Does Affiliate Marketing Work? 40 Tips To Grab Every Opportunity

By Ray Alexander

Affiliate marketing is a business model that allows anyone to start with virtually no cost. Such a low barrier to entry means the industry is pretty competitive. Millions of casual bloggers, occasional YouTubers, and social network users make at least some supplementary income by advertising their affiliate products. On the other hand, it's so easy to quit if you didn't invest much time, money, and effort. You'll have nothing to lose anyway. So is it worth giving it a try? Does affiliate marketing still work? 

The answer is of course yes, if you follow the dos and don'ts. If you are new to affiliate marketing or you've been trying for a while but just not getting the satisfactory result you want, I hope the following list will help you identify some missing pieces and get on the right track. Scroll down to see the list of affiliate marketing tips to help you avoid wasting your time and grab every sales opportunity.

Does Affiliate Marketing Work Tips

Mindset and Productivity

#1 Ask Questions That "Make Sense"

If you belong to an entrepreneurs' community forum, a Facebook group for affiliate marketing, there's no way you shouldn't take advantage of the opportunities. You can also ask a reputable business blogger by leaving a comment on their blog post.

But you must make sure your question "makes sense". As long as what you want to know is expressed briefly and to the point, no question is silly or embarrassing. Experts are more than happy to help you. Be brief but don't be abrupt. Be polite and sincere. And don't forget to thank them!

#2 ...But Do Your Research First

I just said "no question is silly or embarrassing", that's only if you've done your own googling already and cannot seem to find the right answer. All the information is available online already, it's just the conflict of different advice often confuses us. Only when that happens, it's time to stop guessing games and start asking for help. Your affiliate marketing business won't take off while you can't do your own research and keep asking every single question. It'll be a huge waste of time for you, and nobody will take you seriously, either.

#3 Show Your Willingness, At Least

I often receive a one-liner question from people who have just joined a free affiliate training program, that says "How do I start?" It's not an online escape room game, they're in the platform and Lesson 1 is right in their face. There's a clear instruction.

"How/where do I start?" can be interpreted as, "YOU tell me what to do, otherwise I'm not doing." Nobody's asking you to start affiliate marketing. It is a business that you're going to run, you'll have to actively drive it yourself sooner or later. If you don't show your willingness to work on it, nobody will give you a hand.

#4 Shiny Object Syndrome - Don't Get Distracted

Shiny Object Syndrome

Shiny objects are everywhere.

The term "shiny object syndrome" refers to the lack of focus on one object. Your attention to affiliate marketing products/programs shifts from one to another and, you lose interest in the one you've been promoting as soon as you see the latest "shiny" program. 

You do need to keep an eye out for new trends, but you must be able to compare, make your own judgment, and also be able to explain them to your audience (i.e. people you're promoting the product to). You were promoting Product A until yesterday, why you changed your mind and start promoting a very similar Product B today.

#5 Stop Learning To Perfection

You know you need to learn all the marketing techniques (e.g. campaigning, SEO, copywriting) and how to use the tools that you're not yet familiar with, but if you're not confident in your ability to take action, you'll never be ready and nothing will be accomplished. Get your affiliate marketing started even if you're not sure what you doing. Some negative people may sneer at you, so what? We all start lousy and get better as we try, test, and learn along the way.

#6 Don't Be Afraid of Failures

You may be low on budget at the beginning, apprehensive and hesitant to take some risks. But you're running a business, so it's inevitable you'll be experiencing "failures" along the way, which will not really be failures. You should be committed to learning from any outcomes, good or bad. So don't be afraid of getting the results that you want.

#7 Start Managing Your Finances

Niche affiliate marketing, in general, is a low initial cost business model, but you do need to keep track of both income and expenditure transactions. To avoid any bad surprises (spent more than expected) or confusion (cannot remember where the money came from) is one thing. For the year-end tax return purpose is another.

Web accounting software such as Wave will make the job easier for you because it integrates with your bank account and PayPal. I use it myself, and I spend a couple of hours per month making sure all the receipts/payments are recorded. I strongly suggest that you spend at least once a week on bookkeeping. 

