8 Mistakes Beginner Affiliate Marketers Make

mistakes affiliates make

So you’ve read online or seen a Youtube video claiming that you can make $3,432,735 a month working 2 hours a week and thought “I’ll try affiliate marketing, why not?”

Well… that’s good, you have to start somewhere and if some completely ridiculous internet claim is what it took to get you started… that’s okay. 

As the consequentialists would say:

“The ends justify the means.” and at least in this case, they’re correct.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or an affiliate marketing blog article to point out that you AREN’T going to get rich by working 2 hours a week, or even 4 hours a week. Sure Tim Ferriss’ “4 Hour Work Week” is a good book, but it hardly applies to normal people who are just trying to get started in affiliate marketing.

We already went over how to make money as an affiliate marketer in another article, so today I want to discuss some mistakes that you most likely WILL make as a new affiliate, and what you can do to work around them, or possibly even use them to your advantage in some cases.

These aren’t ALL of the mistakes you’re going to make, trust me you’re going to be making ALL KINDS of mistakes, but there are plenty of articles out there that discuss the rest of them, so sit back and relax and I’ll explain what to look out for.

This one is pretty self-explanatory.

When you first start you WILL be kind of confused, AND excited at the same time, so you’ll want to skip steps so you can just “get into it”.

The best way to be successful with this kind of thing is to pick a good niche that you love, create a consistent brand, and put the time into finding a great domain name.

I didn’t do that.

I had started off wanting to help streamers become successful, which is kind of a niche, but then I quickly went into “making money online”, and before I knew it I had articles about my feelings, and a bunch of other out-of-place articles.

This is STILL a struggle for me, but you want to be as focused as you can, and try your best to make EVERYTHING consistent.

That’s where branding comes in.

When you think about Microsoft, do you think about animal shelters and fast food?

No… you think about computers, or xbox.

They’re focused and consistent.

Be like them.

Your domain name doesn’t have to be the best on the planet, but don’t just pick a random one because you’re frustrated by all the “good ones” being taken.

There are TONS of domain variations out there and you’ll find a great one if you spend a little time.

I started out with “cashfromgaming.com”, and while it would have been somewhat okay for trying to help video game streamers make money, even for that it was weak.

Then I upgraded to “gamerdollars.com”, which was a little bit better, but my focus was changing to more of a “make money online” approach, so I changed it to what it is now, which is MUCH better.

AffiliateOp.com allows me to help out gamers, AND regular people, and it’s short, sweet, and not too cringy.

It’s not the best on the planet, but I wish I would have started with that one instead of wasting the money and time on the others.

Don’t be like me.

Creating Re-Work

When you’re first starting out you simply don’t know what you’re doing, and that’s OK.

What’s not ok is to create more work for yourself than you have to. When you start off creating unfocused content that’s “all over the place” (Those were the exact words the FIRST person I contacted for my backlink outreach said to me about my blog!) on a poorly designed website because you didn’t want to slow down and take the time to plan things out, you are creating more work for yourself and sabotaging yourself.

Successfully accomplishing ANYTHING worthwhile is enough work as it is, so if you take that workload and double it through creating re-work… it will RUIN you.

It took me 3 long and hard months to realize this, and then I ended up spending the time to fix it BUT ended up deciding to just take all the decent content from my original blog and revamp it to put it on a site that actually had potential.

I promise you that doing something like that will crush your soul and make it incredibly hard to want to keep moving forward, but if you want to make it you just have to deal with your failure and move on. There’s no magical button that takes away your mistakes.

I had put in 100+ hours PER WEEK for those 3 months and had to see my analytics drop to almost nothing, while my new higher quality site that I put a ridiculous amount of work into got 5 impressions a day.

affiliate marketing mistakes analytics

Sure my impressions and clicks were increasing slowly and I COULD have made it work, but I knew I was building on top of a foundation that wasn’t solid so I did what I had to do, and it hurt.

I was lucky though, because I realized I had messed up before I had gotten a year in and had a complete mess to clean up.

I had SOME content that was actually usable, and I had data to help me make better decisions. So if you’re reading this and realizing you’ve been screwing yourself, don’t worry.

You don’t have to just delete everything and start from scratch, you can just fix the problem and accept that sometimes you’re going to take two steps forward, just to take one step back. It happens… but if you don’t deal with it, you’ll just be compounding the problem in the long run, so deal with it ASAP.

Now that the problems are fixed and I have a solid foundation to work off of, the growth has been MUCH easier and requires much less work.

