Six Myths About Affiliate Marketing

affiliate marketing myths

Affiliate marketing exists because it can be very successful. However, there are quite a few affiliate marketing myths that revolve around this topic.

For those who are unfamiliar, affiliate marketing is a way of rewarding other companies and/or business partners who bring you customers because of their marketing efforts. You can also think of affiliate marketing from the flip-side: If you wanted to be an affiliate company, your job is to bring online traffic and/or customers to businesses and then you get paid for it.

It seems like a win-win situation, right?

While affiliate marketing is great, it’s a little bit more complicated than meets the eye. For this reason, there are tons of different affiliate marketing myths out there surrounding all it entails. Whether you’re a company needing help or someone looking to start a business, it’s important to understand these affiliate marketing myths before diving into this marketing method.

Top 6 Affiliate Marketing Myths

Below are six of the most common affiliate marketing myths as well as reasons why these myths might exist. As a side note, most come from the point of view of someone trying to get involved in affiliate marketing as a business (as opposed to for their already existing business).

1. It’s Difficult to Get Involved with Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is something that virtually anyone can do if they put their mind to learning how things work (even learning as they go).

It doesn’t take a ton of money or a ton of experience, just a desire to get involved and the ability to really learn.

2. Affiliate Websites Don’t Require Much Management

This myth actually goes against the last myth (it seems that no one knows what kind of work it takes to be an affiliate marketer). Although it’s possible for anyone, it isn’t as easy as setting up a website, putting some affiliate links and banners on that website, and then letting it sit. Google bots don’t like to see this, which means they could very well penalize your site and essentially bring your business to a halt.

You need to have quality content and make changes to your website to improve it in order to be successful, and this takes lots of management.

3. You Should Always Choose the Niche that is the Most Profitable

Many people believe this because they believe that’s how you will make the most money. Of course certain niches that sell products people buy most often have a good chance of being successful, but that doesn’t mean it’s automatic. Although certain niches might be successful for some, they won’t necessarily be successful for you.

You have to really understand that niche. If you don’t, you’re going to have more success picking something you’re comfortable with.

4. You Only Need One Good Affiliate Program to be Successful

This is an affiliate marketing myth that companies looking to get involved in affiliate marketing seem to find quite often. Joining just one affiliate program could work, but you have to remember that your customers are going to compare as they shop. You want to work with a few different programs that compliment each other.

For example, if you’re a dentist you may want to market toothpaste as well as dental services.

5. Consumers Don’t Like Affiliate Marketing

Sometimes it can seem like affiliate marketing is an extra step and will therefore annoy consumers because they can just go to eBay or Amazon instead. However, it is important to realize that customers want information about certain products and they want to shop around the Web.

In other words, they don’t want to go straight to Amazon or EBay, they actually want to visit your website.

6. Affiliate Marketing Won’t Last Much Longer

Last but not least, this is probably the most popular affiliate marketing myth and it goes right along with the last myth. Because Google algorithms are changing and putting less value on sites that offer more links than quality content, it’s safe to say that affiliate marketing has had better days. Still, it has not lost life and surely won’t for a long time to come.

It’s still successful and still makes sense – and Google sees that as well as consumers.

Do you have any additional affiliate marketing myths to add to the list?

Genie Lamp Photo via Shutterstock


Amanda DiSilvestro Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer for Viral Content Buzz, a system designed to help you promote other content and get your content promoted on major social channels like Twitter and Facebook. You can also find her writing for the nationally recognized SEO firm, Higher Visibility.

35 Reactions
  1. I think affiliate marketing work for the business and the affiliate. It allows the business to have free promotion while it can make decent amount of money for the affiliate. It has lasted because of one reason – it simply works. But you should be willing to put in the hard work to promote the heck out of a product before you can expect to make some decent money from it.

  2. I think perhaps another reason the 3rd point lends itself to being a myth is because a profitable niche is more likely to be saturated (as lots of people jump in to hopefully make a buck) and therefore likely to be more competitive.

    • Yes competition is something huge to consider and I didn’t really add that into this post. Thanks for bringing it up and thanks for reading!

      • You’re welcome. 🙂 You can’t add everything to a post, so it’s cool.

        If I was looking for a niche to affiliate-market in, I’d most likely go for an unpopular niche with potential, so that (hopefully) as it gains in popularity, I increasingly reap the benefits. 🙂

  3. I always tell people considering the affiliate route to go into an area they’re passionate about first, and if possible, an area where they have expertise or knowledge that is unique.

  4. My advice is to first locate a plentiful, affordable traffic source. Then figure out a buyer profile that fits with that traffic source and promote products that provide the most value. Hopefully the products that provide your ideal customer the most value also pay the highest commissions :-). But back to my initial point-if you can’t drive traffic to an offer, you’re stuck before you even start. So start with a traffic source and go from there.

  5. This has been a real handy piece of article for me and whoever wants to get into this affiliate marketing thing. I have been trying to learn this system of making money but haven’t had any success so far. Maybe there are some lacking that I have with the knowledge and its implementation. I have really liked some important points in this article by Amanda, and have surely learned quite a few major stuffs that I badly needed to know and understand. I am hopeful that Amanda will write up some more content on this subject so newcomers like me and others can finally get into this after getting some useful ideas.

