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5 Truths on How to Succeed at Affiliate Marketing: What It Really Takes!



By now, I’ve written plenty of guides covering the nuts and bolts of getting started on ClickBank, understanding the skills you need to begin as an affiliate marketer, and selling successfully on different marketing channels. I’ve also shared the top offers on our marketplace, month after month, so you can easily find high-converting affiliate products to promote.

But succeeding at affiliate marketing – or anything worthwhile – needs a certain mindset. It’s you deciding that you’re not going to stop until you succeed.

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing many of our most successful marketers, and the #1 thing they had in common was continuing to work at it until they succeeded – and then, rinsing and repeating. 

So, in this guide, I want to dig even deeper into the nitty-gritty of how to succeed at affiliate marketing! 

What is Success as an Affiliate Marketer?

Let me begin by stating a few facts first! Affiliate marketing is a multi-billion-dollar industry. In the U.S. alone, the expenditure for affiliate marketing will reach over $8 billion by the year’s end.

A small percentage of affiliate marketers earn more than $250k per year, which just happens to be the threshold for Platinum clients on ClickBank. This is easily enough money for a full-time income to replace any 9-to-5 job you may have.

But with that said, only 9% of affiliate marketers make $50,000 annually, and many more (48%) make less than $20,000 – with the remainder making almost nothing. It sure does sound like a bummer if you consider money to be the sole factor for success.

However, let’s consider the other benefits you enjoy when you start an affiliate business:

  • You’ve got the option to work from anywhere around the world. You’re not tied down to one place!
  • You have the flexibility to choose a niche – technology, health, finance, travel, cooking, etc. – that’s a fit for your unique interests and skills.
  • You can enjoy a business that’s low-capital and low-risk compared to more traditional options, like starting a retail store or restaurant.
  • You get to choose whether this should be your career or merely a side hustle alongside your current job or business.
  • Your affiliate business grows as much as you do. As a result, you have control over your total income and your opportunities for success.

Having said that, an affiliate marketer will be successful once they know how to drive traffic and have their knowledge and skills dialed into a repeatable, scaleable process!

5 Truths That Top Affiliate Marketers Know

Affiliate marketing strategy requires a unique blend of copywriting, customer psychology, and technical know-how to pull off. But at a higher level, you’ll only see consistent results when you internalize these 5 important truths about affiliate marketing success!

1) Think like a CEO.

As an affiliate, getting stuck in the minutiae of working with one audience, one affiliate offer, and one traffic channel is easy. But that’s thinking too small if you want to build a real business with a brand and the potential to grow year after year!

That’s why you need to think like a CEO. What’s your company’s vision? What audience segments will you go after, with what products, and on which traffic channels? Do you have a brand that you’re building? What does your brand stand for?

What kind of content can you produce to make a name for yourself in your space? And most importantly, what happens if any one of the legs on your three-legged stool of audience, product, and traffic channel ends up breaking?

As a CEO, you can (and should) diversify your business model, so that you never have all your eggs in one basket. Start by first considering your weaknesses and strengths. Then, decide which aspects you can actively work to improve on and which ones you should hire out to grow your business.

At the end of the day, being CEO is all about how well you enable your company to sell more and grow!

Action Step: Make a one-page business plan.

2) Be Audience-Focused.

Your primary job as an affiliate marketer is to improve your target audience’s life, typically through information, inspiration, or entertainment. If the content you create isn’t adding value somehow, then you’re redundant in the buying process.

It’s not hard for someone to purchase a product online – the hard part is knowing which products are worth best for someone’s particular circumstances. By providing quality product reviews, helpful “how-to” content with product recommendations, or intriguing content focused on solving a pain point for your audience, you can move them to take action.

Become a user first and share your expertise second. What I mean by this is when you understand the product from a consumer’s perspective, half of your job as an affiliate marketer is done.

Apart from what an offer’s sales page promises in the VSL, find aspects of the product that make it unique and valuable for your target audience. Copywriting is the key to effectively reaching an audience and persuading them to buy.

