What I learned From The Top Affiliate Challenge

Now that the Top Affiliate Challenge is over and the NDA has expired, I can give my views and thoughts on the two week competition that pitted affiliate marketers against each other. In no particular order, these are the observations I came up with.

TAC Is Not About Affiliate Marketing

The Top Affiliate Challenge is more about who can call in the most favors than it is about affiliate marketing. The show format pretty much prevent you from doing any true affiliate marketing. Instead of doing affiliate marketing from start to finish (testing out offers, making adjustments, etc), the winning teams merely transfer offers from their personal accounts to the team accounts. This created another problem.

You Can Buy The Win

The Top Affiliate Challenge is not a leveled playing field. The show heavily favors the contestant with experience and money to throw around. A contestant like Jon Ryan, who has no affiliate marketing experience or money to throw at the game, didn’t stand a chance. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that the winner of the game was also the person who spent the most money.

When I signed up as a TAC Guru, I was under the impression that each team would be given a budget and list of offers to work with. The team that made the most money with their budget would win. That was not the case. Instead, the rule was simply to make as much money possible using whatever means possible. That included using your own money to fund your offers. That to me was just plain stupid.

If TAC wishes to have a season 2, they will need to find a way to prevent the buying of a win. I wonder how many contestants would have audition for the show if they had known that they would need to put their own money into the show in order to have a chance at winning it?

The Show Was a Money Grab

From the first day, TAC seem like a money grab for the producers. The winner of the show got half the money generated from total affiliate commissions. The other half went to the producers. Team rankings were based on gross income only. Sure, it sounded great that Jonathan Van Clute was posting as much as $3,000 of affiliate income in a single day. However, he had to spend $2,000 to do that. Half the $3,000 went to the prize pool so Van Clute only got $1,500 back if he wins. Net result, he lost money. I was told Van Clute spent $26,000 of his own money to win the TAC. For that victory, he took home $19K, which was half the cash pool (he also got a two year car lease and a ring). The big winners were the owners of the show.

During the single two-day challenge where each of the remaining 8 contestants work by themselves, they were also asked to continue making income for the team. The six contestants with the highest earnings moved on. The last two were eliminated. Team results had no effect on who stays or who goes. Yet, the contestants were asked to continue to make money as a team. That made no sense to me. Why make money as a team when elimination was based on individual performance? Collin LaHay, who was on my team, won the two-day challenge with over $1,600 in earnings. As a team, we produced zero. Team Pepperjam Network brought in over $5,000, which did nothing but added $2,500 to the producers’ pocket.

The Editing Team Sucks

If you’ve watched any of the episodes, you’ll no doubt notice the really bad editing. Things did improved as the show went on but there were still many mistakes being made. No doubt, many of the errors were caused by trying to produce a show on a 24 hour turnaround. That’s a really short time frame when you are using out dated tapes, instead of hard drive based videos, to do your show.

The Show Made Up The Rules As They Went Along

In the first episode, Monica stated that Gurus could not be eliminated from the show. However, by episode nine, I was eliminated for “losing too much.” In the confessional, the producer told me they kept a tally sheet on Guru wins and losses and that a Guru that lost too much would be eliminated. I don’t believe that for one second. I was told a week before the show started that the finals would be three contestants with the three Gurus. The show wrote me off because I was gaming their rules (or lack of rules) and basically making life a living hell for them.

Jonathan Van Clute Is a Really Nice Guy

The winner of the TAC, Jonathan Van Clute, is a super nice guy. I had a master plan in place to destroy him in the finals. You see, the winner of the Top Affiliate Challenge is not the person or team that produce the most income over the two week period. The winner is the person who produced the most income in the final challenge.

I devised an evil plan to take Collin LeHay to the final challenge against who we assume would be Jonathan Van Clute. We would coast through the competition and let the other team build up the prize pool without adding to it ourselves. Then we would win it all in the final challenge with the help of Paul from UberAffiliate.com. We knew the most Van Clute can produce is maybe $4,000 per day. That’s a lot of money but it’s not at the same level as the Uber one. Paul was ready to transfer up to $10,000 of campaigns over to our account. That would be more than enough to win. After paying Paul back his $10K, we would still make a nice profit thanks to Team Pepperjam’s building of the prize pool.

