2 Major Reasons Affiliates Don't Make Money

Last Update: October 28, 2019

This post started out as a message for my referrals in the messaging system, but once it got MASSIVE, then I decided to turn it into a blog post here. Hahaha.

My goal this morning was to address the question we all have when we join here about why some people succeed and some don't--this was a big question for me when I started out here.

At this point, the question isn't why some people succeed, but I'm figuring out why some people get to certain levels in the ladder rather than going higher, so one day, I'll be able to follow this up with my observations from various vantage points in the success ladder.

Until then, let's talk about why some people make money and some don't...

Why We Come Here

I can almost promise one of the reasons you're starting a business and getting into affiliate marketing is to make money. Yes, you might also be interested in helping people, making an impact, building a reputation, growing an existing business, and other things, but most people want to make money beneath it all.

  • They might want money to get out of debt
  • Save for retirement
  • Live above their means (rather than "just getting by")
  • Cover emergency expenses
  • Get out of a situation where a spouse hoards all the money
  • Or, for some other reason, they want more money

How my Quest to Understand Affiliate Success and Failure Went

The unfortunate thing is since I've started in affiliate marketing (20 months ago), I've been able to read and hear lots of stories: from those that become successful and those that don't. When I first started here, I used to binge on reading about success and failure because I wanted to understand what contributed to both.

I had questions like:

  • Why aren't some people able to make this training work?
  • Why are some people members for years and not making any money?
  • Why are some people making massive checks and others are not?
  • And, the list goes on...

You might be able to relate. Maybe you ask the same questions.

There's TWO Main Reasons I've Seen that Cause People not to Make Money

There's ONE major thing I've seen stop most affiliates from success, and there's ANOTHER ONE major thing I've seen affiliates (that put in the work) from seeing success--that's TWO major things that stop success. Do you want to know what they are?

Hahaha. I'm sure you do. I know I did.


Reason #1 that Stops People from Making Money

The #1 thing I've seen that stops most affiliates from success is WORK ETHIC or PRIORITIZATION. For some reason, most people who come here have two completely different perspectives of what's required online versus offline.

They might have a job and make $100,000/year in the job (I'm giving the benefit of the doubt even though I know that annual income is statistically rare). In order to make their money in the job, they work 40 hours or more, and they're willing to do it for the money. When they fill out applications, they might be okay with $100/hr or less, but when they start online, they have drastically different expectations.

When they decide they want to start an online business, they look to it as a way to work less and get more pay, so they come with expectations that they'll work less than 40 hours weekly, but earn significantly more than they would offline.

When I network offline and talk to people about their goals, they might be saying things about:

  • Making enough money to pay for their kids to go to school
  • Being able to make enough money to afford the car or house they like
  • Or, being able to travel more

Statistically, most people have jobs, and most jobs pay less than $100,000/year, but if you read the goals thread here, you'll see people expecting millions, billions, and hundreds of thousands monthly nearly daily (or maybe even hourly). It's cool to have high aspirations, but why the incongruency between online and offline?

In my opinion, it's best to start with modest expectations and be blown away than to start with inflated aspirations (especially accomplishments far from things you've ever done before), and rebound from disappointment. If this is a new set of skills, then treat it like if you were switching careers.

For example, an engineer that's switching to a nursing position wouldn't expect to make an income in the top tier of the nursing field in their first year, would they? Similarly, if you're starting from a job or in a business that's different than this one, then it's not best to watch the top tier in the online space and expect to achieve their incomes starting out either. It's probably not best to even expect to equal the pay where you are because it may have taken you different skills to get there.

Start with the step that's right in front of you. Do your best with that and move onto the next step.

Work ethic vs. Prioritization

On the other hand, there are some people who have work ethic, but they don't prioritize the business as they would need to, to get results. They might not prioritize for various reasons.

In my case, I had difficulty prioritizing the business when I started out because I had alot of personal motherhood related tasks that kept popping up: from sick kids to clinginess to normal home management. At one point, both, a newborn and a 10-11 year old were home with me, and I was trying to fit my business within their naptimes and when they were preoccupied--that was tough.

I also have to admit that I had an inner homemaker inside. Hahaha. For some reason, I wanted to cook lots of things from scratch and do things in the most inefficient way while trying to start a business and raise kids.

I learned "you can't get an "A" in everything. You don't have to be #1 chef, #1 potty training mom, #1 homeschooling mom, #1 in fitness, #1 as a wife, #1 to read most books, #1 most involved volunteer, and on and on. I learned to pick my battles in other words.

...And, if I'm really honest, I'm still learning to pick my battles. Hahaha.

For you, prioritization might be a struggle for different reasons. Maybe, you have a job. Maybe, you have a job and a family. Maybe, you have health issues and doctor appointments. Maybe you take care of loved ones. The list can go on and on. If it's unintentional distractions, you can only do your best, maximize what you have, and be graceful with yourself.

If you're not pushing yourself to max potential because you believe the internet will fill the gap between underperforming and growing your income, then I'd suggest challenging that mindset. It's always best to put forth your best effort because that's 100% within your control, then you can rely on external factors (like the internet) afterwards.

