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14 January 2011

Interview with Kirsty McCubbin

Kirsty Mccubbin

Kirsty Mccubbin director of Blue Indian Media and all round affiliate superstar kindly agreed to an interview and share her thoughts on affiliate marketing, living the four hour work week and errr being scottish! (My questions or comments are in bold).

How the devil do I know you Kirsty?

Hahah, Through social media outlets? Oh no wait I have met you in person at the Expo!

For the readers who haven’t heard of you, could you sum up what you do best in a few sentences?

Ooh, I’m pretty good at creating quality content sites, decent landing pages, and selling knickers. Lots and lots of ’em!

Tell us a bit about your background and what advice would you give others trying to quit the rat race?

A very, very long time ago I worked for an SEO agency. It was there I discovered affiliate marketing and fortunately already had the skills to get myself started. The best bit of advice I can give anyone is very very short – there are no shortcuts. Too many would be affiliates expend huge amounts of energy trying to find the automated holy grail. It doesn’t exist. Accept it and get on with the hard work.

Very true, what made you want to get in to affiliate marketing?

I was good at generating traffic and was sick of working for a salary. I wanted a slice of the money I was generating and one day I found out about affiliate marketing. Match made in heaven I reckoned!
Hadn’t even thought about all the benefits that other people seem to be attracted to i.e. flexibility, travel etc. I was just interested in a more performance based wage model.
Of course I now realise those benefits are the best thing about the job 😉

There’s over 60,000 affiliates on the A4U forum, (and only a handful on your blogroll) what were the biggest challenges to becoming a full time affiliate and generating enough income for a better lifestyle?

Oh gods I’ll get hate mail for this.
It was incredibly easy. I became an affiliate when you could chuck up any dodgy old load of spammy shite and make money from it. In my first month I created a 3,000 page doorway page site and made £300 from it. 4 months later I had equalled my salary with my marketing agency and was off to Australia. The real challenge was then keeping that money as Google’s rules got more stringent and the competition increased. These days there is a huge barrier to entry, you need to know so much to even get a toe in the door. I was lucky and could learn as I went!

Sounds like the right place, right time 🙂

There is definitely an element of that.

What changes in technology have made your job easier?

WordPress without a shadow of a doubt has given me the ability to create decent looking content sites and do some clever things with them without spending a lot of money. Other than that… cheap and reliable mobile broadband lets me take my office out and about without having to worry about internet cafes – I can’t work in those.

Technology between networks varies as does service levels, in your experience how do you see the future of agencies, networks and direct relationships?

Christ Mark, that’s some question for first thing in the morning!

ha ha, sorry!

Moving forward I don’t honestly know, those sorts of questions my immediate thought is “who cares?” LOL. But of course I would care if it impacted my bottom line.

I was going to mention as long as it doesn’t affect your bottom line, but with one UK agency and network going last year under, isn’t this something that affects you?

So far I haven’t been affected – it is a concern that networks may go under taking whatever outstanding commission they owe with them. But other than keeping our eyes open for signs of instability and jumping ship early, what can an affiliate do? We can only work in the environment created by these guys and do our best to keep afloat like everyone else!

very true, i guess its harder not being in the country. that brings me to my next question. Do you think we’ll see more of affiliates being successful in other countries?

I think a lot of affiliates will look to European markets moving forward. Also emerging markets like here in Australia are getting a lot of interest. Despite it being early days there’s some good money around and not the same levels of competition as in the UK and US.

That’s true I have some friends in Australia and they’re still getting their heads around affiliates over there. Does the distance between cities affect the ecommerce market?

Delivery cost and efficiency here is a massive factor but there are already a good few companies getting this right and I’d expect that to grow moving forward.

Many affiliates will be working from home. Are there any tips to be more productive and minimise the distractions?

I think mapping out what constitutes a working day for you and sticking to that is essential. Work out how long all your core tasks take you and plan out each day accordingly and stick to the plan. Also make sure you do say 2 things each day that could actively make you money. i.e. put up a new web page, or a new PPC ad. Get something out there each and every day, make sure you progress.

All good points Kirsty, with books like the four hour work week advocating outsourcing admin tasks, is this a trend that will continue and how much can this contribute to productivity in the real world?

I think it’s something that anyone looking to increase their personal productivity should be delving into. For me personally, I’ve saved 40 hours a month of work time by replacing some tasks I was slogging away at with a cheap but skilled outsourced solution. The cost was less than 10% of our profits and has freed up more of my time to look at ways to further increase our turnover. I think it’s an idea way for the at home affiliate to grow their business without the risk of permanent staff.

very true, what pitfalls should the first time outsourcer look out for when getting tasks outsourced?

Price should not be the only consideration – keeping quality and reliability in mind is far more important than keeping costs to a minimum. Also making sure you understand exactly what service you will be provided with – particularly if you decide to outsource SEO!

Are you trying to put me out of business, outsourcing seo, ha ha

I think it’s important people understand what good and bad SEO is.
i.e. blog spamming
vs useful participation in online communities
the distinction can be difficult for the uninitiated

So i should stop leaving comments with back links to my site then 🙂

Ha ha, not at all… just doing it via automated software in a scattergun type fashion is probably not a great strategy.

What 3 blogs or books (apart from this one) would you recommend aspiring affiliates read?

Oh christ
Ummmm…. 4 hour work week, secrets of the millionaire mind, and work the system
Blogs? Christ knows I’ve just had 4 months off and haven’t been reading any.

Finally we’re both Scottish, do you think that gives us superpowers?

Hmmmm…. unless drinking too much and talking nonsense is a superpower then probably not. Mind you, I consider the ability to enjoy something as dreadful as a deep fried mars bar nothing short of miraculous so I definitely think there are Scots out there with talent!

Thanks for your time Kirsty, you can read more about affiliate marketing at kirsty’s blog Affiliate Stuff and of course feel free to get the ball rolling with leaving a comment below as long as its not spam!

If you want to get in touch me about anything SEO or Affiliate Marketing related head over to

Mark Cann

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