Are You Struggling With Affiliate Marketing? Read This.

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Frustrated your affiliate marketing business isn't where it should be?

Struggling to figure out why you're not yet generating the level of income you want?

You became an affiliate marketer because you wanted to build an online income stream for you and your family and yet, despite hours spent in seclusion hammering away at the keyboard, your traffic and sales stats continue to flatline…

Why?

Because affiliate marketing, though simple, is NOT easy!

If you've been an affiliate marketer for any amount of time then I'm sure you can relate to this diagram:

The Up And Down Life Of An Affiliate Marketer

I started my first niche website six years ago and in that time I've experienced a lot of ups and downs…

I danced around like a fool when I made my first ever commission.

Then I was over the moon when I celebrated my first $1,200 day.

And I can't even begin to describe what it felt like to achieve my first $30,000 month.

But then there are other days when I feel so overwhelmed…

Days I get nothing done…

Days I think I might be going insane…

Days I struggle with self-doubt…

And days I get so frustrated all I wanna do is chuck the laptop out the window!

affiliate marketing is a struggle

Don't get me wrong, I will never take the freedom that comes with working for myself for granted and I love the sense of building something with my online business.

But there are plenty of ups and downs, that's for sure.

Running a successful affiliate marketing website means managing a lot of moving parts that all have to be in sync with one another. It's tricky. I'm not pretending this stuff is easy.

You're certainly not the only one who's struggled and thought about calling it a day, (I have many times, especially in the beginning) but the fact you're here reading this right now means you still believe deep down that this whole affiliate marketing thing is worth it.

So let's lift the hood on your affiliate marketing business and figure out what's going wrong.

1. Are You Following The Right Strategy?

There are so many different strategies ways to do affiliate marketing….

Unfortunately most affiliate marketing courses teach the lousy ones.

1. Set The Right Kind Of Goals

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisable into the visible Tony Robbins quote

I see a lot of people just starting out set goals that are more like objectives, like:

“I need to make $1,000 a month.”

“I want to have 30,000 page visits per month.”

“I'm going to replace my full-time income by the end of the year.”

While I'm all for aiming high, this type of goal setting only sets you up for failure because you might work your butt off for months and feel like you're getting nowhere…

Instead, set goals that are actionable.

These are the super-practical steps you can take to achieve your bigger objective.

For example, living in Thailand I'm always looking to improve my language skills, but if I said my goal was to master the Thai language and speak fluently, I would get annoyed and frustrated every time I made a mistake.

Instead, I set daily, actionable goals like:

  • Learn ten new words per day
  • Read a Thai book for thirty minutes per day
  • Have a conversation with at least one stranger per day

They're practical and achievable and by smashing these goals I'll naturally achieve my bigger objective of speaking Thai fluently.

So for your affiliate marketing business, set yourself ten or twenty actionable goals and tell yourself you must not get discouraged until you complete all of them.

For example:

  • Publish thirty 1,500-word articles on my website
  • Upload ten videos to YouTube
  • Find a higher paying affiliate program

This type of goal setting puts you in the driver's seat and gives you a road map to follow.

I hope you can see the power of this – practical goals make it so much easier to keep going because if you're tempted to feel discouraged at ten posts, you know you're not finished yet, so you keep going until you have thirty high-quality, keyword-targeted posts on your site.

The Bottom Line:

By all means, dream big goals for your online business, but then make sure to plan out clear, practical and yes, *actionable* goals that will drive you to success.

2. Choose A Niche You Actually Enjoy Talking About

If you do what you enjoy doing, you'll never have to work hard. Mahatma Ghandi Quote

All too often I see newbie affiliate marketers chasing money and finding themselves in a niche they have absolutely no interest in.

Maybe they see a tractor affiliate program paying out $1,000 per sale and despite not having the foggiest idea about farming or agriculture, they decide it's a good idea to churn out articles about tractors.

That's just not going to turn out well!

Rather than chasing the money, people always say you should choose a niche based on a passion or hobby you have, and I think that's really sound advice.

Don't get me wrong:

I'm not saying you have to be super passionate about your chosen website topic, but you should at least be interested in it.

