Affiliate marketing is an industry that’s continually growing, but as with any other thriving industry, plenty of myths about how to be successful within it remain widespread. In this blog post, I’m going to outline 12 affiliate marketing myths that you need to stop believing right now in order to approach affiliate marketing the right way.
Affiliate marketing is one of the most profitable online industries that you can get into and is one of the most favored by entrepreneurs who want to start an online business.
Because affiliate marketing is so popular, and because more and more people are becoming affiliate marketers, numerous blog posts and articles about it circulate the internet. The problem is that not everyone who has written about affiliate marketing is knowledgeable and credible enough to give advice.
If you’re a newcomer to the industry, it can be difficult to tell what advice is based on truth and what advice is based on false information. Worse, there are some affiliate marketers who post misleading information on purpose to sabotage potential competition.
“Everybody’s doing it, so it must be easy!”
You couldn’t be more wrong.
Affiliate marketing is more than just dropping affiliate links into posts or articles and sharing them on social media platforms. The real challenge is convincing your audience to click on those links and follow through with an actual purchase.
This means investing time and effort to learn about keyword research, SEO, compelling content creation, email marketing, social media marketing, and other ways to alert potential buyers about what you’re offering. Your goal is to convince people that they need whatever is on the other end of that link. If you plan to pursue affiliate marketing long term, you’ll need to do this day in and day out as well as stay on top of the industry trends to keep pace with your competitors.
Fact: It takes time, effort, and resources to maintain a thriving affiliate marketing business.
Automation is a nifty tool. It helps to save time and removes the tedium from boring and annoying everyday tasks.
Automation allows you to create email campaigns pitching affiliated products to your subscribers. It allows you to compose and schedule social media posts in advance to be shared at predetermined times.
But you can’t automate everything. Critical aspects of affiliate marketing, such as creating high-quality content, engaging with followers, and building relationships with your readers can never be automated. Distancing yourself from your own business makes it difficult for your visitors to connect with and trust you.
Use automation to your benefit and automate tasks that don’t require a human element to free up time for tasks that need your personal touch.
Fact: A fully automated affiliate marketing business destroys engagement and trust.
Affiliate marketing is a growing industry and there’s bound to be other online entrepreneurs who want in on the action. As such, there’s an assumption that a high level of competition is too much to overcome and that it makes earning a profit extremely difficult.
But competition actually means that there’s plenty of money to be made in the industry. You can either niche down to decrease the number of direct competitors or squeeze out the competition by positioning yourself to be the best affiliate marketer.
Fact: Competition in affiliate marketing means there is plenty of potential income to be earned.
Considering Google continues to periodically change their algorithms, it’s understandable to want to get in their good graces so that your content is prominently displayed in their search engine results pages.
Affiliate links are technically considered paid links and adding them to your website carries the risk of your website being determined to be in violation of Google’s link scheme policies, resulting in your website being penalized.
However, there are easy and ethical ways to mitigate this risk. You can take the first steps at preventing affiliate links from being crawled by search engine bots by adding a rel=”nofollow” attribute to the <a> html tag of your affiliate link.
Another measure you can take is to cloak affiliate links using plugins like Pretty Links and ThirstyAffiliates so that search engine bots don’t flag them as paid links.
This discussion can turn technical, so I suggest reading the following article from Yoast titled How to Cloak Your Affiliate Links.
Sure, some affiliates can strike it rich a few different times. They may happen to stumble upon the right keywords, the right traffic sources, or the right affiliate products. From an outsider’s perspective, it can all seem like dumb luck.
But what may seem like luck to you is actually dedication, skill, and knowing the right time to strike.
What makes an affiliate marketer successful is how hard they work to perfect their craft. Attributing their success to luck downplays all of that effort and dedication. Success in affiliate marketing involves constant research, testing, and tweaking. It requires the continuous optimization of marketing and promotional techniques.
(Okay – and maybe a tad bit of luck…)
The one unwavering truth about affiliate marketing is that nothing is guaranteed. You make your own luck in this business, and the more time and effort you invest, the more lucky breaks you’re going to get.
Fact: In affiliate marketing, hard work and skill always trumps luck.
Affiliate marketing beginners usually prioritize directing traffic to their website. While that’s not necessarily the wrong approach, it’s important to remember that the quality of traffic is more important than the quantity.
By the time visitors reach your website, their interest may change and wane. Visitors only convert (make a purchase) when they’re convinced that what you have to offer is worth their time.
When customer research is done exceptionally well, the traffic that you attract to your website becomes targeted traffic, which means that those visitors have a higher probability of converting than random traffic that stumbles across your site. The bottom line is that a high volume of traffic has no value if it doesn’t convert.
Fact: Not all traffic is created equal (traffic that converts = profit).
Aside from content marketing, you’re also probably utilizing social media to promote your affiliate links because the more you post and share on social media, the bigger your chances are at growing your popularity, right?
You might think popularity alone is enough to persuade followers to make a purchase, but it doesn’t work that way. Most customers are smart enough to know that the quality of the product you’re promoting is more important than the popularity of the person endorsing it.
Social media isn’t a complete waste of time, though. You can still leverage your popularity to strengthen relationships with your social media followers and build credibility. The more credibility you build, the more your followers will trust what you promote.
Fact: Social media fame doesn’t automatically mean affiliate marketing success.
The phrase “affiliate marketing” may be intimidating to non-marketers or beginners with no experience in this industry. Some people assume that a business degree is required to be a legitimate affiliate marketer.
Affiliate marketing is an industry where hard work and persistence are more important than a degree. The most successful affiliate marketers are willing to continually learn, evaluate, tweak, and apply the most up-to-date affiliate marketing strategies so that they’re always geared for success.