At the end of the day, Collin and I just didn’t have the heart to pull the trigger on the master plan. Jonathan Van Clute is one of the most amazing person I have ever met. He is completely open and willing to share his knowledge. He showed me how he got his traffic, how he runs his offers and a bunch of other secret stuff. After being so open with me and sharing so much, I would have felt really bad to blind side him in the finals.

Jonathan Van Clute invested the most in the Top Affiliate Challenge. He deserves the win.

107 thoughts on “What I learned From The Top Affiliate Challenge”

  1. Agree with your points. I’d still like to see a second one though. I think if they take in all the criticism (which I’m sure they are doing since the show did get progressively better) and make it truly about affiliate marketing, the second season would be a great show.

    1. dcr says:

      I’d rather just read the blog postings. 😉

    2. dcr says:

      Oh, and the comments! LOL!

    3. Ed Lau says:

      Why would you want a second season of this drivel? I only watched the segments that John told me I had to see…otherwise, I couldn’t be bothered to sit through the high school amateur editing and generally boring show.

      1. Maybe the second season would have improvements.

  2. Ashley says:


    I agree with your points. You could tell from the start that it was very disorganzied.

    Aside from Shoemoney living in Nebraska, why on earth did they shoot it there? Were the producers from there? Who where the producers and where did they get their idea for the show? They clearly didn’t know much about affiliate marketing.

    I think a show that really shows some cracker-jack affiliate marketers at work would be very interesting, and not just for other affiliate marketers.

    1. John Chow says:

      The producers were from Nebraska as well.

  3. dcr says:

    Sounds like the show producers really knew what they were doing, insofar as it concerned increasing the money in their own pockets.

    As far as the rest is concerned, at least judging by your comments, it sounds like it just wasn’t well designed at all, as though they just decided to show up and do a show with very little planning.

  4. Cmon John! You didn’t screw over Jonathan because he was a nice guy. It was because your golden boy, Lahay, was kicked off.

    I can see your perspective on the issues above, but you’re not the complete angel you try to portray yourself as in this post.

    Anyway, it was fun meeting ya!

    1. John Chow says:

      The reason Collin got kicked off was because we didn’t pull the trigger on the master plan. And I would never portray myself as angel. My branding is evil! 😈

      1. John Chow
        5:02 PM
        I figure that and that’s why it would be been hard to blind side him.
        Carl Zetterlund
        5:02 PM
        lol yeah right
        5:02 PM

        i still call BS
        5:02 PM

        you guys just screwed up
        5:02 PM

        and fell short
        John Chow
        5:02 PM
        OK, I would have blind side him. It was Collin that wimped out!

        1. I read in the TAC forum that Carl Zetterlund did not know about affiliate marketing a year ago until he did Ed Dale and Dan Raine’s FREE Thirty Day Challenge. This year’s Challenge begins in August – in 2 weeks.

    2. Collin LaHay says:

      Me getting kicked off wouldn’t have stopped John/me from pulling the “master plan.” Jani asked for my help in the finals in return for a split of the money, and I could have played things just as if I were still in it, but I politely declined his offer for numerous personal reasons.

      At any rate, like John said, it wasn’t true affiliate marketing. I am more than happy having taken 5th, because my original goal when I auditioned was to network with like-minded people, and I hope we all met that goal. Just learning about the $1600 “package” that You, John, and I ordered can essentially make lot more than $19k in the long run, and that would be earned without calling temporary favors. An opportunity like that for me is the true prize of the show. As for the “top affiliate” persona, Jonathan van Clute deserved that in every which way.

  5. vick says:

    why not make full disclosure about their affiliate tactic and strategy john. Show their little secret to us 💡 Or maybe you can interview them and post valuable info here 😀

  6. Hey Carl – We never fell short, If the producers never changed the rules after week one Collin Lahay and Myself would of been up against Van Clute and another member of pepperjam in the final 4. Us merging with Toolbarn was dame near the best thing to happen to our team as far as getting Collin Lahay to the end. It was almost a forsure thing.

