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10 Reasons Why Affiliate Marketers Fail

Published by Papa Whale Affiliate Marketing

There are so many viable ways to make money online, yet you don’t see that many successful affiliate marketers. Here’s why.

You’ve all seen it: young entrepreneurs showcasing their sick gains on social media. Not the muscle type, mind you. We’re talking big numbers in cash, luxury items or both.

And it’s quite honestly driving you crazy. How is it even possible? You’ve worked your butt off yet can’t even make it past the “this might pay for Friday’s pizza” level.

Thing is, you’re not alone. Thousands of new affiliate marketers pop-up each year only to vanish subsequently. Part of this phenomenon is due to an illusion of grandeur from being fed what essentially is an unreasonable expectation.

Here are the top 10 reasons why affiliate marketers fail… (if you’re still struggling as a marketer, our spidey sense tells us it’s probably because you fell into one of the the pitfalls we’re about to cover. It’s your job to climb out of that hole and work toward your own definition of success—even if that does mean fewer ferraris and fewer exotic trips!)

You fail at affiliate marketing because you’ve fallen for the classic “Get Rich Quick” rip-off

Making money on the Internet, easy enough, right?

Not so fast, cowboy!

Like anything in life, affiliate marketing requires a whole lot of bodily secretions — whoa, whoa, whoa! Not those kinds! — we’re simply saying it requires a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears on your end.

One of the many reasons people like you might fail is because it seems you can achieve success overnight. It totally happened to that guy, so it can happen to me, too! This is what we call the “gambler’s fallacy.”

Never trust someone who tells you it’s a walk in the park. It’s not. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so neither should your online empire. You’ll need to soldier through lots of hardships along the way that will end up shaping up who you are as an affiliate marketer.

You fail at affiliate marketing because you’re simply unprepared

If you’re serious about making money as an affiliate marketer, one of the most valuable lessons you can learn is to start with a vision and stick to it.

At the same time, being disoriented will bring failure upon you—assuredly. If you’re in need of a metaphorical compass, write down everything in a clean document for easy reading. This will act as both a reminder of your initial goal and serve as a source of motivation.

Take the time to read about what you’re getting into. Our blog gives nice hints to perfect your artform as an affiliate, and to go beyond what you already know.

Buy books if need be, add new sites to your bookmarks if that’s what it takes—and never, ever stop broadening your horizons when it comes to every facet of affiliate marketing life.

You fail at affiliate marketing because you thought it was gonna be free

Look, there are ways to make money online as an affiliate marketer without taking out a second mortgage. However, it would be wrong to think there’s zero costs associated to this job.

You’ll quickly realize a need to budget properly if you want to be successful. How much can I invest for my media buying efforts? Do I need to pay for a server? Will I need a custom theme or logo? What about a fitting domain? Maybe I want to try an email blast? These are all scenarios you might have to deal with at some point.

Whenever you have the chance to invest, do it. You’ll get more reach and ultimately have way more control over your operations, which is a fundamental part of business.

You fail at affiliate marketing because you’re not giving it enough time

No one enjoys failing, but it’s part of the elimination process. At the end of the day, only those who passed this trial of endurance emerge victorious.

There are some cases where cutting your losses may be the best call to make in a given situation. In the case of affiliate marketers, we’ve seen too many calling it quits less than 6 months after starting. This is especially true for affiliate bloggers.

Knowing that the average blog has an average lifespan of 100 days, it would simply be a little unrealistic and maybe even a little naive on your end to expect money to begin rolling in before year-end.

And if you do manage to beat that 100 running day average? Congrats! You’re someone who stuck with it.  

Remember the get rich quick scheme? Yeah, it doesn’t work. Online marketing requires a lot of perseverance, even more so than in the real world because you’re facing an international competition. Never lose sight of this while trying to achieve your long-term goals.

You fail at affiliate marketing because you don’t know your strengths

What does introspection have to do with affiliate marketing? Well, everything, in fact. Knowing who you are not only helps you focus on your strengths, it’s also a way to cope with failure.

