12+1 Reasons Why Most People Fail in Affiliate Marketing

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I read an article about a study claiming that 95% of people fail in affiliate marketing. They used the phrase ‘fail in affiliate marketing’, but I did not like this phrase at all. If a new affiliate marketer struggles to see any success and quits, they may say ‘I tried and failed at affiliate marketing’. If marketer #2 faces the same problems, struggles to see any success, but later they find it, then the story would go like something ‘I learned a lot and there were some obstacles’.

The only difference between the two new affiliate marketers who faced the same challenges is that one quit, the other did not. In my mind the right expression to use is not ‘FAIL’, since the only way someone fails in affiliate marketing is if they quit. So the question is…

Why People Fail QUIT Affiliate Marketing?

Why a new affiliate marketer succeeds, while the other one does not? What makes the difference? What is success anyways?

After writing an exhaustive list of various reasons why people quit affiliate marketing, I am pretty certain to say that ‘failure’ roots down to 3 MAJOR things.

Mindset, Training and Support

Sadly, all are driven by so-called gurus who sell overpriced training courses that are effectively useless, and promote a mindset that sets new affiliate marketers off the wrong foot.

Throwing cash in the air may appeal to a lot of people, but those who think that they will be throwing cash pretty soon… I am certain that most of them quit very soon when the success does not come overnight.

1. Unrealistic Expectations

I can’t even count how many videos I see every day on YouTube that promise to make you rich the EASY way. Of course, the quality and usefulness of these videos are at least dubious, but the bigger problem is that most people only ever see these videos. They think that THIS is affiliate marketing.

They are presented with a more or less coherent fairy tale that these gurus call a training. Poor affiliate marketer pays a lot, or if they lucky they can get away with a few, cheaper ‘all-in-one’ tools that supposed to bring fame and fortune overnight. Then the results don’t come, because they were never given a method that works.

Others think that affiliate marketing is a get rich quick scheme. They forget that what they see as ‘success’ did not come overnight. Those who are successful in affiliate marketing have worked for it hard, for years. As painful as it sounds but 5 years of experience in affiliate marketing takes…you’ll never guess…5 years to gain.

Fail In Affiliate Marketing By Having Unrealistic Expectations
Money Goals In Affiliate Marketing

There may be shortcuts such as following a proper training rather than figuring out everything yourself, but really, it is building a business.

It takes a lot of work outside one’s comfort zone to make it successful, and it takes years.

Many people are just not willing to accept that.

2. You’re In It For The Money

Reason #2. Everyone does it for the money, right? But, like people smarter than me once said, money cannot be your end goal. Money can be one of the means by which you achieve your goal, or can be a by-product of you achieving your goals, but it cannot be the goal itself.

So if you start affiliate marketing because you would like to earn $50,000 a month, that’s fine. But ask yourself, why do you need that amount of money? Just fancy cars? Recognition by your peers? Or something more profound, like medical bills? What’s under the surface that really drives you?

Unless you dig really deep to find out what motivates you, you set yourself up for giving up too soon. You won’t have the determination that pulls you through the rough patches.

Doing affiliate marketing for the money drives another behaviour that is not going to end well: you will simply try to sell expensive stuff to people.

3. Not Knowing Your Audience

You may very well succeed with this mentality, but more often than not, this does not lead to many sales. The key to succeed in affiliate marketing is how well you understand your audience, what they need; and promote a product that solves their biggest problems, answer their most important questions.

Simply picking a product the pays the highest commission won’t make anyone rich, not without that thorough understanding of the audience, and the intention to actually HELP them.

If you would like to dig deeper into what your audience wants, what people are actively searching for on Google, try this method: The Ultimate Niche and Keyword Research Method.

I also give you a free example in pdf of how it’s done, what you can learn and how you can use it to build your online presence in the most effective manner. 

4. Lack of Proper Training

That thorough research of the audience and their needs is the supporting foundation of a successful affiliate marketing business. There are many ways it can be undertaken and you can learn the do’s&don’ts from many places.

But finding and researching a niche is only the first step. There are a lot of technical issues that can raise the bar too high, and many people don’t realise how many tiny settings and modification there are when they run a website. A few mistakes here and there, and it can seriously delay your pizza-day (when you earn your first $5 online) or prevent you from earning any income online. Period.