The reasons for this are obvious – torturing yourself to come up with a thousand-word post on combine harvesters if you've never even seen one is not an ideal long-term strategy.

Chances are you'll get so bored you'll end up abandoning the site altogether.

The Bottom Line:

While you want to go into a niche that's profitable, you'll find it a lot easier to create content around topics you enjoy talking about and it'll give you a huge advantage over competitors merely in it for the money.

3. Find A Single Track To Run On

My success, part of it certainly, is that I have focused in on a few things. Bill Gates Quote

When it comes to training and overall strategy, are you running on a single track or being pulled in all directions?

You watch a video about keyword research…

You read about a cool SEO strategy you want to try…

Then you buy an outdated affiliate marketing training course…

Before you know it, you end up with a giant Frankenstein monster made up of a mish-mash-mosh of different methods, techniques and strategies that could never work.

I see this happening a lot, especially with brand new affiliate marketers who have yet to get their first site off the ground.

Look, I totally get it. There is so much information on how to make money online and without a clear course of action, it's very easy to get lost in the wilderness.

The Israelites zigzagged desert for 40 years but if they had Google Maps they would've reached their destination in just 6 days!

Having a clear roadmap to follow will save you years of wandering in the desert!

I finally got my breakthrough once I stopped jumping from one half-baked course to another and joined Wealthy Affiliate back in 2014.

This was way before they were as popular as they are now and I knew very little about them, but hungry to learn, I decided to give it my all and worked my way through the core training modules.

The step-by-step video courses and amazing community support gave me a track to run on. Here's the 4-step process they go through:

I refused to skip a lesson until I was sure I understood all there was to learn and I'd completed every task.

Click here to see how Wealthy Affiliate's online training and community can help you.

There are a ton of phenomenal affiliate marketing courses out there, whether you choose Wealthy Affiliate or another platform, the key is to stick it through to the end and not go off track.

The Bottom Line:

Get to where you should be quicker by avoiding information overload and shiny object syndrome; pick a single path that works and stick to it.

It's harder trying to figure it out on your own, you'll increase your chances of success when you get the right training and support that will keep you on track.

4. Set A Schedule You Can Stick To

If you do what you enjoy doing, you'll never have to work hard. Sean McCabe Quote

If you want to know what separates the men from the boys, this is it.

Having a set work schedule really can make or break your online career.

Seriously.

So many aspiring entrepreneurs tell me what their online income goals are and when I ask them how much time they'll invest to achieve them they say:

“Whenever I have spare time.”

I'm sorry, but that's just not gonna cut it.

If you're stuck in a rut or struggling to take your business to the next level, it may well be because you're treating affiliate marketing like a hobby instead of a profession.

A hobbyist will tinker around here and there, but a professional carves out time and shows up on time, whether they feel like it or not.

Obviously set a schedule that's realistic and achievable, but I'd recommend you take at least one action step each day to move your business forward.

Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out

When I started my first website in the church leadership niche I was still working forty hours a week at my full-time job, so I had to set time aside in the evenings and weekends, often working late into the night.

Yes, I was exhausted and would've much preferred to binge watch my favourite Netflix series, but because I made a promise to myself I would spend at least an hour a day building an online income stream, I did.

So, whether it's a post a day or a post a fortnight, be intentional about setting aside time where the only thing you're doing is taking your affiliate site forward.

Here Are 3 Things That Help Me Work More Efficiently:

a) A Designated Workspace

I can't emphasise enough just how important this is. When it comes time to work you go to your distraction-free workspace and you get stuff done. Make sure your phone's off and shut out any distractions.

The key here is having a designated place, it doesn't have to be anything fancy. When I first moved to Thailand my desk was a rusty ironing board and my office chair was the end of my bed…

having a place to work
Where Online Empires Are Built

Of course, now I have an ergonomic office-style chair (much better for my back) and a proper desk setup, but sometimes you've just got to work with what you've got!

b) Trello Is A God-Send

My sister introduced me to Trello.com just recently and it's already changed my life. It's basically a task management app/website with boards and lists to help you organise your work.

Pre-Trello, my desk was littered with Post It notes and random scraps of paper but now it's easy to add a task to my to-do list or target keywords to my next post ideas board.

