19 Common Affiliate Marketing Mistakes- Avoid These at All Cost! And Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You!
Disclosure (full version- https://nikolaroza.com/affiliate-disclosure/): Some of the links you’ll encounter are affiliate links. If you click and buy something, I may get a commission. Thank you!
Affiliate marketing is, in my opinion, the best and easiest way for newbies to build a sustainable and passive-income generating online business.
However, “the best” does not mean streamlined. So there will be no “do this”! “Don’t do that”!
In fact, affiliate marketing process has many nooks and grooves you better avoid if you want to travel safely to your destination.
And of the dozens common affiliate marketing mistakes newbies make all the time, I picked the twenty most severe ones.
The path to passive income is a minefield I warn you now! 😉
Committing just one of these will slow you down, but erring twice or even thrice, will throw you earn-while-sleeping dreams in the thrash bin.
But lucky you, this article to the rescue!
Read it, lest you regret later:)
These Are The 22 Common Affiliate Marketing Pitfalls- Learn Now How To Avoid Them! How to BEAT Them!
#1- Choosing the Wrong Platform to Blog On
And by wrong I mean “free”
Here’s the deal- people online spend a tonne of money. But they spend it on sites they trust and recognize as real businesses.
That trust is built over time of course, but one of the easiest thing to do, and the deadliest if you don’t do, is having your affiliate website on a self-hosted WordPress.
I mean it’s simply a must and there’s no way around it. Think about it: what kind of an image are you projecting if you’re so cheap not to invest in your domain name and hosting?
I say it’s an image of a desperate person no one in the right frame of mind would buy from, ever.
Own your business; don’t build it on rented property.
So, Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress.com and other free site builders are good to dip your feet into blogging waters, but please don’t try to create even a basic business on them.
You’ll just be wasting everybody’s time.
Note: here’s what my branded property looks on Blogger. I use it to spread the word about me and my brand, but not to build my whole business on it.
How to Beat?
If you’re starting an online business, and not just a hobby blog, do it the right way.
Start it on a self hosted WordPress site.
#2- Not Doing Keyword Research
Newbies that are just starting out almost never brainstorm ideas and almost always write about anything they want.
They heard that they should just write on anything within their niche and that’s all they’ll ever need to do; because writing for the web is just sharing your niche wisdom with the world.
Yes, writing for the web is different as you don’t have to be a professional writer to do it successfully, but you still need to do your homework (so research till your pants fall off, and also proofread your copy like crazy).
- You need to know what folks want to know;
- what their pain points are;
- and how exactly you can help them.
Even if you can guess what people want based on your intimate knowledge of the niche, it’s still wise to know the exact phrasing people use when searching Google.
Because when you use those “special words” in your blog post it’ll show up high in Google as Google will recognize your post as super relevant to the query.
Another way to give your affiliate website an edge is to find out what keywords your competitors are using and then optimize your site for those keywords. Although the task is difficult, you can do it with the help of tools such as rotating proxies.
Fast and reliable rotating proxy servers allow you to make multiple search queries without being blocked or banned. They can also help you bypass any filters or restrictions your competitors’ websites may have.
Which tool should I use for keyword research?
I recommend Jaaxy keyword tool (review)- it’s newbie-friendly and awesome.
#3- Not Doing GOOD Keyword Research
This is also a big one. Doing keyword research the wrong way is only slightly better than not doing it at all. Because you can still make huge mistakes.
The most common one is chasing high volume, head keywords and eschewing keyword difficulty for dreams of what might be.
Let’s say you run a brand new coffee website and you decide to target the keyword “coffee”. You chose it because your KW tool showed that it’s searched for bazillion times per month.
All that sweet traffic hitting your site, targeting that keyword was a superb idea, no?
And for two reasons:
First new websites can not rank for head terms like those. They are ultra-competitive.
