What the Aff Founder, Manu Cinca Discusses His Affiliate Journey and his Transition to his New Daily Newsletter

By Ian Fernando

Manu and I decided to have a conversation about his project, WtAff.co - a daily newsletter for the affiliate marketing industry. I compared it to another popular daily newsletter I read daily and we go in-depth about his past into his current online career.

You can listen to the podcast here or just watch our beautiful conversation.


Ian Fernando: What is going on guys, Ian Fernando here and you are seeing us on the screen was Manu because I want to get his idea on what he's just been talking about on his new project is "What the Aff" newsletter.

So today it's going to be a great interview or not interview more of like conversation on why he shifted his focus from being an affiliate to this awesome newsletter which I compared it to almost like the hustle newsletter if anybody is familiar with it. So Manu I want to go ahead and introduce to everybody and tell them about your affiliate career first before we into our main topic.

Manu Cinca: Sure so thanks for having me Ian and hello everyone. Now to kind of give an intro about my affiliate career I started around three and a half years ago. I remember it was exactly May 2015, so it was pretty specific another project that we used that we had here in, you know that I worked on was a software development company.

But then the CTO and the team we didn't get along anymore so team broke up then looking further things to do pretty standard thing right like the team doesn't work out that’s one of the main reasons startups fail? So yeah but look into what are things that I could do what could make sense to test quickly and use the existing skills that we have and then affiliate marketing came to mind. Just because what other friends also said like I knew a few people that already started it.

Yeah, work pretty well started with mobile display back in the day and even work to do mobile display white hat back then with apps which is was quite strange for people and then moved into doing more thoughts expands into doing more than apps.

Worked pretty nicely yeah then as most people during 2017 or so look also into doing some Facebook e-com stuff like that which all led to 2018 that's starting what the Aff but I guess we can go into more details of why that happened later on.

I guess another interesting thing or like highlight was that during 2017 I was the head of a business operation for STM forum. So I learned a lot about offering any sort of service for the affiliate community. So that helped a little bit as well for what I'm doing now.

Ian Fernando: That's pretty cool, so basically started with pop traffic basically mobile pop right. Nothing like the desktop PPV pops right.

Manu Cinca: So I started with display first mobile display and then mobile pops. I mean we ran some desktop pops just like in the mixed if you targeted and broadly like if obviously not for apps but for sweepstakes and offers like that it works somehow but it was okay. But the biggest chunk was mobile for sure.

Ian Fernando: That's awesome that's awesome that's crazy so within three years you were pretty much successful in your first campaign with what a month or so?

Manu Cinca: Around a month but one thing that I always try to mention here is like a lot of people asked like how many weeks how many months to get successful like to have a profitable campaign because success is different for each.

But the main thing there was that I worked my at least 12 hours a day probably more sometimes including weekends. So it's like my one month was probably some other people's like if you do it part-time just imagine like I do six times more hours that you do a day with like two hours a day aside from your work.

And you have to also catch the right timing you got to be a little bit lucky with that.

So if you're not there all the time to catch the sort of a small lucky break and work hard on benefiting from that break then you don't really make it so.

It's like I'm one of those finish that say if you really, really want to be successful it's probably better to have like one month full on just like all in with it. And then get back to work than instead of doing it two hours day. I think it can work but I think it's less likely to work.

Ian Fernando: Oh no I totally agree with you with that because like when I had a job. I was usually probably working five hours right after that right and then I told myself okay if I'm able to do this five hours after my own job.

I do 12 to 16 hours you know two-thirds of my day dedicated to affiliate marketing then I can do this and then within a month's time or halftime I was able to let go a third job at the last job that I had at that time it became full-time.

You know but it took me two years to be full-time while having three jobs and then when I had that one job. I was able to use that time to upgrade myself after yeah I totally, totally agree.

Manu Cinca: You know yeah so it's on each person situation not saying that everyone should like quit their job, I think is just keep in mind that more per day will matter it helps a lot.

Ian Fernando: Correct, correct, correct so now let's go into what the Aff, since you were an affiliate - I don't know are you still an affiliate?

Manu Cinca: Technically not anymore that’s the funny thing.

Ian Fernando: Okay perfect conversation then so what is what the Aff okay I compare it to almost the hustle. I think I mentioned to you when you forget.

So I guess break it down for us?