Also read: Bookkeeping For Affiliate Marketing Made Easy

Working On Your Affiliate Marketing Methods

#8 Stick To Your Specialties

There may be some typical "success formulas" for affiliate marketing methods and styles but just remember this; They all depend on each entrepreneur's "PCC" (personality, capacity, and capability). Not everyone's the same, you shouldn't have to do what you really don't have to do. You can always find alternative ways instead of wasting so much energy trying to nail the job you hate. 

For example, YouTube marketing (see below) is not for those who have a speech problem like me. At least I've tried & tried and concluded that I didn't have the right "PCC" for it.

#9 Do Video Marketing

Video Marketing

Like I just said, it's not my thing because I'm not physically able to. But YouTube marketing is proven to be much more engaging and interactive. You should at least learn how to, give it a try and how far you can go with it. Philip Borrowman's affiliate marketing training course can help.

Not as effective as speaking on the video yourself, but alternatively, you can also use a text-to-speech converter and let the AI voice and video editor do the job for you.

#10 Use a Self-Hosted Website

Ready-made blog sites such as Medium and Blogger have many restrictions. They don't let you have a layout or navigation menu in the way you want, they don't let you place an effective call-to-action button, and the type of ads that you can place will also be restricted. You cannot create a unique website of your own. For such branding purposes, you should have your own domain name and invest some money in the hosting service.

#11 Traffic Exchange Is a Waste of Time

There's a line between an "entrepreneurs' community" and a "traffic/banner exchange". The latter is where the registered members click to visit each other's websites, make their businesses known, and hopefully, some of them will buy your products...not! Traffic exchange is an outdated strategy, the members are probably not aware that it's outdated, and they're too busy promoting their own business, not interested in anyone else's. Not worth joining any of them, it'll be a waste of time.

#12 Don't Promote Products That You Don't Know Well Enough

You shouldn't be randomly promoting products that you don't know much about. They may turn out to be inferior quality or even scams and you lose your integrity as an affiliate marketer.

#13 Don't Criticize Your Competitor Products Without Knowing well

Likewise, you shouldn't criticize products unless you have a valid explanation to make. For example, there are two similar products sold by different companies, A and B. You're promoting Product A. You shouldn't criticize Product B just to turn down your audience's interest and get them to buy Product A instead. Unless you are able to explain why you believe A is superior to B, based on the facts.

#14 Don't Promote Products That Are Not "Straightforward"

Also similarly, if you look at a product's website (homepage, sales page, FAQ page, etc.) and don't understand what it is, you shouldn't even consider promoting the product at all, no matter how great the affiliate commission rate may be. It's not your fault you don't understand it, it's theirs! The situation may be;

  • The product is a failure - too complicated, hard for anyone to explain what it is in a few simple sentences. Even if you manage to sell it, the buyer may not be able to make use of it and claim a refund (then your commission will be canceled.)
  • The seller's marketing tactics suck - if what's being said on the product website is not straightforward, there's no point sending your audience. Copywriting that doesn't interest you won't interest them either. They'll just leave the site without making a purchase.
  • The seller's not being transparent - they may be deliberately not making sense and hiding something, e.g. high hidden cost, unfair terms of use.
  • The seller's almost entirely focused on affiliate marketing (recruitment), e.g. Ponzi scheme, or any money-making scheme. They have a thousand words to tell you how much you can make from it but fail to explain what exactly the joining fee is for (what kind of product/service you'll immediately receive upon your initial payment.)

The point is - of course if you contact the support they may explain it to you, but you should never have to, to get to know the product in the first instance.

#15 Recommend, Not Hard-Sell

Your job as an affiliate is to recommend products/services to others, not to sell them. So stop using some cheesy sales copy such as;

  • "The secret door is unlocked just for you!
  • "What are you waiting for?"

Always give your opinion from a user's perspective and leave the selling to the merchant.

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#16 Focus On The Benefits, Not The Features

This is like writing a résumé or giving a job interview - merely listing up what you can do won't impress the recruiter. You need to tell them what kind of benefits you can bring to the employer. 

Listing up what a product can do is not good enough to persuade your audience to buy it (unless it's never-heard-of amazing.) Make sure to tell them the benefits. For example, if you're promoting software with a chatbot feature, the chatbot will save the user's time answering basic questions from customers.

