7 Pros and 7 Cons of Affiliate Marketing- the Good and Bad Explained

Disclosure: Some of the links you’ll encounter are affiliate links. If you click and buy something, I’ll get a commission. If you’re reading a review of some precious metals company, please understand that some of the links are affiliate links that help me pay my bills and write about what I love with no extra cost to you. Thank you!

Affiliate marketing is GREAT!

  • You work when you want.
  • You work how you want.
  • You work from wherever you want.

The sky is the limit to what you can do and the only factors to consider are how committed you are and how much effort you’re willing to put in.

But, affiliate marketing as a business model is NOT perfect.

Far from it.

Flaws abound and some of them are quite serious. Some of them might even put you off from trying to become affiliate marketer yourself.

I mean, I’m one and I”m loving it!

But I don’t think it’s a career path suited for everyone and it’s only fair that I give you a list of pros and cons, so you can decide for yourself.

And that’s what this article is all about.

Ready to learn?

Let’s go!

What Are Some Affiliate Marketing Cons? (Disadvantages That Make Affiliate Marketing a This World’s job (Imperfect)


#1- It Takes a While to Get Established

Affiliate marketing is a long term game. It’s is not a get rich scheme. You probably knew this, but I had to say it just in case.
It takes a long time  to:

  • Set up your site;
  • do keyword research;
  • write helpful content;
  • build links;
  • connect with bloggers.

It takes a long time for Google to see you and recognize your affiliate website as someone worthy of being ranked in the SERP’s, with the SERP’s being THEIR website.

For example:

it took solid 6 months of me working my ass off, 10h every day, for my affiliate site to make me my first ever affiliate sale.

It took me another 6 months to scale my business to a few hundred bucks, which is far from a full-time income.

Was it worth it?

Oh yeah it was! But it was also a roller-coaster ride of excitement and disappointment; me wishing to quit and the pushing on regardless of the feelings of dread and desperation.

It was hard and it’ll be hard for you if you decide to pursue this path.

Just be aware of it, please!

#2- Affiliate Marketing is Super Competitive


The barrier to entry into affiliate marketing is very low.

You don’t need to be a professional marketer do dabble in it. You don’t need to know anything because you can learn as you go.

You  don’t need a tonne of money.

No, all you need are:

  • your laptop,
  • stable internet connection,
  • and self-hosted WP blog.

Plus, you’ll also need to consider purchasing a domain name for website. registration, hosting your website, and potentially investing in a website builder. Luckily, hosting+domain bundles come very cheap nowadays. And compared to starting a traditional brick-and-mortar business, the initial investment in affiliate marketing is relatively affordable.

How Much Does It Cost, a source for pricing insights, says that while you don’t need a significant upfront investment to start, there are still some costs to consider such as purchasing a domain name, hosting your website, and potentially investing in a website builder. Still, hosting+domain bundles come very cheap nowadays. And compared to starting a traditional brick-and-mortar business, the initial investment in affiliate marketing is relatively affordable.

All this makes partnership marketing extremely competitive.

. Almost everyone with a website and who’s trying to monetize their blog is doing so through affiliate links.

Even when it’s not their main source of income (some choose ads instead)

So, expect a tonne of competition in whatever niche you decide to enter. That’s the reality and to succeed, you just have to be better than most.
The sound though but it really isn’t. Most folks are winging it and don’t really know what they’re doing.

And professionals who’re treating affiliate marketing as a business are KILLING IT.

Note: If you want to start your first affiliate marketing business, and you don’t know where to start, Wealthy Affiliate is the best program to start go with.

#3- You Need a Lot of Self-Discipline


Picture this:

You, alone in a room; in a working chair; sitting and typing; writing and writing and then writing some more.

That’s affiliate marketing biz in a nutshell.

In the beginning, you’ll be writing like crazy because you’ll want to bulk up your site as fast as possible.

You’ll need plenty of articles to host plenty of affiliate links, because that’s how you’ll earn your sweet reward. The problem, like I mentioned earlier, is that it takes a lot of time to get ranked.

