We got a chance to sit down with 23 year old Affillion CEO Kenneth Metral over the weekend and got the goods on what it’s like being a young successful network owner living in Miami. Affillion is a quickly growing affiliate network that prides itself in superior support and lightening fast payouts.
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today Ken. Walk us through an average day in your life.
Let’s just say that this routine that I have hasn’t really changed much in the last 10 years, haha. I have been stuck in front of a computer since I was a teen. My major was in the IT field during college, so my body and mind was already used to staring at my screen all day. I’m more of night owl, I do some of my best work at night. I guess in my mind, it’s more a peaceful and relaxing time, which helps me become more creative and productive. That being said, I pass out pretty late at night. I’ve gotten somewhat better, but usually I stay up until like 3AM every night. My day pretty much starts around 11 in the morning (not bad, right? haha), so I wake up and go have some breakfast alone. That way, I can at least enjoy it before entering the mayhem online, lol.
After I finish, I first start with checking network stats; it always puts me in either a good or bad mood, depending on the traffic volume haha. I take a look at which pub is pushing the most and which offers. Usually it’s the same guys, but it’s always exciting to see a fresh name pop up on the top list for a change. After taking a look over stats, the madness begins, which is my all-time “favorite”, EMAILS! On an average day, I wake up to around 30 emails. Some may think it’s a lot, some might think it’s nothing, but that’s usually what my average is. I forgot to say that on Mondays, it’s usually 3 times that, let’s say on Mondays I usually have 0 time for anything.
I reply to emails and take action on them for a couple hours, until around 4PM. This is when I head to the gym. I have always been a huge fan of staying in shape. It really changes you, not only physically, but mentally. I would say that a lot of my energy and clear thinking comes from working out. It’s really a great feeling. I go to the gym for about 2 hours. The first half is going to a program called CrossFit (if anyone has heard of it), and this is mainly my cardio for the day. After I finish, I head home and do another hour of just pure weight lifting. Sometimes it gets me dead tired, but I deal with it lol. After the gym then I hop back on the computer for the rest of the day to answer more emails, to get more offers for affiliates, to approve pubs, and to just over-all make sure the network is running smoothly and pubs are happy :) I would like to add that throughout the whole day I’m on aim, skype, and my phone, talking to all pubs that request anything and making sure it gets done, Affillion is based off it’s fanatical support so I gotta make sure it stays top notch!
What is your favorite thing about affiliate marketing?
My favorite part about the industry would be meeting people from all over the world and creating amazing relationships with them. This industry has opened so many doors to not only meet people but also discover new places in the world that you would never think to visit. Our next journey is going to be heading to AdTech in London and doing a Eastern European tour after the conference ends. It’s really just like a vacation. It’s amazing to be anywhere in the world and keep working exactly how you were back home. This is something that is worth more than money.
Tell us about your lifestyle and how different it is from the average corporate america member.
For those not involved in the online world, it’s really almost impossible to have a job that you can work fully on your own and from anywhere in the world. This something I’m really grateful for, plus I’m sure those guys out there that have children and are able to work full time from home and still be with their kids on a daily basis is truly a great feeling. After the success of Affillion, my lifestyle changed dramatically, I’m able to go out, enjoy myself, hang out with my best friends, eat at the best restaurants, party in the best clubs, and at the end of the night not be hurt by how much I spent. It’s like living in a dream lol.
Tell us the story of how you got into affiliate marketing. Did you have a defining moment such as triumphantly resigning from your 9-5?
I’ll start by saying that I’m currently 23 years old, and as I said before, I have been in the IT world for pretty much my whole life. In high school I got my A+ certification and my CCNA, 2 great certifications that will definitely help me in the long run if I ever were to apply for a job. I always have been a hard worker, and because of this, I was able to start undergrad as a sophomore because of all the APs I took in high school. I completed my Bachelors degree in IT in 3 years. I took the next step to further my education and I got my Master in MIS (Management Information Systems). This took one year. After finishing, I decided to take another crazy leap and get my MBA as well lol. Let’s just say I like studying lol. I was able to finish the 2 year MBA in 1 year and became the first student from my university to get both my Master degrees at the age of 22, something that I’m truly proud of and will appreciate for the rest of my life.
