The 12 Biggest Affiliate Marketing Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

affiliate marketing mistakes

Affiliate Marketing isn’t as easy as it might sound.    There are many affiliate marketing mistakes that can be easy for beginners to think is the right strategy, but will actually lead them down the wrong path.

I’ve compiled the list of the 12 most common mistakes that can catch beginners out, with some advice on how you can avoid them as best you can.

I’ll also share with you the reason why many affiliate marketers fail…  Which is all to do with them having the right mindset.  Without further ado, let’s get started…

Table of Contents

Why Affiliate Marketers Fail...?

affiliate marketing mistakes - why they fail

Affiliate Marketing is a fantastic business model.  It allows everyday people to earn a good living, often from doing something they love.  So why do so many fail?  Well, the 12 common mistakes I’ve listed below are some of the main reasons.

But I think if I was to give you the short answer (I know you’re really busy) is that people don’t treat it like a business.  They treat it like a hobby.  Something that you can do every now and then, and still earn the big money.

But that is not the case at all!

If you want to become part of the 1% club, the ones that are earning good incomes from affiliate marketing, then you have to work harder than the other 99%.

It’s not a get rich quick scheme, despite what many of the scammers try to convince you it is.  The examples I see of people being successful are those that have worked their butts off.  If you’re serious about wanting to become a successful affiliate marketer, then reading the list below and ensuring you never fall into the trap, then you might just break into that 1% club.

If you’re already on the fence about this business model, then you might not have what it takes.

But if you do have what it takes, but want a hand getting starting, then you might find out 7 Day Passive Income Bootcamp is something you want to try.

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12 Affiliate Marketing Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

Here are the most common affiliate marketing mistakes I’ve come across that you can easily avoid…

#1 Having Unrealistic Income Expectations

affiliate marketing mistakes - unrealistic expectations

This is the most common one on the list, combined with number 2 around timescales.  There are so many ads claiming that affiliate marketing can make you a millionaire with little time and effort, that it leads many to believe it.

Now many affiliate marketers are earning 6-figure incomes per month.  But not straight away.  They all worked hard to earn their first dollar, and then work on making their first $100, etc.

If you go into this business model, thinking that it’s a business where you have to work hard and eventually you will earn a good income, then you will be on the right track.

When getting started, you want to ensure you give yourself realistic goals about your income expectations.  Realistically you won’t make your first sale for a few months.  

It took me 6 months to make my first sale.  Rather than feeling disappointed, I was like “this works” how do I make sure I carry on earning money through affiliate marketing.  It was $3, my first sale.  

It might not sound much but you have to start somewhere, right?

My point is that the number one reason why people fail at affiliate marketing is that they give up too soon, and this is usually down to them having unrealistic income goals in their minds.  When they don’t achieve those goals quickly enough, they walk away.

This is all about the long game and you need to be working on ensuring you keep motivated and achieve your goals, rather than expecting it to just drop in your lap.

If you want to be a millionaire from affiliate marketing, which is entirely possible, then how much time and effort are you going to put in every day to achieve that goal?  When you hit a bump in the road are you going to let that stop you?

I recommend putting a more realistic financial goal in mind…  My first goal was to achieve $1,000 a month.  Then my second goal was to achieve more than my monthly salary, which allows me to give up my job and focus more on my business and growing it to the point where I had financial freedom.

But if you are being led astray by those crappy IM programs that claim you can earn thousands of dollars by the end of the day, then you are probably going to be in the statistics of marketers who have failed…

Take the time to write down your financial goals – Remember they should be realistic.  It’ll take you time to get your business up and running, and if you’re relying on free traffic methods, it will take you longer to earn an income from your campaigns.

#2 Having The Wrong Expectations About Timescales

This one is just as meaningful as the first reason.  If you have unrealistic financial goals from affiliate marketing, then thinking that it’s going to happen quickly is going to be something that you have to stop yourself from believing.

I would also add with this one, that just because someone else has done it quicker than others, doesn’t mean it will necessarily happen for you.

