4 Affiliate Marketing Mistakes You Should Avoid

4 Affiliate Marketing Mistakes You Should Avoid


Perhaps the biggest affiliate marketing mistake people make is not promoting a product that actually makes sense for their audience. This often happens when someone takes an income-first approach rather than a serving-first one. You should look for solutions that can help your audience—whether there’s an affiliate opportunity there or not. If there happens to be one, great. That’s a bonus. If there isn’t, but you know the product could still be helpful to your audience, it’s your responsibility to share it with them.


Since my brand is focused on helping people build successful online businesses ethically, the products and services I promote are all things that support this focus: I recommend services that help people host their website (Bluehost), start an email list (ConvertKit), plan their editorial calendar (CoSchedule); audio and video gear to create great content; and books and courses, both mine and others, to help people learn and improve their skills.



As your brand grows and you start to build an audience, you’re going to get noticed. The affiliate marketing opportunities will start to trickle in, as companies see the traffic you’re getting and the trust people are putting in your brand.


These companies will also know you’re a human being who can potentially be swayed by a commission.


Sometimes, they’ll offer you payments for simply sending them leads, because it’s basically easy advertising for them. They know how much money they need to spend, and how many leads they need to collect, to convert a certain percentage of them to customers. Either way, as you grow, you’re going to notice an increased number of those kinds of inquiries—many from companies you’ve never even heard of before.


At the start of my online business journey, every couple months I’d get an offer from a different company saying, “Hey, we have this new product. We think your audience would really like it. Promote it to your audience and we’ll give you $75 for every person you send our way.”


I implore you, please: do not be persuaded by the dollar value of the commissions you’ll be offered.


Sometimes when a new company reaches out to me with an affiliate offer, I’ll look at the product and realize it’s obviously not a fit for my audience. In those cases, it’s easy to say, “No, thanks.” But when you’re just starting out, the promise of a commission can make it hard to see things clearly. You might think, “Wow, this opportunity is in front of me right now. Maybe I should say yes. What damage could it do?”


The damage it could do is potentially huge: the destruction of the trust you’ve worked hard to build with your audience.


That’s why my recommendation is to stay on the safe side by always offering and recommending products you’ve used before and understand, so you know exactly the kind of experience people will have with them. You should also get to know the company itself, and ideally have a personal relationship with someone in a leadership role there. That way, you can be certain that the company behind the product you’re promoting is one that will take care of your people.


So, realize you have a choice, and that it’s okay to say no. Opportunities will come your way, but your priority should be to protect your brand and your reputation. Choose wisely.




This next one is similar to #1, but it has more to do with how things can change after you start promoting what seems to be a great product that you know is a good fit for your audience.




When I recommend products, I’m always very honest about what the product can and can’t do. But I’ve been on the other end of this before—and not in a good way. I won’t name names or products, but let’s just say I’ve been recommended products that came with certain promises, promises that didn’t come to fruition. These were products that, shortly after I started using them, I realized they weren’t at all what I‘d expected.


When you’re promoting your affiliate products, you need to make sure you set the right expectations for your audience. Otherwise, what happens? You lose the trust of the person to whom you recommended that product.




This leads me to my final point related to the dark side of affiliate marketing. That is, you don’t want all of your income to come from affiliate marketing. Back when I started out—and this is still true today in some spaces—a lot people were doing affiliate marketing by running promotions, not through a brand they’d created or trust they’d earned from an audience, but by using copywriting, targeting, and advertising techniques to get people to click on affiliate links.


Focus on building your brand and serving an audience. When you make this your primary aim, you’ll find you have plenty of options to make money—with affiliate marketing being just one of those options.


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