Top 10 Affiliate Marketing Misconceptions, Myths, and BS

There are a number of misconceptions, myths and outright BS in the affiliate marketing world. Many affiliates are new to Internet marketing and targets for questionable sales pitches.

When I look through my emails I see many pitches like make money fast, set it and forget it passive income, automatic site builders, PLR content sites, etc. There is also a lot of misinformation and outdated advice.

Let’s try to cut through the noise and dispell the worst of these notions.

1 — It’s Fast Money

Affiliate marketing success takes time. The money is definitely there but you must first build an audience.

Since you are typically dependent on search for traffic, you must also gain Google’s trust and anointment as an authority. You must create content that helps visitors with buying intent to answer their questions. All of these things take time. 

If you have an existing blog or another site with traffic you can monetize that quickly with affiliate marketing, otherwise patience and perseverance are critical to your success.

2 — You Must Use Only Amazon

While Amazon is still one of the best affiliate marketplaces for affiliate marketers there are many other options. Amazon is still a good foundation for your affiliate marketing. The reason is two-fold.

First, with over 600 million products, they have products for every possible niche you can be involved with. And secondly, they have a huge trust factor. No one thinks twice about buying at Amazon. When users are referred to Amazon by an affiliate they often make other purchases which the affiliate is paid a commission.

But Amazon has its downsides: low commission rates, short cookie period to get sales credit, and terms of service that you can easily violate mistakenly. For this reason, it is best to look at other affiliate programs.

There are marketplaces like ClickBank and ShareASale and thousand of independent affiliate programs. For most sites, the best course is to have multiple channels of revenue including multiple affiliate programs.

Check out our post about affiliates beyond Amazon. Take a look at 101 affiliate marketing examples for ideas and examples of successful affiliates.

3 — You Need a Mentor, Coach or Course

Everything you want to learn about affiliate marketing is available for free online. However, I am a big believer in learning from others and there is certainly value in this. But it is not necessary to have a mentor or coach and there is a great risk that you are getting old information and are just a revenue source for someone. The same with the courses.

Some are great others are rehashed old ideas. There are many free Facebook groups as well. Must of what you need experiences and that is gained by taking action. One of the benefits of affiliate marketing is the low startup cost so there is no downside to learning on the job.

If you do have the funds and are someone who prefers to learn via courseware, check out Doug Cunnington’s five-figure niche. Doug is the man behind the Keyword Golden Ration, a very effective way for new sites to find keywords that are easier to rank for.

4 — You Need to be a Technical Whiz

The technical demands of affiliate marketing are not an obstacle for most people. In fact, sometimes people with a strong technical background get too bogged down in plugins, themes, WordPress performance, and other technical issues at the expense of content and marketing.

They also are prone to overspend on shiny objects and waste a lot of time testing and evaluating.

Best to start with a basic layout and free theme and start adding content. Build an audience. There are a number of terms and basic techniques to come up to speed on but you can do that as you grow your site.

5 — You Must Live in the USA

Affiliate marketing is location independent.

Most affiliate programs have few if any limitations on your location. In fact, affiliate marketing is one of the best ways for someone living in a smaller country market to reach a larger market like the US or European countries.

There are payment systems like Payoneer that will let you use affiliate programs that require a US bank account.

6 — All Traffic is Good Traffic

High volumes of traffic may generate a few dollars in advertising revenue on your site but for traffic to convert to affiliate sales, you want traffic from visitors with buying intent.

Consider someone whose search at Google is “acoustic guitar”. Most likely they are looking for information about guitars, different sizes, how to tune, how to string etc. Sure some may go on to buy one from this search – but not many. Compare that to those searching for, “best guitar for beginners” or “acoustic guitar sale”. These searches have buying intent.

Google also now understands the intent difference and will direct the users to other sites with more general information, not your site with reviews of guitars and articles on how to select a guitar to purchase, etc.

7 — Google Hates Affiliates

Check out the top results for most buying searches like “best xyz product”. You will find these are dominated by affiliate marketers big and small. If Google really hated affiliates you would not see these companies so high in the rankings.

What Google hates is spammy affiliates with low-quality content. Google does not want to direct a user to a site with ads above the fold and hundreds of affiliate links all over the content.

They want their users to get valuable information which should include where to purchase a product if the search was one with buying intent.

8 — You Must Have a Website

Many successful affiliates are promoting there products on YouTube and social media channels like Pinterest and Facebook. You can start with your Facebook page, create some Facebook videos, email offers to your list, or redirect to single landing pages vs a full-blown website.

There are many options and types of ways to reach affiliates. Most people will eventually have an affiliate website but that does not need to come first.

9 — Passive Automated Income

It takes effort and activity to be successful. New content, backlink outreach, and other tasks are required.

This passive automated income myth is usually suggested by someone trying to sell you something. It should be a red flag when you come across these suggestions and offers.

Certainly, successful sites have stages of effort and building the initial site, content, email responders etc. is a large effort than the ongoing requirements to find new products and post new content.

But it is never passive. If you are getting sales from a passive website you would be getting many more with activity.

10 — You Must Use Dedicated Plugins and Themes

We make Prosociate one of the most popular and feature reach plugins for Amazon and eBay affiliates. So we would love to have you use our tools. But you don’t need these tools to get started. They are best for affiliates with larger sites and many products. Or for sites trying to be an Amazon or eBay storefront.

New users are better off to focus on selecting their niche and creating content. The same applies to dedicated themes. Again we make some great ones at Ready Themes but you are better to just start with a site focused on your audience and make great content. You can easily change themes and add premium plugins later.

If you have the budget it is better to spend money on creating great content with outsourced writers and build up the keywords that Google send traffic to.

Conclusion

Affiliate marketing is a great way to earn money online from your blog, Facebook pages, YouTube video, email list and more. But don’t be fooled into believing there is any magic path to success.

You must build an audience and authority with Google – this will take some time. Like any business there are definitely skills to acquire, terms to learn, productive and unproductive methods.

The good news is that all of this information is available online. Affiliate marketing continues to be one of the best starting points for new marketers and a solid business model for earning online.