February 27, 2022

Just like any other industry, new affiliate marketers tend to make a lot of mistakes. That’s what rookies do! Fortunately, mistakes can be limited by doing some research and learning from others who are a bit further ahead in the learning curve. Trust me, as a full-time affiliate marketer, the learning NEVER stops! I do promise that it gets easier with time, though.

Over the years, I’ve learned quite a bit about what it takes to be a successful affiliate marketer. I have also noticed some very common patterns in new affiliate marketers that seem to struggle and never make it. In order to be successful, you must avoid making these 14 most common mistakes made by new affiliate marketers…


#14 – Monetizing First

I know this is listed as #14, but it’s actually the #1 mistake new affiliate marketers make – by a LONG shot. Close to 99% of new affiliate marketers out there try to set up their monetizations system FIRST. They want to get that money rolling in as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this is the exact opposite of what should be done!

You can’t reasonably expect to monetize your business until you have created enough value to others in order to justify them paying you. If you start blasting your blog with your affiliate links, you really aren’t providing much of any value to anyone (in fact, you’re spamming the internet and nobody likes spam).

A good example is the YouTube channel Suspicious0bservers. That guy posts a video about space weather every single morning and he’s been at it for years. When he first started, nobody was following him. But over time, people started to subscribe. Then they started to tell their friends, who told their friends, and it became a total avalanche. He now has a paid subscription so people can receive his evening news videos and is making a full-time living doing it. He also has an app that makes him a good amount of money.

So many people struggle to make money with video blogs and YouTube accounts, yet this guy is making a full-time living talking about a subject he is already passionate about! Why? Because he provided value FIRST and began monetizing later. This is a key component to any new affiliate marketer ever seeing success.

VIDEO: When To Start Monetizing A Niche Site


#13 – Failing To Create A Business Plan

Let’s face it, anyone can start a website. Heck, these days, you can make a great looking website for free and you don’t need to know a single line of computer code to do it! Since the barrier to entry is so low, there are a LOT of people starting websites and trying to become overnight affiliate marketer success stories. Yet, only a very tiny fraction of those people will ever succeed. Why?!

Because they failed to create a business plan!

With just about any other business, the aspiring entrepreneur may spend weeks, months, or even years preparing and perfecting the perfect business plan. It’s true, for most other businesses this HAS to be done in order to qualify for lending from banks. And that’s because banks know a business without a plan will almost always fail!

Think about it. If a ship is making a journey across the ocean, the crew must know exactly where to go and how to get there. If they just give the boat a push in the right general direction, they’ll never make it. So why should we expect this approach to work for something like growing a legitimate online business? You need a solid plan that is all mapped out for your to follow.

Not sure how to set up a business plan for your upcoming affiliate marketing company? Let’s walk you through it, step-by-step.

#12 – Lack Of Patience

When you consider that most new successful small businesses take 2 – 3 years to show a profit, why should we expect an affiliate business to show a profit in weeks? Fortunately, expenses for affiliate marketers are generally extremely low. That means, it is possible to see success much sooner than most other businesses. But you should plan to work for 6 to 12 months without seeing a dime before you expect to see a profit.

You can believe me, or you can believe all of the “get rich quick” guru’s out there. What I’m telling you might not be what you want to hear, but in order to become successful, you must be willing to work for free. Later on, you’ll be rewarded with a residual income for years. It’s an easy trade in the long-run.

I wrote a much more detailed article on how long it takes to become a full-time affiliate marketer here.

VIDEO: How Long It Takes To Make Money With Affiliate Marketing


#11 – Failure To Properly Analyze The Competition

Many new affiliate marketers go after the HUGE niche areas like insurance, travel or weight loss. The bigger the niche, the more money you can make. It’s very enticing to try and promote car insurance considering you can make $100+ per sale. Of course, there is so much competition in the “car insurance” niche that you will need to work very hard for quite a while before you can even compete with the thousands of others trying to do the same.

