In this post, I’m going to discuss 9 affiliate marketing mistakes beginners need to avoid.
- You’ve already read my 5 Business Models post and know that affiliate marketing is very beginner friendly and my recommendation for anyone who wants to start making money online
- You’re ready to get started / you’ve attempted being a successful affiliate marketer before, but it hasn’t worked and now you want to start again
Those aren’t hard prerequisites, but they help.
Starting any new endeavor, whether it be in your personal or professional lives comes with its obstacles and mistakes that you’ll make.
It’s part of the human experience.
Here are some common mistakes that I see most people make when it comes to affiliate marketing.
Instead of just listing out the mistakes, I’ll do my best to also come up with possible solutions and resources, so you don’t have to make them.
- 1. Trying to Make Money Right Away
- 2. Not Building an Email List
- 3. Heavily Relying on Google Search Traffic
- 4. Flooding Content with Affiliate Links
- 5. Pushing Bad Products
- 6. Trying to Build an Affiliate Empire
- 7. Copy/Pasting Content from the Product’s Sales page
- 8. Not Giving a Crap About Their Visitors
- 9. Not Tracking Website Performance
1. Trying to Make Money Right Away
Starting out with the most common one, and the one that’s made me fail at being a successful affiliate marketer before.
So, I get it.
You’re in a tight financial situation, and you’ve heard about affiliate marketing.
You’ve heard about the process and, since, essentially, it’s only 3 hoops to jump through to get an affiliate commission (find product to promote -> promote -> get paid), you underestimate it.
And, in a social media world where the feeds we see are a mix of friends, family and ads, you’ve also seen outlandish stories of people making 6 figures in 6 seconds once they got started.
Although you may make some commissions from being lucky (a friend or relative just happens to be looking for a product you’re an affiliate of), to make significant, sustainable & predictable income, you need to be strategic about everything.
Don’t look for just one product to promote.
Look for a category of products to promote.
Then, build a place on the internet around that category.
This can be an Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest page and/or your own website.
Build those digital assets & make them grow.
- Write content
- Schedule content
- Place affiliate links in your content and on your website
- Create an affiliate funnel
- Build an email list
- Create a traffic strategy
Do 1 – 5 first, then use 6 to get people in your 1 – 5 ecosystem.
2. Not Building an Email List
I already alluded to this in the previous mistake, but it really deserves its entire category.
If you’re serious about building a business, especially online, you need to have an email list.
All these social media platforms can be great for building an online presence and they can make you very successful with any kind of online business.
But the assets that you have on there, are on rented spaces.
How many posts from Facebook business pages have you seen in your feed today? (Not counting the ads)
These traffic sources, eventually all become pay-to-play.
You also want to have an email list because you know that people on that list are very interested in whatever category you’re building a business around.
And, perhaps the biggest benefit, it doesn’t cost you anything to send out an email campaign to people who are on your list.
Because it is YOUR list.
My absolute #1 recommendation for email marketing is ActiveCampaign.
3. Heavily Relying on Google Search Traffic
Although being an affiliate marketer and creating a sustainable and somewhat predictable income isn’t something that can happen overnight, it also doesn’t have to take months.
When heavily relying on Google Search traffic as a traffic source, that is however what you’re setting yourself up for.
SEO (search engine optimization) can take months in order for you to rank for relevant searches and to get on the 1st or 2nd page of Google. (doing it the right way that Google likes it)
Even longer if you’re completely new.
Having “ranking on Google” for a piece of content you’re creating in the back of your mind isn’t a bad thing, but, when you’re a beginner, organic SEO should be seen as a nice cherry on top if it happens.
And if it doesn’t, fine.
There are other traffic sources that can help build your affiliate website that don’t take such a long time.
There’s Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, but my #1 recommendation for a completely new beginner is Pinterest.
And after you’re reaching your affiliate income goals, that is when you can bring Google Search traffic back to top-of-mind.
4. Flooding Content with Affiliate Links
We get it. You want to make affiliate commissions. But that doesn’t mean that you should flood people with your affiliate links.
The key to building an authoritative relationship with your audience, is to help them first, and promote your affiliate links second.
This isn’t just a post with only my affiliate links.
But a post that could help beginners in affiliate marketing avoid some common mistakes.
And, when I mention one of those mistakes, and go into the solution, and only if it makes sense, I drop my affiliate link.
Create a content calendar and fill it with content that can help your audience. This should be your primary focus.
If it makes sense in a section of your content to promote a product that you’re an affiliate of, do it. (So don’t promote a hypnosis product when you’re blog is all about gardening)
Not only does it make your content more readable, it builds a relationship with your audience.
They know that they can come back to your blog for helpful and insightful content, and they will. They don’t get the sleazy car salesperson vibe with you.
