When it comes to affiliate marketing (in particular, actually being successful at affiliate marketing), there are certain mistakes that many beginners make that can make you regret even starting. But never fear… these mistakes are totally avoidable! Here’s a list of the most common affiliate marketing mistakes I see every day, and how to avoid them:
AFFILIATE MARKETING MISTAKES: WHAT NOT TO DO
1. JUMPING STRAIGHT INTO PAID ADVERTISING
Okay, so you’ve found an awesome affiliate product you want to promote. You might think that spending money to promote it is the way to go, because getting traffic sent to your link or post sounds like exactly what you want, right?
Hold up there!
This is where many new affiliate marketers can get it wrong. Start by mastering free traffic methods such as social media (eg. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest), and combine this strategy with creating great content around your links so that people are compelled to click through and purchase.
2. INCLUDING PICTURES AND PRICES OF EVERYTHING
I see this one all the time.
Firstly, you don’t need to fill your posts with pictures of every affiliate product you mention. And prices? Well, think about this scenario: if you’re a craft blogger and you’re including a materials list in a DIY tutorial, what do you think will happen if your post provides every price/picture right there in front of them?
They probably won’t click through.
If you use only plain text affiliate links, the reader then has to click on the link to find out what the item looks like, or how much it costs. And clicks are the very first step in the process of making an affiliate sale – so if your reader already has that info upfront, you’re not giving them a reason to click through. No click-through = no sale.
3. TRYING TO SELL PRODUCTS YOUR READERS ARE NOT INTERESTED IN
I know for a fact that if you’re reading my blog, you’re interested in learning affiliate marketing. Therefore, the products that I choose to promote are affiliate marketing programs and eBooks, and other services that I personally use to create my website (and keep it running!) You won’t see me promoting fashion clothing, cookbooks, weight loss programs or anything else unrelated to my niche.
Readers follow your blog because your content is relevant to them, and they value your opinion. If you only promote products that your readers are (or would be) interested in, then it’s more likely that they’ll click through and make a purchase. Keep it relevant!
4. BECOMING AN AFFILIATE FOR PRODUCTS YOU HAVEN’T ACTUALLY TRIED
So… if you haven’t used a product or service yourself, how can you recommend that someone else buy it?
The whole premise behind affiliate marketing is that you will be able to convince your readers that this particular product or service will solve their problem, so that they will buy it. No matter what the product or service is, you should purchase it, use it, be familiar with it inside-and-out… and love it. When readers see you as a genuine person promoting a product from a point of knowledge or experience (and not purely from a place of greed), they will trust you, and be more likely to buy from you.
5. NOT DISCLOSING PROPERLY (OR AT ALL)
When it comes to affiliate links, if you’re based in the USA you need to disclose that your link is an affiliate link to comply with the rules set out by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
So, what exactly IS an “Affiliate Disclosure”? An affiliate disclosure lets your readers know that you have something to gain from recommending a certain product, service or brand, so that they have a clear overview of your intentions.
Reasons why you need an affiliate disclosure
- Um, it’s the law! You’re legally (and ethically) required to let your readers know that when they purchase something through your links, you get a commission for that purchase.
- Your readers will trust you more. Don’t be afraid to disclose your links because you think it will turn people off. It’s actually quite the opposite! They provide transparency to your readers – remember, trust is important for marketers, and can only be achieved through complete transparency.
Affiliate disclosure best practices
- Your affiliate disclosure needs to be in plain sight, easy to see, and as close as possible to the link itself.
- Your affiliate disclosure CANNOT be at the bottom of your posts, or placed where your readers would have to actively look for it.
- Always add your disclosure to the top of your posts, and place a reference (for example, an asterisk) in close proximity to your affiliate link.
- Use clear, direct language.
While affiliate link disclosures are a legal necessity, using them can also build reader trust (in both you AND your affiliate products). For more information, I highly recommend reading this FAQ Guide released by the FTC.
Even if you’re not based in the USA, properly disclosing your affiliate links is not only best practice, it also shows integrity as a professional blogger…. and it’s just common courtesy.
6. SELLING, NOT HELPING
Here’s a tip when it comes to writing your content: change your mindset from “I want to make money” to “I want to help people”.
Instead of trying to sell at every chance you get, take the time to try and figure out what problems your readers are having, and then use your content to give them the solution to those problems!
