with other bloggers and influencers. Use a tool like ContactOut or Voila Norbert to gather people’s contact information and send personalized emails to garner guest blogging and affiliate opportunities.

3. Start reviewing products and services.

Focus on reviewing products and services that fall within your niche. Then, leveraging the rapport you have created with your audience and your stance as an expert, tell your readers why they would benefit from purchasing the product or service you are promoting. Almost anything sold online can be reviewed if there is an affiliate program – you can review physical products, digital software, or even services booked online, like ride sharing or travel resort booking. It is especially effective to compare this product to others in the same category. Most importantly, make sure you are generating detailed, articulate content to improve conversions.

4. Use several sources.

Instead of focusing on just an email campaign, also spend time making money with a blog, reaching out to your audience on social media, and even looking into cross-channel promotions. Test a variety of marketing strategies to see which one your audience responds to the most. Make frequent use of this technique.

5. Choose campaigns with care.

No matter how good your marketing skills are, you’ll make less money on a bad product than you will on a valuable one. Take the time to study the demand for a product before promoting it. Make sure to research the seller with care before teaming up. Your time is worth a lot, and you want to be sure you’re spending it on a product that is profitable and a seller you can believe in.

6. Stay current with trends.

There is serious competition in the affiliate marketing sphere. You’ll want to make sure you stay on top of any new trends to ensure you remain competitive. Additionally, you’ll likely be able to benefit from at least a few of the new marketing techniques that are constantly being created. Be sure you’re keeping up to date on all these new strategies to guarantee that your conversion rates, and therefore revenue, will be as high as possible.

1. Improved affiliate reporting and attribution.

Many affiliate programs run with last-click attribution, where the affiliate receiving the last click before the sale gets 100% credit for the conversion. This is changing. With affiliate platforms providing new attribution models and reporting features, you are able to see a full-funnel, cross-channel view of how individual marketing tactics are working together. For example, you might see that a paid social campaign generated the first click, Affiliate X got click 2, and Affiliate Y got the last click. With this full picture, you can structure your affiliate commissions so that Affiliate X gets a percentage of the credit for the sale, even though they didn’t get the last click.

2. Influencer niches are becoming hyper-targeted.

In the past, large affiliates were the mainstay, as catch-all coupon and media sites gave traffic to hundreds or thousands of advertisers. This is not so much the case anymore. With consumers using long-tail keywords and searching for very specific products and services, influencers can leverage their hyper-focused niche for affiliate marketing success. Influencers may not send advertisers huge amounts of traffic, but the audience they do send is credible, targeted, and has higher conversion rates.

3. GDPR is changing how personal data is collected.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect on May 25, 2018, is a set of regulations governing the use of personal data across the EU. This is forcing some affiliates to obtain user data through opt-in consent (updated privacy policies and cookie notices), even if they are not located in the European Union. This new regulation should also remind you to follow FTC guidelines and clearly disclose that you receive affiliate commissions from your recommendations.

4. Affiliate marketers are getting smarter.

Merchants receiving a large percentage of their revenue from the affiliate channel can become reliant on their affiliate partners. This can lead to affiliate marketers leveraging their important status to receive higher commissions and better deals with their advertisers. Whether it’s CPA, CPL, or CPC commission structures, there are a lot of high paying affiliate programs and affiliate marketers are in the driver’s seat.

What Affiliate Marketing Strategies Should You Employ in 2019?

1. Only recommend products you are extremely familiar with.

Building trust with your audience is paramount in affiliate marketing, and the quickest way to lose trust is to recommend products either you haven’t used before or that aren’t a good fit for your audience. Also make sure you never tell anyone to directly buy a product, you are simply recommending the product. The more helpful you are and the more you make quality recommendations, the more likely your web visitors will come back for your expertise.

2. Promote products from many different merchants.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you only promote one merchant’s products, you are stuck with their commissions, their landing pages, and ultimately, their conversion rates. It is important to work with many different merchants in your niche and promote a wide range of products. This affiliate marketing strategy will diversify the amount of commissions you make and create a steady stream of revenue when building an affiliate website.

3. Constantly test and optimize your conversion rates.

Let’s say you have a promotions page where you’re promoting a product via affiliate links. If you currently get 5,000 visits/month at a 2% conversion rate, you have 100 referrals. To get to 200 referrals, you can either focus on getting 5,000 more visitors, or simply increasing the conversion rate to 4%. Which sounds easier? Instead of spending months building domain authority with blogging and guest posts to get more organic traffic, you just have to increase the conversion rate by 2%. This can include landing page optimization, testing your calls-to-action, and having a conversion rate optimization strategy in place. By testing and optimizing your site, you’ll get far better results with much less effort.

affiliate marketing strategies

4. Focus on your affiliate traffic sources.

It’s important to know where your traffic is coming from and the demographics of your audience. This will allow you to customize your messaging so that you can provide the best affiliate product recommendations. You shouldn’t just focus on the vertical you’re in, but on the traffic sources and audience that’s visiting your site. Traffic sources may include organic, paid, social media, referral, display, email, or direct traffic. You can view traffic source data in Google Analytics to view things such as time on page, bounce rate, geo location, age, gender, time of day, devices (mobile vs. desktop), and more so that you can focus your effort on the highest converting traffic. This analytics data is crucial to making informed decisions, increasing your conversion rates, and making more affiliate sales.