I’ve been putting in about 25% of the effort into this new site, mostly because I was burnt out from the massive amount of work I had created for myself, and the growth has been much faster and easier.

Even if you start out with a plan and a strong foundation, it will still take time, so DON’T just assume you have to restart simply because your site isn’t getting a ton of views after 2 or 3 months, but you HAVE to be completely HONEST with yourself and determine if your lack of planning is undermining your success, and if it is, you need to take action.

So what do you do if you’re in the same situation I was and you decide you need to build a stronger foundation?

Well, that’s going to depend on your exact situation, but the biggest thing is you need to detach yourself emotionally from the problem so you can analyze it and make the right call in order to fix it.

If you’re just getting angry or sad about it… it’s extremely difficult to figure out the next step you have to take.

Once you remove emotions from the equation, you’re more able to make hard decisions and do what has to be done.

For me, I had to decide if I wanted to essentially throw away 3 months straight of working night and day on a site. That’s about 1200 hours of work… How could I possibly make that call if I’m emotionally attached to the decision? I wouldn’t be able to.

Luckily, I didn’t have to start completely over. I still salvaged some content, and used the experience I had been gaining the whole time to figure out a better way.

If you were somewhat prepared and started off with a well-built site that loads fast, and you simply have a problem with your content being a little out of place, or if it’s just low quality and isn’t getting you enough traffic, you won’t need a new site. 

Just stop and figure out what content is usable, and what isn’t, then deal with it accordingly. Deleting some articles isn’t going to ruin your life.

If you started off with a really broad blog (like me!) because you didn’t want to choose a niche, your site is poorly built (like mine was), and you have quite a few articles already, which would take a massive amount of time to go through and revamp, you may want to just create a new site that’s more focused. 

My first blog was VERY broad, but once it started getting a little traffic it was pretty obvious that one of the topics I was writing about was getting most of the attention. So instead of deleting all of the other content and turning my poorly built disaster of a website into a blog focused on the higher-performing niche, I just made a brand new site that was higher-quality and had a better domain name for that niche.

Domain names are cheap and you can get cheap hosting that allows you to host multiple sites at once. It’s really not that big of a deal, although at the time you’ll be worrying pretty badly.

If you decide you DO need a new site, here’s some things you can do to make life easier on yourself:

Even if you don’t make a new site, you should probably do everything on that list anyway. But if your original site is fairly focused and isn’t in terrible shape like mine was, pay more attention to #1, #2 and #6. 

So now that you understand why re-work is bad and what you can do about it, that leads us into a few other mistakes you’ll be likely to make as a first-time affiliate marketer.

I’ll go into more details about the website itself later on, but first, I want to go over the thing that ALL of us have to deal with – getting frustrated about how slow everything is, and thinking we need to switch our focus to something “better”.

What happened to my first blog after moving it's good content to the new site?

Well… THIS is where things get interesting… REALLY interesting…

This is what my first blog’s traffic looks like now, only a short while after removing ALL of the high performing content and placing it on my new site:

blog traffic increase

As you can see, it’s performing quite well now.

Because of that traffic increase I went from making about $2-$3 per day, on average, to making $91 in a single day (so far anyway, the day still has 4 hours left in it and today is the best day I’ve done yet!)

So how did that happen?

Well it was a combination of things.

First, the content on my first blog became more relevant with itself because I removed the content that didn’t belong.

Second, I’ve been learning a LOT and getting better at this whole process.

Third, I found an app that rewards people for watching short videos, and I wrote a couple articles about it that ended up ranking #1 in 2 days for a large number of keywords, which ultimately caused a massive spike in traffic AND income through referrals.

The craziest thing is, 85% of that traffic(rough estimate) came from 1 post.

Yes you read that correctly. A SINGLE well-written article turned my blog from a failure into a legitimate site with a legitimate income in about ONE week. Crazy, right?

A majority of the articles I publish don’t end up getting huge amounts of traffic, every once in a while a post will do really well, but I like to think of it like I’m creating an environment for my articles to grow in.

When I release an article that supports another article, it doesn’t have to make me thousands of dollars, it just has to give people something to consume, and hopefully enjoy in the process.

The money comes later, that’s one of the hardest lessons to learn in affiliate marketing, or life in general.

Getting Frustrated And Switching Around Too Much

"He that can have patience can have what he will"
benjamin franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Founding Father of the United States

I mentioned earlier that I had been putting in 100+ hours per week on my blog. How do you think it felt after doing that for 2 months straight and seeing very little progress?

