5 Biggest Affiliate Marketing Mistakes Beginners Make

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 10/29/23 •  9 min read

Over the years I’ve made a lot of affiliate marketing mistakes. And I’ve watched a lot of others do the same thing…

How about the time I spent hours working on a detailed affiliate review for a product I loved – only to find out they discontinued their affiliate program…

Or when I was first learning how to start affiliate marketing that I tried to mask the URL so that it looked prettier, only to find out a month later, I broke the link?

Yeah, over the years I’ve done a lot of stupid things that have cost me a lot of money.

But there are 5 specific affiliate marketing mistakes I’ve made over the years that have hurt the most. 

Some of these mistakes I made in a bigger way than others, and in some cases, they’re things I’ve seen our students and readers here at Location Rebel make over and over again.

So today, I’m going to show you what those mistakes are, and give you specific tips for what to do so that you don’t fall into the same traps with your marketing.

The Biggest Affiliate Marketing Mistakes Beginners Make

If reading isn’t your thing, then watch the video:

#1) You’re Not Authentic

There are all kinds of shady affiliate marketers out there, you’ve probably encountered a few — I know I have. Well, ignore them. In this post, we’re talking about how to do it the legit way.

The right way. The way you’d be happy telling your grandmother about.

Because the last thing you want to do is be like this guy (damn it, that’s me…):

So let’s start, one of the big pitfalls people fall into is they create a niche site for their marketing, and then all of a sudden lose all sense of authenticity.

Trust is absolutely crucial if you want to build a long-term brand with real readers, who trust you.

When I first got started there were times I did cursory affiliate reviews of products I’d never used, or even seen in person (see above video).

Those reviews suck, people can see right through it, and doing this is a surefire way to alienate your audience…quickly.

So with all the content you create on your site, be open, honest, and truthful. If a product sucks, tell your readers. If it’s awesome? Tell them that too.

Tell stories of your personal experiences, and don’t be afraid to make yourself look bad if it is going to help someone else out (like I’m doing by admitting some of these affiliate marketing mistakes I’ve made).

#2) You Ignore SEO

For the vast majority of us, the success of your affiliate campaigns is going to come through SEO (search engine optimization). Unless you already have a massive website and email list, learning how to rank your posts is absolutely vital to your success.

Over 90% of my affiliate revenue from Breaking Eighty comes from search traffic, so learning the ins and outs of SEO is important – and I completely neglected it for years.

It honestly doesn’t even take much. But spending the extra half an hour per post to do the research and optimize has the potential to make or break your marketing.

Here are some important things to consider with your affiliate marketing SEO:

These are just a handful of small things you can do that can have a big impact on your affiliate review.

Not sure where to start? Just watch this video:

#3) You Don’t Update Old Content

Here’s a little secret: It’s way easier to update and improve content you’ve already written and rank for than it is to create all new content from scratch.

Let me give you an example.

For a few years, we ranked #1 for the term “how to start affiliate marketing”. It was great, it sent us a lot of traffic, so we moved on and ignored that post to create new content.

That was fine for a while, but eventually, our competitors spent a lot of time optimizing for that, and we slowly lost the featured snippet, fell down in the rankings, and traffic to that post dropped by 80%.

For the last year, we’ve worked to improve that (this post is actually part of that strategy), and by updating it and creating ancillary content around that topic – we’ve seen it grow to even more traffic than before.

Another one of the big affiliate marketing mistakes I’ve seen is when people create an all-new version of a post, rather than update the old one.

So let’s say I rank for the term “best golf gifts” on my golf niche site.

The hard work has been done, it ranks! But often with those types of posts, people will create a brand new version each year. That’s fine, but you’re missing out on the potential of ranking the same post for years to come.

So, rather than create a new “Best Golf Gifts of 2024” post, do this instead: go to the “Best Golf Gifts of 2023” post and update it. You want to swap out gifts that aren’t as good, add in new gifts, update the copy, and change the image. Giving the post a refresher and updating the metadata can help the post to stay relevant and continue to rank as time goes on.

