12 Affiliate Marketing Myths: Don’t Let Them Fool You!

The maze of affiliate marketing myths

Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways you can make money online!

But just like with any online marketing business model, there are many myths you need to be aware of. Blindly accepting certain affiliate marketing myths as the truth can have a very negative impact on your business!

The challenge with many myths is that the answer isn’t always a simple TRUE or FALSE. The best answer is often IT DEPENDS. Some myths can be dispelled immediately as false, but others may be partially true, or true in specific situations.

So, how can you tell what to believe?

In this article, we’ll look in detail at some of the most common myths in affiliate marketing. These myths often fool new affiliate marketers and can lead them astray for years – we don’t want to see that happen to you.

Let’s dispel these myths once and for all!

The Top Affiliate Marketing Myths

We’ve tried to compile the top affiliate marketing myths in one place, but it’s impossible to cover all of the affiliate marketing myths that appear online. The internet can be a great source of information, but we all know not everything we read online is true.

Fortunately, at BrandBuilders, we specialize in affiliate marketing! We have a proven track record that dates back many years – in other words, we know what’s true because we live it every day.

MY #1 RECOMMENDATION: If you’re unsure about anything you’ve heard or read about affiliate marketing, ask us! Send us a message, or better yet, book a FREE coaching call with one of our affiliate marketing experts.

Remember, there’s no such thing as a stupid question! If you don’t ask, you may never find the right answer. Don’t waste time and money on something you’re not sure about.

With that out of the way, let’s get started!

Myth #1. Affiliate Marketing Isn’t a Real Business.

Affiliate marketing is a real business

According to statistics, ecommerce sales in the United States alone will reach $374 billion in 2020. This figure is expected to increase to $476 billion by 2024.

Some people still think ecommerce in general, and affiliate marketing in particular, isn’t a real business model. Well, I guess there will always be people who think a real business can only be a brick-and-mortar business. This is simply not true.

As with any normal business, some affiliate marketers earn more than others. For some, it’s only a part-time hobby, whereas for others it’s their main source of income.

An affiliate marketing business can be very rewarding if you work hard and treat it like the real business it is.

Myth #2. Affiliate Marketing Is Dead.

Affiliate marketing is far from dead

One of the most common myths is that affiliate marketing is dead, doesn’t work anymore, or is a declining business opportunity.

The myth partly originated after Amazon cut their affiliate commissions for certain categories in April 2020. This is true – but Amazon is only ONE of many affiliate networks. Their decision is by no means a nail in the coffin of affiliate marketing!

NOTE: Here at BrandBuilders, Amazon is still our #1 affiliate program because it’s a trusted ecommerce brand with high conversions. We specialize in pre-made affiliate sites and custom affiliate websites that are perfect for Amazon and other affiliate networks.

Affiliate marketing in the United States alone is expected to reach $6.8 billion in 2020, $7.4 billion in 2021, and $8.2 billion is 2022.

– Source: Statista

Affiliate marketing is a huge and growing industry!

If affiliate marketing had a voice, it would probably quote the then-alive Mark Twain:

“Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

There’s absolutely no sign or indication that affiliate marketing is dead or declining. On the contrary, it’s expected to show solid growth every year for many years to come.

Myth #3. You Need the Right Credentials or Qualifications.

Affiliate marketing has low barriers of entry

Affiliate marketing doesn’t really have educational barriers to entry. Pretty much anyone, from a college student with no qualifications to a professional, can do affiliate marketing.

You don’t need a degree or a professional qualification before you can become an affiliate marketer. Having the right credentials can certainly help – if you do have a qualification that’s relevant in your niche, it can boost your credibility. However, it’s NOT a requirement!

Ultimately, the vast majority of niches don’t require qualifications, because as an affiliate marketer, your job is simply to help your readers make the right purchase decisions.

People are more interested in the value you provide. This can be helpful advice, objective reviews, and tips based on your own personal experiences.

Remember, you’re not the merchant, service provider, supplier, or manufacturer. As a marketer, you’re a facilitator. Your main job is to point people in the right direction.

