We’re very excited to present our fifth interview with Brian McLevis of Envyus Media.
Brian McLevis’ professional background is in System / Network Administration. He has a wide array of background knowledge from enterprise corporations as well as small business and start-ups. Over the last decade he has become well acquainted with all angles and approaches in and of Internet Marketing. He is now Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Envyus Media Corp, The Performance Based Affiliate Network in Wichita, Kansas. He oversees all aspects and departments of Envyus and is dedicated to customer satisfaction while remaining cutting edge in the affiliate network industry.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How old are you?
I was born and raised in Northern California in the Bay Area. At 23 I moved to the Midwest… good ole Kansas – yellow brick road and all. Early on and throughout my life I was very interested and drawn to computers. My first machine was an Apple II GS. My curiosity and need to understand and push the limits came with my first modem. Once the 1200 baud monster was unboxed and plugged in there was no stopping me in the online world. At 13 I was deep into Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) and started my own single line BBS using VBBS – at the time I was running a x86, single line modem, and multitasking using DESQview. I was into hacking, phreaking, couriering, and causing all types of havoc online – did you know there was an “internet” when nobody knew of the internet? Boy those days fun weren’t they? Fast forward to today… I’m 32, own and manage Envyus Media Corp and have a beautiful Wife and 3 wonderful kids that definitely keep me motivated and driven to succeed. They are why I get up before dawn and work deep into the night.
2. How long have you been in affiliate marketing and how did you get involved?
I actually got my first taste of affiliate marketing about 5 years ago… My Brother whom works at a well know adult dating site turned me on to a bot that created accounts, sent messages, and did all the basic functions within a social media site, but was completely automated. Social media sites were fledgling and most code was weak and very exploitable – this made them very ‘spammable’. I was a system/network admin in the professional world at the time and fortunately I possessed the technical knowledge to scale this scenario and take full advantage of it. Eventually before you knew it I was running 12 servers 24/7/365 pushing 3000GB xfer/mo through the internet pipes generating 30k unique views a day to my landers. Baptism by fire my Wife calls it and so I was thrust into the online world of “Making Money Online.” Wow!
3. How long was it before you realized you could live off your affiliate income?
Within my first year I was making so much money – amounts my Wife and I could barely comprehend at first – that I actually couldn’t sleep at night. You know that feeling when you are so nervous and the wheels refuse to stop turning, and you wonder “Am I going to get into trouble?” Or maybe I’m doing something wrong? That was me and sleep definitely wasn’t on the agenda at that time. It was ever exciting and a thrilling ride. Looking back, it was a very surreal experience I couldn’t believe it was real. This was probably the first turning point in my marketing career – in my life. Excuse the phrase but I was “balls to the wall” doing everything I could to make as much money as possible. Day and night I would revisit and analyze every facet of the process tweaking each cog in the wheel, so to speak. Somehow though, I also found time to blow most of my profits and of course, my Wife helped me in that department too. If I didn’t love classic Chevy’s and my Wife didn’t have a taste for Louis Vuitton AND we had been wiser we would have created a nest egg then and reinvested our earnings. Live and learn. And that’s what I did…
4. What is the biggest mistake you made when you first started doing Affiliate Marketing?
The biggest mistake when I first started in the business was not reinvesting in other ventures. Any smart marketer knows that you must take a percentage of your earnings and diversify. I was more into spending loads of money on massive horsepower Chevy engines, car parts, and living the “high life” to realize that sooner or later the “method to the madness” would come to an end and I would need to find “the next best thing”. Sooner or later I learned that this business is not static and you must keep moving, diversifying, reinvesting, and ultimately be a “mover and shaker” otherwise you are going to find yourself sitting on the front porch of your house shaking your head thinking “my methods are dead – now what?” You must learn to adapt to frequent changes otherwise you are going to be sorry, out of money, and sulking around the house – trust me it happened to me.
5. What was your biggest success to date?
My biggest success is the amount of knowledge I have soaked up and devoured over the past 5 years. I have touched every angle of marketing from being a publisher (mainstream and adult), creating software products, creating websites, selling websites, running merchant accounts, writing technical specifications for fraud analytical software, running private offers, flipping highly successful websites, and learning advanced methodologies of internet marketing. All of these variables have turned me into what my Wife calls a fierce conglomeration of marketing knowledge. I still am so enthusiastic and driven that I still thrive off of it to the point that it gives me chills.
