What Are The Pros And Cons Of Being An Affiliate Marketer?
- Low barrier to entry
- Little or no startup cost
- Independence to work where and when you want
- You are in charge of which products you promote
- Enormous variety of products to promote
- You decide which promotional methods are used
- You start as a side income (no need to quit your job)
- ‘Passive’ Income
- Potentially ‘unlimited’ earnings
- Promote products you love
- No responsibility for customer service
- You have no say in the product
- You don’t control the commission structure
- The affiliate program can be terminated unilaterally
- In some quarters has a poor reputation (deservedly)
- Can be mentally challenging
- Difficult to get repeat customers
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Being An Affiliate Marketer?
So you’ve seen a few YouTube videos promising a wealth of riches for affiliate marketers, I’m here to tell you it’s not all wine and roses but let’s deal with the positives first.
Low barrier to entry:
You can start Affiliate Marketing with no previous experience.
Networks like ClickBank will allow almost anyone to sign up to promote products. While certain countries might be excluded, in general you can join these networks without any problems.
Little or no startup cost:
You could actually start affiliate marketing (AM), for free by utilising posts on social media, forums such as reddit or quora.
These posts could link out to simple websites created on Google sites, WordPress.org or other free web hosting platforms.
Tools such as GetResponse and ConvertKit also allow you to build free landing pages to promote your AM offerings.
Of course, it looks more professional if you purchase your own custom domain name to host your affiliate site.
Since one of the aims of AM is to build trust with your potential customers it would probably be in your best interest to invest a small amount of money into a hosting package and one or more domain names.
You should be able to secure hosting for an unlimited number of domains for around $100 per year and then the domains would cost from around $10 per year.
Independence to work where and when you want:
Clearly, one of the big advantages of being an affiliate marketer is no longer having to trade time for money. Probably the main reason people look at AM is to give them the freedom and flexibility to work where and when they want. If your ideal place of work is a bar on a beach, then you may be able to achieve that dream but the likelihood of you living this ‘laptop lifestyle’ is actually very, very remote. The cold hard facts are that 90% of the affiliate commission earned goes to 10% of the affiliates. You need to realise that becoming a successful affiliate is very difficult and is likely to take a long time.
You are in charge of which products you promote:
Ultimately you decide which products you want to promote. You may decide to promote products from one of the many, almost infamous, networks which are full of what could best be described as scammy offerings. This is particularly true in the health, wealth or relationships niches. If you are looking to build a business with more longevity and to maintain a reputation then you might be better off sticking to products that have a better reputation themselves. For example, WarriorPlus and JVzoo have a lot of products in the digital marketing or ecommerce niches. Many of these products appear to me to be total and utter rubbish. Every day though, thousands, if not millions of people looking for ways to make money (quickly) will come across such products and almost in a fit of desperation, I presume, purchase them. Personally, I see this as just a way of taking advantage of people who often can ill afford to lose the money being charged for these products.
Enormous variety of products to promote:
It is almost certain that no matter which niche or product type you are thinking about you can probably find some form of affiliate product to promote.
Whether it be a digital product such as software, an online course, an ebook or physical product there is almost certainly an offer there that will fit in with your niche.
In order to find offers to promote you can go directly to one of the affiliate networks and do a manual search.
Alternatively, you could go to somewhere like Offervault where you can search through a database of many thousands of offers across a number of different networks.
Another way to find affiliate programs is just simply by typing the name of the product that you would like to promote into Google followed by ‘affiliate program’.
If that particular product can be marketed by affiliates then you should find the relevant information either there or you could go directly to the manufacturers’ website to search
You decide which promotional methods are used
With the caveat that certain companies will restrict certain promotion channels you are able to use any form of promotion the best suits your marketplace.
If you already have a large social media following then that might be ideal to promote products to.
You may have a blog with existing traffic.
It would probably be best for you to promote by writing articles on topics that feature the products you are trying to promote.
If you decide to use paid advertising then you need to be sure the product you’re promoting is acceptable to the advertising network.
For example, Facebook is not particularly keen on affiliate products so if you were to run a Facebook advertising campaign where you linked directly to the affiliate offer you are more than likely to get your account with Facebook banned.
In this scenario what you would really need to do is create some form of bridge page or even some form of minisite which would be the destination for the Facebook advert.
You could then link out to the affiliate offer from this intermediate page.
You start as a side income there is no need to quit your job:
A major benefit of starting an affiliate marketing business is that you can do this in your spare time.
This allows you to retain the safety net of your other employment until you are able to generate a full-time income from your affiliate marketing.