Manu Cinca: Sure I mean in short it's the daily newsletter from Monday to Friday Newsletter. Workday newsletter targeted for people that are in affiliate marketing and probably some related industries as well a little bit broader digital marketing for doing e-commerce media buying in general. Some useful information for you as well that it should be around five minutes sweet.

So like a jam-packed quick read with all the sort of information but news about affiliate marketing technology and affiliate marketing simulated technology some actionable advice there is the goal. So the goal with it is just to have an entertaining and short read is that of you know browsing and procrastinating around Facebook groups and other news websites just get in your inbox every day with the latest and greatest of the industry.

Ian Fernando: So how like I mean before even in this came out it was like half-bloods was a very popular aggregator half post by Luke from peer fly like how do you filter out and curate and edit these concepts to go into your newsletter daily.

I mean I'm assuming that you're curating every hour of the day or are you saving like posts for something to schedule from you saw on Monday it might be scheduled for Friday.

Manu Cinca: So it's actually pretty straightforward what we do is we just have a reasonably long list of websites and groups that we track and then we just go 30 minutes to 60 minutes every day.

I think the key thing is that if since I'm someone who was pretty deep into an industry like I still think I'm pretty deep in the industry although I don't run campaigns. I kind of get what's important and what people want to hear about right so that's like it's not a secret trick or anything it's just more like the experience comes that you know what people care about and then you feature that.

Which is, yeah that's the whole thing like if you're, I feel like I part like I created something that I would want to read if I wouldn't be doing it.

Ian Fernando: That's awesome I mean that’s where it kind of starts out.

Manu Cinca: What I would want to read.

Ian Fernando: So like I guess do you think the newsletter so there's more like an SDM community membership or are you getting like a lot of newbies that are more like digital marketers or trying in the digital space. Because I see STM its own category of affiliate marketers then maybe a Clickbank person or I don't know a ShareASale CJ type affiliate.

Manu Cinca: Now we got a pretty wide range overall so there's definitely a few people that are newer like so we're running a survey like an anonymous survey all the time which is just to get an idea of what sort of people join our newsletter so we know how to curate the content better for them.

But mostly it’s over half of them I would say they're like professionals and due to speed you make a full-time living out of it. Of course the other half a little bit different but not like a very newbie section is the pretty small things like 10 to 15% people that are really really new in it and it kind of makes sense, because we really focus on curating news and content that is it's like actionable like professionals in that sense.

So it's not like you're for better or worse there will almost never be like a step-by-step how to get into affiliate marketing there.

Ian Fernando: It's just like the overall information what is happened currently.

Manu Cinca: Yeah exactly.

Ian Fernando: Industry changes as you know so often since you're not doing I guess affiliate campaigns I see ads here in your email which is fine I mean they're very small they're not a little obstructive.

I’m assuming that’s a source of income or are you doing something else on the side to help?

Manu Cinca: That's the main source of income when it comes to what I'm doing now it's just purely so it's based on other newsletters that monetize the same way.

The hustle of the same so the whole idea is that if we're a good source of information that we're like our readers then it's probably a good idea to instead of monetizing in any sort of by the way.

It seems like a pretty straightforward way to monetize advertising and doing it in a way that in a lot of case is in affiliate marketing doesn't happen which is not intrusive non-spamy so the way we put it is usually that we want to create an all-inclusive advertising service for any sort of co-sponsor that joins the newsletter. And we create also the content for them, so there's one spot it's supposed to be for each and we write the copy for them or well, of course, it's their input as well.

But we don't let anything just go in and take you super strongly.

Ian Fernando: Yeah I mean it's all about the customer experience right. It’s like man it's gonna be crap hit unsubscribe you know one thing I want also chat is like a the poolside chat part of your newsletter so what made you come up with this poolside chat it's like open Forbes style conversation post in that newsletter?

Manu Cinca: Two things first actually it was worried that we might not have enough news and content all the time actually. We do it every day like five times a week it's quite a bit like you're worried that maybe you don't have enough real news sort of contents put in the newsletter.

So that was one thing but the other thing is to kind of give it a little bit of a better mix, I guess if you think about it there's any sort of industry no matter how deep and niche it is the people will still have the stipulated industries that they care about for affiliate marketing we've noticed that technology in general is one cryptocurrency definitely a big one and then it kind of depends but there's definitely especially if you think about most of the people who are in affiliate marketing right now or and at their peak probably gaming is important like they started playing video games when they were kids and they still play like they're not very old or very young.

