Top 10 Common Mistakes Every Affiliate Marketer Should Avoid In 2024

Simon is a former UK call-centre worker who has gone on to build several highly successful affiliate marketing businesses in various different niches & become officially recognized as a Super Affiliate by the world's largest affiliate marketing training platform. He has since relocated to Thailand & now teaches affiliate marketing to others through Commission Academy.

I’ve been making affiliate marketing mistakes for almost a decade now and yes, I’m guilty of making nearly every mistake on this list.

Making mistakes is inevitable. It’s a part of life, especially when you’re mastering a new skill like launching a thriving affiliate business because you’re boldly stepping out into unfamiliar territory.

And the thing about affiliate marketing and online business is that the learning curve never ends because the internet is constantly changing.

Not only that but there are so many affiliate marketing dos and don’ts and conflicting advice online, the best way isn’t always clear.

And that can lead to confusion and mistakes.

So to help, here are some of the affiliate marketing blunders I’ve made over the years.

Top 10 Common Affiliate Marketing Mistakes To Avoid

1. Not Starting An Affiliate Marketing Website
2. Choosing A Niche That’s A Wrong Fit
3. Not Writing The Right Kind Of Content
4. Creating Product Reviews That Don’t Convert
5. Being A Perfectionist
6. Not Organising Your Workflow
7. Being Too Scared To Take Advantage Of YouTube
8. Not Building An Email List
9. Not Staying True To Yourself
10. Getting Impatient And Calling It A Day

Do Our Affiliate Marketing Mistakes Really Matter?

One thing I want to emphasise from the get-go is that mistakes aren’t always mistakes when you’re building an online business. And making mistakes doesn’t mean you’ve failed at affiliate marketing.

Quite the opposite:

Successful people are the ones who make the most mistakes. We’re going to muck up. It’s par for the course.

The key is to learn from your mistakes and constantly push yourself to get better.

“Failed attempts are only futile if you don’t learn from them.”

So when you do inevitably make a mistake in your affiliate marketing career, see it as a learning experience. See it as a sign you’re developing the skills that are going to set you up for huge affiliate marketing success.

Keep in mind too that Dale and I and the entire Commission Academy community are right here to help train and support you every step of the way. We’ve all been there.

Affiliate Marketing Mistakes I’ve Made Over The Years

Alright, now let’s jump into the meat and potatoes of the post. Whether you’re just getting started or you’re trying to grow your affiliate income, I hope these help you avoid making the same schoolboy errors I did.

As always, leave me a juicy comment at the end if you disagree with any of these or if you have your own mistakes to share.

1. Not Starting An Affiliate Marketing Website

I’m putting this at the top of the list because I honestly think it is one of the worst mistakes you can make as an affiliate marketer. And I get it, starting a website sounds like a lot of work (not to mention scary technical).

And there was a time when you needed programming skills, but those days are long gone. Building a website now has never been easier and it’s super affordable – about $50/month for your domain and hosting.

Trying to do affiliate marketing without a website is a mistake because while there are lots of ways to get traffic – namely paid ads, social media, email and forums – these traffic sources mean you constantly have to drive traffic and chase sales which are both expensive and time-consuming.

Starting a website means you kickstart your affiliate marketing career because it’s your own piece of online real estate you own and control completely and you can promote products without restrictions. It’s also the smartest way to attract buyer-ready traffic in droves without ever paying a penny.

You won’t need to chase traffic and sales – you’ll have 100,000s of people coming to your website every month organically through search engines like Google.

But here’s the best part:

A website also means you take off any limits to how much you can earn because you are building a real income-generating asset that’s going to generate ongoing, daily commissions.

And you can sell your website for 36 times its monthly revenue on Flippa whenever you want. Hence why not having a website is the #1 affiliate marketing mistake on this list.

Want to start your affiliate marketing website (the right way)?

Check out our free step-by-step training.

2. Choosing A Niche That’s A Wrong Fit

Diving head-first into a niche that’s not right for you is another huge affiliate marketing mistake many newbies make. And it’s completely understandable, it’s a total minefield.

