Affiliate Marketing

12 Myths and Misconceptions of Affiliate Marketing

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Affiliate marketing is a popular strategy businesses use to drive sales and grow their brand. Although it’s one of the most popular marketing tools in the booming creator economy, some misconceptions about using affiliate links can prevent bloggers from benefiting from them.

1. Affiliate marketing is dead

Statista shows that from 2010-2022, U.S. affiliate marketing spending has steadily increased, reaching $8.2 billion in 2022. Clearly, this channel is not only not dead but also thriving. These days, over 80% of brands run affiliate programs, with 16% of online orders attributed to affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing drives sales and is used by anyone from media companies, such as Business Insider and The New York Times, to smaller startups and brands that use it through referral programs.

2. It’s too much work

Modern tools make creating an affiliate link easy. Bloggers can start posting affiliate links and earn money from them on day one.

Popular programs include Amazon Associates, ShareASale and Commission Junction. The idea is to connect customers with brands through relevant content and tools by posting affiliate links that generate sales.

Related: How to Start Your First Affiliate Marketing Campaign

3. It’s passive, low-effort income

While some believe affiliate marketing is too much work, others mistakenly believe it takes virtually no work. Although implementing these links is indeed easy, bloggers need to work on their content, presence, and credibility and attract followers to generate sales and make money with affiliate marketing.

Influencers must be mindful of conversions since they are paid by actions. This means that more active calls-to-action, more selling content and more creative product presentation will be needed.

4. Size matters

A common misconception is that only influencers with a big audience can benefit from affiliate marketing. The truth is that conversions play a bigger role than audience size.

Not only do micro-influencers (those with 1,000-100,000 followers) perform at least 90% of successful influencer marketing, 90% of brands actively want to work with them through affiliate strategies. Because of their smaller followings and high engagement rates, micro-influencers are often seen as a cost-effective way for brands to reach targeted audiences and drive sales.

5. Affiliate marketing blocks other income streams

Earning through affiliate programs does not prevent bloggers from entering into direct contracts with brands, but it does help them attract the attention of companies they’d want to work with.

Additionally, affiliate marketing often becomes a stepping stone to working more closely with the brand. Active blogger partners always have an advantage when selecting brands for the partnership since they have the results and audience data to back up their “influencer” status.

Related: How To Start Affiliate Marketing with No Money in 2023

6. “My audience is too niche”

Believe it or not, a niche is often good for affiliate marketing.

Remember, you can’t be successful if you’re trying to appeal to everybody. Having a specific niche is good because it gives you a clearly defined audience with reliable preferences, tastes and buying habits. Brands know these things, so if your niche has gained interest from fans, it can earn interest from brands, too.

7. Brands only care about sales

Sales are no longer the only available form of brand partnership. Brands are willing to collaborate with other targeted actions that generate awareness and credibility, such as starting a trial period, installing a mobile app or requesting a free consultation.

These alternative forms of action are suitable even for bloggers who are particularly sensitive about maintaining their audience’s trust and wish to foster a relaxed atmosphere.

8. It’s not a viable long-term plan

Long-term partnerships are common in affiliate marketing because both parties benefit from sustained collaboration: You get to know the audience better, so your offerings are more relevant, and the audience builds trust in you and the brand.

Cultivating a relationship with the audience and building trust allows marketing expansion to include content like online courses, software and other digital products.

9. It’s too late to get started

The misconception is that there is too much competition in affiliate marketing. However, with new companies emerging each year, the range of advertisers to promote is constantly expanding. Blogs that provide value will always stand out and have access to profitable brand partnerships.

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

10. It’s just advertising

When Forbes surveyed millennials, 84% said they hate advertising, so equating affiliate marketing to advertising can make it seem unappealing.

However, as an affiliate, you only recommend products you have personally tried and liked while providing valuable content to your audience. Your readers will appreciate your tips and personal experience because they don’t want to spend their time and money experimenting. Affiliate marketing provides a more authentic and unique approach to promoting products.

11. You need a blog to be an affiliate

To sign up for affiliate marketing programs, you just need a following somewhere that will see and click your custom links. Having a community is much more important than being on a specific platform.

For example, beauty influencers often promote brands through sponsored content on their social media platforms by creating makeup tutorials and including affiliate links to their websites in the description box of their videos.

12. Affiliate marketing is expensive

Affiliate marketing is the least costly way to monetize a blog on any social media platform. You can create a website for free and maintain a following using tools that social networks provide. For example, banners, plugins and CPA tools are usually accessible for free within affiliate marketing platforms.

While it is true that you will need to invest time and potentially some money to market your blog, it is no more expensive than monetizing through any other available tool on the market if you plan to make it a full-time job and earn a substantial income.

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