But if they're very young they still play games anyway so those are those topics are included and yeah it's most if you add a little bit of funny mix and variety but also make sure that we do have enough content.

And it's also like I thought of a name try to think of a name that is not off topic because if you say off topic something people think relevant I don't like that it's still relevant I think I hope. And I was thinking of okay so what do affiliates like lots so most of it is like traveling they like posting pictures from the beach in their infinity pool.

So it's like poolside chat when like the idea is to have the same conversations that you know let’s say you and I if we're gonna meet in Bangkok or wherever yeah when we're sipping some cocktails that's what we would talk about. We would probably not talk about affiliate marketing too much like we know a lot about and we want to have other things to discuss.

Ian Fernando: That's what I like to go into these conferences I mean are you going to AWM I’m assuming.

Manu Cinca: Yeah so actually the Wi-Fi sponsor for the conference awesome about that.

Ian Fernando: So just like you said the reason why these conferences are so important because you just go there to me put the face and then after you talk about a minute to the business of like hey everything doing love your campaigns. And you just talk about business and regular life you know.

Manu Cinca: Yeah that's I want to have the same feeling there it's like look it's serious overall and you get good information but I know things like you might care about are also there. That is not it’s a big marketing you don't get my overload of marketing news in any way.

Ian Fernando: Correct, correct so I guess therein Bangkok you're having a special dinner so what's this special dinner going to be about.

Manu Cinca: Well so what I wanted to put together is like a giveaway for people who are meeting what the Aff. And I thought like okay so what is the typical thing that happens when you do a giveaway so you have the standard conference tickets you have maybe discounts for some discounts for free use of some software.

And sometimes you have like you can attend the mastermind out of I don't know 20 people you can join as well. So I thought okay let's try to do something really special and go the other way around.

Of course like offering a ticket or some and discounts with our partners that we did already but also something from us from what they have that's different. And the opposite of those typical masterminds where you know 20 people go to talk to one person who is like the thought leader or the teacher let's call it.

Let's do any other way around where someone who is someone you were in the industry or not necessarily knew because then we can choose someone who's in the industry but not an expert perhaps or not very famous he could meet with I try to make five people join. So five people who have reasonably diverse skill set who are known and also who can help each other as well.

If necessary so I try to put together something that really focuses on the winner and not where the winner is just like on pawn part of the whole group in mastermind. I’ve been to masterminds I think they have found me but the whole idea with what I have is to do things a little bit out of the opposite way around.

When you see an affiliate marketing that like I said the beginning there's a lot of spam there's a lot of trust issues try to go the other way around and offering as much as we can for as little as possible. In this case for free, so that's why we have Andrew Pain he's very good with bush traffic and push traffic.

Ian Fernando: I was talking with him about some push traffic the other day too so.

Manu Cinca: So yeah so he's really, really good I'm surprised like he's one of the few people who didn't move out of pops but just try to figure things out and I think he was one of the early people who got into push traffic.

So he's been doing pretty well there than Paul J, Paul J he's really good in would Facebook. Then Depeche he's very good with Facebook as well Depeche Mondalia but he's very good with e-commerce Facebook and Paul is more like CPA Facebook.

Then Van Oaks he's good with influencer marketing and stuff like that he's the guy with the nice mustache. Then last but not least is the Kallie Shaquille he's the moderator on the SDM forum as well and he's really good with native adds.

So I try to like make it loop depending on whoever wins when it whatever they're doing there's going to be something for them.

Ian Fernando: It's a very diverse group very, very good so okay so um I guess since you're not in the affiliate marketing you have this newsletter for people to stay on top news I get one argument I can say is so are you doing any lead gen for What the Aff currently or are you buying your own traffic or what they have to grow the lists or using your marketing skill set to go with that more.

Manu Cinca: Well so actually I can tuck into a few things here the funny thing is before starting with app what I wanted to do is create a known product like a white hat own product that is sustainable where I can use the skills that I've learned in affiliate marketing for that product.

So whether that's info products or e-commerce things like that tried a lot of things. Both related to like crypto real estate e-commerce all sort of things just like small tests here and their crypto see the most promising one but then Google didn't want to do crypto anymore.

So I was like okay let's think this through and I ran into another newsletter that is similar to what we're doing now and similar to the hustle and that's kind of what pushed me to their idea like let's try to do something like this affiliate marketing and the irony is that I did use some of the affiliate marketing skills that I had learned over the years but those skills were not actually media buying.