Maybe I'm a total geek but I can't get enough of Trello right now! They do have a paid version but the free version is the only one I use. 🙂

c) YouTube Playlists And Countdown Timers

Some get more done in silence but I need a good playlist to get me in the ‘zone.'

Search YouTube or Spotify for concentration music or writing music and you'll see the playlists come up.

I also find adding time pressure works well. Online-Stopwatch.com looks like it hasn't been updated since 1998 but cuts my writing time in half.

The Bottom Line:

If you're serious about making money with affiliate marketing, forget about doing this “whenever you have spare time” nonsense. You are running a real business and you need to be intentional about your schedule to succeed.

5. Remember Your Big ‘Why'

When you feel like quitting, think about why you started. Quote

When you feel like quitting, you need compelling reasons to keep going…

I had my reasons for starting my niche sites:

  • I wanted out of the 9 to 5 grind.
  • I wanted the freedom to work anywhere in the world, no longer bound by geographical location.
  • I wanted to be my own boss and have ultimate control over my life.

Maybe you started because you hate your job, want to provide financial stability for your family or save for retirement – whatever your reasons, remind yourself of them whenever your motivation is low.

Read inspiring success stories.

Write out your reasons and stick them on the wall in front of you if you have to.

(As I'm typing this, I have a photo of a Honda CBR 600 motorbike that I'm saving up for pinned to my notice board.)

Whatever your big why is, keep it upfront and centre in your mind, it'll keep you moving forward.

The Bottom Line:

Your big why is the reason you started and the driving force that keeps you going. 

6. Give Yourself Time And See It Through

A river cuts through a rock, not because of its power but its persistence. Jim Watkins Quote

By far the biggest reason affiliate marketers fail is because they give up too early.

And I can understand why:

According to Ahrefs, it can take 6 months before Google starts ranking your website.

That's 180 days of feeling like you're working for free, of wondering if anyone will read what your writing, of struggling with self-doubt.

When you're building your first site, that's a hard slog!

You've been working on your site for 4 months and you see no traffic, or your goal is to get to 30 posts and you're struggling to get from post 9 to 10, you've just got to grit your teeth and see it through.

I launched TheMakeMoneyOnlineBlog.com in 2017 knowing full well I was heading into an ultra-competitive niche. But since I already had a couple of successful niche sites under my belt I knew it was just a matter of time before I started seeing traffic and sales.

And once you've done it once, you can do it again and again.

In 2018 I started an affiliate website in the languages niche, take a look at my Google Analytics stats for the last six months:

affiliate marketing is frustrating

You see September, October, November?

I was working my butt off writing 2,000+ word articles every single day and I zero results for my efforts, no upturn in traffic.

Every.

Single.

Day.

If you're a beginner creating your first site from scratch then I totally get that it can be hard to believe your website will ever see the light of day. The self-doubts can start to creep in and you wonder if you're wasting your time…

What if I had given up in November? Would I have seen the steep spike in traffic? What if your sharp upturn in traffic is just a few posts away?

If you just see it through and post consistently, you will experience a breakthrough. You have to have the mindset where failure is just not an option.

Then, once you've had that success with one site, it's a lot easier to believe it will happen again because you've experienced it first-hand.

Pace yourself too, there's only so long you can go without adequate sleep and sunlight!

Rather than throw your laptop out of the window, sometimes it's best to just shut it down and give yourself a break (and refuse to feel guilty about it.)

The Bottom Line:

Take a break if you need to, but quitting is never an option.

You will get there if you:

1) Set the right kind of goals
2) Enjoy what you do
3) Get the best affiliate marketing training
4) Set a schedule and stick to it
5) Remember your big ‘why'
6) Give yourself enough time

What Are You Struggling With?

What are your biggest frustrations with affiliate marketing? Is it knowing where to start? Is it getting traffic or sales? Let me know in the comments and I'll be more than happy to help in any way I can.

If you've struggled to make any money with your affiliate website in the past, help our readers by telling us what actionable steps you took that helped you break through.

19 thoughts on “Are You Struggling With Affiliate Marketing? Read This.”