A decent training is a must, if you’d like to jump-start your career as an affiliate marketer. It doesn’t only get you through all the technical challenges of owning a website, but a training course can also teach you how to narrow down your niche, what is keyword research and SEO, how to write content etc.

5. Falling For Scams

Sadly the online space is full of scams, many claim to have the only effective way to make you successful with your online business.

Most of the time these scam training courses are outdated, and based on techniques that may have worked years ago, but won’t work now.

The truth of the matter is that;

  • ANYONE can attract 100s of thousands of visitors using free techniques, but it takes at least a year for Google to send massive traffic towards you.
  • Anyone can learn affiliate marketing for free, but it takes at least 2-3 months just to cover the basics
  • Anyone can run a website on a free server, but again, you need to learn the technical side

So what is the extra these training courses offer, that is worth the money?

They try to appeal to your deeper desires. You want to know the SECRET that no-one else, so that gives you an advantage over them.

You want to see results faster, cause it would give you the re-assurance that affiliate marketing works and you will be rich (=no more problems) soon. Re-assurance that you crave so much.

Learn The Exact Method

I Use

To Make Money Online

with Affiliate Marketing

Hands-on Tutorials To Kick-start Your Online Business

Support All Through Your Learning and Beyond

All the Tools and Resources You Need To Make Money

A Great Community of Beginner and Pro Affiliate Marketers

Are You Ready To Start Your Journey?



6. Too Much Competition

Without proper training, you would jump into a niche that is waay too competitive for a newbie. You’d have no chance succeeding without a massive PPC campaign and a lot of other marketing techniques that you probably haven’t even heard of.

Some Niches Are Very Tough For A Newbie Affiliate Marketer - No Wonder Many Quit
Some Niches Are Very Tough For A Newbie Affiliate Marketer – No Wonder Many Quit

This is when it pays off if you are in a niche that you are actually interested in, rather than in one that pays the most commissions. In a competitive niche results will come even slower, so you need the right mindset to pull through and not give up.

The only way to set foot in a competitive niche if you can establish authority. But most of the time it practically means that you need to modify your niche again and again, slightly, until you find a sub-niche that is less competitive, and your site can grow.

But many new affiliate marketers don’t understand this, or don’t have the skills to recognise this. So they struggle and struggle until they finally give up.

7. Wrong Goals

Slightly related to the ‘Unrealistic Expectations’. It cannot be underestimated how damaging it can be when you set the wrong goals and, eventually, fail to meet those goals.

Prime example is when you make ‘money goals’ such as ‘I want to earn $1000 a month within 1 year’ or ‘I want to make a 6-figure income within 5 years’.

It is not the fact that you place a time limit on your goal, but that you have little impact on these targets. You also can’t really measure progress against these targets: earning $200 when you are 10 months in may seem that you are far away from your goals, and you are never going to get there.

But actually you have no idea, you may easily earn a grand the following month. But many don’t have the patience and the FAITH in the method they follow, so they quit. Quit, right before they could see the results of their hard work.

If you’d like to earn $1000 a month, then you must break it down to tiny steps, how you are going to achieve that.

You must do the maths.

If you will promote products that cost $50 average and you earn $10 with each, you’ll have to sell 100 a month to earn $1000.

That’s around 1000 clicks on your affiliate links.

That’s around 14000 clicks on your website a month.

That’s at least 30 articles bringing in 5-600 visitors a month. It is achievable, but your goal should be writing 30-40 articles that rank on the 1st page of Google.

And you can break it down even further, like, in order to write 30-40 blogposts, you need to research 60-70 longtail keywords with low competition. So, your goal for the 1st week could be finding those keywords.

This, you can control.

You can measure it, straight away.

You can tick the boxes.

You can check your progress against a plan.

You know you are on track.

8. Impostor Syndrome

If you go down the route of writing product reviews, it can be a real drawback writing reviews around products that you don’t know well. In some niches, it is just impossible to own every product you review.

Over time you will feel like an impostor, who talks about something that you don’t know anything about. There are people out there who know much more about the topic. And it is probably true, but.

Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern. You start doubting your accomplishments and develop a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

To be honest, this is pretty normal. You can suffer from this even if you ARE an expert. And yes, there may be people who are experts in your niche. There may be people who can afford to buy all the things that you don’t but would like to review. So they, of course, will have better knowledge, first-hand experience.