Second, you don’t really want to rank for those terms. Because the search intent behind “Coffee” is ambiguous at best. You could end up with a load of tire kickers on your site not buying anything and leaving en masse.
Here’s the BIG SECRET of keyword research done right:
You don’t want as much traffic as possible. You want as much converting traffic as possible.
That a big difference as it’s much better to have a thousand buying visitors that a million onlookers, those that never buy but always leave, never to return.
How to Beat?
Spend some time and find keywords that, when you rank for them for will bring you targeted traffic and sweet revenue.
A good example is y Fusebox Podcast Player Review.
That page only gets ~100 visitors per month. But since it’s so highly targeted, a few of those convert every month earning me passive income.
#4- Not Doing On-Page SEO
Google ranks web pages based on two largest ranking factors:
Links are covered in the section below, but here I want to talk about relevance, AKA On-page SEO. On page SEO is simply using your target keyword (that you found using a keyword tool- see point above) in several strategic places of your article, irregardless of the article length.
Those places are:
- Keyword in SEO title
- Keyword in meta description
- Keyword in permalink
- Keyword in H1 tag (the headline)
- Keyword in lower heading tags (subheadings- H2, H3, H4, H5, H6)
- Keyword at the beginning of the article (above the fold, first hundred words. Bonus if you write it in boldface)
- Keyword 2-3 times though out the article
- Keyword in the concluding paragraph
And that should do it. Granted this is not all you can do as you can boost your relevancy scores with NLP writing; with TF-IDF,; using toools like Surfer SEO. But it’s still a huge step forward and a must if you want to rank your article for anything.
Google need directional cues you know- it’s (still) just a machine 😉
#5- Not Building Links
Links are the Internet’s currency of success.
They are what separate the winners from the losers and I advise that if you want to be the former and not the latter- you start building links as soon as possible.
Now, it is possible to start too soon and get your new site in Google’s sandbox for suspicious activity. So, wait until you’ve built your first hub of 20 or so good articles; and then go out and start promoting them.
Is it hard to build links for a website?
Oh yeah! Yes it is.It’s the hardest thing you’ll have to do to grow your biz. And that’s great news for you because link building is something most people dread doing; and AVOID doing. And that leaves room for you and infinite growth ahead.
How Can I Start?
Start with simple guest posting. It’s very easy to do as you’ll still be writing articles and sharing your knowledge, only for someone else now. Those articles will have link(s) pointing to your site of course, but the much bigger benefit to you is that you’ll be able to connect with other webmasters from your niche. This will open up a whole slew of new opportunities for you.
Here’s a guide that can help you get started, and coincidentally, it’s a guest post I wrote for Moss Clement, a friend of mine and excellent blogger.
#6-Chasing the Money/Choosing the Wrong Niche
Newbies usually see the inspiring stories of people who made it with affiliate marketing and wish to replicate their success. So they enter the same niche that the person who inspired them is in.
The problem is that behind that sweet success you see are years of struggles, tears, sweat and disappointment. This you don’t see.
All of them building blocks of success with the strong foundation of doing something you’re really passionate about. That person that has success payed the price by doing the thing they loved, for free, for a long time, sometimes VERY long time.
You’ll never be able to replicate their success simply because you won’t be inspired to push on when it gets though, and money is a lousy and empty motivator.
Sorry to burst you bubble, but I said it for your own good.
The good news is that if you pick something you love, there no reason why you can’t be the next success story.
You could even inspire someone else.
How to Beat?
Choose a niche that you dream about when you close your eyes to fall a sleep.
#7- Picking the Wrong Products
This mistake ties in nicely with the last one. Even when you get the niche right, you still can choose the wrong products and blow you chances of making commissions.
The two common errors you can make are:
- Picking the most expensive products just because the commissions will be bigger. This is a mistake as “most expensive” is not synonyms with “the best”.
- Not using the products you promote.
Even if you promote a reasonably priced, popular product, you still need to be using it to be able to promote it honestly.
