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Why Is Affiliate Marketing So Hard?

Have you heard that Affiliate marketing is one of the simplest online business models? 

And yet, some people would say that it is difficult. 

What is the truth? 

Well, I have been working as an affiliate marketer since 2019. I started as a total newbie, with an empty WordPress site.
I had no idea how to get traffic to my website but slowly I was learning how to get thousands of people a day to my website. 

Do I get the same amount of traffic today as of this writing?
Quite honestly I do not. 

Let me share with you right away that I intend to be honest with you and I am going to share with you my affiliate marketing might be a difficult way to make money online. 

At the same time would like to explain that there is still a great chance to make a consistent income with affiliate marketing. 

The bottom line is – if you want to make money online affiliate marketing is probably the best way to start. 

Enough of the controversy let me break down for you what is so hard about making money with affiliate marketing. 

Jump to:

Why affiliate marketing might be difficult – especially for newbies

Most people fail with affiliate marketing due to two main reasons.

First, they simply quit too early.

A person who starts a new website creates content and doesn’t see significant traffic in the 1st 6 months. Naturally, he or she tends to quit since it doesn’t make sense to work on something that doesn’t seem to be working. 

Please note, it takes Google (and other search engines) some time to recognize and understand a new website.

The second reason is quite often a wrong product/educational material.
There are so many platforms that are just mediocre or even misleading. They claim how fast it is possible to make money.
But the truth is that the “teaching methods” are obsolete.

With the wrong educational material, no wonder that people fail at affiliate marketing.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

There are many explanations, of what affiliate marketing actually is. And you will see the very same question on my blog as well. 

To put it in simple words, it is a business where you as an affiliate marketer recommend a certain product or service.
When people buy that product, you get a commission. 

The beauty of it is that you don’t need to own anything. You just need to provide genuine and honest information about the product/service. 

The drawback is, how to get people to consume your marketing/your content? 

This is the point where affiliate marketing is hard. Basically as any other online business. But with affiliate marketing, you don’t need to deal with customer service, suppliers, payment methods, etc.

Still, the million-dollar question is – how to get people to your website?

The answer is:

How To Do Affiliate Marketing with SEO (Organic Traffic)?

why is affiliate marketing so hard

You may have tried many ways how to get traffic. Does it include organic traffic as well?
In my experience, organic traffic is the most effective one.

At the same time, it requires the highest amount of effort and time.

So even if it is called “free traffic” it is not always the case.
How many hours do you spend on:

  • finding the right keyword
  • research the topic
  • creating the article

And the result?

It takes another month until Google ranks your article on the first page (in the ideal case, since many times our article ends up buried on the 5th page).

That’s right.
SEO has changed and today it is more difficult to rank well than in 2015 or even 2018.
(Especially with a new website – less than 1-year-old).
At that time you could write an 800-word article and rank 1st on Google.

It is not the case today.
But there is a solution how to significantly raise the chances of ranking well, even this year.

How about an easier source of traffic?
Would that work?

What about other sources of traffic? Easier Ones(?)

Sharing your new post on social media?

why is affiliate marketing so hard

That is an easy one, but rarely does it work well.
And we will explain why later on.

How about paid traffic?

Sure it requires a little bit more effort than just posting the link on social…. and also money, right?

The good news is that you get to see results within hours.
But once your ads account is exhausted, you have no traffic…

So if you truly want to have consistent traffic, by the process of elimination, the organic one is the best source.

  • Great original content, based on your research that took about a week to make brings the most visitors in the long term.

Now a professional that knows how to drive organic traffic can combine it with paid ads.
Then the sky is the limit for him.

But let’s be realistic.
You and I know that most of the articles do not do well in terms of rankings.

What to do about that?

I will give you some tips and tricks you can apply, and I am sure in a few months you will see results.

In fact, I currently run some tests, and it seems that it is working.

What Is The Niche in Affiliate Marketing?

This is the very first thing every aspiring affiliate marketer starts with.

I am sure we can skip this point since you already are involved in affiliate marketing.
I mean I assume that you have chosen your niche.

The questions you might have are:

  • Do I stay with my current niche?
  • Or Do I change it?

