Affiliate marketing is pretty easy overall, but there are pitfalls many new affiliates fall into. Some are only a problem for you or annoying for your audience, but some are big trouble. Trouble of the legal kind. No one wants that, and I sure don’t want that for you! So, here’s a list of mistakes you should avoid to stay on the successful path to affiliate marketing:
For the love of waffles, you must disclose when you’re using an affiliate link. Any time you’re receiving compensation for getting people to sign up for something, you have to let people know before they click the link. Whether that compensation is cash, a free month of a service – heck, I don’t care if it’s a bag of jellybeans – list clearly that you are an affiliate and that you’ll get compensated.
There are a lot of guidelines for affiliate marketers, and if you’re not in the USA, you’ll need to do some research on your country’s laws. For those of us stateside, I’ve gotten a few resources together for you. (You know, because I’m not a lawyer and can’t give legal advice to my cat, let alone you…)
- FTC Disclosure Guideline FAQs
- Endorsements Guide from the FTC (in plain English!)
- FTC Guide for Native Advertising
- Making Effective Disclosures Guide
- An informative overview by Sarah F. Hawkins
- Another detailed guide by Amy Lynn Andrews
I know, obvious, right? Seriously, don’t exaggerate what you’re promoting. Not even a little! In fact, if you know a fault with the product or service and admit as much your audience will be much more appreciative. You always want to offer your honest opinion so that even if what you’re offering today doesn’t suit them, they won’t abandon you when you offer something tomorrow.
Promoting Products/Services You Don’t Know & Use
If you promote a product or service without knowing it, you stand a darn good chance of it backfiring. When it flops, your audience’s opinion of you will too. If you haven’t personally enjoyed a product or service, don’t promote it just to make money. There are other ways to make a quick buck that don’t involve damaging your reputation.
Copy and Paste
I’m not talking about swipe files your partners provide here. I’m talking about copy and pasting content from the product/service page itself, word for word. Not only does that reflect poorly on you, but it’s also illegal. Seriously.
Not Reading the Rules
This is different than the disclosure bit. Each affiliate program has rules you must follow. If you don’t, you’ll get booted from the program, and some programs will take back your payouts.
For example, did you know that Amazon Associates program doesn’t allow you to send their links via email, use link shorteners/cloaking, or include their links in ebooks/PDFs? These are mistakes I’ve seen seasoned marketers make, and almost every beginner makes them. Now, you don’t have to! 😉
You should be tracking both your results and your links themselves. Keep a spreadsheet of your affiliate programs with a running payout tally to track your results – many think to do this. However, how do you know which link is generating those sales? If you’re sharing the same product in several blog posts, social media, and in the course of your services, how do you know which channel is bringing home the bacon?
Most programs offer the ability to add tracking codes to your URL, or you can use a service like Google’s Campaign URL Builder to create the tracking yourself.
If you’re promoting services and programs for the big names (Marie Forleo, Denise Duffield Thomas, etc.), then make a calendar of your launches to plan around. Trying to push multiple programs like that at once will be stressful for you, overwhelming for your audience, and probably lead to fewer commissions on all programs involved.
Thinking It’s Quick Cash
Yes, you might get a few sales quickly, but plan for this to be a long-term strategy. If you think you’ll be rolling in the dough next week, you’re probably going to give up before this starts to work for you. This is a better means of making steady, gradual income. Those prominent launches I mentioned before may provide some big pay days, but you’re more likely to see smaller amounts roll in at a regular pace.
As long as you plan ahead, pace yourself, and follow the rules you’ll be on a great track for earning passive income with affiliate marketing. The affiliate mistakes here are easy to avoid – and now you’re a step ahead of the game!
Don’t forget to review the rest of the Passive Income series!