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“No matter how much pressure you feel at work, if you could find ways to relax for at least five minutes every hour, you’d be more productive.”
– Dr. Joyce Brothers

When my mother asked where I was heading this week, I told her I was going to the Affiliate Summit. “What’s that?” , she said?  When I told her it was an advertising/ marketing conference, she looked at me oddly.  Not unusual for my mother.

“But I thought you sold tickets”, was her reply.

Telling parents what you do in this day and age is always difficult to explain if you are not a lawyer or a doctor and especially worse if you are involved in technology. My mother once asked me when I was an investment banker on Wall St. if I knew the teller at her local bank on the other side of the country. So you can see my mother’s confusion, or at least the difficulty that I have in trying to explain what I do.  In fact, it has taught me patience as well as an understanding of the need to break it down more simply.

When I told her it was like being an Avon lady except you could promote whatever you wanted online, you didn’t need to buy the product on consignment, and it was done strictly online, she pulled out her laptop and made me show her (I first sat her down with the video above). So after a 30 minute explaination of what affiliate marketing is, she was hooked and then started grilling me. Despite my mother’s “flightiness” she is pretty tech savvy for a 70 year old grandmother. In fact I would have to say she tends to be an earlier adopter of of retail than I am (as long as it is her idea). Not your typical geriatric mother, but she is one of the most productive people I know. So much so that she has started telling her friends about affiliate marketing and unfortunately they are now telling me daily about all the things they’ve helped to sell online for Amazon, etc.   I am amused though as these women are all widowed friends of my mother who have Facebook accounts and blogs about their health which they started via an elderly technology class taught at the University of San Francisco’s Fromm Institute. They used to share information with each other during their Scrabble nights and now talk about how much product they sold on the Web. I must caveat all of this again and say my mother is a bit unusual. She was the first to put alfalfa sprouts in our sandwiches as kids, she wears a wooden fish around her neck (just so you know she is a Pisces), and has had many successful business ventures (before they were called ventures) in the gifts, confections and tourism industries. My mother is always selling something whether it was personal alarms, water purification systems , or vitamins, I think I heard all of her selling tactics. Afterwards, my mom hit me because I have been doing this for over 10 years and had never put her onto this. Truth be told I did, but my mom never listens to me (but that is another story).

So why am I telling you this about my mother? Well recently I’ve been looking at the attendance levels at the Affiliate Summit (ASE09) and saw how it has risen. As a mentor to first time attendees I was also assigned to 2 mentees this year which indicates that there are many people getting into the industry or learning more about it. As someone used to say, “it is the economy, stupid”. My feeling is that if my 70 year old mom can do it, so can you.

And why do you need to do this? Right now everyone is trying to make up for lost income due to the recession and the biggest beneficiaries are MOMMIES. I hear about moms offering massage therapy, holding clothing sales in their homes or helping as a doula. Some moms are strictly going back to work and restarting their careers. My sister has restarted her speech pathology consulting again. Women from single income families are earning income in as many ways as they can. An interesting side note, many of these women right now would be still considered unemployed and not reflect against the rising unemployment rate. Mommy blogs and moms (check twitter) who have started businesses online are extremely successful. MyBargainBuddy.com and SunshineRewards are two companies started by moms who are very big in the affiliate marketing game, work from their homes and make a very comfortable living while mainintaining household. One mom, Tricia Meyer, of Sunshine Rewards, even has her young daughter video tape some of the video for her blog.

So now many people might thing that this industry might be mature and that they have missed the boat. Au contraire. The affiliate marketing world is ripe for you. Many large companies are looking for the lowest cost for acquiring sales during this down time as their marketing budgets are getting trimmed left and right. Affiliate marketing has long been the cheapest way of advertising online.
Secondly, social marketing in the affiliate world has not yet been fully tapped and my guess is that it won’t be for a while. This is because the power is in you,the individual. It is your ability, just like my moms, to influence people just like you do in the real world. While there may be people who think they can help you tap into people like my mom and help sell women’s shoes for example, they might have no idea how poor of a seller of shoes my mother might be. In fact my mother might be the best at recommending chocolates and movies, but if you’ve seen my mother’s attire, she is not the one who should be giving advice (sorry mom, just my opinion).

So if you are new to the game, and are looking for some way to make a little money, think about what it is that makes you an expert about something. Figure out how you can use that knowledge and help your friends and their friends fins what they need and earn you some income based upon referrals. For example, I spent quite a few years in the travel industry visiting the most luxurious hotels in the world both in the US and abroad. I have many people ask me where to stay and where to go and if I wanted, I could send them to my website and link them straight to those hotels , cruise lines, etc and make a profit, just like a travel agent. Travel and music (the industry I’m in) are two industries that people seek personal advice from people based upon individual opinions. Some other good ones are health and financial.

For more information, I suggest checking out some of my affiliate marketing links on the right. I would also do some reasearch and possibly attend Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas in January 2010.