Affiliate Disclosure: Look, I'm working my ass off delivering value to you. So, yes any links that you see in this post are probably affiliate links to help keep this blog going. They are true recommendations and if you click on them and purchase, I probably earn a commission (at no additional cost to you).
These lessons are lessons that I learned along my affiliate marketing journey over the past couple of years. I believe that these lessons will help aspiring affiliates, as well as some affiliates who are already full-time affiliates. The reason for this is that some of these lessons, I only learned when I was already a full-time affiliate, so I believe they can help others too.
Hopefully, you will have learned at least a couple of new things through this post. Let’s get into the list!
50 Affiliate Marketing Lessons
1. There are no shortcuts
The first lesson is that there are no shortcuts. If you are looking for shortcuts, you will just end up buying product after product. You will be a lot better off just sticking to one method and building it up until it’s profitable. Every time you go looking for shortcuts, you will just waste time.
2. Content Is King
Lesson #2 is Content is king.
If you produce high-quality content or even content that’s better than everyone else’s you will succeed. What I mean by “better” is more practical, more informative and more thorough. Take SEO as an example, you can buy backlinks, social signals, etc. but if your content isn’t as good as it is meant to be, you won’t succeed.
So, don’t try and trick the game, Content is king and plays a key role in affiliate marketing.
3. Email Is Queen
Email is queen.
As time goes on and you start getting better at email marketing, you will notice that a big chunk of your sales will come through email. This means, trying to build an affiliate marketing business without email marketing would be pretty ineffective in nine out of ten cases.
4. Search Traffic > Other Traffic
Search Traffic is better than any other sort of traffic.
The quality of visitors that come to your content through Google or YouTube is extremely high. These visitors are actively searching for your content. It’s attraction marketing, the best form of marketing.
Usually, these visitors will have a higher value than visitors from any other traffic.
5. Nothing Is Dead
“Affiliate Marketing is dead”
“Email marketing is dead”
“blogging is dead”
I have heard it all and guess what? It’s all a load of BS. I will just let the statistics do the talking.
Google is still the most used search engine in the world with 81.5% market share. (Source: reliablesoft.net)
Affiliate marketing grows by 10% per year. (Source: Business Insider)
Email Marketing & Affiliate Marketing drives the most amount of sales in digital marketing. (Source: Business Insider)
6. Affiliate Marketing Is Easy
Affiliate marketing is so easy!
You don’t need your own product, you can start for free and the entry barrier is non-existent. If you are lucky enough to have heard about affiliate marketing, then you should just know that it is the easiest business model.
Even other “easy” business models such as dropshipping are a lot harder. Shipping, Customer support, and payment processors are things that you need in other businesses. In affiliate marketing, you don’t need any of these.
7. Affiliate Marketing Is Hard
Affiliate marketing is hard, despite me just saying that it’s easy.
You will still struggle along the way, as it’s a real business. Building any business is going to be a bumpy road, so make sure that you are prepared!
It’s easy compared to other businesses, but it’s hard compared to a job or freelancing.
8. Only Promote Products You Believe In
Only promote products that you believe in.
This might sound like I am saying it due to ethical reasons, but I am actually telling you due to business reasons too. If you promote products you don’t believe in, you will just end up sounding like a bad salesman because you can’t be honest about it.
This will result in… 0 conversions. I am talking from experience here, so just don’t do it!
9. Don’t Use Products For Their Affiliate Program
Again, another mistake that I made after I was already doing affiliate marketing full-time.
I was using a certain product that I didn’t believe in just to have access to their lucrative affiliate program.
Where did that get me? Nowhere, I was just paying their stupid $97 per month fee for no reason and getting frustrated with their software.
10. Affiliate Marketing Is About Assets
Affiliate marketing is about building your digital assets.
This includes your email list, your blog, and your YouTube channel. Assets of these kinds will pay you over and over again. Building them is key to creating a reliable income through affiliate marketing.
11. You probably have been sold a dream
Sorry to burst your bubble, but you have probably been sold a dream. In fact, you may even still be living in the idea of this dream.
When you started, you probably thought that it will take a couple of months or even weeks to replace your full-time income. The truth is that it can take anywhere from 6 months to 24 months, so don’t be fooled.
12. It’s Worth It!
Okay, so affiliate marketing can take 6-24 Months to replace your income. So, is it still worth it!
Of course, it is! After this period, your whole life will become easier. It will be easier to increase your income and you will have more time, meaning it will be easier to start another business if you wanted to.
Once you hit that point where everything gets easier, you will notice that it’s all worth it!
13. Not every niche works…
A niche needs three key attributes to be able to work.
Search Volume & An Audience
Products To Sell
If a niche has these three things, it will work. If it doesn’t, you will have a hard time making it work.
14. Variety Is Good
Variety is good. In fact, you need it.
