4 Affiliate Marketing Mistakes to Avoid - These Slowed Me Down for 1 YEAR!
I'm writing this post because I've seen multiple people who are past the 1 year mark in their affiliate businesses, they haven't reached out to me personally (some have), and they're not getting the results they want. I want to encourage you and those who might be observing and wondering, "What holds people back from getting optimal results?".
I wouldn't say I was an early bloomer at all. It seemed to me like I took a long time to keep money with affiliate marketing.
Yes, I was making commissions in my first month, but a $100 commission isn't a salary or consistent paycheck. Plus, I was using PPC, so alot of my earliest was money I'd spent I needed to recoup. It was cool making my first commissions all the same and that's not what I wanted to talk about in this post. Hahaha.
What I really wanted was a consistent paycheck that can contribute to my family's situation, and eventually hire and give a consistent paycheck to other families as well. You can't do that with "fluke" commissions, or by spending more money on acquiring a customer than you get back in sales. Instead, it has to be solid and consistent income to really establish that comfort and peace of mind.
During my first year, I made affiliate commissions, but there's alot to reinvest into. I didn't feel confident that I could get rankings and results time and time again, so I paid for courses and tools to build my confidence. I had to do the "normal" legal and accounting formalities of running a business and they cost. I also had to experiment until I found the tools, strategies, and tactics that work best for me.
I didn't start paying myself and having paystubs like I have a job until a few months ago, and so I'm writing this post to share things I feel set me apart from others close in affiliate marketing age, but not getting results they're excited about.
A Few Words Before we Get Started
Before I dive in, I want to encourage you that if you're not getting results you're happy about, don't give up. It's completely normal in business to invest the first year and not to have a profit.
For whatever reason, that expectation isn't as common within the affiliate space. Most people starting a brick and mortar store aren't expecting profit for years!
There's even great affiliates and online entrepreneurs who say they earn $100,000's per month now, but it took them years to earn anything significant. Don't give up. Everyone has their own pace and journey. The journey helps you grow more than the destination (even though it can be tough). The people who make money quickly are anomalies from a business perspective.
Don't take it personal if it takes you longer than you expected. You're no smarter, no less capable, and it's not personal. Business is an art and a science, so some parts require creativity and innovation, and others require trial and error. You can get it right!
When I joined Wealthy Affiliate in late January 2018, I was serious about making this work. I started my website, went thru the training, and committed to a daily publishing schedule right away.
My issue wasn't with skepticism or work ethic, but many people struggle with that. I was writing more than anyone I saw and publishing content aggressively. I was taking in training every day: while I was cooking, cleaning, and even while I was walking my baby in the stroller!
I came here serious about learning affiliate marketing.
It helps to note that I'd already been a published author of 15 books, so I didn't have any shortcuts on the writing practice either. I had taken several English courses, had a paper-heavy Bachelors and graduate University credits, and I'd worked quite a bit with human editors who pointed out writing mistakes I needed to correct, so I had well over 1 million words of written content under my belt. I mention this to say I practiced English writing quite a bit, and I knew how to write fairly clean English.
If writing is your issue, consider taking writing classes, hiring a editor or proofreader from time to time, or using a different media type to improve the user experience.
For my first year, I wasn't getting good rankings. I was primarily relying on SEO for traffic, but I wasn't getting results I was happy with. I still have many posts that aren't on the first page!
In my opinion, the reason for that has multiple pieces to it and I want to share them with you...
1. My Site Structure was unfocused
After my first year of posting nearly every day and not getting optimal results, I knew something wasn't right. I had that gut feeling like I'm putting in a lot of effort and not getting what I should.
I started to reverse engineer site structures for sites I wanted to be like. I noticed that I was jumping from SILO to SILO too much. I'd write a review of an accounting software, then a review of a legal software, and there wasn't much exact relevance between those (aside from the appeal would likely be to entrepreneurs).
Added to that, I favored informational content over "money content", so I was writing more how to's, list posts, and content that teaches something rather than content that attracts someone on the path to buy and helps them close the deal.
When looking at other sites, they had a depth of content on one subject. For example, I might be up against a site with 100+ posts on accounting and accounting software, which means they have 100+ interlink opportunities and SEO-juice galore!
I learned that in order to rank for those competitive topics, I need to be content heavy, focus on one niche for awhile, build what many SEOs call SILOs, and be more strategic with my interlinking game. I also learned that if I want to grow my income with affiliate marketing using SEO, I need to be seriously targeting "money keywords" over informational ones (like an 80/20 mix or so).
At that point, I decided to orphan some topics, and be more laser targeted on the ones that: (1) have the most profit potential, and (2) carry the best relevance to my business mission.
This also applies to MMO sites. I see many people jumping around from Wordpress plugin reviews to business opportunities to MMOs and their all over the place. In the MMO niche, you have some really savvy SEOs and people who know their stuff.