So the skills that I learned were just like things to do with keeping track of the performance of course but then also understanding the industry. So we did try to do a little bit of media buying but as you can imagine it's a free newsletter where you don't have the lead magnet because if you add a lead magnet then it gets complicated with the engagement rates with open rates and click-through rates and things like that because people sign up for the lead magnet.

It works for a lot of models but in our case it didn’t seem to be much the best one what worked pretty well and what was new that I had to learn was kind of trying to do some influencer marketing.

So working with other people who are in the industry who have an audience by Kate do you like what we're doing and they were like most people were yes, it's quite interesting. So would you mind recommend and get your audience like your email list or following either for free if you want to or name a price and see if that works out for us.

Ian Fernando: That's awesome a lot of things are moving to more of an influencing style of traffic I never got into it I never just because I don't know how to properly the influence to profitability maybe that’s a bad way to look at things but I mean being affiliate marketers and we're just more numbers driven.

So I mean that's just one scary part. So okay so we're gonna towards the end of the interview what do you have for people that are starting into affiliate marketing. So you've been in the first three years, how do you want to tell somebody about the information on affiliate marketing and how to really, really start?

Manu Cinca: How to really, really start, okay one thing that I've noticed these days that there's not like a super straightforward way to start like just go this path. When I start it was clear that you have to go mobile display maybe but pops would have been the best way to go.

And how it seems more difficult I think push traffic is a good way to start off because it's very similar to pops in some way like it's also cheap traffic that you can buy a lot of traffic for cheap.

So then for your a smaller budget when you're starting out you can get a lot and then you can you can get familiar with the whole flow which is like traffic source your tracker and your stats then the affiliate networks you can go get familiar with all this funnel that you happen affiliate marketing so I would say push traffic would be a good one.

But in general, you should really think deeply about learning media buying just whether it's on Facebook or e-commerce. The way I would go about it now is probably think what sort of traffic source I want to be good at and then figure out the vertical to run up that traffic source.

So like traffic source first find good information about that and then ten different verticals different offers on that source.

Ian Fernando: Awesome cool so everyone thanks for watching and having this interview with Manu to talk about What the Aff you can find his newsletter at a whatthef.co.

Manu Cinca: WTaff.CO

Ian Fernando: There you go, real quick what made you come up with a name?

Manu Cinca: Well okay the whole idea initially was that what the Aff or like this newsletter was supposed to be Mike your daily stack of newspapers that you get and you know you've got or like many people in the US got like tens of years ago probably.

I've seen it only movies like you just order your newspapers and they were a stack.

Ian Fernando: Oh okay I got to say yeah.

Manu Cinca: So like your daily stack of newspapers but deliver to your email. But then calling it any sort of anything that has to do with the stack I thought that it would get confusing because I work on the moderator and STM forum so I got money I got clothing.

I didn't want people to think that this is associated with them like I don't want to piggyback on that then the other thing was okay so what sort of tone do we want to have in this newsletter what is yes we provide news but we also try to add some entertainment in there and that should make people kind of like WTF.

And since its affiliate marketing what that Aff instead of what the Aff like that's kind of the story.

Ian Fernando: Nice awesome okay.

Manu Cinca: Then what the Aff is also something very common because a is also stands for accelerated free-fall which has to do with skydiving and when I Googled it as like okay the domain is taken the .com is taken.

Ian Fernando: Well everyone if you want to read he even has all these old news old articles on his website WTaff.co so if you want to preview all his past newsletters you can go on the website before you were subscribing.

Pretty easy and that's kind of how I started just going through and I saw my comments a lot of good information on here I don't mind having it on my inbox a lot of time. So Manu thank you again for having this interview with me.

Manu Cinca: Thanks for having me as well.

Ian Fernando: Yea no problem and then any last words.

Manu Cinca: Well no just well subscribe the course check us if you like us then right like I would be very happy if you don't unsubscribe as the only ask for your name we don't even have the Facebook pixel put on like if you don't want to stalk you over the Internet and stuff.

No worries if you unsubscribe and then yeah hope to see you in Bangkok.

Ian Fernando: I'll be there should be the first week in December I think I'm probably going a second of the first I'll try to be going anyway. So Manu thank you for having me or thank you for the conversation anyway.

Manu Cinca: Yea cheers.

Ian Fernando
Involved in the internet space since 2002 and have been through the ups and downs of this online industry. I am a traveling digital nomad, media buyer, online strategist, and many more online titles.

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