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Affiliate marketing divides opinions like few other topics in the online marketing industry.
There are those who swear by its effectiveness and can’t stop talking about its future growth prospects. Others think it’s a scam, a waste of time, and a monetization strategy consumers don’t trust anymore.
In reality, both opinions can be true. It just depends on who you’re asking.
Affiliate marketing has a low barrier of entry.
You just need a domain and a website to get started (sometimes even that’s not necessary).
From broke marketers to million-dollar investors, all kinds of people are involved in it. As a result, people throw around all kinds of theories and false beliefs about affiliate marketing that can actually hurt your business.
In this detailed post, we’ll debunk some of the most popular affiliate marketing myths and tell you exactly how you should use this hugely potent business model to your benefit.
MYTH #1: AFFILIATE MARKETING IS NOT A LONG-TERM AND SERIOUS BUSINESS
Nothing could be further from the truth.
This common misconception stems from an incorrect understanding of the affiliate business model.
The concept of affiliate marketing, promoting someone else’s product/service to receive a commission, has been around for ages.
The internet has only made it more popular.
A recent survey of more than 1000 bloggers found that affiliate marketing is the most popular monetization method among bloggers earning $50,000+/year.
The world’s top websites and publishers including The Huffington Post, Mashable, Business Insider, Wired etc. all earn a significant portion of their revenue with affiliate sales.
The reason is simple.
The affiliate business model is proven to work over decades and the world’s top advertisers realize that.
This is why they’re spending more money on promoting their products through affiliates instead of traditional and direct advertising.
A Forrester study of more than 150 advertisers, with $200M+ annual revenue, found that affiliate marketing is expected to become a $7 billion industry in the U.S alone by 2020.
Clearly, affiliate marketing is here to stay. Then why do some marketers find it unreliable?
Mainly because of two flaws in their own strategy.
1. Not building a relationship with their audience
You know why advertisers are moving money out of direct advertising and into affiliate marketing?
Because research shows that 84% of consumers don’t trust traditional advertising and 88% are more likely to buy a product because of a review from someone they trust.
Trust is the key word here.
And you can’t establish trust unless you have a relationship with your readers.
Marketers who fail at affiliate marketing usually don’t spend enough time building a relationship with their audience.
They expect people to buy from them just because they’ve published a product review or shared affiliate links in their content.
It doesn’t work that way.
To build trust with your audience, you need to understand their concerns, problems, and needs, and publish content that addresses them.
You need to respond to their comments on your content and social media and keep giving them unconditional value (more on this later in the post).
2. Wrong niche selection
A big reason for failure in affiliate marketing is incorrect niche selection.
If you choose a niche where people don’t spend money and only seek free information, even the best quality content won’t drive any sales.
Or If you choose a niche that’s either too broad or too narrow, you’ll find it hard to gain any traction.
These are just a couple of examples of how wrong niche selection can hold you back.
We’ve recently published a detailed guide on how to choose a profitable affiliate marketing niche that covers all the points with examples.
Make sure you read it.
MYTH #2: ALL PROFITABLE NICHES ARE ALREADY TAKEN
Now that you know what a profitable niche looks like, let’s see how you can find such niches to start your own business.
Just keep the 4 qualities, that we’ve just discussed, in mind while reading the rest of this post.
The global internet population is exploding
No matter what niche you’re in, the size of your target audience is always growing because the global internet population is growing as well.
A study published in January 2019 found that global internet penetration stands at 57%.
Which means nearly 43% of the world’s population doesn’t even have basic internet access.
Even if you assume that every person with internet access is already associated with some other brand and won’t be interested in your content (which is impossible), there are millions of new users entering the internet population every single day.
These are all potential customers who’re up for grabs.
New profitable niches are emerging
You know why you’ll never run out of profitable niches?
Because new niches are coming up all the time.
Just think about it.
There was no blockchain or cryptocurrency niche just a few years ago. Today, it’s a highly competitive and lucrative niche to make money.
Influencer marketing, one of the hottest topics these days, generated little interest just a few years back (apparent from its search trend in Google Trends)
The interests, hobbies, and needs of people keep changing with time which means there will always be new niches where you can establish yourself as an authority and make money with affiliate marketing.
A unique angle is enough to make you money
Competition is not a bad thing. Successful marketers consider it an indicator of profitability.
If lots of businesses are competing in a niche, it means there’s money to be made there. You don’t need to completely dominate a topic and rank for every high traffic keyword to make money.
