Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money, but it’s not necessarily as easy as it sounds. Too many affiliate marketers are actually making HUGE mistakes that cost them time, money, and may even hurt their reputations permanently.
Fortunately, once you’ve identified these killer mistakes, it’s easy to correct them so you can stop making them in your own affiliate marketing campaigns.
If you’ve been wondering why your affiliate marketing campaigns aren’t as effective as you’d hoped, you might be making one or more of these big mistakes than could be seriously hampering your efforts.
In this post, you’ll learn about the most common mistakes made by affiliate marketers (even some highly experienced marketers make these mistakes!) You’ll also learn how to keep from making these mistakes yourself, and how to keep from repeating the same mistakes over and over again as so many people seem to do.
So let’s get started.
Mistake #1 – Focusing On Selling
I think it’s clear that the goal of an affiliate marketer is to make sales for the product seller and earn commissions. That much is obvious. But that should not be your singular focus.
Your primary focus should be to help people. No matter what your market, you should be focused on helping your market in some way, because this is how you add value to your affiliate offers and how you get the audience in that market to trust you and your product recommendations.
It doesn’t matter what your market is, your main goal should be helping people. Period.
Weight loss? You’re helping people get in shape and get healthy.
Internet marketing? You’re helping people make money and achieve financial freedom.
Socks? You’re helping people keep their feet warm and dry and look fashionable at the same time.
Always focus on helping your target customers. This will help you build a rapport with the audience you’ve built or are looking to engage, making your job easier and creating pride in your work as you provide a service at the same time!
Mistake #2 – Not Testing
Testing is one of those things that most people understand they’re supposed to do, but almost no one actually does. I always tell my kids, “don’t just read, study, don’t just study, test.” Well it’s the same for literally every industry, you must test all aspects of your campaigns in order to target your messaging, scale your business and ultimately provide the right product to the right people.
Not convinced, then consider this. Let’s say you’re achieving a 2.5% conversion rate. Not too bad, you might think. After all, you have considerable competition, and you aren’t really standing out well in your market.
But what if one simple tweak, something perhaps as simple as adding ONE WORD to your squeeze page or changing ONE IMAGE on your blog’s main page could increase that to a 5% conversion?
2.5% higher doesn’t sound like all that much of a difference until you realize that’s DOUBLE the conversion rate, DOUBLE the customers, and DOUBLE the income. From making one change! Isn’t that worth it?
This process is typically referred to as A/B testing. Most sales page software offer some type of A/B Testing functionality. It basically automatically exchanges alternate pages that your create with varying wording, coloring, videos, etc. The trick is to determine the best performer between two or three pages and then once you determine the winner you create another page or two to compare that against. Each test should yield a winner and therefore a higher conversion rate. You can even utilize A/B testing for emails, blog posts, ads, etc. Testing is paramount in developing and continuing successful promotional campaigns.
Mistake #3 – Only Promoting Make Money Online Products
Make Money Online (MMO) is one of the most financially lucrative markets there is, but it’s a mistake to concentrate solely on this one market. Even the biggest internet marketing gurus have diversified into other markets?
That’s because any niche, no matter how lucrative, has a maximum income cap that you can reach. Eventually, you could reach virtually the entire market, and your income will suffer because you have nothing new to sell to them and no way to add new value.
Now don’t be confused, the MMO market is a great place to set up your initial promotional campaigns because of the variety of products and the amount of new people entering the market each and everyday. However, diversification of resources, income streams and products/services is a key attribute to almost every successful business.
The fact is, no market has an absolute cap, because as I mentioned new customers entering the market all the time. But once you’ve hit a plateau, your income stagnates.
But if you diversify, if you branch out into other markets, you’ll always have fresh products to promote. You’ll always have new value to add. You’ll always be able to make money because you’re not pigeonholed into one specific market. Your have a diversified audience and even opportunities to cross sell products between different industries. For example, lets say that you enter the survival/living off the grid niche. You could also sell this market MMO products to teach them how to make money from anywhere they set up their dwelling. You could also sell them solar products and water filtration products. The sky’s the limit.
Mistake #4 – Trying To Do Too Much
The temptation is great, for both experienced and new affiliate marketers, to spread themselves too thin by branching out into too many markets. Maybe they buy 50 domains all at once, or they set up blogs in 13 different niches in one week. But this is not advisable.
You should focus on one or two key niches at a time, and diversify once you’ve made some real headway into those niches. Unless you can hire someone to manage multiple blogs, multiple products, multiple email lists, multiple social media pages and accounts… you’re doing yourself a huge disservice if you diversify too widely in the beginning.
I can personally attest to this. I not only diversified into different niches, along with affiliate marketing I started blogging, ecommerce, niche websites, network marketing, etc. I was completely burned out in matter of months. I eventually reset my business focusing on those things that I had both a vested interest in and that could bring in the most money with the least amount of effort. A month later I was able to niche and income stream diversify into two other income sources and have been on steady incline every sense.