You don’t want to pick a niche you have zero interest in purely because you think there’s money in it. At the same time, pick a niche without related products you can promote and you’ll struggle to make commissions.

Go too wide and they’ll be too much competition, but go too narrow and they’ll not be a big enough audience. Don’t choose a nice At the same time, go too narrow and the audience won’t be big enough…

So let’s make this super easy…

The right niche (for you) will always fulfil these 3 criteria:

  • You’ll have a passion for the topic
  • It’s popular
  • And it has great profit potential

And since choosing the right niche is so critical to your success, let’s walk you through it step by step:

Are You Passionate About The Niche?

Pick a niche you don’t care about and you’ll struggle to come up with keyword ideas, create content and find products to promote. Most importantly: you’ll struggle to keep yourself motivated in the long run.


Because you’ll just get bored.

One of the main reasons I started affiliate marketing was because I wanted to do something I actually enjoyed doing. Affiliate marketing is a fun adventure when you build your business around a niche or topic you love.

The people I’ve seen go on to experience the most success with affiliate marketing are the ones who managed to pinpoint the niches, products and ideas they really believe in.

So pick a niche you’re passionate about. You’ll enjoy the work more and do better because of it.

Is It A Popular Niche?

Pick a niche you’re passionate about that has a big-enough audience to make it viable and worthwhile.

And there are a couple of quick and easy ways to check if a niche idea is popular:

Google Trends is great for finding out how popular a topic is over time.

Google Trends screenshot

Beyond that, using a keyword tool like Mangools to check the average number of searches a topic or search term gets each month. It’s a great way to see how many people are interested in the niche.

If your niche idea has a steady or rising trend over the last few years with a decent amount of related Google searches then chances are it’s a popular niche.

Does The Niche Have Profit Potential?

You’re only going to make money with affiliate marketing when you generate sales. So does your chosen topic have a ton of related products and services you can promote?

The good news is this is really easy to find out. Simply google “best [your niche topic] affiliate programs”.

So if you want to check the potential profitability of the music niche you would just search for “best musical instrument affiliate programs“, or “best airsoft affiliate programs” and so on, whatever your niche is.

If you see a ton of relevant affiliate programs come up then you know you’re onto a winner 👍

3. Not Writing The Right Kind Of Content

Let me tell you a story: My wife, Benjawan, started a language learning niche website 2 years ago. It was her first website and she was still getting the hang of choosing keywords. Unbeknownst to me, she spent months carefully crafting high-quality targeting keywords with high search volume.

She was publishing content like:

  • How to say “Thank you” in English
  • 10 ways to say “Sorry” in Japanese
  • Top 20 Chinese phrases you can use in a restaurant

And it worked. Slowly but surely, her website started to gain traction in the search results and she was getting 1,000 unique page views a day to her website. But here’s the thing: she didn’t make any sales.

If you want a ton of website visitors, clicks and sales then you need to create content and to do this you know need to know how to do keyword research. And if you’re not sure if not doing keyword research is a mistake you want to avoid then here’s a stat for you:

Affiliate marketers who earn more than $50,000 a year are 4.3x more likely to do keyword research compared to affiliate marketers who earn less.

But you can’t just create any old content – you need to target the right kind of keywords by creating the right kind of content. Ever heard the saying “Content is king”? I think that’s wrong…

It should be “The right type of content is king”.

My point is, go after too many informational keywords and you’ll get traffic but no sales and that’s clearly a mistake. Target more keywords with commercial or buyer intent and you’ll earn more as a result.

Keywords like:

  • Top 10 online French courses for beginners
  • Best inner tubes for road bikes
  • Best men’s watches for under $200
  • Samsung Galaxy Z review

My hunch is that those affiliate marketers are earning more money than their competitors, not just because they know how to do keyword research (though that’s definitely part of it), but because they know how to create the right kind of content that targets keywords with buyer intent.

4. Creating Product Reviews That Don’t Convert

Writing product reviews is a great way to boost your affiliate earnings but there’s a fine line between a positive review that’s going to convert into sales and coming across like a sleazy and desperate life insurance salesman.