You just need to find a unique angle that makes you different from your competition and target multiple long-tail keywords instead of the more high-traffic head keywords.
And trust me, this can be done in even the most competitive niches.
For example, weight loss is a hugely competitive niche with lots of big brands and publications competing for the top keywords.
It’s very hard to outrank them if you target the whole weight loss niche in one go.
Ahrefs Keyword Explorer shows that its very hard to rank for a popular keyword like “how to lose weight”
But if you approach it from a different angle and aim for long-tail keywords, you can find many opportunities to rank for medium traffic keywords that can collectively send you a lot of traffic.
For example, instead of weight loss, target a more specific audience like weight loss for over 50.
A quick search in Ahrefs Keyword Explorer shows that there are multiple low-traffic long-tail keywords up for grabs on this topic.
Don’t be confused by the low traffic numbers.
When you rank for dozens of similar keywords, their total traffic numbers become much higher.
You can start ranking for them in a few months if you create high quality content and acquire a few quality backlinks.
But you won’t stop here.
Ranking for multiple closely related long-tail keywords will help your site build authority on that topic.
You can use this authority to aim for the more competitive keywords.
The strategy is to approach a competitive niche from a unique angle, build authority in it, and move towards the more popular and high traffic keywords gradually.
Ecommerce Platforms, a hugely successful affiliate site, is a pretty good example of this approach.
It’s been around for 2-3 years but in the first year almost all of its content focused on different ecommerce platforms and how small businesses can use them to set up online stores.
However, once the site gained authority in its primary niche (ecommerce sites and online store platforms) it started covering other related topics and gradually expanded its keyword range.
Instead of publishing reviews and comparison only, they started publishing more info content that covered the various problems and needs of ecommerce users.
And published detailed guides on different ecommerce business models instead of just reviewing platforms
As a result, the site’s organic traffic and the number of keywords ranking in the top 10 increased drastically.
This sudden growth didn’t happen by accident.
The authority that the site gained in its first year by focusing on a very specific niche helped it grow faster when it started expanding into other closely related niches.
Had it directly jumped into all the different niches, it wouldn’t have succeeded.
MYTH #3: CONSUMERS HATE BUYING THROUGH AFFILIATES
It’s true that people hate being sold to. But they love buying.
Confused? Let me explain.
There’s a right way to sell and there’s a wrong way to sell.
If you approach customers with nothing but sales pitches and act like a cheap salesman desperate to make a commission, people won’t buy from you.
That’s exactly the kind of affiliate marketers that consumers run away from.
But if you build a relationship based on trust and mutual benefit and convince your prospects that a certain product can solve their problems and make their lives easier, they’ll have no problems buying from you even when they know you’re making a commission from it.
This is exactly what Rakuten Marketing found in a detailed study of more than 1,000 influencers.
The study found that 61% of consumers had no problem clicking a sponsored link as long as they trusted the influencer/marketer.
The same study found that 43% of consumers actually appreciated detailed product reviews and recommendations as long as the influencer/marketer disclosed their relationship with the brand.
Just goes to show that people are willing to buy from you if you focus on creating win-win scenarios.
Build trust, show them the benefits, and make the sale.
It’s that simple.
MYTH #4: AFFILIATES DON’T NEED A CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGY
It’s a popular myth.
Just publish product reviews, comparisons, discount deals, and other forms of sales content and the commissions will start pouring in.
If only it were that easy.
Unless you’re a huge brand publication like BestReviews or WireCutter that mostly publish product-focused content and pour in thousands of dollars in advertising, you’ll find it hard to make any sales without a well-defined content marketing strategy.
What does a content strategy do?
- It helps you generate traffic to your site by targeting the problems of your target audience
- It helps you turn strangers into subscribers by offering actionable content
- It converts subscribers into customers by offering reliable, verifiable, and detailed product information.
I won’t go into the details of creating a content strategy, but I’ll give you an overview of how to divide your content into different stages based on the conventional sales cycle.
Instead of publishing product focused content only, you need to divide your strategy into three stages.
- Top of the Funnel (ToFU) – This stage targets people who have a problem but are unaware of the solution (your product)
- Middle of the Funnel (MoFU) – This stage targets people who have a problem and are aware of different solutions (including your product) but are exploring different options
- Bottom of the Funnel (BoFU) – This stage targets people who have a problem, know that your product can solve it, and are looking to buy
ToFU content targets complete strangers who have a problem but do not know what to do about it.
