STM Forum: In-Depth Review (2021)

STM Forum review and overview

 

STM Forum is one of the most well-known forums on the internet dedicated to digital marketing, and specifically affiliate marketing (aka performance marketing).

It is a paid forum, and requires a monthly membership fee, differentiating it from the many free forums that exist online about these topics.

This in-depth review will cover everything you need to know about STM forum, go over its history, break down its advantages, and discuss who should and should not consider joining, and how to succeed on it and get the most from one’s membership.

Here is a short video introduction to the forum from the STM YouTube channel (more on it below):

 

History

STM Forum was founded by three individuals: “Stackman” (a nom de guerre obviously), Lorenzo Green, and Besmir Bregasi.

As the site explains:

STM Forum was launched late one night in January 2011 with the goal of providing case studies, guides, high quality information on a variety of topics and to act as a core networking hub for industry veterans. 7 years later we are the authoritative forum on affiliate marketing and our reach continues to expand. We now provide higher education, host conferences and local networking events, and are continuing to improve and expand what the forum offers every affiliate marketer.

The forum is owned by iStack Holdings, who also produce a number of related resources and events (which will be described in detail below).

Over the years since its founding STM Forum has continued to gain more and more popularity and prestige, and is considered by many to be the preeminent online forum dedicated to affiliate marketing.

 

Notable Members

Over time and to this day, the forum has included a large number of well-known and extremely successful members, including individuals such as Jason Akatiff, Maor Benaim, Matej Cechvala, Emanuel ‘Manu’ Cinca, John Crestani, Dee Deng, James Van Elswyck, Ian Fernando, Zack Franklin, Robert Gryn, Eric Gyepes, John Jonas, Depesh Mandalia, Charles Ngo, Atilla O’Dree, Andrew Payne, and countless others.

One can even go back in the archives and look at early posts from some of the above individuals, and literally follow their progress from beginner to million-dollar affiliate.

The forum also has representatives from numerous affiliate networks, traffic sources, and relevant SaaS companies as members. Some organizations, such as Outbrain and Voluum, have developed close working relationships with the forum, and dozens more keep accounts on the forum for marketing and public relations purposes.

Today, the forum is as popular as ever, and at any given time has numerous active threads ongoing and many more being periodically updated.

These cover the gamut from random discussions; to veteran follow-alongs; rookie follow-alongs; case studies; discussions of best practices for given verticals and traffic sources; job postings; announcements from vendors and traffic networks; and more.

Here is a screenshot of the forum dashboard from the time of this writing:

STM Forum Review - Screenshot of threads

 

The dashboard testifies to sheer amount of information and discussion the forum contains, going back almost a decade at this point.

The “Top Thanked” column in the middle of the page also highlights the forum’s rich history, as it contains some of the founders, moderators, and most well-known members.

The most-thanked individual is the forum’s beloved “Caurmen” (Hugh Hancock), who tragically passed away in 2018.

As the thread devoted to his memory relays:

Caurmen (Hugh Hancock) was literally the most thanked person on the forums.

He can be directly credited to launching 100s if not 1000s of affiliate marketers careers.

He allowed many to reach financial freedom so they could lead lives they dreamed of.

He was the master behind the biggest guides here.

He would take time to answer anyone that came to him for help online and offline.

For those who met him in person, he was a bundle of positive energy and passion. An absolute one of a kind personality.

Below is a speech from Caurmen about the beauty of affiliate marketing:

 

Moderators

STM Forum is also well-known for its beloved moderators, which include- most notably- ‘Matuloo’ (Matej Cechvala), and ‘Vortex’ (Amy Cheung). (See image below)

Each has been a moderator on the forum for years, and together they have helped hundreds if not thousands of beginning affiliates achieve their first successes online.

Vortex (Amy Cheug) and Matuloo (Matej Cechvala) - courtesy of iStack Holdings.

 

Other STM Resources And Events

Along with the forum itself, however, there are now a number of associated resources and products which have gained notoriety as well (see below).

 

STM Guides

The forum hosts a number of extremely in-depth tutorials that have achieved great renown.

Many of the most popular among these were put together by the aforementioned ‘Vortex’ (Amy Cheung), and are:

-“The 1$ Guide To Making Your First Conversion” – a gigantic step-by-step tutorial that teaches newbies how to make their first affiliate marketing conversion. Focused on extremely cheap traffic that will not break the bank, and will allow one to make their early mistakes without losing serious money.

