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Affiliate Manager Education: 5 Powerful Lessons on Success from Erica DeForge-Sarza

Affiliate marketing has proven to be a gold mine for those who understand its intricate dynamics and capitalize on its potential.

One such person who has risen to prominence in this competitive field is Erica DeForge-Sarza. In the recent podcast episode, DeForge-Sarza generously unveils her journey from the uncertainties of the pandemic to becoming a recognized powerhouse in the affiliate marketing industry.

In the candid interview, she shares the strategies and resources that propelled her career forward. It's inspiring and you can use the same strategies to succeed in affiliate marketing as well.

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What Erica DeForge-Sarza Did to Succeed In Affiliate Management

Erica DeForge-Sarza's entry into the affiliate marketing space was fueled by her voracious appetite for knowledge. Her story of late-night research sessions and the creation of a comprehensive binder of affiliate marketing resources, affectionately termed her “Bible,” showcases her dedication and innovative approach to self-education.

“Good things come with time, and just being a hard worker definitely helps me reach my success.” -Erica DeForge-Sarza

Her commitment to learning and adapting is a key takeaway for aspiring affiliate marketers. Networking also played a pivotal role in her rise, as she highlights the importance of connecting with industry experts and leveraging communities such as the MarTech records slack group.

Let's explore how DeForge-Sarza exemplifies her dedication and novel approach to lifelong learning, setting the stage for her success in this ever-evolving sector.

She took a data-informed learning path

DeForge-Sarza's story begins with her pronounced inclination towards numbers. Her role as an affiliate manager is deeply entwined with data analytics. Rather than avoiding the intricacies of metrics, DeForge-Sarza embraces them.

She perceives data not just as figures but as a narrative guiding her decision-making process, thereby adopting a novel approach to self-education by harnessing the potential of analytics.

She embraced trial-and-error learning and turned missteps into milestones

DeForge-Sarza candidly acknowledges the trial-and-error nature of her learning journey. Instead of viewing mistakes with trepidation, she sees them as invaluable growth opportunities.

This mindset reframes obstacles as stepping stones towards proficiency. By embracing a hands-on approach and drawing lessons from real-world experiences, she underscores her commitment to self-education.

She sees value in collaboration

DeForge-Sarza's active engagement with team members serves as a source of inspiration. She makes sure to value diverse viewpoints within the group and creates an environment focused around collaborative learning.

“The most successful connections aren't even planned. I love the unexpected connections that you make at conferences.”

She actively engages with industry resources

DeForge-Sarza's commitment to growth goes beyond traditional learning channels. By actively participating in courses, webinars, and industry-specific platforms, she exhibits an unconventional approach to staying up-to-date with the latest developments. Ins keeping pace with industry trends, she ensures her knowledge remains relevant.

She leverages organizational tools to improve her efficiency

Utilizing tools offered by her workplace, such as Impact's task management resources, DeForge-Sarza displays an unconventional approach to skill development. By leveraging available resources for organizational efficiency, she not only demonstrates adaptability but also underscores the importance of making the most of the tools at hand. This resourcefulness attests to her dedication to remain at the cutting-edge of industry practices.

affiliate manager education

5 Key Lessons for Success as an Affiliate Manager

Lesson #1: The pursuit of value over perfection

DeForge-Sarza places significant emphasis on providing value, even when she doesn't have all the answers.

“The goal is not to be successful. The goal is to be valuable. Once you're valuable, instead of chasing success, it will attract itself to you.”

This approach underscores that perfection isn't always achievable, and it's more important to focus on delivering meaningful contributions and striving for continuous improvement.

Lesson #2: The power of asking for help

DeForge-Sarza underscores the importance of seeking assistance when needed. Recognizing one's limitations and asking for help can prevent potential missteps and accelerate the learning curve.

“You can bring a ton of value without knowing everything, and also, asking for help is totally okay.”

This approach emphasizes the importance of collaboration and learning from others.

Lesson #3: The role of intrinsic motivation

DeForge-Sarza's success is fueled by intrinsic motivation and a strong work ethic. Her story suggests that personal drive, passion for work, and a commitment to excellence play a significant role in career accomplishments.

Lesson #4: Efficiency through organization

DeForge-Sarza stresses the importance of organization and efficiency, especially when working independently. This lesson underscores the need to leverage tools and structured processes to manage multiple responsibilities effectively.