It sucked… I felt like I was doing something wrong and that I absolutely HAD to try to find a better way.

So I tried print-on-demand. I tried making an e-commerce store on Shopify so I could try drop shipping. I tried finding new products, because OBVIOUSLY I had chosen the wrong product, right?

Sound familiar?

I’m not going to turn this section into a 10,000 word story because frankly, this is something that’s VERY simple. 

IT TAKES A LOT OF TIME.

Sure, you MIGHT be promoting a bad product, or writing in a niche that you just don’t care about, and MAYBE you should address those things, but you HAVE to be PATIENT. There’s no way around it, I’m sorry. 

If it has been a year or two and you aren’t getting anywhere… sure then start thinking about trying something new, but you aren’t going to get results in 2 months as someone who started off not knowing what they’re doing, I don’t care what the rest of the internet tells you, it’s NOT happening.

Which leads me to another mistake you’re going to make.

Paying too much attention to analytics, or not paying enough attention to them…

Don’t worry, we’ll discuss self-hosting on WordPress and increasing your site speed soon… I promise 😛

Paying Too Much, Or Not Enough, Attention To Analytics

A discussion about analytics could easily turn into it’s own 4 year program at a University, so I’ll try to keep this as short and simple as I can to get my point across.

You can really frustrate yourself and waste a LOT of time by watching your analytics every day and trying to figure out why one day your impressions were high, and why the next day they got cut in half.

When you look at analytics on a small time-frame, like in days or even weeks, the numbers can go all over the place.

A person could easily look at these impressions and think “OH NO… my site isn’t getting anywhere!!! It WAS climbing rapidly and now I’m stuck… It’s been like this for days!”

But that’s just how it is… if you look at what happens over a long period, you’ll see a lot of growth.

Sitting there stressing about your analytics can waste a bunch of your time. I’m the type of person who will sit there and refresh my analytics over and over, when I know they are only updated once a day. I’ll do that for 20 minutes before I have to just close them and move on. Don’t be like that.

That doesn’t mean you should ignore your analytics… hell no!

Analytics are an EXTREMELY USEFUL tool that can help you make data-driven decisions.

Why did my new site take off faster this time around? Was it because I’m a genius? No. It was because I had analytics to tell me what content was performing well so I could make better decisions moving forward.

Pro Tip: Using Analytics to Find Keywords

Before wee move on, I’ll show you one REALLY great way to use your analytics, that way you aren’t just staring at a bunch of numbers and line graphs all day without having a clue what to do with them.

As your articles start to get noticed by the almighty Google, pay attention to the “Queries” section of your Google Search Console.

affiliate marketing analytics tips

This will show you keywords that people are searching for that you’re accidentally starting to rank for. If you pay attention to these you can start getting ideas about what keywords to start focusing on.

For example: In the picture above, I noticed 3 of the queries were related to drop shipping. At the time I don’t even think I had an article written about drop shipping yet, I had just written a tiny bit about it in a random section of a random article.

Yet I was starting to get impressions for it…

Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of drop shipping so I didn’t start making content around it, but if I had an interest in drop shipping I would have been researching some of those long-tail keywords and trying to rank for the ones with the highest volume.

Wasting Your Time With Anything Other Than Self-Hosted WordPress

This may not apply to you if you’re coding your own website and you know what you’re doing as far as the technical aspects of a site goes, so if that’s the case, just skip this section.

For anyone else, just stop using that other garbage right now.

When I first started, I had heard WordPress was great and I tried it once with a random theme, and was immediately overwhelmed.

I then proceeded to try all of the different site builders to try to find one that would give me a good looking site and all of the tools I needed, for free of course.

The truth is, some of the site-builders worked pretty well and they produced really good looking sites and didn’t cost me anything.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is – they leave out the really important features and then try to nickel and dime you to death in order to gain access to the tools you need. Not only that, they have very little room for customization or control, hell most of them won’t even let you access your database, not that you really NEED to as a beginner, but still… Don’t even bother.

There’s a reason why everyone on the internet suggests self-hosted WordPress sites.

I promise you, if you spend a couple days playing with it, you’ll figure out how to use the WordPress software, and you’ll be set.

WordPress.org has a HUGE selection of amazing plugins and fast-loading themes, for free.

Site speed is one of the most important factors in search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience, so you don’t want your site bogged down with bloated code that other services use.

Hosting is a major contributing factor to site speed, and self-hosting gives you control over that, whereas using the shared-hosting services from the popular website builders will leave your site slow and at a disadvantage.