This is the stage where you’ll publish blog posts addressing the general problems of your niche without actively selling or pitching products.
The objective here is to turn strangers into prospects by giving them awareness of the problem and establishing a relationship of trust by giving them actionable information.
At this stage, your sole focus is on providing value to the readers because that’s what leads to building trust.
For example, if you’re an affiliate for an email marketing tool like GetResponse, your ToFU content will target topics like:
- Benefits of Email Marketing
- Ways to Build an Email List
- Writing Persuasive Emails
- Increasing Email Conversion Rates
In MoFU, the next stage, you’ll target prospects who’re aware of the problem and know that you offer the solutions but still aren’t sure what they should do about it.
The typical topics to target at his stage would
- How XYZ Increased Email Opt-In With GetResponse
- How To Grow Your List By 327% Using GetResponse Intelligent Pop-Ups
The last stage, BoFU, is where you target people who’re aware of the problem and are actively looking to buy a product to solve it.
This is where you publish product reviews, comparisons, and other sales content that’s designed to make people take action (and click on your affiliate links)
ToFU content funnels leads to the MoFU stage, and MoFU content funnels them to the BoFU stage where they make the purchase.
Most affiliates publish BoFU content only. And this is exactly why most affiliates struggle to drive sales.
MYTH #5: YOU NEED TO BE AN EXPERT ON YOUR TOPIC
Yes you do.
People won’t trust your recommendations unless they believe you’re an expert.
A study carried out by Nielsen and Inpowered found that when it comes to purchase decisions, consumers give the most importance to expert content and advice.
The study also found that if an expert recommends something, consumers are less likely to question it. So the effectiveness of expert content is undeniable.
But who do you call an expert?
Someone who knows everything? No one can make that claim.
In affiliate marketing terms, an expert is someone who knows more than their target audience.
Let me repeat that one more time. In affiliate marketing, an expert is someone who knows more than their target audience.
For example, if you’re promoting an SEO training program to total newbies, even terminologies like On-Page SEO, link building, etc. are advanced knowledge for them.
For them, even someone with a basic understanding of SEO is an expert.
This is how it works.
You don’t need to know everything.
Just identify your target audience, understand their problems, and share something they do not know.
There’s a popular theory that to become an expert in something you need to spend 10,000 hours practicing it.
A recent study, however, by Josh Kaufmann says that while it might take 10K hours to become an expert in something, it takes just 20 hours of dedicated learning to become better than most people on a topic.
Here’s how you can put it into action
Go to BuzzSumo and search for your main niche topic, for example, technical SEO:
- This gives you a list of the most popular blog posts on technical SEO. Note down the links in a separate spreadsheet
- In the top navigation bar, click on the “Influencers” tab and search for your topic again.
This will give you a list of all the top Twitter accounts related to this topic.
Follow them and go through their timelines to see the content and the tips they’ve shared with their followers.
- Search for the top books about your topic on Amazon (sort the result by customer reviews)
If you spend 15-20 hours studying these resources, you’ll have more knowledge about the topic than most other people.
The other approach, of course, is to simply hire industry specialists to write the content for your site. In that case, you save a lot of time and create more authentic content.
But even if you decide to do it yourself, it’s not as difficult as it looks.
You just need to know more than your target audience.
MYTH #6: YOU NEED TO HAVE TECHNICAL IT SKILLS TO SUCCEED
There’s nothing technical about affiliate marketing.
Your only job as a marketer is to identify the problems of your audience, create actionable content that offers solutions, and recommend reliable products that can make the lives of your readers easier.
Publish various forms of content that people find useful, for example.
- Video tutorials
- Detailed step by step guides
- Product comparisons
- Expert reviews
- Infographics, and other forms of content
For everything else, like setting up a WordPress website, installing the right theme and plugins, optimizing your site for search engines, building backlinks, setting up landing pages etc.
You can hire people from different freelance portals like PeoplePerHour, Upwork, and Fiverr.
But managing multiple freelancers is a hassle and it’s pretty hard to get consistent quality when you’re dealing with multiple contractors.
This is where our Done-For-You-Website package comes real handy since it takes care of all the technical stuff of your affiliate business and hands over a search engine and conversion-optimized website where you can start publishing useful content right away
It’s a small expense to keep your business running.
There are also many different free apps for performing routine tasks like Canva for image creation, LeadPages or ClickFunnels for marketing automation, Ahrefs for SEO.
