How Not to Fail as an Affiliate Marketer – 11 Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Written By:
    Hanson Cheng
  • Published On:
    January 4th, 2022
  • Read Time:
    8 Mins
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Affiliate marketing spending is expected to reach a whopping $8.2 billion by the end of 2022.

Yet, many affiliate marketers are struggling to generate $10/month from their affiliate marketing business.

Could it be that affiliate marketers making more than enough for a comfortable living are unicorns?

Not at all.

They just found the right way to run their affiliate marketing businesses.

And they know the affiliate marketing mistakes to avoid. These are probably the same mistakes keeping you from getting your fair share of the $8.2 billion affiliate marketing pie. 


Sadly, most mistakes affiliate marketers make are too common in the industry. And both newbies and veterans find themselves losing business because they don’t realize these practices are the cause for their failures.

So, why do affiliate marketers fail?

Failing as an Affiliate Marketer? 11 Common Affiliate Marketing Mistakes You Must Avoid

You heard all the stories of affiliate marketers who were living the life. You even enrolled in a course run by a 6-figure affiliate marketer and thought you had it all figured out.

And yet, after jumping into the affiliate marketing fray, things don’t seem to be working out.

You feel like a failure and want to throw in the towel.

Don’t worry. You’re not the only one in that boat.

But before you throw in the towel, consider these 11 affiliate marketing mistakes. Perhaps you’ve been making some of them without realizing they were hurting your business. Correcting these mistakes could do a world of good for your business.

  1. Going in Without a Plan/Strategy

One of the biggest (and most common) mistakes many affiliate marketers make is jumping into affiliate marketing without a plan. Affiliate marketing is an extremely competitive industry. To make it, you must have a clear-cut strategy. A few factors to consider as you map out your strategy for affiliate marketing success include:

Niche and Product Selection

One of the first steps to developing a strategy that works is to pick a profitable niche. A few tips to help you do this include:

  • Conduct keyword research. Look for low competition niches that drive a lot of traffic.
  • Check the profitability. While it’s a noble idea to select a niche according to your hobbies and passions, it’s not exactly a good idea. Pick a niche in which the audience is willing to pay for solutions.
  • Compare PPC ad costs. A niche in which advertising costs and volume are low is an indicator of low appeal.

Once you’ve nailed your niche, you must also pick products that either move fast or offer recurring income. This way, you’ll be able to build a sustainable affiliate marketing business. The key to nailing your niche is to conduct extensive market research. Contrary to popular belief, you can’t profit from your passions alone.

Marketing Strategy

Another aspect you must clearly outline before you jump into affiliate marketing is how you will promote your products. Craft a marketing strategy that will not only make you noticeable, but that’s also sustainable. Especially if you’re just starting, you’ll want advertising methods and channels that give you a good return without investing too much money.

Affiliate Platforms and Networks You’ll Use

Before you jump onto the affiliate marketing bandwagon, research the platforms and networks you can leverage for affiliate marketing. 

Choosing the right affiliate management and payment processing platform is key to ensuring that your business succeeds.

Like all businesses, to succeed with affiliate marketing, you must have a solid plan. This will give you direction and the actionable steps you need to take to succeed.

  1. Failing to Build an Engaged Audience

Another mistake many affiliate marketers make is they don’t build an engaged audience. Instead, they pay more attention to product promotion.

Well, here’s the thing — to effectively promote your product, you need an engaged audience.

How do you build an engaged audience?

A few tips for doing this include:

Conduct Audience Research

Most affiliate marketers don’t conduct effective audience research. If anything, they just carry out casual research of their audience.

To build an engaged audience successfully, you must understand your audience’s demographic and psychographic data. Demographic data refers to the physical attributes that help define your target audience. Examples of this can include age, location, gender, occupation, etc. On the other hand, psychographics refers to data on your prospect’s psychological attributes. Examples can include aspirations, values, interests, and attitudes, among others. 

Knowing your audience will help you create content they interact with, resulting in you selling more of the products you’re promoting. Don’t worry. Audience research is easy if you have the right data collection tools.

Segment Your Email List

As an affiliate marketer, you probably know that the money’s in the list. But for that money to materialize, you must segment your email list. 

Never send out an email blast to all your contacts — that’s not how email marketing works

This is another reason audience research is essential. It will help you with segmentation. While segmenting your email list may be a lot of work, it pays off in that it enables you to create tailored content for each segment. It’s this level of personalization that drives engagement — and sales.

Create Interactive Content

One of the best ways to build an engaged audience is to create interactive content tailored to your audience. Examples of interactive content include:

  • Videos
  • Quizzes
  • Contests and giveaways
  • Surveys and polls

Besides driving up your engagement rates, interactive content also helps you better understand your audience. As a result, you can create content and design promotional strategies that are more personalized.

  1. Neglecting to Do Competitor Analysis

In business, competitors are not enemies. You should consider them as sherpas helping you climb the mountain to affiliate marketing success. 

And this is what many affiliate marketers fail to realize.

Studying your competitors is an excellent way of getting insight into:

  • Products that sell (and those that don’t)
  • Promotion techniques that work
  • Platforms and networks that are more profitable

Conducting competitor analysis is an excellent way of getting a feel of the market. It also helps you better position yourself for success.

  1. Skimping on Tools

With the competition being super stiff in the affiliate marketing industry, efficiency is key if you’re to succeed. And the only way to boost your efficiency is through the use of tools.

Sadly, that’s where many affiliate marketers make a mistake.


Never skimp when it comes to the tools of the trade. You must invest in affiliate marketing tools to reach, engage, and convert your audience successfully. From SEO to email marketing to payment processing software, you must build a tool stack that will help you to promote your affiliate products efficiently.

