WAHM Success Story: Missy Ward of Affiliate Summit

by in WAHM Success Stories

Missy Ward is the owner of Affiliate Summit which she co-founded in 2003.

missy wardAffiliate Summit, Inc. is a media company which provides solopreneurs and large companies, opportunities to create prosperity in the affiliate marketing industry through its conferences and trade shows, magazine, podcast network, forum and blog.

Missy is also the Co-Publisher of Revenews.com and Revenews.org, a Co-Founder of itsaWAHMthing.com, Founder of joinWOMU.com and AffiliateMarketersGiveBack.com and she also operates numerous affiliate websites.

Missy is a work at home mother to two boys.

Check out her take on being a WAHM entrepreneur below.

What made you start your business?

Just nine years ago, when people thought about affiliate marketing conferences, it was generally a negative connotation. At the time, the reigning conference was Affiliate Force, an annual cruise around the Caribbean.

I helped coordinate those conferences, along with Shawn Collins, but we truly believed there were ways it could be done better. To make a long story short, Shawn and I offered our opinions to the owner of the company, who decided to ignore us.

So, Shawn and I decided to create an alternative shortly after the April 2003 edition of Affiliate Force. Our first show had 200 attendees. Fast forward 9 years later and our last Vegas show, this past January had more than 5,000 attendees.

How did you finance your business in the early days?

Back in 2003, I was a single mom of an almost 3 year old going through an awful divorce. Shawn was the sole breadwinner in his growing family at the time. Together, we didn't have two nickels to rub together.

We invested what little we had (a couple of hundred bucks each) and worked outrageous hours doing everything ourselves so that we could make a go of it. We've been self-funded the entire time and today, we stand as a privately-held, multi-million-dollar business.

What is your average workday like?

I wake up in the morning, make breakfast and lunches for the kiddos and get them off to school. My husband usually walks my boys to the bus stop on our corner. Then I either go for a Jazzercise class, take a walk, or immediately head to my office which is located in the upstairs of my home.

After putting in a few hours of work, running business errands or attending meetings, I start my other job (Mommy Taxi Driver) and run the kiddos to Soccer, Hockey, Drama,Cub Scouts, Religious Instruction or wherever their social calendar dictates. I pop in a few more hours of work before they get home, then make dinner (or make dinner reservations), help out with homework, wrangle them into their respectful showers, get them off to bed and head back to my office for a couple more hours of work.

Hubby and I usually meet up around 11'ish to catch up on the day's events, watch a TV show, read a book, or simply sit outside and enjoy a glass of wine.

What has been your biggest challenge as a WAHM Entrepreneur?

My biggest challenge is balancing work, family and friends. You see, I absolutely love what I do, so I spend a lot of time doing it. Half the time, I don't even think I'm working. But juggling long days and travel, with my family's schedule and still trying to maintain friendships and have “unrelated to work” fun, it can get a little frustrating.

It's really hard to be as good of a mom, wife, friend, daughter and business owner as I want to be every day.

What has been your biggest success as a WAHM Entrepreneur?

I think my biggest success resides in those rare days where the stars align and somehow magically, I'm good in all my roles. Granted, those days are few and far between, but they inspire me to try to be just a little better every day.

How do you stay motivated when working from home?

Occasionally, I admit it… I can be a bit of a slacker. It usually happens if I'm burning the candle at both ends or have over-committed and feeling a little overwhelmed. When that happens, I will usually go out for a walk and think about why I started my business in the first place. Focusing on that usually gets me on track.

But, if that doesn't turn things around, and I just can't get inspired, I don't force it. I'll usually just blow out of the office for a few hours, get a mani/pedi, have a long lunch with a friend, or simply just lay out in the sun with a book. It's that little bit of rejuvenation time that brings me back to the work world with a smile.

How do you balance your work and family?

See above. ;-)

What has been your most successful marketing tactic for your business?

My most successful marketing tactic will continue to be turning customers into raving brand ambassadors for my business. You see, I spend very little money advertising — maybe a couple of hundred bucks on Google each month. The growth of my business is directly related to our customers. We've listened to what they'd had to say through extensive surveying and try to provide them with the experience they're looking for. That's it in a nutshell.

What is your favorite productivity tip or tool?

I love ManyMoon (now Do.com). It's a free productivity tool that integrates with Google Apps that lets me organize projects, tasks, and conversations with everyone that I work with. I don't think I could live without it.

