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How To Avoid the Common Failures of Affiliate Marketing

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How To Avoid the Common Failures of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing. As a former podcaster, I learned the way to make money. Others told me to sell some popular affiliate systems in my content. After a year of podcasting, I made the grand total of $5 and some change from all my affiliate systems.

I am a recovering failure of affiliate marketing. And thanks to Ben Adkins and Alex Sammers I’m changing my ways.

In a recent webinar, Ben changed my approach to affiliate marketing. He explained my entire stack of sins as an affiliate marketer during about 10 minutes of the video. And, I’ll be honest, he explained  why I failed in my podcast, as well.

First, he showed me that I didn’t understand the art and science of affiliate marketing. My podcasting “gurus” led me to believe that I could just get any affiliate products and make money. I had links to books pointing to and I even had an affiliate link to a podcasting course.  In that year of podcasting, I made so little money, I never got a check from those sites.

I didn’t understand that I needed to market the products. I couldn’t rely on just mentioning the products and providing links. After all, it’s called affiliate marketing, not affiliate linking.

So, what was it Ben said that helped me understand this business better? Ben gave six things most affiliate marketers don’t do, which are the same six reasons why they fail. He said that bad affiliate marketers (like me) don’t know what to do and not to do for success:

  1. Don’t Depend on the Affiliate Business’ Sales Page to Make the Sales
  2. Don’t Use the Swipe Files to Communicate With Your Customers
  3. Don’t Use the Identical “Sales Angle” Suggested By the Product Creator
  4. Do Use the Product in Advance
  5. Don’t Make the Product or the Creator the Hero
  6. Don’t Forget to Offer Bonuses

It would help us all to speak from a common understanding of affiliate marketing first.

Entrepreneur Magazine defines affiliate marketing pretty well. Affiliate marketing is “a way for a company to sell its products by signing up individuals or companies who market the company’s products for a commission.”

Problogger Darren Rowse gives a decent definition in their post What is Affiliate Marketing . “Affiliate marketing is… a way of making money online whereby you as a publisher are rewarded for helping a business by promoting their product, service or site.”

For me, my definition is a little bit more simple. I define it as is “the quickest way to sell a product or service without having to create one.”

Regardless of how you’re bringing in customers, you can overcome those six obstacles.  You can apply the lessons below, no matter how you’re drawing in customers.


One of the major drawbacks of affiliate marketing is that you don’t control the message. According to  Kissmetrics, “if you aren’t careful, the product source will determine your sales message.” They will replace your tone of voice, even how you suggest to use the product.

As you’ll see later (in point #5) using someone’s voice other than your own minimizes your influence over your audience. You should continue to provide excellent solutions for your audience. You need to have them see the value and buy from you. You need to make sure that the entire sales process is your advice to your audience.

Dr. Ben Adkins used the example of the guys over at Amazing Selling Machines. “The creators,” he explains, “still don’t know why people buy their programs.” But, he says, “it’s not the creator’s fault. They’re too close to the product. But, most creators are too close to their products… even me!”

When a creator provides a product they created it to solve their problem. They sell that product to meet that known need. They don’t know how it might solve the problem of someone else in another market or audience.

Then, Ben said something that hit me right between the eyes. He explained how every big product launch he’s been a part of succeeds. “Three to five affiliates understood something about promoting a product specifically to their audience.”

That’s why you don’t want to depend on the affiliate business sales page to make your sales.

In the webinar, Ben put it this way: “I loved the Smart Member product. But, there was no way in hell I was going to let the sales page do the selling for me. Why wouldn’t I promote a product like this directly?”

SOLUTION: Create Your Own Sales Page

SECRET: This also makes it easier to track your sales.


I used to love swipe files! I mean, how easy can it be? I agree to sell someone’s product. They give me a word-for-word script to use to promote their product to my customer. BOOM! Immediate sales, right?

Yeah, all $5 annual commission. Such a wonderful tool for sales — not!

Swipe files can be useful. But, they aren’t created for use in a word-for-word, done for you type of situation. Don’t listen to your master affiliate when they tell you the funnel is “done for you”! You have to do the work if you want to make the sales!

A guest ProBlogger makes a great suggestion. “Whether it’s on sales pages or in emails, talk like you were chatting to your friends. Not only does this help enhance your relationship with potential customers, it also increases trustworthiness and brand awareness.”

Would you use use the same words, phrases and context from a swipe files talking with friends? I wouldn’t!

So, how can squeeze value from those swipe files?

SOLUTION: Use Swipe File Content For My Avatar’s Benefit

  1. List every feature/benefit they present
  2. List every case study/testimonial they present
  3. List every incentive they use to sell the product
  4. List every bullet point they write in the copy
  5. Explain how each feature/benefit makes my avatar’s life better. (I’ll use this in my sales pages)
  6. Alongside every case study or testimonial, show how to produce similar results. (I’ll use this in my review posts)
  7. Makes notes next to every incentive about the bonus you will create. List ways your bonus will help your customer maximize their investment into the product.
  8. Mix my knowledge of the audience with every bullet point in the copy. This recipe will help create new ways to sell the product to my audience

SECRET: This process will help you write your sales copy and emails.


Remember, the product creator’s swipe files and sales videos aren’t written for your customer. They don’t have the same life experiences I have. They don’t have the same audience I have.

As a matter of fact, they don’t even know your audience’s problems. How would they know how their product solves the problem? So, why try to force their solution down yours audience’s throat?

When’s the last time you succeeded forcing a square peg into a round hole with ease?

That’s why you don’t want to use the suggested sales angle.  To be honest, an affiliate marketer wants you to expand their market. If you use their material with no changes you’re marketing to their audience. They’re already doing that!

Guest ProBlogger Brook McCarthy  says it this way. “As bloggers whose success relies heavily on interacting with our followers, you know personality is important. So, always consider whether the personality you’ll be promoting will resonate with your tribe. Sometimes people’s personalities grow on you, something they grate you into shreds.”

Why let someone else’s personality take over talking to your audience? You’ve already won them over with your personality and your wisdom! YOU sell to your audience, not the joint venture partner who sold to you!

SOLUTION: One of the five things you must know and do to have a successful business is “know your audience.” That is one of the key lessons in just about every product ever produced at FearlessSocial. Make sure you understand everything you can about you audience. Know them so well you know the color of underwear they wear (ok, I was kidding on that one! Or, was I?).

If you know your customer that well, you’ll know exactly how they would use that product. You’ll be able to show them how to make their life easier, more profitable, or more happy. Use that angle, not the one spoon-fed to you by your marketer.

SECRET: Want to find an easy tool to help you learn as much as you can about your audience? Try using the Core Creation Formula taught by Ben Adkins here.


Back when I was in college, I did some retail sales at a major mall anchor store that sold all sorts of products. I worked in the “home electronics” department. I hated that time in my life, but I certainly have learned some wisdom in the midst of those struggles.

For instance, in my department, I sold everything from VCRs to TVs to Computers and software. Most of my success was in the computers, printers, software and computer supplies side. I almost single-handedly turned that store’s computer sales around. In two years, we moved from the bottom of the district to near the top of the region.

But, if you looked at my sales over in the TV side, you would notice that I never sold a big-screen TV. The bad thing was commissions were bigger in big-screen than in computers.

More than likely, you don’t care about why that is.  But, it applies to this lesson so well: I didn’t own a big-screen TV. But, at the time, I had a PC laptop, a Mac SE/30 and a Mac Performa CD 3200.  I didn’t have to think about sales, because of my knowledge and experience in computing.  how to apply that technology to my customer’s imagination — it just came naturally!

Pat Flynn of reports $80,000 in affiliate income last November (2015). He talks about using affiliate products in his podcast episode Successful Affiliate Marketing Tips .

Pat recommends you use the product. “Because,” he says, “if you know the product, and I really mean know the product, it will shape how you promote it. What you say to promote it and the overall feeling  people get when you offer or recommend it. So, what’s the best way to get to know a product? Use it. That’s my number 2 rule – use the product. If you don’t use it or aren’t extremely familiar with it, I wouldn’t promote it.”

The upper 1% of affiliate marketers (like Pat Flynn and Ben Adkins) do this work better than anyone. I remember when Ben sold the Smart Member app. He knew the product so well that he created an add-on software package. His software helped membership marketers manage their corresponding Facebook Private Groups with ease. Then, he presented a webinar that promoted his software tool and SmartMember.

You can’t do that for your customer if you don’t know the product as well as you know your customer!

SOLUTION: Buy the product as an investment into your sales. Once you get “big enough,” ask for a referral copy. Use the product, service or software. Become familiar with it. Think about how you can teach new tricks to your audience to make their life better. This one solution will help you overcome the next barrier and make you the hero in your audience’s mind.

SECRET: You don’t have to create a product to sell, it could be a training course. It could be another affiliate product. It could be a library of training courses. Just make it at least as valuable as the original affiliate product. Make sure you under-promise and over-deliver value to your customer more than the next guy is.


Affilliate marketers should consider themselves “traffic drivers.” You are brining your audience to the advertiser. You are responsible for the introduction. You find the great products or services your audience needs. You find the purchasers your product creators need. You, in essence, should be the hero to both sides of this equation.

My wife does this in a way with her hobby. She loves to go to yard sales. Only now, she buys things to sell in a Facebook group to buyers in our county for a profit (sometimes 100% + profit). She is finding online buyers for the yard sale products and keeping all the profit!

Let’s see if I can explain it this way. Between the two, Batman or Superman, which was your favorite super-hero?  Which of the two do you think would win at marketing? Ben thinks Batman would be the better marketer. To be honest, so do I.

Unlike Superman, the people you’re selling to aren’t aliens. Neither are you. Also unlike Superman, the people you’re marketing to don’t have special powers. Neither do you. Unlike Superman, you don’t pretend to be a normal guy, and neither do your customers.

We’re all more like Batman. Bruce Wayne was just a normal (albeit stinking rich!) guy. If you cut him, he’d bleed. He had personality clashes. He had difficult relationships. He even failed from time to time. But, whenever he had a struggle, he would find just the right tool to help him overcome the barriers.

That suit, the car, his utility belt were all tools Bruce Wayne used to become Batman.

That makes Bruce Wayne a much better marketer! It’s what makes you a much better marketer than Superman. You have a personal knowledge of experience and struggle.

There’s another reason you’ll be even better than Batman or Superman. You can build relationships with your audience. If you spend more time with your audience, then, youare the hero to your audience already! They look up to you. They think they know you. They listen to you, and they spend time with you.

If you make the product or the producer the hero,  you shortchange yourself in the eyes of your audience.

That’s why you need to avoid this barrier to affiliate marketing success at all costs.

If you turn your audience over to the content or product producer, you make something else the hero. That’s a lot of work to do just to short-circuit your future sales.

Earlier, I asked you which hero would be the most successful. We’re all asked to choose things. We all have a limited capability to follow a favorite things. It’s difficult to be loyal to Batman while still looking up to Superman. (unless you’re watching some really strange merging of superhero universes like the Justice League)

Don’t force your audience to choose between you or what you’re selling.

SOLUTION: Make sure you present the product you’re selling. Cover three things every time you sell something.

  1. The problem your audience is experiencing
  2. The solution your product provides
  3. The reasons you think its a “no-brainer” for your audience.

SECRET: Make sure you watch this video to understand why (and how) you want to make yourself the hero.


Ben Adkins points out that most of the time,  your audience is buying you, not the affiliate product.

So, to make it easier for them to buy you, you need to offer them something of value that is yours. The way you do this is by offering bonuses that are unique to your audience.

Smart Passive Income’s Pat Flynn says your bonuses must fit your audience‘s needs. “A good bonus is all about how useful it is related to the goal of those who purchase the main product.”

He goes on to say “bonuses aren’t about the dollar value that’s added to the package.” And, “you just can’t throw anything into the package.”

SOLUTION: Ben Adkins gives us an outline of the steps his team uses when creating bonuses:

  • Make a list of things someone would need to know before the product became a “smart buy” for them
  • Research the audience
  • List 5 to 7 things someone would need to know to make the most of the software or product you’re promoting
  • Research anything you don’t know about those 5 to 7 things
  • Record 5 to 7 screencasts showing your audience how to do those things (or do it live)
  • Upload the videos and put them together on a webpage

SECRET: Pay attention to every single product Ben sells at FearlessSocial. You’ll find a suite of bonus material that far exceeds the value of the product. And, every single bonus applies the use of the main product to the use by the audience.


You can begin to create a successful marketing business today. Just use the information in this post. I’m increasing my affiliate sales already, and I’m just getting started with this information. (It’s not hard to increase sales over $5 per year, I can hear you whispering.)

But, during the webinar, Dr. Ben showed where he had made around $75,000 in a couple of weeks. And, he did it by doing the six things above. As a matter of fact, he sold bonuses he hadn’t even created before customers bought the product.

If you’re like me, you want to make sure you’ve got everything in line before you get started. You can learn the exact sequence Dr. Ben and the team here uses every time they sell a new affiliate product.

If you’re like me, you’d like to know how to figure out what affiliate products you should sale or avoid. You can learn how to determine the value of the product for you and your audience.

If you’re like me, you would like to be able to tell the future and prepare for future affiliate offers. Even months before they hit the market. (Did you know you could do that?) You can learn how to rack up in profits like Ben did with that $75k in a couple of weeks sale.

The funny thing is this entire post is only based on about a fourth of the webinar I mentioned. If you’d like to learn the rest of Ben’s secrets,  check out the Affiliate Master Sequence .


You could turn your online presence into a money making force. And, that can transform your life, your business, and your family.

Special thanks to Ben Adkins for his help with the article!

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