The 2 Biggest Problems With Affiliate Marketing
Is affiliate marketing a waste of time?
That’s a question i see all the time. I am sure you have seen it too. Another very popular question is “Can you really make money with affiliate marketing?”. I believe those two are probably the most frequently asked questions about affiliate marketing. The answer is, of course, you can make money with it.
Affiliate marketing is not only an excellent home business opportunity that doesn’t require a big investment to get started. It is also a business model that will keep growing in the next years. According to an article in Forbes, affiliate marketing is one of the biggest industries in the U.S. right now and is expected to grow to $6.8 billion in the next 4 years.
But unfortunately, the truth is that the majority of people who try affiliate marketing fail to earn anything substantial. They will either earn nothing or so little for so long it becomes frustrating for them to continue. In the end, the whole experience can be so bad people are becoming convinced that affiliate marketing doesn’t work. But that is just not true.
Affiliate marketing is definitely not easy. Especially if you are a beginner and you have never built a website before. But we all have to start from somewhere. There will be times it will feel like you are fighting a losing battle. And things can for sure get more confusing and complicated if you start listening every guru out there that is ready to tell you everything you want to hear. Or if you start following all the new “shining objects” that promise easy and quick results without much effort.
In my opinion affiliate marketing requires patience and determination. Those are two of the major characteristics every successful affiliate marketer has. Taking massive action is the only way to achieve your goals.
The Horrors Of Affiliate Marketing
No matter if you are a beginner or an experienced online marketer there will always be a number of problems you will have to overcome if you want to succeed as an affiliate marketer. Personally, i believe a lot of the problems you will face at the beginning are not actual problems. They are just part of the everyday routine of being an online marketer. Challenges is a better word to describe them but they are just part of the job. Things like “this WP plugin i installed on my site didn’t work the way i thought it would” or “my PPC campaign didn’t bring me back the results/sales i expected to do” or “working with affiliate program managers” and so on.
There will always be issues you will have to deal with. Like with any other business model. Things are constantly changing in online marketing so you must be flexible and able to update your marketing strategies at any given time. Even if you are not making any sales at the moment it could simply be because you are promoting the wrong products. But that in my opinion, is not that big of a problem. You can always try other programs and products.
But this post is not only about the problems you will face as an affiliate marketer. It’s also about the things you can do to deal with these issues. Things i have used before and worked for me. The tips i share here are based on my own personal experiences and struggles with affiliate marketing. They are not just some general ways that in theory could help you solve these hurdles. They helped me so they can definitely help you too. One of the best ways to avoid making mistakes is by learning from other people’s failures.
Below are the 2 main reasons people fail to make an income from their affiliate marketing business.
Without it, nothing else matters. If your site gets no visitors you obviously have no chance of making any money from it. If no one is visiting, no one will ever click on your affiliate links. You must somehow drive traffic to your website. Lack of traffic is the #1 reason people quit affiliate marketing. You spend hours upon hours trying to create a beautiful website, adding content to it and researching for the best products/services in your niche. But then you realize people don’t even know your site exists.
That can be so frustrating. It can be so demoralizing many new affiliate marketers will choose to quit and give up everything. I don’t think i am exaggerating if i say that lack of traffic is a real “killer”.
There are, of course, many types of traffic you can use like organic, paid, referral, social media etc. You should use all of them. Never rely on a single type of traffic. That’s a huge mistake. Your goal should be to attract as much traffic as you can from as many sources as you can. If you want to build a stable affiliate marketing business that will keep bringing you money for a long time in the future you should learn how to increase your traffic using all the available types of traffic.
A lot of marketers, for example, only focus on learning SEO and how to attract traffic from the search engines but we all know that Google upgrades its algorithms all the time. And all of a sudden your rankings could drop and a big part of your traffic could disappear. The same idea applies to those marketers (particularly beginners) who only use paid advertisement to drive traffic to their site believing is the only type of traffic worth using. But what usually happens is that the moment you stop paying for ads your traffic goes back to zero. If that is the case i am afraid you can’t say you have an online business.
