Listen to all the “gurus” out there trying to push their latest ebook or software product and you could be led to believe that making money as an affiliate is as easy as falling off a log.
Anyone who has ever tried it though has no doubt discovered that affiliate marketing takes a considerable amount of time and effort to really be successful at. However as someone who earns a full-time income as an affiliate marketer, I can tell you that there are mistakes I see being made day after day by newbies.
The purpose of this article is to examine some of the most common mistakes that I see clients of mine making in the hope that you can avoid these pitfalls and get to profitability far faster than you otherwise would have done.
Low Quality Site
It’s easy as pie to slap up a WordPress blog, choose a free theme and then publish some simple 500 word articles containing your affiliate links. Sadly, these sites often fail to “make the grade” for a number of reasons.
Firstly, when a visitor arrives as these low quality sites for the very first time they virtually scream “scam” and cause many people to instantly hit their back button.
But there’s more. These low quality sites do nothing to differentiate themselves from the crowd or offer real value to their visitors. As a result getting traffic can be hard; after all who wants to link to a site like this or share it on social media? Nobody.
My email subscribers get sent a list of highly successful affiliate websites and I can tell you that none of them fall into this “low quality” area. They all have a unique angle, a fantastic design and content that will knock your socks off.
These days, success as an affiliate marketer is all about becoming an authority. Being someone that other people flock to for advice and information. A trusted source of content that is so good that other people want to link to you, mention you in forums and send your content to their friends.
The days of so-called mini sites are really over thanks to the latest changes in the search engine algorithms. These days, if you want to be a successful affiliate, consider creating the very highest quality site you can. Trust me – your bank balance will thank you for it.
Targeting The Wrong Keywords
We all know that selecting the right keywords is essential for drawing significant search engine traffic but all too often I see affiliate marketers either trying to enter markets that are far too competitive or getting greedy and targeting keywords that can take years to rank for.
I began a new affiliate blog in February this year, publishing a small number of posts that not only offer exceptional value to visitors but also target really low-traffic, low-competition keywords. We’re talking keywords with less than 1000 searches a month.
And you know what? That site currently gets more traffic than many of my more established sites that have been around for years and have thousands of high quality links pointing to them.
So take the time to really learn about keyword research. Find out how the pros do it. Then start experimenting. Write some keyword-focused content, build a few good quality links, and try to find your own “sweet spot” based on your experience and skills. Because it’s better to rank number 1 for a less competitive phrase than it is position 250 for a high traffic phrase.
And if competition isn’t enough, also consider what people searching for those phrases really want. All too often I see new affiliate marketers targeting keyword phrases that offer very little value; they’re “informational” keywords rather than “buyer” keywords.
The best keywords to target not only offer low competition but they also target people who are almost ready to buy a product. Keywords involving phrases like “coupon”, “best price” and “review” are all examples of these high-value, buyer keywords you should be focusing your efforts on.
Hidden Affiliate Offers
A few years ago I carried out a simple but effective experiment. I had a site that was getting decent traffic and I knew that the main affiliate offer I was promoting was getting a decent response. The problem was that very few people were actually clicking my affiliate links.
So I redid my homepage (where most of my traffic was arriving) to include a very clear affiliate link. Sales jumped by a factor of 10 in a matter of days.
In other words, don’t try hiding your affiliate links away. Don’t make it hard for people to find them. Don’t be too brazen with your links but also ensure that your visitors can easily find them. Because the more people who see your links, the more people will actually end up clicking them.
One-Hit Traffic Strategy
One final tip I wanted to mention focuses on the subject of traffic. As affiliate marketers many of us rely primarily on the search engines for traffic – perhaps with some Facebook or Twitter marketing, YouTube videos and suchlike thrown in for good measure.
However as you may have experienced, the traffic landscape never stops moving. Search engine algorithms change. New sites are launched. Social media sites change their policies and so on. In other words just because a traffic strategy is working for you right now, doesn’t mean it’ll be working 3 months or 3 years from now.
Your goal, therefore, should be to turn these “one off” traffic strategies into repeat visitors. And the simplest way to do this is to start an email newsletter, and try to funnel as many of your visitors into your newsletter.
In this way you’ll have an ever-growing list of prospects that you can contact at will – to let them know about a new article you’ve published, a great deal you’ve found or even to mention a product that you’re an affiliate for.
In this way you insulate yourself from the vagaries of the search engines as well an allowing you to create income on demand by emailing your list on a regular basis.
What common mistakes do you see affiliate marketers making? Please leave a comment below with your thoughts…
About the Author
Mike has been blogging since the early days of WordPress. He now runs aboutcloudstorage.com where he discusses online security and backing up your computer.