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Affiliate Marketing Internet Marketing Make Money Online

Top 10 Affiliate Marketing Mistakes


A lot of my subscribers have asked me recently on how to get started in the world of affiliate marketing. This business model is one of the best ways to get started making money online as you can leverage someone else’s product or service. Before we dive into the top 10 affiliate marketing mistakes let’s first cover some background on what affiliate marketing is:

Background on Affiliate Marketing

Although affiliate marketing is a relatively new term, the idea has been around as long as advertising. It is really a combination of referral marketing and advertising. For advertising think of paid reviews, you read in the newspapers, endorsements you hear on the radio and commercials you see on T.V. Affiliate marketing is based on the same practices as advertising, but it is a pay per performance model. Basically, of instead of being paid for the eyeballs or the ears (in the case of the radio) affiliate marketers get paid when those eyeballs and ears convert into a sale.

There is a mix of referral marketing as the affiliate marketer serves as a bridge of trusted advocacy between the vendor and the potential customer. The audience knows, likes, and trusts the recommendations of the affiliate marketer and as a result the product vendor receives a nice flow of traffic of targeted potential buyers. This is a win-win for both the affiliate as well as the vendor.

That pretty much covers a high-level background so please allow me to present the top 10 affiliate marketing mistakes

Mistake 1 Misplaced Mindset

In the early stages of trying to make money on the internet people they seem to think that they can make millions of dollars overnight. Their hopes quickly dissolve after they post a couple of blog articles or publish a couple of reviews. They don’t get any traffic, let alone sales.

The problem with their mindset is not their fault and I don’t blame them. They fell victim to all the hype from the sales pages they visited that claimed they can be an overnight success by promoting their offer as an affiliate. It takes a long time to make the first million in any business or profession and making money online is no different.

The best way to overcome this mistake is knowing what it takes and the time frame to succeed. Focusing on the long-term vision and reverse engineering how to get there will help keep you on track.

Mistake 2 Multi-Niche Syndrome

While choosing the wrong niche can be a mistake, choosing many niches to start takes the cake. While it is possible to become an expert in different areas it takes time and focus. Here’s one thing to keep in mind. All niche authorities are experts but not all experts are niche authorities.

In order to be an authority in your niche you need to have credibility. Unless the niches coincide like Health & Fitness you will lose credibility with your audience. They won’t be interested in what you have to say about the other niche and they will move on to someone who solely focuses on their particular niche.

Granted you may be thinking, I’ll just build up two separate audiences. Ironically the math doesn’t work here. If you spend 2 years spending 50% of your time on niche 1 and the other 50% on niche 2 you will have less traction than if you spend 100% of your time on niche 1 in the first year and 100% of your time on niche 2 in the second year.

You are welcome to try to prove me wrong or you can just take my word for it.

Mistake 3 Promotional tunnel vision

On the surface it may look like affiliate marketing is just writing reviews, promotional articles, email marketing and social media marketing. If you look closer at successful affiliate marketers you will see them using many different communication mediums for their content. This ranges from reviews to info graphics, to Facebook lives to persicopes to YouTube videos.

Mistake 4 Lack of value

People love to buy but they hate to be sold. To build a successful following you need to provide value beyond product recommendations. People will not trust or pay attention to you when you simply list a benefit with your link to the sales page.

I see this mistake made many times on twitter. I notice someone’s profile and when click in to their tweet history I see product promotion after promotion and nothing else. I know people say if it’s not broke don’t fix it, however if it’s broke you should definitely fix it.

To counter act this mistake find ways to add value to your niche. My post on how to add value covers a simple 7 step formula that you can use add value for any niche.

Mistake 5 Endless sales funnels

This mistake is interesting as some will disagree. I understand the temptation to strike while the iron is hot when people have their wallet open. While this may increase your short-term earnings, if not done correctly it can destroy your long term success.

Please do not misinterpret what I’m saying. I’m NOT saying you shouldn’t offer upsells. You absolutely should have at least one upsell as this will increase your earnings. What I AM saying is to carefully consider what you offer for your upsells. There isn’t a strict number you should adhere too. As long as each upsell compliments the original product feel free to offer them.

The mistake occurs when upsells are presented that have absolutely nothing to do with the original product. When this happens buyer’s fatigue sets in and instead of having a list of engaged buyers you will have a list of hesitant buyers that only remember all the upsells and down sells they have to click through to get to their purchase.

In fact, I remember one-time Barry & I purchased a product that had 15 following offers. Although we started to get frustrated we made a game out of the never-ending sales funnel. The vendor we bought that product from quickly went on the list of people never to buy from again.

Mistake 6 Mediocre in many social media platforms versus mastering 1-2

There are a lot of social media platforms out there and there will be more coming out in the future. Each social media platform should be treated differently. You don’t have to share different content in each platform, but how you share the content varies in each platform. For example, using hashtags in your Instagram and Twitter posts is a great way expand your reach, but using hashtags on Linkedin will diminish your reach as it will annoy your followers.