  1. This is so my article for the day. I am probably at the level of “ugh, this is hard” part. The entire April and May felt bummed out – not a single new referral even though my average position rose from 28th to 14th. I can’t understand why. Doesn’t higher ranking lead to more page views? Other reasons I feel so frustrated is that I couldn’t dedicate more time to my blog due to my 6 works day in a week and the lack of stamina (I hold myself accountable for the latter). 

    I hate to think about how many more ups and downs I need to endure to see the light at the end of the tunnel…. 

    Reply
    • I’ve been there more than once Cathy so I TOTALLY get what you’re saying. These last couple of months have been crazy for affiliates, what with COVID-19, Amazon slashing affiliate commissions and then Google’s May 2020 Core update. It’s been quite a ride!

      The Google update, in particular, hit me really hard, I wasn’t expecting it. Traffic dropped by 80% overnight and now most of my traffic comes from search engines like Bing, Yahoo and DuckDuckGo, not from Google. 

      The key is to keep learning, keep growing, adapt, change and come out winning. Easier said than done!

      I’ve had to do a complete site audit, going through every single of the 450 posts on my site, change website themes, fix mobile errors (the main culprit for the loss of rankings) and I can tell you it’s time-consuming and tedious. But it needs to be done.

      All this to say, Cathy, we all have to overcome hurdles and even though I’ve been doing this full-time for 5 years and achieve Super Affiliate status, I am still coming up against unexpected struggles.

      Generally, yes higher rankings lead to more page views but you’d have to take a closer look at your analytics to see what pages are getting the most views and how relevant is it to the product or service you are offering?

      Things are obviously going in the right direction for you though so don’t give up just yet.

      And your second point about not putting in more time, this is the guilt all affiliate marketers, YouTubers, bloggers feel I’m sure. The reality is you have a life outside of your affiliate marketing business and you can only do what you can do. 

      I’ve been very intentional this year about organising my time, listing out my tasks but separate work from ‘normal life’ is something I need to get better at.

      If you can only do one post a week then that’s all you can do right now. So don’t feel guilty about it. You can always invest more time down the road if your schedule frees you up or outsource certain jobs once you’re generating an income.

      Those who endure win the prize! So I’d encourage you to keep at it, refuse to give up and you WILL get there!

      Reply
  2. Hey there Simon,

    It is true that affiliate marketing and building an online business needs time, day in and day out. You need to get the work done. I’m starting with affiliate marketing and I’m really struggling. There is really a lot to do. Write the post, edit it, SEO it, promote it, comment on other people’s blogs, find affiliate programs to promote, find new ideas for posts to write. It really needs a lot to be done. What in your opinion is the optimal frequency for posts, provided that daily is not an option?

    Thanks!

    Marios

    Reply
    • Hey Marios,

      The great thing about working online is you can work around your current schedule but of course you can’t expect to see results if you don’t put the work in. It all comes down to being organised with your time and setting specific time aside to work on your business.

      If you can only do 3 posts a week then do that. You’ll get there quicker than someone publishing once a week. Again, it depends on how much time you have.

      I should write a post soon about effective time management and things I do to build greater efficiency into my day, but one of the things which really helps is writing a to-do list the day before.

      It’s true, there’s a lot to figure out in the beginning but stick with it and it’ll get more natural. It’s like learning how to drive, you have to consciously think about where you put your feet, remember to signal, think about where the gears are. But with practice, it’ll won’t be long until you’re creating posts, images, optimising for SEO, promoting on social media etc. without even thinking too much about it.

      Reply
  3. Talk of “a day in the life as an entrepreneur”! This diagram absolutely defines my life right now…

    The frustration, the doubts, the hope, little achievement and then back to the doubts again

    I mean it goes on.. And on and on..

    It feels like it will never end, like I am just running in circles!

    My major problem is time, time, time..

    My days are so busy that the only time I can spare for my online business is mostly sleeping hours, in-between tending a baby, and sometimes I end up not accomplishing much over the night

    And as a result, inconsistency becomes the order of the day for me, and I know consistency matters a lot when it comes to this business

    As a result of this, even though I’ve been in this for roughly a year now, I am not seeing the expected results

    It gets really frustrating at times. But I do not want to give up because I believe affiliate marketing works, I believe I am having the best training from the best training online platform (Wealthy affiliate) and I have seen results and proof that it works 

    Hence my optimism.