All are pretty user-friendly tools that can be used without any assistance.
Still, as a marketer, stay focused on your primary task of finding problems and solving them, and outsource everything else.
MYTH #7: AFFILIATE MARKETERS DON’T NEED TO BUILD AN EMAIL LIST
It’s a common newbie myth that affiliate marketers don’t need an email list.
The reality is quite the opposite.
A recent study found that affiliate marketers earning more than $50K/year are twice as likely to focus on email marketing and use 2.4 times more email collection methods than lower-income bloggers.
As we’ve already discussed, affiliate marketing has become much more competitive and the only way to generate sales is to build trust with your audience and recommend products that solve their problems.
Email marketing is one of the best ways to build customer relationships.
A study by Adetra found that 81% of American consumers subscribe to email lists to get discounts and product information.
Another study found that 91% of American consumers check email at least once per day while 66% of American consumers older than 15 years of age made at least once purchase because of an email in the last 12 months.
But perhaps the most revealing stat comes from a DMA study which found that every $1 spent on affiliate email marketing gives you $32 in return.
So how do you build an email list?
You can find all the answers, plus proven methods and techniques to build a highly responsive email list (that’ll make you a lot of money) in the RankXL Blog Accelerator program.
It tells you exactly how to start from scratch and grow an email list that not only acts as a catalyst to build a six-figure blog but also allows you to sell products and earn affiliate commissions through targeted promotions.
But to give you a general idea, here are some of the broad steps you need to take in order to build an engaged email list.
Create an attractive lead magnet
A lead magnet is a free resource like an eBook, a checklist, an email course, a tool, a discount coupon, or anything else that readers can access by sharing their email addresses with you.
Many blogs simply have a “Free Email Updates” opt-in box in their side-bar.
That’s not a lead magnet.
This is what a lead magnet looks like:
You can find lots of lead magnet ideas in this article. Once you create a lead magnet, it’s time to promote it.
Promote your lead magnet
Placing a lead magnet in your blog’s sidebar is a basic way of promoting it to your subscribers.
But it’s not enough.
You also need to use pop-ups, sliding opt-ins, opt-ins at the end and in the middle of your content, welcome matts etc.
All of these options are available in Sumo, a free tool for list building.
You can also use the more advanced methods like Facebook Advertising to promote your lead magnet to the right people and build your audience.
Create an autoresponder series
Getting subscribers isn’t enough to build a relationship with them. You need to keep them engaged with regular emails and valuable content.
The best way to do this is by creating an email autoresponder series.
The welcome email of your campaign (the email subscribers receive on joining your list) is by far the most important one since it has a 50% higher open rate and gives you a great opportunity to connect with your subscribers.
To create an autoresponder series, you can use MailChimp which is free for up to 2000 subscribers.
Or you can move directly to the more powerful tools like ActiveCampaign, Drip etc.
Here are the key objectives you need to achieve with an autoresponder series
- Build a connection with your audience
- Keep them engaged with your content
- Drive traffic to your content by sharing your latest articles
- Promoting relevant affiliate offers
- Driving traffic to your product reviews and sales content
This mammoth email marketing guide has everything you need to know.
MYTH #8: ORGANIC SEARCH IS THE ONLY TRAFFIC SOURCE FOR AFFILIATES
Google Search is the biggest source of traffic for most affiliate sites.
In fact, organic search volume is one of the main factors you analyze while choosing a niche. However, you’d never want your entire business to rely on a single traffic source.
Think about it.
The day Google decides to pull the plug on your site, your whole business empire can go down if you don’t have any alternate traffic streams.
A quick Google search will show you lots of such cases.
This can happen to you even if you don’t intentionally violate any of Google’s webmaster guidelines.
Because of a change in policy or a system bug or anything else.
The point is simple, you cannot put all your eggs in a single basket.
Your business cannot completely rely on one traffic source because that can lead to a disastrous situation.
Digital Photography School, a well known affiliate site that’s been in business since 2006, is a great example of traffic diversification
According to the analytics site SimilarWeb, more than 43% of its traffic comes from other sources like social media, email, and direct visits.
Plus, the site has a huge email list and a strong brand so even if Google wipes it off its search index for any reason, they still won’t go out of business.
In short, no matter what nche you’re in, you have to diversify your traffic sources. Other than search, drive traffic from:
- Social media sites
- Facebook groups
- Niche specific forums
- Quora, Reddit, and other Q&A sites
- Your email list
- Guest posts and referral traffic
Here are a few more traffic diversification ideas to help you build a risk free traffic strategy.