It would be easy to assume someone who spends 40 hours a week on their business would have more success and it happens quicker.  But that isn’t always the case.  if they aren’t providing the best quality content to their readers, then it doesn’t matter how much time they are spending on their business.

But I have seen too many people fall over at this point, as they have the hourly rate employee mentality…

Let me explain…

An hourly rate employee will do x amount of hours and get paid for each of those hours.  So, if you get paid $10 an hour and do a ten-hour shift.  They would get paid $100, right?

But affiliate marketing is about putting time in now and getting paid for the work later.  It’s all about operating as an entrepreneur.

An affiliate marketer who keeps on working on their business, without keeping an eye on the amount of time they have put in, and not expecting an instant return, are the ones that succeed.

I had an affiliate marketer reach out to me to ask why they weren’t earning any money…  So, I checked out their website and it was good.  Their content was insightful and helped the readers…  But they had only 20 blog posts on it. (Nowhere near enough).  They were also only promoting one product.

My advice was to keep on doing what you’re doing.  But you need a lot more content on your website.  You want to ensure the search engines are trusting you to rank you higher on google.

But this wasn’t the response they wanted.  They had the employee mentality.  They had put the time and effort into writing twenty blog posts and wanted a return.

It doesn’t work like that.  It’s also why not everyone who starts affiliate marketing ends up earning an income from it.

I recommend you put in time and effort for a year.  If you can keep consistent and create content for a year within your niche.  You will show both your readers and the search engines that you are serious about affiliate marketing.

Another example I want to show you about why you need to have realistic goals about timescales and about providing great quality to your readers is the Amazon affiliate program.

Amazon Associates (the US program) receives so many applications from people wanting to become affiliate marketers.  But most of them will give up after a short while due to unrealistic income goals and timescales.  That is why they allow anyone to join their affiliate program, but they state that you have to gain 3 sales in 6 months.  

Otherwise, they remove you from the program.  They let you rejoin, by the way, but they weed out the ones who haven’t got the staying power.

Affiliate Marketing is all about providing help to your readers and solutions to their problems.  Not just blindly promoting products and hoping it makes a sale.

Serious affiliate marketers don’t apply for affiliate programs straightaway.  They work on creating tons of great quality content about their niche. They provide guides, solutions to problems, etc.  Then when they know they are getting traffic, they start to add product reviews and other elements to their website with affiliate links included.

The right strategy will decrease the timescales, but you still need to be realistic. 

The other element around timescales is the amount of time you need to spend every week, to make this work.

As I said, you want to consider a year a good yardstick to base your business on.  But that also depends on how much time you spend each week on your business.  If you are following the right strategy and then spending at least an hour a day on your business. Then you can expect your timescales to be reduced, as compared to someone who only spends an hour a week on it.

How much time can you spend on your business?   Think about how much do you want this?  Can you find the time each week to keep on building your business up and writing the right types of content to grow your audience?  Can you keep yourself motivated for a year to achieve success?

#3 Choosing the Wrong Niche

Rounding up my top 3 of the most common affiliate marketing mistakes you can easily avoid is all-around choosing the right niche!  There is little point in having realistic income goals and timescales if you’re going to invest it in the wrong niche.

Choosing what niche your business is going to be based on is such an important decision.  It’s also not something that you should rush or be influenced by the wrong things.

There is an opportunity in (almost) all niches, as typically there will be someone else interested in it and products or services that you can promote.

But the main thing you should consider in the decision is “how much does the niche interest you?”

One of the hardest parts of affiliate marketing is creating content.  It gets easier over time.  But it is a time-consuming job to research the topics, do some keyword research, and then put it all into a blog post.

That gets much harder if you pick the wrong topic.  Imagine having to write a blog post, if you have no interest in the topic.

So, why do affiliate marketers choose the wrong niche?  Well, the most common reason is they base their decision on the commission rate or product price, rather than on how interested they are in the niche.