-“The 40 Day Guide” – another hugely-detailed guide to going from ‘beginner’ to ‘successful affiliate’ in 40 daily steps. Focusing on deciding upon an affiliate network and traffic source, picking out a tracker and setting it up, deciding upon what offer(s) to run, and optimizing your first campaigns.

-“Vortex’s Beginner Facebook Tutorial” – a complete guide breaking down Facebook traffic for the beginner.

There are also tutorials on Push Ads (by moderator ‘Twinaxe’) and many other topics as well.

Below – A Screenshot of some of the top tutorials on the forum:

1$ guide and other Vortex (Amy Cheung) paid traffic tutorials

 

Affjobs

Affjobs is a new online job board meant specifically for affiliate marketing and media buying positions.

In addition, there are often similar jobs posted on STM Forum itself.

Affjobs screenshot - courtesy of iStack Holdings.
Above: AffJobs is a new service which organically grew out of STM Forum.

 

 

The STM Blog And Newsletter

STM also produces a regular blog and newsletter.

It contains industry news, inside information from the biggest affiliate networks and traffic sources, and teasers about the best content from that week on the forum.

The STM Newsletter - screenshot
Above: The STM Newsletter combines top content from the forum along with industry news and special offers.

 

 

iStack Training

iStackTraining.com is a compendium of courses created by some of the most successful digital marketers affiliated with STM Forum.

There are courses on a variety of topics including:

-Copywriting

-Dropshipping

-E-commerce

-Facebook advertising

Native Ads

In the past these were paid courses you had to buy, but the project has now been combined with STM Forum and the courses available on iStackTraining.com are now free with one’s STM membership.

 

Affiliate World Conference

This is one of the more famous events or resources associated with STM Forum.

Affiliate World Conferences have taken place all over the world and attracted tens of thousands of online marketers from over 110 different countries.

These conferences are perhaps best known for the expert speakers they have hosted (such as Neil Patel, who we wrote about here), and you can get more information about them (and about upcoming ones) at the Affiliate World Conference website.

In addition, below you can find a short trailer made by Affiliate World on their conferences and the revolutionary place performance marketing is now occupying within the world economy:

 

The “What’s Working In Affiliate Marketing” Report

STM Forum also produce the annual What’s Working In Affiliate Marketing report, which is a yearly compendium of answers from some of the top affiliates, agencies, traffic networks, and other experts on what is working in affiliate marketing and what direction they see the industry moving.

Often coming in at over 200 pages, these guides are an inside-look at the most cutting-edge tactics and strategies being utilized in the performance marketing world, straight from some of the most successful individuals and companies in the industry.

Here is a screenshot of the report’s cover from the 2019 edition:

Screenshot "What's Working In Affiliate Marketing'

 

The STM YouTube Channel

STM now has a YouTube channel as well, where they post a variety of videos relating to the forum, testimonials from members, and other info on the various related resources described here.

Here is an example of a video from the channel:

 

Special Discount On SaaS’s And Other Products For STM Forum Members

One of the other things STM has pioneered in recent years is partnerships with SaaS’s and traffic networks from within the affiliate marketing landscape.

Often members of STM can get special discounts for these products not available to non-members.

While the exact deals are always changing, some of the companies that have partnered with STM long-term include Adplexity, FunnelFlux, Outbrain, TheOptimizer, and Voluum.

Below you can see a video with FunnelFlux founder David Savory (aka ‘Zeno’) about his contributions to the forum:

 

Overall though, the main focus of this article is on STM Forum itself, which the above resources all revolve around.

 

Is STM Forum Worth The Money?

Is STM Forum worth the money? This really comes down to what your focus is within the world of digital marketing, and what you hope to get out of the forum.

Below we’ll explore the question of who should and who should not join the forum, but before doing so, its worth breaking down what types of digital marketing strategies are most discussed on it.

The world of online commerce is massive, and while there are many different areas of it one will encounter within STM, there are others that are somewhat outside its purview.

To this end, the first thing to note is that STM Forum is primarily geared around paid-traffic strategies.

As a result, there are massive amounts of discussion around various traffic networks and how to master them, trackers and spytools, and media buying in general.

On the other hand, there’s not very much discussion of how to build up a following on YouTube as a content expert, or how to use your Instagram following to make money as an influencer, or how to become freelancer and make money on Upwork or Fiverr or via consulting.

If you are interested in these kind of strategies that do not involve paid traffic, you may still benefit from STM, but you might be better served following individuals like Dan Brock or Derral Eves who focus on organic-traffic strategies such as building up a YouTube channel, or Pat Flynn for the same regarding blogging.

If you are interested in strategies surrounding paid traffic, STM is right up your alley, whether that involves Facebook ads, Google/YouTube advertising, Native Ads, Push Traffic, or anything else.

SEO and Email Marketing are in-between. They are definitely discussed regularly on STM, but not as much as paid traffic is discussed.

Shopify/Dropshipping is discussed quite a bit, while Amazon FBA does not seem to receive very much attention as of the time of this writing.

And finally, topics like general business best practices, hiring, mentoring, self-improvement, taxes, and long-term wealth generation are also discussed quite often.

 

STM signup page screenshot
Screenshot of the STM signup page.

 

Who SHOULD Join STM Forum?

Those who will benefit the most from STM Forum would include:

Beginning affiliate marketers who are open to using paid traffic to get their first conversions and prove to themselves that it is possible to make money online.

Intermediate digital marketers trying to master their craft and make a full time business out of it, who are focused on the types of strategies described above.

Advanced affiliate marketers looking to stay up to date on the newest strategies, news, and tactics in the industry; or who want to network with others at a similar level; or take advantage of the special STM discounts on various SaaS’s and traffic networks.

Online small business owners from any of the niches relevant to STM (affiliate networks, media-buying/performance-marketing teams, paid traffic networks, SaaS and tracker owners, etc).

Marketing departments from large companies that exist within the industries described above.

Entrepreneurs who are just curious about cutting edge best practices vis a vis performance marketing, e-commerce, email marketing, and paid traffic, who don’t mind spending $100 a month for this purpose.

 

Who Should NOT Join STM Forum?

Those who probably should not join STM would include:

Extreme beginners – for instance, if you don’t know what a “landing page” or a “click” is, or don’t know the difference between “organic traffic” and “paid traffic”, then STM is probably not the best use of your time and money at the present time. You would be better off learning basic info about digital marketing, whether here on our site, or on YouTube, or on large-scale forums like Quora and Reddit.

-Those who are desperate to make money quickly due to unfortunate circumstances. The sad truth is that many digital marketing forums and courses and communities will see individuals join who are desperate for money, whether to pay for a loved-ones’ medical bills, or to pay their mortgage or rent that is in arrears, or some other similar situation. Unfortunately though this is NEVER a good decision. Learning to make money online or succeed in any business endeavor takes lots of time and hard work, and if you are struggling to pay the bills or put food on the table, your immediate goal should be finding paid work that will help you stabilize your situation. Learn from individuals like Dave Ramsey until you achieve the stability needed to fully embrace your goal of making money online. Digital marketing is NOT a get rich quick scheme, and it bears pointing this out any time there is discussion of forums/courses/communities/etc.

-Those who are working hard on mastering digital marketing and making progress, but who legitimately cannot afford $100 per month for the membership fee. If this is your situation, you’re better off to keep working hard until you reach the point where you can easily afford to join the forum and become an ongoing member.

Digital marketers focused on strategies that aren’t really covered on STM, such as building a YouTube or Instagram following, doing basic freelancing on Fiverr or Upwork, or doing Amazon FBA.

 

Below: One of the more common topics discussed on STM is dropshipping/e-commerce, the subject of this video from Affiliate World.

 

How To Succeed On STM Forum

Like with any online forum or community, there are those who succeed on STM Forum to a greater extent and get tons of value from it; others who use it but with only an average amount of value; and others who don’t benefit from it at all and quickly leave.

It seems clear that there are patterns to this, and when looking at those STM members who went from beginner status to making millions of dollars, one sees the same actions consistently.

These would include:

One: Starting a detailed follow-along of your progress from the very beginning of your time on the forum.

This is important for several reasons.

A) It allows the forum’s moderators and more senior members to help you succeed and give you feedback. Whether you are following one of the free guides from the forum (this is very common), or chronicling your own journey in a specific niche or strategy, there are almost certainly other members and/or moderators who have had success at what you’re focused on, and who will help coach you and mentor you in your journey.

B) It forces you to be accountable to yourself, since you will feel compelled to regularly update the follow-along of your progress in reaching your goals, and be forced to write out exactly what actions you’ve taken towards them and what obstacles you’ve run into.