MYTH #9: MORE TRAFFIC MEANS MORE SALES AND HIGHER PROFITS
Everyone wants to drive traffic to their sites. And no matter how much they already have, they want more.
Because more traffic means more sales, right?
Traffic generation is crucial for your site. It’s the lifeblood of any online business.
But traffic alone is useless if it doesn’t convert into customers.
No matter how much traffic your site gets, if it’s not clicking your affiliate links and buying from you, you won’t earn any money.
To make money, you need traffic that converts.
There can be a number of reasons why your traffic isn’t clicking on your affiliate links.
1. You’re targeting the wrong traffic
If your site is getting a lot of traffic from search engines but it isn’t converting into customers, you’re probably targeting the wrong keywords.
You need to evaluate the keywords your site is ranking for and see if they have the right user intent.
To do this, go to your Google Search Console account and click on the Performance tab in the left panel.
This will show you the top keywords your site is ranking for along with the number of clicks you’re getting for each term.
Have a close look at these keywords and ask yourself the following questions.
- Are the keywords relevant to the products you’re promoting?
- Do they have the right buyer intent?
- What need do they represent? Is the searcher looking for information or is he looking to buy?
- Is your traffic looking for a specific brand or product specification that you’re not offering?
If you realize that the keywords you’re ranking for are not directly relevant to your product and lack commercial intent, you need to perform more in-depth keyword research and identify the right keywords for your content strategy.
Once you do that, your site will start getting visitors who’re actually interested in what you’re offering.
2. Your site isn’t optimized for conversions
If your analysis shows you’re targeting the right keywords, your traffic isn’t probably converting because your site is not optimized for conversions.
And this is where Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) comes in.
The objective of CRO is to make the most of your existing traffic and ensure that you’re giving yourself the best chance to convert cold traffic into leads and customers.
The following infographic gives a pretty good overview of what CRO does.
So what are the exact steps you need to take in order to improve your site’s conversion rate?
Here’s a quick list to get you started.
- Evaluate your site’s performance: Sites that take longer than 3 seconds to load lose most of their visitors before they even look at the content.
Use Google’s Page Speed Insights to make sure your site’s performance is properly optimized and in line with the best practices.
- Analyze CTAs and test different link types and placements: Calls to Action (CTA) play a key role in driving clicks to your affiliate links.
Have a good look at your CTAs and make sure they’re visible, clear, and use adjectives to drive more clicks.
Also test different types of links (banners, buttons, plain text) and use them in different parts of your content (after the intro, in a comparison table) to see what works best.
- Evaluate your site’s design: Is your site’s design too cluttered and distracting? A clean design where all the focus is on the content, always performs better than a busy looking page with lots of links and advertisements.
- Improve content engagement: Maybe everything else is fine and it’s just your website copy that isn’t good enough.
Make sure your content is clear, informative, and engaging.
Format it in a reader-friendly manner by using small paragraphs, multiple sub-heading, and images throughout the page.
CRO is a detailed topic that cannot be fully covered in this article.
But it’s crucial for your site’s performance and revenue which is why you should read this detailed guide to learn more about it.
MYTH #10: PRODUCT-FOCUSED NICHE SITES ARE BETTER THAN AUTHORITY SITES
This is one of the biggest myths in affiliate marketing. And it’s so popular because there was a time when it actually worked.
But it doesn’t work anymore.
Websites that are built around products, not problems, might earn a few thousand dollars in their lifetime (which is quite short anyway) but they can never become six, seven, or eight figure businesses.
There was a time when 3-4 page micro niche sites that focused on a single product could easily rank for relevant keywords, attract search traffic, and help you earn affiliate commissions.
But over the past few years, Google has gradually moved towards authority sites that put the needs of their audience ahead of anything else and are more like trusted brands in their niches.
This is exactly in line with Google’s core philosophy.
What does that mean for affiliate marketers?
It means that instead of ranking a piece of content in isolation just because it is optimized for a certain keyword, Google now considers the overall authority of a site on the topic its trying to rank for.
Google uses a site’s authority to determine whether it is a reliable source of information or not.
- Does it have expertise in this topic and will it be able to provide authentic information to the readers?
- Does it have a dedicated and loyal audience base?
- Do people know it by name and look for it online?
- Is it a brand?
Micro niche sites built around products don’t have any authority because they rarely publish anything but product reviews and sales content.
