What are the Disadvantages of Affiliate Marketing? (2021)
Find out if Affiliate Marketing Disadvantages Below!
Affiliate marketing has become a standard approach for business in many industries. It has given marketers and entrepreneurs a new way to promote brands by opening a door to a new passive income venture – thus making it more exciting for people around the world.
Taking a look at the US only, estimates for affiliate marketing growth place it on 10% each year, and it could surpass the $6 billion mark in our current year. Therefore, it’s hard (and detrimental) to ignore such an opportunity to make money for yourself.
There’s countless resources and articles covering affiliate marketing around the web. They mostly focus around how it’s a very easy way to make a lot of money, and how you can do it by yourself with little effort.
That’s a problem since it makes it look as a perfect business with no disadvantages, but like with anything with life, that’s not true.
Today, we’re focusing on the problems related to affiliate marketing. It’s far from an attempt to discourage aspiring marketers; quite the opposite, our aim is to show you the obstacles you can expect while you build your business. The end goal is to give you the information necessary to determine whether or not it’s something you want to do, and what you need to pay attention to if you want to be successful.
Our article will be divided into 3 sections: what you’ll face as an affiliate marketer in general, what you’ll face when working with the networks and platforms you’ll need to use, and what you’ll face because of the industry in general.
In the same vein, we’ll offer you insight into how you can curve these issues.
Just in case you’re not sure what’s affiliate marketing, it’s a business model centered on partnering with companies and promoting their products. You’ll receive a commission for this work – you can make money by directing traffic, generating leads, or straight-up making sales.
Working as an affiliate
Let’s start by the first element you need to start an affiliate marketing venture, and that’s yourself. The problem is how the business model sells as an income stream anyone can do, but not everyone will find success with it.
Now, let’s say you made up your mind, found a course, and built a website, blog, or YouTube channel. What obstacles can you run into?
Difficulty finding niches and products
You won’t get anywhere if you don’t find a proper niche and good products within it. There are million different offers around the internet, yet beginners still fail to take a good first step, and this amount of possibilities might be the culprit.
Finding your own niche and products can be frustrating. It’s easy to feel confused while you do it, and filtering out the bad products isn’t easy the first time around. If you want to succeed down the line, you need to plan and work around it.
A great first step is to work within the things you like and know about. After that, research different markets to spot your own, and then figure out how the products in that market can help other people.
Being on your own
Affiliate marketing is basically another form of freelancing. This means you get to choose how you want to work and when. On the other hand, it also means you need to work without outside support and sort things out yourself.
If you want to make a living from this business model, you must be just as disciplined as any other good employee. That means scheduling your work time just like as if you worked an an office.
The problem is how easy it is to get distracted and slack off. It becomes especially problematic if you do it besides your main job since you might come home too exhausted to work on your business.
Affiliate marketing isn’t a “get rich quick” scheme. Many people come expecting to make a living within a few weeks, and that’s really far from the truth. You need to build it patiently.
Let’s say you create a website from scratch for your affiliate products. Even if you do everything correctly, you can still expect all the way to half a year before search engines start ranking any new website.
Once you start ranking, you still need people to click on your website and read your content. Then, you need to wait a bit more for people to click on your links and buy as well.
As you can see, it’ll be a good while before you start making what most gurus promote with affiliate marketing. In fact, most people quit after months not making money, which is actually kind of the norm. It’s not a nice phase for anxious people, and some might find themselves taking a look at their analytics way too often.
Affiliate marketing isn’t just leaving affiliate links around. Many people are surprised at the sheer amount of effort they need to invest to build a real affiliate marketing business, especially if they want to turn it into their main income stream. SEO, content marketing, paid ads, and planning are just a few of the skills you’ll need.
You don’t even need to be an expert in those subjects, but most gurus brag about how easy affiliate marketing is – all while showing you 6 and 7 figures in monthly revenue. Most of them simply skip telling you all the effort they had to make.
Luckily, you have many approaches to marketing your products. You can write reviews, tips and tutorials while including your products, use social media ads, record videos, and more.
Building your business
One of the reasons why you need to be patient is that affiliate marketing requires some authority in the field you choose. People won’t spend any money on products recommended by a nobody, so you need to build your audience’s trust on you and your offers.
Building that reputation takes a good while. You need to build a following, keep them engaged, and then turn them into buyers. That’s why you want to go for a niche that you enjoy and have plenty of knowledge on.
No income guarantees
Affiliates make money based on how well they perform; of course, this can be both good or bad news depending on your efficiency. If you ask a few affiliate marketers about how much you can make with the business, you’ll quickly notice how different each answer is.