It does not mean though, that you cannot do your research and you cannot give an honest opinion about a product. Think about the time and effort it needed to research that product for the review. Hours? Sometimes it takes days, and you still can’t find the answer to every question you may have.

By writing an honest review, you could save the time for your reader doing all this research. In five minutes, you could summarise a day’s research and frustration.

That’s added value.

You probably have reviewed many other products in that niche, so you have a much in-depth underpinning knowledge of the market, and how those products compare to each other. Sometimes this is all a reader looks for: re-assurance of their decision. Yes, most of the time they have made their mind up already, by the time they read your article. Giving that sort of Yay or Nay is your added value.

But many new affiliate marketers don’t appreciate this kind of added value. And when they start to feel like they are ‘a cheat’ they just give it up.

9. Lack of Visitor Engagement

You must be smart in the way you create your content. If your site comes across as sales-y, Google will punish you, but more importantly, your visitors will punish you.

Although sometimes you must be a bit pushy as a marketer, but no-one likes to be bombarded with ‘Buy This’ ‘Buy This’ ‘Buy This’ messages all the time.

People want to spend their money, you don’t need to convince them. If you remain honest, it will pay off in the long term by earning you authority and the trust of your visitors.

If there is one thing that can easily ruin your business, your authority and success online, is recommending poor quality products.

Many affiliate marketers do this – mainly driven by the commissions – but as a new affiliate marketer you simply cannot afford to not to be genuine and honest. You must give the best advice as you can. If something is not right, you must tell it to your audience.

There will be people who will buy the product anyways, don’t worry. If you have affiliate links, you’ll earn money on products that you don’t recommend, too.

If a product is sub-par quality, there is good chance that someone else will expose it anyways. If everyone else says its crap but you, that can damage your reputation badly.

But honesty is the only attribute that can earn the trust of your visitors. Trust leads to engagement, engagement leads to more sales, more sales lead to more money.

Proper affiliate marketing is a long-haul game, and shady techniques don’t work in the long term.

10. Procrastination & Distraction

Whether it is the lack of passion for the niche, or the lack of planning ahead, procrastination is a major factor why many people don’t succeed in affiliate marketing.

Life can be tough, and there will always be people who make the roadblocks their excuses.

Especially if you don’t exactly know what you’re doing, you don’t have daily or weekly targets, it is too easy to just procrastinate.

It is all too easy to get distracted, especially in the early phases. You keep working on your website, but there is no ‘evidence’ that it will pay off. It is difficult to keep yourself motivated. (This is when people start looking to find ‘quicker’ methods, instead of sticking to the method that they should follow through.)

Procrastination Can Kill You Affiliate Marketing Business
Getting Ready for the Next Great Review Post… Procrastination Can Kill Your Affiliate Marketing Business

Don’t worry about taking a break every now and then – I found that this is when creativity wakes up – but you must keep a balance between getting the job done, meeting your targets and not burning out.

11. Persistence

Have you ever heard of the ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’? When someone keeps chasing the better offers only to find out that the ‘better’ offer did not solve their problem either. So they go after the next one.

Persistence is key in this business. If you find a method that works, you must follow through even if it takes years. What makes it difficult is that you must keep working hard until the breakthrough.

When the next shiny object tempts with ‘more money’ with ‘less effort’, many people abandon the proven method for uncharted waters. It rarely works, but can cost a lot of time and money to find this out.

The lack of persistence – by definition: continuing firmly or obstinately in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition – is a very common reason why people quit.

Maybe this generation of mine got impatient (entitled?), wants everything and wants it now…don’t know.

But to remain persistent and to follow through the path really needs discipline, self-motivation, the right mindset and low expectations for the first 6 months.

12. Burning Out Too Quickly

The other end of the spectrum when a new affiliate marketer takes on more than they can bear. Creating a new website is an afternoon project, so it is easy to set up the 2nd, the 3rd or more websites.

When you get the gist of researching a niche, you will realise the endless amount of opportunities that are out there in the online world.

I wanted to jump into everything, and I was amazed by the potential of what can be achieved. The mistake I made that I thought I could achieve all those at the same time. I started 3 websites, but it is impossible to focus on 3 websites at the same time in the early phase of creating content.

I kept pushing out the best content I could create, but it was split between 3 sites. As a result, I had 3 websites that did not grow at all, I was unable to create enough content to get the ball rolling on all three at the same time.

