Why You Aren’t Making Money With Affiliate Marketing Yet (And What to Do Instead)

Have you tried affiliate marketing but not seen any results so far? Perhaps you’ve been wondering why you aren’t making money online with affiliate marketing yet? Well, there are some very common reasons why new affiliates struggle when they first start out. The good news is that these can easily be corrected. 

1. Your Tracking/Technical Side Is Set Up Wrong

If you’ve set up your technical system incorrectly, then you won’t be able to make money. Little things like an incorrectly set up SSL certificate, incorrect code on a landing page or the wrong link in a tracking campaign can lead to you wasting traffic on when a user can’t convert. 

Check your whole stack thoroughly to make sure you haven’t added an extra character somewhere. To help reduce this risk in the future, make sure that your traffic source, affiliate network, ad tracker, and any other tool you use offer great support services to resolve any issues.

Action: Run a manual test of your campaign (click through the links and complete a transaction) and check for any errors. Check your tracker, traffic source, or affiliate network technical documentation to resolve any issues. 

2. You Have No Data or Poor Tracking 

Without good data, you’re just shooting in the dark or relying on your gut. Your instincts might be great but you know what’s better than your gut? Your gut AND hard data on what works and what doesn’t. 

Poor data can be just as bad. If you use a tracker which fails to accurately report some aspect of your performance, you can make the wrong decisions. Imagine if you got inaccurate conversion tracking so you paused a well-performing placement as it appeared to not be converting. 

Action: Get the most reliable ad tracker so you can make informed decisions.  

3. You Choose The Wrong Type of Offers

When starting out, it’s understandable to be attracted to high-payout offers — Just a few sales is all you need to be profitable. But these offers are really a trap. It takes a lot more to convince someone to spend $10 dollars than $1. 

Lower-payout offers make it easier to get conversions and develop skills that you can then apply in higher-payout offers later. 

Good affiliate networks will provide you with support from account managers who can recommend offers to promote. 

Action: Speak with your affiliate network account manager and get their advice on good offer to promote. Look at low-payout offers before higher payout offers.

4. You Choose The Wrong Type of Traffic

Similar to the wrong offer, you might also get the wrong type of traffic. A common newbie mistake is to target Tier 1 GEOs which contain more sophisticated visitors who require more to be convinced. 

Related to that is choosing an Ad format like Native which demands more complex landing pages and a higher budget. If you choose a high price, technically challenging traffic type when you are starting out, you’ll burn through your more limited budget before you have really learned how things work.  

Action: Make sure your traffic type is suitable and matches your offer. Track the performance of the traffic you buy and test different types. Take our quiz to check if you are buying the right type of traffic. Start with cheaper traffic sources so you can learn the ropes without burning your budget. 

5. You Haven’t Invested Enough Money for Testing

Starting an affiliate marketing business is a lot more affordable than a traditional brick and mortar apparel business, but you still need to invest some money. You’re going to need to pay for your technical stack and buy traffic to send to your offer. If you go for the cheapest options then you may see terrible campaign performance, costly downtime that blocks traffic or traffic that’s practically just bots. 

calculator next to a budget sheet

Action: You need to set yourself a realistic budget that you can stick to. You will probably need to spend some money on testing and investing in the right tools before you see a return. To help your initial learning budget stretch further, choose lower tier GEOs with cheaper CPM traffic options and lower payout offers. These tiers with lower payouts are typically easier to score conversions on and so you can get to grips with the industry quicker. 

6. You Are Impatient 

If you have taken steps to start your own business then you are almost certainly more proactive than 99% of the rest of the world. But that also means you’re probably less patient than many people.

Affiliate marketing can bring crazy results in short spaces of time but in our instant-gratification age, even these short time spans can be not enough.

Impatience can manifest in different ways.

  • Jumping between different online businesses (Affiliate Marketing today, dropshipping tomorrow, FBA next week)
  • Killing campaigns without proper testing or optimizing.
  • Stop/starting your affiliate business so you never pass the initial learning curve.

In every case, you end up ineffectively splitting your focus and energy in many directions which leads to little or no progress.

comparing focusing on many things, and focusing on one thing

If you focus your time and energy a little better, you’d start seeing the results that will motivate you to keep going. A little “pain” now can bring great rewards in the future. There are two simple things that can help you maintain that focus. A SMART goal and plan, and good support to encourage and guide you through those early stages.

Action: Right now, make a SMART plan with a time limit of at least 6 months that you will commit and invest in. When the temptation to change comes along, look at your plan and use it to guide your decision. If you’ve met all your requirements and have given this idea a proper go, you can change. If you haven’t, then keep going so you don’t quit before the results come in.

Join a forum (especially a premium one like STM or AffLift where the conversation is much more serious and practical) to get feedback and support.

7. Bots Are Eating Your Budget

Although ad-fraud is connected to traffic, it is worthy of its own section. 

Bots are all over the internet, making up 52% of all traffic. Some are good (like the Google search bots) and others are more malicious (like fake traffic). Regardless, you want to buy real traffic with real humans who can take your offer. 

If you pick the wrong traffic source, you may end up buying mostly fake traffic, making it impossible to earn a profit. 

Action: Learn more! Knowledge and skills are crucial here.  Watch the recording of our webinar focused on anti-bot strategies. It’s available online for free! 

Bot traffic webinar by Voluum

8. You Keep Researching and Not Doing

It’s good to spend some time researching and learning about affiliate marketing, but action is the most important element in success

  • Action helps turn a concept into something you actually know
  • Action reveals what you don’t know and need to learn
  • Action brings results but theory doesn’t

Taking action is the key thing for success in affiliate marketing. If you are waiting for the perfect moment then it will never come. This doesn’t mean you should have no plan, but an imperfect plan which is acted upon will be more successful than the perfect plan never executed. 

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: 

“An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory”

Action: That’s exactly it! You need to take action, even if it’s not perfect. Get yourself an affiliate marketing plan and put it into action.  

How to Start Finally Making Money With Affiliate Marketing

Now you should know what has been holding you back and what you can do to overcome that barrier. But if you’re not sure we have a quiz for you. Fill in the question and identify what type of affiliate you are so you can correct those mistakes. 


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