To be successful, you are going to have to:

  • Write hundreds of blog posts about your chosen niche… 
  • You are going to have to engage with people interested in that niche
  • Provide them solutions to common issues they have
  • Write insightful product reviews based on your experience in the niche
  • Be able to answer their questions

If you have little or no interest in the niche, how much value are you going to be able to offer to anyone who visits your site?

People need to trust you, if you want them to follow your suggestions towards products/services.  Choosing the right niche is such an important decision.  I’ll admit, I got this wrong first time around and I ran out of ideas to write about.

Without fresh content regularly, the search engines won’t put you at the top of the SERP’s.  

The commission rate actually doesn’t matter, as 70% of zero is still zero.  You want to ensure you are choosing something you want to be spending the next few years working on.

That is why some choose a hobby as a starting point.  Imagine turning your hobby into an affiliate marketing business.  You are going to want to work on it more, so you can then spend more time on your hobby.

There are successful affiliate marketers who are making good incomes from food blogs.  They offer recipes, hints and tips, and other insightful blog posts.  They talk about the equipment they use, and then make some money from having ads on their website.

They will typically make more money from digital ads, rather than affiliate marketing.  But they do well as they bring tons of traffic over.

But it all comes from choosing something they love to write about.

Many affiliate marketers go into travel as they love travelling the world and document their journeys – they promote travel services, etc.

They are also successful affiliate marketers promoting products on Amazon with a small commission rate.  But they still make good money as they sell a lot of products each month.

They key is getting traffic from the search engines, and this requires a lot of content.  So, don’t get fooled by the commission rates you will see on some products (digital products, for example).  Pick a niche based on something you love.

You’ll regret it later if you do…

Choosing the right niche is integral!. If you need help identifying a good niche for yourself, then check out this useful guide which gives you 7 tips for choosing the right niche.  Then this might help you find awesome products to promote in your niche!

#4 Creating Low Quality Content

affiliate marketing mistakes - low quality content

Take a minute to think about this one…  Have you ever clicked on a link and found a blog post that didn’t answer your question?  Did you then have to keep on looking for an article that helped you with the topic you were researching?

Now, if that is the content on an affiliate marketer’s site, then you can understand why they are not making any sales.

There is a need to create a lot of content on your blog to build authority with the search engines.  But there is a huge difference between content and high-quality content.

This is about understanding the intent behind the person searching the term, you are writing an article for.

When writing a blog post for a certain keyword, do you understand what the potential reader would want to get from that blog post?

Have you left anything out?  Are they going to have to carry on searching after reading your blog post?  Then the blog post wasn’t good enough…

Understanding the intent and then ensuring you understand the topic to ensure you cover the topic off will ensure the quality is great.

Another thing to consider is the number of words in your blog post.  Typically the blog posts ranking number 1 on Google are averaging above 1,200 words.  

There is no point in writing words for the sake of it, you need to ensure you are staying relevant to your topic.  But still, you want to ensure you are providing valuable, insightful content that helps the reader.

This will bring trust, which is what you need if you want them to follow your affiliate links.

#5 Relying On Search Traffic Only

Don’t get me wrong, getting to the first page of Google is your ultimate goal due to the amount of traffic it can potentially bring to your site.  But it isn’t the only route to gaining traffic.

Social media is an obvious option, and ensuring you are promoting your content on Pinterest for example can bring you a lot of traffic whilst Google finds your site.

Pinterest loves fresh content, so you are more likely to get traffic much quicker than relying just on Google.

There are also forums you can join and add your thoughts on as a way of building your authority too.  Then this could lead to another traffic source for you back to your site.

Quora and Reddit are good options or sites like Medium.  You need to diversify your traffic sources if you want to be successful.

And don’t forget about Bing and Yahoo.  Google is good at finding your content, but Bing needs a little bit of help.  Bing Webmaster Tools is where you can submit URLs to ensure they appear in Bing & Yahoo.  Here’s a helpful guide to get you started.

But the most important method is email marketing.  To this day, it’s also the most effective as you build up a list of people who have trusted you enough to give you their email address, and are more likely to consider your suggestions…  More on that in a second…

#6 Not Building An Email List

Email Marketing is still a very effective marketing method, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  If you aren’t collecting emails as an affiliate marketer, then you need to start.

