The 2 Biggest Problems With Affiliate Marketing

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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.

how to become a successful affiliate marketer

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.

1) Traffic

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.

lack of traffic and affiliate marketing

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.

2) Conversions

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).

eCommerce sales funnel
Designed by Freepik
Infographic vector created by Freepik

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.

how to Increase your conversion rate

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.

Affiliate marketing solutions

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.

Content is the key to succeed in affiliate marketing

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. 

How to solve the biggest problems in affiliate marketing

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.

Conclusion

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.


Do you want to learn more about affiliate marketing? It’s okay to ask for help. If you are blogger interested in affiliate marketing or if you are just looking to create an online business click the button below. Take a look at my #1 recommendation. The first 10 lessons are for free. 
Start your online business at Wealthy Affiliate


If you liked this post please consider sharing it with your social media followers. You are of course, more than welcome to leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us. 


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24 Responses

  1. This is an awesome article, full of useful advice that I will actually use. I think it’s not just for affiliate marketers, either – there are some great nuggets of information for anyone who runs an online business.

    I took the liberty of scheduling a share to facebook.com/BusinessResilience101/ on 28th November because this is ‘good content’ 🙂

  2. Venkata Krishna Randa says:

    Nice article..you explained it very well. i found new things in this article..

  3. I agree with everything you said in this post. There is such a learning curve to blogging! It helps if you have a background in media and marketing or journalism, even then you can easily make mistakes. I’m 2-2/2 years into my blogging venture, and I am amazed looking back at all I have learned so far. Keep sharing the useful info, thanks!

  4. Ben Kuriger says:

    Sales funnels have always been my nemesis when it comes to affiliate marketing. I have tried to learn about them before but I can’t seem to grasp the appeal. To redirect the customer to three different landing pages before finally making them an offer sounds tedious to me.

    Alas, it works and has been proven by affiliate marketers anywhere and everywhere. If you have any insight on how to get started building funnels I would love to listen. Thank you so much!

    • Nikos says:

      Hello Ben,

      Building a sales funnel for your website doesn’t have to be difficult. Take a look at the following webinar. It will definitely clear things out for help. You can also take a look at the following training.

      Thank you for your comment. 

      Nikos 

  5. Owillz says:

    No. You are definitely not exaggerating y saying lack of traffic kills. It’s the major reason for every website that succeeds or fails and not even conversion. Without traffic there can’t be conversions. I mean it’s the traffic that comes to your website that you push through your sales funnel to produce conversion at the end. Traffic is the key thing and a good quality and well optimized content will pull organic traffic slowly but surely. 

  6. Marios Tofarides says:

    Hey there Niko,

    It’s good to find another fellow greek blogger online 🙂 This is a great post. I create and promote content, but my traffic is really stuck at the same levels for more than a year. I use many ways to promote my content, including social media, Medium posts and other methods, but I really can’t get the traffic to increase. I’m not sure If I picked the wrong niche since Google Trends shows constant demand for the specific niche. What would you suggest for me?

    Regards,

    Marios

    • Nikos says:

      Hello Marios,

      Attracting quality traffic is what every blogger and affiliate wants. But it does take some time.  There are no magic solutions. What matters is the quality of your content and creating a good and effective strategy to promote your content. 

      Take a look at the following post.  Here you will find a list of the best ways to increase your traffic. 

      Thank you for your comment,

      Nikos

  7. RoDarrick says:

    Thanks so much for this post. Its exactly the problem I have with affiliate marketing. Its confusing honestly when some would tell you to generate traffic from a paid source and others claiming generic traffic on search engines are the best. I don’t even know what to do right now because it all seems overwhelming. Creating quality content is not a problem for me until I create them and do not get recognised for it nor get traffics as claimed by my uplines. I really do learnt a lot from this post

    • Nikos says:

      Hello RoDarrick,

      First of all, thank you for your comment. I really appreciate it taking the time to read my post and leave a comment. You have already done the first and most important step. Creating quality content. 

      Attracting quality traffic from the search engines with the help of a good SEO strategy does take some time but it’s worth waiting. For me the best strategy is to use a combination of different traffic methods (like social media, a PPC campaign, SEO, etc). You don’t have to spend any money but you do have to spend some time to get the results you are looking for. 

  8. Agnes says:

    I like your article as you speak about the difficulties of affiliate marketing as they really exist but they must be overcome if one would like to succeed. You are absolutely right mentioning the key reasons of failure like traffic and conversions. At the moment I have real problems with traffic generation to my homepage and it is really frustrating. I’m even thinking of changing my niche or quitting. The worst feeling is having written your ’quality content’ , i.e. several articles and you just realize they are not read. So no readers, no conversions… Do you think changing my niche could be a solution in this case?

    • Nikos says:

      Hello Agnes,

      The only reason i would consider changing my niche is if i was not interested in it any more. Not because i am not getting traffic at the moment. There is always something new you could try. If you keep quitting and changing niches you will always be stuck at the beginning. 

      If you are not having fun with your niche anymore then sure go ahead and try something else. But attracting quality traffic from the search engines takes time. Making a few changes in your SEO strategy, doing better keyword research, etc could help. Increasing your traffic is not easy but it is also not impossible. 