There is also the myth that you need a lot of traffic in order to make money with affiliate marketing. That is not true. I am not saying that you shouldn’t try to attract as many visitors as you can. But you don’t need generic traffic to earn revenue online.
What you need is targeted traffic in your specific niche. People who are already interested in the topic you are covering on your website. In other words, you need to get the right kind of people visiting and not random people landing on your site. Generic traffic doesn’t convert well. The majority of them will just click away without even reading your content. But with a small amount of daily well-targeted traffic you could be making sales on a consistent basis. So, you don’t need thousands of visitors to build a profitable affiliate marketing business. You just need the right kind of traffic.
Attracting traffic might not be a problem for you. But for some reason, you still can’t make a sale. That is actually a very common issue affiliate marketers face. And not just beginners but even experienced marketers struggle with low conversion rates.
“Why can’t i make any money even though i get a couple of thousands of visitors to my site every month?”
That’s a question bloggers and marketers often ask. I am afraid there is not an easy answer to that question. It depends on so many factors and the reasons always differ from one site to another. Turning your visitors into customers is not the simplest thing to do but there are certainly a number of things you can do to improve your conversion rate. What you really need if you want to improve your website’s conversion rate is to create an effective sales funnel (also known as a sales process or revenue funnel).
A sales funnel may sound like a complicated marketing technique but it really isn’t. It is just the process or a series of steps designed to turn your visitors into customers. Every single one of your visitors is a potential customer and your sales funnel will guide them toward the action you want them to do. An important thing to remember is that you can’t just copy someone else’s sales funnel. You can definitely look at other successful websites for ideas and examine how their funnel works. But eventually, you need to create a sales funnel that makes you feel comfortable working with it and can satisfy your target market needs, wants and expectations.
Of course the more you learn about sales funnels the more complicated they can get. You can add as many steps as you want to lead your prospects to different actions and turn them into loyal customers that will buy again and again from you. But you don’t need to know all that right from the start in order to create your own sales funnel. You should start with the basic steps and as you gain more experience as a marketer you can apply more advanced strategies and techniques.
But you also have to pay attention to the “little” things on your site. Because they can negatively affect your conversion rate. Usually, people spend so much time and energy working on the important parts of their business like creating and promoting their content. Βut they totally forget to stop for a minute and look their website from the eyes of their audience. Things like your theme, site speed, the structure of your website, the number of widgets and ads displayed on your sidebar can be responsible for your low conversion rate. Even the size of the images on your blog posts can decrease your conversions. If the images are too big your readers will have to scroll down again and again to read your content. But unfortunately, a lot of people don’t want to do that. Instead, they would choose to leave. And if for example your CTA (call to action) is at the end of your post/page that small detail just cost you some customers.
You should always try to improve UX (User Experience). Make your site as easy to navigate as you can. Keep it simple and clean. If you want to increase conversions you must make it easy for people to quickly find the information they are looking for. Of course, trying to satisfy everyone is a dead-end strategy. You will never be able to create the perfect experience for all your visitors. But that shouldn’t be your objective. Your objective should be to create a website that suits you and fulfills your audience needs. But that itself is not enough. You should be willing to try new things, analyze your existing marketing strategy, identify the potential “leaks” in your sales funnel and adapt to new developments.
What about niche selection?
The reason why i didn’t include niche selection on the list is that it happens a lot more than you probably think. Every successful affiliate marketer has made the mistake of choosing the wrong niche at some point in their career. No one knows everything right from the start. You might choose a niche that looks promising and has great potentials but after the first 2-3 months, you realize you have lost interest. That’s because you weren’t passionate about that niche in the first place. You must always choose something that excites you otherwise you will quickly run out of ideas and things to write.
In a way, niche selection is a mistake you can’t avoid because it requires experience and a deep understanding of how online marketing really works. But if you want to learn how to pick the right niche at the right time you must accept there is a big chance you might fail a few times at first.
