Zero Parallel

Interview with Affiliate Summit Co-Founder Shawn Collins


We’re incredibly excited for this year’s Affiliate Summit East, which is being held at the Marriott Marquis in New York City from July 31-August 2. We reached out to its Co-Founder, Shawn Collins, for some insight about what sets the show apart from other affiliate marketing conferences! To meet with us at the show, you can schedule a meeting here.

  1. What’s the hardest part of producing the Affiliate Summit shows? 

We are always trying to evolve, based on the feedback we solicit after each conference, so we are constantly reinventing and testing things to try and make it the most easy and profitable show it can be for the attendees. So, we don’t have a formula for how to do it each time – it’s a new iteration from conference to conference.

  1. You started the show in 2003. What have been the biggest changes in the industry since then?

Affiliates, affiliate managers, and networks have all gotten a lot more sophisticated. There are so many efficiencies to make things easier, and the threshold to get started has gotten a lot lower. A domain, cheap hosting, and an idea is all it takes now, since WordPress has simplified things.

  1. What apps do you use every day?

Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

  1. Is there a website you have seen recently (in any vertical) that blew you away?

I haven’t seen a remarkable innovation recently, but I am always watching the big players, like RetailMeNot, to see any changes they are making.

  1. Is there something you think is going to happen in the industry that you can’t wait to see?

It’s exciting to see the transition to mobile in all areas of affiliate marketing. I think the affiliates who don’t have a mobile-responsive site will go extinct, as the mobile and app affiliates take over the shift of power players.

  1. What are your top SEO tips for new affiliates?

I don’t really do SEO, but I’d say if they are using WordPress, they should install the Yoast SEO plugin and write their content for people, not search engines.

  1. How is integration between analytics, phones, and lead generation changing the business? What should affiliates know so they can be better prepared? 

I recently saw Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour, speaking at SXSW, and I really liked something he said, “Data is the new oil. The companies that do well are the companies that use math.” That really applies to affiliates.

  1. If you were interviewing yourself, what would you ask?

How did you get into affiliate marketing way back in 1997? I was desperate – I was newly married, had a house, mortgage, car payments, and student loans. I was in a poor paying job in the magazine circulation business that I didn’t like. I came across the Amazon affiliate program one day, taught myself HTML, and became writing content. Soon after, I scored a job running an affiliate program for a startup that wanted to be the Amazon of medical books. I liked that stuff so much that I never stopped. I’ve been an affiliate ever since and spent 10 years managing affiliate programs. I only stopped, because I could no longer balance doing that and Affiliate Summit.

  1. What’s your elevator pitch for Affiliate Summit East?

You can learn about affiliate marketing online, but there is no way to replicate the in-person conversations and opportunities to meet so many people who are not accessible to you online.

  1. What is your favorite part of living in Austin?

It’s such an outdoors city, and I love hiking, boating, and all of that. But also, it’s packed with so many entrepreneurs and tech people – they speak my language. They are my tribe. It’s also really nice, because you can get to anywhere in the U.S. in a couple or three hours. No red eyes.

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