It seems so long ago. Back in 1999 a friend and former business associate was telling me he was making a ton of money with “affiliate programs”. Since I was already familiar with the workings of the Internet, having the need to use it for file transfers and such in my prior business, it didn't take me long to master web-building for profit with affiliate programs.
At the time I got started teaching my strategies in live workshops, conducted first in New Westminster, BC in 2001, there were very few (if any) credible conferences to go to.
And besides, in those early days I was quite leery of recommending students attend such events anyway because I was concerned they'd get sidetracked or become overwhelmed by the jargon and possibly walk away thinking affiliate marketing was too complicated to figure out.
Fast forward to 2011, though, and any casual observer can see the landscape has changed dramatically. If fact, to say the industry has “dramatically” changed is an understatement. There is simply no resemblance at all to what the industry has now become compared to what it was back then in the late '90's.
Yet, the problem of “too much information” is as valid now as it was then.
With this in mind I've whittled it down to my 3 best picks for industry conferences, -- three events I attend regularly (some every year as far back as 2002).
This is not to say that a novice affiliate Marketer needs to attend all these events to be successful, but for someone with a serious commitment to continued learning (mandatory in my opinion) I'd suggest you pick at least one, maybe two to attend annually.
#1 - Affiliate Summit – I've become good friends with the founders of this event, Shawn Collins & Missy Ward, since first attending in 2004. In that year they held their event on a cruise ship out of New York going to Halifax and back. It was a blast for all! On it I met up with Todd Crawford, one of the founders of Commission Junction, as well as several industry notables. Without a doubt, Affiliate Summit has grown to become the premier industry event. They now hold two (sold out) events per year in the U.S., one in Las Vegas in winter and one on the east coast in summer. To give you an idea of the growth consider this: when I first attended in the spring of 2004 there were approximately 240 people attending. These days both annual events always sell out at 4,000 attendees plus. If you had to choose one event to attend this would be it.
Check out upcoming events here: http://www.affiliatesummit.com/
#2 - ShareASale Think Tank – Brian Littleton, founder of the ShareAsale affiliate network, is routinely considered one of the finest individuals in this industry. His annual “think tank” is always held at stunning 5 star resorts, with everything included in the price – fine food, golf, etc. In the early days it was “by invitation only” and I was regularly privileged to attend as a spokesperson for the affiliate point of view. I've also interviewed Brian a few times for one of my affiliate marketing podcasts. I think Brian was so clever to hold these annuals pow-wows where representatives of both the “affiliate” side and “merchant” side could hash out new ideas in order to grow the industry. Luckily for you his annual think tank is now open to all.
You can find more information at http://shareasalethinktank.com/
#3 - Commission Junction University (CJU) – I put CJ at the top of the list because this was the first event I attended annually starting in 2002. In those early days I highly recommended CJ as the best source for merchants because at the time finding “niches” that offered affiliate revenue could be challenging. With a single CJ membership students (publishers) could usually find what they were looking for with a few mouse clicks. I have yet to attend a CJ event without meeting up with dozens of students (past and present) who say they got started because of one of my affiliate marketing trainings. I have a soft spot for CJU because this was where I got started as an industry speaker. The staff at CJ were kind enough to invite me to speak on two separate occasions, 2003 and 2005.
A side benefit to attending CJU is the location. They are located in lovely Santa Barbara, California. Normally the conference is held at the Fess Parker Resort located right opposite the beach. My wife Arlene always spends at least one day shopping with the gals whenever we attend CJU. As for myself, I enjoy the many restaurants and pubs of this quaint upscale community. CJ events are always well organized, with splendid food included in the price. Of course they always line up leading panellists and networking opportunities for attendees.
Visit them here: http://cju.cj.com/
About the Author
James Martell lives in White Rock, BC with his wife Arlene and their three children. James is a pioneer in the affiliate marketing industry and was successfully profiting with affiliate websites as early as 1999.