So, in the beginning, you won’t be seeing any results.

It’ll look like your work is in vain.

So you’re going to need lots of discipline and motivation to push through when all you’ll want to do is give up and go home, or go to bed and curl under a blanket.

Finally  you’ll be hooked up to the internet all the time. And you do know that the words “internet” and “distraction” are close kin?

Right?

Pro tip:
install Block Site Chrome extension and prevent yourself from accessing sites that don’t contribute to your success. But they sure do take away your valuable time!

Website blocker for Chrome

#4- You Need to Learn be Self-Reliant


Internet is a huge distraction for sure, but it can also be your savior. What I mean is, as a newbie marketer (I presume) you will have a tonne of stuff to learn and a tonne of it can go wrong at any time.

For example, your theme might break or a plugin might not co-operate with others well…

What do you do?

Well, you can’t ask anyone to fix it for you because you will be taking a stab at this project all alone. Affiliate marketing start-ups are one man team(s) and those folks better learn to solve problems on their own, or else…

In the science of effective negotiation, developing self-reliance is essential for navigating the challenges and uncertainties that come with affiliate marketing start-ups.” – Founder, Shapiro Negotiations.

Bottom line

Be self-reliant and find all the answers on the internet. They’re there all right.

#5- You have No Control Over Affiliate Programs And Their Commission Structure


You can get burned dealing with affiliate programs in at least 4 ways:

a) They’re Closing Down

if you promote just one product on your site (not recommended) and then the company decides it’s just not profitable for them anymore then they will cancel the affiliate program and you will stay without future commissions.

For example I used to be an affiliate for Maxbutton Pro plugin. Their affiliate program was served over a large network called Share a Sale.

Share a sale affiliate network

This is an excellent plugin, with raving customer reviews and my review was ranking highly in Google, so you can tell I was pretty happy with the situation.

However, one day they chose to close down their affiliate program and I lost potential revenue I could’ve had.

These things happen. It’s an affiliate marketing disadvantage and it comes with the territory.

b) You Don’t Make a Sale in a While

This is common.

If you don’t make sales in a certain time frame they can cut you off and you won’t be able to apply for a while. For example, Amazon Affiliate Program requires you to make at least one sale every 6 months to keep your account active.

c) You Breach a Signed Agreement

When signing up to be an affiliate for a company, you’re entering into a legal agreement with them.

And if they find that you’re promoting their products in an unethical way;

or that you were spamming folks and thus damaging their reputation, they will cut you off and you won’t be able to re-join unless you successfully appeal (very unlikely)

d) There’s Also the Matter of Commissions

You see, you can’t affect how much earn percentage-wise. The commission structure is usually set in stone and even if you’re their best affiliate you’ll earn the same commission rates as the guy who’s barely making sales.
For example, Amazon’s commission structure is fixed and here’s what it looks like for product categories:

Amazon commission structure for their affiliates

Note: Amazon used to have their commission structure on a sliding scale, so if you sent them lots of traffic-you earned higher percentages.

But in 2017 the policy changed and now commission percentages are set in stone.

#6- Hard to Choose What to Promote


When picking a product you want to promote, you need to be careful so as not to waste time with unpopular or worse, outright bad and harmful products.

That can be a huge pickle because usually in every niche there’re  tonne of products to promote.

For example, take a look at Amazon’s offering of raw Turmeric power. look how many products are there:

Many products to promote

But not all are equal in quality and it’s in your best interest to promote valuable stuff only, so people come back for more, and so they remember you as the guy/gal who recommended great stuff to them.

Note: That’s how you build your brand- by helping people improve their lives.

Pro tip:

Before choosing a product, I suggest you investigate and don the mantle of detective first, lest you regret it later.

Go out there and see what people are saying about products X, Y or Z.

Reddit and Quora are good places to start.