    I believe in everything you listed above but the problem is I can’t seem to work around things to have that consistency, does that mean I might never succeed at this?

    From your years of experience, do you think if I can ever make a headway, even if it takes more time?.

    Will appreciate your honest response.

    Reply
    • Hey I TOTALLY hear you and I know for sure you’re not the only one struggling to keep half a dozen or so plates spinning at any one time. We always hear that consistency is key and I agree to an extent; having a regular schedule you can stick to gets you into the habit of creating content in the long-term, but from what I’ve seen after coaching hundreds of newbie affiliate marketers is that the biggest factor that determines your success or failure is a stubbornness or a refusal to give up over the long-term.

      The beauty of online business is that there’s no time restraints, so whether you get there in 6 months or 3-4 years, you WILL still get there so just don’t be too hard on yourself.

      Right now my fiance is in a similar position as you where realistically she can only give 30 minutes a day to her new fledgling website but she doesn’t beat herself up because she knows right now this is where she’s at. As I said in point #4, the important thing is to set a schedule you can stick to. Even if that’s just 10 minutes a day. As long as you’re talking steps in the right direction you are still winning.

      Best advice I can give you? Don’t feel guilty about it, just keep going, do what you can and you’ll get there. 

      I hope this helps in some way. All the best 🙂

      Simon

      Reply
  4. Hi Simon. Want to first say that this is a very good article especially they way you have it laid out. Back in Sept 2018 when I became a Wealthy Affiliate member I remember very clearly Kyle saying in the training that the work that we do today may take 3 months, 6 months or longer to start producing any profit. Having spent many years in network marketing, I was very familiar with that. 

    I love the Day in the Life of an Entrepreneur pic. And sure enough, it happened to me big time. I started and was all excited and the first bump was the learning curve. Got past that with a smile then a bigger bump. Hurricane Michael hit where I was living. Lost a few months and basically had to start all over. But kept on going when I finally got internet again. 

    One Motto I have had for at least 40 years. Never, Never, NEVER Quit. I am sure you have been there. 

    I really like your 6 six tools and strategies guideline. Makes sense and it keeps it simple. 

    Sonny

    Reply
    • It’s true Sonny, especially when you’re creating a brand new site. I think the average time it takes Google to rank a new site is about 6 months. You can get a bit of traffic trickling in before then but usually this means you’re working for free for a few months before seeing results – that is not easy, ESPECIALLY if you’ve never seen success before. 

      I’m so sorry to hear what happened with Hurricane Michael – I can only imagine… 

      You have the right attitude though, you’ve just got to keep moving forward, even if it’s just one step at a time. Wishing you all the best Sonny, thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

      Reply
  5. Simon,

    Thanks for another great article. 

    I thought the “A Day in the Life as an Entrepreneur” diagram from Social Triggers was hilarious – but absolutely on target. I have always been an entrepreneur and no matter what business I am working on I have felt each one of these peaks and valleys (sometimes repeatedly).

    Focusing on processes to get things done is sometimes the only thing you have left to hold on to, especially when you are at the depths of one of those valleys. If you believe in yourself, what you are saying, truly helping others and making a difference, you can get through those difficult times of self doubt.

    Thanks for the product tips as well. Trello is a great product – I also use Basecamp – give it a try if you haven’t already. If you haven’t tried it yet, I find that Scrivener is great for focusing on writing. Of course, Wealthy Affiliate is THE source for great training and support for Affiliate Marketing (and at a incredible price).

    I have been an entrepreneur for over 35 years and I have found that the only thing that is constant is change. Understanding that and being prepared when hit with adversity (Google algorithm changes, affiliate marketing changes, commission structure changes, customer tastes, etc etc) will help reduce the stress felt in those valleys. Expecting and planning for the changes will keep you ahead of the curve.

    Thanks again for the great article. Don’t toss the laptop out of the window and keep writing.

    Michael

    Reply
    • Thanks for those recommendations Michael and I will definitely check them out

      Personally I prefer to write posts within the WordPress editor (yes even despite the blasted Gutenberg update!) but I know a lot of people prefer to use Google Docs or something similar.