Because if you don’t own it you’ll have to gather data from others and thus regurgitate what’s already been said.
And your lack of knowledge will show because you’ll be competing with folks who own and use the same product.
And they love it too!
I promote Wealthy Affiliate. And my review is super thorough honest and full of stuff only a member could get his hands on.
People can see that and this they trust me more.
How to Beat?
Don’t try to cut corners with your review articles. Buy the product, and give it your honest assessment. Your audience will thank you for your transparency.
#8- Not Writing Enough Reviews
As an affiliate, you need to effectively communicate the value of the product you’re promoting to your audience.
Reviews ranking in Google are where you make your money as an affiliate. So you can’t be shy and promote nothing on your blog as then you will earn nothing too. The key is to strike a balance between promotional and informational content.
A good measure for a new affiliate blog is:
- write review, then write 5-7- supporting articles
- write 1 review, then write 5-7 supporting articles
Those a informational pieces are there to tell Google you’re not yet another thin affiliate site and that you give tremendous value to the web, while having an occasional affiliate link here and there.
Here’s a nice example of an ALL review affiliate site.
How to Beat?
Set up a content schedule that forces you to write both reviews and supporting articles.
#9- Writing Only Reviews
Reviews are great and all, but there certainly exists a case of “too much of a good thing=BAD“.
So it is possible to make a mistake and write only a few reviews; but it is far more common to see websites that are ALL reviews. Basically, ever new article is either a review where they bash a certain product (and promote a better alternative); or is a glowing review of a another product with an even brighter CTA “Buy Now”
Those kind of sites obviously exist to lure people to buy and even the common internet user gets this. So don’t fall into a trap of writing only reviews. It doesn’t work and what’s more Google will demote your website in Search if they think you don’t provide value to the web.
And reviews, which are almost always biased anyway, are not that valuable.
Sorry to burst your bubble, it’s for your own good 😉
How to Beat?
Write reviews for sure, but don’t let them pass 10% of total content on your site. That way you’ll be both profitable and in safe waters with Google penalties.
#10- Not Having a Review Template
You’ve always got to have a review template at the ready, because you will be writing many reviews, successful affiliate as you are. So your writing process needs to be streamlined as much as possible The goal for you as an online business owner and it’s principal writer, is to be able to research your topic, then whip out your trusty review template and then write and write and just fill in the blanks.
And the result of that amusing and effective exercise will be a highly converting article posted on your blog to get new leads, while you’re off doing something else to grow your biz. Because like we just said, you can’t just be publishing reviews all day long.
Where Can I Find a Good Review Template to Use?
Here, you can borrow mine. Though I must warn you, you asked for a good template, but mine is excellent 😀
- Intro[ Here you will learn…
- What is X and how it can help you
- Product X features
- Product X price
- What I like (Pros)
- What I don’t like (Cons)
#11- Promoting Irrelevant Products
All products are relevant… to their target audiences. So if your niche is spirulina, you better write about spirulina only, and you better promote sprulina pills for weight loss.
And if you niche is civet coffee, then you know you should promote coffee only, but even then only coffee made from beans that came from rear ends of certain animals.
And if you’re into XBox gaming, then you certainly won’t be promoting coffee on your site. Except maybe in the content of “drink more coffee as caffeine keep you awake and alert to play more games” 😛
I trust you get it by now.?
Only niche products reviews belong on your awesome site.
#12- Copy/Pasting Product Pages Info
Affiliate marketing is hard work, I know. And it’s so tempting to go into lazy mode and just copy and paste the things you need from the product sales page.
I mean it’s all good since it’s from the page that’s highly relevant, and since it’s copied there’s no way to mess it up and display the wrong info, right?
Well, nice try! You almost had me there, but no! Copying someone’s work is the worst thing you could do to you affiliate blog and to your review articles.