Their sole objective is to rank for commercial keywords and drive sales because of which they pay little attention to user experience factors such as website performance, design, content quality etc.
As a result, you’ll never find a micro niche site with a loyal fan base. People (used to) find such sites only through search results of referrals.
In contrast, authority sites cover a topic from all angles and focuses on the problems of a well-defined audience instead of a few products.
This not only helps them acquire more backlinks and citations from relevant high authority publications which increases their overall credibility in Google’s eyes.
People know them by name, willingly subscribe to their content, and regularly visit them for news, updates, and product recommendations.
Once more, take Digital Photography School as an example.
From the outside, it seems like DPS is a product focus niche site that only promotes digital cameras and lenses.
But when you look at their content, the site’s design, their overall traffic diversification, the wide range of products they recommend based on the needs of their readers, you realize that they’re the perfect example of an authority site in a well-defined niche.
At the end of the day, both authority sites and product-focused sites want to earn money.
The only problem is that the micro-niche site model rarely works these days and even when it does, it doesn’t last for long.
So the only real way to create a sustainable affiliate business that can earn you money for years and can be sold to someone when you want to is to build an authority site.
MYTH #11: YOU CAN’T DOMINATE A NICHE WITHOUT PBN LINKS
“You can’t break into the top 10 results of a competitive niche without PBN links and other grey hat seo techniques.”
That’s a common belief in the affiliate community. And like some of the other myths in this post, this one also works to an extent.
But setting up a PBN the right way is a pretty technical job.
Here’s what a basic PBN looks like:
If you’re an advanced SEO (or you’re about to hire one), try putting together a solid plan, and strategically place PBN links. They do have the potential to increase your rankings and get you on the first page of Google Search for even the most competitive keywords.
But it’s hard to pull it off with the ever-improving Google algorithms.
Sooner or later, though, your PBN is going to be detected by Google (or reported by your competitor) which will get you into trouble.
This means that even when you create it the right way, it’s never safe to remain associated with it for too long.
It’s a risky approach that you should never directly apply to your main site.
If you still want to take this route, make sure you never directly link a PBN site to your main website.
The safer approach is to use PBNs for tier 2 linking only.
To do this, write guest posts on different high authority blogs with links pointing to your main site.
Then point PBN links to the URL of your guest post to increase its authority/juice up those links.
When the overall authority of your guest posts increases, the value of your backlinks in those guest posts will also increase. PR distribution 101.
But to stay safe, as soon as your site starts gaining authority and traffic, gradually remove the PBN links and replace them with genuine white-hat links earned through guest posts or outreach (maybe sprinkle a niche edit here and there ;)).
To avoid any ranking loss, create at least 2 white hat backlinks for every PBN link that you remove.
Still, do this at your own risk.
Because you can outrank your competitors with a clean white-hat SEO strategy as well. It’s just a different game.
Targeting long-tail keywords, creating superior content, building backlinks with guest blogging/outreach, improving user experience, and optimizing your site for conversions will eventually get you in the top results.
It will take a bit longer (usually) than using a PBN, but the results will be more sustainable.
MYTH #12: YOU CAN PROMOTE ANY PRODUCT IF THE COMMISSION RATE IS GOOD
You can, of course. Nobody can stop you.
But should you?
Not really because promoting and recommending a product to your audience has direct consequences for your brand.
If the product doesn’t deliver what it promised, your audience will blame you for recommending it.
If you’re in the affiliate marketing business with a long term vision, you should only promote a product that meets the following conditions
It Genuinely Solves the Problems of Your Audience
People buy products/services to solve problems or fulfil needs. Any product that you promote has to be in line with the needs and wants of your audience.
If you promote something that isn’t directly useful to your customers, you might get some sales because of your relationship with them, but in the long run people will stop taking your recommendations seriously.
You Have Complete Confidence in It
Ideally, you should only promote products that you’ve used and tested yourself. But that’s not always possible, especially in the case of physical products.
But you still have to be 100% sure that the product comes from a reliable source and will deliver what it promises.
Research the seller’s online history and look for product reviews to see if a product is worth promoting.
The moment you vouch for a product online, your reputation gets associated with it.
Take the example of Pat Flynn.
Pat is a prolific blogger and one of the most well-known names in the affiliate marketing niche. Thousands of people follow him and take his recommendations without blinking an eye.
He promotes lots of different services and tools as an affiliate and one of them is BlueHost, a well-known web-hosting service provider.
