How to Avoid the 3 Most Common Affiliate Mistakes

Affiliate marketing is among the very best ways to make money on the internet. Affiliate marketing gives anyone the opportunity to make a profit on the web. Affiliate marketing programs are easy to join, easy to set up and can make a regular income; which means more and more people are being attracted to the business.

But like any small business, there are plenty of potential pitfalls which you must try to avoid. The common mistakes which internet marketers tend to make cost them a large chunk of their earnings – know these mistakes and you’ll be able to avoid them and make the most of your affiliate marketing venture.

Mistake number 1: Choosing the wrong affiliate program.   People naturally want to make as much money as they can in as short of a time as they can. In their haste to get into affiliate marketing, they just jump on the first bandwagon that comes along and get into marketing a product which seems to be in demand without considering if the product is one they can project a personal interest in – and they lose out on potential profit as a result!

Rather than just jumping on the bandwagon, take a little time and pick a product which you are actually interested in. Planning is key to being successful in any business and affiliate marketing is no exception to this rule.

Find a product which appeals to you and do your research to determine the level of demand. If you are excited about the product, you will be a much better sales person for that product.

Mistake number 2: Joining too many affiliate programs.   This is a common error – since it’s so easy to sign up as an affiliate, many marketing newcomers join many different programs, thinking that this will lead to greater earnings.

While it’s good to have multiple revenue streams, it is a mistake to think that you can do a good job of marketing each program – some will suffer for the sake of others.

The end result of this is not making as much money as you could were you to really focus on one program and put a lot of effort into it. You should look for a program to join which pays a high commission  – at least 40% is best. Then promote, promote, promote! This will net you a much better income than trying halfheartedly at ten different affiliate programs. Once you are doing well with one program and then begin with another.

The way to succeed is a step at a time. There’s no reason to rush yourself, especially in this business. The future is bright and you can afford to take your time and build your success one program at a time.

Mistake number 3: Not buying the product or using the service.  An affiliate’s job is to effectively convey the benefit of a product or service in order to convince them to buy it. To do this, you need to know the product inside and out; the best way to gain this knowledge is to try the product for yourself! If you have tried the product you will be better able to convince others of its merits.

Before even signing up as an affiliate, it is a good idea to try out the product or service to see if it is one that you can be enthusiastic about recommending. If you are excited about the product, it will be felt by prospective customers – remember, enthusiasm is contagious.

These are some of the most common mistakes which cause affiliate marketers to do poorly in the business.

Avoid these mistakes and you’ll have an edge on the competition.


  • Bruno Auger

    Reply Reply November 7, 2008


    All these points you made I have done myself. I was pretty stupid a few years back and just jumped into everything I saw.

    I soon relized if you just stick with one great affiliate program you will have great success with it

    Bruno Augers last blog post..Business in Social Networking

  • Ralf Smith

    Reply Reply November 7, 2008

    I think you really captured the main reasons why most affiliate marketers (and myself) fail.

  • I agree on most points. Only one point stands out, and that is the recommendation that at least 40% commission is best…

    It MIGHT be best, but if you get a hold of a high-conversion product even 20% can earn you a decent check on a monthly basis. So it depends very much upon the product, which is – however – also among your other points.

    Have a nice weekend. 🙂

    Henrik Blunck – Denmarks last blog post..Even John Reese Can Make Mistakes

  • Hamid Mat Sain

    Reply Reply November 7, 2008

    You are right Reed about not joining many affiliate program.But this is only for any Internet Marketing program to work on.Any newbie for that matter even pro should first focus on one Internet Marketing program and work on it well before turning to the other programs once the first one is already running on automation-The Power of One!
    But affiliate marketing also involves promoting products digital or physical.In this,there should not be any limit in joining the affiliate program.With PPC,you can fish out any number of products from Clickbank and promote them.


  • J.Lamar Ferren

    Reply Reply November 7, 2008

    Wow Reed, Thank you for this. I made all these mistakes at 1 point. This is good info for all affiliates!