For several reasons:
First, that is duplicate content and Google hates content duplication. They don’t want to index the stuff, let alone rank it. It’s because it’s a waste of resources to them (hint:costs them $$$)
Second, Product pages are generally a boring lot and copying from them will make your review a snooze fest.
Third, where is the added value there? Where is your original input when you’re just copying what’s been said a thousand times before you (thank other lazy bloggers for that).
The best reviews in the world are a right mix of info that needs to live on that page, and your original input written in your unique writing voice.
The former anyone can get, but the later is what’s yours only and what will get you ranked in Google.
How to Beat it?
#13- Littering Your Reviews With Affiliate Links
Have you ever come across a page that looks like this?
That was a rhetorical question- don’t answer it!
I know you have as littering affiliate links everywhere is a common mistake many newbie affiliates make. It’s ugly. it’s ineffective.
Don’t do it!
What Should I Do Instead?
Be graceful with your affiliate links and do what it make sense for your review. The trick is to have them at places you think people are likely to click on them.
#14- Not Cloaking Affiliate Links
Cloaking affiliate links means changing the link’s permalink while keeping the end destination with your affiliate code intact.
For example, cloaking is turning this bad boy affiliatelink.com?a_id-45366560521 into a prince mynewaesomeaffiliatelink.com
Note: cloaking doesn’t fool Google.They know it’s an affiliate link and you should nofollow it. But cloaking helps give you a clear url structure for the visitors who’re going to click those links.
#15- Plastering Ads Everywhere
I said “plastering ads everywhere”. But I should’ve said “making ugly banners that take up your sidebar and distract folks from your content”. Visuals work and attractive professionally-designed visuals work even better, but that doesn’t mean you should turn your site into a freak show, a mélange of colors one needs 5m to get used to.
Be ruthless with anything that distracts from your content, and no, and it doesn’t matter that those banners will have embedded affiliate links, because no one’s gonna click on them.
Banners don’t work
- Because people have developed selective ad blindness
- Because having too much ads makes you look desperate
- because images are hard to load and people will slower internet connections will bounce before even seeing your page and your content…
Honestly, banner ads are more trouble than they’re worth.
Related- the one way to make banners be unobtrusive and work for you is to use Advanced Ads plugin.
Folks hate banner ads so don’t have them. Instead use clever copywriting and smart affiliate linking to make those sales.
#16- Spamming Niche communities With Your Affiliate Links
Niche communities like Reddit, Quora, Stack Exchange and forums exist for folks to gather around and share their knowledge and experience about their favorite topics. They do not exist so you can go and bombard them with your affiliate links. In fact all of them strongly forbid blatant self promotion and when you’re caught, you will be show the virtual door.
How to Beat It?
Don’t be a spammer; be a member. Contribute value to the community, ask awesome questions, give helpful answers and become known as someone who genuinely contributes and who happens to have a site. When you can do that, then you can post links to your blog posts or videos and no one will think it strange or fishy. In fact they’ll want to support you by:
- subscribing to your list,
- sharing your content,
- commenting on your blog posts,
- buying using your affiliate links.
So make your life as a marketer 10x easier and give before you get.
#17- You’re Not Building Your Email List
Your email list is like a safety net that protects you from the harsh reality that is ranking in Search Engines today. You need that safety cord around you so know you’re protected, come what may. And so you know that you can move out your comfort zone with your marketing efforts (that is when and where all growth happens).
So, if you’e not building your list right now, don’t despair 🙂 it’s never too late to start.
But I can’t help you there as this is a mistake I’m still very guilty of.
Instead read this guide Arfa Nazeer recently published. It’ s the one I plan to use when starting my list and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
#18– You Think it’ll Be Fast
If you’ve ever fallen for any online scam, then you must remember vividly how it stunged that the immediate, fast solution didn’t work at all and you were left with no money earned, no refund given, and no clue what to do next.
I don’t’ blame you. The allure of “instant” is mighty strong and yours truly fell for a scam or two in his newbies days.
