Hey affiliate marketers, you’re doing it wrong and it is making me angry.

In this post, I want us to get a few things straight.

Affiliate marketing is not:

Let me explain this all to you in some depth.

Affiliate marketing isn’t a get rich quick scheme. It is a way to grow a semi-passive income.

We can't all make $100k a month like Pat Flynn of SPI

We can’t all make $100k a month like Pat Flynn of SPI

Those outliers we’ve all read about

I know we have all seen those stories of affiliates and webmasters that have made $100,000 or more in a month by doing seemingly nothing.

Thing is, they really did a ton at some point. Maybe you didn’t see that or know about it, but it happened.

They put in a ton of hard work, creating content, doing outreach, growing their email list and social presence, and more. That all finally culminated in them bringing in the big dollars.

But it didn’t happen overnight. It probably took years.

They probably worked at it every day, sometimes working 18 hour days.

Even with all that energy put into being successful online, maybe it just happened to work out for those select few mega bloggers.

Be in it for the long run

If you are already in affiliate marketing or considering getting into it, don’t make the mistake of thinking you are going to be successful out of the blocks.

In fact, Neil Patel says that he wouldn’t even think about monetizing until he got to 500,000 page views per month.

Okay, that’s Neil. For us humans, maybe 50k page views is a better target, or just having a list of 1,000 emails.

Either way, you don’t need to start spamming your audience with ads and affiliate links on day one. Don’t try to buy traffic or backlinks. And please, for the love of god, don’t spam other site’s comment sections.

Placing an affiliate link to something that is 100% relevant is okay. If you are writing about a video game or book, then maybe affiliate link that. Make it nofollow too so Google doesn’t think your site is a money making scheme.

You shouldn’t have pages of dozens of affiliate links, but one or two nofollowed links are fine.

Your page also shouldn’t be content arranged around ad placements.

Those stupid ads don’t pay much anyways, so it isn’t really worth it to turn away your first few readers by making your site a mess.

Maybe once you have an audience you can put up a few well placed ads in key spots, like the header, sidebar, and maybe at the end of an article or one ad as a divider in an article.

While we’re on the subject; enough with those image galleries where you get one picture and five ads on every single page.

I’m sure they make money, but you are making the internet, and the world, a worse place.

Just make a good site instead. You then will get organic and social traffic instead of having to buy traffic.

Too many popups

Image via GrowTraffic

Ease up on these freaking popups

I get it, popups work. I have one myself on this site and use them on other sites too.

However, there is a line that many of you affiliate marketers are crossing.

When I load your site, one popup is okay.

When I am going to leave your site, another popup is fine.

I don’t want to see three popups the first time I load your site, along with a full page ad.

If you have that many popups, is anyone really opting in? I would think everyone would just click out of them. Actually, I’m guessing most people just hit the back button.

Not only do those people not convert, they also won’t come back.

By hitting the back button, they also are messing with your SEO. Google hates to show people the wrong result, so they might not show your site again or will move it down the SERPs.

Grow slowly

I can’t believe I have to tell you this, but you also aren’t going to be getting tens of thousands of page views the day you launch your site, or even the first week, or month, or maybe even the first year.

It is a process. Sure, maybe you can do some stuff to make your site grow faster. That’s what growth hacking is all about.

For instance, there are social media techniques to get more followers. You could run ads, write more, take part in more forums, and get more guest posts or interviews.

In the end, it might come down to whether your content takes off or not. You could just go viral.

It also is easier to get viewers in some niches than others.

Everybody seemingly wants to read about sports and celebrities. You can get a lot of page views there, but it is difficult to monetize that audience. For ads, they are worth maybe $4-6 CPM.

Not as many people want to read about how to fix industrial machinery. However, that audience can be worth thousands per lead.

Either way, you can grow your site into something solid, authoritative, and trustworthy that brings in traffic. You just need to keep growing and keep working on it (check out some steps in the next section).

Looking for ways to get traffic to your website? Please read my article A Guide To Bringing In Web Traffic In 2016.

About your income projections

A lot of you affiliate marketers seem to be setting goals based around income. Most of those goals, or projections, seem to be pulled out of thin air.

If you have never made a website before, let alone monetized one, what makes you think you can earn $1000 per month through affiliate marketing in the first month (or whatever your ridiculous goal is)?

Maybe you think you need a certain amount to live and so you think you’ll set an easy target to start with, but that target actually isn’t that easy.

Say you can make $2.5 per conversion and your site converts at 2% (those are numbers taken from my Amazon Associates account). That means you need 20,000 visitors to make that $1,000.

That is doable, but it will take you awhile to get to that sort of traffic number.

As I said earlier, I wouldn’t worry about monetizing right away. Instead, build a site that can regularly bring in search traffic.

If you want some goals, I’d suggest these:

  1. Write some awesome posts (at least 1,000 words).
  2. Start growing your social media presence.
  3. Find other people in your niche to network with.
  4. Find some guests posts or interviews.
  5. Take part on some forums related to your topic (link to your site if you can).
  6. Create a lead magnet and setup an email list where people can optin and receive your new lead magnet.

Then repeat steps 1-5. Number 6 isn’t something you need to repeat, but you will need to start sending out email blasts after you get your list to a decent size.

Affiliate marketing isn’t supposed to be about selling. It is about helping people.

Please make legit content

There are so many sites out there where affiliate marketers just throw together a quick article about some product, add some links and a picture, and they hit publish.

I guess those posts work, as so many people make them.

They must get traffic somehow. Perhaps it is from Private Blog Networks or from a big email list or via social media. Maybe Google even sends them some organic traffic, if the site is somewhat established in a niche or if there aren’t many posts about a product.

Even though those types of posts must work somehow, none of us really takes them seriously.

If a user is looking for info on a product and come across some vague article that is short and oftentimes wrong, or if it is a fake review, they aren’t going to stick around on that site or return there. They also will be skeptical of the info listed there.

Maybe the webmaster got a click if they were lucky, but by having crap content, they passed up the opportunity of gaining a reader that might have returned over and over.

The user might have even followed you (the affiliate site) on social and shared your stuff for you.

Maybe it was even someone from marketing at a company related to your site, and they had been considering sending you free stuff to review.

Don’t jam products down our throats

While bad content or fake reviews are annoying, having someone spam us or finding a site that is all about getting people to buy a product is a terrible experience.

If you are looking for a product, say a computer, and you find a site with reviews, you don’t want call-to-action after call-to-action telling you to buy a certain computer. The user is on that site to try to decide which computer to buy. Stop telling them to buy one and instead give them the info to make a decision.

Sure, affiliate marketers should have buttons for them to click an affiliate link to somewhere they can buy the computer. However, there is no point in trying to make them get one specific computer.

Helping people

Image via Unsplash

The best way to grow is to help people

If you want to grow fast, your best bet is to have great content that is very helpful and also to try to help your users in whatever other way you can.

Instead of a short, fake review, write something in depth.

Use your own pictures and give your own opinion. Put your name out there, tell your story, and use a picture of yourself.

Engage with people on social media and by email.

Try to help and work with other bloggers. That will not only result in great content, but also will get you some links and shares.

Affiliate marketing isn’t supposed to be a sleazefest. You’ll be more successful by being honest.

This kind of goes with my above points; you aren’t going to get far by being a sleazebag.

People don’t want fake or thin content.

They also don’t want to take the advice of an anonymous online article on some terrible looking website.

Users won’t visit your site just because you spammed social media or some comment sections. Readers won’t stay on your site if it is an unusable mess of popups and ads.

If you want visitors to flock to you, you need to be honest and open.

You also need great content that goes in depth, has a personal spin on it, has real pictures and examples, and that is setup to make it easy for users to digest your info.

That sort of site takes affiliate marketers more time to make, but the payoff is typically bigger too.

Affiliate marketing isn’t a type of site you make. It is a way to monetize a website.

Those cheesy get rich fast guys

So many of you are looking to make a new affiliate site, or passive income site, or niche site.

You must be, because there are tons of marketers on social trying to get people to optin via email or even pay to learn how to do it.

You know the ads, the one where the guy is sitting by a pool or on a boat or by a sports car or maybe on a beach somewhere. There might be models and a stack of money.

The guy says something like “I made $2 million in 6 months with my system and you can too!”

Like 99% of those people are liars, some are even scammers, but back to my point, affiliate marketers shouldn’t just set out to make a site to bring in cash or get rich.

Build an authority site

Those sites do work to some degree (as in, they will make some money), but Google is also working hard to get those types of sites out of the search results.

Social media sites also are taking steps to limit the exposure those types of sites get. Think of Facebook making organic reach smaller and smaller.

If you want to make a site that can be a big success, you can’t be going that route anyways. You need to make the site that is the best at something and that helps your users. These are called authority sites.

Basically, you want to make a site that can be used as a complete resource for your topic. You really want to be the go to resource in your niche.

Only then will people flock to you, which also is when you can make the most money.

Don’t set out to make an affiliate site, set out to help people.

Create the best site around your topic that you can.

That means you need the best, in depth content. Use your real name and network with real people. Become an established expert.

Don’t take shortcuts (okay, growth hacks are fine), just grow your social presence, email list, and get more traffic from search slowly over time. If you can, ads work too.

That is what all affiliate marketers should be doing.

Let’s make affiliate marketing great again.

Okay, that’s all. Let’s try to do better, alright?

Affiliate marketing doesn’t have to keep this reputation of sleaziness that it seems to currently have.

Sites that provide valuable info and help people are really a good thing. Let’s make more of those!

If you have any examples of affiliate marketers or sites that go against what I’ve said here, or if you just want to talk about it, send me a message via my contact page or on Twitter or Facebook.