Affiliate success stories: an interview with Ross Tavendale

Victoria Galperina
More from Affiliate Marketing Trends

This is the first post in our new series of articles where we interview some of our top affiliates and give you a sneak peak into their daily routines. Learning how to become a successful affiliate marketer requires long-term commitment. And while no one can do the hard work for you, reading insights from those who have made it can at least set you on the right path.

The first affiliate we interviewed is Ross Tavendale.

To start off, please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

I’m the MD at Type A Media, an SEO agency based in London. We work with medium- to large-sized brands from eBay to BrewDog. 

What does your typical day look like?

My phone and email are blocked until 1pm every day. I use this time to have a daily project management standup with the team and work on my ‘not urgent-important’ tasks that will move the business forward. After that, I work on my ‘important-urgent’ work that is the day-to-day grind of running a small business. 

How did you get started with affiliate marketing?

When I was a student, I was always into making side money. From selling Potpourri door to door, to selling beer in the park each summer, I was always entrepreneurial. I got started in affiliate marketing when I read Rosalind Gardeners “Super Affiliate Handbook” which was essentially a guide on keyword research and writing content for dating sites.

What was your biggest failure and how did you recover from it?

My biggest failure was what I call ‘the ideas graveyard’ – hundreds of domains burning a hole in my wallet that never get turned into a successful project. When the renewals all came up at the same time and I realised I had to pay thousands of pounds that was very demoralising. Similarly when I was still working full time, I received my tax bill from the government that cut my earnings in half that year and taught me a very valuable lesson about strategy and planning. 

When and what was your first big break that made you realize you’re on the right path?

My first big break was when one of my old EMD domains started to rank for a lucrative credit card term. As the CPA was £45 per application, I made a lot of money in a short period of time. This really sparked my interest in affiliate marketing and made me want to explore it as a genuine source of potential income. 

What was the most innovative thing you have done recently?

Give everything away for free to build a brand and an email list. Everything you do on the web should be viewed as building an “asset.”

How do you measure success?

To quote the immortal words of Wu-Tang Clan, “cash rules everything around me.” Success from an affiliate point of view is determined by profit (note: NOT revenue). 

Success in life is defined by freedom to do what you want when you want. 

Which decisions or actions you took were fundamental to your success?

Hiring a team early around content production. Having a person with you full time pushes you to create content and publish even when you don’t feel like it. 

What are you currently working on?

A new affiliate site in the property industry and a suite of SEO tool belt applications for the SEO industry. We are also looking to launch our PR and outreach matchmaking service called Needle in the autumn this year. 

What tools do you find helpful in your work at this stage?

We run our entire business on Supermetrics, Pitchbox and SEMrush API inside of Google Sheets. Building applications on top of G-Suite has really allowed us to supercharge our business and do a lot more work with less. 

From an operations standpoint, I’m using Notion to create a complete AgencyOS that should run every single part of our daily operations. 

Who do you look up to? 

Tall people. Haha, only joking. I don’t look up to anyone, I prefer to do my own thing and make mistakes rather than listen to someone else’s point of view. 

What is the coolest, yet undervalued instrument you use on the regular basis?

At the moment it’s Notion. It’s insanely powerful from a project management point of view. 

Did you do anything special during COVID-19 lockdown?

Slashed and burned every expense we had including our office and about 90% of our software subscriptions. 

I also spent a lot of time gearing the agency business up to pivot to an educational model so we could add more income sources and ‘build a moat’ around the company. 

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Ahhh spare time. I don’t like doing anything in my spare time. I like staring out the window or watching a movie. Essentially, anything that is a bit of a “brain dead” activity as I tend to just work all the time. 

People get concerned when you work constantly but I really love it. It’s my “thing” to be the workaholic friend and I’m more than happy to be that. 

What advice would you give to yourself at the beginning of your career?

Don’t second guess yourself. Do the “thing” and make decisions based on outcomes not other peoples advice. And also, don’t be too quick to scale and grow. Build security for yourself as a freelancer first and then start to expand. 

What was the most interesting thing you read or watched recently?

Rather apt for the lockdown is Theroux’s “Walden” about a man living alone in a cabin in the woods. He talks about not needing to actually “own anything” which very much speaks to me. As a single man living in London, hedonic adaptation is a big trap that it’s easy to fall into. That’s why I love this line:

I had three pieces of limestone on my desk, but I was terrified to find that they required to be dusted daily, when the furniture of my mind was all undusted still, and threw them out the window in disgust. 

What are your favorite books?

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius – it’s kind of a bible for secularists
  • Walden by Henry David Theroux – a semi autobiographical account of living alone in the woods
  • The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga – a view on the psychology of Alfred Adler
  • Paper Towns by John Green – the only fiction I’ve ever read page to page without putting down

If you could pick any person in the world to collaborate with, who would it be and why?

Professor Scott Galloway, a professor at NYU and a brand strategist. I listen to his podcast the Prof G Show and think it would be great to get inside his head and learn about how he puts together a business strategy. 

What would you like to be remembered for?

For leaving the world 1% better than when I entered it. 

Where do you see yourself several years from now?

I don’t know where I will be several months from now, so I have no idea where I will be in several years. I’d be happy with making good progress towards some health and financial goals. Working because I want to, not because I have to and surrounded by my favourite people. 

To learn more about the industry, take a look at these affiliate marketing trends. And join our Supermetrics partner program to earn 20% recurring commissions from each sale.

About Victoria Galperina

Victoria Galperina

Victoria is the Head of Affiliate Marketing at Supermetrics. She specializes in setting up and exponentially growing affiliate programs for SaaS companies. Victoria is also an international speaker and a regular contributor to FeedFront magazine. You can learn more about her on LinkedIn.

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