C) It will create tremendous networking opportunities. It is very common for those engaging in detailed follow-alongs to be approached via direct message from affiliate networks, offer owners, and other forum members, which can lead to all sorts of opportunities for greater success and profits.

Two: They cultivate a courteous, professional attitude.

Affiliate Marketing is notorious for being pretty “relaxed” in terms of culture, however, the discussions on STM are almost uniformly courteous and respectful.

Indeed, many members will comment on the fact that the forum seems extremely rare in terms of the lack of petty bickering and arguing that characterizes many online discussion boards.

STM is a friendly, stress-free place to discuss digital marketing strategies and news, and in the rare instances when negative or instigatory rhetoric pops up, it is quickly redirected by other members of the community.

Three: They are generous with their time and advice.

Its normal to be cautious about broadcasting the strategies you are using to achieve success in digital marketing. Nobody wants to have their ads and funnels copied after investing lots of time and money into perfecting them.

At the same time, the most successful members on STM Forum do seem to be extremely generous in terms of their contributions to the forum.

They often post in-depth follow-alongs on their endeavors, and make a point to give guidance to those focused on the same niches. This spirit of openness and generosity seems to be one of the main reasons the forum has enjoyed so much success over the last ten years.

 

Below: Topher Grant speaks at Affiliate World on why the performance marketing industry is poised to explode in size and revenue.

 

STM Forum Reviews And Testimonials

One can find numerous testimonials and reviews of STM Forum online.

We thoroughly investigated all the public reviews of STM we could find for this article, and have included screenshots from some below.

Most of the reviews and mentions of STM Forum are quite positive.

The most common praise of STM revolved around…

a) The fact that there are actual legit, highly-successful digital marketers on it who will engage in Q&A’s with newbies and “mentor” them, as it were.

b) The ability to see exactly what strategies are working in the performance marketing world in the present.

c) The ability to network with others within the industry.

d) The discounts given to STM members from numerous SaaS’s and traffic networks (as we detailed above).

The most common criticisms of STM were:

a) That the forum did not have enough discussion of the reviewer’s personal niche (as we detailed above in regards to things like organic brand building, Amazon FBA, etc).

b) The fact that the forum will promote courses that are themselves paid courses and don’t come with one’s membership (these would be the iStack training courses mentioned above, although as also noted above, they have now been combined with one’s STM membership for free and are no longer separate paid courses).

c) That there will sometimes be “scammy” people who signup and attempt to network on the forum (this is likely true, since the forum can’t vet new members ahead of time, however there is zero tolerance for this within the forum, and the issue seems to pale in comparison to free digital marketing forums, since the $100 membership fee generally disincentivizes such behavior).

 

STM Forum Reddit Reviews/Discussion

Here are some screenshots from discussions about STM Forum we found on Reddit.

Screenshot One:

Stack That Money forum screenshot from Reddit

Screenshot Two:

screenshot part two

Screenshot Three:

STM Forum Reddit Review

 

STM Forum Quora Reviews/Discussion

Here are some screenshots from discussion about STM Forum on Quora.

Screenshot One:

STM Forum on Quora

Screenshot Two:

Quora StackThatMoney Forum reviews

 

STM Success Stories From Within The Forum

There are also numerous testimonials posted within the forum.

Indeed, there is an entire section called ‘Success Stories’ where members write out their journeys as digital marketers, and how STM has helped them.

Below is a video documenting these success stories and testimonials from within the forum:

 

Conclusion – Why We Recommend STM Forum

All of the above information speaks to the value that many find within STM Forum.

While- as pointed out above- the forum is about specifics areas of digital marketing rather than the entirety of digital marketing, it is clear that there are a vast range of individuals and companies within the online commerce world who have benefited from the forum, and continue to be active on it today.

While joining a paid forum like STM won’t be feasible for everyone, the fact that the forum is a paid one provides many benefits, and these differentiate it from many of the more public forums that exist about digital marketing.

Editor’s Note: For all of these reasons, we are proud to include STM Forum in our list of “Official Recommendations“, and we are proud to be affiliates for it. If you decide to join STM we would be honored if you did it through our link, in order to help support our mission here at OBpedia of providing a detailed, down-to-earth, encyclopedic breakdown of the world of online business.

We hope this review and overview was useful to you, and you can learn more about STM Forum at the sign-up page linked to below:

>>>STM Forum Sign-Up Page>>>

 

 

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