While a business degree can provide an advantage, it isn’t strictly necessary. All the education you need to learn how to be a successful affiliate marketer is available online. What will set you apart from everyone else attempting to make it in this industry is the willingness to apply what you learn, over and over again.
Fact: Anyone who is willing to learn, be persistent, and stay motivated to succeed can become an affiliate marketer, no matter their educational qualifications.
A lot of people are under the impression that an affiliate marketer also needs to be a programmer or have mad technical skills to be successful.
This may have been true a decade ago, but nowadays even a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS will help a beginner navigate website and landing page creation, and even email marketing.
While technical skills aren’t necessarily required to become an affiliate marketer, a decent understanding of analytics software is extremely helpful. Analytics software helps you interpret affiliate link tracking data so you can keep track of who’s clicking what, where they are clicking from, and how many clicks turn into actual purchases.
If you consider yourself to be “tech challenged” and are terrible with number crunching and data analysis, you can outsource tasks that need more extensive coding than you currently know. Outsourcing is a great option if you need to tweak more complicated settings on your tracking software or if you want to make sure that you’re not making mistakes with the basic maintenance of your website. This, of course, requires financial resources. Fortunately, there are plenty of freelancers on platforms like Upwork from around the world that make outsourcing an affordable option.
Fact: Basic internet knowledge and skills are enough to become an affiliate marketer.
Some affiliate marketers restrict themselves to their home country or only promote local products to local website visitors and social media followers. Their rationale is that market research is easier when limited to local businesses and that you can learn more about the competition and anticipate your visitors’ behavior more accurately when you target your home country.
However, affiliate marketing is mostly an internet-based activity, which means it’s an endeavor that caters to anyone around the world. You should be able to promote an affiliate product in any country that shows a clear demand for what you have to offer (provided you don’t violate any terms and conditions of the affiliate programs you’re enrolled in).
Another misconception is that the only successful affiliate marketers are the ones who live in high-income countries (e.g., the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, etc.) or target high-income audiences.
While it might be true that promoting products to an audience with more disposable income carries greater monetization potential, there’s no legitimate reason to ignore lower-income audiences or countries. As long as the products you pitch are valuable to your audience and solve pertinent problems, people will buy what you’re selling.
Fact: You can make affiliate marketing work regardless of the country you live in.
Unscrupulous so-called “gurus” push affiliate marketing courses, or “blueprints,” that cost thousands of dollars and make inexperienced rookies believe their courses are the only way to be successful in affiliate marketing. This is how newbie affiliate marketers come to believe that they need thousands of dollars before they even begin.
In reality, these scammy programs don’t offer anything that you can’t learn elsewhere on the internet for free. Be careful when being offered something that sounds too good to be true — it probably is.
I assure you that there are plenty of free online courses on affiliate marketing available on the internet. Use Google to research and study entrepreneur forums, and social media to find free lessons or courses. Social media is a good resource to study various marketing and promotional strategies that market products and services to a target audience.
The only investment you absolutely need to plan for is the money to buy a domain name and hosting service. This is the minimum amount of investment that you should be able to pour into your business.
Once you have a website, start creating content and searching for affiliate programs and networks to join. There are plenty of free tools available to help you create high-quality content, as well as sell and promote affiliate products (you just have to know where to look).
As your affiliate marketing business grows, you can gradually upgrade to using paid marketing tools that can provide better results and save time while helping you grow your business even further.
Fact: All you need to start affiliate marketing are a computer, an internet connection, and just enough money to build a website.
This myth is the most damaging to the reputation of affiliate marketing as a legitimate industry. Fledgling affiliates enter the industry with unreasonable expectations as to how soon and how much money they will begin to earn. And when these expectations aren’t met, they completely give up on affiliate marketing and call it a scam.
The truth is that affiliate marketing is time-consuming and labor-intensive. There are no shortcuts to earning a 5-digit monthly income in this industry. Think of your business as a plant that needs sun, water, soil, and nutrients to grow. Even then it takes time to see the fruits of your labor.
Considering all you need to accomplish (selecting the right affiliate programs, creating high-quality content, promoting affiliate links, building solid relationships with your audience), you can’t reasonably expect success to happen overnight. It’s going to take at least a few months to a year to start earning even a small yet consistent income from affiliate marketing.
Some affiliate marketers create a solid foundation for themselves from the get-go. They choose the right niche and products, attract decent traffic, use social media or email marketing techniques that work, and build healthy relationships with their audience. These are the marketers who earn an income within the first few months.
Others, who rush the process and seek shortcuts, aren’t so lucky. They make mistakes and fail. They either correct their mistakes and go on to earn an income from their business or have to abandon it and start from scratch. Again, it takes time and persistence to build a new website and start over. The bottom line is that there’s nothing “quick” about earning income from affiliate marketing.
Fact: Earning a living from affiliate marketing takes time, hard work, and commitment.
Done right, affiliate marketing can provide you with a steady or full-time income. Sure, there are several affiliate marketing myths that either discourage rookies or sabotage otherwise successful affiliate marketers. Even as these myths endure (because they aren’t going anywhere), I hope that raising awareness about them helps to keep them from spreading.
Once again, here are the twelve affiliate marketing myths that can derail your success:
Now, these are the affiliate marketing tips and tricks you need to keep in mind instead:
Did you believe any of these myths before reading this article? Are there any myths I might have missed? Sound off in the comments!
I've been in internet marketing for over 10 years, and I've purchased dozens of illegitimate products for the sole purpose of evaluating them and exposing the truth about these products to anyone who's thinking about purchasing it. I never let money influence my rating of a product and your success/safety is my absolute highest priority. Don't want to buy a product? Register for one of my 100% free internet marketing training courses>>