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8 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting Affiliate Marketing

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8 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Starting Affiliate Marketing

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Affiliate marketing is one of the most interesting and lucrative industries on the Internet, in which commissions are earned from promoting a company and/or driving a sale. It consists of a vigorous hub of web publishers who want to monetize their sites, and is a great opportunity for marketers and advertisers to partner with others to promote their products, services, brands or affiliate programs. I have been involved in this field as an affiliate marketer since 2007, and can safely say that I love what I do, not least because it allows me to connect directly with my audience without having many intermediaries.

However, there are a few things I wish I had known before I started.

1. Track success metrics

There is no way to grow an affiliate website or earn more from it if you don’t know how many visitors visit that site every day, and where they come from. Therefore, it’s critical to track analytics and determine which marketing channels are bringing in the most traffic so that you know where to focus efforts when it comes to promoting affiliate offers.

Here are some of the metrics you need to track:

  • Monthly visits and unique daily visitors. The more your site gets, the higher chances there are for making sales.
  • How many sales did you garner this week? Track each affiliate offer’s performance to determine which offers are converting the best.
  • How much was earned from each offer? It’s vital to track how many sales are generated from each affiliate program, since every publisher gets a different commission from selling the same product. This will help determine which affiliate network and products convert better for your site or blog, and to make better offers to get yet more sales.
  • Which countries are visitors from? This metric will indicate which country’s audience converts better to yours, and so help select the right offers for your market.

Related: Top Social-Media Marketing Essentials for Small Businesses

2. Don’t expect huge earnings overnight

If you’re just starting out as an affiliate marketer, don’t expect success too quickly, because thousands of web publishers have been doing this for years, yet still struggle to find revenue. I’m not suggesting avoiding goals, merely that it’s important to be patient and to work enduringly hard in order to see significant results. This is a business like any other, so income will depend on how much time, effort and patience you’re willing to invest.

3. Never stop learning

One of the most important lessons I’ve internalized over years as an affiliate marketer is that there is no end to learning or knowledge sharing. This industry changes very quickly; new trends appear all the time, and old ones die out quickly. So-called gurus retire their affiliate sites every few months only to launch new ones, so you need to be ready to take advantage of changes and to spend resources on learning — absorbing affiliate marketing blog posts, interviews and case studies along the way.

4. Avoid overvaluing your product or service

One of the first things many marketers do when they start an affiliate website is to promote their own products and services, but it’s important not to overvalue them, because this will only backfire in the long run. Remember that you need your audience more than they need you, so provide valuable resources, information and insights that will help them to solve their problems. Start by building authority in a niche, share free content consistently and get involved in the community. Then, once you get real traffic coming to your site, create an offer that’s closely related to what you’ve already shared on your blog or website.

Related: 4 Fool-Proof Steps to Getting Your Authority Marketing Off The Ground

5. Don’t sell visitors short

One of the biggest mistakes I see affiliate marketers making repeatedly is trying to sell their visitors short instead of providing high-quality offers that match well with what they want and need. For example, if someone is looking for a dog bed or a leash, they wouldn’t buy an offer related to yoga classes, because it’s completely irrelevant and doesn’t match what they’re searching for. So, before trying to sell your visitors something, make sure that you’ve done research and arrived at offers that closely match what an audience is looking for.

6. Embrace testing

Another blunder I see often is guessing what works best instead of testing ideas before investing time, effort and money. This is why I suggest A/B testing tools for at least some campaigns, as they will give valuable insights on what’s working right now, without any risks.

7. Don’t leave money on the table

Many affiliate marketers are quick to start promoting a new offer the moment it goes live. Still, they fail to fully optimize and promote before making it available. In many cases, this means that you’ll be leaving a lot of money on the table by not testing your landing page, images, copy and ad copy first. This doesn’t necessarily mean spending days or weeks running A/B tests, but at least try to split-test before promoting an offer broadly. This will give you a better chance of converting more visitors into subscribers or buyers, because you’ve taken the time to work on optimizing everything from start to finish. This is the process I use for every new campaign for my online shop, and it works like a charm.

8. Don’t be afraid to give up

Lastly, remember that it is not a vice to give up on something that’s clearly not working. Even though it might be hard to walk away from an affiliate campaign or website, it’s vital to ask if results are worth the time and effort, then possibly put that energy into something that has a better chance of succeeding. Don’t let others make you feel bad about switching things up, because there is no such thing as doing everything right, so just do what makes sense.