So let’s get the affiliate marketing part of this question. During high school is where I met my business partner and Co-Founder of Affillion, Jared Esguerra. Both of us always have had a business mindset, plus we were involved in the online world, so we clicked. Throughout our high school and undergrad years, we started at least 10 startups, from dating to filesharing to even clubbing websites, all of which failed miserably. On the positive side, it did give us a ton of knowledge that we would have never gotten if we had never tried.
In our early days, I was always involved in IT and web-design, and Jared was involved more in the online ecommerce/marketing world. With both of our heads put together, we made a great combination. We had the knowledge base we needed to get any online business up-and-running. We began our first affiliate marketing venture around 4 years ago, as affiliates and as small networks. This was the first time we realized how good we were in this industry and how much cash we could potentially make off of it. After going through all of this was when we decided to become a real network and to take it a step further and start Affillion.
To answer the 9-5 question, I never really had a real job. Before I was even able to apply to jobs I was already a part of the industry so this became my number one priority. As of now, I’m pretty happy I stuck with it and didn’t decide to get a job because Affillion wouldn’t be what it is today if I would’ve decided to go that route.
How many times did you fail before you succeeded?
HA! Plenty. I actually think every venture failed worse than the previous one, lol. It wasn’t a great experience and we definitely spent a lot of cash on them lol. Then again, without those failures, it wouldn’t have put us where we are today. To add, I would spend all the time and money all over again in a heartbeat if it ever came down to it, knowing that I would be where I am today.
If you could identify one thing that lead to your success, what would it be?
I’m sure everyone repeats the same thing, but honestly, it’s true: hard work pays off and that’s that. One more thing, though, that has led to our success is positive thinking. Without it, you’re worthless.
How quickly did success come on once you hit it?
I say it came pretty damn fast. I’m 23 right now and I would have never expected to achieve this much at my age. I want every year that passes by to be better than the last, so every year I plan on being more successful than the last :)
Tell us a story about something your affiliate lifestyle has allowed you to do that you NEVER have been able to do working for corporate america.
Corporate America doesn’t really let you do much at all in life. It’s more of a waste in my eyes. You can’t have your own work schedule, have the flexibility to eat at the finest restaurants in the world, be able to travel to meet successful people, and be able to party at the best clubs on weekdays. If I was stuck at a 9-5 job, my life wouldn’t be 10% of what it is today. I could never take a step back from where I am, this is too much to give up.
Why did you decide to start Affillion?
Jared and I were affiliates before we started Affillion. We did a lot of finance and dating offers, which is how we made our first big time money. As affiliates we didn’t have much control of anything, we figured that if we started our own network we could offer everything that other networks didn’t have, which in our eyes, was great support. If you ask anyone out there why they love Affillion, I would bet their first answer would be our support. We live and breath support, and honestly, it’s why our pubs have always stuck with us.
Why would I want to be an Affillion affiliate?
Number 1 would be for our support. The affiliate marketing world is a 24/7 business, not a 9-5 business. This allows us to be there for our international clients in different time zones as well. Why would companies stop working after 5, especially online companies? As I said before, my day and night consists of Affillion and nothing else, and our affiliates definitely see that.
How long have your been working in our industry?
I’m fairly new, I have about 3-4 years in the affiliate industry. Jared has a longer history in the online marketing world so he has a bit more, but with both of our heads together we can honestly conquer any part of the online world.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, how old are you and where are you from?
I’m 23, as I said before. I was born in Miami, Florida. My parents are both from Colombia and my father is half Swiss (from Switzerland), so I like to consider myself as a hispanic/european individual hehe :)
Tell us about Affillion’s community portal. Any success stories to note?