If you jump around too much, you can have what many people call "orphan content" or content that can't have a deep interlink profile, and it'll be harder to rank. Competitive niches need this depth of relevance and interlinking to get the rankings, which means you need to expect to build a content heavy site when you go into a competitive niche (unless you're a lead gen master relying on something other than SEO).
Rather than jumping around, take a month or more to focus on a subniche within the niche. For an MMO site, this might be membership plugins, a specific niche of business opportunity, etc.
Make sure it's something with relevance to your offer, so you can have a decent conversion rate from your review to your offer. Otherwise, you can attract alot of people who won't buy. I've done that more than I'd like to admit.
2. My Time management was scattered
I would see people who say, "I got 100,000 pageviews a month doing..." and say to myself, "maybe I should be doing that" or "I think I can do what they're doing". Then, before I knew it, I was veering off into a new tactic that was an experiment from my standpoint.
I also saw many cool affiliate programs and joined a ton! Then, I'd write content about things that wasn't relevant or SILO'd, and have trouble ranking.
The person writing the "optimal result" doesn't usually say how many hard knocks it took them to get the result, or how long they took to master the skill. Instead, they mention this amazing destination (100,000 pageviews), and I'd jump on what they were doing.
I was doing this too much. I also had several sites I worked on in my first year, several traffic channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.). I felt like I could be good at them all, so why not?
I learned that it's not about my capability. It's about the power of compounding. If you take a penny and deposit one in several bank accounts, it will take a while before the interest or deposits compile into something worthwhile. Similarly, if you go to the grocery store with $50 and an entire cookbook you're trying to buy ingredients for, you might end with several ingredients, but no full meal!
It's best to focus. It's best to take the pennies and put them in one account, so you can get the interest and see the money growing. It's best to take the $50 and focus on making a few good meals than to try to spread it across 100 or so recipes. In the same way, it's best to focus your time and effort on making one successful traffic channel, one successful income stream, and one successful website than to scatter your attention across many things.
In his Wealth Creation course, Grant Cardone says to grow the income stream that's working best for you as large as you can get it before moving onto the next--this is how multiple streams of income should be. Expanding one thing and moving onto the next applies to streams of income, streams of traffic, and other things.
I learned that it's best to focus and master one thing than to be flighty and hop from one thing to the other. As a result, I narrowed my tasks quite a bit. Now, I have a fairly regimented calendar that works for me and gets me results.
3. I was making messy SEO mistakes
I was adding two spaces in between paragraphs, pointing external links before the scroll, adding several sentences to one paragraph, and doing other things I didn't realize could effect my rankings.
I wasn't a "natural". SEO is a skill. For me, I tried applying the training as best I could, but it could have been the impatience or simply overlooking things.
For most learning paths I've taken (including getting my Bachelor's, being in the military and climbing ranks there, and other learning paths), I had self-paced learning and oversight of some sort--this brings me to #3.
4. I wasn't getting enough custom advice on what I was doing
In a traditional classroom, you have an instructor whose overseeing you while you develop the skills and habits. For me, I didn't have enough of that oversight and instruction in my first year. Some people's referring affiliate is very hands-on, and you're blessed when you have that. Mine is Kyle and he's got alot to look after. Hahaha.
He doesn't have time to answer every question I might have, and I learned that early on. For the price I pay here, I didn't expect full on coaching, so once I realized that's something that I may need to continue my learning, I decided to hire a coach.
When I got into coaching, it wa no longer me getting "general answers" and advice. It wasn't "usually when this happens..." type of advice, instead, it was full on scrubs of my analytics, my rankings, and specific and tailored feedback about my habits--that has been extremely helpful for me.
The funny thing is...I'd never expect my kids to learn math, science, or even a sport by simply browsing videos or reading text online. Instead, I'd expect to hire them a coach. Now, I have that same expectation in business. If it's an area I struggle with, rather than roll around in defeat, I expect to find someone whose prevailed and see how to get them as an advisor.
Hopefully, you consider getting the right advisors for your ventures too. Leave no stone unturned. If you feel a tug to take action in some way you haven't tried, don't ignore it. Your instincts might just be right.
These are some of my biggest and messiest mistakes from my first year. I'm sure there are more and I could probably write a book. Let me know if you'd like to hear more.
You can find more learning lessons and things like this in my video case studies. Show those some love so I know if it's a good idea to make more.
Getting past these has helped my income and overall business to grow. I'm still mastering some of these things because some of the old tempations still pop up and I have to tell them to "SHUT UP!". Hahaha.
Hopefully, these tips help you to grow your business.
My Questions for You
Have you learned things from hard knocks in your affiliate business? What's one tip you can pass on for people who feel like they're picking things up slowly?