Book of the Week: ‘Driven’

Behind every entrepreneur’s success story, there’s a never-ending list of gut-wrenching failures, missed opportunities and jaw-dropping setbacks. Real estate mogul and serial entrepreneur Manny Khoshbin is one of those entrepreneurs with a story of perseverance that will make you believe in the American Dream all over again.

Driven goes beyond Manny’s personal ride through the entrepreneurial journey to deliver the habits, mindset and insights aspiring entrepreneurs need to turn dreams into reality. Buckle up and join Manny as he shares his experiences and teaches you how to:

  • Beat the odds and become a successful entrepreneur in your own right.
  • Challenge yourself, study your failures and pivot your plans.
  • Double down on projects, ideas and investments you’re passionate about.
  • Spot and surround yourself with positive, successful and like-minded people.
  • Change your mindset to achieve what you think is impossible

The man who gambled his firm on a £50,000 sword

This week we speak to London-based silversmith Grant Macdonald.

When Grant Macdonald walked out of the Middle Eastern royal palace he says his shoes “hardly touched the carpet”.

He had just secured a giant order that would transform his business. And almost 40 years later, the memory still gives him goosebumps.

“It was an amazing feeling… just telling you this now gives me the greatest feeling of achievement, exactly as it did on that day in the early ’80s,” says the 71-year-old.

A silversmith who first set up his business in the 1960s, the UK’s economic downturn of the late 1970s had made him increasingly seek overseas commissions.

From 1979 he started to get some small orders from a country in the Gulf, which for confidentiality reasons he declines to name.

A couple of years later, during one of his regular visits to the nation, Grant was asked if he would like to see the finest gift that its royal family gives out to visiting dignitaries – a ceremonial sword.

He said “yes”, and while he extolled its virtues out of politeness, he was not particularly impressed with the workmanship. So Grant suggested that he could perhaps make something even better.

Going back to his hotel room, he drew up a design on paper, and from that he was commissioned to make one example. The only problem was the cost of the materials, which could have wiped out his business. Undeterred, Grant took the gamble and bought all the gold, diamonds and rubies he needed, and he and his team set to work.

Thankfully the royal family liked the £50,000 sword (£190,000 at today’s prices) so much that they ordered 15 more.

“The workshop had put every ounce of skill into making that sample sword perfect, our reward was a massive order that set the company off in a different trajectory,” says Grant.

Today his multimillion pound annual turnover company – Grant Macdonald London – still gets much of its business from the Middle East, with Grant having flown to the region almost every month for more than 30 years. “The Middle East has been very good to us,” he says.

The business does, however, have a royal warrant from the Prince of Wales, who has bought commissions in the past.

The son of a doctor, Grant was born and raised in north London. He says he first became interested in working with silver and other precious metals when he was a teenager. “It all started when one of dad’s patients showed me how to make a silver spoon when I was 14.”

A young Grant would then tinker on his designs in a workshop underneath his father’s consulting room. He says his dad would stamp on the floor when he wanted him to stop hammering.

After five years at London’s Central School of Art, he first worked in a jewellery shop, repairing rings. Private commissions soon followed, and he formed his company Silverform in the mid-60s. The name change to Grant Macdonald London came in 1971.

The business today has 18 employees, who make everything from £200 silver cufflinks to large bespoke commissions costing up to £250,000. The biggest items can take many months to complete.

While the company does now utilise technology, such as 3D design and printing, Grant says that the skill of the human workforce is still central. “Today we’re hugely reliant on tech, but without the people in the workshop we’d be lost – they’d just be a pile of machines.”

Peter Taylor, director of the Goldsmiths Centre, a UK charity that trains jewellers and goldsmiths, says that Grant is “one of the foremost silversmiths and designers of this generation”.

He adds: “Grant is well-known and respected throughout the industry, and has grown a business that operates successfully here in the UK and overseas.”

With Grant now in his 70s, he is readying the business for its next chapter, which will see the reins being handed over to his son George. George has been with the company since 2003, after being lured away from a career in publishing, where he was a graphic designer and photographer.

Grant says that having his son on board is a great comfort, as it will mean the business continues. “To have worked all my life, and then had to sell up, pay everyone off, and walk off into the horizon is a terrible thought.”

He isn’t out of the door yet though, and still works three days a week at the company’s office and workshop in Blackfriars, in the City of London. He also has a workshop at home, where he intends to teach the next generation.

“Teaching my grandchildren how to make a silver spoon is definitely on my list of things to do,” he says.