In 2016, retailers in the United States spend almost $5 billion on affiliate marketing. In the next few years, that number will grow to almost 7 billion dollars. You heard all of these incredible numbers and you dreamed of how a piece of that pie could be yours.

It’s months later and you’ve made absolutely zilch. Hours of work to make less than a beggar on skid row.

You’re probably looking for someone to shame you, right? Tell you all the things you did wrong?

Great! So let’s get to it! Here is a guide on how to fail miserably at affiliate marketing.

1. Jump Right In Because “You’ve Got This”

Really, you should just skip the research phase of this business because you can make money online without lifting a finger, right? All you have to do is look up the “Top Ten Most Lucrative Affiliate Networks,” sign up and put the links on your website.

Nothing else in life works this way, so why shouldn’t affiliate marketing. Doesn’t sound like a scam at all. *waves hands like a magician* …here’s my e-book on why what you just read is guaranteed true.

Affiliate marketing is work. You work 60 hours a week to avoid working 40. But the end result, a fairly passive income stream, is worth the hours of research.

Eventually, the research will end and your job will mostly be maintenance. But until then it’s easy and fairly cheap to get started on your education. You don’t have to pass any tests and you don’t have to hole up in some dorm with the weird kid who plays WOW all day.

Know Your Sources

There’s a lot of bad advice out there about affiliate marketing. Separating the wheat from the chaff can be exhausting. So here is a small list of reputable affiliate gurus:

  • Neil Patel
  • Seth Godin
  • Guy Kawaski
  • Brian Clark
  • And, of course, Shoemoney!

2. Productize Nothing

As with all great visions, there is nothing substantive about what you do in affiliate marketing. You just flitter away some words online, plug in a few links, and wait for the money to roll in. That’s what the research will tell you, right?

Once you’ve done all of that research, it’s a cake walk. You don’t need to actually sell anything, especially not that pesky e-book. All that writing and formatting, it’s just not worth it.

Said no affiliate marketer ever.

While, yes, affiliate marketing is basically about promoting products, you don’t want all your income to roll in from one direction. What if someone decides to shut off one of your affiliate streams? All that work will have been for nothing.

This is where the e-book, the e-course, the drop shipped products, etc. come in. You want to diversify your income streams while at the same time driving traffic to your blog (you built a blog, right? Great! We’ll ruin that next too.)

Productize for Marketing

If you haven’t heard of a marketing funnel, Google is your friend. An e-book or e-course is an incredible way to get people to fall into your marketing fly trap. This is why you need several “free” products and several paid products.

The free products are the bait you place near the top of your funnel and the paid products you place near the bottom (your landing page.) Yes, this takes work. But if you provide a product of worth and you know how to market it, you’ll quickly have several income streams and more traffic than you need.

3. Just Start a Blog

Just start a blog, they said. It would be easy, they said. And so you did. You even spent $2000 on a web designer to make it look all fancy while telling your wife that such and such expert said you could make ten times that.

Now you’re months down the road, you’ve written a blog about everything under the sun, and you’re attending marriage counseling classes. What have you done to yourself?

“If You Build It They Will Come” Was Merely a Field of Dreams Nothing More

You bought into the “if you build it, they will come” fallacy. Too many people just build something without a vision or a direction. This is the main reason why so many marketers fail.

You’ll hear this from every affiliate blogger out there. Niche down. Find a subject you’re interested in and then find a small corner where few people are camped out and make your mark.

If you create a running blog, don’t do a general running advice blog. Every runner has “great advice.” Ask yourself, what brought you to the sport? Do you look up to anyone in the sport? What do you think others will be interested in reading?

Use the tools available. and have wonderful tools to help you understand how much traffic various niches and topics are generating.

The Stubborn Survive

Fail early and fail often. The best entrepreneurs aren’t always brilliant but they are always stubborn. They learn from their failures and correct their mistakes.

If you’ve already fallen into the failure wagon, then it’s time to hop up to the reigns and do it right this time.

If you’re looking for more affiliate marketing advice, check out more of it here on

By Ben Mattice

Benjamin Mattice is a freelance writer/editor, horror and sci-fi writer, SEO and affiliate marketing newbie, dog wrestler, cat wrangler, capoeirista, and long distance runner. He lives in the Palouse with his wife, three dogs, two cats, and two rats. Yes, that would probably be considered a mini-zoo.