6. What are the best places for the newbie to learn affiliate marketing? What advice would you give for them?
A lot of new affiliates come to me asking questions like “How do I make money online?” or “Where do I start?” The absolute hands down best advice I can give anybody starting out in this business is… Read… Read… Read… and then read more. There are forums littered with priceless information. Sit down for a week, two weeks, or even a month, and do nothing but read and soak up the knowledge and continue to do so even when you think you’ve reached the end and have attained what you need. Find a niche and a traffic method that interests you because you need to put your heart and soul into what you are about to do – anything less will not yield your desired results. Take things one step at a time and don’t try to do 3 or 5 different things. Just concentrate on one traffic source/method and one niche until you are at a point where you are happy with your results. Now keep in mind… If you are not doing well in that niche or you continue to struggle with the traffic source/method, it’s definitely OK to stop what you are doing and try something else. That judgments call, I believe, comes with time and knowledge. Not every traffic source/method or niche is for everyone but you will find your groove and when you do … lookout! Run with it and run with it hard.
If you are interested in buying “eBooks” as a form of instruction, perhaps find a few good ones that outline the fundaments of internet marketing and learn about the essentials and necessities in general and build from there. Don’t just read the eBooks, understand them. Note various important aspects of what they say and integrate what works for you. Do research of industry terms, jargon, and what they are referring to. It can be a lot to get your mind around at first but don’t give up because over time your brain will become a database of information and knowledge and you will be well on your way to making money online.
One last thing… Don’t give up! Never give up! Keep at it over and over (and over) – persistence is key. Will there be obstacles? Probably. Can they be overcome? Absolutely. Trust me, you will fall down, several times, but just get back up and continue the fight. It will be worth the effort and your commitment will pay off!
7. In your opinion what are the most critical elements of running successful campaigns.
As an affiliate you want to work with a traffic medium that yields the highest “bang for your buck”. Affiliates will have various opinions as to what classifies as a “successful campaign.” My opinion is that if your profits exceed your expenses then you are running a successful campaign. One of the most crucial elements is fully understanding your traffic and what portion is yielding the highest profit. This is done by tracking everything. You can never track enough and I can’t stress this enough… You want to test and track everything from font size, front color, keywords, key phrases, placement, website load times, clickthroughs, etc… Everything – from the minutest aspects and viewpoints – should to be tracked and analyzed. There are numerous free tools out there that aid in tracking so there should be no excuse for not tracking. Also, never send random or haphazard traffic – understand the traffic, know it, and learn from it. It will definitely help you run a “successful campaign” and what you take away from it is invaluable now and into the future.
8. What’s the difference between a Super affiliate and an Average affiliate?
First, I will and always touch base with both Super Affiliates and Average Affiliates. Many so-called “average” affiliates are tomorrow’s Super Affiliates. Grow your knowledge; grow your business.
A Super Affiliate sends tons of traffic and its quality traffic. You never have to worry about advertiser’s complaints or issues with Super Affiliates. Super Affiliates possess in depth knowledge about marketing and they will pick your brain and leverage your company in order to understand what is currently hot and trends in the industry. They tend to stand strong and independent and don’t need a lot of assistance throughout their marketing ventures.
An Average Affiliate might be considered a “weekend warrior” or someone who pushes traffic on the side. These folks are, in my mind, are the grassroots affiliates that are down in the trenches working their tail off to gain knowledge and of course make money. They may have only a few hours a day to dedicate to internet marketing but they have the passion and drive to go out there, grab pieces of information, run with it, and try new things. They are your everyday people and we absolutely, hands down, welcome these people to the Envyus Media network. It’s a wide open field for all. Like I said today’s “little guy” could be tomorrow’s giant…
9. Tell us a little bit about Envyus Media and what you do over there?
Envyus Media is my creation and was built from the ground up. Day in and day out and into the wee hours, I can be found day and night pounding on the clickity clack keyboard answering emails, sifting through fraud analytics reports, communicating with publishers, and monitoring day to day operations. I don’t and won’t ever do “just one thing” at Envyus Media because if I didn’t have my hands in every aspect of the business I wouldn’t be able to sleep comfortably at night.