    And ya John the biggest problem in the show was the lack of money by the producers. If I knew that it was going to work that way when I said yes to buying my own ticket (which I never did get any money for yet) and going down there I would not of gone at all. On the other hand though the conversation we had with Shoe when we went with him on friday to his home and office was a complete turning point for me and I got more information in that hour that has already helped me then I did the whole two weeks. you should see what I have planed for that site I am building John and what other domains I have registered for down the road when things take off.

  7. Benjamin says:

    I think Jeremy Schoemaker of ShoeMoney.com is the person who deserved to win.

  8. Kelly Lowe says:

    Thanks for the insider insight John. The show was a total wipe out in my opinion. There was nothing fair about it, and they did in fact change the rules – or make them up – as they went along. In the end, he who was able to spend the most money won (or lost in this case).

  9. Ralph says:

    Thanks for the insight Mr. Chow you sexy man, you.

  10. DamnSmiley says:

    well, that also makes him popular since many bloggers would be blogging about his win so he is still at advantage even though he lost some money!

  11. I agree. Jonathan deserved to win.

  12. Shawn Knight says:

    I agree also with a lot of what you said. The production was pretty bad in the beginning, but they eventually got most things straightened out. The video editing got better, as did the content (interviews, etc). Sound was still pretty poor. I think Monica did a good job once she relaxed a bit and felt comfortable with everyone. It must be tough doing a job like that when you know nothing about the topic at hand.

    I would like to see a second season but with a much better game plan and rules clearly defined ahead of time.

    Also, you said that the producers are the ones that “won”… but I wonder how much of their money it cost to put the show on, do editing, pay Monica, etc. Surely there was some out-of-pocket expenses on their part that wasn’t covered by sponsorship.

  13. “That included using your own money to fund your offers. That to me was just plain stupid.” You hit the nail on the head there. Hopefully Van Clute can take advantage of the notoriety he achieved from winning TAC and use it to turn a hefty profit in one way or another.

    The producers should have been better prepared for sure. I think they were more focused on generating income for themselves rather than putting on a good show. Shame, Shame.

  14. cic says:

    i agree. the only highlights of the show were you and monica. everything else sucked.

    1. Monica’s a cutie, uh huh!

  15. Brooks says:

    Yep – I agree with cic. The best part of the show was you and Monica ( I hope she makes it on line ). I thought that because you were involved, that it would be a good show. However, just the opposite was true. You were dragged down by this unfortunately lame outcome. I also really appreciate you honesty on the show. How disappointing! Do you think these guys lost their credibility online? http://www.johnchow.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_idea.gif

    1. dcr says:

      The question is, does anyone outside of the gurus’ sphere of readers know about the TAC?

  16. Good luck to them trying to organize another one. It doesn’t look like they got all that much money either.

  17. What? it’s over? I missed it.

    I think the pre-sell hype on the entire project was lacking somewhat, I didn’t see anything that enticed me to keep track daily. Instead I waited for it to end so that I could read the gripes, cheats, secrets and other stuff that always follows this type of challenge. Secrets get revealed in the aftermath, most of the time.

    If there is a season two the rules need to be iron-clad in advance, the win can’t be bought, the transparency level on where funds are coming from needs to be heightened greatly… and you’d better lose that nice guy ‘tude John. Not going in for the kill? I suppose that was the best way to take a shot at the producers.

    Good stuff John, great post too.

    1. dcr says:

      I suppose that was the best way to take a shot at the producers.

      Never thought of it that way. Good call!

    2. I agree. I just don’t know anyone who’s even watched that many episodes..

  18. It was interesting to watch people do their thing and think I wasn’t aware of their intent. During the competition and the emotional highs and lows, I observed people expressing their true self more and more – for good or ill. I pay much more attention to actions than words when it comes to people.

    John, my observation is that you made the game about you. The rules of the game changed, as they typically do on reality shows. is that a weakness, or does it merely make it harder to gaem the system because the system changed?