Don’t create post after post that is purely promotional. Content that solves your reader’s problem will help you build credibility, which makes people trust you more and continue to return to your site; people will be more loyal to you if you’re helping them solve their problems.
7. PROMOTING EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING
It’s super easy to join affiliate programs. In a lot of cases, a couple of clicks and BAM, you’re in! So you might think that the more you join, the more successful you’ll be, and the more money you’ll make.
It sounds like a great idea (multiple income streams, right?) but what actually happens is that you’ll find it’s impossible to successfully promote all of them at the same time, and so eventually they’ll all fail. And on top of that, new affiliate sites generally don’t have a lot traffic, so there really is no point.
If you’re in this for the long haul, you should only focus on 1, maybe 2, affiliate programs that you’ve personally tried and actually recommend, and authentically promote those to the best of your ability (hint: with valuable content) to build trust with your readers.
If you need help choosing an affiliate program, go ahead and read Choosing the RIGHT Affiliate Program.
8. NOT BUILDING A LIST
One of the biggest mistakes a new affiliate marketer can make, is not building an email list. But if you want to grow your blog or business, you absolutely MUST make building your email list your top priority. (Yep, an even bigger priority than building your social media following!)
And here’s why… email is less competitive than social media, it’s more personal and reliable, your list is directly aligned to revenue and, most importantly, you own your list. Aside from your website, it’s the only thing you have control over. So even it tomorrow, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest change their algorithm again, and next to no-one sees your pins/posts anymore, you’ll still have an email list full of dedicated followers ready to open your next email.
9. RELYING ON COPY-AND-PASTE CONTENT
A lot of times, the affiliate product/service creator will provide copy (eg. copy and paste content, or “swipe files”) for you to use in your promotions. It can be tempting to just use this (and I totally get that, because it’s easy) but your content needs to be authentic, and you need to share your own experiences and thoughts abut the product.
Another thing to consider when you’re creating your own content, is that you should provide details your reader won’t find on the product sales page. Again, it comes down to providing value, being unique, and being authentic.
10. GIVING UP WHEN THE SALES DON’T START ROLLING IN STRAIGHT AWAY
I get it. You create an epic post, include affiliate links, and 24 hours later, you still haven’t made a sale. It can be disheartening, for sure. Combine that with all those blog posts you’ve read about bloggers who’ve “made $1000 in my first week” and you will seriously start doubting your decision to try affiliate marketing.
The thing about affiliate marketing is, it’s not a get-rich-quick-scheme. Affiliate marketing is a long-game. You don’t need to be crazy-smart to succeed… you just need to not give up.
Many people will work for months at building an affiliate marketing business without seeing any success, and then assume that affiliate marketing does not work. But… it takes time to build a solid foundation for your long term affiliate business. It takes time to gain trust of your audience and the search engines. It takes time to see first results. And it takes time to grow your affiliate revenue into a full-time income.
So please, hang in there and don’t expect your business to be a success until at least the 6 to 12 month mark. Be patient. Be consistent. Eventually, all that hard work and effort you’ve put in will pay off month after month.
11. PLASTERING YOUR SITE WITH ADS
Have you ever visited a website, and immediately been bombarded with ads? In the header, the sidebar, popups in the content, and even in the footer? I have. And you know what I did? I hit that “back” button so fast it wasn’t even funny. #seeya!
This is one of the worst mistakes a new affiliate can ever make. Firstly, it makes it incredibly hard for readers to navigate or browse around. And secondly, it just looks unprofessional. Ads have their place, but when you’re starting out, don’t even worry about them for the first couple of weeks. In fact, wait until you have at least 15-20 quality posts published before you begin to start placing ads.
#hottip When you do begin using ads, ensure you keep them relevant, and place them where they make sense. For example, if you talk about marketing and use a specific tool, link to that tool (or show the product link for that tool) in the post’s copy, or at the end of the post.
HAVE YOU MADE ANY OF THESE MISTAKES?
These are just a few of the most common mistakes made by new affiliates. But at the end of the day, every mistake is simply another way to learn and improve – failure is actually part of the business-building process (and we’ve all been there!) Building a successful affiliate marketing business is challenging, but it’s also extremely rewarding if you’re willing keep learning, testing and tweaking.
Which of these mistakes can you relate to? Let me know. Or can you add to this list? Share your ideas in the comments below!