Related: How Affiliate Marketing Can Work for Entrepreneurs

At the end of the day, there is no absolute right or wrong way to do affiliate marketing, but you should at least have a rough plan — one that includes knowing how much you’re willing to spend on advertising, where your niche traffic is coming from and what offers are converting best. The more time and effort you invest into learning and testing everything first, the more likely it is that you’ll succeed.


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Save on Business Travel for Life This Memorial Day with an $80 Deal

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Save on Business Travel for Life This Memorial Day with an $80 Deal

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Growing businesses around the world rely on traveling salespeople and representatives to fuel expansion. For those in the accounting department who are trying to make enough room for airline ticket budgeting, you can do them a lot of favors by hooking up yourself or a team member with this special deal.

Through 11:59 p.m. PT on May 31, you can get a lifetime subscription to this OneAir Elite Plan for only $79.97 (reg. $790). This deal gets you indefinite access to OneAir’s deals on business, first, premium, and economy class flights to and from destinations of your choosing and interest. These deals include mistake fares and advantageously priced ones that happen to pop up.

OneAir’s platform uses artificial intelligence (AI) to scan the web around the clock for deals so that they are ready for your team when someone needs to hit the road. In addition to getting to choose up to 10 departure airports with deals, Elite users can also take advantage of OneAir’s one-on-one business and first-class planning support.

Conveniently, the OneAir Mobile App lets you access these deals, book trips, and complete bookings all in one place. It is available for both iOS and Android devices.

One recent user, Ashok, who saved $1,080 on flights using OneAir, wrote, “I am so pleased with my decision to sign up with OneAir! Just booked a super cheap flight deal to Vancouver along with 5 nights of hotel stays.”

Remember that only through 11:59 p.m. PT on May 31, you can get a lifetime subscription to this OneAir Elite Plan for only $79.97 (reg. $790).

StackSocial prices subject to change.

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Did OpenAI steal Scarlett Johansson’s voice? 5 Critical Lessons for Entrepreneurs in The AI Era

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Did OpenAI steal Scarlett Johansson's voice? 5 Critical Lessons for Entrepreneurs in The AI Era

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Did OpenAI steal Scarlett Johansson’s voice? OpenAI has since paused the “Sky” voice feature, but Johansson argues that this is no coincidence. In response, Johansson delivers a masterclass for entrepreneurs on navigating the AI era successfully.

In today’s discussion, we delve into what this controversy means for business owners, highlighting five critical AI strategies they must deploy. We also explore essential methods to protect your intellectual property and leverage AI for a competitive edge—insights vital for keeping your venture ahead in the AI revolution to remain your competitive advantage.

Take the AI skills quiz here (available for a limited time) and equip yourself with practical knowledge by grabbing a copy of my new book, ‘The Wolf is at the Door – How to Survive and Thrive in an AI-Driven World.’

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Why Are New Business Applications at All-Time High?

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Why Are New Business Applications at All-Time High?

More people are starting businesses now than ever before — and the reason could be that the opportunity cost, or what they have to give up in exchange for entrepreneurship, is lower than ever.

Data that the U.S. Census Bureau released earlier this month shows that the total number of applications to start businesses hit a record 5.5 million last year.

That’s half a million more applications than what was filed in 2022.

Related: Here’s What Millions of Small Businesses Have in Common, According to a New Survey

Census Bureau data from the first four months of this year show that the startup boom is still going strong, too — from January through April, the number of new business applications totaled over 1.7 million.

Why are more people filing to start new businesses?

Columbia Business School professor Angela Lee told Entrepreneur that the reason could be the “unprecedented number of layoffs from big tech companies in the last several years, resulting in a large pool of talent freed up to pursue entrepreneurship.”

Columbia Business School professor Angela Lee (left) and Co-Founder of Plum Alley Investments Andrea Turner Moffitt (right). Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images)

Lee, the director of the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center, also noted that “entrepreneurship has historically been counter-cyclical because the opportunity cost to start a company goes down during a recession.”

Related: Want to Start a Billion-Dollar Business? Look to These Two Industries, Which Have the Most Unicorn Growth

Big tech companies have been laying off employees in record numbers in recent years.

Tech layoffs last year affected 263,180 employees globally according to tracker Layoffs.fyi.

Amazon laid off the most people (27,410) last year, but Meta (21,000), Google (12,115) and Microsoft (11,158) also contributed to record numbers.

The unemployment rate has remained stable, in the 3.7% to 3.9% range in the U.S. over the past nine months, according to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report.

Related: ‘The Employment Situation’ Report for April Shows Employers Are Taking Hiring Down a Notch, Employee Wage Growth Slowing

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