We’re welcoming Sergey Borisov today. Sergey is the creator of the CPA NOOB public page and the owner of the CTR 10 creative studio. He has been working with traffic for over 7 years. During this time, he managed to work with almost all traffic sources, improve his skills in video production, shoot a short series about affiliate marketing, run his own blog, and much more. Read about all this in our today’s interview.
1) Sergey, hello! You have a very rich affiliate marketing history, so we will ask about everything in order. Let’s start by talking about what you’re busy with these days?
At the moment I am, one might say, looking for myself. A lot has changed in my life, the time has come for searching and experimenting; I launch online stores, I sell goods, I run a blog, do creatives, create my own educational products. But the main goal is to live a rich, happy life, that’s what I strive for.
2) The current situation in the world has completely changed the market. What traffic sources and verticals do you think will become relevant in the near future?
The situation mostly affected the Russian market. Those who drive foreign traffic will continue to do so. Yes, there have been some inconveniences in the market, but, as we can see, everything can be quickly resolved, people come up with the necessary tools for these purposes.
As for the Russian market, it will be much more difficult for new wave affiliates to work compared to what the job was like before. However, the market will adapt quickly and everything will return to normal.
Of course, Russian sources such as VKontakte and myTarget will get a new raise, but the main problem now is the lack of good offers for these networks, which will also be gradually resolved, and offers will come.
2014 to 2016, affiliates actively worked in myTarget and did well without sophisticated algorithms. Facebook has greatly changed the situation and changed the offers from affiliate networks a lot. Now, it will be necessary, albeit partially, to introduce offers suitable for other sources as well.
3) You used to actively drive myTarget traffic, you had nice cases and even your own software. Tell us about the fate of this source specifically for you?
MyTarget is the source from which I managed to earn my first really good money. But, as I mentioned above, Facebook seized the initiative, and affiliate networks began changing their offers to suit Facebook’s users’ needs. Offers became less and less suitable for myTarget, the source became unattractive for affiliates. Of course, we should not forget the fact that the site itself began to change the conditions for selling traffic, traffic became dirtier, and moderation became tougher. But in my opinion, it was the change in the vector of affiliate networks’ development that most of all influenced local publishers.
4) Tell us about the origin and development of your creative studio CTR-10. What success have you achieved? What is the staff? What are your goals and prospects, and how successful is the project in general?
This project was founded spontaneously. I can’t say that I came up with it, at that time, our colleagues were already working, running a successful business. Once affiliate marketing became my secondary field of focus, I devoted my time to learning the craft of filmmaking.
At that time, it was very interesting to me, I would like to make my own film too. All this took about 3 years, I studied different bloggers, directors, specialized literature and training courses, and learned to work with equipment and editing.
This interest in the profession gave rise to our creative team because this is the only thing I find interesting in affiliate marketing, everything else has turned into just a routine.
The team is still working to this day, despite the fact that the complexity of the nowadays’ situation also affected us greatly. At the moment, CTR 10 has 6 specialists, but we once used to have 15 people once. Only the most capable remained active.
The project has no prospects, we have reached the ceiling already. We can grow further only if we change our vector, but we don’t want to work according to someone else’s technical specifications and be just people who press buttons. So, we don’t aspire to pursue other fields, we like freedom and realization of our ideas.
5) A long time ago, you used to drive traffic to games and applications. Then you began to work with white offers, what other verticals did you try?
I drove traffic to everything that was in the network: games, dating, gambling, betting, nutra, white offers, various job offers, banks, etc. I’ve worked in tons of verticals. Now I am not engaged in affiliate marketing at all because of its mechanization. As soon as creativity and intellect left this niche, I left after them. If the situation changes, then I will be glad to return and continue to look for non-standard approaches and earn money there.
6) Back in 2015 and 2016, you were actively driving traffic from VKontakte public pages. Tell us, is it possible to do this now? And what do you think about the Telegram channels traffic as an analog to VK public pages?
I think there are still people who drive traffic from VKontakte just like they did before. If the affiliate network development vector changes and they introduce good offers for this traffic source again, instead of just selling ointments, pills, etc., then I think the source will be relevant.
I can’t tell you anything about Telegram channels, because this is the only source with which I have not actively worked.
7) Right now, you sell products using Avito. Tell us about this niche.
Avito is more of an experiment than a job. Having my experience, this source is very easy for me to work with and, unfortunately, does not arouse the necessary interest. I learned more about Avito for my YouTube, because I’m more interested in understanding blogging than Avito sales.
I launched an Instagram store, it was an interesting experience. All the time, I worked only with traffic and did not know what was happening on the other side. Having tried all the processes myself, I learned a lot of nuances and it was really cool, but Avito is purely for the sake of content. Anyone can start selling there and earn income to top off their salary, this does not require a high level of training.
8) You have experience in development and programming. Tell us what programming languages it would be nice for an affiliate to know? Which ones do you know and how do they help you?
Yes, I have experience in programming, mainly in web development, PHP and JS, I also know some frameworks and libraries. This experience simplifies my life greatly – this is a big plus if the affiliate understands this. But these skills are not required for successful launches, they can only provide a bit more opportunities.
If the question is what is better to learn now, then this is definitely Python and JS. This will really help simplify your work a lot.
9) You also worked with email newsletters. Tell us about your experience, how relevant can this be today?
I did not work with mailouts for very long, I cannot call that experience successful. I had a more technical interest in this topic, but this field is also largely related to routines, bypassing several bans, etc. I don’t like it. I don’t really like to suffer, even for good money.