Instead of trying to be on every available platform, pick 1 or 2 platforms and master them. As you establish your dominance then start branching out to the other platforms. Following this method will save you a lot of frustration down the road. Also, as you branch out to a new platform you can quickly boost your presence on the new platform by asking your existing followers to follow you. For example, send out a couple of tweets asking your followers to check out your Instagram post.

Mistake 7 Lack of research

There is an old saying. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. While I think this was said about health, it is applicable to counter acting this mistake. Before you dive in heads first, take a little time to learn about the niche. This goes beyond just understanding the niche avatar, which is important. This applies to what products are being offered, what vendors are offering them, and who is promoting the offers.

One thing you don’t want to experience is developing a product only to find out that it already exists. If you put in the time to research and get to know the market, it will be apparent that you are knowledgeable. This will accelerate your path to becoming a niche authority.

Mistake 8 Not being selective on your offers

Just because you can offer something does not mean that you should offer it. As an affiliate you will have plenty of products or services to promote. Some people make the mistake of promoting the first product they come across.

If someone takes action on your promotion and the product turns out to be horrible do you think they will trust your recommendation in the future?

Maybe they will give a second chance, but the best way to counter act this is to not let it happen. Only promote products or services that your niche will find useful and that you have personally used. I’m not saying you have to buy every product that you want to promote, but that is a good idea. A lot of vendors will provide review copies to affiliates. So make sure to ask for a review copy and if they won’t provide it, then you can consider purchasing it or moving on to another product that offers a review copy.

The way I look at it. If you make 50% commission on a product then it only takes 2 sales to break even. In some cases vendors offer 100% commission which means that it will only take 1 sale to break even. The morale of the story here is to promote products with integrity. If you can’t stand behind the product or service, then you have no business promoting it.

Mistake 9 Spreading yourself too thin on offers

This may sound similar to the previous mistake but its different. Always go for quality over quantity. You will experience much more success properly promoting one offer then half-way promoting multiple offers. Successfully promoting a product is more than just sending out a promotional email to your list. While that is part of it, you need to put together a solid strategy for each product you are promoting.

Here’s some things that should be on your check-list

  1. Review article on your blog
  2. Video review on YouTube
  3. Facebook live or periscope review (you can use this recording to serve as your video review)
  4. Social media promotion
  5. Email campaign (typically a 3-5 email series)

You don’t have to promote a different product every day, in fact if you just started focusing on doing 1-2 quality promotions each month you will start to see results. As you grow your following your sales will also increase. Of course, you could also start promoting higher ticket items to increase your commission as well.

Mistake 10 Not Building a list

I saved the best for last. I can not stress this one enough. Email marketing is not the end all be all, but it does enhance and complement all your other efforts. One of the very first things you should do is take the steps to build your list. All you need is an autoresponder, opt-in page, and a compelling free offer that people will gladly exchange their name and email for. As your list grows you will find that your sales will also grow.

The funny thing is the only people that will disagree with me on this mistake will be the people that don’t have an email list. So there you have the top 10 affiliate marketing mistakes. What do you think Mistake number 11 is or other mistakes you have noticed? Drop a comment. I read and reply to all comments.

Speaking of list building:

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10 Comments

  1. Rick Belden

    I have to tell you right up front that I have saved this page to my favorites and I took the time to read all of it.

    You laid out point after point that I have been concerned with or have made mistakes with. I am really new to online marketing, like about 2 months old, and there is just so much information to process.

    Your advice is crucial and greatly appreciated.

    • Dan Shea

      Hey Rick,

      Glad you found value. You should consider joining our community where we email out tips every 3 days. You can check it out here

  2. Rox Roxx

    i love the part where you talk about mistakes on too many social media marketing platforms. I believe that it is better to excel really good at one then to have all just for the sake of it. Thank you for this post as a lot of people go into affiliate marketing and are drawn in by the hype of “lots of money earned passively” This puts thinks into perspective!

    • Dan Shea

      Hey Rox,

      Glad this helped put things in perspective.

  3. Hfaisirr

    This is an amazing article. Thank you so much for enlightening me. Especially the Multi-Niche Syndrome. I think its best to focus on one at a time. Thank you so much!!!

    • Dan Shea

      entirely my pleasure

  4. Tabsmark

    What excellent advice. I really needed this post. I was considering starting a new niche. But can see the value of sticking with the one niche website I have and giving it 100% focus. And I will definitely start building my list. Thanks a ton!

    • Dan Shea

      Thank you! Glad this helped. List building is critical!

  5. Vince Ma

    Great post Dan. I couldn’t have said it better.

    The glitz and glam of affiliate marketing is turned once you realize that all the promises of false advertising and get rich quick scheme are a waste of time. So your Research comments are super important. Know who to trust and read their content and there audience commentary. You’ll know if they’re legit once you do this.

    One last thing I’d like to add it that Affiliate marketing should be looked at like a long term business. Make a 5 year plan and watch your business grow. Once your established, your content is there forever and hopefully returning on income if done right.

    • Dan Shea

      Great point to add Vin. Affiliate marketing is definitely a long term business.

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