    So now here’s an interesting ethical question for anyone who wants to chime in, & feel free to take it over to my blog post at http://heroization.com/blog/ about buying your way to the top…

    Is there any real difference between UberAffiliate or whomever funding $10K for whomever to win – & a contestant flipping a successful campaign and/or diverting his own personal earnings to ensure a win?

    & if someone buys a win for you, would the have any real value?

    I hope you’ll drop by and comment.

    The Story Lady

  19. Well I’m finally home, so I suppose it’s time to start talking about the show!

    John, you’re missing a few vital points (as is most everyone else).

    First, the show was NOT about affiliate marketing, that much I agree with – it was actually all about CPA MARKETING, which is only a subset of affiliate marketing. This really surprised me, but gave me a huge edge because that’s been my primary focus for the past year. However, things like testing and refining offers were ABSOLUTELY valid, as that’s what I was doing. It was absolutely NOT a case of “the winning teams merely transfer offers from their personal accounts to the team accounts.” I took ONE offer I was running – my only truly profitable offer at the time I might add – and sent it to the team account instead. This was entirely my call, and something I was willing to do. But that offer was only doing about $500/day gross at the time… it was by being on the show that I refined, tweaked, optimized, etc. and got it up to between $1k and $1500/day – where it still is now in my own account. EVERYTHING else I generated on the show was done live at the event. Offers were found, tested, selected, and blown out, all there. That’s what happens when you buckle down and work 18 hours a day nearly every day.

    Second, everyone is assuming that the number reported in the final episode for the cash purse, is what I’ll actually be receiving. This is quite far from the truth thanks to the wonder that is a 20 day cookie. I dropped TONS AND TONS of 30 day cookies out there. They are still, even as we speak, producing income. Should be between $10k and $20k of additional revenue by the time I actually get paid (yesterday July 15th did over $2k by itself, with no cost whatsoever). Once I have the actual final numbers, I’ll be doing a blog post of my own illustrating them in depth. But basically, it will likely work out to something like:

    spent $30k
    earned $50k to $60k (total)

    So that’s about a 50% gross margin or a roughly 100% ROI in 2 weeks. I think earning about $20k to $30k net profit in 2 weeks is pretty decent, even with my Silicon Valley cost of living, don’t you?

    Yes, I agreed to give up half the pot to the show, so because of that, I will probably break even at the end of the day. But that’s entirely fine with me… in fact I’d be thrilled with a net loss even because this was an investment in myself, in visibility, and in overall marketing of myself and my brand. I now have opportunities coming out of this show that I couldn’t have paid $20k to get. I knew this going in, and I came prepared to win based on that. Other contestants were unwilling to play for keeps, or would only play at all by getting other people to do their work for them. True that was a potential loophole (if the producers would have allowed it – which by the way they wouldn’t…) but if someone had any genuine skills at all, I would have expected them to display them on the show. Maybe I just expect too much of people.

    Third, it amazes me that people would actually criticize me for using “my own money” on the show. I think you all need to be introduced to a classic principal of making money – it’s called spend money to make money. However, what everyone also seems to be overlooking is that I did not spend ONE CENT of my own money – it’s called LEVERAGE folks. I spent a whole bunch of money lent to me by several major corporations – namely Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. None of it was “mine” and if I was willing to suffer the consequences, I don’t even have to repay it! Credit cards are the most powerful and flexible form of “OPM” (Other People’s Money). I’ve used them in the past to buy houses, now I use them to buy traffic. Regardless, it’s not my money. I just get to use it.

    Lastly, you assume that the final winner was going to be determined solely by the results on the final day. None of us actually know if that was true or not. Had the last day been extremely close, they might very well have let it be known that it was really the total of individual performance for the duration of the show. Everything I did myself had a unique subid on it, so it would be VERY easy to see to the penny how much revenue was generated strictly by myself. I don’t think anyone would argue that the majority of the money made on the show came from me… even if you’d had a $10k day the final day by borrowing from Paul, it may or may NOT have taken the win. Nobody can actually know that but the producers.