Scammers and Fake "Gurus" Give a False Sense of Hope that Can Be Harmful

I understand that it's scammers and gurus that distort the expectations of income online, and make people think they can make more online than a job without working like a job. Most of them are downright liars. Most of the people who are earning 10s of thousands monthly or daily have been in the business for longer than one year, and likely longer than 2. Some have been in the business more than 10 years to get where they are.

Focus on where you are and begin tracking your milestones. Started your first website? That's a milestone. Gotten first website visitor? Another milestone. Written first blog post? A milestone. It goes up from tasks to traffic to money--in that order. Work ethic proceeds it all. The more tasks completed, the more traffic is likely, and the more money.

I've seen people who come with the mindset that they're going to work their business like a job and expect a comparable income like a job seem to get results. They also have the most excitement about their outcomes because when they earn their first commission, they can be excited.

They might start out with a tight schedule to put in the work here, but they give their best, maximize the time, and use free time to invest in their businesses. Others who expect a lot of progress with little time invested, tend to procrastinate, put things off, and when they're not seeing major results, they get very discouraged.

SOLUTION ===>>> Focus on giving your best effort and solving problems within your niche thru your content and money WILL follow.

Now, you probably want to know reason #2, right? I said there was two major reasons people don't make it online.

Reason #2 is NOT DOING THE MATH.

There are people who get past obstacle #1. They put in the work. They create content. Their content gets ranked, and they STILL don't make money.

Of course, there are various reasons for this, and this post isn't meant to be a catch-all to answer why each person isn't making money when they want, but the #2 reason I've noticed for this is not doing the math.

People will write long and elaborate blog posts, amazing reviews, and readers enjoy, but their call-to-action at the bottom of the post will read something like, "If you enjoyed this review, check out the book for $3.99 at Amazon".

How much of a commission can you make when you're recommending a $3.99 book at Amazon? How long would it take you to make $1000 when you're getting a SMALL percentage of $3.99?

I'm not for selling expensive stuff just because it's expensive and the commission is sizable, but I'm also not for selling inexpensive stuff just because you think it's affordable and you're scared to ask people to buy something that's expensive TO YOU.

It's important to choose a mix of products that would be appropriate for the people who are likely to be attracted to your content. Over time, you'll get better at knowing details about those who are attracted to your content including what types of products they're looking for, what prices they're willing to pay, and so on, but testing is a part of the process of knowing. You can't know without a little testing.

SOLUTION ===>>> Reverse engineer funnels in your niche.

See what types of products competitors (who are seeing success) are selling, the price ranges, and decide how you can adapt the insight to your own funnel. Do the math. Test, test, and test again.

You can also check out my training on High Ticket Sales for ideas of how you can incorporate a mix or price ranges into your affiliate promotions without being scammy, unethical, or self-centered. Check out the training here...





My Questions for You

  • Have you noticed the same two reasons that stop affiliates from making money?
  • Have you noticed other reasons? What are they?

Leave your comments below.

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EHozubin Premium
TDomena - That is probably one of the very best posts that anyone could offer to share with a new member like myself. You deserve 3* and a tip of the cap for this one. Thank you very much.
TDenise Premium
I'll tip the cap back! Thanks so much for the feedback. It sounds like my goal was achieved.
FKelso Premium
Well, you have written an excellent post, as usual.

I already knew about part of problem #2. I have lots of books for sale on my site. Even if someone buys one, I don't make much. I would have to sell hundreds of them to make my money goals.

The other problem I have is that I enjoy writing for my niche site so much that many times I don't include a product. If you don't link to a product you can't sell it.

I do have some costlier items that I'd like to get people to look at, so need to do something with those posts to make them more visible. I have some ideas, but any suggestions you might have would be most helpful.

How can I attract attention to those pages to get folks to read them?

Your input appreciated...
FKelso Premium
P.S. I try to do my share of reading and commenting on posts, but very often I really don't learn anything new from them. You have given a different slant to some problems I am having. It is so great to read a post that increases my understanding or education.
TDenise Premium
Thanks so much Fran! I always love reading your comments as well.
TDenise Premium
I'd consider whether the main posts can go in the menu or the footer, so they can be visible from every page on the site. You can change the title of the post in the menu, so when visitors come, it actually reads "start here", "recommended resources", or "learn to code" or whatever you think would be most relevant to the potential buyer.

Aside from making it a menu or footer item, you could add a pop up or widget for specific post categories where the product would be most relevant. Interlinking would also be a great option. Hopefully, that helps.
FKelso Premium
Hmmm...I have not considered a footer. So, I'd just choose the ones I want to highlight and put them down there? Will also try some interlinking.

Where would the widget be placed? Sidebar? Not sure how to use that one.
FKelso Premium
Again, thanks for some ideas I can utilize right away. You are the best!
TDenise Premium
Depending on your theme, you might have space you can use at the bottom of your website. I like choosing themes like that. You can take a look at my website and see that I use that space alot. Hahaha. It's prime real estate for me.