#7- Banned to Promote in Certain Places

Speaking of Quora, did you know that according to Quora terms and services, you’re forbidden to post affiliate links on their platform?

Yeah, it’s true. Yes, people still do it all the time. How come? Well, they obviously haven’t got a clue on how affliate marketing works and they get banned from th eplatform really quickly.

So I don’t recommend spamming Quora.

See what happens when I try to insert an affiliate link on my profile page?

Affiliate links are banned on Quora

You’re also forbidden to post affiliate links on

  • Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Forums
  • QNA sites

And the list goes on and on.

Even you email responder will ban you if they sniff you’re  using affiliate links within their service.

You’re not allowed to spam people. Period.

I know it’s a cruel world out there and being an affiliate marketer makes is super hard for you.

Wanna know why? And consider this a bonus, 8-th reason why affiliate marketing sucks.

#8- People Will Hate You When You Become a Successful Affiliate Marketer


Why?

Because you will work 100x less than someone with a “normal” job, while earning 100x more money. You’ll also be able to travel while they’ll be stuck in their dead-end jobs and their equally dead towns.

You’ll own a business and your future will be what you decide it to be; they will work for another and someone else will pull their life’s strings.

I know this really belongs to the affiliate marketing cons section but I had to get it out here, because you can also look at it as a con.

But why care what some strangers think of you, when you can have you life and freedom to yourself?

I have them now, and I had to fight against those that tried to stop me.

Jealousy is an ugly bitch.

#9- You Will Need Some Money to Invest

You probably heard that doing affiliate marketing is free.

That’s wrong.

Affiliate marketing is not cheap. You need tools to be successful.

Note: I mention above you will need to invest in SEO tools if you want to become a successful affiliate marketer.

I recommend you get SEMrush.

SEMrush is an all-in-one SEO tool that does everything you’ll need when doing affiliate marketing.

SEMrush is an expensive tool, but luckily SEMrush’s free trial exists. You can also get SEMrush lifetime deal by taking advantage of their yearly pricing (learn about SEMrush pricing here). Finally, I got my SEMrush subscription using a SEMrush coupon from some other affiliate blogger.

You could too if you take advantage of my SEMrush coupon code.

Alternatively, you can install SEOquake on your Chome/Mozilla/Opera browser. SEOquake is a free SEO extension that’s powered by SEMrush and that can get you the initial data to take action on.

Besides SEMrush, the other two tools worth considering are Ahrefs and Ubersuggest.

Check out my SEMrush vs Ahrefs guide and also my SEMrush vs Ubersuggest guide next.

What Are Affiliate Marketing Pros (The Advantages of Owning an Affiliate Business)?


#1- Low Barrier to Entry and Low Investment

I said earlier that low barrier to entry is a bad thing because it creates a tonne of competition.

But it’s also a benefit because when you think about it, what other business model costs so little to get started, yet has virtually unlimited earnings potential?

Seriously if you know, let me know in the comment section, though It’ll be very hard to pry me away from affiliate marketing 😛

Note:

To start online you only need:

  • domain name
  • self-hosted WordPress

Note: Read my review of the Wealthy Affiliate program. With WA you can both buy a domain name and build an awesome WordPress site through their Siterubix platform. Plus you get a free keyword tool called Jaaxy (read my review)

#2- No Need For Warehouses


As an affiliate marketer, you’ll be the middle man between your merchant and your traffic. Thus you won’t have to deal with the merchandise and you won’t have to rent warehouses to store products or worry about your dock scheduling ROI.

So no “messy” work which is something I really enjoy.

My blog is my business, and affiliate marketing is so elegant, as I’m just helping people travel to where they want to go, whether it’s a Band of Brothers tour in Normandy or a safari in Kenya or anywhere else really.

And you could be doing the same 😉

#3- Blog Makes Money 24/7


The web never sleeps and neither does your affiliate blog.

This means that you can earn commissions all-day-long and all year-round.

So just as folks in Europe are getting ready to hit the sack, people in Japan are getting up, rested, and ready to hit Google and see what’s there to be found.