Here are some common mistakes I see newbie affiliate marketers make when they’re writing reviews:

  • Overly generic: People read reviews because they want to hear your actual experience. Did it meet your expectations? Do you love the product or did you have a bad experience with it? It’s ok to be opinionated!
  • Not showing yourself: Show (don’t tell) wherever possible. Add images and videos of you using the product
  • Not adding a call to action at the beginning: doing this will increase conversions by more than 30%
  • Being overly positive: there’s no perfect product and not including a product’s cons as well as pros comes across as disingenuous. Giving every product 5 stars only puts people off hitting the Buy Now button
  • Pointing out features vs. benefits: Product pages already tell people the features. You’ll make more sales by emphasising how the product is going to help resolve a problem or benefit them personally

Watch this video for an in-depth guide on writing product reviews or click here for outlines and templates I’ve used to write 700+ reviews that have gone on to get 100,000s site visits and generate $10,000s in commissions.

5. Being A Perfectionist (It’s A Huge, Huge Mistake)

For this affiliate marketing mistake, I’m definitely talking to myself. For the longest time, I really struggled to hit publish on something I didn’t think was amazing. I’d spend countless hours agonising over every section, every paragraph and every sentence, even every word, dot and comma.

And I know I’m not the only one…

If you suffer from perfectionism you just have to give it up.

Easier said than done I know, but being a perfectionist holds you back from reaching your full potential.

Perfection is boring getting better is where all the fun is quote

Now when I’m struggling to write a post and worrying too much it’s not up to Shakespeare standards, I know it’s a sign of disconnect. I’ve lost sight of why I’m creating that piece of content in the first place – to help people!

So keep your customer avatar in the forefront of your mind, focus on helping them and I think it’ll help you break free from the mistake of thinking everything you create has to be perfect.

What is perfect anyway? Your version of perfect is probably not the same as someone else’s. Plus, you can always go back and improve it later. Just. Hit. Publish.

6. Not Organising Your Workflow

Another common mistake is taking the haphazard approach. If you really want to get rich with affiliate marketing then you need to treat your affiliate marketing business like… a REAL business.

There’s no boss standing over your shoulder and nobody telling you what to do so you really have to lead and discipline yourself. You have to be intentional about what you do and that’s a massive mind-shift change.

In more practical terms this means :

  • Set a work schedule
  • Batch tasks whenever possible
  • Have a daily to-do list
  • Prioritise your main tasks first
  • Have a designated workspace
  • Shut down your phone and cut out all distractions

There are a few organisational tools like Google Sheets, TeuxDeux and Trello that can help you manage your workflow and ensure you never find yourself sitting down at your desk not knowing what you’re doing that day.

7. Being Too Scared To Take Advantage Of YouTube

One of my biggest regrets as an affiliate marketer is not having the guts to do YouTube sooner.

I talked about doing it for years once I had the “right” camera, the “right” setup, the “right” lighting and audio equipment… you know how it goes.

Maybe it’s that old perfectionism creeping in again 😏

I’m glad to say we’ve now remedied this and finally launched the Commission Academy YouTube channel.

commission academy youtube channel screenshot

We’re only 20 or so videos in but I must say I’m really enjoying getting out from behind the keyboard and stepping out in front of the camera. It’s a new and exciting challenge.

So why is not doing YouTube an affiliate marketing mistake?

Because YouTube is the world’s second-biggest search engine with 1 billion hours of content on YouTube watched every single day making it an amazing traffic source for affiliates.

Let us also not forget that YouTube is owned by Google and they really like showing videos in the search results which gives you even greater exposure.

most common affiliate marketing mistakes

If you already have an affiliate marketing website then simply turning your posts into videos, uploading them to YouTube and embedding those videos within your posts is not only going to do wonders for your average session duration times, but it’s going to seriously boost your site’s rankings.

8. Not Building An Email List

If you’re not currently building an email list then you’re missing out big time. Even in 2024, email is still – hands-down – the single most effective way to build trust with your audience and generate commissions

Whether it’s selling an affiliate product or bringing them back to your content, email is far and away the most effective way to turn casual readers into buying customers.