So I had to let go of 2. Well, they didn’t go anywhere, but I focused my attention on one that I saw with the most potential. And guess what, the first commissions started to flow in shortly after this website had my undivided attention…

But if I had continued with 3 sites parallel, I would have burnt out and probably would have thrown in the towel before I had any ‘evidence’ that the system worked, and I could earn money with affiliate marketing.

So if you would like to go further, my advice is: take it slow.

That 4-6 weeks difference in writing 30-40 articles is not long in the grand scheme of things. Yet, it can make a lot of difference if you burn out too quickly and quit. You have time. Yes, it may take 3 months to write all the articles you planned out. It may take 4 months. But at least you create and publish them. If you quit after 2 months, well, that way you will never going to earn an online income.

+1 Lack Of Support

Last, but not least. Probably the most important thing of all. It is your environment. The people around you.

Affiliate marketing is a lonely business. 99 people of a 100 don’t even understand what affiliate marketing is, never heard about it. Don’t even know that earning money online is a possibility (and it is not illegal). Many of them haven’t got a clue of what it entails to be an affiliate marketer.

Most likely, the people around you will fall into this category.

It is difficult enough to remain persistent, patient, and motivated through the initial phase of 4-5 months. You are working really hard, the learning curve is steep, you work around the clock on something that you have not done before.

Yet, every Sunday someone will ask at the dinner table how your so-called ‘business’ (strictly in quotes) is going and have you earned any money yet. And all you can say is ‘No’ or ‘Cents’, because that is the reality. And they don’t understand how difficult it is to build out a business that can provide livelihood for you and your family, and that you must put in the work now, so that you can reap the rewards of passive income later.

None of them has done it before.

At best, they heard of MLM so they can associate to that.

And if you are lucky, they have never been scammed and won’t keep saying that this is a scam too and you will never earn a dime and that you should cut your losses before its too late.

True story.

But as I said, it takes balls to use this as motivation to double the efforts.

And 95% percent of new affiliate marketers probably don’t have the balls. Because the hardest part is when you don’t have the support that you need.

That’s why you should look for the company of likeminded people, who understand what you are going through. Who can give you advice based on their experience, who can support you and talk you through the rough patches.

A community where you can see that you are not the only one facing these problems, the self-doubt, procrastination, lack of motivation. That all these will go away eventually, you just gotta keep going.

The difference is indescribable.

If you can, join a Facebook Group, follow successful affiliate marketers who motivate you. Join online communities like Wealthy Affiliate’s or Project 24’s. Do whatever you can to surround yourself with positive people who understand you, support you and motivate you.

Wrapping Up

So back to mindset, training and support. There are 12 reasons why you can fail (quit) affiliate marketing.

What’s common in them is that they root in two (+1) major causes

  1. The affiliate marketer does not have the right mindset (expectations, wrong goals, money driven, lack of discipline & persistence, establishing trust with the audience) or
  2. The training did not prepare the affiliate marketer for the obstacles (niche research, competition, keyword research)

+ 1 The people around you.

The funny thing is, one does not exist without the other.

If an affiliate marketer has the wrong mindset, I am pretty sure that the training they are willing to undertake won’t cover the decent methods on SEO and market research.

If an affiliate marketer picks a training that does not teach these basics, it is very likely that they won’t have the right mindset and ultimately won’t see much success in affiliate marketing.

So it’s crucial that, if you just about to start affiliate marketing or you struggle to see the results, you must adjust your expectations, and have another look at the training you are (or about to) undertaking.

Does it project the values that you are 100% happy with? Does it teach you how to build a sustainable online business based on helping people, and not based on misleading marketing techniques?

Does it prepare you for the hard work?

Does it provide you with skills that you can use anywhere in online marketing?

Just a few basic questions, but if the answer is ‘No’ to any of these questions above, you may be better off looking for another training…

The ones that I personally recommend can be found in this article Best Affiliate Training Course For Beginners and under Resources

Learn The Exact Method

I Use

To Make Money Online

with Affiliate Marketing

Hands-on Tutorials To Kick-start Your Online Business

Support All Through Your Learning and Beyond

All the Tools and Resources You Need To Make Money

A Great Community of Beginner and Pro Affiliate Marketers

Are You Ready To Start Your Journey?




13 Reasons Why People Fail in Affiliate Marketing
13 Reasons Why People Fail in Affiliate Marketing