Make sure they find you.

#4-You Can Work From Anywhere


Yes, really.

When you’re working from your home, you don’t have an office and a dedicated work chair. You can work from anywhere as long as you have your laptop and a stable internet connection.

Now, just because you can work from anywhere it doesn’t mean you should.

For example it is very hard to work from the beach.

  • It’s hot;
  • It’s noisy;
  • and there are pretty girls everywhere.

In  situations such as those, actually being productive and getting s… t done becomes the hardest thing in the world.

Trust me, I know 😎

#5- Affiliate Marketing Can Be You Secondary Source of Income


Affiliate marketing takes a lot of time to turn into a business. and that’s the bad news . The good news is that you CAN do affiliate marketing on the side and not call it wasted effort.
Because online success is cumulative.

Every day that you do something you are getting yourself a step closer to the point where you’ll be able to quit your boring 9-5 job and focus full time on your online biz.

Bottom line

If you can’t dedicate yourself 100% don’t despair, or worse- give up.

Instead, turn affiliate marketing into your side hustle and then build-up slowly to the point where you can turn it into your main source of money coming into the house.

And the good news is that once you can dedicate yourself fully your traffic and income will explode like you won’t believe.

Because where your attention goes-it grows!

#6- Near Passive Income


I call affiliate marketing the closest thing to the elusive dream of passive income, because that’s what it is.

While it does take a while to get established, once you do and Google recognizes you as your niche’s authority, your site will make you sales automatically, because the work has already been done.

That is how successful marketers can travel the world and have fun, such as renting an RV in Denver and going on a road trip through the Rocky Mountains. It looks like they’re resting and enjoying life, but in reality they’re making money non-stop as their sites are ranking and banking. VisaFly takes care of their travel documentation, allowing them to seamlessly balance work and leisure

That is why it’s called “passive income“.

But it’s also “near-passive” because you still have to update WordPress, plugins, themes, affiliate links and maintain content so it’s fresh, factual and relevant.

In general, you need to give an excellent user experience to your visitors so they have reason to stay and visit again.

#7- Earning Potential is Unlimited


Another name for affiliate marketing is “performance-based marketing”. That is because you earn based on how you “perform”

This also means that your earning potential is unlimited.

You can make as much money as you want, but please don’t take this sentence literally.

Instead, be aware that you’re competing against other webmasters, so how much you make will depend on:

  • your skill and knowledge;
  • their skill and knowledge;
  • HOW BADLY you want it.

Comforting I know, but hard work conquers all and success with affiliate marketing is all you could wish for 😉

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Affiliate Marketing- A Mini FAQ


Here are some common questions people ask about affiliate marketing as a career path.

a) What’s the Biggest Advantage and Pro of Affiliate Marketing?

The biggest advantage is that affiliate marketing is an opportunity open to all and one that makes us all equal. You don’t have to be rich to be an affiliate marketer and you don’t have to be a genius to figure it out.

You do need to:

  • learn and do;
  • make mistakes and re-learn what you thought you knew
  • Keep repeating that process till success

And just to clarify as I know you’ll ask- success won’t come after ten long years. No, it will come in one year in the form of supplementary income from affiliate marketing, and it will arrive in two years as a full blown online business.

Can you hustle hard for two years?

I could, as I’d easily invest 5 years of my life, working every day for 12h, if it saves me from ever working for THE BOSS.

b) What’s the Biggest Disadvantage and Con of Affiliate Marketing?

The biggest disadvantage is that it’ll take time. Even if you’re already a pro and hold all of marketing in your little finger, it’ll still at least 6 months to see any earnings from your affiliate sales. That’s because it takes  time for Google to trust your new site. And without organic Google traffic, you can’t do much.

This is also a good thing about affiliate marketing model, because only those who are persistent and patient succeed, and the market is big enough for all of us.

Another big disadvantage of affiliate marketing is tough competition.