By variety, I mean a variety of traffic and products to promote. This will maximize your profit and you won’t be relying on one product or traffic method.
So, make sure to have some variety in your business!
15. Focus on the big picture
The next lesson is to focus on the big picture.
What I mean by that is don’t chase a single sale. Focus on a method that will get you multiple sales.
Don’t choose a method where you have to outreach to make a sale. This is very ineffective.
16. Focus On One Thing At A Time
Focus on one thing at a time.
Yes, variety is good, but if you are trying to do too many things at once, you won’t get anything done.
So, work step-by-step towards your goals and you will get there.
17. Everyone says something else
Everyone says something else and has a different opinion on how you can reach success through affiliate marketing.
The truth is, there are so many ways you can make sales and a lot of people don’t agree with other people. That doesn’t mean that somebody is lying, they just have a different opinion.
In reality, you should just find something that works for you. Whether that be through something a “guru” says or something that you find yourself.
18. Wrong Cloaking Service in the wrong place
Using the wrong cloaking service can seriously mess things up.
For example, using Bit.ly in emails will usually send them to the spam folder! So, I thought I would include this one, as it can save somebody reading this some money. Just make sure to research the services you use, especially services to cloak your links.
19. Don’t Sell Too Much
Don’t just sell all the time. Your audience will get annoyed and unsubscribe.
Offer value to them, you can sell more by selling less. Offering value will make your audience like you more and increase trust.
Increased trust = Increased conversion!
20. Focus On Growth
Your main focus should be on growing your audience.
When you focus on this, the monetary profit will follow. If you just focus on selling, you will sell too much and get demotivated. So, focus on growth!
21. Social Media on its own is … trash
Social media on its own is trash, especially for affiliate marketing.
In a study by Neil Patel, he found that on average for every 100 followers you have, you will generate two organic clicks.
A traffic value of a whopping $2. So, don’t try and build an affiliate marketing business, through social media.
22. Direct Linking works 1 in 100 times
Direct linking works 1 in 100 times.
Throughout your affiliate marketing journey, you will probably be tempted to link directly at some point.
Whether it be through solo ads, Pinterest ads or wherever else, it doesn’t work. Even if you calculate an average conversion rate, it does not work, especially not with cold traffic.
23. Recurring Commissions are beautiful
Recurring commissions are beautiful.
Passive income every single month. Recurring commissions should be part of your affiliate strategy.
24. It all relies on you
In affiliate marketing, there should be no excuses. Why? It all relies on you, nobody else.
That’s the beauty of it. So, if it’s not working, it’s nobody else’s fault. It’s all yours. Likewise, if it does, then you have done well.
25. You need to analyze results to find mistakes
This is something that I did wrong as well.
Always analyze results and find them! Otherwise, you will keep making them!
26. You need to learn from mistakes
When you make a mistake which you will. You need to notice, learn from it and move on.
If you don’t learn from them, then you will (very likely) never succeed. So, make sure to take a look at the mistakes you made, so that you can avoid them in the future.
27. Don’t listen to the “Gurus”
A lot of “gurus” will tell you a lot of BS.
Mostly, to make you buy their products. Don’t always blindly listen to them, as a lot of it isn’t true anyway.
Some will say YouTube doesn’t work, others will say blogging doesn’t work and others will say paid ads don’t work.
The truth is it all works, so find what’s best for you and not what’s best for them.
28. You need a Blog or YouTube Channel
You need either a blog or a YouTube channel.
Firstly, because these platforms pull in search traffic. The second reason is that these platforms are perfect for creating how To’s & reviews which are extremely profitable.
No matter if you are creating content or running paid ads. You need to stay consistent, otherwise, you will fail.
30. People have a bad picture of affiliate marketing
A lot of people have a bad picture of affiliate marketing.
This is partly because of the low-entry barrier which allows a lot of affiliates that aren’t serious about affiliate marketing to jump in. One consequence of this is affiliates spamming affiliate links on social media. Of course, that doesn’t display affiliate marketing very well.
There are tons of other reasons for this, but it all doesn’t matter if you know that you aren’t part of the group that is being looked down on.
31. It’s a puzzle
Affiliate marketing is a puzzle and you must put the pieces together to work for you. All pieces need to work in order for you to be profitable in the long term.
All pieces must work if it’s just one you won’t be profitable.
Webpages (YouTube channel, Blog or Funnel)
32. There are thousands of methods
You can drive traffic to affiliate links in thousands of ways. They all can work. There isn’t just one secret method that all the “gurus” are using.
You need to find the methods that work best for you.
33. Value Is Everything
Value is everything. If you over-deliver on value, you could probably even go against a lot of these lessons and be successful.
When you build an audience that keeps coming back for the value, then you will succeed. It’s literally the most important thing, alongside consistency.