#17 Use Emotional Words

People's purchasing behaviors are driven by emotions. Some 95% of purchasing decisions are said to be subconscious. So especially when you talk about the benefits that your affiliate product can bring, elaborate it by using words that invoke emotions. 

#18 Come Up With Attention-Grabbing Headline

No matter how content is good, users won't open to view it if the title is boring. Come up with an attention-grabbing headline as a blog title or email subject line.

#19 But Don't Do Clickbait With a Deceptive Intention

clickbait is indeed, where you deliberately display a captivating title just to get users to click and view the content. As a user, you often get underwhelmed by the content that's not as dramatic as the title suggests. But using a totally irrelevant title is an old spammy trick, e.g. "What Kim Kardashian did in her email yesterday is astonishing!" Don't do that, or you'll only lose trust.

#20 Good To Mention The Guarantee Period / Money-Back Policy

Money-Back Policy

Almost all the products offer a money-back guarantee period and usually, the longer the guarantee period is, the higher the conversion. Emphasize the guarantee period to give your prospects extra assurance before sending them to the sales page.

#21 Don't Use Bombastic Expressions

  • "Discover the prestigious innovation supported by like-minded individuals!"
  • "An established infrastructure empowers your every possibility!"

Don't try to make your affiliate products sound like rocket science, because they are not. Those big but meaningless words would make you sound stupid. Use simple language and be practical!

#22 Use a Landing Page Builder That Converts

Page builder templates are designed to convert. They have opt-in forms and a call-to-action button placed in the best position to maximize the effect. Without using one, you'll struggle to replicate a best-selling landing page/sales funnel. So invest a little money on a good page builder and create your pages using the templates - the majority of them are fully customizable and it makes your job so much easier.

Landing Pages for WordPress

#23 Consider The Factors That Determine Unit Sales

The level of your affiliate commissions depends on 4 main factors, and these factors will help you find the right products for you to promote. 

1. The Price of the Product

For a beginner affiliate, getting 1,000 people to buy a $10 product is often easier than getting 10 people to buy a $1,000 product. Because finding prospects who can afford to pay "high ticket items" is harder and more persuasion techniques may be required.

2. One-Off Price or Recurring Fee

Commission on recurring membership fees (monthly, yearly) is a real passive income source.

3. Commission Rate

Do the math - the higher the commission rate, the more money per unit you'll receive. For example, you have two different products from two different merchants to promote. Both the products are priced at $100. Merchant A offers 2.5% commission and Merchant B offers 35% commission. If you want to earn $500 in total;

  • Merchant A - You need to sell 200 units (2.5/$100 x 200 = $500.)
  • Merchant B - You only need to sell 15 units (35/$100 x 15 = $525.)

4. The Refund Rate

When your referral claims a refund, your affiliate commission will be reversed (you'll have to pay back to the merchant.) You might want to check how reliable the product is before you decide to promote it - if you don't think it's worth the price, the chances are that it has a high refund rate.

#24 Actively Promote Your Blog Posts

Unless your blog post has the most searched content and it gets to the top of Google search as a result of well-organized SEO work, you cannot expect any visitors that you deserve. So promote your post every time it's published by;

  • Post the update on social networks.
  • Promote it to your list of subscribers.
  • Create a video version of it and post it on YouTube.

#25 Don't Hesitate To Place Ads/Banners

Although not much, you cannot underestimate pay-per-click or pay-per-impression ads such as Google Adsense. If you have very few visitors to your site, it's almost not worth having these ads, but what do you think? If you are a brand new blogger, your first few dollars from Adsense will still be a reward, better than nothing. 

Also the banners you place on your site can define what your business is about. As long as you're happy with the type of ads displayed on your site, there's no reason why you shouldn't place them.

#26 ...But Not Too Many Ads

Having said that, too many ads will not only make the page look ugly but also slow down the loading speed, as a result, it will;

  • Annoy the visitors and drive them away, and
  • Negatively affect your search engine ranking.