On the other hand, many affiliate marketers choose a small niche topic and become the “authority” website for that specific niche. For example, you might not want to start a website about “cars” because that’s too broad. But starting a website and becoming the “authority” for the 1992 Saturn SL probably won’t attract enough interest, even though there is virtually no competition. But what about starting a website and becoming the authority on classic Ford Mustangs, like OneManAndHisMustang.com did??

See where this is going? Always find a niche that has a little competition (so you know it’s profitable), but not so competitive you’ll blend in with everyone else.

VIDEO: How To Find A Profitable And Low Competition Niche


#10 – Chasing The Money Instead Of Attracting It

When you provide enough value for people, making money is easy. No really, it is! Once you are seen as someone who provides helpful information or services, you will gain a following. You can do this through a blog, a series of YouTube videos, a website, using online radio, running popular social media pages, writing ebooks, or a number of other ways. I talk about all of the personal ways I promote my affiliate marketing business in my course, How To Become An Affiliate Marketer.

Once you create enough value and attract PEOPLE to you, the money will soon follow. From passive display advertising to promoting other peoples products and services to selling your own products and services… If you build it, they will come. Once the come, monetizing is simple.

To see my very specific and detailed method of creating content that attracts lots of site visitors, visit my page on the CTPM process.

#9 – Not Having A Monetization Plan Ready

While you should not try to monetize first and you should not chase the money, you should definitely have a plan in place.

How do you intend to make money?
Who will your affiliate partners be?
What products or services will you promote?
HOW will you promote them?
Will you use display ads?

As you can see, I’m a huge stickler about having things planned out ahead of time. Running a business like affiliate marketing is similar to a game of chess. You always need to be thinking one step ahead. Of course, you can always change your plan and honestly, you likely will as the game board changes. The fact of the matter is, most successful affiliate marketers had everything planned out before they ever saw their first dime.

#8 – Succumbing To Distractions

Making a living using the internet while working from home is enough of a distraction to ruin most new affiliate marketers before they even get started. When you sit down to work, make sure you are only working! I personally find that setting a timer works well. I might set the timer for 1hr and during that hour, I’m not allowed to read email, visit Facebook, watch any YouTube videos, or do anything that might distract me (unless I’m visiting one of those pages specifically for work purposes).

During my designated work time, I don’t let the dog out, I don’t get something to eat, I don’t answer the phone, and I try not to even use the restroom if I can handle it. With the number of distractions online and off, simply focusing on work for 1hr straight can be a huge challenge. Those of you with families have even more challenges in this area.

Make sure your work time is really being spent on WORK.

#7 – Refusing To Invest In Their Business

In our society, spending $30 on a movie and popcorn or dropping $6 for a single ounce of alcohol at the bar is completely acceptable, yet, investing into a business that will yield residual income for years on auto-pilot is just too much. I mean, REALLY!?

If you plan to start a legitimate business, there will be some expenses. Keeping those expenses under $100 / mo is very achievable when you’re an affiliate marketers. And think about it – how many business models actually exist where you can keep your expenses under $100 per month?

Making money online is an amazing opportunity, but be prepared to at least invest a small amount each month into growing your business.

#6 – Refusing To RE-Invest In Their Business

When you earn your first $500 from your affiliate marketing business, what do you plan to do with it? Are you going to save it? Pay off some personal debts? Buy your kid a nice new toy or take a mini-vacation?


From the time I received my first $8 in affiliate commissions (you can read that story here) I was reinvesting my earnings. In fact, for the first several months, I reinvested 100% of my profits. These days, I still re-invest my income but it’s much less than 100%!

It’s ok to keep some of that money for yourself. You earned it! But remember, the more you invest back into your business, the faster you can grow, and the more you can boost the number of commissions you earn each and every day. What percentage will YOU reinvest?