For example, recently I entered the gold IRA niche. I can tell you it’s very competitive. The gold and silver IRA niches are dominated by parasite SEO and affiliates looking for shortcuts.

There’s a way to beat them. First, you need to create excellent content.

Good examples are my Augusta Precious Metals review and my guide to the top silver IRA companies.

For example, by writing in detail about precious metals, silver IRAS, gold IRAs and IRAs in general you can build a lot of topical authority and rank and make money.

Augusta Precious Metals review and guide
Augusta Precious Metals review and guide

 

c) What are the Dominant Character Traits of Successful Affiliate Marketers?

Success in the online world is never an accident; but always the result of hard and smart work

Affiliate marketers that are killing it online are:

  • Visionary- they know what they want to achieve
  • Bold- They’d follow their dreams till the end of the Earth
  • Strategic- They know when to push forward and when to dig themselves in the trenches- But they don’t turn back and leave their goals unattained
  • Creative- They always find the way forward
  • Persistent- No matter how far the goal seems to be- they keep going
  • Organized- They learn to keep themselves and their business tidy. Because organization is key to scaling growth
  • They care- They understand the people they’re trying to reach and they genuinely want to help

Note: This list is given in no particular order. Try to become all of those things and above all- trust your gut!

d) My Affiliate Links Can Be Hijacked! Isn’t That a Con Too? And a Big One!

That will probably never happen. If it does, you deal with it and move on. No point in fussing over it.

Especially since if your links are hijacked that means you’re already making sales (as no one would hijack links on a dead site).

😀

Before We Conclude…

Ever heard of Wealthy Affiliate?

They’re a a training platform for newbie marketeers. The best in the business, they’ve been in the weeds for 14 years now and are the oldest service of it’s kind. They specialize in teaching newbies affiliate marketing.

I like to call them “The University” because that’s where I got my online marketing chops; those that’re helping me rank highly on Google and rake commission after commissions after commission.

But enough said, if you’re interested to learn more about them, click the link below and read my full review:

  • Wealthy Affiliate Review 2019- Pros, Cons and Complaints Explained!

Conclusion- Now That You Know the Good And the Bad of Affiliate Marketing…


You gonna try it?

Feel adventurous yet?

After all, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain if it really does turn out that writing about your hobby gives you pleasure and earning from your writing gives you joy.

And, like I said earlier, Wealthy Affiliate is free to join, so it really won’t cost you a dime to find out.

But I don’t want to try and convince you here as I know you need time to process things, and I want you to think hard before making any kind of a decision.

Affiliate marketing is not for everyone, and it might not be for you.

So, if yo’re curious go and read my Wealthy Affiliate review for more info.

But not before leaving me a comment,

below.

Thanks a bunch:)

Nikola Roza

Nikola Roza is a blogger behind Nikola Roza- SEO for the Poor and Determined. He writes for bloggers who don't have huge marketing budget but still want to succeed. Nikola is passionate about precious metals IRAs and how to invest in gold and silver for a safer financial future. Learn about Nikola here.

2 thoughts on “7 Pros and 7 Cons of Affiliate Marketing- the Good and Bad Explained”

  1. Hi Nikola,

    This is a very deep article on affiliate marketing. Very educative.

    Like any other business models, affiliate marketing has it’s own pros and cons too. But I believe the pros are far weight the cons and are something most people who want to earn money online should focus on.

    Good to know the cons too, so you understand and are aware of what you’re getting into. A lot of online marketers has made a fortune from affiliate marketing business and is something I’m trying to get my feet into at the moment.

    Though, I have been doing it for something, but haven’t really made significant income from it. A few thousand $$$ in the past 8 months or so.

    Thanks, Nikola, good read.

    Reply
    • Hi Shamsudeen,
      thanks for stopping by to comment.
      True, affiliate marketing seems like a dream of the job, but it has it’s fair share of flaws too.
      But like you said, pros outweigh the cons to a large degree, so it’s worth pursuing it.

      Reply

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