I feel I need to be involved from all viewpoints and I take pride in being involved in all aspects of Envyus. I want to make sure affiliates are treated well, with their questions promptly answered with solid and knowledgeable responses. Likewise I want advertisers that are pleased with the quality of traffic generated from our network. I take pride in what I do, how I do it, and I have a strong passion for the business and for the success of Envyus Media. I want our affiliates to know they are not just “another affiliate” on a network – they are an intricate part of the Envyus Media family.
11. There are already so many CPA affiliate networks out there. What makes Envyus Media different?
There are thousands of CPA Networks which can make it challenging for affiliates to make an informative decision on who they want to work with. Envyus Media doesn’t buy into fancy sayings, gimmicks, talk like “big shots”, or anything of the sort. What I can say about Envyus Media is we have people backing the company who have been in the industry for a very long time. Not only do we have an extensive and significant background, we also have extensive knowledge in all facets of internet marketing. We thoroughly know both sides of the house – Publishing and Advertising.
We can readily discuss all viewpoints and facets of internet marketing with each and every affiliate. We are ready to assist in everything needed by our affiliates and eager to see them do well and make the largest profit possible. We thrive on ‘talking business’ with the most savvy internet marketer. We also pride ourselves in the fact we can support and guide new affiliate marketers and fill their brain with useful and knowledgeable information. One thing I enjoy most are discussions with new publishers that have come on board providing them with knowledge, guidance, and any information they seek. So to answer the question… What makes Envyus Media different? Well, I would have to say we know what we are doing, we are good at what we do, and we are willing to share the knowledge with our affiliates. One thing you will never find at Envyus Media is an Affiliate Manager that doesn’t know anything about the business and is just there as a “warm body” to fill the position. We are knowledgeable about what we do and it shows – plain and simple.
12. Which offers are performing well on your network?
Generally speaking most of our volume is in Education and BizOpp. We have the highest paying / highest converting offers in these categories. Nonetheless, we have attractive offers in every category and are continuously reaching out to advertisers to secure quality offers that are attractive to today’s affiliate base. We also listen to our affiliates… If they are running an offer at other network that is doing well we make it a point to try and secure that particular offer on our network. Envyus Media is here for the affiliates…. Whatever they want is what we provide them with!
13. Which traffic sources prove to be the most effective for your top earning affiliates – PPC, PPV, Facebook, Media buys or any others?
Well the latest “fad” is Facebook and there are a lot of publishers pushing Facebook traffic to our network. There is an incredible amount of volume that can be generated from Social Media traffic and the conversion rates and quality of traffic is absolutely wonderful. We also have the Media Buyers and PPC guys which always seem to be a solid steady stream of traffic that backs out beautifully for the advertiser.
14. What are the criteria for a marketer to be accepted at Envyus Media?
The only requirement to be a publisher at Envyus Media is you are up front and honest about who you are, the traffic you push, and the fact you are here to put forth your best effort. Whether you are a seasoned vet or someone new to the industry we welcome you at Envyus Media.
15. For those who are interested in working with you and your affiliate network – What’s the best way/time to reach you?
I am a computer junkie so I can be reached pretty much anytime day or night. There is a “requirement” for me to sleep and do family activities so there will be times I am offline or unavailable but overall I do my best to be available when needed no matter what time it is. I enjoy forming close relationships with our affiliates because it helps me understand their wants and needs. The more they communicate with me the better overall experience is between the two parties – affiliate and affiliate network.
We have some publishers that call on a regular basis just to see what it hot on the network. Heck, I even communicate with one of our publishers via SMS throughout the week. He wants to know immediately when we secure an offer in his niche that is slated to do well on the network. This type of communication is welcome at Envyus Media and we absolutely enjoy the relationships we have built and will continue to build.