Action Step: Create a buyer persona for your ideal customer profile (ICP).

3) Invest in Yourself and Your Affiliate Business.

This isn’t a short-term venture, and you’ll not likely to experience “overnight” success – and certainly not predictable, repeatable success!

If you want to make affiliate marketing work for you, then you need to keep investing in your own affiliate marketing skills, as well as the technology and marketing for your business.

That could mean buying a new landing page software tool or a third-party tracker, or it could mean purchasing an educational course and following what you learn there to find success.

Whether you’re a newbie or you’ve been around for a while, you’ve got to stay on top of your game. The best way to do that is by constantly staying up-to-date on the latest and greatest marketing tactics.

Wondering where to find the right affiliate education? We’ve got you covered! Spark by ClickBank is a bundle of courses tailored especially for affiliate marketing professionals who want to grow their business. We also have a dedicated community and special tools to help you kickstart your efforts to promote products and earn an affiliate marketing income.

These courses were created by some of the most experienced and knowledgeable minds in the industry, including experts at ClickBank and trusted partners like Paul Counts, Ian Stanley, Rachel Pedersen, and more. Spark will teach you how to promote affiliate offers with free or paid traffic!

Action Step: Sign up for Spark and level up your affiliate marketing skills!

4) Become a T-Shaped Marketer.

At some point, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “Jack of all trades, but master of none.” However, that is only one part of the saying!

The full expression goes:

“Jack of all trades but master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”

Well, we need to turn that on its head a little: if you want to be a successful affiliate marketer, your best bet is to become a jack of all trades AND a master of at least one! (Sometimes referred to as being a T-shaped marketer.)

These days, affiliates can’t realistically just focus on a specific skill and not care about how everything else works around that one area. The best affiliate marketers tend to be world-class at something – that’s the secret sauce that propels them to success. But they still need everything else that comes with a successful affiliate business in order to make sales.

Take me as an example. I’m a copywriter by trade, and I’m experienced at SEO. Those are my two areas of mastery – but I also know how to build a website and webpages, run email campaigns, track analytics and traffic data, and work with video!

I relied on my mastery of SEO and copywriting to build an affiliate website and get organic traffic to it, but I still use my other skills to help generate results from those skills. Trust me, I’m not the best at most of those things, but I’m good enough to support my business goals. (Learn more about what I did in this guide to making your first sale on ClickBank.)

Let’s say you’ve got five solid skills related to affiliate marketing and truly excel in one of them – then you’re a T-shaped marketer already! Having varied skills is a huge advantage. Fortunately, if you’re good enough at one or two things, you can always hire freelancers or employees to fill in the gaps!

To ensure a strong foundation for your business, I would figure out your biggest weakness (the weak link in your chain) and work on improving that.

Action Step: Block 5–10 hours per week to practice your chosen marketing skill.

5) Just Keep Going.

If you want to succeed, you need to continue putting in effort in a single direction for a long time. Don’t jump around constantly, chasing shiny objects like a new niche, traffic channel, or marketing tactic. You can’t hit 10,000 hours in something and reach mastery if you only practice something for a few hours before realizing it’s hard and move on to the next thing!

Then again, it’s not a bad idea for you to test new methods if you’re not seeing the best results with your current approach. The most effective way to move ahead in this career is by analyzing what you did yesterday and keeping an eye on how you’re doing today. Gauge your past and present work tactics to determine your next steps.

However, ensure that you keep your business running despite all the ups and downs. Set realistic expectations for yourself and your business to align you with the right targets and push you to keep walking on your chosen path.

You (probably) won’t become a millionaire overnight, but you can make progress by setting reasonable targets and dividing them into short-term and long-term goals. It’s all about taking one step at a time!

Action Step: Keep an ongoing task list that filters up to your business goals.

By now, you’ve learned most of the essential steps to becoming a successful affiliate marketer. However, that’s not all – I have a few more insights that I’ve picked up over the years. Here are some extra bonus tips to help you maintain consistency in this space!