34. Saturation Is A Lie
“Oh but this niche is saturated”
No, it’s not, saturation is a lie. If a niche is saturated, it means that it’s extremely profitable. Yes, it also means that it requires more work, but it’s far from impossible to be profitable in these “saturated” niches.
35. Nothing Beats Hard Work
Nothing beats hard work. I don’t care which backlinks you have or who your contacts are, it won’t beat hard work.
Hard work is the most important part. If you keep working hard consistently, you will succeed. There is no magic software to substitute for that.
36. Free Is Possible but…
You can do everything for free. It’s possible, but it’s not really free.
It will require you to put in a lot more time and effort. Usually, a lot of people who are looking for “free” ways to start affiliate marketing, aren’t ready to put in the effort.
37. Affiliate Marketing Is Not A Quick Buck
Affiliate marketing is a real business that requires building.
You will never make any quick money in affiliate marketing until you have built your assets.
Building your assets requires time. So, affiliate marketing is not a way to make a quick buck.
38. Refunds suck
Refunds suck… Especially, if you get a couple of them in a short space of time.
If this happens, you should really reconsider whether that product is worth promoting. All products will always see some refunds, but if you get too many, it’s worth reconsidering promoting that product.
It hurts even more when you get refunds on $500+ sales.
39. Bonus Marketing
Bonus marketing is amazing.
If you are offering bonuses and everybody else isn’t, then you will get most of the sales. What I mean by bonus marketing is offering free bonuses if your visitors purchase through your link. You can add these in your content such as reviews, or even in your emails.
40. Copy Matters
Copy matters. Copywriting is something that not a lot of people talk about when it comes to affiliate marketing.
However, just like in any business, it matters. Nobody will buy from you if your sales page copy sucks. The same goes for opting into your landing page, if the copy sucks, nobody will opt-in.
Also, in your emails, if the copy sucks, nobody will read it meaning no conversions.
41. Email Marketing Is Harder As It’s Made Out To Be
A lot of “gurus” just tell you to send a couple of emails and you will make sales.
Well, email marketing is not that easy. Email marketing requires the right provider, the right copy and some technical stuff too.
To make it all right, you must test email campaigns. So, make sure to do so!
42. Short Articles Are Useless
Short articles are useless. There are some exceptions to this, but usually short articles have little value to your audience.
Google doesn’t like them, they cause short site visits and are usually not thorough enough to help your audience.
Personally, I have completely stopped writing short articles. I always aim to write at least 1,890 words. Why?
The average word count of an article that ranks on the first site of Google is 1,890. (Backlinko)
43. Pinterest Is The Best Social Media Platform
Pinterest generates the most amount of clicks from all social media platforms. (Neil Patel)
Additionally, it’s pretty easy to grow and ads are very cheap too. It also has some search traffic attributes. I think it’s fair to say, Pinterest is the best social media platform.
44. Products With Up & Down Sells Are Great!
Promoting Products that have upsells and downsells should also be part of your affiliate strategy.
These kinds of products will land you even more commissions by offering your referrals even more, once they have already paid.
So, you should definitely consider promoting some!
45. Reviews & How To’s Convert!
Reviews & How To content convert like there is no tomorrow. Why?
Your visitor has already been pre-sold. When they are looking for a review, they are just looking for final confirmation. The same goes for how to pieces of content, they are already looking for how to do something.
If these pieces of content aren’t part of your strategy, you should definitely consider them.
46. Facebook Ads are not all that anymore
And that’s not all. Facebook users are bombarded with ads. So, it’s a lot harder to make them work. Of course, it’s still very possible, but just be warned before jumping into Facebook ads!
47. A Lot of ClickBank products are rubbish
It’s the truth… A lot of ClickBank products are rubbish.
High refunds, spammy sales pages, etc are all not uncommon in ClickBank products. I am not saying don’t promote any ClickBank products, I promote some myself. What I am saying is, make sure to research them well before!
48. Sometimes There Are Better Investments Than Ads
When I started affiliate marketing, I always thought I should invest every dollar I made back into ads.
However, sometimes there are better investments. This could be a software that helps your SEO or even a course that contains the info that you need to learn.
So, just be careful what you invest your money in and don’t always blindly buy ads.
49. You Don’t Need A Lot Of Fancy Software
Every “guru” will tell you that you can’t be successful without a certain software, the same goes for affiliates.
The truth is, you don’t need any piece of software necessarily. Often, you can do it yourself. Whether that be your funnel builder, your SEO tool or any other piece of software.
Chances are, there is a cheaper option that has the same functions. So, don’t go blindly buying tons of software!
50. You Have To Test EVERYTHING
Last but not least, you need to test everything.
By everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Every part of your ads, your emails, and even blog pop-ups.
When you test these, you will find the best version which will make you the most money. Also, don’t go into paid ads expecting to be profitable before testing.
Use some of your budget for testing and be ready to lose it. Once you find a winning version of your campaign, then you can scale.