  6. Love the post, I think affiliate Marketing also helps start ups in for example our sector (selling hair extensions) In a way you can offer your clients products without the need to invest in inventory. And you can learn the business also without too much risk while building traffic and (future) clients for your own products.

  7. I think the concept of affiliate marketing is good. forgetting the internet, it’s like having a commissioned sales force working for your business – everyone wins. Make sure your affiliates are well aligned with your business and you are serving the same audience.

  8. This was great information thanks for putting together a couple of missing pieces.

  9. In my experience, most affiliate programs don’t work because the returns on them are so low that it’s not commercially viable. You need money, time and more importantly, the right knowledge to generate quality traffic that will buy your offers.

    In order to make it commercially viable, it helps to join affiliate programs that pay big commissions and give you a high return so you can profit quickly and grow your business fast.

    Anything else is the slow road to failure.

  10. Darragh McCurragh

    Well, looking back to affiliate marketing as early as 2001 I believe, while everything in your points above is true and valid, there seems to be a “stampede” of people trying to gain a foothold in affiliate marketing nowadays who just give it a try without having even a basic clue. To me that seems to go hand in hand with the very lower entry barriers (setting up WordPress and cheap hosting for example is getting still easier though that’s hard to imagine). Now people are attracted, no doubt also due to financial difficulties, that just won’t listen to any advice as before they believed the technical side of blogging was the actual entry hurdle. But it’s marketing, and will be in a hundred years from now still.

  11. I think myth 2 is definitely the biggest. It takes so much time and organization to keep an affiliate website current and engaging for your audience. While there are technologies out there that can help expedite the tasks, it still can be arduous work.

  12. Awesome article, Amanda! This is by far one of the most helpful explanations of affiliate marketing and the many myths surrounding the industry. You did a great job covering the many misconceptions about affiliate marketing. Very helpful tips, especially for newbies. Thanks and keep up the good work!

  13. Hi Amanda,thank you for your good job.
    I’m a novice planning of running an affiliate marketing business,but to tell the thruth,I have no clue about wich compagnies to work with.I ‘m open to wherever compagnie that can give me a raisonnable
    commissions.I have no niche preferences.I would like your help ,with giving me some name of compagnies that can be of good deal.Thank again.Can wait to reading you.

    Best regards.

  14. Affiliate marketing rarely is worth the time. Also, do not spend a penny out of pocket to join any programs. The worst thing you can do is pay before you even have access to make money. Affiliate marketing has a lot of BS gaps inbetween where it’s easy to screw people – for example, by asking them for startup costs. Never pay to join a website to get a possibility to potentially earn money; that’s the stupidest thing ever.

    If it’s free to join, free to get access to, and you have earning potentials, so be it. But I would not pay a damn cent to anyone without good assurance, evidence, reviews, and profitability in ROI being very good and high.

    If it’s free, do it – it’s only 100% profitable if you do well.

    If it’s not free, be wary, be smart, and don’t dish out any significant amount of cash before you know all of the facts very, very, very, very well.

    Last to note: There’s nothing really to “learn” about affiliate marketing. It’s one of the most straightforward, basic ways to make money. The people who complicate it, add more sauce to the mix, and throw tons of other “facts” in it are scammers.

    • Hi Andy,

      I totally agree with you that you should NEVER pay to join an affiliate program. I also agree that you have to do it well.

      That’s why I am puzzled by the next part of your comment, when you say there’s nothing to learn.

      Maybe you didn’t need to learn anything, but for most of us there is much we can learn. I speak from personal experience, successful and unsuccessful. Having marketed affiliate programs for nearly 10 years, I can tell you we’ve done it atrociously bad, and we’ve done it well. About 85% of the programs have made us pennies. Another 10% have been OK, but not sufficient to operate a business on. It’s that last 5% where we’ve done well.

      And you know what? Knowledge and hard work made all the difference. It took us years to learn. I go for learning every day of the week.

      – Anita

  15. Amanda, I don’t have another myth but I wonder which is the best affiliate links program to use. So far, reading an article in I see that infolinks, viglink ands stimlinks are good. Have you heard about them?? I don’t want to include banners in my site.

    • Hi Romeo,

      I actually have not heard those specific terms before, but it’s something I’ll definitely look into! I agree that you should stay away from banners, though, so you’re on the right track. Sorry I couldn’t be more of a help. Does anyone else have some advice about these types of links for Romeo?

  16. Affiliate marketing is awesome period. What’s not to like about low or even no business overhead. It’s a no-brainer.

  17. Yeah, Affiliate Marketing is awesome, but it is hard. I have been trying to earn through Affiliate Marketing for a long time, approximately. 6 years. I’m not kidding. But it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I made my first sale. I’m kidding.

  18. THAT’s WHY I AM HERE.. I see how hard it is.. all the marketing hubs, get rich, is easy this or that, Linkedin, FB, Tweeting, let alone not knowing how to, even getting through, the process of marketing in the first place, is not my forte, even writing this, Because I am not rich, I am willing to give the partnership, someone who handles my frontend.. makes us clients.. I am not greedy, I am 70, I want users, so all my time was not wasted.. or my Filemaker source code not buried with me. Help!

  19. Haha.. Interesting point in number 2. I find that kind of people all over the place asking for help to start earning in affiliate marketing business, but when it comes to do the work, people seem like hoping affiliate marketing pours down money from the sky like magic.