Choose two or three markets initially, and only diversity further once you’ve really made some real headway into those first niches. Once you have some decent traffic, a small mailing list that’s growing, some social media presence that’s making a difference… then you can think about trying out new niches. You’ll discover that you can never make a real difference in any one niche, until you start putting enough effort into one to make any headway.
Mistake #5 – Joining Too Many Affiliate Programs
Another major temptation for affiliate marketers is to join too many affiliate programs because they aren’t sure which one will be the most profitable for them. Well, let me let you in on a little secret.
They can ALL be profitable for you!
Trust me, as long as you’re sticking to the legitimate affiliate programs with well-known companies, you’re almost always going to see some nice results. There’s a reason why their affiliate programs are so popular!
Choose your two or three starter niches, and then find 2-3 affiliate programs for each one. Make sure you can find at least one really hot product at each affiliate program that looks like it will convert well in your niche, and then stick to promoting that product for a while before you try something new.
If you join too many affiliate programs at once, you’ll find that you take a very long time to reach the minimum payouts required for each affiliate program, because you’ll be making $2 here, $8 there, $22 somewhere else… it’s madness! You also have to consider tracking and your personal accounting.
It’s much better to sell three different products via one single affiliate program than it is to sell fifty products from thirty-five different affiliate programs.
Some of the best or most popular affiliate programs include:
Check these programs to see which ones have products that fit with your market, and then stick with those programs for a while. You may find you never need to move past these few programs.
Mistake #6 – Not Tracking Results
If you start seeing a good number of sales, you’ll soon start to wonder which of your marketing efforts is the most productive. You’ll obviously want to concentrate more of your efforts on those methods that are making you the most money. But what if you have no idea which areas to concentrate on, because you don’t know which methods are working?
Tracking, quite simply, lets you know where your traffic is coming from and where it’s going. Simple tracking is as simple as using a tracking code through your affiliate program. For example, you can create a unique tracking ID for each website you own on the Amazon affiliate network. Or if you promote products through ClickBank, you can add a custom code word to your affiliate links to allow you to find out where every sale you refer came from.
Tracking and testing go hand and hand. Testing what your doing and tracking what’s working will give you insight into how to grow your current campaigns and help you set up more profitable campaigns in the future.
You could also go into much more detail by using your own affiliate tracking script that will allow you much more detailed information about your clicks and sales. This is advanced stuff, so you may not want to start this right away, but once your campaign is in place go back and add tracking functionality as soon as possible. Either way you definitely need some sort of tracking in place so you can determine which of your methods is working best!
Mistake #7 – Giving Up Too Quickly
If I had a dollar for every person I’ve seen give up trying to make money online, I’d be VERY wealthy right now. The internet is writhe with blogs that have only one or two posts and affiliate accounts that never send the first referral.
What are some common reasons for giving up?
- Not making money too quickly
- Not getting traffic quickly
- Not getting accepted to affiliate networks
- Feeling like it’s too much work
- Being told that making money online is a “scam”
The one thing most of these things have in common is expecting things to happen overnight. Affiliate marketing isn’t a “scam” just because you didn’t make $10,000 or even $1,000 your first month. Concentrate on making that first dollar first. You can’t expect to take a brand new domain with no backlinks to 100,000 pageviews a month right away. These things take time.
Another aspect of giving up too quickly is too often people make affiliate marketing their only online income source. Of course, I do not endorse only one form of income so I don’t think I need to repeat how big a mistake that is.
Mistake #8 – Fearing and/or Ignoring Competition
A lot of people try to stick to the “low hanging fruit”, because they’ve been told that’s what they should do as newbies. Or they do it because they’re terrified that they’ll never be able to compete with the millions of other websites out there.
You can compete in ANY niche! I’ve known complete newbies who managed to crack super tough niches like MMO and weight loss right off the bat. Is this likely? Of course not. Is it possible? Definitely.
I don’t advise new affiliate marketers to tackle these extremely tough niches immediately unless you have the proper training, support and investment capital. But if there’s not much competition, it’s because there’s not much money there. Trust me, there ARE very few “undiscovered” or “untapped” niches anymore. There may have been a few years ago, but that ship has sailed. If it’ll make money, it’s likely already making someone money.
However, never fear competition, study your competition. You WANT competition, trust me. Too much competition is a difficult thing to overcome, but choose niches that have a decent amount of competition, because that’s where the money is.
While it’s important not to fear competition, it’s also important to be sensible. Expecting to make a fortune overnight in a super-competitive niche like weight loss is a sure recipe for disappointment.