#27 Don't Spam Blog Comments

We get a lot of spam comments on this site from people who randomly try to promote their affiliate website, weekly, if not daily. A typical comment is something like this;

Wow, your blog is awesome! There's so much information, I'm blown away by this. By the way, check this site >> www.(domain-name).com, I'm already making thousands of dollars every day. This is real!

Those spammers are wasting their time because;

  • Blog comments on WordPress must be approved before being published by default. We simply disapprove (delete) such spam comments.
  • Even if it was approved, the link you place on the WordPress comment section would be no-follow. So if you think you can get an easy backlink by randomly leaving comments on multiple sites, you're wrong.  

Traffic Generation

Traffic Generation

#28 Consider Buying Traffic

If you want to drive traffic fast, paid traffic is the only way. Other methods require you to build a foundation - learn SEO techniques for your blog site and YouTube channel, and it could take months before you start to make a regular income if you don't keep working on it daily. So consider buying traffic.

#29 Don't Use Paid Ads Without Mastering The Basics

Google Ads and Facebook Ads are very effective but still, you'll have to learn the basic techniques such as;

  • What kind of landing page is most effective
  • Understand the target audience for your particular affiliate product
  • How to monitor your spends

So the quickest way is to take a training course that can be costly - see Commission Hero webinar by Robby Blanchard, for example. 

#30 Don't Rely On Solo Ads

Solo ad traffic is the easiest way to acquire, but the visitors from solo ads are not targeted, and they can include a lot of freebie chasers, get-rich-quick dreamers, and some bot visitors. So the least you can do is try diversifying the traffic sources, i.e. try different solo ad sellers. You receive good, responsive leads from one seller, doesn't mean the same seller will continuously send good leads. Unfortunately.

Also Read: Finding The Best Solo Ad Providers

#31 Never Send Solo Ad Traffic To Your Affiliate Page

Solo ad traffic is designed for generating leads, so you'll have to have an opt-in form on your landing page, and a "thank-you" page (when a visitor has signed up with you, they'll be directed to your "thank you for signing up" page). You'll be promoting your products by email marketing. Never send solo ad traffic directly to your affiliate page. They may visit the page, do nothing, and leave. That would be it, and you'd be wasting your money.

#32 Monetize Your Thank-You Page

A thank-you page is a monetizing opportunity - promote your affiliate product and place a bold call-to-action button that's linking to your affiliate page.

You can also promote multiple products as "Thank-you bonus offers". Bonus #1, Bonus #2...and so on. Make sure that your affiliate page will open in a new tab, so that the user can still come back to your thank-you page and view all the offers.

Email Marketing

#33 Start Building a List of Subscribers

Not generating leads (i.e. asking visitors to sign up with your email updates) on your website is a huge opportunity loss. The visitors (to your website, YouTube, or any social post) may see one part of you and never come back to see the real value that you're offering. The follow-up emails to your new subscribers hold the key to make good sales. If you haven't got round to it yet, I know it's a bit of extra work but it'll be worth investing your time.  

#34 Use A Reputable Email Marketing Service

Never use a free email marketing/autoresponder service because they have extremely low deliverability. Your precious emails will end up in their spam folder and hardly be opened. Those free email services will actually miss a lot of your sales opportunities, hence waste your time & money.

Go for one of the low-cost but reputable autoresponder services, such as AWeber, GetResponse, or Mailchimp. 

Note that Mailchimp allows "affiliate links" but not "affiliate marketing". If you're promoting a wealth niche or health & diet niche, your account will be banned without a warning in advance. Mailchimp's deliverability is so good, so if you're not sure, contact them, tell your website URL (where you promote your affiliate products), and ask if you're eligible.

#35 Use Follow-Up Emails (Autoresponder)

Set up an autoresponder, rather than broadcasting (writing a newsletter) each time, unless you have a special announcement to make such as a seasonal discount. To save time!

#36 Find Your Own Copywriting Style

A lot of "how to write email swipes" tutorials and templates are available out there. But I've never been able to use any templates because they're so not me, which means so fake. But the swipes I was writing at the beginning of my email marketing career sucked. After all, you'll only find your copywriting style as you keep practicing and revising.