5. Pushing Bad Products
You’re an affiliate for a product with a $500 price tag, and you get 30% commission.
So with each affiliate sale, you get a $150 commission.
Those aren’t bad numbers. In fact, you like those numbers a lot.
So you then start promoting it heavily, because it’s such a big commission.
But, if you’d looked closer, you would’ve seen that the return/refund rate is very high.
Which means that, generally speaking, it’s not a good product.
Yet you keep pushing and promoting it.
This hurts your affiliate marketing career in so many ways:
- Online, the word gets out about this product and that customers aren’t happy with it
- Your audience keeps seeing you promote it
- They start to associate you and your brand with that bad product
- You lose their trust and credibility
- Online, the word gets out about your brand and that you’re promoting a product that customers aren’t happy with
Do not chase the money. Do not promote a product just because it’s a large commission.
Before selecting a product to become an affiliate for, there are several things you need to look for.
One of the most important once in that selection process is looking for honest online reviews and checking if the return/refund rate is higher than industry-standard.
6. Trying to Build an Affiliate Empire
Once you've grasped the process (find offers to promote -> create a blog -> get affiliate commissions) it may be very tempting to start multiple sites in different niches.
While I applaud the ambition, I'm going to urge you to not give in to that temptation.
Sally has the process down.
She's selected a niche, found products to be an affiliate for, created a blog schedule, has written & published blog posts and sets up a basic Pinterest traffic-generating strategy.
Now that that's done, Sally gets impatient.
So, Sally thinks to herself
“Hey, if I create another blog, in another industry, I increase my chances of receiving affiliate commissions!”
So, she goes through that process again.
Second blog is done.
A few days go by. Some upkeep on the first blog. Some upkeep on the second blog.
Sally gets impatient again…
And goes through that process again.
While it makes sense from a certain point of view, Sally is robbing herself from one important thing:
Mastering the process.
Nailing her blog content.
Nailing her blog & affiliate funnel.
Nailing her traffic strategy.
Focus on excelling at 1 blog in 1 niche.
Only if that works, and you've got it down to a T, and only then, you can think of creating a new blog on a new industry.
This way, rather than having 10 blogs that rake in $100/month each in 6 months, you can have 10 blogs that rake in $15,000/month each in 3 – 4 years.
7. Copy/Pasting Content from the Product’s Sales page
This one is pretty common with new affiliate marketers.
They think this is a “smart hack”.
But actually, it’s a sign of laziness.
Not sexy to talk about, I know, but it needs to be said.
Copy/Pasting word-for-word creates a bad scent with your audience.
And, as a beginner, you want to avoid this as much as possible and at all costs.
Hopefully the product you’re copy/pasting from is relevant to your audience.
But tailor it more to them.
If your target audience are millennials, they might not care much for sales copy that’s written for a 50+ demographic. Jasper.ai can help you writing more targeted copy.
8. Not Giving a Crap About Their Visitors
In the 7 previous mistakes there already were examples of how this manifests itself into giving your blog visitors a bad customer experience.
Another common mistake beginner affiliate marketers is giving them a bad experience by not making their website readable.
This goes from having a poorly designed website to making blog posts unreadable by not breaking it down into paragraphs, or using title headings to break the content down.
It’s just a…block of text.
Take a look at this post. And have a look at my other posts.
The content is different, but it’s always structured and designed to give visitors to this blog a comfortable experience.
There’s a clear title. There’s a short introduction. And each section is clearly defined by using headings.
I also tailor the blog layout specifically to the kind of device the visitor is using.
On mobile, the content is a little bit bigger, for example.
Images on other posts are sized differently, depending on whether somebody visits from a desktop, tablet or smartphone.
9. Not Tracking Website Performance
This last one is crucial!
When starting out your website and your affiliate marketing career, you start with a hypothesis.
“My target audience is X. They’re interested in Y. The best product to promote to them would be Z.”
And then, you launch your website and test that hypothesis.
Does it hold up? Are you completely off? Is your target audience resonating more with interest D? Or product K?
The only way of knowing this for sure, is by tracking.
Not only which posts get visited most, but what sort of posts generate the most time-on-page?This is something that you need to get at least a basic understanding of, because it is the only way to test your hypothesis and know whether it’s holding up, know what to tweak to increase conversion, and just make your entire business better.
When starting out, and if you're unfamiliar with tracking data and analytics, this may be intimidating.
That is why I highly recommend looking for in-depth videos on Youtube, or even taking a course on Udemy.
On both platforms, look for “google analytics + wordpress/[insert CMS here]”.
And there you have it.
9 affiliate marketing mistakes beginners need to avoid, or reasons why your previous affiliate marketing attempts may have failed.
Which one of these was the most eye-opening to you? Which one gave you an aha-moment?
Let me know in the comments!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you make a purchase using one of these links, such as from the Amazon Associates program.