What you need to do in the beginning is target niches that:
- Have a healthy amount of competition
- Don’t have so much competition that it’s difficult to get organic traffic unless you have a large enough paid advertising budget
- You have some interest or knowledge in
Notice #3 especially. If you have absolutely no interest or knowledge in a niche, it will be harder to create content, harder to identify with your target market, harder to sell products you know little to nothing about, and harder to get traffic. Unless you’re willing to do some deep dive research and/or hire a content creator then start with what you know and care about.
Do you need to be an expert to conquer a market? Absolutely not! In fact, you could probably do well in a niche that you know NOTHING about, just learning as you go.
But if you have absolutely no interest in the subject, it’s going to make it much, much easier to give up. You’ll simply get bored and distracted, because your work day becomes such a grind that you’ll throw your hands up in frustration and flip on the television or start surfing the Facebook newsfeed.
So how do you choose your first few niches?
Make a list of some topics you have an interest in. I’d say 10-20 topics would be enough to get started.
Now check to make sure there are:
- Affiliate products to promote
- A decent amount of competition
- Resources available for you to learn from
- Traffic sources you can take advantage of
- Opportunity to offer bonuses, especially those which allow you to show your expertise.
As far as competition, you want to look for keywords/niches that have a search volume of at least 10,000 searches per month. Google “google keyword planner” for a great resource. These days you have to sign up for a Google Adwords account but I think it will be well worth it.
You can find out how many sites there are that mention your topic by searching Google. I search multi-word phrases in quotes to be sure I get an accurate number.
I searched for “golf” and got “About 1,310,000,000 results.” Yikes. Over a billion! A search for “gluten free” came up with “About 85,100,000 results.” Better, but still pretty big. “Pasta makers” came up with “About 424,000 results”. That’s definitely much more reasonable.
Don’t fear competition, but be reasonable about it!
Mistake #9 – Not Providing Bonuses or Providing Bonuses Unrelated to Product
As mentioned above, for the products worth promoting there will likely be a good amount of competition. However, there’s no need to fear them when you provide your own bonuses that enhance the perceived value of the product you’re promoting.
One of the ways to stand out from the competition, and actually be their competition, is by offering bonuses, and not just any bonuses, but the most valuable. When I say valuable I’m not talking about just monetarily valuable but also in what it adds to the product. It should be unique, it should be shiney (something new they can’t get anywhere else), but most importantly it should be relevant. Overdelivering is good thing for the most part, however giving away a bunch of unrelated bonuses just to get sales does not add value to customers life nor does it help build your brand and credibility.
Let’s say for instance that you’re promoting a piece of software that helps you create contests on Facebook. Don’t give away an ebook on Twitter marketing or how to get followers on Instagram. Although in the same social media sphere they don’t specifically help your customer get the most out of the product they just purchased. You should offer a product that teaches how to run a contest on facebook or how to drive traffic to a contest on facebook. If you don’t have something like this either purchase a quality Private Label Rights (PLR) product that provides the relevant information or put together a quick report.
Refer to my A Quick Method for Outlining Infoproducts and The Quintessential Product Creation Playbook to learn how easy it is to create a quality product in a couple of days or less. Also, for Quality PLR, emphasis on “Quality” go to Best Quality PLR and get started with their membership. There you’ll find a wide variety of ebooks, reports, infographics, resource guides and much more that you can use as a foundation to build your own products to sell giveaway or whatever their license allows you to do.
Bonus Mistake #0 – The Prequel –
Not planning your campaigns as early as possible
I call this one the prequel because it should come first, but it’s so obvious that I didn’t want to make it one of the nine. However I thought it needed to be mentioned before I let you go.
Make sure to utilize JV and affiliate networks calendars to plan your affiliate campaigns. In some cases you can plan out your promotional campaign for a specific product months in advance. That gives you an opportunity to get your customers mentally ready, fashioning your content marketing plan to give customers all the information they need to take advantage of the product as soon as it’s released. They’ll love you for it.
You can also spend time developing a relationship with the product creator and potentially gain leverage other affiliates won’t have. Advantages such as a review copy of the product, an interview, unreleased swipes (pre-written promotional emails), opportunity to do a webinar with the product creator for the launch, discounts and so much more. Here are a few websites that provide release dates for products in the IM niche for you to stay on top of upcoming product releases:
Affiliate marketing isn’t for the faint of heart, or for people who find that they tend to give up too easily or who suffer from “shiny object syndrome” hoping from one new thing to another without giving the effort necessary to be successful with the previous.
It’s actually a lot of hard work, and it takes time to build resources like blog traffic and email lists. There are no shortcuts unless you have the cash to spend for content creation, buying existing websites with traffic, and/or paying for advertising.
As long as you stay consistent and avoid these mistakes you’re almost certain to start making money.
The only guarantee of failure is quiting. Get the training you need and take action and you’ll be just fine.