Affiliate marketing is super easy. You write an awesome post, sprinkle in a few affiliate links and sit back and watch the passive income pour in.
Right?? Hah! Ok. Obviously, it is not that easy.
There are lots of things bloggers do that pretty much eliminate the chance of making an income with affiliate marketing. Let’s go over some of the most common ones.
And in case you’re wondering, yes. This post DOES contain affiliate links. Which means if you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. You can read our full disclosure here. Thank you!
Before we get started, I’d like to say if you haven’t taken Michelle Shrouders course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, you are missing out. This girl earns over $50,000 in affiliate income every single month! And her course is amazing. It’s what helped me start making a few hundred with Amazon alone in only 2 months of blogging!
Table of Contents
#1. Grasping at Straws
A big part of making money with affiliate marketing is having a strategy. It’s easy to get caught up looking for a ton of affiliate programs that relate to your niche and try to insert links where ever you can. But this strategy doesn’t really do well, and almost always ends up as a big waste of time.
Instead, focus on a select few of your favorite affiliate programs that you know will be very beneficial to your readers. Then create spider webs of content based around each affiliate product.
A good example, let’s take cloth diapers. Your target audience may be the natural mom niche or budget mom niche and you know lots about cloth diapers. You find a great affiliate program and decide to promote them.
Now create several posts about cloth diapers and connect them all. (I call this creating a “sticky web of content”)That way your reader can get lost in the content of the how, what and why and decide they need to give them a try too.
This strategy is much more effective than casually sticking in a cloth diaper affiliate link in a post about ways to save money on diapers.
#2. Too Many CTA
Another big mistake is having too many calls to action in one post. Every time you write a post, you should think about what you want your reader to do with that post.
Sometimes it’s to get them to sign up for your list or to buy a product you’ve created. Other times it should be focused on promoting your affiliate program.
If your posts have too many calls to actions your reader will have no clear direction of what they should do next. If you are writing a post to try to make affiliate sales, stay focused on a clear call to action to check out the product.
#3. Feeling Scumming
When writing about a product for your audience, you want to focus on how it can help them. Not pushing a product on them they don’t need.
People and more specifically, consumers, are very smart and internet savvy. Most can spot a pushy sale from a mile away, and won’t bother reading anything else you have to say.
Instead of feeling like a slimeball salesman, focus on how the product can help your reader with a very specific problem.
What is it that they need to help beat the overwhelm, conquer the clutter, make their life simpler and easier.
What are they struggling with?
This is what people are willing to spend their money on. A product that helps fix their problem. So find your reader’s pain points (their problem) and give them an awesome solution to fix it.
Let’s go back to the cloth diaper example for a moment. Maybe your natural minded mama wants to consider using cloth diapers, but she just feels overwhelmed by all the options out there. What would help her most?
In this case, a thorough overview of the most popular brands and the pros and cons of each. Write a comprehensive review of each diaper, showing their quality, durability, price range, ease of use, pitfalls, things that real moms like about these products.
If you don’t have personal experience with the products, you can still write a great review, you just have to spend the time doing your research.
Ask moms about their experience in a facebook group about cloth diapering, or research reviews through on Amazon. (Although, it’s against their terms of service to use the reviews in your post but you can get a great feel for the product this way.)
#4. Not Enough Traffic
No matter how great your solution is, affiliate marketing is still a numbers game. Without enough people reading what you have to say, you won’t make much money.
You cannot just write your post, and hope for the best. You also can’t expect everyone that comes across it to click on your links, much less buy the products.
To help put this in perspective, the average conversion rate for a landing sales page is 2.35% according to The Wordstream Blog. That means that for every 100 people who actually click on your link to the sales page, 2-3 people will actually buy it.
You have to have quite a few page views, to get enough clicks on your links, to get enough people who will actually buy the product.
Of course, this is just one example. But it helps to put the numbers in perspective.
#5. Or…The Wrong Kind of Traffic
Although having enough traffic is necessary for making money with affiliate marketing, having the right traffic is so much more important. You want traffic that is ready to buy. This is often referred to as user intent.
User intent means what the reader intends to do when searching for content.
For example, if a person is wanting to buy cloth diapers, its safe to assume that they will search in google for terms like “the best cloth diapers” or “cloth diaper reviews.”
If you are trying to get cloth diaper sales by writing a tutorial on how to clean cloth diapers, it won’t convert as well. There’s a good chance your reader has already purchased them and isn’t looking to buy more. (Although a tutorial on cleaning cloth diapers is a great way to promote your favorite cleaning agents, in this case, you would shift your focus on the cleaning agents vs. the cloth diapers.)
#6. Too Many Distractions
This is sort of an offshoot of too many calls to action mentioned above. Be wary of having too many ads or distractions within your content when promoting a post with high conversion potential.
If you’re not using ads as part of your monetization strategy, then no problem.
If you are using ads, check out which posts are bringing in your highest affiliate income. You may want to consider turning off ads to that particular post to see if your conversion rates increase.
I have a couple of review posts that rank #1 in google. They bring me a few hundred in passive affiliate income each, with no work otherwise. They don’t get tons of traffic but the user intent is there, so they convert well. In these posts I always turn off my ads.
#7. Ignoring SEO
If you’re somewhat new in the blogging world, SEO sounds like a scary beast you’ll tackle another day. But, the sooner you start learning about it, the faster you’ll start to make real money.
I personally, excelled in the Pinterest world and avoided learning about SEO for way too long.
Once I left my comfy place and learned more about SEO, I was thrilled to discover how a bit of SEO work ahead of time, can create truly passive streams of affiliate income without the continued work of Pinterest.
Plus the user intent of Google is so much better than the “looky lou’s” of Pinterest. (Although, Pinterest is still one of my favorite forms of traffic for a quick win.)
#8. Resisting a List
Want to know the absolute best way to get lots of affiliate sales with a smaller audience? An email list.
(*I can hear the moans and groans already)
For those of you that have been resisting building a list, your missing out. Building a small intertwined network of followers who you genuinely help, is hands down the best way to get affiliate clicks that convert.
That’s because your readers follow you. They like you, what you have to say, and want to know what you suggest as an expert in the field.
They trust you and your opinion so they will buy from you. (Let me just go ahead and refer to #5 again, don’t be scummy. Your tribe that you build will notice if you are promoting useless products.)
P.S. If you are ready to take your affiliate marketing game to the next level, I cannot recommend Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing enough! This course goes over everything you should be doing to make a real income with affiliate links. This girl has it down to a science and has helped me understand affiliate marketing on a whole new level.
You can read more about it in my full course Review here: Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Review (Is it worth it?)