Managing your Affiliate Marketing Expectations as a Newbie

This post contains affiliate links. Because this is an affiliate marketing blog, so, #duh. This means I have been, or can be if you click on a link and make a purchase, compensated via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value for writing this post.

Hey! Hi! Welcome to the party! Affiliate marketing is super fun, and can be amazingly advantageous if you do it right. But part of that doing it right means knowing what you're in for … and that may mean managing your expectations.

See, people all too often hear “passive income” and they're all “Hellz yeah! Sign me up, bro!” without considering what it means, what's entailed and what can result. Because passive income = sippin' on some piña coladas and getting a sick tan while the skrilla racks up, right?

Well, maybe, but there's a helluva lot more to it than that. Like work. And education. And maintenance. And communication. There is most certainly some trial and error, there may be a fair amount of frustration, there will likely be waiting and questioning and brainstorming. It's not all rainbows and unicorns, but it can be.

First, you may want to familiarize yourself with the key players so you sound like you know what you're talking about and also, so you know what you're talking about. Next, you may want to get an idea of some strategies that other successful bloggers have used. There are some dos and don'ts involved, and I'mma lay those down for you.

Check yo-self.

  • It's not likely you're going to come out of the gate with a commission higher than the default. There's a long game in affiliate marketing, and you need to prove you can perform before being moved up to the next rung on the ladder.
  • Likewise, unless you've worked with the merchant on direct advertising and it's performed incredibly well, you probably don't have much negotiation room to start
  • Conversions may not happen overnight. You might be one of the lucky few who starts placing links and voila! the money just rolls right in. But, likely, that's not the case. It might take some post tweaking, re-sharing and link-fiddling to find what works.
  • You probably aren't going to receive sponsored campaigns or products for review until you've established you can drive traffic, if not conversions. Affiliate marketing is a give and take that is focused heavily on mutually beneficial relationships. It's not beneficial for the merchant to dole out cash or ship off product if they don't know that you can send them a decent amount of clicks at the very least.
  • You aren't the only person on your AM's radar — they have other affiliates and merchants to contend with. 
  • Similarly, the AM may not be the be-all, end-all for answers. Sometimes they have to get the green light from the merchant. Don't kill the messenger if the answer isn't to your liking.

Keep on keepin' on!

  • Think like an affiliate, not a blogger. Of course you want your content to be your #1, but remember to monetize and have a plan.
  • Know that things take time. Discuss with your AM what their criteria is for bumping up your commissions or providing special opportunities.
  • Be flexible. Banners may not work for you, maybe plain text links don't either. Be open to trying new combinations (images + text links, widgets, video even!) to see if you get more results.
  • Be comfortable with saying no. Once you're in and getting started, you'll receive a lot more pitches to join programs, and some of them are PUSHY. And you'll have pushy AMs. Know your boundaries, and don't worry about saying no, at least for now. 
  • Ask questions without demanding answers. A little education goes a long way, and some of that education my come through trial and error — just make sure you know what's OK to do and what's not OK to do (read the Ts&Cs for your program, ask your AM if you're unsure).
  • Be tenacious — ask why your application was declined or if you can create your own banner if they can't provide one.

The Obvious

  • Follow the rules (or face possible expulsion from the program)
  • Disclose (or face possible expulsion from the program)
  • Don't be shady (or face possible expulsion from the program)
  • Don't be a jerk (because jerks are the worst)
  • Have integrity, be original and be yourself
  • Do what you say you will — especially when it comes to product or paid opportunities
  • Be determined — you're one fish in a swarm. You're not always going to stand out, but you can fight the good fight
  • Take initiative — people love knowing that you want something and are willing to fight for it, and they may even help you attain your goals if you wear your passion on your sleeve

This may seem like a lot of information to digest, but my job is to help prepare and educate you as best as possible so you can succeed in affiliate marketing. Because I really just want everyone to be happy.

Got any questions or something to add to the list? Leave it in the comments!

Author: Christen