February 20, 2022

If you’re reading this page, when I say that I’m an affiliate marketer, you probably get it. By the time you’ve read this post, it is likely that you have already done enough research to at least understand the basics of affiliate marketing. Maybe you’re already a successful affiliate marketer and can relate to what I’m about to cover in this article.

You see, I get asked all the time a very basic question. The question is, “what do you do for a living?” Now, in the past with my previous jobs, I could easily answer that question by saying…

“I sell cell phones at Best Buy.”
“I’m a Security Guard at Six Flags Great America.”
“I’m an Account Manager at CDW.”
“I’m a truck driver for Prime, Inc.”

All of those responses are pretty straightforward and everyone could easily understand what I did. But these days, it’s not so easy. When asked what I do, I have a lot of trouble responding. I can’t just respond with, “I’m an affiliate marketer.” There is only a tiny percentage of the population that understands what affiliate marketing is or that it even exists.

What I’ve found is that when I’m asked what I do for a living, my answer is almost always different. I still to this day don’t really know how to respond, but here are some of the responses I give most frequently.

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I Own A Small Handful Of Websites

While this response can work, it usually just leads to more questions. The response is almost always the same. The person who asked will say something like, “oh, ok. Very cool!” But immediately after saying that, I can almost watch their eyes roll into the back of their head as they try to wrap their head around that. Then the conversation will go a little something like this…

Confused Person: “So, you develop websites?”
Me: “In short, yes.”
Confused Person: “You know, my sister is an accountant and she needs a new site developed. Would you like her contact info?”
Me: “Well, that’s not really what I do. The sites I develop aren’t for other businesses, they are sites I own and operate.”
Confused Person: “Oh………. (long awkward pause) ……… So you like sell stuff in an online store?”
Me: “Not exactly. Basically I develop websites and blogs around niche topics that bring in a lot of visitors from search engines. For example, I have a website called DogFoodInsider.com that reviews dog food. There are links on my site that go to Amazon.com, so if someone clicks on that link and makes a purchase on Amazon, I receive a small commission. That’s basically how it works.”
Confused Person: “Oh…… (long awkward pause) ………

At this point, the conversation is generally changed to something else. They still don’t understand what I do and I still haven’t explained it in a way people can understand. Awkward!

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I Own An Online Marketing Business

This response has worked pretty well and the responses from people seem to be more in the line of them being impressed. When I say I own an online marketing company, the response is almost always one of excitement. “Wow! That’s awesome! How do you get into that type of thing anyway?”

Damn the follow up questions! How do you get into it? How about work your ass off for 12 to 18 months by learning everything you need to know to build a website, get search engines to like you, get social media to like you, get readers to like you, find affiliate partners, write, write, write, write, and write…. I mean, how do you get into it?!? It’s a fair question, don’t get me wrong. But how do I explain it without going into a crazy amount of detail? It’s easy to write an article about what affiliate marketing is, but most people you talk to face to face don’t want to read an article or hear a 10 minute speech. They just want to know how you make money.

So, this response is a good one to impress people, but in the end, it usually leads to the same difficult to answer follow up questions.

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I’m A Writer / Blogger

I used this one almost exclusively for a long time. Quite frankly, unless I’m networking, I really don’t care if people know I own my own business. If I meet someone new and they ask what I do, I can just say “I’m a writer.” Now, there is almost always a follow up question of “who do you write for?” What I generally is is that I’m a freelancer and write for websites. I will sometimes even give them the names of the sites I write for. They never put two and two together and the follow up questions usually end there. Most people don’t want to write for a living and so they don’t care about how to get into it. They also don’t seem to ask how the site makes money. They don’t know I own it, so they just figure I get paid to write on it.

Once in a while I’ll tell people I’m a blogger, but this generally gets me a lot more follow up questions because they know I own the sites I write on. People also don’t take “blogging” seriously. I’m pretty sure when I tell people I’m a blogger they just assume I’m unemployed and write on a site for a little extra cash.

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The Impression That I’m A Lazy SOB

Not only is it difficult to explain what I do for a living, but I’m pretty sure a lot of people are under the impression I sit around all day long and never work. My neighbors know I don’t go to work everyday like they do. When they do see me outside, I’m usually wearing a hoodie, sweatpants, and am unshaven. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I almost feel like my neighbors despise me in a way. As if they are thinking, “why do I have to wake my ass up at 6am every morning to go to work while this guy sits at home all day in his sweatpants?” It isn’t just my neighbors that feel this way. I know many others who are supportive on the surface, but they still don’t get what I do or how much work it takes.

Are you an affiliate marketer? What do YOU tell people you do for a living? After all of these years, I’m still struggling to come up with that perfect short response that answers the question effectively.

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