Affiliate marketing is a business mode that works but does not work fast.
No legitimate business model does.
What comes before success is you putting in the work, and work requires time.
- Time for Google to rank you.
- Time for folks to trust you.
- Time to make and collect commissions.
How to Beat it?
Ground your expectations first. Then still try your best to beat them.
#19- You Think it’ll Take Forever
On the other hand, maybe you think building an online business has to take forever.
Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “my overnight success took 10 years” and you took that literally.
Here’s a news flash for you.
It doesn’t have to take that long!
In fact, depending on the niche you choose (competitiveness) and how hard and smart you work you could see decent success in 1 year. You could be full time in 2 years.
It sounds like a stretch, but it’s really not.
Some of Wealthy Affiliate members have built full time incomes in 6 months time, and that is blazing fast if you ask me.
Bonus- Common Partnership Marketing Mistakes and Pitfalls- A Mini FAQ
I did my research and came up with these 7 common questions folks ask about affiliate marketing. To be honest, quite a few are worried to start because they think they’ll make a fatal mistake and ruin their chances for good.
That’s not a good way to thin about it as almost any mistake can be remedied, and regret sting much more as we get older…
Before I get too personal, here are the questions…
a) What are the Most Dangerous Affiliate Marketing Mistakes I Could Make?
All mistakes can be remedied, but these 3 holes are hardest to dig yourself out of.
#1- Starting with a free site– If you start your biz on a free platform you will face an impossible task of attracting and converting ice-cold traffic. Folks who don’t pay attention to your content and you affiliate offers, but to your cheap templated design, your sub-domain and your lack of professionalism that screams from every page of your FREE site.
The remedy is to invest into basic hosting and setup your site the proper way.
#2- Writing only reviews– you’re trying too hard to sell.
“Why should I trust you? This other site has a tonne of content that teaches me this and that and you’re just trying to sell to me. What are you hiding? Are you really an expert”?
It’s scary is it not?
The remedy is to build trust by helping for free first, and then selling later.
#3- Your articles are minefields– you’re trying to trick your visitors to click; you’re hoping for them to click on your links and leave.
Instead ease off with affiliate links and make your site an experience to remember and bookmark.
b) Do I Absolutely Need to Start With a Self-Hosted WordPress? Can’t I Start for Free and Then Redirect Later?
Hey, you do what you must. I understand what it’s like to be in a position of not being able to invest even for basic hosting. In that case I have two recommendations for you
WordPress.com. They offer excellent free websites you can use as much as you want. You’ll also be able to purchase a domain and go premium with their service or make a copy of your site and redirect it to self hosted WP.
The other option is free website builder called SiteRubix. They’re a service offered by Wealthy Affiliate and they give you websites build on WordPress, with free hosting and some training to get you started on an affiliate marketing path.
Note: Wealthy Affiliate offers a premium package too, but you ‘don’t need to pay to use SiteRubix.
c) I Like To Write Off The Cuff- Do I Really Need a Review Template?
Yes, you need it!
Review templates are there to make you job easier. You will be writing a tonne of reviews and over time it will get repetitive and boring. So it’s best to get it done quickly and you get it done fast with a template, where you know exactly what you’re going to write and in what order.
It’s work almost on autopilot.
d) How Can I Quickly Check If My Niche Is Popular? I Don’t Want To Write For Crickets!
Go to Amazon and enter a keyphrase. We’ll use Turmeric as our example:
See how many turmeric products you can promote. Over 3000!
So this is a quick indicator that this niche is popular since so many different companies are competing for the market.
e) Can I Promote Related Products, and Not Just From My Niche?
Yes you can. In our example above Turmeric is the niche. But related niche would be Ginger. You could promote Ginger-made products no problem and here are some keywords to get you thinking:
- Turmeric vs Ginger- which one is healthier?
- Is Ginger better than Turmeric for X?