A Word of Caution

YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) niches should be approached with caution. This caveat doesn’t have anything to do with your qualifications or credentials, but more to do with the protection of consumers.

For example, you’ll notice that dietary supplements carry the following disclaimer:

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Should you happen to be an affiliate for a dietary supplements company, you cannot make outrageous claims. You cannot promote the product as a cure for cancer, Covid-19, or any disease for that matter. If you do, the merchant will suspend you and you may find yourself in deep trouble with the FDA.

In addition to the above, you don’t need to be a health professional to be an affiliate marketer in the health niche, BUT don’t misrepresent yourself!

You can’t claim to be a doctor or put something like M.D. behind your name that may mislead consumers. Always be honest, open, and transparent about who you are!

The same principle applies in financial niches. For example, you can’t pretend to be a financial advisor if you’re not accredited. You can share information, but be careful not to cross the line into giving professional advice.

YMYL niches often take longer to rank for. Google doesn’t care about your qualifications per se, but it’s believed that E-A-T is a ranking factor. E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. It’s especially relevant in YMYL niches.

E-A-T doesn’t apply exclusively to YMYL niches. As an affiliate, you need to show Google AND your target audience you have the required expertise.

Just expect to establish yourself as an authority in your niche before people will trust you and follow your recommendations.

Myth #4. You Have To Do Everything Yourself.

Don't try to do everything yourself

One of the top affiliate marketing myths is that you have to do everything yourself. It’s one of the main reasons why many people never start with affiliate marketing or quickly give up. They feel overwhelmed and out of their depth.

Not all people are knowledgeable when it comes to affiliate marketing tasks like website design, keyword research, content creation, and SEO. Fortunately, you don’t need to be!

Remember the first myth we debunked, namely that affiliate marketing isn’t a real business? We showed that affiliate marketing IS a real business, and that you need to treat it as a real business. In doing so, you need to see yourself as a business owner.

So, ask yourself: What would a business owner do?

You don’t want to be the proverbial chief cook and bottle washer that’s in charge yet also performs small tasks.

It’s important to have the right mindset.

Don’t ask: “How do I become an affiliate marketer?”

Rather ask: “I am an affiliate marketer. Now what do I have to get done?”

You don’t require a lot of capital to start an affiliate marketing business. This should leave you with funds in your budget to outsource important tasks so you can focus on managing your business as a whole. It’s okay to hire out tasks in support of the success of your business!

NOTE: At BrandBuilders, we’re able to offer pre-made turnkey affiliate websites that are ready to make you money right away. We also specialize in offering premium quality SEO optimized content.

Myth #5. You Can’t Survive Google’s Algorithm Changes.

Search engine optimization

Each year, Google makes many algorithm changes that impact their search results. One of the myths is that it’s hard for affiliate marketers to survive Google’s algorithm updates.

This is a myth with some truth to it – I have to say that IT DEPENDS. It can be hard for some affiliate marketers, BUT it doesn’t have to be hard!

The problem with most affiliate marketers that get penalized by Google is they don’t give Google what Google wants. So, what does Google want?

Search engines like Google, and most social media platforms as well, want one thing:

They want people to stay on their platform as long as possible.

They know if their users have a good user experience, they will stay on the site longer and come back to in the future. So, Google tries to match what’s called “user intent” by giving users what they’re looking for. If users don’t stay long, it’s a signal that they’re not finding what they’re looking for.

Many affiliate sites have what Google calls “thin content” that adds no value to users.

According to Google:

Google believes that pure, or ‘thin,’ affiliate websites do not provide additional value for web users.

and

Thin affiliates create a frustrating user experience.

By following Google’s search engine optimization tips for affiliate programs, there’s no reason to fear Google’s algorithm changes.

Here are some tips straight from Google:

  • Good affiliates add value, for example by offering original product reviews, ratings, navigation of products or categories, and product comparisons.

Adding value is a recurring theme with Google. They want to create a positive user experience for their users and it starts with their webmasters.