Estimating your potential income is difficult to say the least. We already covered several factors, and there are several more throughout this article. However, you can safely assume that the more effort you put in, the more money you’ll make. Even while you can’t control several factors, you’ll still make money if you take things seriously.
That’s why affiliate marketing should never replace your main income source right off the bat. You need to start by accepting that you won’t make a stable income for some time, so don’t quit your current job after a couple of months making solid numbers.
No budget guarantees
Your only help comes from the ability to make money off other people’s product; everything else depends entirely on you. That extends to your marketing budget, and that’s why it’s such an advantage that affiliate marketing starting costs aren’t high.
In fact, the only fundamental investment you need is mostly stuff you’re already paying: electricity, a computer, and internet. Buying a domain and hiring hosting isn’t expensive at all either.
The real investment comes when trying to gain an edge over the competition. Then, you want to get a good course and – depending on your approach – buy equipment for videos, editing software, sales funnel tools, hire writers, or pay for ads.
If you’re not careful, your costs might get out of hands. This means either reducing your income or straight-up losing money.
When working with others
You need to find products to promote. You have many affiliate networks you can join, and this side of the business has its own disadvantages.
Lack of control
You don’t own the products, and that means you don’t get to decide on your products, features, price, sales page, quality, and customer support. You might be the best marketer, but it’ll do little if your partner doesn’t run its business properly.
Likewise, they can change your rates or discontinue products or go as far as going out of business with no previous warning. Some affiliates have reported different merchants offering high payouts and then reducing them once promoters sign up.
Fraud is a significant risk. That’s why you always want to research all programs as much as you can; also, never sign up without reading their conditions entirely. With proper caution, you shouldn’t run into too much trouble.
First set of rules
Your partner and network have their own rules depending on how much they want to protect their interests. Some platforms prohibit affiliates to promote their links on platforms like Facebook, for instance.
Another example is the dormant accounts conditions when working with Amazon Associates. You need to make three sales during the first three months before getting your application approved. If you fail and apply again, you’ll have to repeat the process.
This means you need to adapt to your program’s rules if you want to build a business out of it.
Second set of rules
After getting approved and finding which channels you can use for yourself, you need to consider the rules from these platforms. This isn’t a big issue if you go for a website or blog and work on your SEO.
However, if you decide to use platforms like YouTube or Facebook, you need to pay attention to their own policies regarding affiliate marketing. Similarly, all updates to these policies should be studied as soon as they’re released.
Unlike failing to comply with a network’s rules, this likely won’t result in you getting banned from your product or even the network. However, it can block your account or penalize you in other ways.
Customers aren’t yours
Sure, you’re building and interacting with your own audience. You might even build a loyal following, but when they become actual customers, it’s with your partner – not you. That means that you’ll get paid if they buy from your links, but that’s not happening again if they purchase directly with merchants later on.
Some might even read your review and head over to the sales page themselves, avoiding your link. This is because many believe they have to pay more with affiliate links, usually thinking they need to cover your commission as well.
If you take your time establishing yourself as an authority in the industry, then this becomes less of a problem. People who know you’re an (or close to an) expert have higher chances to remain with you and buy your next promotions as well.
Of course, the internet is a huge place. Even if you sort out all of the previous issues we’ve mentioned, there are still a couple of factors you need to consider if you want a sustainable business.
Remember we mentioned how many people buy into the idea of affiliate marketing being an easy way to make lots of money and how anyone can try it? Well, they’re also your competitors.
Regardless of your niche and product, chances are high that many aspiring entrepreneurs have also thought it’s a great idea for themselves. Then, you have affiliate marketers who were already there before you came.
The internet is full of ads, videos, and other forms of content trying to convince people to buy a product or give away their email address for certain offers. With so many people trying to do the same, catching people’s attention is not only becoming more difficult, but methods like paid ads are becoming more expensive.
Also, if that competition knows more about marketing than you do, then this handicap can quickly become a larger issue. Even if you run a website or blog, you need to provide enough content to meet others and keep your search engine rankings healthy.
Finally, trending products that are currently selling a lot tend to attract opportunistic marketers. With so many people promoting the same offers, referral rates are likely to drop as well. In other words, the more people promote a single product, the more sales you’ll need to make a solid income.
That’s why niche and (specifically) product research can make or break your chances to succeed.
Before anyone freaks out, this isn’t a common scenario for most marketers; there are also steps you can take to lower the chances even further.
With that out of the way, affiliate links can be either manipulated or even stolen. The objective is to redirect an affiliate marketer’s traffic to the culprit, and he profits from the promoter’s hard work.
Luckily, monitoring your links isn’t too difficult, so you should be able to spot any changes quite easily. Similarly, there are different plugins and methods you can use to keep this from happening depending on your marketing approach.
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