Don’t make the mistake of skimping on tools. They are a business investment that will eventually pay for themselves.  

  1. Not Investing Adequately in Content Marketing

Many affiliate marketers know that to promote their products, they need to create content. Unfortunately, many affiliate marketers don’t invest adequately in the content they create. They create weak content, fill it with links, and then expect it to drive sales.

It won’t.

For your content to succeed at doing the heavy lifting of driving traffic and generating sales, you must invest in quality content. If you create your own content, make sure you follow Google’s E.A.T guidelines. If you’re in the health, wellness, or fitness niches, you must also make sure to follow their YMYL quality guidelines. You can find Google’s quality guidelines for both E.A.T and YMYL here.

If you outsource your content creation, you must ensure you get experienced writers. They may cost more, but the quality of content will help you rank better and stand out from your competitors.  

  1. Ignoring SEO Best Practices

Another mistake affiliate marketers make is to ignore search engine optimization (SEO) best practices next to thin content. While your content is meant to provide value to your audience, it must also be discoverable on search engines.

One of the biggest SEO mistakes affiliate marketers make is in the realm of link building — they build the wrong type of links. Not all links are equal, and you must carefully choose the links you build to your website. 

Avoid buying spammy links as Google can tell the difference, and doing so could get you in trouble. 

Besides, if the websites linking back to you aren’t relevant to the audience you’re targeting, building those links won’t do you much good. That’s because raising your domain authority (DA) is only a small part of the purpose of building backlinks. The other part is to help drive traffic to your website. And for that to happen, you must build backlinks on websites that have a similar audience to the one you’re targeting.

Other SEO best practices many affiliate marketers neglect include (among others):

  • Slow-loading website. You can improve your site’s speed by using the right web hosting services and lightweight themes and visuals.
  • Poor navigation. Good web design is essential to ensuring navigat0ion between pages is super easy. 
  • No internal and external linking strategy. Internal and external links are essential to boosting your SEO. Make sure to build them strategically.

Ignoring your website’s SEO is like shooting yourself in the foot. After all, your website is your primary selling machine. You must invest in ensuring that it performs and ranks well if you’re to succeed as an affiliate marketer. 

  1. Promoting Too Many Products 

Sure, the more products you can sell, the more money you can make. But as an affiliate marketer, promoting too many products could do you more harm than good. The reason is simple. Promoting too many products leads to you becoming a generalist.

No one trusts generalists.

When people look for solutions, they want to get them from experts. That’s why, instead of focusing on too many products, niche down and specialize in related products. Doing so will help you establish yourself as an authority in your niche, resulting in your audience trusting you more than the competition.

Unfortunately, many affiliate marketers don’t do this. 

Promoting too many products makes it impossible for you to differentiate yourself. Worse still, it makes your website look too cluttered with the products you’re promoting. As a result, people drop off due to a poor user experience. 

  1. Not Paying Attention to Branding

Whether you’re just starting out or not, you must pay attention to your brand.  Branding goes beyond the visual aspects and appeal of your brand. It also encompasses the emotions your business evokes in your audience. It also involves the experience you offer your customers.

A few ways to nail branding as an affiliate marketer include:

  • Specializing in a specific product range
  • Invest in a well-designed website
  • Guest post on relevant sites

The purpose of building a brand is to gain your customers’ trust. Once you can earn your audience’s trust, promoting your products becomes much easier. 

Focus on your personal branding and your business’ branding to have a more significant impact as you promote your products.

  1. Doing Everything Yourself

One other reason affiliate marketers fail is they try to do everything themselves. To be honest, running an affiliate marketing business is pretty involving. From building relationships with your affiliate partners to creating content to managing your website and SEO, there’s always a thousand-and-one things to do.

That’s why you must learn to outsource some of those tasks.

To effectively grow your affiliate marketing business, you must learn to focus on what you’re good at and hiring other people to do what you’re not good at. This increases your efficiency, resulting in more sales. It also helps you easily scale your business.

Trying to do everything yourself will only result in an ineffective business due to weak strategies and poor promotional tactics. 

  1. Exaggerating Claims

As an entrepreneur, you want to do everything possible to make a sale. 

And that’s where many affiliate marketers fail.

In their bid to make a sale, they exaggerate the claims of their product. This is an unethical practice. More importantly, it will lead to your customers losing faith in you if your product fails to deliver on your claims. And all it takes to tank your business is a few negative reviews, and no one will ever want to buy from you.

Be honest about what your customers should expect from your product. 

  1. Neglecting to Build Relationships with Your Affiliate Managers

Most affiliate marketers neglect one crucial aspect of building their business — developing relationships with their affiliate managers. An affiliate manager is a person assigned to help affiliates make the best of the program they’re promoting. 

Neglecting to build a relationship with your affiliate manager will lead to you struggling to make it as an affiliate. However, developing meaningful relationships with your affiliate manager will benefit you greatly as they:

  • Can mentor you to success.
  • Help you negotiate better commissions.

Affiliate managers should be an essential part of your network. So don’t neglect to develop meaningful relationships with them.

Avoid These Affiliate Marketing Mistakes and Soar to Success

Success as an affiliate marketer takes a lot of work. It also takes strategic planning. And part of that planning involves knowing the pitfalls to avoid if you’re to succeed.

Armed with this list of affiliate marketing mistakes to avoid, you are better equipped to navigate the affiliate marketing waters successfully. So, don’t throw in the towel yet. Evaluate your processes and fix the mistakes you’ve been making.

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Hanson Cheng

Hanson Cheng is the founder of Freedom to Ascend. He empowers online entrepreneurs and business owners to 10x their businesses and become financially independent. You can connect with him here.

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