  9. Miss Momo says:

    Great mix of truth and encouragement. The part about conversions was very interesting. I have been struggling to understand why some programs and links converts so much better than others. I usually love all things i write about and I haven’t been able to figure out why some aren’t appreciated. But maybe it has something to do with where people are in their process. Some articles may target people who are just searching, not ready to make a purchase. Do you have a post about sales funnels and how to do them?

    • Nikos says:

      Hello Miss Momo,

      I currently don’t have a post on my website about how to create sales funnels. But you could take a look at the following training from Wealthy Afffiliate. It explains the process of creating a typical sales funnel in a very easy way. 

  10. Avery Leon says:

    This is a good piece of work. The contents rightly pointed out that lacking in targeted traffic in the specific niche one promotes and convert the visitors into buyers can be a big problem that deter affiliate marketer. There is suggestion in using sales funnel, some readers including myself who have not use sales funnel, may have this question : is it possible to do without a sales funnel to succeed in Affiliate marketing?

    • Nikos says:

      In my opinion yes. But creating a sales funnel doesn’t have to be a compclicated process. For example linking your posts to your main post (like a review) or a page where your visitors can buy the products/services you are promoting can also work.

  11. Aabidah Ahmed says:

    Being a beginner in Affiliate Marketing can be overwhelming to some at first because a lot of work has to be put in in order to be a great Affiliate Marketer. 

    It’s true that its not actual serious problems you’ll be facing, but things that will be easy to overcome once you’re more experienced in this line of business.

    You’ll face problems because you don’t fully understand what you are doing yet, but with training provided by a program you’ll be joining will help big time. So join a good program that has plenty of training to help you.

    Thank you for your review of this and all the best.

  12. Dave Sweney says:

    I appreciate your insight and discussion of the online business model of affiliate marketing. Everyone it seems is saying it is such an easy way to make money and anyone can do it. This is true from what I have experienced, but it is not as easy as people like to make it out to be.

    In my experience, the same problems that you have expanded on were things that I had to deal with when starting out. It took some months before I came around and started following advice from people like you and then I started having some success.

    Over time, that success has grown, but it is not a cakewalk. The time must be put in, some rational thought used, and a willingness to commit to keeping at it on a regular basis are the keys I think. It will not happen overnight, but if you do have a plan (i.e. niche, avatar, approach, and regular work) you will succeed. 

    Traffic and conversions are definitely key factors that you must consider. The content and niche are also important, and perhaps another key is identifying the target audience and knowing what they are looking for. If you have that you can shape the rest of your business around this. 

    Good post and lots of information and advice to digest, Thanks for taking the time to put it together. How long have you been into the affiliate marketing business? It seems like it must be quite a while based on your article! 

    • Nikos says:

      Hello Dave,

      I am glad you liked my post. I’ve been an affiliate marketer for about 3 years now and i’ve had my fair share of ups and downs. From my experience traffic and conversions are the 2 most common reasons people quit affiliate marketing. Which is a shame because both problems can be overcome with patience and the right training.

      Thank you for your comment,

      Nikos

  13. DerrAd says:

    I was so much convinced that affiliate marketing was the right direction to take after listening to several gurus but little did I know the challenges that it comes with. While I don’t regret giving it a try, I must admit that there are times that I felt I should throw in the towel. However, with a little taste of success here and there, I think there’s light at the end of the tunnel and I’m going to forge on. 

    You’ve shared the reality on grounds and think people who want to go down this road should prepare their mind before doing so. Thanks so much for sharing this.  

  14. water life says:

    Hi

    These are exactly the questions I made myself when I began dealing with the Wealthy Affiliate. I also believe that patience and determination are needed, but you work at home. No one is pushing you and the boss is you. I’m sure that I need to spend several months.in order to have my own income and to have desired results. But the only thing we must do is to wait. 

    Thank you for your advice. They are really important, especially for us, the beginners. Thanks for your helpful article.

    Thodoris

  15. Jackson kenny says:

    This is a great post different from everything I have seen other people post. I noticed that people try to sweet talk people into doing affiliate marketing and bombarding sites with links without dealing with the truth which you have treated well in this post. You said Patience and hardwork is key to a successful online business, that’s very true because everyone I know that is successful in affiliate marketing had to come a long way with plenty of time put in. Content have you have said is very key but I didn’t know it didn’t just have to do with text alone… I’m glad I could learn something new from you… Th

  16. Abagatan says:

    You hit the nail’s head. This is the best article I’ve read about affiliate marketing in the sense that it challenged me to move forward because I’ve seen the truth about the two biggest problems with it, traffic and conversions.

    This is where I am on my websites now. I want to quit because I already spent two years in the making but traffic is too slow. AdSense conversions are just cents every day and so I’m wondering how those people make huge money with AdSense. No commissions yet coming from affiliate sales.

    I will try to be more aggressive in building the traffic and probably create sales funnel but I have to discover how to do that. Thank you for this informative post, I know this will help many people in the online world.

  17. Nebsly Media says:

    I need to read this again. Very good/interesting insight.
    Thank you for sharing.

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