I create menus and put menus down there. You can try that too if you want. Inside the menu, you can add the posts you want to highlight and make a name for the menu.

I don't use my sidebar widgets too much, but if you don't want to switch themes or you don't want to use the footer, that's another option.
FKelso Premium
Thanks. It's possible my theme doesn't allow a footer -- have to check. I think that's one reason I wanted to change.
FKelso Premium
By the way, I don't see your web address at the base of your posts. Would you mind sending it to me in a PM? I'd love to look at your website and see exactly how you are using that footer.
TDenise Premium
Here is my website: https://howtoentrepreneur.org
FKelso Premium
Thanks! I'll enjoy looking it over.
EdwinBernard Premium
It struck a chord when you mentioned the $100k annual income. For the last 10 years of my working career my annual income was indeed $100k. But our money management was so horrendous that wasn’t enough to pay our bills. What was worse, little or no pay raises during that period. Then I got laid off 5 years before pensions would kick in. I had to get a job. Any job. Guess what. I ended up with a job that paid less than $10 an hour. It was humbling. So I’ve been at both ends of the spectrum.

That is what makes me so appreciative of Wealthy Affiliate. You hit the bullseye with the second reason why affiliates don’t earn money. My niche is MMO where I’m promoting WA. It’s still early days. Kyle has provided us with the math. Gosh, there’s even an income calculator in WA. I have concerns about doing the right things when working hard. No problem with the working hard part.

Fortunately there are members like you who help us stay focused on the right things.

Thank you Tiffany!

TDenise Premium
What an experience?!!! $100k down to $10/hr. Ouch! Thanks for sharing that experience. Many people wouldn't like to share a story like that, but I bet you learned so much, and I can see how you'd be very appreciative of an opportunities like this where you can have more control of your income.

It sounds like your main concern is task management? Making sure you're doing the right things?

Thanks for the comment and the thoughts. How's everything settling after the fire?
Selenityjade Premium
As usual, you are right! Those two things are basically the two biggest obstacles to failure I've seen, short of quitting because of #1 of course. :)
TDenise Premium
I hope we can help fill the gap, so these two causes can be less common.
Selenityjade Premium
Honestly, some of it is definitely the scammers and 'gurus' who like to tout 'easy' ways to earn a passive income online. There's one, I can't remember which one, but he's actually legitimate (unlike most, he wrote a book about it? I can't remember his name!), but he brags he only works a couple of hours a week and has all this income from online work. So it helps shape the perception that working online is 'easy' and not a 'real job' when even legitimate people do it because it attracts people buying their systems.

I definitely don't know how to combat that perception except by trying NOT to sell that way and trying to get that to gain momentum.

Because then it really does attract a bunch of people for the very wrong reasons. Some people accept the hurdle and change their mindset, but a lot of people just give up, claiming everything is a scam because they failed... by giving up.

I do think that there is another problem with regard to success and that is the inability to understand their audience or relate to them. For example, just because you like something, it doesn't mean most people do. I prefer to read over video. I'm not a huge fan of videos. I read faster than people can talk on video, I think faster than I can type (I type 80 words per minute, so that's fast), and I just get impatient with video. I usually even speed it up to 1.5x and NEVER watch live. But that's unusual. Most people love video over written content, they have the attention span of a gnat online, and they want easy lists and graphics and videos. I can't treat my audience by doing what I want. I got to do what they need. Or write solutions to their problems, not my own.

I see so many people in the trapping of thinking about what THEY like, versus what your audience will. Luckily, I'm usually pretty good at that. ^_^; It's being entertaining that is the problem! LOL
TDenise Premium
I agree with you. I've seen several "gurus" who say things like that. It sets people up for disappointment.

I totally agree with you about relating to your audience. We've (you and I) have talked about empathy more than once. Hahaha. I think that's the main characteristic behind relating.

You have to be able to put yourself in their shoes and feel their pain. If they can't believe you're recommending the best solution for THEIR problem, it's likely, you'll have a problem with getting sales.
marchanna Premium
Just when I've been wondering what you've been up to, here you are:)

Basically I think what stops most people is mindset(s). You've mentioned two critical ones:

1. Wrong mindset for success. Period. Most people don't want to work like they need to work as an entrepreneur.

We've got a group in here that likes to police and socialize (not in that order). These well-meaning folks generally have the wrong mindset as a priority. The priority mindset is success, and if one needs to SOCIALIZE to be successful, then one Socializes appropriately. You won't see the successful mindset people policing WA for annoying peeps. They will socialize to drum up more success. This is just an example.

2. Wrong mindset about making money as you pointed out. They feel they don't deserve to sell something worth $1000 so they sell something for $4. They make little money and then get dejected and see rule number one above.

I can certainly say that WA success has not been my priority for several months now, but I've had successes in other areas. It's soon time to come back into the fray of affiliate marketing, but not yet.

Thanks again for your brilliance.

TDenise Premium
Hey Marc! It's been a LONG TIME since we chatted. I'm so glad to hear from you and glad you're having success in your goals. You're so right. If I were to sum this all up, mindset would probably be the way to go. Thanks for the comment!