5 Affiliate Marketing Mistakes That Can Make You Smarter

You can find numerous articles online that list off the most common mistakes made by affiliates. The issue with that is many of these mistakes are inevitable for both beginners and experienced affiliates.

Fortunately, we believe mistakes can be a good thing.

The missteps and bad decisions you may make as an affiliate marketer can actually help you develop a foundation of knowledge you wouldn’t have acquired otherwise.

Instead of telling you what you shouldn’t do, we’re going to tell you what you can learn from the mistakes you’ve made or may eventually make as an affiliate. It’s better to grow from something than to dwell on it.

Let’s turn some negatives into positives.

1. Choosing the “Wrong” Niche/Offers

The Mistake

Although you can’t really deem an offer right or wrong (every affiliate is going to find different levels of success with different offers), it is possible to promote offers that don’t have a great chance of earning you money because they don’t pair well with your promotional strategy, traffic source, or the demographic you’re targeting.

Here’s an example of this.

You own a fitness/bodybuilding site. You’re promoting a diet pill offer from MaxBounty to your users thinking that those two things are synonymous. The problem is that the people visiting your site are already reasonably fit. Most of them are not overweight, they’re just looking to maintain and improve on their physiques.

You’d likely find more success promoting a muscle enhancer or a fitness program offer.

What You Can Learn

Over time, you’ll develop a better intuition for choosing the “right” offer.

Making this mistake can also help you realize that promoting offers in a niche that you’re either passionate about or already have knowledge on can greatly improve your chances of success. You’re giving yourself an automatic advantage over other affiliates who are promoting the same offers in that niche who know less than you do.

You’ll better understand the consumers who are most likely to be interested in what it is you’re promoting. This will help you when you’re setting targeting parameters, writing copy and headlines, reviewing products or services, and overall campaign optimization.

2. Over-diversification

The Mistake

Slowly learning to incorporate new strategies, traffic sources, niches, and offers that are outside of your comfort zone into your initiatives isn’t always a bad idea. You can, however, easily spread your time and resources too thin.

If you can’t allocate the time that each offer you’re promoting or strategy you’re using requires, you’ll end up in a situation where you’re just wasting time and money.

What You Can Learn

Don’t underestimate the potential workload of adding to your proverbial plate.

Once you find success with a specific niche or strategy, it’s easy to believe you can start applying it to everything even if they’re hardly related. Realize that this is rarely an effective approach.

Your budget, time, and work ethic will also dictate how much you’re capable of doing simultaneously. It can take time to figure out what that perfect formula is and where your own personal efficiency matches up with your initiatives. This is something that will also change over time.

3. Selling Instead of Communicating

The Mistake

This is a mistake that any affiliate running any offer with any traffic source can make. It’s also likely you won’t realize you’re doing it in the moment.

Go read the language you’re using in your promotion materials. Whether that’s your website/blog, landing pages, creatives, ad copy, etc.. Now ask yourself this question – How am I speaking to my users?

Even though the endgame is to entice users to perform an action or purchase a product/service, coming off as a salesperson is going to turn them away.

What You Can Learn

Focus on being helpful.

Realizing you’re making this mistake is a great opportunity to improve your copywriting skills and develop a better understanding of marketing in general.

You’d be surprised how much of a difference good, engaging copy can make in attracting a user’s interest.

Here are a few things to make sure you’re doing to ensure you’re engaging users.

  • Focus on the user. Talk about how what you’re promoting benefits them. Use “You” frequently.
  • Avoid weak and vague call-to-actions (learn more, act now, etc.). Don’t expect people to do what you want when they get to your CTA.
  • Avoid copying the wording from the offer’s sales page.
  • Communicate the benefits, not the features.

4. Taking Too Much “Expert” Advice

The Mistake

There’s an endless number of people online who claim to be affiliate marketing gurus. A good portion of them may very well have a lot of experience as affiliate marketers, but no one is going to have a secret recipe for becoming an online self-made millionaire.

Basically, don’t expect to find yourself cruising in a private jet to the Virgin Islands in a few months just because you watched a 17-minute webinar entitled “I Got Rich Online – Here’s How You Can Too!”.

It’s easy to develop an addiction to searching for tips and advice. Subconsciously, it can become a way to avoid having to attempt that same strategy you’re trying to learn about, ensuring you never get to the point where you could potentially fail.

There are resources and training courses that can be useful, but far too often affiliates get caught up in the idea that the more information they cram their brains with, the quicker they’ll make money. This is simply not the case.

What You Can Learn

The fact is, there is no fast lane, cheat code, or shortcut to becoming successful in affiliate marketing. If you come across someone trying to sell you on that illusion, you’d be wiser putting that money towards your budget.

As important as research can be, especially if you’re a beginner, it’s still never going to compare to the experience and knowledge you’ll gain from making actual decisions.

The small tasks that the process of promoting an offer is comprised of – choosing a campaign, setting up links, creating landing pages, testing, tracking, optimizing, SEO – will teach you much more in the long-run than any article ever could. Except this one of course.

5. Focusing Too Much on Traffic Quantity

The Mistake

Here’s a scenario.

You’re promoting a market research paid survey campaign. You’ve discovered the perfect demographic to target and you’re seeing a healthy number of conversions. However, profitability isn’t as high as you’d like it to be.

To try and increase your profitability you make the decision to add three additional survey offers to your landing page. The issue is that this decision ultimately delivers lower quality leads to each of those advertisers, because the user’s engagement is no longer as a high as it would have been if you were only promoting one offer to that user.

What You Can Learn 

Acquiring traffic is a balancing act.

Although the decision to add more offers isn’t always detrimental, it’s important to understand that sometimes an attempt to improve your profits can have a negative impact on the overall quality of your traffic, lowering your profitability further.

It’s wise to be cautious when you’re thinking about altering something that’s already reasonably effective. Learn to be patient and plan your adjustments carefully.


If you make mistakes, don’t be discouraged. Instead, learn from them and understand how they can actually help transform you into a more knowledgeable, efficient affiliate.

You won’t learn much if you’re not encountering obstacles. Embrace them.

20 thoughts on “5 Affiliate Marketing Mistakes That Can Make You Smarter

  1. Hey Joe Ferguson! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading through your blog posts.

  2. Great article! Number 4 especially resonates with me. I was always looking for the next tip; the next magic pill. Listening to all the gurus tell their tales and trying to sell themselves. Until I realized that I was only stalling and scared to execute. Well… that is definitely changing. A good tip is to do the work, and only learn what you must to help you move forward. And act on what you just learned.

    1. Thanks, Brian. That’s definitely the message we were trying to communicate. I think we inherently delay actions when we’re afraid of failing. Sometimes you have to just jump in the deep end and start swimming.

      Good luck with your progress! Let us know if you ever need help with anything.

  3. Hahah! Mr Ferguson

    From all articles I have read I’d rate this as number one as it touched the truth especially that no 4 mh there you caught my breath and it’s well written and informative.

    I would share it for my pals to read as now the ‘get rich dude’s are increasing selling their scam softwares.

    Thanks for this golden artical i have taken the advice.

  4. yeah i am newbies i also do many mistake today i read this article this is very helpful for me because i learn many tips in this article

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