#37 Be Brief

Unlike web articles where readers choose to visit and read at their convenience, email marketing is a push strategy - your subscribers will receive your email at an unexpected time of day. They may open it and read it when they're not ready to read. So the content should be as brief, simple, and easy to read as it can. Don't make a long paragraph. Make every sentence meaningful.

#38 Don't Be Afraid of Unsubscribers

Email Marketing

There are a few reasons people unsubscribe from your list, such as;

  • You send too frequently.
  • Or too infrequent that they don't remember subscribing with you.
  • The content is too long.
  • The content is too short to make a point.
  • The content is irrelevant 

While it's important to analyze what's causing bulk-unsubscriptions, you shouldn't be too afraid to lose them. You can't be writing content solely focused on retaining the existing subscribers, anyway. You want to create a list of people who are interested in what you're offering. It's not the number of leads that counts, it's the number of prospective buyers. 

#39 Never Buy Email Lists

Don't ever buy a list of emails from anyone, e.g. a list of 1,000 email addresses for $50 (the price varies depending on the offer made by the person who's trying to sell.) The reasons are;

  • The majority of email addresses in the list are inactive or fake. It means the emails you send will be either bounced or never opened.
  • The list can contain "suppressed" email addresses. It means that these email users have opted out of the previous email campaign. If you send them an email, they'll be likely to complain and get you blacklisted by the email service provider.
  • Most of the email service providers won't let you import a bought list of leads easily, anyway. You'll be required to send a fresh subscription confirmation mail, to which very few will respond.

#40 Segment Your List

It won't make sense if you repetitively promote the same product over multiple emails with the same content to every one of your subscribers, because;

  • Some of them may click the link, visit your affiliate page and make a purchase.
  • Some may click the link, visit your affiliate page but they're not interested.
  • Some may open your emails but don't click the link.
  • While others have not opened any of your emails so far.

You can solve the problem by segmenting these subscribers and send a different email to each group - it'll be a bit of extra work, but your autoresponder analysis will tell you who have opened which emails and who have clicked the link.

When it becomes complex, an automation tool such as AW Pro will make the job easier for you.

Also Read: AW Pro Tools Review – They Make A HUGE Difference

Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Of course it does. Join the community from the link below, where all the necessary techniques are covered.

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Let us hear your opinion - what do you think about what you've read so far? Leave a comment below. Any question or request will be welcomed. We'll get back to you as soon as we can!

Published by: 

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!

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  1. I see you promote Aweber, Getreponse and Mailchimp, but in case you don't know, Mailchimp doesn't support affiliate marketing. I used to use Aweber but they often blocked me from sending broadcast and I found the support helpless at times. I see some marketers use Sendlane, what's your take?

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment. I did mention Mailchimp not allowing affiliate marketing in the post (the last paragraph of #34), although they still allow “affiliate links” as long as your intention is genuine to recommend products rather than recruiting. Yes, I hear Sendlane provides very good deliverability rates, but it’s much more expensive for beginners, $70+ per month up to 5,000 subscribers. I’m thinking about using Sendlane too. Thanks, all the best!

  2. Hi Ray, thank you for such valuable tips, there are so many of them that I can make use of. I had to laugh when you said about bombastic languages! ? I completely understand, because a very young friend of mine talks with a colourful vocabulary but he doesn't know what he's talking about most of the time. I think some people just want to show off their language skill instead of trying to tell a story.

    Also about not promoting products that are not straight forward, I find it useful. I sometimes look at a website and don't know what it is, I spend ages before I can finally understand it. You are completely right, I shouldn't have to cos if I don't understand it, any buyers won't understand it. Thank you for your article Ray, I'll bookmark this page and remember each one of them!

  3. Congratulations on plucking up the courage to advise newbies. I agree with you on many points. Our mission as affiliates is to recommend products not to sell. If we genuinely recommend and know the products inside out we can tell all the pros and cons to be transparent. Your advice on segmenting is spot on but it's not easy for newbies. The job can get messy.
    It will be for advanced marketers.

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment. Yes, segmenting a list is an advanced technique I guess, and it will only work when you’ve built a number of leads. It’s good to plan it early and set up separate follow-ups according to the scenario though. I can’t explain everything in one page, so this is to say, keep in mind what you should do.

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