Affiliate Marketing Sucks!

Updated: April 3, 2019
by Ray Alexander

Recently I've asked a few of my guest post contributors to write a short article titled "Affiliate Marketing Sucks!" I specifically requested them to be "brutally honest and indescribably negative." But oh why you guys, what are you afraid of? All I received was a bunch of very polite how-tos.

"You must be persistent and dedicated; otherwise affiliate marketing is not a job for you."

Sorry but that's bo-rring. I've got a load of bollocking points to say why affiliate marketing sucks.

Affiliate Marketing Sucks!

I think the whole 'let's make lots of money online easy' thing is often started by affiliate newcomers. They got tricked into joining an expensive sales funnel builder / (slash) network marketing pit by someone they know yesterday. And today, they start honking out with notoriously brainless phrases such as "You only need to work less than an hour in the morning!" "This system spits out money every hour!"

So people like me keep publishing boring web posts to say "These people are not telling you the truth. You have to be determined and committed to becoming successful in affi......."

Have I mentioned that exact phrase before? Am I a parrot?

Why Affiliate Marketing Sucks

There are plenty of demotivating factors that make you feel like quitting or stop you from even considering. Here are 9 circumstances I can think far!

#1 It Will Cost You

Affiliate marketing will cost you either time or money. Or both.

If you don't want to invest money but choose to rely on organic traffic, you'll just have to keep blogging, and keep blogging wisely before you can start receiving commissions constantly. 'Wisely' as in SEO technique.

If you don't want to wait, you may have to keep paying to advertise or use traffic services. But also wisely. You need to know a good traffic source, or good copywriting technique. Or both. You don't want to spend too much either. And that's not necessarily a sustainable option. Stop paying, and your affiliate income can stop too.

Having said all that, affiliate marketing is a business, and it takes time and some capital to get any business set up and running. So if this was one of the reasons why you think affiliate marketing sucks, you'd be better off working for someone else.

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#2 You End Up Working Long Hours

Many 'Work From Home' 'Make Money Online' affiliates invite you to their scheme and training courses, boasting about financial freedom with few hours of work. The reality is, there's a lot to learn. And often the most important things to learn are not part of the scheme that they're trying to sell. You'll go through a lot of trying and testing and end up working long hours. If you're still not making money from that, then it sucks.

#3 You Are Nothing

"I just found this amazing product, I thoroughly recommend it to anyone!" Keep pretending, you're just an affiliate...

'Affiliate Marketer' is just a glorified job title. As a marketer, you promote someone else's products on their behalf, but you are never solely in charge of it. Millions of others promote the same products by creating a buzz, blogging, podcasting, whatever. In the same way as you do, or better. 

If you were a brand, you would have some repeat customers (or fans) to support you. It's not so much the case with you as an affiliate. Unless you become recognized more as an influencer. The buyers' emotional reactions are not your motivational factor.

#4 Monthly Income Fluctuates

You never know what will happen to the income source. Especially if you rely on commissions from just one or two products - several factors can make the level of your monthly income fluctuate quite dramatically. The factors include;

  • Your product review page drops out of Google page one.
  • Your usual trusted traffic provider goes on vacation, or the quality of the traffic deteriorates for some unknown reason.
  • The manufacturer ceases to trade.
  • Affiliate agreement's canceled.
  • A hyped up new product wasn't as good as expected.

#5 No Such Thing As A Commission 'For Life'

Commission For Life

I guess in this context, for life means 'one of the chains dies'. If you refer someone to a membership scheme, you'll receive a monthly commission for life. Until the day that particular referral leaves the membership, the day the company ceases to trade, or the day you die.

But I would generally define the phrase for life as 'decades and decades'. As long as the product exists and your affiliate ID is live, your passive income opportunities will be there for an indefinite period. We know nothing lasts forever. Products change, trends change and people move on. 'For life' means...about 2 years?

That leads to the next point.

#6 Endless Quest For New Products

So we know that nothing is evergreen. A product that you believe is a 'definitive must-have' may not be for other affiliates. You can't keep promoting one product forever. You should perhaps give other alternatives a try from time to time, which will cost you money.

Or you should at least know what else is out there and be able to explain why yours is better than others. Otherwise you're just a one-dimensional squarehead. Life of an affiliate marketer is about an endless quest for new products. Sucks.

#7 Or, Engage With Too Many Affiliate Programs

So you don't want to rely on one affiliate product or program. But if you sign up with too many programs and it can become unmanageable too. Most affiliate programs out there set the minimum payout threshold - the total of your commission has to reach $50-$100 for example, before you can cash out.

An affiliate network, CJ (Commission Junction) will deduct $10 administration charge from your earned commission if you are not making enough for a long period. (You'll never go minus and end up owing them though. If you've only made $8, they'll deduct $8 and zero out your account.)

#8 Affiliates Are Scammers

If you promote a product without knowing it inside out, and that product turns out to be a scam, then you'll be partially responsible. You'll be a scammer. Unfortunately some - many - affiliates don't give a crap about it. They'd do anything for commission pay, and if they were accused of being unethical or banned for whatever the reason, all they do would be to delete their ID, shut down the website and close their social media accounts. All in a fake name anyway.

For that reason, many brands are reluctant to employ affiliates. Many email service (autoresponder) providers simply prohibit affiliate marketing. Because affiliates tend to promote deceptive products by bombarding thousands of unsolicited spam emails daily.

So tell everyone that you're in affiliate marketing, and we can't blame some of them for assuming that you're effectively a scammer.