16. What are the keys to building successful relationships between Affiliates and affiliate networks?
The absolute hand down most important thing is “communication”. When an affiliate and an affiliate network can open the line of communication it really helps progress the affiliate’s success and also gives the affiliate network a good understanding of what the affiliate is looking for. The relationship between an affiliate and an affiliate network is a two way street… I have been in this industry for a long time and I have seen it time and time again, the network or affiliate manager seems to shrug off some affiliates. What these people don’t realize is that the affiliates are the ones that make the network successful! There needs to be just as much courtesy and respect extended to the affiliate as there is extended to the network. Neither party is more important nor “above” the other – the relationship between an affiliate and an affiliate network is about respect and if it’s a two way street it will definitely build a strong relationship between the two parties.
17. If you could change one thing about the affiliate industry what would it be?
There are a couple things I would change about the industry…
The first thing would be the “sketchyness” and “fraud” that occurs amongst affiliates, networks, and advertisers. This industry is filled with scammers and cheaters and in one aspect it really hurts the industry for the legitimate people.
The second thing I would change is the “e-machoness” running amuck in the industry – people thinking they are better than the next guy. Nobody in this world is better than anyone else and we all need to treat each other with respect. It’s wonderful that some people drive Ferrari’s, Lambo’s, Range Rovers, live in Mansions, and so on and so forth, but you still need to treat the next guy with respect – no matter how much money you earn or how “l33t” you are.
18. What do you think about where the industry is going, where is Envyus Media going, and what advice would you give to affiliates to keep up the pace.
It’s really hard to tell where the industry is going… Things seem to change day after day. It went from continuity offers one day to Penny Auctions and Education the next. That is one of the best things about affiliate marketing – it’s so dynamic!
Envyus Media will continue to build strong relationships with publishers and advertisers, grow the business, and share their knowledge with affiliates. We will continue to listen to publisher’s wants and needs and we will continue to accommodate requests. There is always room for improvement and we believe that if we shape and mold our business to meet the demands of today’s affiliates we will continue to be successful for a long time.
If you want my advice on how to keep up… Network with colleagues and form a close circle of friends that you can bounce ideas around with. I have learned that nobody knows “everything” and having a second opinion or a second set of eyes on a campaign, product, website, or anything for that matter definitely helps. Don’t go out and form relationships with just anybody though because there are some “less than optimal” people out there. Pick and choose who you want to work with and slowly build up a level of trust between the other parties. Over time you will end up with a close knit of friends that help each other out and in turn make you and your campaigns more successful than they are now.
19. What are your goals in 2010?
To get away from the computer more often and spend more time with my wonderful baby boy “Max”. He is 15 months old now and there is nothing in this world that I love more than him. I often find myself “attached” to the computer and I really need to pry myself away from it more and play with my Son. There is nothing better in this world that to hear him laugh – I love you buddy!
20. What’s your favorite movie and why?
Hands down, no questions asked, my favorite movie is “Gone in 60 Seconds”. I am a hardcore hotrod guy and the sound of an American engine rumbling and crackling gets me pumped up something serious! I have a passion for cars and in particular hotrods! Besides, what other movie is there where Angelina Jolie rolls out from under a Ferrari on a creeper, all greasy, braided bleach blonde hair, holding a wrench… errr… ummm… you get the picture. Need I say more?
21. Give us a little glimpse into what a typical day in your life looks like.
When I was in my early twenties you might have gotten a more exciting story but nowadays I like being involved with my family. A normal day consists of waking up, hitting the gym for 30 minutes of cardio (gets the blood pumping for the day), and then heading to the office to get a solid day of work in. Once my eyeballs are burning from starting intensely at the LCD monitor all day I head back over to the gym around 5:00 to hit the weights hard. I then head back home, eat dinner, spend more time at the computer addressing any issues or concerns, and then finally I spend some time with Max before he goes to sleep – we might throw the Nerf football around, wrestle, or just be plain silly and laugh together. The next day is what we call “rinse and repeat!”
22. And finally, thank you so much, Brian, for sharing your time with us and for sharing some great insight tips here.
Thank you for a great site and keep up the good work!
Many thanks to Brian McLevis for allowing this interview! If you have any experience with Brian’s Envyus Media Affiliates network, please write a review for them on the Envyus Media review page.
Ps. If you are an affiliate marketer, AM or Network owner and are interested in answering a few questions about you, your network and affiliate marketing, please drop us a message.