The community portal is fairly new, we just released it a couple weeks ago, I’d say it was the most requested feature for us to add. There are so many affiliates that need help with tips, guides, JVs, and campaigns. What better way is there to accommodate their needs than to open up all of our affiliates to one another and have them share and talk about the offers they are pushing? This way, they can see how they can benefit from one another as well. I think the main part of the community is for pubs to form JVs and to get a better understanding of the real deal in the industry. Since our release, we noticed pubs using our forums more and more and also use our live chat feature, which is great, since pubs can get real time answers! The community portal really took us a step further in the industry and it’s another advantage we have that separates us from other networks.
Affiliate marketing isn’t all sugar and roses. What’s the hardest thing about trying to make it in our industry?
Dealing with fraud. Honestly, this world is one that we are constantly dodging every day. There is so much out there that sometimes you have to be a prick to people sometimes to see if they are real or not. We had a big problem with fraud earlier in the year, which is when we decided to have a harder interview process for new pubs and made it almost impossible for a fraudster to get in with us. Of course, they are clever, and some still do slip in every once in awhile. This actually hurt us a lot because not only did we not make any money on their leads, but we lost many accounts and relationships with advertisers, which sucked. We moved on and dealt with it.
Who and what do your read to keep ahead of the curve?
For sure blogs and forums keep me in the loop of the industry. I use affbuzz a lot since it has them all together, but I would say the second best thing is getting news from pubs about the newest/hottest offers out there and which ones are the ones that we should jump on.
What resources and or tools should be in every affiliate’s toolbox?
I would be involved heavily in forums, because that’s the best way to be up to date and form relationships with other affiliates. I’m a big fan of JVs and I believe you can make a ton of more cash with a partner than going at it yourself, plus it’s always fun to share your success with someone else.
Our industry is known for working hard and playing hard. What do you like to do in your free time?
Well, I live in Miami. We’re a big party city lol. During the week I don’t do much but work, but as soon as the weekend comes I definitely take advantage of the city and go out and enjoy myself! It’s always fun to go and eat at a new restaurant or visit a new club hotspot. Miami has a lot to offer and I honestly don’t see myself living anywhere else. Plus, our weather is amazing. I would never replace it :)
If you could sit your 18 year old self down and have a talk with him, what would you say?
Oh man, Jared and I always ask ourselves that– why couldn’t we have done what we did these past years when we were 18? Who knows where we would be today? I guarantee that we would have more more cash than we doat our current age, but oh well, we’re not that old yet so I can’t complain at all.
I’m a stickler for timely payouts, how important is it to you to pay your affiliates on time?
So am I, so am I. and especially from advertisers. I’m on them everyday to get faster payments. The way Affillion works is that we only offer weekly payments for our top guys and for anyone that can prove themselves and provide good quality traffic. We’re not that bad about giving weekly payments but you better back up all the talk you say because if the volume is low and the quality sucks, you’re staying at net 15 or net 30 payments lol.
Tell me a story about how you (or an Affillion rep ) went out of your way to help an affiliate.
I have always been a huge help to our guys, and they love it. If they ever need anything from us I’m the first to help them out. But this question definitely goes out to our AM Brottany Dawkins. When Jared and I brought him in, it was for his great social skills and his tremendous support that he gave pubs. This guy will go at it day and night with an aff to make sure they succeed and become profitable. He goes out and arranges webinars for pubs every month, provides guides/tips on the latest trends, and even treats his pubs to gifts if they bring in good traffic. We have had many pubs join Affillion just to have Brottany as their AM. I would say this is how we go out of our way to help out not only one affiliate, but all of them.
Anything else you want to tell us about yourself and Affillion?
I always plan on being in the affiliate marketing world one way or another, so you will be seeing a lot of me out on the web in the next upcoming years. Plus, Affillion is going nowhere but upwards, so we will keep working our asses off to become Number 1. Once we’re there, we’ll make sure we stay there.
I want to thank Mark from Odigger for conducting this interview, he’s really a great guy to work with, and I definitely plan on working with him in the future.