What are the pros and cons of having a team?
If you’ve been in the digital marketing game a little while you’ve surely come across some of these mega marketing teams at a convention or two. They have the top guns, best toys and a staggering amount of money. Maybe you’ve just encountered some smaller scale operations that may not be as epic as the big guys, but are still out there killing it. Maybe you’re an anti-social hermit type, but you’re still curious about expanding your operation as painlessly as possible. The time will come with you’ll at least think about building some kind of team. Here are a few things to consider.
|Solo||This is how almost everyone starts out. Running the whole operation on your own.||• You keep all the money|
• No one to manage or get along with
|• Long hours|
• More stress
• Missed opportunities
• A limit to your success
|VA’s||A great asset when you’re in that early solo phase. Lots of excellent, low cost resources that provide an array of services||• Very inexpensive|
• Helps fill the gaps in your skill levels and trades money for time
|• Requires a training period to ramp up|
• Best to have a team access
|Partnership / Small team||This is when two or more solo acts come together, usually on an equal share||• Shared workload|
• Shared Risk
• Can delegate
tasks to strengths
|• You don’t have as much freedom to do what you want|
• Have to share profits
The big dogs, the heavy hitters. |
Lots of resources and highly skilled personnel in one powerful package.
|• More possibility of dominance in a vertical|
• More specialized resources
• Able to run and test more data
• Much larger profits
|• Larger team to communicate with; delegation and clearly becomes more essential|
• Larger operational costs
Do I need a team to be successful?
Can you be a successful, ass-kicking solo act; pulling in massive profits? Absolutely, it depends on how you measure your success. Certainly if you want to see ultra-massive profits, you’ll have to eventually build at least some kind of team. However, that might not be your goal. Many are happy to just make the smaller “massive profits” and their interests for building a team comes down to trading money for more time and freedom. Nowadays, many can tap the resources of a good VA team and it gives them the freedom they seek with less structural formality. Maybe the best answer to is to set in your mind what success is, whether you build a team or not and make a plan to reach that goal. It might mean going it alone, partnering up with someone or building a massive empire.
What should I know before I try to build a team?
When it comes down to the basic day-to-grind, the simple answer is EVERYTHING. You should really have at least tried to do all of your required tasks successfully for at least a year. Maybe you’re no coder and you decide to outsource those higher tech level things, but really, you should try to have a basic understanding how the wheels move on your entire operation. You don’t have to be great at everything and you most likely won’t be. If you’re thinking about the steps of building a team then these are some points to consider.
What happens if it all goes to shit?
PRO TIP: Reading the book The Secret will not make you money; only selling it will.
It’s a crude, dark question that many don’t like to think about, but still a very important one to ponder. Keep in mind this is not meant to discourage you, it’s designed to help you prepare. The head-in-the-sand-and-wish-for-the-best approach is not for the serious minded adults in the room.
If you want to partner with your best friend you’ve known since you were five years old, ask yourself if you are willing to risk that relationship. Never say never here; this is business and things happen especially when you don’t plan for the details and dark times. I know you think “Not Joe, he’d never do anything to hurt me!” Have you ever seen Joe with shit gobs of money? It can change people.
Have a plan that protects everyone, possibly even the friendship. Maybe Joe turns out to be a great guy, but one day he gets hit and killed by a car and now you have to deal with Joe’s psycho wife (or his psycho brother, parents…etc.). Do you have a plan in place to save all you’ve worked for? Plan for the worst, hope for the best.
What will be your liability structure?
One of the best and most common ways is to set up some kind of LLC (or Limited Liability Corporation). That just the first step, make sure your articles of incorporation have the “what ifs” clearly thought out. This is also a good time to talk about an accountant and even a lawyer. These are going to be “must haves” at some point, so make sure to include that in the equation. You don’t want to let a tax filing error or minor lawsuit wipe you out.
Paying your dues and your bills
As stated before, at least considering a team will most likely be an inevitability for anyone that has been around the industry for a while. It’s very important to realize however, there is never a reason to rush into this. Make sure you have a solid, successful understanding of what you do and can do it well. How many years have you been running a profitable operation? Let’s back up there and make sure that last sentence is understood. It was not asking “how long have you been involved in affiliate marketing?”, it was asking how long have you been consistently profitable for? If you’re failing, don’t look to a partnership to fix what’s broken, you may need a better handle on the game overall before you move ahead.
Focus on your strengths
If you’ve decided to team up, it’s important to find someone you trust and work well with, but that’s not all. Let’s talk again about “Joe”. OK, so we’ve set up a well thought out LLC and planed for worst case scenarios as best as we can. We trust and work well with Joe, but what does Joe do? Is he filling in for your weak spots? Are you compensating for his? Ideally you also want to find the kinds of people that are going to fit this kind of cooperative relationship. If you’re an ad copy guru and networking master, but suck at the tech stuff, hopefully you’ll find someone who will symbiotically fill that gap. Having someone you connect with is important, but if you know you’re weak in an area, get the best person you can to be a part of your team.
Management and the software toolbox
Chances are you’re going to have a lot of software tools in play, even at the beginner level. Tools for hosting, funneling, tracking, Ad research, etc. Many of those tools may be the perfect fit for someone at the solo level, but for a team, you’ll want to have tools that can grow to meet the needs of a well managed team. You’ll want to consider access management, your team’s level of technical skill and you’re software licensing costs and capabilities to support a growing team. Here are a few good scaleable tools that work well no matter what the size of your team is:
An effective communication channel is key when working with any kind of team. If much of your team is virtual, even more so. Slack is a messaging tool that works great for this and it has become the standard business chat tool for may type of organizations, large or small. You can create specialized groups and subgroups (AKA “channels), share documents, even search chat archives.
As an affiliate marketer, you already know that having good campaign tracker is key. It’s how you steer this the ship and develop a strategy. Have a team friendly tool that is scalable and right-sized to
Personally I’ve used a lot of similar project management tools, but I was immediately impressed by Asana’s powerful collaborative capabilities and intuitive user interface. If you’ve ever worked with anything similar, give Asana a try and you’ll see what I mean. Even for a small team it’s great for pushing the projects forward and keeping track of tasks and details.
You have to give strong consideration to what your goals are and what works best for achieving those goals. Many people have gotten into affiliate marketing, precisely because they wanted to have a greater say in the kinds of lives they lead. If you are a lone wolf, but are perfectly happy with your routine and feel you are well compensated for your time and efforts, there is no need to change that. However, if you want a shot at earning even more or maybe just like working with a team, then there are a few ways to get there. If you’re even considering it, chances are you’ll at least give V.A.s a try or will maybe partner up. Just be aware of the new challenges that situation might bring.