10) Sergey, does your creative studio have a media buying department or someone who tests creatives? What are their CTR rates? How are things going with passing moderation, etc.?
At the start, we launched and tested our ideas ourselves – that was one of the tricks. But then we left that process because it wasn’t informative and did more harm than good.
As for CTRs, everything is individual, depending on the topics. When we started, the adult niche was the number one vertical, we were the best at it. No one could come up with such crazy and working ideas. CTR was very high, reaching up to 45%, hence the name of the team. However, I think many understand that it is simply not realistic to get a high CTR for some kind of hair curling iron without losing in quality.
Later, we completely left the pursuit of high CTRs and concentrated more on conversions, began to make creatives that brought profit, and not just nice-looking CTR numbers.
11) Do you need designers for your studio? If yes, tell us what skills applicants need to have, and what working conditions are you ready to offer?
Yes, all the time, but, unfortunately, the level of training required is through the roof, and we have big problems with this. People that have such a set of skills usually get way more money than we can offer. We are limited by the cost that the market sets and that our affiliates are willing to pay. This causes reduced quality of work in order to reduce the time spent.
I want us to only make masterpieces and give people incredible high-quality creatives, but then we would make 3-4 creatives a day as a whole team.
We have found our happy medium when the speed of work and quality match the price, and now we are working in this mode.
The increase in the conversion rate is simply not proportional to the effort expended. There comes a moment when 90% of the effort invested in quality gives only 10% of the profit. So, we came to the conclusion that it is necessary to create medium-level creatives, when the efficiency is at the max, both for us and for the end user.
12) Back in 2018, you started filming a series about affiliate marketing. What inspired you? What was the main idea and why did you abandon it?
As I said before, I wanted to make films, video production is not a very cheap process, even if everyone works for free just to promote the idea, there are always associated costs. Therefore, we did not continue working because the series in our chosen format did not entice viewers, and doing it the way we originally wanted was quite expensive.
13) About a year ago you planned to launch a training course on making creatives for Facebook, but changed your mind. What was the reason? Tell us a little about the course on making creatives for Tik Tok.
We planned to launch a course called “Zadisaineno” (translated from Russian «Задизайнено» – “designed”) and even collected an advance payment from our subscribers. While making up the program of the course, we suddenly realized how difficult it was to talk about abstract things, such as beauty, perception, and other sensitive topics. We decided to cancel the launch of the course and return the prepayments to everyone.
A year later, the TikTok course was born. It is more of an application-based course, and it can actually be taught, unlike the previous Facebook idea. The course turned out to be good and the feedback from the first explorers was very pleasing.
The course is aimed at mastering the principles of working with this network, the provided examples show all the typical errors that have a bad effect on conversions. By completing the course, you will be able to save a lot of time and money that you would have to spend on tests.
14) You had your own Uniland software. It was a thing for about 2-3 years, then you started selling source codes and announced the 2nd version, but there was no further information on this product. Tell us why you abandoned this idea?
Uniland was a cool idea that was born out of me being very lazy. At that time, I actively practiced affiliate marketing and it became a thing to drive traffic from your own landing pages, transferring leads via API. I was incredibly lazy to constantly reconfigure landing pages for different affiliate programs, so I got the idea for Uniland. Gradually, the script grew and adopted many functions for teamwork. I practically didn’t earn anything from the sales of the script, this money was barely enough to cover the costs of my programmer, but this script allowed me to earn money from affiliate marketing. So, as soon as I stopped driving traffic, it became unprofitable to maintain the script, so I published it for free.
15) What is the optimal CTR for nutra creatives? If someone orders nutra creatives, are they most often videos or teasers?
The question is really difficult, at one time we were chasing the CTR metric, but we came to the conclusion that we needed to aim for conversions instead. As I remember, there were times when a creative with a CTR of 15% lost in terms of profitability to a creative with a CTR of 2%.
It is difficult to name the exact figure of the optimal CTR.
Different traffic sources will have different CTR. The total value is difficult to deduce. For nutra topics, CTR is pretty much always the same, ranging from 2% to 8%. In the adult vertical, the optimal indicator, let’s say, for Facebook, goes from 8% and above.
Now most of them are driving traffic to video ads, people order teasers rarely these days. But perhaps this is also due to the fact that teasers are easy to make, so people just make them themselves.
16) There are 5-6 large creative studios in the affiliate market that are your competitors. How high do you think the CTR 10 studio ranks? Do you adopt the experience and approaches of your competitors, or is everything you create only roots in your own achievements?
At one time, we used to follow some guys, it felt like a race, I even liked I – some kind of competition. Now there is no such thing. We don’t follow what others are doing and only use our expertise. In my opinion, among those studios that remained active, we definitely occupy a leading position. I am sure that competitors do not have such experience as we do.
Our advantage is that I have successfully practiced affiliate marketing before, plus I have quite a lot of knowledge in video production.
17) What do you think, does the products’ buyout rate depend on the creative? Or does the buyout rate depend only on the advertised website? Please share your thoughts on this.
The creative influences the purchase strongly, of course, to a lesser extent than the offer or landing page. But it is the creative that, let’s say, attracts the audience. The audience is determined by the creative most of the time.
18) Give some advice to those who read the interview to the end.
I guess, the main piece of advice I could give is to do what you like and don’t run after money. There are many opportunities in our field, some of them, for me personally, are a lot about compromising with your own conscious.
Any money has a price for you to pay, and sometimes the price really begins to exceed the value of that same money.
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