    At the end of the day, there were 12 people on this show who hoped to learn a ton of techniques from 3 top internet marketers. Sadly, Shoemoney was out early due to the unexpected issues with the birth of his new daughter. Nobody could’ve seen that coming but it meant that team Toolbarn had very little chance to learn anything. And since you yourself chose to deliberately let your team be bumped off one by one and not teach them anything, XY7 also had no chance to learn. I think all the members of team Pepperjam would say that they learned a LOT that they took home with them, but there are 8 other people who probably feel pretty shafted by you. I know you like to play the “I’m evil” game, and that’s fine I suppose… but it would have been much more impressive and made a lot of people’s lives actually come out better, if they’d been able to learn something from you that would help them after the show was over.

    So there you have it… the most I’ve talked about this publicly since getting home. I’ll have more to say on my own blog in the near future, along with a complete numbers breakdown once the final totals are actually in.

    Thanks to all who have congratulated me and sent me kind words…



    1. Matthew says:

      Nice thoughts on this! It certainly shows things from a completely different perspective.

    2. Sean says:

      I’d really like to know where you were buying traffic from 😉
      Or if anyone else who was at Top Affiliate Challenge knows. Seems like it was some cheap but decent traffic.

      1. John Chow says:

        I would tell you but then I’ll have to kill you. 😈

        1. Collin LaHay says:

          And if John told you, I would have to kill John. 😈

          1. This sounds like a traffic conspiracy here.

    3. John Chow says:

      Hey Jonathan,

      First of all, congrats on the win. You really do deserve it.

      As for whether beating you in the final challenge would have allowed us to win the entire game, it would be really hard for the show to backtrack on that since Monica clearly stated before that final challenge that the winner of the show is the person who made the most in the final two day challenge. Now, had she add that total earnings from the two weeks will count towards the final challenge, then we would have adjusted our play and maybe not brother, depending how much total earnings counted. However, in the end, it all worked out for you and we’re happy with that.

      I did not deliberately let me team get bumped off. That was a team decision. We made that plan as a team after the producer pulled that BS elimination mind game of Episode 2, where they told us to vote someone off and then said it was all joke and nobody was going home. It was also a team decision that we all voted for ourselves in Episode 3.

      The show may have portrayed me as not caring or not teaching my members but that couldn’t be further from the truth. While your were cooped up every night in your room making money, I was down in the lobby helping Monica, Collin De Ruyck and Chad Van Norman set up their blogs. I showed Ken all the plugins I used to power my blog, I made videos with Jani and Tom and I was available to anyone who asked for help.

    4. Benjamin says:

      Thanks for setting it straight….. Yeah the old saying:
      “You have to spend money to make money is so true”

      Thanks for correcting a number of errors in John’s post…. we know he has his flaws when it comes to blogging such as spelling, grammar and honesty…. but he can’t help himself.

  20. I agree about the major flaws. If they want to do a second season, they will have to improve big time. However, I give them props for trying without the backup of a major TV network.

  21. Ryan McLean says:

    Wow sounds a little rigged.
    I have made $80 online so far by selling 2 affiliate products. Any ideas on how I can maximise my financial website in order to sell more affiliates and increase my income?

  22. cheddarfix says:

    Hey I’m just a little curious here. All you guys umm yeah all you people lets say umm like what is it oh yeah 27,112 or more. I’m just a little curious at why you follow this blog? It’s funny because your the people that are making john chow all that money. Did you realize that? And what does he give back to you? ah some information here and there. Maybe a few give aways but thats it…

    You know what. I dare you John Chow To give away 1 month of complete earnings to you readers. I DARE YOU!!!! to give every single cent back to your users. Lets see if you can do it!

    Or are you a rich jerk and a coward.

    1. John Chow says:

      Tell you what. You donate your entire month’s earning to charity and I’ll do the same.

      Put up or shut up. 😈

      1. Fifty says:

        i would like to hold u to this one day john :mrgreen:

    2. This comment in uncalled for man. You can’t speak for thousands and thousands of John’s readers. John does not have to give you or anyone, anything. Go fend for yourself. It seems you are too inept to do that on your own, hence this backlash.