Now here’s the problem
BlueHost might be a good option for a complete beginner but the moment a blog starts growing and attracting anywhere near decent traffic, BlueHost’s basic plan cannot handle it.
Everyone, including Pat, knows this.
Yet, he keeps promoting it and makes thousands in affiliate commission every month from BlueHost.
Here’s a screenshot from one of his monthly income reports.
Since most bloggers never reach any substantial traffic numbers, BlueHost works fine for them.
But the few who grow into successful bloggers, start noticing the problem and immediately question Pat’s recommendation.
Like this blogger.
Pat’s a genuine marketer and has a great reputation which is why people trust his recommendations.
But recommending a product that doesn’t deliver can sometimes harm your reputation.
This is why you have to be very careful in choosing product promotions and always make decisions with your long-term vision in mind.
MYTH #13: AFFILIATE MARKETING IS AN EASY, QUICK, AND 100% PASSIVE INCOME SOURCE
It isn’t easy, it’s certainly not quick, and there’s no method that guarantees 100% passive income (unless you have a team working for you).
A lot of the new entrants in the affiliate marketing industry look at it as some kind of get-rich-quick scheme.
But they’re also the first ones to quit affiliate marketing when they realize it’s a serious business that requires patience, strategy, and a lot of hard work.
According to Search Engine Journal, it takes a new site 9 to 12 months to get to the first page for some low-comp keywords in a competitive niche. For non-competitive niches, the duration is 6-9 months.
And these are just average numbers across different niches. It could be higher in a competitive niche.
A separate study by Ahrefs also backs this claim. In fact, it found that the average age of a top 10 ranking page is around 2 years:
This doesn’t mean you can’t rank a new site for a competitive keyword faster than 2 years.
If your content is exceptionally good, and you get backlinks from high authority sites, you can rank earlier. But it’ll still take time.
So there’s concept of overnight success here.
You have a choice.
You can either go looking for the so-called shortcuts, loopholes, and guru secrets to make it grow faster.
Or take the proven route of creating value for your audience and build a long-lasting business that grows with time and has a much better chance of getting acquired.
Either way, affiliate marketing requires focused work and dedicated effort.
It’s only after your site gets to a certain level of authority that you can relax to a certain extent.
But it’s still never 100% passive.
MYTH #14: AFFILIATE SITES DON’T NEED TO DIVERSIFY THEIR INCOME SOURCES
Revenue diversification is a basic business principle that applies to all business models.
You never want your business to be completely reliant on a single source.
Yet, many affiliate sites do that probably because creating new income streams requires a bit more effort and personal involvement.
But it’s a huge gamble not to diversify because of several reasons.
- The affiliate program you’re promoting might shutdown (it happens all the time)
- It might revise and lower the commission rates (Amazon has done it several times)
- People might lose interest in the product you’re promoting
- Your competitors might replace you as niche leaders.
There can be a dozen more reasons for this.
It’s not necessary to diversify from day 1.
You can add new income sources as your audience and brand grows. As you grow you will find new needs and opportunities that can be monetized with product or services.
Almost every successful affiliate marketer does that.
For example, JustAGirlAndHerBlog is a pretty famous blog in the interior design niche that made all of its income from affiliate marketing.
But as the site grew, they added new income streams by creating online courses, mentorship programs, and other services
Out of the total monthly income of $41,457, almost $15,000 comes from product sales.
You’ll find this trend in every successful marketer’s journey. And the reasons are the same that I’ve mentioned earlier.
No matter what niche you’re in, no matter what products you’re promoting, you should always add new income sources to make your business more sustainable.
Here are a few ways to reduce your reliance on affiliate commissions
- Use multiple affiliate programs
- Monetize your site with advertising programs like Google Adsense, Ezoic, or Mediavine
- Create and sell your own digital product like an eBook, a video course, or a membership site
- Offer consultancy services
- Start and monetize a YouTube channel
- Start a podcast
We’ve covered many other online business models in this detailed blog post.
MYTH #15: “MAKE MONEY ONLINE” IS THE ONLY PROFITABLE AFFILIATE MARKETING NICHE
Can’t blame you for believing this.
Every other marketer is promoting “get-rich-quick” programs and different products that can help you make money.
But that’s only because everyone wants to make money and MMO is the most popular niche online.
