Affiliate marketing is a journey, and my journey started off being entirely focused on money. I’m probably not alone with that, and like many others, those early steps had no structure either. I tried anything and everything hoping to find something that made me money, not realizing I was making a lot of mistakes that could seriously affect any long-term success I was looking for.

The good thing for anyone starting out now, or simply trying to find direction in the affiliate marketing industry, is that as the years have passed, I have learned from all those mistakes I made, and that means you don’t have to go through it. Here, I will explain what I did wrong, and how you can avoid doing the same thing, saving your time and money on your own journey to affiliate marketing success.

Taking on too many programs

The first mistake I want to talk about I hinted at in the opening paragraphs, I joined up to every affiliate program I could find, thinking that with many ways to earn, I’d make more money. This was a mistake, as with so much to deal with from so many options, I never really got to focus on anything in particular, and ended up doing everything in a rushed, badly thought out way.

Now, multiple income streams are fantastic, I’m not suggesting you stick to one program and nothing else, build gradually, master what you are doing before adding to the workload. Instead of signing up to everything, choose carefully and pick a few programs that interest you, with a workload you can manage.

Trying to sell everything

If my first mistake was trying to do too much, my second mistake, and probably the biggest one anyone in affiliate marketing makes (and also the most common), is thinking that affiliate marketing is all about the hard sell. In my early days, I was convinced that I had to sell the product or service I was promoting. I read books on copywriting and focused on the sales language they taught, everything had to be ‘Order yours today!’ and other calls to action, but that is missing the point of affiliate marketing completely, and it really is not the way to find success.

As an affiliate marketer, our job is not to sell, that is for the sales page itself, our job is to help people find solutions to their problems. When making purchase choices, what most people are looking for is what other people think. If you want to see a clear example of this, look at Amazon reviews. Genuine feedback on a product or service is a powerful part of many people’s decision-making process, and as affiliate marketers, that is our goal too.

Instead of selling products or services, the goal should always be to reflect, review and inform, we should always be the unbiased reviewer presenting a product that may interest our audience, the sales funnel comes after our links.

Not using effective tracking

This is the third mistake I made in my haste to make some money, I was so focused on just getting sales, I didn’t give a thought to tracking exactly where the clocks were coming from. I know better now, and always use unique tracking links on each page I put up to promote any offer.

The reason this matters for your business is that if you are getting sales, but do not know where they come from, you never know what is working and what is not. That means you know exactly what works and what needs adjusting. Its easy to do as well, Amazon provides all the tools for you in your account, they have a dedicated “Manage Tracking ID” section.

Ignoring Testing

As I mentioned, I signed up to every program I could in the beginning, never really checking on any of them. To be successful, you need to build your audience as an affiliate marketer, and that means offering quality products and services and a good overall experience.

That is why you should always test the vendor’s system yourself, see just what happens when you register interest. Some still don’t understand that less is more with marketing today, and they can send endless annoying marketing emails. That annoys me, and probably most of the people I would be sending to that link, but it affects your own business as well. That experience reflects on you as a marketer, and that could affect your hard-won audience if they lose confidence in you.

Always test, and only offer products that reflect your own way of working.

Be truthful

Following on from the idea that as affiliate marketers, we are there to help our audience and not sell to them, acting as unbiased reviewers for their benefit, there is another aspect to those reviews. Always be honest. In fact, pointing out a downside to a product can be a great way to confirm your neutrality to an audience, so don’t be afraid to mention some minor negative points or things you would like to see improved.

It’s not something I have fallen into the trap of myself, other than it took me a while to understand that some minor negatives can be beneficial to your audience trust, but I have seen a lot of problems caused by marketers exaggerating the benefits of a product. This happens a lot in the money-making niche, where claims of vast riches are often seen. All that guarantees is a disappointed customer asking for a refund, and it’s not necessary. If someone can make a few extra bucks with a product, say so, very often that is all people are looking for.

Stick with it

Finally, stick with your program to see results. I started far too many campaigns, and that resulted in never really getting anywhere with any of them, so as we have discussed, start off with one and work from there, never take on more than a few that you can comfortably manage. But there is more to it than that, affiliate marketing is a vibrant industry, there is always a new offer or service to promote, with dozens appearing every week, all full of hype and promise.

I got distracted by this myself, always looking for the latest and greatest, but if you start a new program every week, guess what happens? You never finish anything. That was me too! Stick with a program until its working, then find another to add to it. That lets you find success and earn some money, which you will never do with dozens of half-finished attempts that are abandoned for the next big thing.


It’s not a comprehensive ‘how-to’ for affiliate marketers, but if reading the above helps you avoid one of the mistakes I made along the way, then it has the value I wanted it to have. There are as many approaches to affiliate marketing as there are affiliate marketers, no one is right or wrong, but there are some things you can do that will help you towards the success you deserve, and some that will hinder you.

Whatever way you work, avoid the mistakes I made and you will get to your destination sooner.


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