Just like a professional hockey player wouldn’t necessarily be good on a volleyball team, it’s important to account for your talents when doing business online—unless you want to find yourself hating every second of it.

Not sure how to find your strengths? This article by Entrepreneur is a great reference point that can help guide you through this always-illuminating journey.

You fail at affiliate marketing because you don’t deliver something people actually want

One surefire way to fail as an affiliate marketer is to ignore the needs of your end users, whoever they might be.

With so many mediums competing for the attention of people online, how are you going to dazzle them with your content? Part of the answer is delivering high-quality content that is authentic and relevant to your niche.

Not sure what will set your conversions on fire? Be sure to be on the lookout for current trends and never take anything for granted. It’s not about what you think is worthwhile, but what people want. Simple as that.

You fail at affiliate marketing because you’re not networking enough

This is a big one. Get to know your industry inside and out so you can have a better pulse on what’s hot right now. It goes further than simple trends though: you want to learn from veterans, their past mistakes and how to avoid them.

You should aim to connect with as many fellow affiliates as you can. They’ll be able to provide much needed tips and tricks, plus it helps you keep an open mind about business at large. Competition is healthy, so don’t think people are actually going to steal your ideas.

Brainstorm, create new connections and grow your influence.

One reason why affiliates fail is simply because they become too isolated with no one to give them a hand when they hit a roadblock. At least if you’ve been networking, you can use the hive mind to your advantage!

Here’s a couple of forums to get you started:

You fail at affiliate marketing because you’re underestimating the usefulness of A/B testing

A powerful sales funnel is one that has been tweaked relentlessly. If you fail as an affiliate marketer, maybe you didn’t care enough to optimize your campaigns or run as many tests as you could have.

Take for example our smartlinks. If it weren’t for extensive tests with tons of data, we wouldn’t be able to deliver such great earnings per clicks (EPCs) on all our offers. New affiliates are prone to simply not caring about such an important component of the business.

It can be as simple as testing out two different versions of an ad, or mixing things up and switching things up entirely for another one. We have a complete blog post explaining in detail why A/B testing works.

It’s never too late to make some improvements and try to move the dial toward higher conversions … and more money, straight to your pocket!

You fail at affiliate marketing because you stick to your guns instead of diversifying your portfolio

You might think this contradicts the fact we told you to have a vision and stick to it, while it doesn’t. Your vision, your goals, they shouldn’t change as part of your affiliate marketing efforts.

Sometimes though you’ll need to try new things, new offers. No matter how much you like a product or service, be careful not to play the ostrich game, i.e. failing to adapt as the market evolves. What makes you money now might be a losing proposition next month. You have to be quick on the trigger, developing a keen sense for offers that convert well and why.

In a way, it’s like running your A/B tests, but with offers. Affiliate marketers should absolutely research new products or services to promote, otherwise, many are likely to let the next big thing slip right through their pretty little fingers!

You fail at affiliate marketing because you’re easily distracted

Affiliate marketing is a business. Which means you have to dedicate time and resources to make it work. Easier said than done in a world where you can grab a phone and lose yourself in record time.

Streaming, video games, chores, pick your poison: there’s no shortage of reasons you can pick from to explain your failures. Start by creating a schedule for your operations. You’ll be amazed how helpful it is to simply know what you’ll be working on for and why.

Dedicate time to research, testing and optimizing. Commit entirely to your new way of life. If you can’t fathom investing time and money into your business, it’s bound to fail. You have to be in perfect symbiosis with your project so you can nurture it into a behemoth.

Final thoughts

The main reason why affiliate marketers fail is due to a mix of unrealistic expectations and a lack of commitment.

It’s easy to be enthralled by success stories shown on your Facebook feed from “gurus” who made it to the big leagues online, but let’s be real: there’s no blueprint to riches. A lot of it comes from your motivation to persevere in a cutthroat industry.

Fight the good fight and sooner than later, you’ll reap what you sowed. You just need to give it some time.

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