May 28, 2020

6K MRR + huge affiliate marketing learning for you

Yannick Veys @YannickVeys

We hit another significant milestone this week. We reached $6,000 MRR after a little over six months of being in business.


Super proud so many people are finding our Twitter scheduling and automation tool super handy!

I decided to dedicate this milestone to an exciting learning all Indie Hackers can benefit from.

How affiliate marketing can accelerate the growth of your Indie Project

We’re running an affiliate marketing program that is very successful. With affiliate marketing, you’re outsourcing a considerable part of your marketing to people who can directly benefit from it. As an Indie Hacker who’s mostly into code, this gives you access to a worldwide marketing team.

You can learn a lot from what your affiliates are saying about your product. Most Indie Hackers are probably also too shy or too modest to appear on YouTube.

Below you'll find a small selection of videos created about our product on YouTube. (There are dozens)

YouTube results on Hypefury

Here I’m doing a Google search without including our domain to see how many other pages are talking about us. A big part of that is because of affiliate marketing.

Google search results on Hypefury

Yes, we offer a significant part of our revenue to our affiliates, but a considerable gain in marketing effort is offsetting it. They are generating the awareness for our product, and we only pay a fraction we would otherwise pay if we did it all our selves.

Below you'll see the search volume and number of clicks on our branded keyword Hypefury (taken from Google Search Console).

Branded search Google

Biggest takeaway up until here: affiliate marketing works great, and I suggest every Indie Hacker starts a program themselves. Most Indie Hackers are not that good in marketing. Luckily other people can do it for you!

The dark side of affiliate marketing.

Look back at the graph containing the brand name Google searches and clicks. Anything out of the ordinary? What’s weird about the chart? Look at April 20th and beyond. Our number of clicks drop. Not much, but you can definitely see it in the graph.

I decided to start digging in Google Analytics and found one traffic source that was sending a lot of traffic.

Bad affiliate

Someone was sending a bunch of traffic to our website… Hmm, 🤔 who could it be?? :)

If you’re running an affiliate program, the answer is usually simple—your affiliate.

I’m okay with them running Google ads on keywords like Twitter scheduler, social media tool, etc. But that’s not what happened here.

I searched for our brand name in Google and lo and behold:

Google ad

We were advertising on Google!! Complete with a nice Trademark icon. It looked legit. Just like the big guns!! :)

Except this wasn’t us. This was one of our affiliates stealing our traffic. Our branded traffic.

You can advertise on your own (Indie) brand name for a penny a click. So this person is having a laugh sending all that traffic that would otherwise still visit our website via its affiliate link.

If you have an affiliate program or are planning on starting one after this post, the number one rule you must add to your affiliate terms is that they can’t advertise on your brand name and misspellings.

You can’t completely stop people from advertising on your branded searches. You can, however, prevent them from using your brand name in their ad (except for the visible URL). You have to file your trademark (as a Word, not an image). Once you receive your Trademark number, you can apply for brand name protection with Google.

Affiliates who’re doing this kind of marketing aren’t delivering extra traffic. They’re leeching off of your existing traffic. It only costs you money, and it’s the lamest form of affiliate marketing.

Doubling down on our affiliate program has been one of the key drivers of our growth, and we suggest everyone to set it up yourself. Just be vigilant because even if you have clear rules (like we do) some affiliates still try to go for the quick buck.

Stay vigilant! Happy growing!

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