We have now officially entered our 21st year! From a small acorn, SFI has grown into a tall and mighty oak tree, with strong and deep roots. But you ain’t seen nothin’ yet…because we planted an entire FOREST…and it’s spreading across every country in the world.
Happy 20th anniversary to SFI and all its thousands of awesome affiliates across the globe!
SFI President & Founder Gery Carson remembers the day SFI was born:
“As an entrepreneur, there have been very few holidays where I haven’t worked at least a few hours, and this day in 1998 was no different. I went into my home office that morning planning to spend a few casual hours—on nothing in particular. It was a holiday after all, and no one else on my staff at the time was working. So it was just going to be a relaxing day where I’d let my mind have a break from the typical daily grind.
I remember at the time that affiliate programs were becoming a big deal, thanks to the Internet, which made it very easy to track sales using affiliate links. Numerous big-name companies were now employing affiliate programs as a part of their marketing strategy. And I thought…why not us, too?!
I remember being particularly impressed with Amazon.com’s affiliate program. The word was, they had 60,000 affiliates. 60,000! At the time, that number seemed enormous to me, a nearly impossible number. But I couldn’t have been more wrong of course because, in just a couple years, we would be experiencing days where we’d sign up over 60,000 affiliates in a single day!
But on this morning, I was simply sketching out a few basics on how our affiliate program would work. At the time, we were publishing our magazine, Six Figure Income, which featured exclusive interviews with home-based entrepreneurs who were earning at least $100,000 USD annually from their business. This magazine was essentially our one and only product. By the way, it’s from the magazine’s name that the SFI Marketing Group name came to be (a few years later we changed the initials to stand for Strong Future International to better align with our vision for the program).
Six Figure Income magazine’s premier issue was the March/April 1998 issue. Prior to this, and stretching all the way back to 1986, we had published other newsletters and magazines devoted primarily to mail order entrepreneurs, including Mail Dealer Newsletter, Mail Profits Magazine, and Profits Magazine. During those years, marketing by mail was the “Internet” for many entrepreneurs. At least for entrepreneurs like myself, virtually all my marketing was mail-based (with a little bit of help from phone, fax, and conference calls).
Six Figure Income magazine was published just four times per year, and a one-year subscription was $49, so we had a healthy margin…enough margin to pay a handsome commission to anyone who wished to be an affiliate of ours and sell subscriptions.
Within days of deciding to create our affiliate program, I had published information on how to sign up online (supplemented, if I recall correctly, with a small direct mail campaign ironically). To my pleasant surprise, sign-ups starting coming in almost immediately. Not a lot, maybe a dozen or two a week, but that number rapidly accelerated. Soon it was hundreds of sign-ups a day, then thousands, then tens of thousands!
Driving this now hyper-growth was our decision to expand the program and compensation plan—many of the details of which were hammered out during a weekend at SFI affiliate Steven Sashen’s Boulder, Colorado, home with affiliates Gump Wallen and the late, great Richard Strayer (we miss you, Rich!). By January 2001, we had exceeded one MILLION affiliates. By the way, with our most recently assigned ID number, over 18 million others have joined SFI since, more than 19 million in total!
Yet, like many great accomplishments, it all started with a simple idea, a simple inspiration. Today, SFI is the online home for millions of entrepreneurs from every country in the world. Indeed, SFI today is very possibly the largest and most successful affiliate program in the world, and I couldn’t be more proud. But look out, ’cause we’re just getting warmed up!”