Mistakes to Avoid as an Internet Affiliate

Like with any sort of job, you want to make sure you become as efficient as possible with your Internet Affiliate endeavor. Optimize your Niche Website and work on it until it’s complete. Remember that it won’t generate any money right away. It will take a few months. Some niches may be faster, but chances are it will take your Niche Website some time to really start getting the number of clicks needed for you to start seeing money coming in.

Another important point: We all make mistakes. We actually are better at learning when we make a mistake, I think. The point is that if you don’t start your Niche Website or some other business just because you are afraid of making mistakes, well… you’re likely to never find a way to build an automatic recurring income. The Internet is an amazing tool to do that, though. Pretty cheap to get started contrary to the old days of needing a few million dollars just to open a brick and mortar store that you are not even sure will produce a return on investment.

Mistake #1: Creating your Affiliate Account too Soon

This is a real gotcha!

Most affiliate programs want you to make sales, otherwise, why did you join in the first place? This is where you need to have a website with actual traffic because without the traffic you won’t be able to get any sales going through and that means the Internet Affiliate provider is likely to kick you out.

In regard to the Amazon Affiliate program, there is currently a 180 days period in the beginning for you to make your first 3 sales from your website. I never had a problem because I signed up a very long time ago and it was not yet limited in this way. However, newcomers must make those sales.

You don’t have to wait for your website to have 100,000+ hits a month. Yet, you do want enough hits on your website so you have a chance for people to follow your links and start making purchases. At that point, you can register for any program that requires a minimum number of sales. What I find rather sad is that many such affiliate programs do not warn you ahead of time (when you register), although most often you will have a chance to reapply later.

Note that the larger number of sessions means that certain users came back. You should also opt yourself out of the Analytics so that way the numbers are more truthful (you accessing your website many times a day has not much to do with how well your website is doing.)

To become an Amazon Affiliate, a good number is of hits on your website is around 500/month (take the number under Users from your Google Analytics account). This should happen within a few months, depending on how fast you produce content and how popular that content is. So assuming you complete your Niche Website within about 3 months, you should be seeing that kind of traffic by then and be ready to have your Affiliate Links from Amazon. Of course, the amount of time can vary greatly depending on your niche. The 3 months assumes that your content is great and it is right?! Because you wouldn’t want to work on a website for that long with second-class content anyway, would you?

So now that you have your Affiliate Account, go back to your website and install the links to the products you already have in place (you could also add new ones!) Don’t forget that it won’t hurt to tell people that you are an Amazon Affiliate, but don’t do that until you are an Affiliate (obviously?)

Once you have one website that starts getting a few sales through you’ll be set forever. Other websites you create after that can immediately use your Amazon Affiliate Links since you were accepted as a good enough marketer and this is great news because that way (1) you won’t have to go back and change the links and (2) you won’t lose a potential sale while still building your website.

Could I accelerate the process?

If you have the money and can afford some ads on Facebook or Google AdWord, then you could create a page with a link and bet that you’ll get 3 sales quickly enough that way. Once you’ve got your three sales, you can stop your ad campaign and move on with your website. I’m not particularly hot on such an idea, though, because a one or two-page website is probably not going to cut it (i.e. people won’t be confident that your one page is worth anything and will probably not follow the link(s), or at least not that many will.) Also, keep in mind that someone at Amazon.com is going to come and check out your website at the time you got the third sale and if it looks like just one page, they may still shut down your account. They prefer their brand links on good websites with good content, obviously. You’ll have a little more freedom later on.

Now if you already have many pages but not yet the traffic, somehow (maybe you changed your domain name en route,) then this may be a viable option to kick-start the website.

Accelerating the Process with Massive Link Exchanges

The Internet has a large number of people who offer tools to quickly exchange links between websites. This is expected to build your backlinks and of course getting backlinks can certainly be viewed as a must have for any website owner.