“Email has an ability many channels don’t: creating valuable, personal touches—at scale.”

So don’t make the mistake of thinking you you don’t need to build an email list. You’re leaving cash on the table.

Here are 3 super easy steps to start building your email list:

1. Sign up to AWeber: This is the software you’ll use to store email addresses and send emails to your subscribers.

2. Add a sign-up form to your website: Make it clear and give people a reason to join your mailing list.

3. Send out regular emails: Keep in touch with your audience, offer them high-value content they’ll love, build that all-important trust and don’t be afraid to throw in a promotion or two 😉

It really is as simple as that. It’s worth taking the time to do it as it’ll pay you dividends. It could turn into one of your biggest revenue sources, not to mention it will insulate you from any nasty Google surprises and it’s a promotional base you’ll always have.

9. Not Staying True To Yourself

If there’s one surefire way to burn your reputation, break trust with your tribe and make sure they never buy from you, it’s by chasing the dollar signs and selling out. Don’t make the mistake of being so shortsighted you miss the bigger picture.

With every aspect of your online business, you have a choice. You get to choose exactly what products you put your name to and how you sell them. You can promote crappy hyped-up products like:

  • Affiliate marketing scams that promise $11,573 within 24 hours at the click of a mouse
  • Fake medical cures that actually put people’s health at risk
  • Fake shiny shortcuts to losing weight that never deliver

Or you can promote top-quality products and services you know your audience will love and appreciate. I think the latter is the smarter choice. Remember, we’re in this for the long term.

“Affiliate marketing is an excellent opportunity if you truly believe in the value of the product you’re selling. Because many times, you can make money off of something you would probably recommend anyway.”

So only promote products you believe in. Don’t oversell. Always be honest and always put your audience first.

Make genuinely helping people as much as you can your number one priority and you’ll soon have a group of raving loyal fans who love what you do and you’ll go on to make a lot of money as an affiliate.

You’ll also sleep better at night.

10. Getting Impatient And Calling It A Day

Too often, newbies imagine affiliate marketing success as a straight line going up at a 45-degree angle.

Here’s what your journey will actually look like…

the life of an affiliate marketer

It’s really easy to get frustrated, disillusioned and downright impatient. If you want to know the biggest mistake affiliate marketers make (and why most affiliate marketers fail) it’s letting those feelings of doubt get the better of you and giving up before they experience their breakthrough.

Here’s the truth:

It took months of hard work to make all those affiliate marketing success stories you’ve read online a reality.

When I started my first ever blog in 2014, I had no idea if it would ever see the light of day. After I put in any spare time I had in the evenings and weekends to publish content, I finally made my first ever affiliate commission after two weeks. It took me six months before I was making commissions regularly and 12 months before I was earning enough to go full-time.

For some it might happen quicker, for others, it might take longer.

Even if you’re not yet seeing results right now, keep pushing because it’s just a matter of time. If you can make it through what I like to call “the ghost town phase” then you’re pretty much set for life.

Affiliate marketing is a marathon, not a sprint, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. At Commission Academy, we’ll give you full step-by-step training and support to help you get to where you want to be.

So stick with it and all those hours spent hammering away at the keyboard will pay off and it will be worth it.

Affiliate Marketing Mistakes To Avoid: The Bottom Line

Everyone makes mistakes when they’re just starting out. Heck, even those of us who have been at this affiliate marketing game for years (myself included).

And even if you follow our training to a tee, you’re probably still going to make a decision or two you’ll later wish you’d done differently. And that’s completely fine and normal.

My hope is that you’ve gleaned a few golden nuggets from this guide that can help you avoid the most common pitfalls and point you in the right direction and speed up your progress.

What Affiliate Marketing Mistakes Did I Miss?

What are some affiliate marketing mistakes you’ve made along your journey?

Any we didn’t cover here that you want to warn other affiliate marketers about?

Let us know in the comments – you never know, it might really help someone! 🙂

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