  • Timothy Millar

    Reply Reply November 7, 2008

    Hey Reed, You must have been talking to me! I
    have done all these things and lived to regret it. It is wise to start with one product or service and stick with it until you know how to promote and where to do it before you sign up with a bunch of programs. Sure wish I would have!
    Have a wonderful day. “The Leprechaun”

    Timothy Millars last blog post..Internet Marketing Mastermind

  • I just book marked your blog on Digg and StumbleUpon because I enjoy reading your commentaries.
    I run a related blog and recently wrote about how to survive in online affiliate marketing

  • Serena Carcasole

    Reply Reply November 8, 2008

    I agree Reed!! I truly believe that you have to believe in the product that you plan on referring. Don’t just pick an item that pay good. Make sure the product does what it says it does and is worth the buy. Test the product yourself first and see if it is any good before you even attempt to sign up for an affilaite program. As always Reed you are right on the ball of things!!!

    Serena Carcasole
    Your 1STOP Business Service Shop
    Outsource your way to success!

    Serena Carcasoles last blog post..Blogsite – 4 Great Reasons to Have One

  • Jan Attila

    Reply Reply November 8, 2008

    Advice taken… Ofcourse i have already done all those mistakes so live and let learn. Anyway thanks for including me on your mailing list.

  • Dan Liptak

    Reply Reply November 8, 2008

    I think mistake 2 is one of the most important. It is easily to get distracted by the next shiny thing. Just concentrate on one program before you jump into others.

  • lily

    Reply Reply November 8, 2008

    Good Job your words on the bottom of your email are very negative. I Steal from no one .

  • Luis

    Reply Reply November 8, 2008

    Hi Reed I have made all these mistakes i am guilty of thinking the grass is always greener on the other side. When something new comes along. you think just because it is new someone will join your program faster but it seems this never happens.So then you at at your point #2 you
    wind up putting all your time into promoting the new programs you join just to figure out you should have been promoting the one you started with.

  • Swimwear for Women

    Reply Reply November 8, 2008

    Some good points here Reed. My problem is I have Commission Junction and clixGalore programs on my sites. I get over 1k visitors a day with about 5% click thru’s but no sales. This has been going on for about one month now. As you can guess, I am starting to feel disheartened about affiliate programs.

  • Ari Lestariono

    Reply Reply November 8, 2008

    Definitely I agree on the points focusing with certain affiliate programs with years of business history.

    Ari Lestarionos last blog post..The Secret of Healing Foods

  • Geoff Dodd

    Reply Reply November 8, 2008

    Yay Reed, I too have made all these mistakes and I currently am in 50-60 affiliate programs! Yeeks!

    Just a thought about ‘critical mass’ – – if you build up Content and have links in from web 2.0 properties, focusing on ONE affiliate program, your Content will hit critical mass and you’ll be seen as an Authority by Google and Yahoo! So heaps of articles and Hubpages and Digg and Reddit and Stumbleupon -> pointing into just one affiliate program. THAT is a strategy, ma man.

    Geoff Dodd

    Geoff Dodds last blog post..No Hunger Pangs!

  • Albert Grande

    Reply Reply November 8, 2008

    As usual, good advice Reed.

    These mistakes are very common for IM affiliate marketers. (Guilty!)

    But I think the biggest mistake is number 3: You really need to konw the product you are marketing. So getting the product first is a must.

    The exception might be if you are promoting a high end product or seminar. The fact that the product is from a very respected marketer might just be enough to get a sale.

    Good advice. Thanks.

    Albert Grandes last blog post..PodCamp Hawaii

  • Barry

    Reply Reply November 8, 2008

    Well Reed,
    I’ve been busy with all that you have written about.All the affiliate programs are keeping me so busy that I am getting no where at one heck of a speed.I am taking your advice,thanks.

  • PV Reymond

    Reply Reply November 8, 2008

    Hi Reed,

    You’re right, many affiliates make those mistakes and for this reason they don’t make money.