Bonus Tip 1: Choose Proven Affiliate Products

Many affiliate marketing professionals fall into the trap of expecting to make a lot of money quickly! Unfortunately, there are countless affiliate programs that claim to make you rich fast.

How do you avoid falling into such “get-rich-quick” scams? Use Google or a trusted affiliate network like ClickBank to research affiliate offers in your niche. Gather the data and talk to people in your space to see what’s performing right now.

As an affiliate professional, you want to promote products that will convert. On ClickBank, it’s a simple process of looking at the first few pages in the marketplace – with a high rank and gravity score, they are getting recent sales!

Set Realistic Expectations

Trial and error is an effective way to discover what works well for you and your niche. So, add experimentation, failures, and successes into your timeline while building your goals!

Choose the product or service you already know about or have read trustworthy reviews about. You can also subscribe to their content to learn more about the brand’s offerings and services.

Bonus Tip 2: Write Product Reviews for Organic Reach, Invoke Curiosity to Get Paid

Did you know that 84% of people trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendations? Affiliate professionals come into the picture because people are no longer interested in old-fashioned ads and want relatability and authenticity, something that only you can provide!

You don’t sell the product or offer free advice as an affiliate professional. Instead, you present logical and qualitative suggestions to your audience. If you want to be an affiliate with free traffic sources like SEO or social media, then you need to focus on ways to add value so people trust your product recommendations.

Write Product-Aware Content that People Find Valuable

One type of content that buyers appreciate is product comparisons. Consumers love to learn how competing products stack up – and it’s valuable for you to help provide value at the product-aware stage in the buyer’s journey, because they’re usually right on the verge of making a purchase! Offering insights like these are the holy grail for making the ultimate purchase.

It not only creates active engagement but also helps you learn new things that you wouldn’t otherwise. Whether it’s organic or paid, maintain product transparency by promoting the affiliate links as they are. A successful affiliate uses their platform to promote content that doesn’t sound like an ad!

How to Succeed at Affiliate Marketing Wrap-up

Affiliate marketing is the practice of earning commissions by promoting products and services. It’s one of the most popular ways to make money online, but it can be hard to start!

Succeed at affiliate marketing by following the points mentioned above. Here are a few other tips to help you level up your game:

  • A social media platform is a great way to reach your audience. Use relevant hashtags to get indexed by Google, and shorten your URLs to save space. These things can be easily forgotten, especially when active on multiple platforms.
  • Using landing pages and email marketing to promote your affiliate offers can be a great way to convert website visitors into customers. The key here is that you want the landing page or email content to match the content of your website, so they should maintain consistency with what you have to offer there.
  • Google is the most important search engine, and it’s where most people find information. It’s used by over 2 billion people daily and has an index of 100 million web pages. It is also the most effective search engine for affiliate marketing. To get higher rankings in Google, you need to optimize your site for these keywords.
  • Use Google Analytics to track traffic, which will help you see what is working and what isn’t. Once you’ve identified issues with your site, please take steps to fix them before they become more significant problems down the road!
  • Understand how to use ads. The first step in creating a paid ad campaign is understanding what ads work best for your chosen affiliate product. There are four main types of ads: text-based (like Google Ads), video-based (YouTube Ads), image-based (Pinterest Ads), or audio-only ads(Spotify). Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on the niche market where it’s being used!

Have you observed that it’s not just about publishing blog posts anymore? Nowadays, affiliate marketing can be done in many different ways, like guest posting on other blogs, creating videos, sending emails to a list, running paid ads, building a community, and more!

The goal of an affiliate should be to create an effective content marketing strategy, help people find what they need, and make them feel informed and excited about buying the products or services you’re promoting.

Are you interested in learning more about affiliate marketing and leveling up your game so you can build the business of your dreams online? Be sure to try Spark by ClickBank, our official affiliate marketing education platform featuring the courses, tools, and community you need to shorten your path to success. Check it out!


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