Lesson #5: Confidence in Decision-Making

DeForge-Sarza's decision-making process is heavily backed by data, leading to increased confidence. This approach suggests that data-driven insights provide a solid foundation for informed decision-making, particularly in performance-driven roles like marketing.

Throughout the episode, DeForge-Sarza emphasizes the significance of self-motivation and intrinsic drive, especially when working remotely. She also discusses the challenges she faced in advocating for affiliate marketing within her company and highlights the resources and tools that have supported her in staying informed and connected within the industry.

affiliate manager education

The Power of Resilience in Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing can be a challenging field, often filled with uncertainties and criticism. In this context, one of the most valuable lessons DeForge-Sarza learned was the importance of prioritizing her work and goals over external opinions and judgments.

By not giving a “duck” (ahem), she emphasizes the significance of self-confidence, independence, and focusing on what truly matters for professional success.

In any industry, it's natural to encounter a variety of viewpoints and assessments. DeForge-Sarza's approach suggests that it's crucial not to let external opinions unduly influence one's actions or decisions.

She underscores the importance of maintaining a resilient mindset and staying true to one's principles. This strategy is particularly vital in affiliate marketing, where the landscape is dynamic and the competition is fierce.

Wrap up on affiliate manager education

This Affilate Nerd Out podcast episode serves as a rich repository of actionable advice, not only for newcomers to affiliate marketing but also for seasoned veterans looking to refine their approach. Erica DeForge-Sarza's story is a testament to the power of education, organization, networking, and the right mindset in achieving success in the ever-evolving world of affiliate marketing.

Episode timestamp

0:57 Dustin introduces Erica DeForge-Sarza as she joins for a live Q&A, sharing her Affiliate Manager education and career insights in the industry.
2:05DeForge-Sarza's four-year journey into affiliate marketing unfolds, emphasizing the need for ongoing affiliate manager education.
6:31DeForge-Sarza details her self-education, relying on resources like Acceleration Partners and Martech Records for affiliate manager education.
8:48DeForge-Sarza talks about her role at Vibrant Performance, highlighting the importance of ongoing affiliate manager education.
11:01Dustin commends DeForge-Sarza's efficiency and recalls their time working together, underscoring the value of affiliate manager education.
14:56DeForge-Sarza narrates her transition to Truthfinder, managing a substantial affiliate budget using data-driven affiliate manager education.
18:47DeForge-Sarza stresses the significance of networking and reaching out for affiliate manager education, citing her experience with industry expert Sarah Bundy.
19:20DeForge-Sarza encourages ongoing affiliate manager education, citing trial and error, learning from colleagues, and participating in courses like Impact's PXA.
20:16 Reflecting on the misconception of knowing everything, DeForge-Sarza emphasizes the value of seeking help and continuous affiliate manager education in the dynamic industry.
22:21Dustin underscores the importance of continuous learning in affiliate manager education, sharing his openness to asking questions in MarTech discussions.
22:54DeForge-Sarza narrates a MarTech incident, emphasizing the need for curiosity and continual learning in the affiliate manager education journey.
25:49Reflecting on her early affiliate role, DeForge-Sarza credits organizational skills, task management tools, and data usage for success in affiliate manager education.
31:08DeForge-Sarza shares challenges of being an affiliate manager, focusing on educating higher-ups about affiliate marketing—an integral part of affiliate manager education.
DeForge-Sarza describes her successful Affiliate Summit experience, highlighting the value of unexpected connections and networking in affiliate manager education.
38:21DeForge-Sarza shares her motivation and work ethic, underlining the value one brings in the affiliate manager education journey, regardless of experience level.
39:33DeForge-Sarza recommends Impact's resources for daily task charts and Quarterly Business Review (QBR) templates, essential tools in affiliate manager education.
40:25DeForge-Sarza invites connections and messages on LinkedIn, emphasizing her presence in the MarTech group, fostering affiliate manager education.
Affiliate manager consultant

Dustin Howes


Dustin Howes is a partnership nerd spreading the good word about performance marketing. He is the chief coach at and is dedicated to helping companies grow their performance marketing channels. He also provides affiliate manager training and private consultations, helping companies find the right solution for their budget.

Find out more about Dustin here.