Joonas Karhu, chief business officer at Bojoko, says that conferences are a powerful learning and development tool for those entering the affiliate marketing sector

The global online affiliate sector is thriving, with hundreds of new companies entering the fray every single year as they look to capitalise on the tremendous opportunities available.

But where there are opportunities there are also challenges, and when it comes to running an affiliate business there are many that have to be met and overcome.

This can be anything from meeting regulatory and compliance requirements to new payment structures via ever-changing SEO methods and more.

Of course, these challenges are part of the fun of operating an affiliate business and overcoming them is the difference between an affiliate that is successful and one that is not.

But when starting out in business – particularly in the fiercely competitive affiliate sector – it can feel overwhelming and seem like an impossible task at times.

In my role as chief business officer for online casino comparison site, I know exactly what it is like to launch a new affiliate business in a highly competitive market.

Going through this process I have learned the best approach to take is to seek advice from others, particularly experts in various areas and processes.

There are several ways you can do this – follow influencers on social media, read blogs, purchase books, etc – but I have always found attending conferences to be the most effective.

Why? Because you are given direct access to expert speakers, highly informational panel discussions and networking events that allow you to knowledge share with others.

Allow me to explain in more detail:

Speak to experts face to face:

The line-up of expert speakers and thought-leader panellists that are invited to conferences are one of the main reasons people attend.

These people are welcomed on stage to share their tremendous knowledge about, and experience of, key aspects of running an affiliate business.

The conferences I have attended have seen experts speak on a huge range of topics, from social media to SEO via content, design, finance and law.

In most instances, you will also have the chance to ask the experts questions at the end of their talk or panel – take advantage of this as most would usually charge a fee for their advice.

Learn about new trends impacting your sector:

These talks and panels allow you to gain a clear understanding of any new trends and topics that are impacting the affiliate industry and the specific sector you operate in.

This could be new rules and regulations coming into force and the impact they will have on your businesses, or new products and tools you can use to drive growth.

In any industry it is vital that businesses are aware of the latest trends so that they can react to, and capitalise on, any changes. The affiliate sector is no different.

Meet with your partners:

One of the great things about running an affiliate business is that it can be done from anywhere in the world – some people even travel extensively while running their business.

However, this can make it difficult to meet with the people that run the businesses you have partnered with as they will most likely be based in a different country to you.

Conferences bring everyone together in a single place and mean that you can meet with your partners and have a proper discussion.

This really helps to drive your business forwards as you can brainstorm and action plans and ideas instantaneously rather than having to Skype call or email back and forth.

Network with other affiliates:

Almost every conference I have attended has included a variety of networking events and opportunities, from lunches to drinks and even after-parties.

These sessions provide the perfect chance to chat with other affiliates in attendance and share your learnings from the event plus the challenges you are facing.

My experience of affiliates is that they are generally an open and honest bunch and by talking through topics and trends together, progress can be made to benefit everyone.

The freebies on offer:

The final reason for attending a conference is that 1) they are great fun and 2) there are plenty of freebies that are handed out that you should take advantage of.

And I’m not just talking about pens and beers – I mean tools and services that can be of great use to your affiliate business that you can sample before buying or signing up to.

For example, an SEO agency my offer to conduct a mini-audit of your website during the event, or a content agency may offer a free press release or blog post.

If these sorts of things are offered, it is worth definitely accepting them.

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