9 Dumb Mistakes I Made with Affiliate Programs

codrut-turcanu-1FACT: affiliate programs enable anyone to make money online – for as long as they know how to get traffic to their link/web site and craft a very attractive offer. It’s is not enough to just get people clicking on your link, you need to stimulate them to press the click button in a ready to buy mindset, or as close to it as possible…

Anyway, associate programs are my favorite method to make money online. It doesn’t require that you need to neither create your own product nor handle customer support, refunds and re-bills. This means you’ll have more time for promoting the product or service and increase your commissions as a result.

Here are some of the dumbest mistakes I made with affiliate programs since I started using them back in 2002. Hope this gives you an idea about what it really takes to succeed with affiliate programs.

#1 Joining too many programs at once

I bet everybody made this mistake in the beginning. With the lack of information, many mistakes and blunders follow. Nobody told me that you need to be laser-focused and only go with one or two affiliate programs/networks. At least until you’re making money with one promotion at a time, anyhow

It’s very appealing to join 5, 7 and even 10 different programs since the opportunity is free (unlike MLM programs that require you to pay a fee, some on a monthly basis) and the promised rewards, head-spinning I know…

What I didn’t understand at that time (as I was used to not thinking logically, or at all in most cases) was that the more programs you join, the more responsibility you have. That means, you’ll have to invest time, money and effort to make each program work. You and I only have 24 hours in a day. How many of those hours will you really work, actively for this to happen?

Affiliate marketing doesn’t work as easily as placing a link on a site, and wait for orders to roll-in.

Lured in with easy money promises, I was ready to fill my site with nothing but a bunch of ads and banners.

#2 Promoting non related programs on the same site

I thought. Hey, I have this business related web site, so if people are interested in money-making opportunities, they’ll surely be interested to click on my “health” related ads and may even buy some “sport” items. So I started to add a bunch of adverts on my site’s sidebar, headers, and banners at the bottom. Content was barely visible…

I later learned that each site needs to have a focus, and once a reader or visitor lands on your site, they usually go to an inner page, which has a very specific subject. If you’ve done any SEO before, and played with niche sites and keyword research, you know that in order to get maximum response (conversion and sales) from one program, you need to make your post/article very keyword/topic focused. Or, you’ll be losing the sale/action.

Unless your web site receives 1 million visitors a month already, never cross-promote niches. In fact, stick to one niche and make each page keyword/topic relevant. The more relevant, the higher your commissions…

#3 Having no clue about traffic & conversion (hits vs. unique visitors)

In my first two years marketing online with associate programs I didn’t know the difference between hits and unique visitors. I didn’t know that I needed to get at least 100 unique people to land on my page and click on my link. I used to get frustrated that I’ve received 50 hits – 10 clicks – and no sales. I thought my work had to be rewarded somehow, out of the blue. The majority of affiliate beginners stop at this stage, and either go on to try something else (another money-making method like YouTube or list building) or quit the Internet lifestyle altogether. Silly move!

I didn’t quit. I started to create my own products soon afterward, and used affiliate programs as a back-end offer, to generate more profit from my customers. I still do it nowadays. It’s always a smart idea to use a combination of affiliate programs and your own products and services. However, remember that you only have 24 hours in a day, and once again, doing less is often doing more/better. Stick to this formula and you should see significant results in your marketing efforts.

#4 Not pre-selling

Pre-selling was a new term to me, which I stumbled upon in 2005 I think. The idea is to stir the mind of the reader/your targeted site visitor in a way so that when the person reaches the vendor’s site, they are almost already sold on the product.

For example, if I want to promote a web hosting service, then I detail in an article how this web host was the supporting platform for my XX per month in revenue and profit – how it never let me down – how the support team always helped me when I was struggling with some heavy tech issues – and so on – giving as much details as possible – so that the reader reaches the conclusion that this host is really something he or she would be a fool not to use, or at least try…

I see most affiliates (including the big dogs) talk all day long about how much money you could be making with X or Y product. That’s not pre-selling, that’s hype and boasting. When you talk about the potential of using a product or service, readers aren’t as excited as they used to be 10 years ago, as they know it takes time, effort and money to use such a tool or implement the ideas found in a book, video, or whatever. You need to stir their mind and arrest their attention with something else.