      If you want more than what John provides on his blog, apply for social services.

      1. dcr says:

        Notice that he (or she) is one of those “brave” souls that doesn’t leave their name/link.

        I come by for whatever useful information I might learn. And because sometimes it’s just fun. I certainly don’t expect John Chow to give me any money. Although, having said that, I am by no means intending to discourage him from doing so. He’s welcome to stop by with a $10,000 check anytime. Heck, I’ll take a $25,000 check too. I’m not picky.

        1. cheddarfix says:

          Actually I did leave my handle and email but it didn’t show for some reason and as for my url link I didn’t want google to penalize me for linking to a blog that is penalized by google.

          1. dcr says:

            Ok. My bad.

            Still though, I don’t expect John Chow to give me money, though, as I’ve mentioned, he’s certainly welcome to do so!

      2. cheddarfix says:

        LoL ofcourse he doesn’t HAVE to do anything, NO ONE has to do ANYTHING. Why do you think the world is so fucked up huh?

        Its because most people don’t do anything that’s actually important!

        Btw and F.Y.I. I do have a blog that I’ve been working on that I haven’t spent a cent on. Oh and guess what I have some very high key phrases in Google not to mention google indexes my posts within 4 hours. I can practically dominate any keyphrase I choose.

    3. Here we are again with this forced charity…
      May I suggest T. Harv Ecker’s book on the millionaire mind…

      1. dcr says:

        The “give me what you earned” mentality is quite popular. Of course, it’s growth is encouraged by politicians.

        1. dcr says:

          And I, of course, meant “its growth”. Why doesn’t John Chow have a comment editor?

          John, you were in printing. You of all people know that people want to change things after they’re already printed!

    4. cheddarfix says:

      Ok deal, but my income is far less than yours so I don’t think it would be fair to you. 😛

    5. As the saying goes, “if you give a man a fish, he can eat for a day, if you teach him how to fish, he can eat for the rest of his life”. If John gave one month earnings back to all of his users, how much money will we get? Based on 27,000 RSS readers, we’ll get a dollar each. If you include the unique visitors each month, the amount will be much less than that. I think John can keep his dollar because it won’t make much financial difference to me. 🙂
      John is teaching us how to fish on his blog and thats worth than any amount of money he can give us. There is no limit on how much money we can earn in a free enterprise economy.
      If John gives away money, give it to charities who will get more value from it than we would.

  23. fas says:

    Quite a pointless contest the TAC is.

    1. I guess in a contest like this where the end result justifies the means of getting there, stuff tends to get out of hand.

  24. I like the contest. It was very entertaining and I learned a litttle bit.

  25. Sounds like it got under your skin John. Hey John, why don’t you organize your own show? I’m sure it would be great.

  26. “He showed me how he got his traffic, how he runs his offers and a bunch of other secret stuff.”

    Any tips for us? 🙂

  27. ian says:

    I did watch all episodes of the Top Affiliate Challenge, but I hope the sponsors realise how unscrupulous the producers of the show are and pull the plug on sponsoring them. From the way they kept saying the winners would win a Jeep Patriot, when as the site says, it was just a 2 year lease. Also I did not openly read that the shows producers would get the other half of the prize pool. And one contest participant at least said they did not answer questions on how things would be run.
    Also changing the rules as they went along.
    It was nothing more than a poker match, spare a thought for those people who lost their savings or gambling money, whatever you call it.
    To all of the people on John Chow’s team who complained about him, were you willing to put your own money and savings on the line? If not, I don’t think they have a right to complain.

  28. BenSpark says:

    With that last paragraph it kind of wipes away that John chow is evil stigma. I’d been only half keeping the TAC thing on the radar but the past few days I’ve been catching up on things. Thanks for your assessment of the show and the competition.

    1. I think it shows that he’s a devil with class.

  29. All I can say is the show was a big dud. I didn’t learn anything that could help benefit my money making opportunities. I honestly only tuned in to see what problems Chow was going to cause that day. Many of us make good money online and have never used PPC. Learning more techniques that did not include PPC would have been nice but almost impossible on a show with such short campaigns.