Truth be told, there are two problems with such exchanges:

  1. The process is going to go through very quickly; Google will detect that and flag your site
  2. You end up on whatever website that joined the same Massive Link Exchange, including really bad websites from which you definitely don’t want a link because it’s more likely to be a negative for you…

Most if not all of the websites I’ve seen in a Link Exchange Program have so far been of bad quality to start with. Getting backlinks from such websites is not going to help you much if at all. Note that there may be some good quality Link Exchange system out there,  I’ve not seen one so far, though.

Note that a simple link exchange made once in a while, where you link to a page (that page often is their home page) of another website and they link back to your website is just fine. Getting as many of those is a great idea. In most cases I let backlinks build themselves—i.e. no wasting time looking for websites that would link back to my site.

Could I Create Another Site to Get Backlinks?

Absolutely, but you want to be careful. For example, I have websites that have a copyright notice on all the pages with a link back to my main website, Made to Order Software Corporation. These are links repeated on all pages and they definitely don’t use rel=”nofollow”. But they are very small and in the footer.

Now, if you create a new site which is water-thin (no real good content) just to get backlinks, chances are Google will quickly detect that and actually deindex your website entirely.

Also, if you get a new domain and create backlinks from that new domain, those are not considered Internal Links (even if you own both domains under the same personal or company name.) These are full-fledged links. I think it’s important for you to understand the difference because that means that new site is vouching for your old site. Now it won’t hurt you to do that as long as you do it naturally. That means having a page somewhere to talks about what appears on your old site and including a link is just fine. Create a link on every single page even though you talk about something else entirely on the new site is not welcome unless it is something in link with a copyright notice or something similar to a copyright notice.

Mistake #2: Losing Interest

In itself, losing interest in a Niche Website is not going to be a mistake per se. However, quite often you lose interest because your website does not start getting the number of hits you expected it to receive. That means you don’t see the money coming in. This can be frustrating, to say the least.

I have to hang in there. This is why I told you to choose a field that you love opposed to a field that you think you are interested in but you never really went on with it and you don’t find it that interesting. Your very first deal should be a love story to make sure you go to completion.

Remember that I said you wanted at least 30 articles of 2,000 or more words. This is not easy. It’s like writing a book of 60,000 words or more. My wife, who is a romance author writing under the name Philippa Lodge (click to find her books on Amazon.com), is able to write a novella in about 3 weeks. That’s 50,000 words. So don’t be too surprised if it takes you 2 months to complete your Niche Website. Remember that 30 pages of crap won’t do it. Those 2,000 words need to be good writing that will be of interest to your audience.

Other times you lose interest because you see something else that’s all shiny and beautiful. Maybe you received an email that sparked an incredible idea in your head and you want to get started on it immediately. Well… Make notes about the idea, write that in a file on your computer in a safe location (or use GoogleDocs or some similar place) and come back to it only once you are done with your first endeavor. You’ll thank me later for that! Once you have one website up and going and getting a lot of traffic, you start making money, you then can go on with another idea and again produce a website that generates money for you. If you stop midway on each website you create, they won’t generate any or very little money and you will lose faith. So stay focused until you reach completion.

Mistake #3: Spreading Yourself Out

It’s an excellent idea to sign up for multiple Internet Affiliate programs. This is likely to give you multiple streams of income. However, if you create one website and that one website warrants one Internet Affiliate program, then do not waste your time in signing up to all the others. It won’t help you get more money, to the contrary. You’re going to be buried under checking all your accounts with no income on the horizon so it will not feel good.

With just one Internet Affiliate program at the start, you are likely to start seeing clicks coming through without a month or two. Even just one or two clicks a week will make you feel way better than nothing at all because you are spending your time check all your accounts instead of writing a new article.

Writing article is work. You have to do your own research unless you’re already at the top of the subject. For example, I’m able to write these pages very quickly because I know most everything about Niche Websites and Internet Marketing, I still do some research because I want to make sure to cover the subject fully. As an example, on my previous page, Keeping Some Level of Security in Mind, I wrote about 90% of the page on my own. The other 10% are details that others speak about and I thought would also be important to mention on my page. If you are that good on your subject, it will go pretty fast. I can write one or two complete  pages per day (two is hard, though!)