Back to the previous point, you don’t want to rely on search traffic.  And even social media isn’t always reliable, as they aren’t always favourable towards affiliate marketers.

Building up trust with your readers is such an important element to them clicking on your affiliate links.  Most people will click on your site and that might be the only time they land on your website.  That is hard for you to build up a relationship with them.  

But if they liked your blog post and signed up for your newsletter whilst they were there.  That can be a really powerful tool in your pocket.

By using an email campaign, you can promote your offers in a more targeted way.

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#7 Offering The Wrong Products To The Wrong Audience

This one is relevant when you are choosing the right niche.  You have to understand the people who will be drawn to your site.  You want to stay highly relevant to the people.  So, if you start offering products that don’t fit in, you will harm your chances.  It would be like me promoting clothes on this blog.

What have clothes got to do with affiliate marketing or passive income?

It just undermines your strategy. 

You need to understand your audience, and what they need.  Promoting anything and everything is not going to work here.

You want to find the right affiliate products to promote that are relevant to your niche and your target audience.  It helps to create a persona of who you are targeting, and then ensure everything you create (content) or promote (products and services) is suitable for that persona.

This persona will naturally change slightly once you get more traffic to your site.  You can review Google Analytics to understand who is visiting your site.  You can then tweak your content to ensure it is still relevant.

Staying focused on the wrong persona could create problems with converting sales.  Now when you have your target audience in mind, what products are services would provide the most value to them?

That’s what you should be offering to people to help them with their solutions.

If the people who are coming to your site are newbies to the niche and aren’t 100% sure it’s something they want to venture into, then promoting the most expensive products isn’t going to convert well.

Here’s an example…

Bob is interested in getting started with Golf…  He wants to understand more about the different types of golf clubs, what par mean, what type of golf courses are great for beginners, dress codes, etc.

He finds a really useful blog that gives him all the details he needs, however, the golf clubs this blogger is promoting are only the top-end and most expensive clubs.

Bob isn’t convinced they are the right investment as he only wants to test the water…  Hence he doesn’t follow the promotions (affiliate links) and goes elsewhere.

Now, if the blogger had correctly read the target audience with his informative posts and pointed Bob towards a guide including the best golf clubs for beginners that are relevant to different budgets.  Bob would have been more interested in following through on the affiliate link.

You can make a lot more money with lower-end products, especially if you’re targeting beginners as they are more likely to spend a little.  Which might lead them to spend more through your site later down the line.

You have to read your audience just as much as make sure you promote the right products…

#8 Offering Low Quality Products ot Services

Hopefully, my last point has got you thinking about understanding your audience well enough to ensure you are promoting the right products for them…  Now, let’s take a minute to talk about the quality of said product or service.

The Make Money Online sector springs to mind, due to the number of low-quality or scammy products that are within it.

Promoting products that are going to hurt your readers in some way, is just going to end up one way.  A blog that no one trusts.

But that doesn’t mean just digital products.

Trust and integrity are such important factors as to whether someone trusts you enough to click on your affiliate links.  If anything doesn’t seem great, that will translate to them thinking you’re not great.

If a product on Amazon is getting loads of complaints from people and you are promoting it.  Don’t expect to earn any money, as the customer will typically be asking for a refund.  That happens, and your sale will be cancelled.

Bottom line, it has to be a product or service that you have experience with or would use yourself to be a worthwhile option.

Affiliate Marketers are failing as they are basing their decision on the commission rate and not on the reader.  Google’s latest product review update has made it abundantly clear that product reviews must provide insightful useful information if you want to get ranked…  

When writing product reviews, it would be worth keeping this in mind…

#8 Using Spam Techniques

Another common affiliate marketing mistake you can easily avoid is not using spam techniques

Ever seen a “Get Rich Quick” scheme?  Does it set off a load of alarm bells when you see it?  

Well, affiliate marketers who are using these types of campaigns are always going to end up falling foul of either Google, the social media companies, or the readers themselves.