- How to combine Turmeric and Ginger for maximum healthy boost?
f) What Makes My Review Unique? Aren’t We All Saying The Same thing?
Well, yes you are. You’re all repeating the info from the sales pages. But what makes your review different and unique compared to all others in the world is your writing voice and your experience with the product you’re reviewing.
No one else has that.
Conclusion- 19 Affiliate Marketing Common Mistakes- You’ll Have None of That!
Now that you know all you need to know about affiliate marketing common mistakes, you have no excuse not to use this knowledge to your advantage.
And I really mean it- to YOUR advantage.
Most people that start today will fall for these traps like clockwork, and many will never dig themselves out the hole; and if you can avoid them, (and I know you can), you’ll be not one or two, but twenty steps ahead of everyone else.
Leave me a comment below.
Abrupt ending, I know 😎
Nikola Roza is an affiliate marketer and blogger behind Nikola Roza- SEO for the Poor and Determined. He writes for bloggers who don't have huge marketing budgets and who still want to carve out a niche online and a better life for themselves. Learn about Nikola here, or read his blog posts and guides here.
Hey there, I can see some nice key points you have mentioned in the article. My biggest mistake was when I just got started, was writing only affiliate reviews, and chasing shiny objects.
When I just started, I was only having a dollar on my mind, and nothing else. Creating a successful affiliate marketing business is more about providing value, gaining reader’s trust, and just growing and building your audience, instead of only pitching affiliate offers.
And these things come to the long-term game:)…
so true. It’s sort of a paradox really. Focus on the money, and you’ll see none of it. Focus on helping you audience solve there most pressing issues, and they’ll be throwing money at your feet.It’s a mentality shift and a secret few grasp; but those that do- they succeed.
My blog is still very young, and I have already registered with some affiliate products as a test. Crowdfire and Manageflitter worked really great for one of my articles. I didn’t know much about affiliate marketing even if I put some links on the blog.
The main reason for moving to the affiliate marketing was, I really don’t like Google Adsense Ads because it is ugly, we do not have any control over their ads and slowing my site down. So, I thought Google Ads is a pretty bad choice.
So, you have explained everything about Affiliate marketing here. As a beginner, I could learn a lot from this. Thank you very much for sharing this article with us.
Hope you’ll write more like this.
thanks for complimenting my article.
Take your time. Affiliate marketing is not going anywhere and you have time to learn how to do it properly on your blog and be successful with it.
Just take it step by step and keep at it until you see success. It’ll come!
I’m glad you wrote about this, I made a lot of these mistakes myself back in the day.
Still, I’m glad I had all of those experiences because I feel like they taught me really important lessons. Of course, it would have been nice to have come across an article like this one before I started.
Although all of my companies make the majority of their income now through the sales of their own products, I still have a special place in my heart for affiliate marketing because it was the first method I used to start making a significant amount – more so than the measly couple of dollars I was earning through Adsense back then. When you do affiliate marketing right, it’s possible to do very well even without a large sized audience.
Point 2 is perhaps the one I needed to hear the most when I got started. Like many others, I based my success off of vanity metrics like total number of page views, rather than how that attention was actually converting. So, I based my strategy off of trying to acquire the most amount of traffic possible, thinking that I could make up for poor conversions with volume. As we know, this is a poor strategy.
A small audience that is targeted well always outperforms a larger audience that is only loosely targeted at best. The problem is that many people target people who either don’t have money, or aren’t looking to spend it on whatever you’re promoting.
These days, my strategy is flipped – develop a solid framework first, THEN look for ways to scale it.
Great advice! I will definitely be sharing this.
– James McAllister
Thanks James, for your awesome comment.
I’m glad to hear that you, as a successful businessman had so many mishaps and made so many mistakes.
And yet you’ve built several thriving businesses.
I’m glad because here I am, failing left and right, so I’m definitely headed for the stars:)
On a serious note, nothing beats targeted traffic, people looking to buy exactly what you’re selling, and right now.