  • Affiliate program content should form only a minor part of the content of your site if the content adds no additional features.

If you’re unable to add additional features to products you’re promoting, don’t focus on them too much. For example, if you’re writing a 1,000-word article it shouldn’t include 500-words of regurgitated affiliate content. Limit the affiliate content to say 50 or 100-words.

  • Ask yourself why a user would want to visit your site first rather than visiting the original merchant directly. Make sure your site adds substantial value beyond simply republishing content available from the original merchant.

Most successful affiliate pages that appear on the first page of Google provide a lot of useful information. This includes product reviews, comparisons, and instructions on how to use the product.

  • When selecting an affiliate program, choose a product category appropriate for your intended audience. The more targeted the affiliate program is to your site’s content, the more value it will add and the more likely you will be to rank better in Google search results and make money from the program.

This is a mistake I see very often. An affiliate joins some affiliate programs and then promotes those programs on all pages regardless of the page topic. Make sure if you mention an affiliate program on a page that it’s relevant to that specific page.

  • Keep your content updated and relevant. Fresh, on-topic information increases the likelihood that your content will be crawled by Googlebot and clicked on by users.

One of the secrets of getting old posts to rank better in Google is to update them with fresh, relevant content. Don’t only focus on creating new content, update your existing content as well on a regular basis.

  • Pure affiliate sites consisting of content that appears in many places on the web are highly unlikely to perform well in Google search results and may be negatively perceived by search engines. Unique, relevant content provides value to users and distinguishes your site from other affiliates, making it more likely to rank well in Google search results.

Always post unique, original content on your website. Your visitors don’t want to see the same content that appears on many other affiliate sites, and neither does Google.

Myth #6. Affiliate Marketing Links Aren’t Good for SEO.

Affiliate marketing links and SEO

Some people are convinced Google hates affiliate marketing. Based on the fact that we debunked myth #5 (that you can’t survive Google’s algorithm changes), this is obviously not the case.

If Google doesn’t hate affiliate marketing, then surely Google won’t have a problem with affiliate links, right? They don’t, but affiliate links should ideally be qualified as sponsored links.

According to Google’s John Mueller, it’s best to use the rel=”sponsored” attribute, if you can.

Here’s John’s tweet:

Tweet from John Mueller of Google

Google’s Matt Cutts already confirmed in 2012 that Google’s pretty good at handling affiliate links. Back in 2012 Google suggested affiliate links should follow the rel=”nofollow” attribute. This is still an option although Google now prefers the rel=”sponsored” attribute.

Myth #7. People Hate Clicking on Affiliate Links.

Some people don't want to click on links.

Let’s face it, affiliate links are often long and ugly. But does that mean people hate clicking on them?

The simple truth is that some people don’t like clicking on any links, including affiliate links. It often has nothing to do with a link being long and ugly. It’s typically about trust and relevance.

Let’s delve a bit deeper into the topic.

Here are the most common reasons why some people don’t click on affiliate links:

Many people won’t click on a link that looks suspicious.

A link such as Google.com looks fine but if the link is Google.com/?aff_id=jbdjekkdkk664 people may think twice before clicking it.

Pretty Links WordPress plugin

Pretty Links is a popular WordPress plugin used by many affiliate marketers.

The plugin turns a long, ugly affiliate link into a shorter and more professional-looking link.

For example, instead of your typical affiliate link, you can now have a link that looks like this:

yourwebsite.com/product. It also tracks how many clicks you receive and the origin of those clicks.

Some people just don’t want you to make money.

Most people know it won’t cost more if they buy products through your affiliate link. However, some people just don’t like the idea that you’ll earn a commission on the sale.

It can make a huge difference, though, if you’re able to build up a relationship with your target audience. Provide a lot of added value. Establish yourself as an authority, and not someone that’s trying to sell something.

Based on the psychological rule of reciprocity, if you help people out, they’re eventually going to want to do something nice in return – and clicking your affiliate link is an easy way to “give back.”

Your links are off-topic.

Your links should be relevant to the topic of the page where they appear.