This means you’ll have to test the product yourself (whether you buy it or receive it free, it doesn’t matter) and come up with your own unique ideas of using the product. If you have case studies to share (as John is doing here @ HWA with his niche sites and some of his students results) then you’ll be miles ahead affiliate competitors. You’ll get visitors to click on your links, and buy from you.

Show you’re the real deal when it comes to promoting and pre-selling affiliate programs, and you’ll differentiate from all the other guys who know nothing but to employ hype, fake scarcity and PLR stuff.

#5 Using too many image ads & banners

It’s very easy to get trapped into the easy money myth when these vendors are luring you into it with big and false promises. It’s their fault in the first place. They think that the more affiliates they trick into joining their program, the more money they’ll be making.

Guess what?

They’ll only attract affiliates who think ‘easy money’ and do nothing. Nobody wins.

It is also your fault since you have the responsibility to inform yourself and read how successful affiliates are making their money, etc. You’ll see top gun marketers use different methods and more importantly, have a different mindset. I’ve learned this after many years of constant reading and learning. That’s why you have to do alike, regularly, no matter how big or smart you think you are.

Me, John and other super affiliates always read and learn new things, because we understand the importance of knowledge and testing, and how everything evolves fast online. Adapt or die!

You must yield to the changes, not fight against them. That will lead to resistance. Resistance leads to a perpetuating cycle that leads to a circle of frustration and pointless emotions.

So, joining 10 programs who all promise you’ll be making $100 a day just by placing a banner on your site, is all I needed to hear. Next thing you know and I had a site with nothing but 10 banners, and very little text.

I’ve made no money with this method, ever.

The idea is to have 80% content and 20% promos (banners, ads, etc.).

#6 Using only image ads & banners

I thought using a banner/ad was enough to make the sale. I didn’t use all the other swipe promos like articles, product reviews or hyperlinks.

That’s why my site was looking so ugly, amateurish and irrelevant to my audience.

#7 Using only text-links

Once I learned more about the right way to promote affiliate programs, I thought using text-links instead of banners was going to bring rivers of sales. Never happened… You also need to have traffic, lots of it, and very targeted too.

#8 Not promoting residual programs

One of the biggest mistakes I made was to promote ClickBank products or programs which only pay per sale, once, and I’ll never get credit for additional or subsequent purchases. There are many programs who pay you on a recurring level instead, like hosting and autorespoder services. I make some nice money with AWeber for example, however, it take years until you reach a significant income, unless you’re a traffic master and can bring hundreds of customers in on a monthly basis.

#9 Not promoting 2-tier programs

I also had some minor success with 2-tier programs. Before, I thought recurring programs were awesome, until I’ve found out about 2-tier associate programs. For example, if I bring John under me for an affiliate program, which also pays in recurring commissions like a web hosting company, then if John makes $5,000 a month with this program, I’d also get 10% or whatever from his effort, just because I was the guy pre-selling the program to him.

This is the most appealing type of affiliate program as it requires you recruit top affiliates and benefit from their cumulative promotional and marketing effort. However, you need to know the top marketers in your industry and form a relationship with each of them, BEFORE you pre-sell them an affiliate program.

That’s a very risky method yet it is the most lucrative because you depend on many other people’s results. If they are active in the program, you’ll be fattening your earnings, but it’s your responsibility to help them get the most out of these programs. You could for example write custom promos (ads, emails, articles) and product reviews and even post them onto their site on their behalf. I’m sure many will say YES to this idea.

This requires you know your game, or partner up with a skilled copywriter/affiliate marketer, and share the earnings. Not many have the guts to do such, and that’s why their earnings are small, just as their thinking.

I surely did make other silly affiliate mistakes. One thing is for sure – the right knowledge ensures you make fewer mistakes and reach your objectives (sales, traffic, etc.)

Here’s another truth: the more things you try (test & tweak) with affiliate marketing, the more practical you’ll become at it. That’s how you amass experience and insights.

Take action, today!

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