The Truth About Affiliate Marketing (I Wish I Knew)

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When you first hear about affiliate marketing, you feel like a kid at a candy store.

“You mean I can just get a link, share it with people, and get money?”

What in the world could be better than that?

This is exactly what I had in my head during my first few months in affiliate marketing.

And guess what happened: I failed.

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news but there is actually a lot about affiliate marketing that you probably did not know.

But don’t worry, I got you covered!

In this article, I will tell you the truth about affiliate marketing and how you can avoid the mistakes that I made.

Get ready!

Getting Started As An Affiliate Marketer

making money online. affilliate marketing

One thing that is true about affiliate marketing is that it is very easy to get started with it. You can join most affiliate platforms for free.

There are however certain platforms that do require a special sign-up and vetting process. This means that they can accept or deny your application if they want to.

Most of the time, the platforms that have this also require that you have a website, blog, youtube channel, or other platforms for proof of a track record.

Luckily, you can get started with platforms like Clickbank or CJ without having to go through that whole process.

There are a lot more things to keep in mind before you start sharing your links so let’s get into them.

The Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing

Like everything else in this world, there are both pros and cons when it comes to affiliate marketing.

And there are also some things that are just downright ugly.

I know, I wouldn’t have believed it either.

But having gone through most of them, I now have a much better understanding of how things work.

The Good

All in all, the pros definitely outweigh the cons when it comes to affiliate marketing.

It has changed the lives of many and opened doors that most people never even knew existed.

So we should probably start this on a more positive note.

Affiliate Marketing Is Easy To Begin With

With all of the online side-hustles that I have tried throughout my days, I will be the first to admit that affiliate marketing is by far the easiest, to begin with.

There are affiliate links for everything!

Matter of fact, most of your favorite digital platforms probably have some form of affiliate or referral program.

So finding a program that you already use and know that people will like, makes it a lot easier to be able to share.

You can start with your circle of friends or use your Facebook or Instagram pages, to begin with.

Then, once you make some sales, you can reinvest that money into running ads or maybe starting a website.

It Is Extremely Lucrative

woman holding money

People are making millions of dollars a month from affiliate marketing alone.

I am not kidding.

I have been fortunate to meet a few of them and be a part of their webinars. They are actually the ones that pushed me to start my own website.

All that to say, affiliate marketing is extremely lucrative if you have patience and are willing to learn.

Affiliate programs pay anything from 2%-100% in commissions.

Yes, you read that right.

The least paying affiliate program is Amazon Associates which pays 2%-10% depending on the products.

Otherwise, most programs are in the 20%-70% range which could mean a couple hundred, to a couple of thousand dollars in sales.

Great Way To Make Passive Income

Besides investing in stocks, there is no better way to set up a fully passive income system than to have an affiliate marketing system.

Remember when I talked about the commissions you can get?

Well, commissions are sometimes paid on a recurring basis. Meaning the person may be subscribed to a service where they pay monthly instead of a flat fell.

This means that every month, you will be getting a portion of that money. Which means that you not only get paid once but you also get paid every month that person pays for the service.

Without even having to lift a finger.

This is the ultimate affiliate dream for any beginner.

The Bad

Now that we got all of the good news out of the way, let’s address a few elephants in the room.

Not all that sparkles is gold.

So that is the downside of affiliate marketing?

No Guarantee To Success

It hurts to say this, but no one can guarantee that you will be successful at affiliate marketing.

There are too many variables and too many different ways to become an affiliate for anyone to be able to make such a claim.

However, there are two ways that have been proven to work well for affiliates:

  • Having a youtube channel
  • Owning a website or blog

These are the two best ways to be able to scale your affiliate marketing, build an email list, and optimize your monetization.

Besides these, you may be thinking about running ads to a landing page or building some other social media platform to promote links.

These ways can be very effective but there really is no guarantee that you will make sales when you run ads.

Especially if you run them on a smaller budget.

I can tell you from first-hand experience that you start to see real results when you have at least $100 that you can spend on ads.

Now whether you run $5 a day ads or more, is up to you.

But just keep in mind that just because you spent the money, it doesn’t mean that you will get it back.

Affiliate Marketing Is Not A Sprint

microphone laptop table

Many affiliates get into the business thinking that they are going to start making $100 a day their first month.

This is unfortunately not the case most of the time.

Not to say that this doesn’t happen. But it’s more of an extreme exception to a rule more than anything.

Again, we probably have the “make money gurus” to blame for this since most will tell you the results they get. Without telling you all of the work they put behind it.

If you have a website that is optimized for SEO, you will sit 5-8 months before you start to see any real traffic.

Even if you decide to run ads, the platform will need a few days to be able to truly optimize your ads for search queries.

Meaning you may need to run them for at least a week or two before it hits its stride.

Not to mention that building trust takes time as well.

So be prepared to be in it for the long haul.

Getting Clicks Is Harder Than You Think

Here is the real icing on the cake, getting clicks is not as easy as you may think!

You’d think that if you have a product that people need, they will at least want to know more about it, right?

Not all the time.

People are so used to just scrolling past things that you really need good images and copywriting to get their attention.

Both of which newer affiliates are usually not good at yet. Meaning you can thousands of impressions with just a few clicks.

But did you know that the conversion rate for clicks to sales is 2%-3%?

Meaning for every 100 people who click your link, you could expect about 1-3 sales. That is not a lot but every digital marketer already knows this.

It’s just that you didn’t know it.

The Ugly

how to use google trends

If you thought that it couldn’t get worse, I am sorry to say but it does.

This part has more to do with affiliate behavior than it does with the actual business of affiliate marketing.

Now I am not saying any of this to scare you away. I just want to make sure you do not fall for the “Shiny New Object” syndrome that tends to befall many beginners.

Spammy Behavior

One of the things that tarnish the reputation of affiliate marketing is the spammy behavior that some affiliates take on.

The fact is that many people resort to dm’s and sending spammy emails to random people on social media platforms.

Not only does this act get most people blocked on those platforms, but then it also makes it harder for those of us who are legitimate affiliates to share links with people.

Some platforms don’t even allow links to blog posts or youtube videos anymore because of this.

And frankly, they have a point.

It’s because of actions like this that digital marketers are having to work even harder to build brand awareness and trust online.

People Will Lie To You

Last but not least, you need to be very careful when it comes to who you trust as a source or a coach in this field.

Not every affiliate marketer is created equal.

There are a lot of so-called “wealthy” affiliates that will make a video in a luxurious Airbnb, shoot a money gun at the camera, and tell you they have the secret to making money.

When in reality, they are just going to sell you a $1000 course that is going to give you nothing that you can not already find online.

That is not to say that there are not some good courses out there because there are! I personally have some very trusted digital marketers like Neil Patel and Brian Dean from Backlinko.

The most important thing is that you do your research before you invest in certain affiliate programs.

Especially if they are more expensive.

Final Thoughts

This article went from bad to ugly rather quickly so let’s get some positivity in before you go.

Trust that the information that I am giving in this article is something that most can only get from first-hand experience.

So this is to make sure that you do not have to go through the mistakes that I made.

Affiliate marketing is hands down one of the best things that you can start if you are a digital entrepreneur.

Not only can you promote products that you already love, but you can make great money from them.

There is a huge variety of affiliate marketplaces and programs that you can join. There really is no limit to the amount of money that you can make with it.

Just make sure that you enter the space with your head on your shoulders.

Unlike most people think, affiliate marketing is not quick money.

But it can become very lucrative and scalable once you learn your way around it.