For example, if you publish a post about the benefits of green tea, don’t link to a coffee merchant. Your links should be directly related to the topic of the page (in this case, tea).

No call to action.

Simply posting an affiliate link is often not enough. You have to tell visitors what to do. Don’t assume your website visitors will automatically do what you want them to do.

One way of doing this is to say something like: “Click here for more information.” Or “Check out the current price on Amazon.”

The wrong audience.

Many people browse the internet looking for information. They have no intention of buying anything. This is where niche selection and identifying your target audience play a huge role.

Your audience should not just be searching the internet for fun or for free information. They should be willing to spend money to get what they want.

People aren’t paying attention to your links.

Many affiliate programs provide their affiliates with banners. The problem is that banners are not as effective as they once were. These days, they are largely ignored.

The best way is to include your links in the body of your text when it’s appropriate to do so. It should appear naturally and add value to users.

Your site looks spammy.

Ever landed on an affiliate website and got the impression the owner was trying too hard to sell something? People love to buy, but hate being sold to!

Always try to deliver as much value as possible. Your site shouldn’t look like just one big ad. An affiliate site that screams “buy, buy, buy” will never do well. If your website comes across as spammy, don’t expect your visitors to click on your referral links.

Not giving people a reason to click on a link.

You have to give people at least some information about why it’s worth their time to click on a link.

For example, if you have a food blog and say “stir with a spoon,” how many people will click on it? Instead, say it like this: “I’ve found this spoon on Amazon and it’s made such a difference in my life because it [benefits].”

Not being open and transparent.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is there to protect America’s consumers.

The FTC feels consumers have a right to know if you’ll be paid money if they follow your recommendations. This will allow your audience to decide how much weight to give your endorsements.

This is how Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of Making Sense of Cents does it:

Affiliate disclosure example

Michelle’s disclosure is prominently displayed. She doesn’t only mention “affiliate links” but also explains what it means, as expected by the FTC.

By being open and transparent she establishes a lot of trust with her audience.

Has her disclosure hurt her business? Not at all! Michele regularly makes over $100,000 a month from her blog. The majority of her income (62%) comes from affiliate marketing.

Not being open and transparent with your audience can cost you money and your credibility.

Myth #8. You Need Several Sites To Make Good Money.

Multiple websites

One of the most popular affiliate marketing myths is you need several affiliate websites to make good money.

The origin of this myth dates back many years.

There was a time when an exact-match keyword URL was a ranking factor for Google.

For example, if you wanted to rank for “dog training tips,” you would get dogtrainingtips.com. If it wasn’t available, you would get the hyphenated version dog-training-tips.com. If that wasn’t available either, you would get the .net, .org, or if all else fails the .info extension.

The strategy used to work very well!

1. Find a long-tail keyword (more than 2 words) and get an exact match URL.

2. Build a simple website of not more than 5 pages around that single keyword.

3. Use the keyword frequently in your content.

If the keyword wasn’t very competitive, you could easily rank on the first page of Google. If the keyword was competitive, getting some spammy backlinks could still get you to the first page.

The idea was to build at least one new website every week.

Of course, this whole strategy collapsed in 2011 when Google released a major algorithm update called Panda. Low quality websites were nearly completely wiped out. It was the beginning of the end for, as Google calls it, “thin” affiliate websites.

There’s a lot of outdated, regurgitated information on the internet. The myth that you need several sites to make good money unfortunately falls into this category.

This doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to have more than one website. It only means you don’t need several websites before you can make good money from affiliate marketing.

Myth #9. Most Profitable Niches Are Already Taken.

Searching for a profitable niche

The myth that most profitable niches are already taken is one of the most misleading affiliate marketing myths. A similar myth is that only a few niches are profitable. Unfortunately, I see many bloggers perpetuate this myth.

There are many possible reasons behind this myth, including:

  • Many bloggers choose the wrong niche. Instead of admitting they’ve made a mistake, they say it’s hard to find a profitable niche.
  • Some bloggers try to use scarcity as a marketing tool. They claim there are very few profitable niches. However, for a price, they’ll give you a list of some profitable niches.