Wasting Time on Social Media

I don’t want to make it sound like social media is worthless… because social media is obviously very useful.

But what’s NOT useful is when you attempt to drive traffic from social media to your site, and you end up getting stuck in an argument with some random person for an hour, or get distracted and get yourslf sucked down the rabbit-hole.

Let’s be honest, it happens to us all the time.

Social media is specifically designed to be entertaining and distracting, so keep that in mind.

I have to basically just make a post really quick and close the window, otherwise I’ll get distracted and lose hours of progress. Some people can handle it better than others, so just be honest with yourself and don’t get caught in the trap.

Imposter Syndrome, It's Real and Dangerous

When I first started reading about Imposter Syndrome, I laughed at the notion. Why would someone be afraid of being seen as a fraud if that person knows what they’re talking about? Doesn’t everyone already know that other people’s opinions don’t really matter?

I had always believed I was pretty intelligent, and I don’t really care what people think, hell I’m even used to people criticizing me and thinking I don’t know what I’m talking about when I know I do.

That’s how I felt before I started all of this.

I can tell you now, with 100% certainty, that Imposter Syndrome is real, and it’ll paralyze you so badly that you’ll literally make any excuse you can to not have to deal with it.

“No company would ever want me to be their consultant because I don’t have enough experience.”

“What do I do if they ask me a question I don’t know the answer to?”

“I just won’t make Youtube videos because I don’t like being on camera.”

These are all things we tell ourselves to run from the fact that we’re insecure about our ability to succeed.

You HAVE to believe in yourself. You HAVE to get used to being uncomfortable sometimes, or even most of the time.

This is probably my biggest struggle still, and I’m not sure it’s going away anytime soon. Honestly, I wish I could tell you some magical solution that could solve the problem for you, but all I really know that works is crying a lot. Trust me, I don’t like admitting that to the world, but that’s what it is.

BUT, there’s some good news that might help you a little bit.

Some of the best learning experiences I’ve had are times when I thought I knew what I was talking about and said something stupid, and someone pointed it out, humiliating me in the process.

So don’t worry, even if you are a fraud and don’t know what you’re talking about, someone else DOES know what they’re talking about, and they’ll likely jump at the chance to correct you.

And that leads us perfectly into the next mistake…

 

Believing You're Always Right

"The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes."
winston churchill humility
Winston Churchill
Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Have you ever worked for a boss who wouldn’t listen to your ideas because they’re the “boss” and they “know better than you”?

If you’ve ever had a job I’d bet you have.

People are prone to thinking they have the answers and that everyone else just doesn’t understand, ESPECIALLY if you’re intelligent.

The more often you’re right the harder it can be to tell when you’re wrong, but the reality is – everyone is wrong sometimes.

I recently lost a long-time friend because both of us are overly prideful about our intelligence and neither one of us has enough humility to admit when we’re wrong. I can assure you, you don’t want to be that way. It’s not worth it.

What do you have to gain by refusing to accept that you’re wrong? Do you think pretending that you’re right all the time will fool everyone into believing it? At best, other people will pretend to believe you and then call you an idiot behind your back.

Don’t be an idiot like me, admit when you’re wrong and try to improve.

 

"A true genius admits that he/she knows nothing"
einstein
Albert Einstein
A true genius

Getting Too Busy to Stop and Learn

Learning is the best thing you can do with your time.

Don’t think that just because you aren’t making huge amounts of money when you’re reading a book that it isn’t useful.

In fact, you can get paid for reading books, AND capitalize on the knowledge you gained from them for a lifetime.

There aren’t a whole lot of life-changing investments out there that cost under $30, so remember to read some books!

They’ll pay themselves back, trust me.

Creating Chaos That Prevents Progress

As we go through our life we create situations that we often don’t even really know exist, only to find out later that we may have accidentally gotten in the way of our own goal.

This isn’t just a thing that bloggers do. This is something everyone does.

Some chaos in your life is unavoidable, and it’s total normal, but to really push yourself to achieve more, you have to mitigate the impact of drama on your productivity.

A really smart consultant named Sam Ovens has a video on Youtube where he talks about how a person can’t have a chaotic personal life, AND a chaotic business life, and still operate at their full potential. It’s just too much to try to deal with for a human being.

He seems to think you have to choose one or the other, and usually anything business related is going to be inherently chaotic, leaving people with chaotic personal lives at a bit of a disadvantage.

Thank you so much for reading this, I hope this helps you avoid some of the mistakes that tons of beginner affiliate marketers make. Have a wonderful day, and good luck!

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