    I think the best part of the show for everyone on it was the exposure. Like van Clute stated, you can’t buy that kind of exposure. Kudo’s to all of the guru’s and contestants and a small kudo to the producers for at least giving it a shot. Maybe this will springboard into a much better challenge in the future.

  30. Well, the producers were worried about the size of the pot.
    But John you are not a PPC operator so how would you have been a guru?

    Jonathan Van clute, why would you invest so much in a contest? The risk/reward ratio is stupifyingly high, what if you lost it all?

    1. LOL

      I hear things like this and I usually know I’m talking to someone who hasn’t taken very many big chances and reaped big rewards. I saw this as extremely low risk given what I knew I was capable of. Of course that assumed the rules were going to be reasonably fixed, which of course they weren’t.

      I knew by day 3 that it had been completely worth it. If I had lost it all in the end, and walked away with $30k in new debt, it would have been a bummer, but again… I made connections that I couldn’t have bought for that much money. STILL would have been worth it. But the question of losing by virtue of my LEGITIMATE affiliate marketing efforts, never entered my mind. It was clear to me from early on that there wasn’t really anyone who could touch my results given the nature of the timeframes we had to work within. I was the only one there who knew how to get cheap traffic at the flip of a switch. If I had to face the same group next year with the same timeframe… I suspect things would be very, VERY different. 😉

      Incidentally, if anyone actually thinks the producers made a profit on this, I think you could use a quick refresher in economic math. They had a joint venture with the video production company. This means that the producers themselves keep only half of HALF of the total pot. So say it ends up being $50k… they get $12.5k and that’s it. For months of work and a couple of weeks of their entire lives being turned upside down. Does anyone actually think that’s somehow a profitable venture? They had paid employees there that they had to pay every day, not to mention themselves and all the other costs. Yes they got a lot of stuff comped (like the hotel rooms for us all) but still, they did not by any stretch actually come away with a profit. This was an investment by them, just as it was by me, in something bigger, later. I suspect that this will prove to have been a very smart investment on their part. I know it was on my part!



  31. feel reality says:

    I’m glad your first hand experience with the show gave you insight into a process that I had a distaste for from the beginning. Thor Schrock is a scumbag and the show was money pit. Johnathan Van Clute didn’t lose anything though, I’m sure this will help him continue to rape his customers for his tools and training. I just thought business savvy people like yourself and Shoe would know this within one minute of meeting Thor. I commend you for continually making $0 while you were there, it’s BS that they kicked you off when you stopped making them money. You and Shoe were the only reason any body watched and by the show end neither of you were on it. Ken McArthur is just blow hard, and Wes “So Far As” Wyatt needs to pull his lips off Ken’s sack.

    1. Rape my customers?? Wow that’s funny, judging by how many of them have made a lot more money by using my tools and getting my help, I guess they must enjoy that experience. To each their own I suppose!



  32. pingo says:

    I’d still say that it was a good experience with something different to see in the affiliate world. Thanks for the full scoop on the show. I didn’t realize all that was going on.

    see yah at the summit

  33. zk says:

    I am waiting for it to be broadcast on TV 🙂

    1. dcr says:

      Maybe Public Access. 😉

  34. wesley says:

    The little affiliate tactic used by Jonathan Volk is adware advertising.. Basically he bids on keywords or URLs and when someone who is infected with a specific adware (zango) visits that page or searches that keyword in google, a popup appears with his ad.

    So if you’re unscrupulous and immoral, this is something you could consider doing.

    1. dcr says:

      Why are the accusatory commentators rarely willing to leave their name and link?

      1. wesley says:

        because I don’t have a blog? And there seems to be a bug as I did fill in my name…

        But it is adware, that is what the course Jonathan is in is all about. So nothing accusatory about this. Plain telling the truth as it is.

        1. You could add your name to the bottom of your reply. I’ve seen others do it.

  35. John,
    You wouldn’t have learned anything if you participate again after all the bitching and moaning you did.
    The Web was never a level playing field anyways. One who learn to grab the most, the fastest, makes it.
    You should know!