I would also add to this one, by buying email lists of people.  Just because you get the ability to send your promotions to 100’s email addresses.  Doesn’t mean anyone is going to buy from it.  The most likely outcome is that they all end up in their junk mail.  The other concern is your email gets marked as a spam account.

Any strategy that doesn’t base itself on building trust and authority in your niche isn’t going to become a success story.

#9 Not Trying The Products Within Your Niche - NO Experience To Share

What are you going to offer that is different to the sales page of the product itself? 

In the main, the most successful affiliate marketers are those that are offering more insightful information and relevant experience with the products to include in their product reviews.

  • A gamer offering in-game videos to showcase the game
  • A fashion blogger showing the dress and how it looks on
  • Makeup bloggers showing images or videos of how to apply the makeup
  • A camping blog showcasing how easy or hard a tent is to put up…

These are all examples of where there are unique ways of sharing your experience within the niche.  But if you’ve never tried the products in the niche (you were led by the commission rate again), then you will find it harder to build that trust with the target audience.

That is why most affiliate marketers get started with a hobby or a passion.  They get to engage more in something they love already.  They will usually have some experience with the products and services within the niche.  Meaning you can relate to the target audience more too.

#10 Becoming a Sheep - Copying What Everyone Else Is Doing

affiliate marketing mistakes - copy and paste

I see this all too often…

Something is working for someone else in your niche, so you just copy them.  They release a product review on a product and you provide a similar product review (as you have no experience with the product…).

Google is looking for unique and valuable content to provide to its readers.  The people who are just replicating what others are doing, are harming themselves more.

Now, I’m not saying don’t keep an eye on the competition.  But what I would suggest you do is think about how can you outdo them…

If they release a product review, what can you do to offer more insight into it to get a better ranking?

You never know, an already successful affiliate marketer might have got a bit complacent with their product reviews and blog posts.  So, if you’re replicating them, you are copying ok quality content.

But if you can outdo them with better content, you will start to see yourself outranking them…

Which is your goal to achieve more traffic.

Keep thinking about how you can keep your blog fresh, up-to-date and valuable to someone who lands on it…

Another thing, whilst I’m talking about content is to ensure you go back and review your blog posts.  Typically I check them once a year, or when Google does a big update to ensure it is still relevant.

That way, people can see you are an authority in your niche!

#11 Not Analysing The Data

What’s converting?  Who is coming to your blog?  How long do they stay on your blog posts?  What’s ranking well?

All questions you should be able to answer about your affiliate marketing campaigns or website.

When you first start your affiliate marketing website, you will have chosen a niche and have a general idea of who your target audience is.  But as you start to get visitors to your blog, you can then start to understand who your target audience is.

This then helps you personalise your campaigns more toward the right audience.  This would hopefully build that trust level to the point where they follow your advice, and your affiliate links.

The same is for what content is ranking well, or not so well.  You can then review what you feel that blog post requires to improve its rankings.

Too many new affiliate marketers aren’t analysing the data to understand how they can improve their chances.  It indeed takes time to build up trust with the search engines, but without checking out the data, how can you know if you’re on the right track?

Ensuring you are checking out Google Search Console and Google Analytics can give you great insights to help you improve your rankings in the search results (more traffic), ensuring your content is tailored towards the right people, who are more inclined to follow your directions (affiliate links).

Understanding your audience will go a long way to ensuring that you don’t fail at affiliate marketing.  Here’s a great video I found that will help you understand the audience report on Google Analytics…

#12 Not Getting The Right Training

Affiliate Marketing is a great business model…  But so many training programs about it are outdated.  They are still teaching you strategies that won’t work these days.  Back when the internet was first around, it was so easy to stuff your website with keywords and it works.

Now it’s all about how much value you provide to the reader.  If you are using any of the MMO programs that you will typically find on WarriorPlus or ClickBank, then you will typically be told you can earn loads of money quickly and they will usually be talking about affiliate marketing.