#5 – Being Afraid Of Failure

In the online marketing world, there is absolutely no such thing as failure. Learning how to market to people online is not easy and is best learned through trial and error. Test, test, and re-test. Fine tune what works and ditch what doesn’t work. As an affiliate marketer, you will spend a lot of time on projects that go nowhere and never make you any money. But when you do find something that makes you money, it can almost always be replicated over and over again for YEARS. I am making thousands of dollars per month from things I worked on several years ago. Each month it’s like a cash machine pumping money into my bank account. I didn’t find those revenue streams without a whole lot of epic failures.

If failure gets you down, you’ll never make it as an affiliate marketer. That’s part of our job. Finding out what works and what doesn’t. That will likely never end as long as you’re an affiliate marketer.

The only people who fail permanently at affiliate marketing are the ones who stop trying to find what works. Did you know it took Thomas Edison about 10,000 attempts to create the lightbulb? Yet he still succeeded.

#4 – Listening To “Guru’s”

There is no “secret formula” to finding success online. The formula you use to find success will be completely unique to your online business. There is also no automated software you can use to become rich and nobody is going to tell you how to easily become a millionaire next week in their $10 e-book.

Instead of listening to internet guru’s who claim to have secrets to fast track wealth without doing any work online, focus your efforts on listening to those who treat affiliate marketing for what it really is – a BUSINESS.

As a new affiliate marketer, you should be focused on how to construct your business. For example, creating a business plan for your business and learning how to market products online for free. Once you learn these skills, you get to keep them forever. Even if some software will do everything for you (and it won’t), how long will that last? Build a sustainable business instead.

#3 – Writing For Search Engines

Yes, there are certain things you can do to help give yourself more exposure in the search engines. You might be familiar with the term search engine optimization (or SEO for short). While SEO is important, search engines are much smarter than they used to be and they are getting smarter FAST. Google (the #1 search engine by far) has consistently stated you should focus less on “SEO” and more on providing a great user experience. If you provide great content, they will come… and so will the search engines.

It’s also a really bad idea to rely solely on search engine traffic for your business. Google and other search engines like Bing and Yahoo change their search algorithms frequently. Many small online business owners have seen their affiliate business destroyed due to fluctuating search rankings. With so many possible traffic sources, never rely on just one.

VIDEO: Creating Great Content That Performs Well


#2 – Avoiding Self Promotion

This is one that I’ve struggled with and still struggle with to this day. To maximize your success, you need to form a personal relationship through your website, ebook, video blog, social media accounts, or any other way you spread information. People can get boring information from Wikipedia. You should promote yourself as an EXPERT in whatever niche you decide to get into. That’s why it is important to pick a topic you already know and love. After all, everyone knows something about something that others would like to learn. What is YOUR unique skill or knowledge?

To maximize conversion rates for products and services you promote, people need to trust that you know what you’re talking about. The only way to do this is through self-promotion. Let people know you’re an expert, WHY you are an expert, and always make it super easy for people to contact you. Putting a face and personality to the information being presented is essential. That’s how you compete with major multi-million dollar corporations… By being small and proud of it!

#1 – Not Collecting Email Addresses From DAY 1

I made this critical mistake on my first 5 affiliate websites. Whenever I think of email marketing, I instantly get flash backs to all of the spam I’ve had pile up in my inbox over the years. From male enhancement drugs to free vacations and even millions of dollars in some country I’ve never heard of from my long-lost uncle, we are all familiar with SPAM.

But facts are facts. Email marketing is one of the most valuable assets for affiliate marketers because it converts like crazy! Of course, that’s only if you do it right. How do you do it right? Once again… by providing REAL value to others. Don’t make every email a sales pitch. Actually provide value to your email subscribers and treat them like gold, because many of your subscribers are worth much more than gold! If someone is receiving high quality and high-value information from you through your email newsletter, for example, they will be much more willing to accept a product or service pitch every now and then. In fact, they are MUCH more likely to convert!

Email marketing is crucial and you should start collecting emails from day 1. As your list grows exponentially, so will your affiliate commissions.

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