Choosing the right niche and creating a successful affiliate business on your first attempt is not that common. It is actually the exception to the rule. But you can always start over. I know it’s frustrating but you shouldn’t let your first attempt to be your last. The key is not to give up but to keep trying until you make it happen. We all make mistakes but that’s the best way to learn. That’s why i believe niche selection is not a major problem. Failure and business go together.
What’s The Solution?
Quality content. I know you’ve heard that a million times before but it is true. There are no easy solutions or secret formulas. When it comes to affiliate marketing content is THE most important thing. It is the core of every successful affiliate marketing business. Publishing high-quality content on a regular basis or as often as you can should be your number 1 priority. It is the best if and probably the only way to solve not only the 2 major problems mentioned above but also most of the problems you will face. Of course, it is equally important to create an effective content promotion strategy. You shouldn’t just wait for people to discover your great content. The idea “i built it they will come” rarely (if not never) works in business. You must approach your target audience and introduce them to your content.
There are many reasons why you should focus on creating valuable content for your readers and why it is the best method to follow if you want to succeed in affiliate marketing. It’s not just because it can help you increase your traffic, engagement, attract the right audience and improve your conversion rate. Most importantly is because without it none of the other marketing methods can produce any good results. Techniques like paid advertisement, email marketing etc, will never produce the great results you are hoping for if the quality of your content is poor. Content is the foundation upon which you will build your affiliate marketing business.
It is also free. Content doesn’t have to cost you anything. If you are dead broke this is probably your best and only option. The only thing you have to invest is time and energy. Your time is valuable no question about it. But it’s also completely up to you to make it work.
The only “problem” with this solution though is that it takes time. Creating quality content is not a fast or easy. But if you want to build a business that will keep making money in the future and you are not only interested in short-term results investing in content marketing is the best thing you could do. You shouldn’t expect to see any results in the first 4-5 months because that is way too soon. Content marketing takes time. The answer to the question “How long does it take to work?” is a lot. You should give your self at least a year.
That may sound like a lot of time where you basically have to work for nothing but it really isn’t. Content marketing will pull in customers for a lifetime. After all, we are talking about building a business from scratch. Think about it in a different way. What is a year or even 18 months if you can create an extra source of income for yourself. Income you don’t have right now. You probably spent 4-5 years of your life trying to get a college/university degree. And all that in an effort to earn more money in the future. So, if you see things from that perspective a year is really not that long of a time.
But what if writing is not for me?
Just the idea of constantly having to write new interesting content sounds like a nightmare for many people. And that reason alone is more than enough for many beginners to give up affiliate marketing before they even start.
Fear not. Content is not just text. If your writing skills are not that good it doesn’t mean you you should forget about affiliate marketing. There is no reason to restrict or force yourself to do something you are not feeling comfortable with. That is not a good strategy anyway. Your audience will notice that you are struggling with it and they will not visit your site again.
There are several types of content you could use. Videos, infographics, charts & graphs, podcasts, webinars, SlideShare presentations, animated GIFs, screenshots are just some of the types of content you could use instead. That way text could be used to supplement your main content and not as your primary content.
Video marketing, for example, is huge right now. You don’t need to be a great writer to produce high-quality content that converts visitors into customers. Another example is infographics. They have a much higher chance to go viral compared to content that is just text. Sure it’s not that easy to design an awesome infographic. You might have to hire a freelancer to do it for you. But think about all the potential customers that it could bring you. So, from that point of view is an investment worth doing.
There are definitely many options available and at no point, you have to limit yourself to using only one. In my opinion, the best way is to incorporate many types of content into your affiliate marketing strategy. Different forms of content can attract a different kind of users. Some people are more visual than others. While others prefer to read well-researched and thorough blog posts. A good combination of different content types can drive you a lot more traffic. Visitors that you would have missed if you only focused on a single type of content.
Affiliate marketing is something you can do while you are still working. You don’t have to quit your day job. Your affiliate marketing business could be your side project you work in your free time. You will face problems every now and then but that shouldn’t scare you. Challenges are just opportunities in disguise. You deal with them and keep moving forward. Never compare yourself to others because that will slow you down. Finally, i would like to add one last thing. Affiliate marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. But you will get there. It just takes a while.
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