      Wealthy Affiliate taught me everything I know about affiliate marketing and I only experienced breakthrough as a direct result of their training. You can read my personal affiliate marketing journey here.

      I think I joined for the training but stayed for the community. Get help straightaway or get an answer to a plug in question pretty much instantly – you can’t put a price on that and everyone so happy to help too. It’s definitely good to be part of a bigger community you can turn to in those times if discouragement.

      Oh, and I didn’t throw the laptop out in the end lol! 🙂 

      Reply
  6. Thanks, Simon. I just start my affiliate marketing business few days ago, your post is very inspired me to keep going.

    In addition, I very agree that the important for setting goal, I gained confidence in affiliate marketing day by day cause I did achieve the daily goal that I set to myself.

    Eden.

    Reply
  7. Thank you so much for this post. It could not have come at a better time. I just started my website and yet to fill in contents. My work has been a greater factor because its very tasking.

    I’ve seen so many shiny and tempting offers that promises wealth with limited work, though I fell victim to one but not anymore. I really appreciate your candid advice in this post, it has helped in motivating me to believe that with time, everything would be in place. 

    My chosen niche is soccer shoes as I’m still starting out but I wish everything would be in place with time.

    Reply
    • Hey, I really appreciate you sharing your experience and it sounds like you’re making great progress so far.

      The only thing I’d say is, try to think about your niche in terms of ‘a group of people you’re going to help’ instead of a particular product or service. Your site should be for people interested in football (sorry, soccer!) so of course, shoes will be something you will definitely talk about, but you also want to think about touching on topics like exercises, training, team merchandise etc. Anything the people who are interested in football would be interested in.

      Hope that makes sense! 🙂

      Reply
  8. Hi Simon!

    Many great pieces of advice on your post! Definitely persistence, good organization, scheduling, some valuable tools, regular postings and more can make your breakthrough easier.

    As in other business as well, it is work. Building a business is hard work. You need to build something! Building equals working. Until it is built. If you can persist and overcome ups and downs, that’s it.

    Internet is a medium that can accelerate things, but, unfortunately, many people are blinded with this myth.

    Thanks for sharing such a great post and congrats on your success! I am glad I came across your post!

    Best regards,
    Igor

    Reply
  9. Wow! I literally found myself writing down all these tips. I am having this issue where I’m procrastinating way too much. I find myself going from one method to another and it does become overwhelming. I have the habit of reaching for the stars when it comes to my goals instead of staying level headed and focused. I must admit I have given up on this at least 3 times but I keep coming back because I know affiliate marketing is a great way to make money. Thank you for giving me the motivation I needed to continue! 

    Reply
    • You’re more than welcome Daniel, I’m glad you found this helpful.

      The key is to think big and act small 🙂

      I learned a few years ago that we don’t get to where we want to be in one huge leap, but rather through a series of small, daily steps. That’s why I advocate you do at least ONE thing a day to move your business forward.

      Reply
  10. This is a really great post that has some awesome advice. When I first started my affiliate marketing journey 10 years ago I fell victim to the shiny object syndrome you talk about. I definitely bounced around, spent too much money on different courses and never stuck to one method long enough to see true success with it.

    I ended up quitting because of many of the obstacles you pointed out in this post. Recently I’ve restarted my journey. It’s really difficult to keep going at times when you’re not seeing results right away, and I think that’s one of the biggest problems we have in this day in age when we’re used to having access to things so quickly.

    Basically all this to say, thanks for the reminder that Rome wasn’t built in a day and that setting smaller, more reasonable goals in itself can help you feel like you’re making a lot of progress, even if the traffic numbers and bank account aren’t showing that just yet.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing Sean!

      I honestly think time is the biggest barrier to entry. Money is not an object – you can start an affiliate marketing site for less than $100/year, but it’s the time you have to put in before seeing results that’s hard for most people.

      That’s why they quit at the 6 month mark – right before Google starts to rank their sites seriously!

      I’ve been there, every affiliate marketer has, but instead of worrying yourself with Google Analytics stats, focus on actionable goals and refuse to get disappointed until you’ve completed them.

      Reply

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