Who do you admire most and why?

I'm fortunate to be surrounded my a bunch of hard-working underdogs that have achieved the success that they were looking for.

Rae Hoffman-Dolan of Sugarrae.com; Shawn Collins, my business partner in Affiliate Summit and more; Connie Berg of FlamingoWorld.com and Brian Littleton, CEO of ShareaSale.com are not only business influences that I respect and admire, but I also marvel at the kindness they show to the people around them.

What is something most people would be surprised to know about you?

I'm an open book. I used to surprise people with fact that AC/DC is still my favorite band in the world, or that I'm a shoe-aholic. But I think that most people know that by now. I guess the most surprising thing might be that I fired my first shotgun this year — a 12-gauge — and I liked it.

Where do you see your business at two years from now?

I see the Affiliate Summit Conference and Tradeshow series growing much larger. We have a number of initiatives going including new events in different locations, our new forum and monthly meetup groups and more driving that growth.

What advice would you give to aspiring WAHM Entrepreneurs?

Learn to let go of bad ideas. No matter how passionate you are about an idea, you've got to test it to see if it's a good one. If there's ever a point where you're not making money from the idea, move on and don't take it personal.

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About the Author - Success Stories Staff

The "WAHM Entrepreneur Success Stories" series is published with the hopes of giving you motivation and inspiration while you're working towards becoming a successful home based business owner. Are you a successful WAHM Entrepreneur and want to be featured on our site? Please share your success story with us!


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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah March 30, 2012 at 11:39 am

Missy, I wish I had read this a long time ago. I didn’t know all these things about you and am inspired by who you are and what you have gone through, your ideas, your struggle to balance life, your ambitions and all the things that make you an incredible woman. Now that I know you’ve struggled through some of the same things I’m going through , I know I have a lot to learn from you. Thank you for each opportunity to get to know you more – even if it’s just through posts like this. Sometimes we need someone to be a good role model – and as I get to know you more, I realize you’re doing that for me. So thank you for that.

If it makes any difference at all and whether you know it or not, your actions, words, deeds and efforts translate to even people you don’t know, especially those who are trying to do better. Thanks for sharing your story. It helps me understand a lot more about myself, the struggles I’m going through right now and where I’m trying to get to both on a personal and professional level.


Missy Ward April 4, 2012 at 11:26 am

Thanks Sarah!


Eva Rosenberg April 3, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Hi Missy,
How well I remember the Affiliate Force days.
The organizer of that event was always very kind to me and comped me, as a speaker, or had me fill in as MC when the planned MC fell through.
But the events consistently lost money. Year after year.

The suggestions you and Shawn made fundamentally logical. And I do wish they had been considered. Look what you two did!

Folks, I regularly point to the Affiliate Summit business model when I talk to anyone about how to organize an event. It is the tightest, best organized, most well run series of events I have seen, since the early Comdex days.

Missy and Shawn have removed the mystery from sponsorship – and every sponsorable facet of the event is visible and sold out.

They have made the events better for networking and doing business.

They’ve cleared out some of the more risky affiliate categories to help members avoid potential (future) legal troubles.
And many more people in the industry have prospered as a result of the pivotal contacts and education they’ve gotten from the Affiliate Summits.

It’s true, I haven’t been at an event for a long time. Around the time Missy and Shawn’s business took off, so did mine. Suddenly, there was so much demand for my tax courses, I was also working around the clock.

I must admit, I miss those affiliate marketing events. Give me another year. Perhaps next year, I’ll be able to clear my calendar!

But friends, if you’re just starting out and want to make money. Don’t recreate the wheel. Or, if you’re in business and struggling, wondering why others are doing so well and you’re not? Learn at an Affiliate Summit. Everything is in one place.

Thanks for all you do!



Missy Ward April 4, 2012 at 11:25 am

Thanks for those kind words Eva! I should probably let you in on a little secret… there’s a long and sordid history behind those Affiliate Force events. They actually did make money every year, but the owner was so far behind in paying people back that he borrowed from each year, that he could never keep up. Finally, he just ran away with the deposit money from the last cruise he promoted and left people stranded. What a nightmare!

We look forward to having you at one of our events when you get some availability.

It’ll be fun reconnecting!


Rae Hoffman-Dolan April 9, 2012 at 5:31 pm

You’ve always been an insane inspiration to me Missy… I know I’m successful, but you always make me feel like there is another level I can still aim for. :)


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