Earning a reward in the form of a commission, by selling someone else’s products can be appealing to budding marketers looking to make money online. However, a lot of mistakes can be made when trying to establish your own successful monetised site. Below highlights some of the biggest mistakes prospective affiliates make when entering the affiliate marketing space.

Lack of research

A fundamental error is not understanding what affiliate marketing actually is, and consequentially, the ways in which it could best work for you. Too often people enquire on how to join affiliate networks as a publisher before having a website in place, which is essential to getting started in the channel. 

Another common instance would be building a basic website which lacks strong relevant content, adding a few links and then wonder ‘why isn’t my site making any money?’

Once the value of the affiliate marketing business model is understood and the focus and purpose of your website is defined, then you can switch you attention to researching the actual products and services you wish to promote. 

Pushing the sale

Placing too much emphasis on directing readers to a ‘Click to Action’ button to try to push a sale will inevitably have the diverse effect of pushing your site traffic away. You can see how this is an easy mistake to make, as ultimately you make money by driving people to an advertiser’s site to then purchase a product which you receive commission on. So placing ‘Buy Now’ buttons on your site seems like an appropriate call, right? 

However, the key is driving relevant traffic, as the more relevant the traffic, the more likely people are to convert and generate you a commission. Therefore ideally you should aim to focus on credibility by becoming an authority in your industry and provide knowledge on the products or services you are promoting. Avoid just placing an affiliate link on your site, instead write some content around the product. Maybe you have tried and tested the product and this will help establish a connection with the reader. People are far less likely to purchase a product if they feel they are being pushed to purchase. Instead, focus on educating your audience on the product you’re promoting.

Once this has been accomplished, you will have become a valued source of information to those who use your site and a key component in their buying decision process. Only then are you likely to see sustained conversions being driven through your site.

Promoting irrelevant programs

Promoting as many affiliate programmes as possible in an effort to maximise your revenue streams may sound appealing to new affiliate marketers just starting out. However there will come a point where your site will lose its focus, particularly if you are trying to adhere to all of these programmes. As a result, content quality will suffer, alienating your hard-earned traffic which will eventually drive them away.

Instead, focus on a small group of relevant programmes your site will complement, as this will be far more manageable for you and far more rewarding for those who visit your site. Maintaining the purpose of your website and the confidence of your users you have established is key to running a successful affiliate site.

Radio silence

Another fallout from joining either irrelevant or multiple programmes is that you give yourself too much to do and can become too thinly spread to make the most of these relationships. This leads to many new affiliate marketers failing to speak to the advertisers who are likely to make the biggest difference to how effective your site can be. Building a relationship with all your key players, whether this is the advertiser directly, or with either an agency or network, will play a vital role in your success as an affiliate.

By establishing these relationships, you are able to let them know about the opportunities available on your site and the demographics of your audience. This helps the advertiser position you in their wider affiliate strategy, particularly if you are able to prove the success of promotions they have run with you with case studies. These could lead to either more promotions from the advertiser or a direct competitor. The more you know about the products you are promoting and the more the advertiser knows about your opportunities, the more effective you will be as an affiliate.


Arguably one of the biggest mistakes new affiliate marketers make is inactivity. Too often new sites are set up with content and links to advertisers and then the site owner gets comfortable, sits back and expects the money to just roll in. This is not how affiliate marketing works, you need to work at it.

You need to remain active with the work you put into your site, it’s easy to fall into the trap of regularly updating your content every week and sending out a blog post every day, to sporadically updating your site every few months.  To keep your users engaged you need to keep providing them with fresh content that encourages them to keep coming back to the site, to see what the latest news and offers are on the products they are interested in.


Making sure you’ve done your research on both affiliate marketing and the products you will be promoting, whilst maintaining the focus of your site and the trust of your audience is pivotal to running a successful affiliate site. In most cases, affiliate sites fail when these objectives are either unaccomplished or become neglected. 

These are just some of the mistakes I’ve seen new affiliates make but by avoiding these you can then establish a strong foundation to become a successful affiliate. This will take time, as you will have to work hard to keep your sites content relevant to constantly moving trends and work smart to maintain your relationships.