But they teach you the wrong methods and this is why so many people get the wrong mindset about this amazing business model.

If you remember the top 3 reasons why affiliate marketers fail – unrealistic expectations around income potential and timescales, they tend to come from this kind of training program giving unrealistic examples.

There are legitimate training programs that will teach you the right way of getting started with affiliate marketing.  They will also give you the latest strategies to ensure you are definitely on the right track. 

Wealthy Affiliate is my personal favourite.  They offer you a free starter membership to allow you to get your feet under the table properly before deciding whether it’s the right move for you.  They have an affordable premium account if you want to take it seriously…

How to Avoid Affiliate Marketing Mistakes - Conclusion

Affiliate Marketing has the potential to earn you a full-time income, if you set yourself realistic goals, understand the timescales, and are willing to follow the advice in this blog post.

These are all avoidable affiliate marketing mistakes…  But it’s also understandable to say that it’s not a business model for everyone.  Having to work hard and stay motivated takes a bit of faith.  You need to be willing to work hard on content, knowing that you won’t see a return on it straight away.

But it is also not guaranteed that it will work.  But if you review the data and tweak it as required, you will start to see a trickle of income coming in.

Traffic is the main ingredient you need, which means you need to get your SEO strategies right.  This is a useful blog post about how it starts as a trickle-down a mountain, then leads to a stream, and finally into a river…  If you can stay motivated and work hard…

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog post.  I’m hoping you found it useful.  If you have any questions or comments to add, then please write them in the comments section below. ;)

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Chastity Guevara
Chastity Guevara
1 year ago

Hi John,

Great post! I have seen many new affiliate marketers fall into some or all of these pitfalls you have on here. I actually started out affiliate marketing with the wrong niche for me. I was passionate about the niche, however, it was a highly competitive niche with a lot of websites with lots of employees.

Choosing the right niche to me is by far the most important point. As you said, it needs to be something you are passionate about to keep the motivation going. It helps to ensure you always have something to write about as well.

I too am a member of Wealthy Affiliate and have learned so much from the platform. I love having a community of like-minded people. The training is great and truly helped me refine my marketing techniques.

Thanks for posting,

1 year ago

Hi John.

I really loved your blog post. It is a comprehensive guide on how to avoid mistakes for affiliate marketing and I really see that you live what you write. Indeed, when starting out one of the hardest things might be to switch from the employee mentality to the entrepreneur. I get it, if someone has worked 10 years in a job, that swishy might be hard, but yet necessary, because building an affiliate business takes time(unless done with a huge budget spent on ads ).

I really love you’re mentioning high-value content and social marketing (next to SEO) as attention points. Not every marketer is doing it, but should.

After reading your post, I’ll make sure I’m also much more consistent in those two. Cheers

1 year ago

Wow, what an informative post!

And I must admit that I’ve made some of the mistakes you mention in the past. A few years ago I had a blog – and I was really passionate about writing, but I didn’t really have a niche, and had just a few readers. And I didn’t actually know what I was doing – I just wrote articles and published them, but didn’t make research, and didn’t take a training as you suggest.

Sometimes it’s best to learn from others instead of using the try and error method. Because this can lead to frustration, as it did in my case. So my blog which I did write with passion, doesn’t exist anymore.

With your tips (and a good training), I might start an affiliate website again …

Last edited 1 year ago by Kat
1 year ago

Thanks for showing us those mistakes we should avoid while doing affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing takes hard work, patience, and persistency, and there is no shortcut or secret loophole for overnight success. I believe once people have the correct mindset for their online businesses, they could succeed online eventually. Building an email list is crucial for affiliate marketers since money is on the list. It gives you endless opportunities to turn your leads into actual sales. 🙂

1 year ago

Dear John,

Thank you so much for this informative article! Even though I’m in the business for a couple of years so far, it’s always to keep reading tips and tricks. You never know what you’ve missed or what you need to be reminded of!

I understand the mailing list is so important to have, but something inside me is still reluctant of creating one. Do you have an idea on how to build a mailing list and how to get people to subscribe to it?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

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