A great questions, not easy to answer,

But here are some tips you want to take into consideration:

  • How many articles have you written? (more than 100?)
  • Do you have particular articles within your webpage that are doing well? (ranking on the 1st page?)
  • Have you checked 1st 5 results on Google and do you believe you can do better work?
  • Are you still interested in the niche? (In other words, it doesn’t make you sick in the stomach every time you are thinking about creating a new post?)

If your answers are mostly positive, then you should stick with your niche and apply what is outlined in this article.

I am sure you will love it.

It is quite a simple process, but the drawback is that it takes some time to convince Google that your content is worth considering.

How To Do Keyword Research for Affiliate Marketing?

why is affiliate marketing so hard

You are familiar with Keyword research tools, aren’t you?
(BTW, the image above is not some artistic image – it is a free keyword tool called AnswerThePublic.com).

What keyword research tool do you like to use?

If you click on this link you get the best …
No No – just kidding.

There is no link, and I am not going to sell any tool here.

Good news?

It is Google!

why is affiliate marketing so hard

Yes, Google itself is (and it is not just my opinion) the best keyword research tool ever.

Because it shows you exactly what people search for.

I admit you might need some additional tools, but they’re free as well, so no worries.

Let’s start with some simple stuff.

Incognito Mode

why is affiliate marketing so hard

Go to Google in incognito mode.

In case you don’t know, here is how

Using Google Chrome:

Right-click on Chrome and go “incognito”

why is affiliate marketing so hard

Using Mozilla Firefox, “New Private Window”

why is affiliate marketing so hard

But I recommend Google Chrome because it is Google and most of the traffic you get from Google.
And in a minute I will show you a tool that will help you to check how strong your competition is.
(In other words, you can check the domain authority).

Depending on your location and the location of your audience you want to select the proper region and language first:
(For example, I am from the middle of Europe and I always set the language, English and the region the USA, due most of the traffic).

At the right bottom, you have Settings, so go:

  • Settings -> Search Settings
  • Search Results -> Select the Region (the country)

You want Google to show you the keyword typing in that specific region using that specific language, right?

Once we have this done let’s go to some brainstorming in terms of keywords:

Suggestions – Alphabet Technique

why is affiliate marketing so hard

You know that Google gives suggestions to keywords you type in.

But let’s not miss any opportunity and let’s try the entire alphabet to the core of our keyword.

After typing your core keyword, go with the letters a, b, c, d…

why is affiliate marketing so hard

Another similar technique is to ask questions;
Put these in front of your general keyword:

  • Why
  • Who
  • Which
  • How
  • Is
  • Are
  • Can
  • Will
why is affiliate marketing so hard

With the Alphabet combination, you get a lot of ideas to write about.

Do you want to have specific questions, people currently ask?

People Also Ask

I am sure you are familiar with this section:

why is affiliate marketing so hard

Did you know you can get even more questions?
Check and uncheck the right arrow and it expands, as much as you want it:

why is affiliate marketing so hard

Now, how about one of my favorite tools:

It is called Answer the Public and the website is (you guessed it right):

why is affiliate marketing so hard

Type a core keyword from your field of interest and this is what the result looks like:

why is affiliate marketing so hard

As far as I understand this is the same result as PPA gives, but at one place already.

See the questions around the core keyword.

Just go to a specific keyword and click on it:

why is affiliate marketing so hard

It’ll redirect you to Google as you would type that specific phrase into the Google search bar.

Super Tip:

OK, that’s keywords.

But how do I know if my new article about the keyword will rank?

Well, here is a simple answer:

Type the keyword into the search result and see what comes out.
If you see websites like forums or social media (Facebook, Twitter) or any user-generated content website like Quora, you can be sure you have a pretty good chance to rank well.

In my experience very often I see Quora in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

Additional Tools

What is another indication that we will rank well?