    1. He’s not the only one who had something to say about it in this sense. Even people that watched it thought it was unorganized. There is something seriously wrong when even those who were on the show had something bad to say about it.

  36. Agree.

    And I don’t understand how they’re going to pull off season 2 after the poor ratings.


  37. Jani Ghaffor says:

    yea i think John Van Clute deserved to win and he is a nice guy, i learnt a lot from him working one on one with him and that was worth being on the show and coming in third place..

    WIll there be a second season? who knows, maybe, i heard that they may be doing it in Orlando with Market Leverage as a major sponsor who will give them their studios and camera crew..

    Jani G

  38. Wow john chow you seem to have a lot of haters

    1. cheddarfix says:

      I’m not a hater I just like to see for once, some one that has a high profile status give back part of what they earn from their users. I actually like johns blog.

      1. dg says:

        Uh, doesn’t JC already give the all proceeds of this blog to charity anyway?

        1. John Chow says:

          I guess holding contests and matching reader donations 2 to 1 for charity doesn’t count as giving back.

          1. cheddarfix says:

            I suppose you could count that as giving back but it’s not big enough. Yeah, you would never make any money if you gave all you cash away all the time. But I bet you you’d make a hell of a lot of noise and get some new readers if you made a post along these lines.

            “John Chow’s $30,000 One Month Giveaway!”
            Here’s how you can win… blah blah blah etc….

      2. The charity preaching is getting really old. You’re not up in John’s personal business, so how do you know he’s not giving money away all the time? He doesn’t have to say jack about it.

        1. cheddarfix says:

          The charity preaching is getting pretty old? Hey I’ve never talked about before now and I don’t read every single comment section like you probably do. Maybe that’s why it’s bugging you. Why should it bug you anyway it’s not your money either.

          Yeah sure I may not know he’s giving away stuff on the side that he doesn’t talk about.

          If you really want to know what I think I hate money, but that’s the world we live in and you can’t do jack without it.
          One day the world isn’t going to be like this, just you wait and see.

    2. Success attracts the fans and the jealous. There is a dark side to fame in any business.

  39. Marky Munco says:

    John Chow (from IM chat to Carl Zetterlund)
    “OK, I would have blind side him. It was Collin that wimped out!”

    So if Carl is to be believed, all you said in this post about ‘not having the heart to pull the trigger on your evil plan’ is total BS.

    Caught lying to your readers Mr Chow!

  40. Mubin says:


  41. Johnathan appears to have worked hard for his winning, I mean not many people are willing to do 18 hour days anymore.

  42. Steve says:

    I would agree with you 100%. I love them showing the gross profits, but yet we all knew there had to be some losses somewhere.
    Also I work at a hotel, own a video camera and live in montana, we should shoot the next one here….lol!

  43. PPC Coach says:

    I say congrats to Jonathan, he is a nice a guy and had the most skills by far. How he got his traffic doesn’t really matter, he did the work and got the reward, so good for him. He is right too, you cannot buy that kind of exposure and it will only help him in the future. So congrats to him!

    As for the show, it’s got potential but they really need to work on the rules and structure a bit. Do some planning. Give each team $2,000 and give them a list of offers to promote. The team who makes the most net profit wins and keeps all the earnings. One thing to be learned is there is no such thing as bad publicity. Look at all the haters talking about it… 🙂

    1. Steve says:

      Spot on!

      Although I would comment that the producers shouldn’t have partaken in the pool of money. Why did they do that? Are they that money hungry?

  44. People do 18 hours a day? For me I would stop being productive after 3 hours

  45. I bet the won’t be a Top Affiliate Challenge next year.

    1. Geiger says:

      I bet their will be something similar and better.

      1. sohan says:

        The whole show reminded me of Joel Comm’s the next internet Millionaire which was actually pretty good, and well made.

  46. Zak Show says:

    Oh, very nice post. It resume the full experience!

  47. gout says:

    nice post….live without challenge like soup with no salt

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