#9 Annoying Invitations By Other Affiliates

Invitations By Other Affiliates

Whatever business you are running, you get opportunities to network with other entrepreneurs in the same industry every now and again. Unfortunately, some of those who get in touch with you are self-absorbed affiliate marketers who don't care about what you do. They just want to get you in their MLM scheme. Many other affiliates suck.

My advice is, don't spend more than 2 minutes with them chit-chatting. You'll only hear them say, "I'm feeling great today because I just made a profit from [cryptocurrency, forex, some 'empower' product that you've never heard of]." They're never listening to you, why should you listen to them?

Is This Business So Depressing?

No seriously, I make my living by working as an affiliate. I enjoy my job, I love it. But that never means it's easy. That boring old phrase - "I work hard, and hard work pays off" - exactly applies to this business too, you know. There may be plenty of reasons why you shouldn't be an affiliate marketer. But they can be outweighed by the reasons why you should be.

(Real Time) Affiliate Income Report Last Month
May 2023: $6,510.00

About the author 

Ray Alexander

Hi! I’m Ray. Over the past 15+ years I have been involved with web designing, programming and online marketing. I work from home and have a passion for exploring new tools, services and programs in order to make money online. I’m here to help you succeed in building a profitable business by sharing my experiences. Any question, don’t hesitate to ask!

Thank you for your Comments!

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  1. Ah yes, the never ending quest for good products…really hits where it hurts 🙂

    Not enough people mention that AM can be really really hard. Like, really really tough.

    It’s being glorified as of recent years, as something that is “fast”, “easy” and “passive”…none of which is true. Personally, i wouldn’t have the courage to lie to such extent, as some of these “glorifiers” do. It’s just NOT the case and they know it.

    1. Hi Pablo, thanks for your comment. I agree with you, I wouldn’t want to become a “glorifier” and embarrass myself by saying it’s easy. The industry is competitive, you could lose your “passive” income at any time, and the quest is never-ending. Let’s keep going! 🙂

  2. How can i make money. I do not want to be affiliate. I tried for more than 1 year but made no money. If you don’t recommend affiliate what else can I do ?

  3. Bad thing about affiliate marketing is they complain a lot when they review other people’s products. As a product owner it can be very hurtful. And also I think affiliate marketers don’t have their own products they have to survive by becoming outrageous. I think affiliate marketers are sad. If you are not happy with something, can you provide something better than that? The answer is no. Affiliate marketers suck.

    1. Hi Lubo, you’re right! Reviewers, critics, journalists…we can sound desperately sad if we deliberately say something bitter in an attempt to stand out from the crowd. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Affiliate market sucks! You are right, but only because of most people including myself never learn how to do it right
    As you say it has to be treated as a business and involves Work!
    As for scams, I come across many of those not that easy to spot before parting with money
    Some were just misleading information others were outdated some never delivered what was claimed, but I guess you sometimes have to learn the hard way

  5. Hi, it’s very interesting.
    I think it’s true they all say passive income is for life, but it’s only while your affiliate referral keeps paying. They should not say for life.
    My biggest problem is I have engaged with too many programs. I cannot remember which one I still have my account.
    How can you maintain if you have too many? I don’t know.

    1. Hi Berr, thanks for your comment. I too actually have too many affiliate agreements with all sorts of companies. One thing you can do is to perhaps create a folder in your browser’s bookmark bar? And save each and every affiliate dashboard URL there. Your password can be either saved in your browser, or you can use a secure password manager (I use Dashlane). If you need any help with that, don’t hesitate to get back to me at any time.

  6. Hi Ray,
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article, thank you ?

    I’m still learning, I guess we all are!

    Lots of people come into Affiliate Marketing with the concept that it is easy and that they are going to be making a fistful of cash in a few weeks.

    My first email to my signups is that if they aren’t willing to put the work in by watching and following training videos, then they should ask for a refund.

    I also advise that they join several income streams so that when one dries up (as they do) they have something to keep them afloat.

    1. Hi Christine, you’re absolutely right, people who simply keep searching for some ‘system’ that pays quickly are wasting their time. You only see results that reflect your hard work! It’s also true you need to keep a few income streams. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I appreciate it!

  7. Cool. If you start thinking negatively there are millions of reasons why you don’t want to do affiliate marketing. I get odd messages from internet marketers with no face or avatar. I give them a mouthful and they usually f-off or block me.

  8. Oh yes it sucks. There are too many scammer affiliates who bring down the reputation of all other affiliates. There should be an international policing system or something similar to patrol messages and websites.

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment. It’s hard to define what a ‘scam’ is as a context though. If someone’s taken money off you and disappear, your bank or card company have protection against that sort of events. If we have decent ethical beliefs, we know how to protect ourselves and be honest to others too.

  9. Hi Ray! I was kinda horrified to read it and also laughed. I don’t know sometimes if you are joking or serious! But I see all the points. This post is actually educational for any new affiliate marketers! Thank you!

    1. Hi Premia, I’m not joking, they’re all something I seriously felt when I started this business. I just wanted to share some negative aspects. Thanks for your comment!

  10. That’s interesting because I have been in affiliate marketing for over 5 years and I make my living. I have never thought this business is so awkward.

    1. Hi Abhijit, neither have I! But these are possible factors that may discourage people from participating in the business, or make you feel demotivated sometimes. That’s all it is. They don’t stop us from enjoying what we do. Thanks for your comment.

  11. Hey, lol. So you enjoy being an affiliate but don’t want other affiliates to waste time because they are squareheads lol.

    1. Hi Jeff, no I have many good friends who are in affiliate marketing, we know we shouldn’t waste each other’s time or try to sell stuff to each other, other than making some recommendations. I’m just referring to some people who pop up out of nowhere with message content “me, me, me” only. You see what I mean?

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