However, it doesn’t mean you can’t make money in other niches. To get an idea of what’s possible, head over to Flippa and go to the Just Sold section:
Here, you’ll find a list of businesses successfully sold on Flippa. You’ll find all kinds of websites, blogs, and ecommerce businesses here.
For example, here’s an affiliate and eCommerce site called Mumberry that’s recently sold for $15,000.
What’s the niche?
Tips for a healthy and active pregnancy for first time mothers.
You can find even more ideas if you head over to EmpireFlippers where the price tags on websites are much bigger than Flippa.
For example, here’s an affiliate site in the News and Education niche that lists coupons of different tools and services.
Guess how much its selling for?
$764K is the list price of this site on Empire Flippers.
And there’s no reason why it won’t be acquired since it’s making a very good monthly revenue of around $20K.
If you spend a little time on Empire Flippers you’ll find countless high-earning affiliate sites in completely unique niches.
MMO is a lucrative niche but clearly there are many other much less competitive niches waiting to be explored.
MYTH #16: AFFILIATE MARKETING SUCCESS IS MORE LUCK THAN STRATEGY
Thomas Jefferson famously said “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”
It’s easy to brush off someone’s hard work by calling them lucky. But the luckiest people are often the ones who work the hardest.
Affiliate marketing is a serious business that has collectively grown into a $7 billion industry worldwide.
The most successful affiliate marketing sites are built on proven models not shortcuts or loopholes.
What are those proven models?
- Identify your target audience and understand their needs.
- Find the right products and services to promote that can fulfill those needs.
- Create a content marketing funnel based on the ToFU, MoFU, and BoFU model discussed earlier in this post.
- Optimize your site for conversions so that the traffic you generate becomes your permanent asset
- Set up lead magnets, email opt-ins, and autoresponder series
- Drive traffic to your lead magnet using Google and Facebook Ads (optional)
- Keep improving every stage of the funnel to increase revenue.
These are the proven steps that’ll help you create a long-term affiliate marketing business and increase your chances of becoming “lucky”.
Are You Ready To Start An Affiliate Site?
These were some of the most common myths and misconceptions about affiliate marketing.
Hopefully, after reading this article, you now have a much clearer understanding of the affiliate business model and the things that really matter.
Now it’s up to you to decide whether you want to jump in this hugely profitable industry, spend the first few months building your authority site, and reap the rewards afterward.
Or, take advantage of our turnkey affiliate sites that are already set up, properly optimized, and are in the right niche so that you have a much greater chance of success as compared to your competitors.
Either way, there’s a fortune to be made in affiliate marketing provided you’re patient and build it like a real business.
Affiliate Marketing Myths – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is affiliate marketing a scam?
No, affiliate marketing is a legitimate business model that has been around for decades. The internet has only made it more popular.
Is affiliate marketing a dying industry?
No, affiliate marketing is growing faster than ever before and even mainstream brands and companies are using it to generate revenue.
How much money can I make with affiliate marketing?
There’s no fixed income in affiliate marketing. You make money by earning a commission for every product you sell. The more sales you refer, the more commissions you’ll earn.
How long does it take to make money with affiliate marketing?
Although there are multiple factors involved in it, a site started from scratch can start making money in 4-5 months (or as soon as it starts getting regular traffic from search engines and other sources)
Can I make money with affiliate marketing without a website?
Yes, you can. But to build a reliable, long-term, and sustainable affiliate marketing business, you need a website.
Is affiliate marketing still profitable or is it too late to start?
No, it’s not too late. There are more opportunities than before to make money with affiliate marketing.
Are all profitable affiliate niches already saturated?
No, even the most competitive niches can be penetrated. Plus, new profitable niches keep emerging.
Is affiliate marketing 100% passive income?
Affiliate marketing is the closest thing to passive income but it’s not 100% passive (nothing is).
Do I need to be a niche expert to make money with affiliate marketing?
No, you don’t need to be an expert in literal terms. You just need to know more than your target audience.
How much can I earn as an Amazon affiliate?
There’s no limit, the more sales you refer the more money you can earn.
The sales will start coming as soon as I publish good content, right?
Yes, if you have an established website with high search authority and a large email subscriber base. But no if you’re just starting.
Do I need to publish product reviews that praise products, highlight features, and conceal flaws to make money with affiliate marketing?
No, consumers prefer reading genuine, unbiased, and independent affiliate reviews that highlight both the pros and cons of a product.
Do consumers not trust affiliate marketers?
That’s a myth.
If you have any questions, we’d love to respond in the comments section.