3 Mistakes When Choosing Affiliate Programs

One of the fastest ways to get a business started is to select the affiliate business model. In this model, you are paid when customers buy from affiliated vendors. For instance, if you sign up for Walmart's affiliate program and someone buys an item from Walmart from your website, you'll get paid a commission. Many newbie affiliates, though, commit 3 mistakes when choosing affiliate programs.

3 Mistakes When Choosing Affiliate Programs

More About Affiliate Programs

Disclosure: Site owner may receive a commission from products purchased from this page.

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I discussed briefly in the introduction the basics of affiliate programs. To dig in a bit deeper, companies have discovered that using the services of affiliates are a great way to improve their sales. They can do this without adding much to their costs, too. For many companies, it is a no-brainer.

When you enter into an affiliate agreement with a vendor, you are given a set of tools to implement your marketing strategy. The main tool is your affiliate id. 

This id is embedded into all the assets the vendor provides. It's how the vendors know which affiliate sent the traffic. When that traffic buys products or services, you'll receive a commission. The concept is that simple!

Choosing the right affiliate program is a crucial aspect of the game. Below are some mistakes that many newcomers to the affiliate marketing arena make.

3 Mistakes When Choosing Affiliate Programs

Affiliate marketing attracts people due to the relative simplicity of the business model. In a nutshell, it entails signing up for an affiliate program with a vendor, choosing products or services to sell on your website, listing the products with your affiliate link, and getting paid when someone buys.

The affiliate business model is further simplified in its logistics. You don't need to set up shopping carts or payment processing. You also don't need to worry about shipping products or returns from customers. All that is handled by the vendors. You simply send them traffic and when customers of that traffic buy, you get paid. That's it!

Of course, the devil is in the details. If this were all that were needed to sell, everyone would be millionaires by now. Some of the biggest problems with the affiliate business model can be broken down into three major mistakes:

Mistake #1 - Lack of Alignment with the Theme of Your Website

Mistake #2 - Not Understanding the Vendors or Products Sold

Mistake #3 - Choosing Companies Solely on the Basis of High Commission Rates

Mistake #1 - Lack of Alignment with the Theme of Your Website

Have you ever stumbled upon a website that seemed out of place? The website is supposed to be about what you searched for, but you find completely unrelated information and products. 

Which Way Should He Go

I once searched for pet products and clicked on a link from the search results that seemed appropriate. One of the ads on the website was for selling auto insurance. This didn't match. Had the website contained an ad selling pet insurance, I wouldn't have had a problem with that.

Make sure your website is in alignment with your concept or theme. This means finding affiliate programs that fit your business model. If your website is in the kayak niche, you may want to stay away from selling kitchen supplies. Unless you can somehow tie the two together, keep the two concepts separate. Create a new website for the kitchen supplies if necessary. 

The only exception to this rule is if your website sells many products across different categories, like Amazon or Walmart. But even with this, make sure you delineate the categories properly. Most people have little trouble navigating Amazon. Try to emulate their navigation if you are choosing this path.

Mistake #2 - Not Understanding the Vendors or Their Products and Services

Want to know the secrets of success with the affiliate business model? It's not simply slapping a few links on your website and hoping for the best. Most successful affiliates create value with their websites. The selling of the products or services is secondary. 

Frustrated Woman

To accomplish this, you'll need to be in tune with your niche and the products you'll sell. While you don't need to be an expert, you'll want to find valuable resources that support the sale. 

You also want to make sure the companies you affiliate with are ethical. If you start selling products from unethical companies, your reputation is at stake. It can be a fine line as to what is ethical, which makes this issue a bit challenging. However, a good rule of thumb is if you feel comfortable selling to your grandmother, you should be okay.

It's not always necessary to buy all the products that you are selling on your website. However, the more you can do this, the easier it will be to establish authority. Many newbie affiliates complain that this adds expense to the business, and there is truth to this.

One way around this is to reach out to the vendors and ask if they are willing to provide you with samples for free. If they agree to this, make sure you disclose this fact when reviewing the products. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been cracking down on disclosures and accepting free products falls into the disclosure rules. This is not legal advice, however. Please consult a qualified legal representative for more.

Mistake #3 - Choosing Vendor Products Solely on the Basis of High Commissions

Who doesn't want high commissions when they sell products? A 75% commission on a $400 product is tempting to say the least. However, high commissions on high-ticket items attract experienced affiliates. Affiliates with experience will likely outsell you, which means you'll waste time trying to compete against them.

There are exceptions to this, and if you are an experienced affiliate marketer, feel free to disregard this item. However, even here, you may find the competition is not worth the promotional efforts required.

High-ticket items often include electronics and gadgets. Most affiliates choose this category of products to sell because they think the products will sell easily. There is some truth to this. However, the higher competition for these products counteracts their ease of sale.

Picture of Dollar

Often, you're much better off choosing products that directly support the high-ticket ones. The accessories market for many product categories are often easier to break into because many affiliates (especially newbies) flock to the main products. But when you can show potential customers how accessories can enhance the main products, you often find that these customers will buy multiple accessories from you.

What If You Can't Find Affiliate Products in Your Niche?

Usually, it's not difficult to find vendors with affiliate programs, but many vendors may be unaware that they can implement an affiliate business model. One trick is to reach out to these companies that don't have an established affiliate relationship and ask if they know about affiliate programs. Many companies do not know this option exists. By explaining the concept to them, you'll be helping them out by increasing their sales channels, and you'll benefit from the commissions of products sold.

Which Products to Choose?

Another method is to search for disclosures on the pages that you find during your searches. The Federal Trade Commission has guidelines on disclosures for affiliates. Most affiliates understand the ramifications of not following these guidelines. Hence, you can expect most responsible and ethical affiliates to include them on their website.

When you find an affiliate disclosure, simply click on the links contained in the text of the web page, especially ones that bring you to a sales page. When you find these pages, you can search around for the phrases:

Affiliate Program

Referral Program

When you find these links, you can follow the instructions to sign up for their affiliate program. If you get rejected from the program, reach out to the affiliate manager, either via phone (best option) or via email. Ask for the reasons for the rejection and if there is anything you can do to help reverse the decision. I would say (unscientific) that about 85% will reverse the rejection to an acceptance. There will be some managers that won't budge, but it's rare. They want the business.

Affiliate managers just want to make sure that you are going to represent their companies properly and use ethical promotional methods. You should consider reaching out to the manager even when you get accepted. In most cases, they will offer tips on how to promote the company and give you a list of the hottest-selling products.


Hi, my name is Jim. I am here to help you learn how to create your own online business. Never before has it been as easy as it is to do so. I will give you access to the necessary training to make it all happen. Just follow the training and perform the tasks as the come up and at the end of the training you will have a fully working framework with which to start earning money from your online business.

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