    When you like what you are doing, you are interested in the topic the product covers and you know about this topic you can help people easier and as a result of that you make more money.

    It is important to join only one affiliate program in the beginning. This will allow you to stay more focused and learn faster, then you can gradually start to add new programs.

    ^PV Reymond

  • Asher

    Reply Reply November 8, 2008

    These are common affiliate mistakes made by new and inexperienced marketers.

    The best way to think about how to be successful at affiliate marketing is to think of being a salesperson for a particular shop.

    You’re going to need to know the product, more details, whether there’s a market and whether it is of value to customers.

    Think of it that way and you can do quite well with affiliate marketing.


    Ashers last blog post..Network Marketing Exposed: Success In Network Marketing Only A Formula Away?

  • John Counsel

    Reply Reply November 8, 2008

    Swimwear for Women:

    I checked your site and I’m not surprised that your conversion rate is non-existent. Finding the information the prospective buyer would want is a real challenge amongst so many different ads (and types of ads). Apart from the text-only site header, everything “above the fold” (that is, the entire first screen, like the top half of a folded newspaper front page) is a Google Adsense ad or a banner or tile. If there’s anything that’s not an ad, it’s not easy to tell.

    The non-ad copy is too hard to distinguish from the ads. It’s not intuitive. Finding the information you want seems too hard.

    You need to visually separate the ads from the editorial text much more clearly, and organise the content so that it’s unmistakable.

    You desperately need attention-grabbing HEADLINES that visitors can scan in their search for information of interest to them. At present, the only distinguishable headlines seem to relate to your Adsense groupings.

    Your categories are too similar to be truly meaningful to visitors, and they read like a catalogue. They need to have real emotional appeal and they need to be unmistakably different in their content.

    The real secret to success in affiliate marketing is to ADD VALUE to the products you promote that makes it easier for the prospect to decide to buy through you.

    What kinds of issues or problems are visitors looking to solve with their purchases? Those are your starting points in structuring your site. Organise your content around BENEFITS, not features. Give readers reasons to dig deeper into your site. At present, their visit starts with an avalanche of ads, then they have to fight their way through reams of text riddled with ads.

    You have to meet THREE non-negotiable requirements for every prospective buyer before you’ll begin making sales. No matter what you THINK they’re asking, here are the REAL conditions that they’re expecting you to meet:

    #1: “I want to experience the BENEFITS you promise, and FEEL LIKE YOU DO about them, BUT…

    #2: “I expect YOU to make it SAFER, EASIER, BETTER and SMARTER for me to buy from YOU than from anyone else (ie: any other affiliate or merchant), AND…

    #3: “I expect YOU to make it SAFER, EASIER, BETTER and SMARTER for me to buy from YOU than to keep my money and NOT BUY at all!”

    If your site doesn’t do all of that, you won’t make sales, no matter how many visitors you attract.

    John Counsel
    CEO, The Profit Clinic

  • Dale Kydd

    Reply Reply November 9, 2008

    Hi Reed,
    Another good topic.
    Swimwear for women and Barry.
    As you can see most people go through the same downfall to start but here you have a chance to get in front of us by not doing what we did.
    Swimwear for women. I do not know how this is worked but I would assume that it is purchase without trying the garment on. Most people I know would not even think of it as we all like to see if it fits here and there. Did you do a survey to see who would by this way? Not just from what was on the site or how they worded it. You still have a chance to do this and even send out a survey form would help you see if it is worth continuing with this one or going with a product that is more in demand. You will find many of them here in Reed’s blogs and on his web site just for starters.
    Barry, you are really lucky as you are getting the word before you get in to deep.
    To any one else who is trying to do wonders with this affiliate Marketing. 1 x 1. Knowledge is power and enthusiasm is dynamite.
    Thanks again Reed.