If you have sufficient capital then affiliate marketing as a side hustle is even more achievable because you can become a project manager, outsourcing all of the content creation to third parties for example freelancers on fiverr and upwork.
This is actually an important skill to learn should you be in a position to upscale your business in the future.
Otherwise you will always be limited by the amount of work you can do yourself.
Passive income is an often-used phrase on the internet. in reality, there is no such thing as passive income.
The unfortunate truth is that you will need to invest either time, money or both to achieve your ‘passive’ income.
Even after significant investments of both, you may still not see sufficient traffic to give you reasonable passive income.
Obviously, should the offer be closed down for any reason then all of your passive income will disappear and you will need to start again with some different offers even if they’re in the same niche you will probably still need to rebuild your website to reflect the features of that new offer.
Potentially unlimited earnings:
Assuming you are able to find an affiliate marketing product that is generating profit for you with one particular traffic method, then it may be possible (actually advisable) to bring on board other traffic methods to grow your revenue with that product.
For example, you may be generating a 25% return on investment using Facebook ads.
You could do the obvious which, is just increase the marketing budget for those ads and that should in theory increase your Revenue.
However, there would probably come a point, except in the very largest of niches where you are going to run out of customers so you would need to turn to other forms of promotion.
These might include Google ads, YouTube ads, organic traffic from Google search or Bing.
Other social media outlets such as Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter.
This has the added benefit of not leaving you open to a massive drop in sales by relying on one traffic stream which in theory could be cut off at any time.
Promote products you love:
When using content marketing it is usually best to stick to products that you know and actually use as this will often show in the quality of writing that you produce.
Just promoting products because they have high commissions or high conversion rates doesn’t always lead to success because your readers can often tell that your heart isn’t in it.
You will most likely find it easier to create more content for products that you like, because you are more familiar with them.
No responsibility for customer service:
In many people’s eyes not having to provide customer service in the form of a returns program or support in any way is one of, if not the most, important benefits of being an affiliate marketer.
Literally, your job is to take prospects and present them with the offer and that is where your responsibilities end.
When the customer is unhappy with the product or in the case of physical products it has been damaged in transit then it is up to the retailer/creator to sort out those issues with them.
You are just a conduit between the two.
You have no say in the product:
You are unable to modify the product or in some cases the promotional materials
Some products will restrict the terms of what you can do to promote the offer.
Eg. you will almost certainly be unable to do paid advertising where you feature the name of the product as that keyword will almost always be protected for the sole use of the vendor.
You don’t control the commission structure:
No matter how hard you work and no matter how many products you sell it won’t affect your piece of the pie.
Whatever the commission structure is, that is exactly what you’ll get.
There is a possibility that high-performing affiliates can negotiate a better rate but you would need to be selling at a much higher level than everyone else.
One of the most recent examples of this would be when Amazon drastically cut the percentages offered to Amazon Associates in 2020.
The affiliate program can be terminated unilaterally:
The carpet can always be pulled from under you by the creator of the product.
For whatever reason, a product creator can terminate either the affiliate program or sales of a product altogether.
In some quarters it has a poor reputation:
Because of the large number of poor quality products that are marketed by affiliates the whole premise of affiliate marketing is somewhat tainted in many people’s eyes.
What they forget is that there are many large companies using the affiliate model very successfully.
For example, many travel websites including some very big ones work on the affiliate marketing model. Price comparison sites such as gocompare and moneysupermarket also earn their income in this way.
Can be mentally challenging:
At the outset it can be quite hard trying to become an affiliate marketer as most people are limited by budget, they end up working on their own for long hours creating content to promote products.
All this effort with no immediate gain can become quite draining mentally.
If you are used to working in an office or other environment with numerous colleagues it can become quite difficult working on your own from home.
Difficult to get repeat customers:
While it is possible to capture email addresses of potential leads before passing them on to the affiliate page of the vendor, it is going to be difficult to retain that customer as they are likely to go back to the vendor directly in the future.
Email marketing forms a very important part of being an affiliate marketer though, as it allows you to retarget prospects with an offer multiple times.
This is important because it is quite rare for someone to purchase something on the first viewing, it may take several attempts at persuasion before they decide to purchase.
It also allows you to promote other offers in the future.
So there you have it. Quite a long list of positives and not that many negatives. However the major negative is that the affiliate program can be stopped which would leave you with no product to sell.
Affiliate marketing can be a great way to start an online business but it still has many pitfalls.
Related: Affiliate Marketing – A Beginners Journey, Recurring Commission, Precious Metals