In order to be a successful affiliate, you first need to be in a profitable niche. You don’t want an audience full of tire kickers. You want to help people that are looking for a solution to a problem and are willing to pay for it.

If they are hungry, desperate buyers, even better! But they don’t have to be. As long as your audience has “buyer’s intent,” you can earn decent money from affiliate marketing.

There are thousands of profitable niches that are 100% suitable for affiliate marketing.

NOTE: At BrandBuilders, we’ve carefully researched and vetted many profitable niches. We’ve compiled a list of 1,452 niche niche ideas you can download for FREE.

Having competitors in your niche doesn’t mean it’s already taken.

There’s no such thing as “already taken” in affiliate marketing.

You’ll find competitors in all profitable affiliate marketing niches. It’s normally a good sign that they’re profitable! If you find a niche with NO affiliate marketing competitors, it’s typically because it’s too small or not profitable.

There will always be many affiliate programs to choose from in popular niches. Make a note of what affiliate programs your competitors belong to. It will save you a lot of time later when you search for suitable programs to join.

Can profitable niches be too competitive?

The short answer to the question is IT DEPENDS. Every niche has sub-niches and many different ways you can approach it.

Your success will depend on many factors, such as:

  • How well do you know your target audience and what they want?
  • How are you able to differentiate yourself from your competitors?
  • What makes your blog or website unique?
  • What value do you add to the affiliate programs you’re promoting?
  • How hard do you work on your marketing and business?
  • What keywords do you use?
  • How well is your site optimized for Google?
  • Do you make it easy for visitors to navigate your website?
  • Do you only rely on Google or do you have other traffic sources?
  • Do you use social media platforms in your marketing strategy?
  • Etc.

Sometimes even a sub-niche can be too broad. For example, “keto diet” is a sub-niche of weight loss. It’s very profitable, popular, and highly competitive. You may have to dig deeper to find sub-niche within the keto diet niche.

Google search results example

For example, instead of focusing on “keto diet,” you might focus on “keto diet for beginners” or “keto diet recipes.”

Whether a profitable niche is too competitive for you to enter will depend on YOU.

If you just want to do what everyone else’s doing, you’re wasting your time. But if you can find ways to stand out from the crowd, there’s virtually no profitable niche that is beyond your reach.

Myth #10. You Have To Be Good at Selling.

Online marketing

As affiliate marketing myths go, the belief that you need to be a good salesperson to succeed comes up a lot. It’s also NOT TRUE!

Affiliate marketing is not about selling, at least not in the traditional meaning of the word. If it were, it would be called “affiliate sales” instead of “affiliate marketing.”

The American Marketing Association defines marketing as follows:

Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.

The word “sell” doesn’t appear anywhere.

It’s not your job to sell the products you’re promoting. That’s the job of the merchant you’re working with. Your job is to play the role of matchmaker between the consumer visiting your website and the merchant. As a matchmaker, you introduce the consumer to the merchant and the product that will solve their problem.

Your main job is to tell the consumer more about the merchant’s products. If the products are a good fit and the consumer makes a purchase, you get paid a commission. Playing “matchmaker” is a great way to make money from affiliate marketing.

Being a matchmaker in affiliate marketing does require some skills, though. Here are some skills to keep in mind:

Don’t try to sell. Instead, provide useful information.

Provide useful information to your target audience that’ll help them in their decision-making process. Don’t try to convince them of anything, and avoid hyping up the products you’re promoting.

Be objective.

Not all products are right for all people. Most products and services have pros and cons. Don’t only focus on the pros. If you only focus on the pros, your audience will know you’re not being objective.

People would much rather support an honest marketer than one who’s trying to manipulate them. Consumers can feel when they’re being manipulated.

Where possible, offer consumers a choice.

One of the best affiliate marketing strategies is to offer consumers a choice.

Many consumers won’t buy the first product or service they come across. They want to know what else is available on the market. By covering alternative products, you’re saving them the time and trouble of them having to do all that research themselves.

