To be a really successful affiliate marketer, one must have to have a fair bit of understanding of many different skill sets. I say understanding because you need not necessarily be at an expert level at all skills yourself. You do have the option of outsourcing. However, to be an effective "manager" of outsourced work, you must have an understanding of all skills.
To be an effective affiliate manager, does one have to be an outstanding affiliate? Not necessarily. But you certainly must understand what's involved to be an outstanding affiliate, and also have a keen knowledge of "black hat" tactics that might damage your program and/or the merchant brand in the long run. Also, you must be able to grasp the "big picture" on the merchant's objectives.
This all leads me to my main topic. I wanted to write a brief piece to highlight some great resources out there that can really help beginning and also experience affiliates and prospective affiliate managers get a solid understanding in many aspects of affiliate marketing.
Let's start with a couple great books written by Geno Prussakov. First his most recent book, Affiliate Program Management: An Hour a Day a solid update to his first book, A Practical Guide to Affiliate Marketing: Quick Reference for Affiliate Managers & Merchants. Just look at those Amazon reviews! As of my writing this, 52 five star reviews, and 1 four star and no reviews below that. That is one well-regarded book!
I have an actual physical copy of his first book, , and found it to be an incredible resource. It was published in 2007, but much of the material still holds up today. Especially relevant are the sections on launching an affiliate program, key mistakes made in affiliate management, and ideas for affiliate program promotion. I know his more recent edition will even be more jam-packed with useful info, both for the manager just starting out, and the seasoned experience pro.
If "listening" is more in your preferred wheelhouse for consuming content, you must check out Affiliate ABCs. Debbie and Vinny (the hosts of AffiliateABCs) put together some great interviews with 1st hand perspectives and valuable insights relevant to both affiliate managers and to affiliates. Mixed in for good measure are quote a few interesting interviews with Kindle/iBook/Nook/PDF authors telling about their experiences writing, publishing and marketing their books.
Affiliate Summit, organized by Sean Collins and Missy Ward, is THE go to conference series for affiliates, merchants and vendors. 50% of the value is the networking and relationship building that takes place at the conference, but the other 50% are the informative sessions. Sean and Missy are gracious enough to release videos and slides from these presentation for public consumption (for those who aren't able to attend. Check out the Affiliate Summit Youtube channel for videos of these great sessions.
Now, most of affiliate marketing is done online though websites, so we shouldn't neglect forums and blogs.
First, let's talk about Abestweb, one of the oldest and most legendary affiliate forums. Abestweb built it's reputation on taking a firm stance against parasitic marketing tactics and helped shape current industry opinions toward the positive. It's gone through a lot of transitions over the years, shake-ups with older users leaving, new users emerging and even older users returning. There's still a tremendous amount of content there, and anything "moving and shaking" in the industry will get discussed and you'll be exposed to a variety of viewpoints by reading the threads. A great place to start consuming some of the Abestweb content would be the (newbie and helpful article section][http://www.abestweb.com/forums/newbie-faqs-helpful-articles–156/].
Revenews is a great multi-author blog to catch write-ups on current industry issues and opinions. Some of those most valuable content comes from the comments on articles, so don't neglect reading those.
Last, but certainly not least, I want to call out Sugarrae's Affiliate Marketing Blog. When I first came across Suggarrae's blog, I slotted it into the top spot of my reading priority list. Her forthright style is such a great contrast to some of the typical, "glossy" and bland style of other blogs (especially regarding marketing and marketing techniques). She's a great affiliate marketer, and the views and tips she writes about really give tremendous insight into "real" affiliate marketing.
There are hundreds of other resources I can put here. After all, an affiliate should keep up to date on general marketing and sales techniques, copywriting, web page design and conversion blogs, analytics, SEO, paid search tactics and social media best practices. Yep, there's a lot involved in creating a successful online web business. It's both a credit and a curse to our industry that non-industry folks will never truly understand the tremendous work, knowledge and skills we must develop to maintain a relevant online business.
I hope you find this useful, and for other general and getting started affiliate marketing tips do check out our AMWSO Affiliate Marketing Help page. Also, if you have found this useful, please do throw us a Like via Facebook or a +1 via Google+ (widget below).