  • Wayne Bell

    Reply Reply November 9, 2008

    You said it Reed > “Avoid these mistakes and you’ll have an edge on the competition”

    Regards – Wayne

    Health, Happiness And Success
    Wayne & Susan Bell
    “Searching The World To Bring You The Best Online”

  • admin

    Reply Reply November 9, 2008

    @Bruno unfortunately it seems 99% or more of us have

    @Ralf continue reading this blog and let’s turn it around

    @Henrick yes a lower commission on something that converts like crazy is fine but most don’t

    @Hamad I think beginner marketers should stick with just a few products/affiliate programs until they start consistently making money.

    @J. you’re welcome

    @Timothy thanks

    @Residual thanks

    @Serena thank you

    @Jan thanks enjoy

    @Dan I think we all get distracted unfortunately

    @Lily thanks for the feedback that’s on a sublist in my autoresponder for a product.

    @Swimwear it would be interesting to know the demographics of your site. The images I saw for banner seemed aimed at males and they are probably just looking to see pictures of hot girls and not buy.

    @Ari yes you want to make sure you get paid for your efforts

    @Geoff sounds very interesting keep us posted on it

    @Albert yes if it’s from someone who you have seen other products from odds are this one will be good too

    @Barry keep coming back for more tips

    @PV being focused on one or just a few programs can make a big difference especially in the beginning

    @Asher great analogy

    @John thanks for that detailed response to swimwear

    @Dale great post thanks

    @Wayne thanks

  • Bryan Hee

    Reply Reply November 10, 2008

    One of the most common mistake is you try to “hard sell” any products to your visitors for the sack of commision without knowing the benefit of it. This will “destroy” your credibility.

    To Your Success
    Bryan Hee

  • admin

    Reply Reply November 10, 2008

    @Bryan yeah hard selling especially right away really will turn people off.

  • Jussi Koiranen

    Reply Reply November 11, 2008

    All good points. There are way too many repeating the numbers one and two and three over and over again… Getting excited about comissions or hype, not buying the product, finding a new program, getting excited, not using the service and on and on it goes…

  • Jorge EZ Affiliate Blog

    Reply Reply November 11, 2008

    My biggest mistake was mistake #2

    I joined EVERY single program out there and ended doing NOTHING with all of them.

    Finally I got my head out of my behind and started focusing on a single program at a time.

    I hope newbies don’t make the same mistakes I did… I ended wasting a lot of money and time.


    Jorge EZ Affiliate Blogs last blog post..The BEST Affiliate Programs to Make Extra Money Online with a Website

  • Jeff Sargent

    Reply Reply November 11, 2008

    Nice post Reed.

    Mistake #1 is a biggie. Too many affiliates get all caught up in the hype of new product launches and jump in head first without thinking things through. Next thing you know they are losing money hand over fist using PPC. I can usually pick these affiliates out immediately by looking at the poorly written ads in Google.

    Mistake #2.
    I agree, stick to one promotion at a time. You mention using 40% as a guideline but I will not promote anything less than 50% commission. I see too many times where affiliates do a half ass job promoting a product because they are not focused on that particular product. They are already off and running to the next product before they have fine tuned the first one and they haven’t even made a dime yet.

    Mistake #3.
    Your job as an affiliate marketer is to service your customers. How in the heck can you do that if you haven’t at least purchased the product and given it a thorough going over before you start promoting it.

    It’s not always feasable to have actually tried the product because sometimes it takes months to know if it works or not. But at least if you study it you should be able to give your customers a fairly well informed review and then you will feel much better about yourself when you do finally recommend it.

    Jeff Sargent

  • admin

    Reply Reply November 15, 2008

    @Jussi, Jorge and Jeff thank you excellent comments

  • It is difficult for affiliates to relay to the customers and effectively and convincingly promote the product/service if they do not try it out personally.

    It is important to try the product/service personally first before one signs up as an affiliate to see if it is really delivering what it promises so as to be credible. Customers will feel the sincerity and truthfulness in you which will trigger them to try out the product/service for themselves.

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field