When you do this a big key is not to put the year in the URL, as that is harder to update. So instead of “/affiliate-marketing-mistakes-2022” it would just be “/affiliate-marketing-mistakes.”

How to Decide Which Affiliate Content to Update?

There are all sorts of ways you can decide which content to update, but the way I approach it is:

  1. Look at your analytics and make a list of your top 25 posts.
  2. Often it’s the posts that are ranked 10-25 in terms of total traffic that are the best fits to update.
  3. Use a tool like SEMrush and plug in your domain. It will show you all the keywords you’re currently ranking for. Pay specific attention to higher traffic key terms where you’re ranking between 5 and 12 — they represent a great opportunity to boost your traffic.

4) You Don’t Leverage Affiliate Resources

A lot of affiliate programs and affiliate networks have a ton of resources to help their affiliates make sales. After all, it’s in their best interest to do so!

These resources can include:

The list goes on, and often people completely neglect the treasure trove of resources a good affiliate manager can provide.

So if you’re marketing products outside of the Amazon affiliate program and are using one of the bigger networks or a company that does things in-house, reach out and get to know them.

You might be surprised at just how much easier they make it for you to generate sales. Win-win, right?

5) You’re Not Building an Email List

My email list has hands down, been the single most effective way for me to market anything. 

Whether it’s selling an affiliate product or one of my own courses, email is far and away the most effective way to both build a relationship with your audience and turn them into customers.

So if you’re not designing your site to help you optimize for building your email list you’re leaving a lot on the table.

How Do You Build an Email List?

Here’s the quick version of how I’d go about building an email list:

  1. Sign up for ConvertKit. This is the email software where you will store your email addresses and send emails to your list.
  2. Create a “killer free opt-in” – something that will entice visitors to your site to want to sign up for your list.
  3. Sign up for OptinMonster. This is the tool I use to create opt-in forms, pop-ups, etc.
  4. Send out regular emails with good content that hit the sweet spot of what your readers care about.
  5. Rinse and repeat.

The process of building an email list isn’t super hard, it’s putting all that stuff in place and being consistent with it that is challenging. List building takes time, so don’t give up on it, and you’ll find it can be one of your best sources of generating income.

Just Starting Out With Affiliate Marketing? Watch This.

Are you brand new to affiliate marketing, and were overwhelmed and confused even thinking about some of these affiliate marketing mistakes?

No worries.

Watch this video, which walks you through everything you need to know about affiliate marketing as a beginner:

Learn How to Make Your First $1,000 Freelance Writing (in 30 Days or Less)

Join over 40,000 people who have taken our 6 part freelance writing course. Sign up below and let’s do this together.

By entering your email address you agree to receive emails from Location Rebel. We'll respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Ok, so you’re not going to make these affiliate marketing mistakes…right?

Alright, I’ve shared with you the biggest affiliate marketing mistakes I’ve made so you don’t have to follow in my footsteps.

If you avoid just these five mistakes you’re going to be in great shape to start making the most of your site’s affiliate marketing potential.

Want more help starting out affiliate marketing? Check out our Niche Site Starter Guide, it walks you through everything you need to know to start building a successful affiliate site.

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
Learn How to Make Your First $1,000 Freelance Writing (in 30 Days or Less)

Join over 40,000 people who have taken our 6 part freelance writing course. Sign up below and let’s do this together.

By entering your email address you agree to receive emails from Location Rebel. We'll respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.

5 comments on "5 Biggest Affiliate Marketing Mistakes Beginners Make"

  1. Shrayan says:

    I was doing mistakes no #3) Just Updating my old content… and Yes, of course very important the last one also before starting affiliate marketing this help for beginners who try to improve affiliate marketing sales success rate…


  2. Desmond says:

    This is hands down the best site to gain knowledge about starting affiliate marketing.

    Thanks a lot, Sean.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *