Affiliate Marketing: The (Honest) Truth (2022)


Today, we’re going to talk about something else, which is related to affiliate marketing.

We believe you’ve heard about this previously—either you were browsing the internet or watching YouTube videos, you’ve seen the words somewhere. However, if you think affiliate marketing is easy, we hope what we’re about to explain will enlighten your mind.

But first, we’d like to remind you this is a very long post. So, you might want to bookmark this page to read it later.

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

The Honest Truth About Affiliate Marketing

Firstly, there is one main reason that motivates us to create this post. That is proper education, knowledge, and recommendation for people—like us who want or at least try to make money online.

We’ve searched on Google about: How to make money online at least once, right? You’ll find so many clickbait headlines, such as:
“How to Make Money $XXX a Day.”
“Earn $XXX just by doing X.”
“Get $XXX a month with Affiliate Marketing.”

You’ve read a blog or probably watched these videos and tried to follow in their footsteps, hoping you can earn money overnight. You’re hoping for a miracle that someone will buy what you copied from what you’ve learned, and you can get the same result within hours as everybody does.

In reality, it doesn’t work.

It’s a bit disappointing, isn’t it?

We know this post is risky, but we can’t help ourselves. We’re doing this because we don’t want more people to get caught in the trap of affiliate marketing or any other get-rich-quick scheme. Well, to be brutally honest with you.

Here’s the truth.

Affiliate Marketing The Honest Truth Infographics
Infographic

Feel free to save and share this infographic.
It summarizes everything we’re going to explore in this blog post.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is an advertising model where a company or person compensates third-party publishers to generate traffic or leads to the company’s products or services. In other words, you’re selling someone else’s products or services, and you get a commission if someone buys that particular product or service.

Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Well, here’s the honest truth. It’s not as easy as it seems to be. Why? Because here’s what everyone didn’t tell you. Let’s take another look at the definition above:

“…where a company or person compensates third-party publishers to generate traffic or leads to the company’s products or services.”

Do you see that part where we put a bold in it? That’s what most people miss and get caught in the trap of making money online. Many people think of affiliate marketing as an easy shortcut where anyone can make money today as soon as yesterday.

Let’s say you’re just like us. You’re starting a website or a blog and want to make money online promoting affiliate products by writing articles.

There are good news and bad news. Firstly, the good news is making a website for free is simple, and everyone can do it with a few clicks here and there. You can even sign up for affiliate programs, post your affiliate links within 30 minutes, and get them out on the internet.

Secondly, the bad news? You’re back to square one. Why? Because you need people to see your website—specifically your post about the product you’re promoting. You’re hoping they will sign up and buy by clicking the link you provided. Would it be that easy?

Trust us. That kind of miracle wouldn’t happen. We’ve been there, and we’ve been through this part. It takes us at least two months to generate our first affiliate income. It’s no joke. You can read our income report for that.

The Honest Truth #1
Affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It doesn’t make you rich overnight.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Let us help you by putting a simple diagram of the process. You can call it a sales funnel, marketing flow, or anything else.

As you can see, there are at least six levels before you can convert a stranger into a customer. Six levels. Even worse, it doesn’t include the process of driving traffic to your website.

The Honest Truth #2
There are six levels to convert a stranger into a customer that buys your affiliate offers.

You might say, “But there are many ways to bring traffic, isn’t it?”

Well, the answer is yes. You can use Google Ads, social media, email marketing, and everything else to share your content.

However, if you’d like to know how to get started with affiliate marketing, you need to understand that driving traffic is not an easy task. That’s why various reviews on our site cover website traffic from The Click Engine, LeadsLeap, Simple Traffic, and many more.

The Honest Truth #3
Driving traffic to your affiliate offers is the number one challenge in affiliate marketing.

Moreover, once you get traffic, it doesn’t mean you will instantly make sales from whatever you’re promoting. It takes hundreds and thousands of traffic before you can expect a conversion. Unless you have buyers’ traffic all the time, which is most likely impossible.

The Honest Truth #4
Getting traffic doesn’t guarantee sales. Unless you have buyer’s traffic.

Is Affiliate Marketing Legit?

For us, this is a difficult question to answer. However, since we’re here to help you decide, the answer is yes. It is legit, and you can earn money with affiliate marketing.

If you’d like to know how affiliate marketing could make millions of dollars worth of commission, you can search for people like Pat Flynn and Neil Patel. These guys have made millions with affiliate marketing.

However, you can’t expect to be like them overnight. They have been building their brand from scratch. It’s not a short-term business where you can get rich fast and walk away. It doesn’t work that way.

The Honest Truth #5
Affiliate marketing is great for long-term business. Not as a short-term business.

Once again, affiliate marketing doesn’t make you rich overnight. It is not a get-rich-quick like many people said. So, we must be careful because many scams are disguised and advertised as affiliate marketing.

We didn’t mean to scare you with our statement. However, you need to know that several affiliate marketers are selling their products and targeting people who want to make money fast. It’s not your fault that you fall into their trap.

Why? Because the way they’re trying to lure you is by utilizing an elaborate effort through their sales page combined with mesmerizing sales copy that tickles your emotion.

Believe us. We’ve fallen into these traps frequently and lost a lot of money. That’s why we decided to start our own site and provide honest reviews and recommendations to people. Above all, we don’t want to regret anything we buy online ever again.

The Honest Truth #6
Beware of this fact. There are many scams advertised as affiliate marketing.

You might ask, “Are you trying to scam me through this post?”

No. Everything we’ve recommended so far is carefully studied and checked. We had our own rules when we were promoting affiliate products or services. We’ll talk about this later.

Successful Affiliate Marketing Examples

There are many great examples out there. For instance, you might have heard about Gear Patrol and Everyday Carry. What they do is write a review of several products. After that, they publish it on their websites. If someone buys through their affiliate links, they receive a commission.

We know what question you have in mind. “How is this possible?”

Here is how it works.

When you promote someone else’s product or service, you promote it using a custom link called an affiliate link. This link is tracked by the owner of the product you promote. So, if someone buys through your link, the owner knows the sales came from you.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing With No Money?

We received a lot of questions on how to start affiliate marketing with no money. So, we would like to help you by explaining how to do affiliate marketing based on our experience.

We will walk you through the steps while answering several questions you might have in mind and help you decide whether it suits you or not.

Step 1: Choosing Your Niche

The first step of starting affiliate marketing is to choose your niche. A niche is something you want to talk about on the internet. You can think of it as a category of things. You can talk about books, movies, apps, technology, health, spirituality, etc.

After that, you can narrow it down to a specific target audience. For example, there are a lot of books on the internet. You might want to narrow your niche to books about marketing or self-help.

Choosing your niche is one of the most important things to do. Why? Because your goal is to rank high on Google. Somore people are exposed to your content.

More visitors mean a higher probability of people buying your affiliate offers. In fact, this is the foundation of affiliate marketing. Many people didn’t understand this foundation and stopped.

Step 2: Create Your Website

pexels pixabay 270360
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

The next step is simple. You need to create a website. Why? Because you need a medium to write about your niche. Moreover, having a website is considered a long-term investment for your business.

There are many options where you can create your website for free. For example, you can create a free site with WordPress, Blogspot, Wix, and even Google Sites.

At first, you don’t really need to buy a domain name for your site. Why? Because your first task is to create an article about your niche.

If you don’t want to invest in a website, you can try to write on Medium or LinkedIn. But, before that, you need a product or service related to your niche, so you can write about it. That brings you to the next step.

Step 3: Choosing Your Products or Services

As an affiliate marketer, your job is to curate your offers. Would you promote something that doesn’t work or seems to overpromise? We don’t think so. You would be embarrassed to learn that you’ve been promoting a scam, don’t you?

That’s why we’re going to share our rules with you. Feel free to use them as your guide to decide if you want to promote a particular affiliate program.

3 Rules To Help You Choose Your Products or Services

  • Rule #1 – Never promote something that offers you an almost immediate result
    Why? Because an immediate result will trigger your brain to act as soon as possible. What’s more suspicious than forcing someone to buy immediately? We believe affiliate marketer should curate their content and avoid misguiding their readers with false information.

    Here at We Recommend, we want people to be satisfied after buying the products or services we recommend on our website. If you regret buying something in the past, look back again at the sales page or any blog post where you came from and look for anything that says immediate results. You might buy it because of that.
  • Rule #2 – Follow your guts
    We invented this rule based on our experience. Always read the sales page and stop if you’re feeling uneasy. Even though you think you’re not intuitive, humans can sense if there is something fishy about the page you’re reading. However, this might not work with videos because audio-visual information is far more convincing than reading a blog post or a sales page.
  • Rule #3 – Make a note for fishy products or services—including the name of the creator
    Here’s the truth. Several suspicious affiliate products or services will emerge in the future with different names. But, if you look closely, it is almost identical to the previous one. The only thing they’re adding is a couple of features and add-ons. Many affiliate marketers who create and sell their products will hate us with these rules, but we don’t care. It’s for the good of the people.

So, which affiliate marketing companies or programs should you join? Based on our experience, you should join as many as you want, as long as it is related to your niche. Here is a list to help you:

  • ClickBank
  • Amazon
  • ShareASale
  • Warrior+Plus

Let’s explore these lists one by one.

ClickBank

ClickBank - Home Page

According to Investopedia, Clickbank has 4,000 unique products on its site. This is one of the most used platforms to find affiliate products or services. If you’re in the health and weight loss niche, you probably heard about Okinawa Flat Belly, Exipure, Java Burn, Tea Burn, and The Smoothie Diet. All these products came from ClickBank.

Amazon

Amazon - Home Page

Now, who doesn’t know Amazon? Amazon allows you to promote thousands of products with various commissions. You can find everything on Amazon. We recommend it if your niche is related to technology and electronic products such as monitors and tech accessories.

ShareASale

ShareASale - Home Page

This is another popular affiliate marketing program where you can find great products from various niche industries. They have more than 4,800 merchants, and you can choose any of them based on your niche. After that, you can start promoting your affiliate links to your audience. However, ShareASale requires your website to have traffic before you can get approved to promote its merchants.

WarriorPlus

WarriorPlus - Home Page

If you’re in the make-money-online niche, you should join WarriorPlus as soon as possible. These are the homes of many affiliate marketers like yourself. The main differences are they promote their own products. You can find a lot of affiliate programs, courses, and software on this site.

However, you need to apply and be approved by the sellers. Some sellers may reject your application because you don’t have a record of selling WarriorPlus products.

Pro Tip????
There are many other affiliate programs out there. You can even do a Google search to find it. Make sure to read and comply with all the terms and conditions—so you don’t get banned.

Step 4: Write Content

Now, you have your niche and your products. It’s time to start writing your content. Since you’re doing affiliate marketing with no money, there is only you to write your content. You can’t hire anyone or buy any software to help you. Don’t worry. We’re here to help you. There is no need to spend any money on writing content.

What should you write about? The answer is it depends on you. For instance, you can write about how-to, reviews, and product or service comparisons. As long as it’s related to your niche, you should know what to write.

Many people find it hard to write because they lack one thing, research. Why do you need to do research? Because you’re going to write a lot. Without proper research, you can not explain your offer to your audience.

What do we mean by a lot? You need to write at least 1,000 words for each of your posts. Is it too much? Not really. We suggest writing more if you can do it. Why? Because you need around 1,000 – 1,500 words to get Google to notice your content. But, if you can cover everything in a concise post, you can do less.

This post has around 3,500 words in it. We wouldn’t be able to write this much without any research. If you’re finding it hard, we’ve made a simple guide to help you.

  1. Write at least 1,000 words for each of your posts.
  2. Have at least 5 headings.
  3. Create a killer headline.
  4. Use short sentences to write your content.
  5. Don’t forget to use bold and italics to vary your content intonations.
  6. Add pictures, numbers, and data related to your offers.
  7. Break your content into headings and sub-headings.
  8. Always double-check your content for typos.
  9. Do insert your targeted keywords in your content.
  10. Don’t forget to put your affiliate links.
  11. Use SEO plugins to help you write.
  12. Always have a conclusion at the end.
  13. Always state you may earn a commission if someone buys through your affiliate links.

If you follow this guide, writing 1,000 words will be much easier than you think. If you’re experiencing writer’s block, you can use AI copywriting tools to help you brainstorm ideas. However, we would remind you that whatever you write, never copy-paste it from someone else’s post. Plagiarism will never get your content ranked on Google.

Step 5: Promoting Affiliate Offers

After you’ve finished your content, it’s time to promote it. You already have your content. In fact, you already published it. However, you don’t see any traffic coming to your site.

Well, this is the honest truth behind affiliate marketing. At the end of the day, someone must see your affiliate offers. Otherwise, you can’t make any sales. So, you need traffic coming to your site.

There are at least two things that you can do to promote your affiliate offer without spending any money.

Social Media

You can promote your offers on social media. You can join Facebook Groups, post on Twitter and Instagram, create a pin on Pinterest, and even post on Linkedin. You want to generate genuine conversation on social media. That’s the best way to promote your content and drive traffic. Never, ever spam your content. It won’t get you anywhere.

Another social media that you can use is Quora. We’re not quite sure if we can call it social media. You can think of it as a place where you can answer every question related to your niche.

Sharing your knowledge on Quora can help you drive traffic to your site. You can add links to your site while answering questions. However, make sure to write a proper answer. More importantly, never copy-paste the same answer for a similar question. Try to elaborate and rephrase your answer to sharpen your writing skills.

Traffic Exchange Sites

So, where can you get lots of traffic for free? The answer lies in the traffic exchange sites. There are a lot of websites where you can promote your offers for free. To name a few, you can use TrafficAdBar or LeadsLeap.

There are pros and cons to using this kind of service. Sure, you’ll get traffic. But, it is cold traffic. In other words, you’re inviting someone to view your site by advertising it for free. To get your site viewed, you need to surf other sites. That’s why it is called traffic exchange.

Up until now, you can still do affiliate marketing with no money. So, what happens after this? We will answer one of the most fundamental questions. Stay tuned!

Step 6: Making Money From Affiliate Marketing

As we’ve already mentioned, affiliate marketers make money from commissions. So, here is a tricky question for you. “How can affiliate marketing help you make money if you’re doing affiliate marketing with no money?”

We’ve thought about this question for some time. Regardless of what everyone said, we thought the answer was pretty straightforward.

You can’t do affiliate marketing with no money.

Allow us to explain this. There are a lot of free affiliate marketing courses out there on the internet. Many will tell you that you can start affiliate marketing with no money.

Yes, we’ve been there like you. But, to get a result, you need to invest in proper education. We choose our words carefully here.

Invest. Not spend.

Investing means you’ll get something in return in the long run. That’s why there are a lot of scams associated with affiliate marketing. We’ve seen people fall into these traps. Before they realized it, they had spent hundreds and thousands of dollars on the so-called guarantee system.

You need to understand that affiliate marketing will never be an overnight success. It is certainly not a get-rich-quick scheme. If you plan on having a website like ours, you still need to pay for a domain name and a decent hosting plan. That alone needs around $60-$100 per year.

The Honest Truth #7
You can start affiliate marketing for free. But, in the end, you still need to spend money.

Now, where should you invest in proper affiliate marketing education?

There are a lot of resources out there, such as YouTube, blogs, and many more. Based on our experience, it would be best to learn about affiliate marketing on Wealthy Affiliate. Feel free to read our comprehensive review about it.

The Honest Truth #8
You need to invest in proper education to be successful with affiliate marketing.

Conclusion

There you have it. These are 8 honest truths about affiliate marketing you might not know. We hope this article could help you understand more about affiliate marketing and what many people out there didn’t tell you about it.

For those who think affiliate marketing is easy, we hope you can also tell your audience the truth. Oversimplifying affiliate marketing to get a non-refundable payment is similar to a scam.

Above all, affiliate marketing is a long-term business. If you build it from scratch and keep doing it, you can run it into an auto-pilot and generate unlimited income. The sky is the limit to earning commissions with affiliate marketing.


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34 thoughts on “Affiliate Marketing: The (Honest) Truth (2022)”

  1. Let me start with a question before I dig into this post. How long have you been in affiliate marketing? I am so impressed with how precise and honest your post is. Quite honestly, your website is so trustworthy and so engaging.

    This website has pretty much covered everything that supposed to make anyone looking for affiliate marketing, signup with confidence. Great, great job!

    In my humble opinion, very well done! 

    Reply
    • Hi Val, I’ve been in the affiliate marketing for about a month or so now. Thank you for your kind response. I’m looking forward to see affiliate marketing as a process, not as an overnight success.

      Reply
  2. Hey thanks for this post! I enjoyed reading through it!

    I currently am working on affiliate marketing and well aware it isn’t a get rich quick scheme, it’s important for people to know that as then they give up easily when they don’t get the immediate results they were after.

    I am going to be noting a few points you have mentioned here as I believe they are important to know!

    Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Hi. Thank you for your kind reply. I’m hoping this article could give a better insight for more people who want to make money online.

      Reply
  3. I feel like affiliate marketing is perfect for me and has given me a source of income. I only have good things to say about it and I would recommend everyone and anyone to join. You just need to be patient as it takes time to start making some good money 

    Reply
  4. It’s such a breath of fresh air when I see someone describe affiliate marketing accurately and with a true desire to help others decide if it’s right for them.  I like the conclusion of the article, because it’s such an important point.  “The journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step” (It’s probably not said exactly like it was originally, but you get the point).  So the question asked at the end pretty much answers itself.

    Affiliate marketing is most certainly not a get rich quick scheme.  For someone who wants to be making money some time from now, the right time to start is now.  Search engines don’t show new sites much love or respect, it’s necessary to start building that foundation as soon as possible.  That’s to simply have a chance of having success down the road.

    I think whoever follows the wise advice in this article will be making a solid investment in their future.

    Before I go, I would like to ask a question to the author of this article.  How does Wealthy Affiliate compare to similar services?  I know they’re among the best, possibly the best in terms of setting people up for success.  A side by side comparison with at least one similar service would be very useful (assuming there actually is something that is comparable),

    Reply
    • Hi George, thank you for dropping by! I truly appreciate the way you point out this article as a solid investment.

      As for your question, Wealthy Affiliate provides you with huge support from their community members 24/7. Why? Because at WA community is so diverse that if someone needs any help, there will always be someone ready to answer and support them. I doubt there is any other Affiliate Marketing platform like Wealthy Affiliate out there, and it’s not exaggerating to say Wealthy Affiliate is the home of true Affiliate Marketers.

      Reply
  5. Wow, this is what I was looking for! Already read a few reviews and articles about affiliate marketing, as I am trying to get immersed in this online business world. Your article provides the exact information a beginner like me is looking for, direct and precise points on how to use it, how to begin and what to expect. Thank you for saving me time and will totally jump right in this world!

    Reply
  6. Everyone should read this text, so I will be happy to recommend it to my friends. I decided on the Wealthy Affiliate platform precisely because it is a long-term business, as you yourself said here. Of course it takes a lot of effort and works to achieve the desired results.

    Reply
    • Thank you for dropping by. Hopefully, more people realize that affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme, and they could understand more that everything has its process.about:blank#blocked

      Reply
  7. Great article with some direct and in-your-face truths that everyone really needs to hear, especially when first looking into affiliate marketing. I think it’s vital to know early that it is not a get rich quick scheme, instead it is a proven way to build either a full or part time business than delivers results over time – and we are really only talking a few months to see the traffic begin to flow for FREE to your website if the training available is followed and applied accurately.

    Thanks for sharing and wishing you success on your journey.

    Reply
  8. Thank you for this thorough post. I learned so much. I got interested in working from home. And affiliate marketing seems my best choice. But I had not read such an honest review about the model. I would like to build my site to the point I not only make sales but also have recurrent buyers and brand advocates.

    Reply
    • Thank you for dropping by Ann! Yes, affiliate marketing is a great business model for people working from home. Kindly share this information if you find it useful 🙂

      Reply
  9. Hello. I like the title because it’s catchy. Great post. I like it because you explain all the pros and cons and what affiliate marketing really is. I’m on a roll with Wealthy Affiliate and I’m happy with it. I haven’t yet earned money on it but I know I know I will with time. You learn only out the paste. And the more you work on it the faster you get results. What I most like is that the lessons are well explained in videos by Kyle and there’s a lot of help and support with the community when you have a question or doubt.

    Reply
  10. Affiliate marketing is sure a great way to earn commissions but takes lots of dedication and time to see payouts. Anyone looking for a get rich scheme, affiliate marketing is not for them. If in the long run you like to receive commissions, then you should begin affiliate marketing. I am going to share your blog post on social media. 

    Reply
  11. Everyone should be wary of scammers, but it is sad to note that it is not the case. I used to have this ‘get-rich-quick’ notion about affiliate marketing, but I thank God for leading me to Wealthy Affiliate. I consider Wealthy Affiliate my university and its community of like-minded people my classmates and mentors at the same time.

    I agree with you about affiliate marketing being a process. 

    Thank you for posting this inspiring article.

    God bless,

    Chuna

    Reply
  12. This must be one of the most detailed and best articles I have seen as affiliate marketing is explained in so much detail you can’t fail to know exactly what it is by the time you are through reading.

    I see you say it is an ideal long term business. Why can’t I start selling products today and make money? How many reviews would I need to write before I start making money?

    Reply
    • Hi, Michel. To start selling products, you need to build an audience first. I suggest to keep on writing things related to your niche until you get a decent amount of audience.

      Reply
  13. Wow, a well-detailed truth about affiliate marketing. If I were not already an affiliate marketer, this informative article would have surely made me join. You said it all…..I began this journey four and a half months ago and I have never looked back. I understood in the beginning before I started that it is not a get-rich-quick scheme but a long-term business model that should be nurtured until it grows into success. 

    This article is an encouragement to me because it reminded me of why I joined the affiliate marketing business. Thanks for sharing. 

    Reply
  14. Affiliate marketing is indeed a legitimate business model with which one can make a lot of money. But, it is not a get-rich-quick scheme. So if you are expecting overnight results and want large amounts of money without doing the work, then affiliate marketing is not for you.

    If you put in the effort and work hard at affiliate marketing, you can succeed. It is very important as well to get training for affiliate marketing, so joining a platform like Wealthy Affiliate will give you the training and support that you need to be a successful affiliate marketer.

    Reply
  15. Great article! At first I thought this would dash my enthusiasm for WA. I was surprised at the end when it promoted it. I felt as though I had finally made a good decision, I can follow through with confidence, However, my complaints are the same. The videos and lessons are there and they do explain how to go about each step, but there are numerous typos and often the navigation is very difficult for me and this is not my first rodeo. I don’t consider myself an expert by any means but the navigation to be obvious and the directions to be accurate

    Reply
    • Hi, David.

      While some of the navigation is outdated, all the fundamental principles still apply to this day. I hope you can utilize the live chat feature and ask for help from other members. Cheers!

      Reply
  16. I first heard about Affiliate Marketing in a Youtube ad and, of course, it piqued my interest. I didn’t know exactly what it was, so I searched the internet for information about it.

    It has slowly become clear that it takes time, learning, and a lot of work to build an online business, plus some money. However, not everyone talks about these things as honestly as you do in this article.

    Nonetheless, I think affiliate marketing is something worth trying because I know people who have been successful and can make a full-time income.
    Thank you for providing helpful and honest information.

    Kind regards,

    Debora

    Reply
    • Hi, Debora.

      Thanks for dropping by. It’s true that it takes time, learning, and a lot of work. It’s definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme.

      Cheers!

      Reply
  17. Doing affiliate marketing wrong can result in you spending a lot of unnecessary money. I have learned that throughout my affiliate journey. At the start, I was spending money on things like Facebook ads and never getting anywhere until I started to understand how I can stand out over the rest and make sure people click my ad and not someone else’s.

    Reply

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