You should, if possible, also sign up as an affiliate for other products you discuss. Product comparisons make a great blog post topic and provide a lot of value for readers.

Storytelling works!

Everybody loves a good story, especially one with a happy ending! This also applies to the affiliate marketing industry.

Use your website to tell the story of the products or services you’re promoting.

For example, explain why a product was created and how it has made a difference to many people. Where applicable, mention that many competitors tried to find a solution to the problem but failed miserably. Explain how the product you’re promoting was the first one to solve the problem and continues to do so. You get the picture.

Instead of just mentioning the features and benefits of a product, try to tell the product’s story and how your story changed because of the product. Most products have a very interesting story to tell once you look for it.

Myth #11. You Don’t Need To Build an Email List.

Email list

One of the less common affiliate marketing myths is that with affiliate marketing, you don’t need an email list. The argument put forward to support this is that previous buyers can’t be convinced to make a repeat purchase – they’re just there to visit the site once, find what they’re looking for, and leave it at that.

There are some serious flaws in the above argument.

First of all, email marketing isn’t only used to contact previous buyers. It’s also used to provide additional information to people who have expressed an interest in your website.

Since most people will leave your website never to return, email marketing gives you the opportunity to reach out to them again. This is very useful, as many consumers don’t buy a product straight away. By emailing your prospects, you can get an affiliate commission or sale long after they’ve left your website.

Secondly, if you promote a single product on your website, the same buyer may be unlikely to buy it again. However, affiliate marketing isn’t about only promoting a single affiliate product.

Successful affiliate marketers make money from promoting many different products in their niche. That’s how they build a successful affiliate business.

Our recommended autoresponder for email marketing is ActiveCampaign.

ActiveCampaign autoresponder

ActiveCampaign is known for their great deliverability rate, and they offer excellent support.

By capturing the email address of a visitor, you’ll be able to contact that person at will. Your email list is the only type of traffic you truly own, so it’s a valuable asset to have.

It will also give you the opportunity to build a strong relationship with your target audience. This can boost your authority and get people to trust you, which leads to more sales.

Remember to provide value first. If every email you send looks like a sales pitch, your list will quickly become unresponsive.

Myth #12. Affiliate Marketing Can Make You Rich Quickly.

Making money from affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is NOT a get-rich-quick scheme. People that are promoting it as such are unscrupulous marketers that are only after your money. Many if not most of them have never made any money from affiliate marketing themselves.

Affiliate marketing is a great business model if you treat it as a real business. No real business produces overnight riches. It often takes years for a business to prosper. Most people only look at the end result and have no idea of the hard work it took.

You won’t get rich overnight from online marketing in general and affiliate marketing in particular. However, your hard work will pay off if you persevere and don’t give up.

As a rule of thumb, you should start earning consistent commissions from affiliate marketing within 6 months to 12 months. It’s a great industry that can provide you with a good income.

Here are some recent articles we published to help you get started. They’ll give you a good idea of how affiliate marketing works and how fast you’ll be able to make money from it:

Conclusion

There are many affiliate marketing myths. Some are pure fiction, while others that used to be at least partially true are now outdated. Unfortunately, the internet is littered with myths and half-truths.

Affiliate marketing is a great industry, one that can provide you with a decent income. But it DOES require hard work and a strong commitment from your side.

It can also be a steep learning curve if you have no or little online marketing experience.

You have two choices:

    1. Figure it out on your own. This choice means you have the time and patience to navigate through all the affiliate marketing myths on your own. If you’re prepared to learn through trial and error, feel free to choose this option.
    2. Get expert assistance. Don’t want to waste time and money figuring everything out by yourself? Want to flatten out the learning curve? If you’re serious about building a real business, your best option is to get expert assistance.

At BrandBuilders, we would love to see you succeed with affiliate marketing. It’s something we specialize in and are passionate about. We’ve helped many entrepreneurs build income streams that work 24 hours a day. If you give us the chance, we can help you as well!

Book a FREE no-strings-attached coaching call with one of our experts right now to find out how we can help you succeed!