Let’s check the results on the 1st page of Google one more time and let’s find out what domain authority these websites have:

why is affiliate marketing so hard

To quickly check the Domain Authority, just use the Chrome extension called Keywords Everywhere.

why is affiliate marketing so hard

SERP Results

  • 1) Did you search for a specific keyword you have chosen based on the above (Suggestions, Alhpabe, People Also Ask)
  • 2) On the 1st page of Google you don’t see any user-generated content, and all of the DA (Domain Authority) is at least twice as large as yours.

This tells you that it doesn’t make sense to go after this keyword.

Go back to Google suggestion, or pick a different phrase from the PAA section and see the results.

Now let me share with you something really cool…

Do you want to be on top of things?
It would be great to be ahead of others, right?

Try Exploding Topics

It is a free tool and shows what topics are trending. It even gives you ideas that you had no idea existed.

Exploding topics is still a new tool and perfect for content generators.
It gives you information about how a certain topic in a certain industry has been evolving and what is about to explode.

In other words, it gives you hints about your content that might explode in close future.
Once you have such a piece of content, your post can go viral.

Is It Worth Using Social Media for Affiliate Marketing?

Regarding Social Media – one thing I would like to mention.

It is OK to post on social media.
But that doesn’t work quite well when it comes to organic reach.

I mean, even if you have let’s say 500 friends that are sort of interested in your niche. You post a link to your article, with some text on it, and what happens?

Pretty much nothing.
You may be getting some likes and one or two comments in the ideal case.

If you have your own Facebook Group (with about 500 followers) you can even see how many people did see your post:

why is affiliate marketing so hard

That’s not a lot, right?

Unless you have tons of followers social media don’t work.
And on top of it, no matter how many posts you have (linking to your website) it has no effect on SEO, whatsoever.

With less than 1,000 followers, then don’t expect huge changes after posting your 100 posts on Facebook.

why is affiliate marketing so hard

The amount of traffic I am getting from Social is very small.

This might be your case as well.

Is Posting on Social Media a waste of time?

Well, from time to time, people do like or comment on the post I added 2 months ago.
They even visit the site.
Some even click on my affiliate link…so it is not entirely a waste of time.

Just don’t spend too much time on Social Media just because you expect a lot of traffic…
Spend maybe 2 or 3 minutes, write a few words (ideally engaging text, or interesting), add the link and that’s it.

Now I don’t mean your sponsored posts.

But I am sure you see some ads on Facebook, and many of them might be related to the specific article that you have written on your website.

why is affiliate marketing so hard

See a lot of comments?
Be one of them – write something that you have tried that product and this is your “2 cents on it”

why is affiliate marketing so hard

The results are usually much better than posting a link within your FB group.

Is YouTube Good For Affiliate Marketing?

Youtube is also considered a social media, but it is different.
Out of all the social media, YouTube is most likely the most effective one.

Probably more effective than Google.

It is easier to rank with new videos and even though I don’t do it yet, I can recommend it.

Following friends and people that I know, I can tell that this work well
And even if your video doesn’t have hundreds of thousands of videos, it still helps

Much more than other social media.

Is Paid Traffic Worth It?

If you don’t have experience with running campaigns on Google Ads, please be careful.

I am not saying don’t start it, I am saying, start with a few bucks per day.

Have a budget – of $10, run it, and see how it works.

why is affiliate marketing so hard

Does it convert, compared to other traffic sources?
Do you see new sales, coming from the paid ads?

Then you do something right and depending on your ROI, you can expand your budget by a small increment.

You can even create a new campaign and test it out.


Do you still think that affiliate marketing is so hard because of SEO?

In this post, you have seen that it doesn’t have to be so hard and if you apply these techniques and tips you might be back on track within a couple of months.

I admit it is more difficult than prior to 2020. But that is because so many people create new blogs and websites every single day.

How about these tips – what if everyone will start applying them?

Don’t worry – you are one of the few people reading this article 😉

If you have some ideas, or tips that you don’t want to share with us, that’s OK and you don’t have to mention them in the section below.

But if you have questions about the People Also Ask section, or Youtube, let me know in the comment section below.

I will be glad to give you feedback,
Thank You For Reading

About the Author

Mike is an affiliate marketing analyst, content creator, and the founder of SetAffiliateBusiness.com.

Consistently producing in-depth and insightful articles. 📚💻


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