At first, this website was expected to be about the Amazon Affiliate Program. So I wrote one page about it… Not enough for a complete website, right? So I decided to make it broader to help you especially in case you were interested to be an Internet Affiliate for any other program. There are literally thousands of programs out there. This doesn’t mean you should look around for programs until you are done with a website and are thinking about your next Niche Website.

Trust me, this is the one I’ve had the hardest time with. It’s not just having many affiliate accounts, it’s also having too many websites that I’d like to work on… Argh!

Mistake #4: Not Testing Your Website

Once you created a website, the worst you can do is not test that it works properly. As you build it, it is a bit of a waste, although fixing problems along the way is a good idea. For example, I fix my posts as soon as I notice that I forgot to put the – – – MORE – – – in them. Unfortunate that WordPress requires us to forcibly put that in our posts. I was used to Drupal doing it automatically. I did not want to install yet another plugin because ultimately, once all the posts have that delimiter, I would not need that plugin at all and more plugins means a slower website, which no one wants.

Other things you want to test are your links. All your links need to be working, especially your affiliate links because those are going to be the most important ones. That being said, any broken link is going to cost you. When I’m on a site and I click on a link that’s broken, I leave. It’s just too annoying. I think many people do that.

Finally, you want to look at your images and make sure they are as expected. Not too large not too small and not a broken link either. You want to place all your images in your WordPress Media Library. In other words, you want all those media to be coming from your website. This is important to make sure they don’t disappear under your feet over time. Also if people link to your images, it gives you juice, which I think is an added benefit! (and if you were to link to others pictures on their websites, you would be given them SEO juice…)

Mistake #5: Not Tracking Anything

I’m not so good at this one either. At times I track too much and at times I track nothing. It’s often when I track nothing that things start to work, strangely enough.

What I mean here is tracking how things are working for you. Amazon offers you to have one account, but in that account, you can have many different IDs. Those identifiers let you see what link people are clicking. Since Amazon forbids any kind of link cloaking, your only way to track what is happening is by using the Amazon IDs. That being said, if people purchase a given product from a given page, you probably will quickly know which link they are clicking.

Note that until you get hundreds of links, tracking what gets clicked is not going to help much in your work as an Internet Affiliate. It always amazes me when I hear people telling me I have to track everything when I have under 100 clicks a year on a website. How exactly could that possibly help me with anything?!

Anyway… so you are starting to see many sales go by for a certain product on your Niche Website? Promote it on all your pages. One of the best locations is at the top of the page because people are going to see that first. Put an image, one or two show lines of text if you think it can help a little, and link the image to the selling page. That way even more people are going to visit that one page and your sales will increase even more.

If you pay absolutely no attention to your websites, obviously you’re going to miss out on that one. Working blindly is not the best idea. But don’t sweat this part until you get consistent and consequent traffic. With under 10,000 hits a month on your site,  analytics won’t give you a real picture of what’s really going on.

Note that within one website, if you do not use multiple IDs, that’s quite understandable. However, when you create your second website, make sure to create a new ID for that new site. Then another ID for your third website. And another for the forth… Because that is definitely going to help you track which website is doing good and which one you could just sell off because you’re not able to monetize it.

Mistake #6: Making False Claims

When you write the content of a Niche Website, there are things that you end up writing that you know are true. Others, however, you may be less sure. To avoid ruining your credibility, you probably want to avoid talking about those things you don’t know for sure. It just may happen that this one reader knows better and will laugh at you in public (i.e. shaming you all over the Internet). It will then be difficult for you to get your credibility back.

Now, it happens. Everybody makes mistakes. Also, things change over time. An answer that is correct at one time (the Earth is Flat) may not be the correct answer later (the Earth is [probably] a Sphere.) If you’re lucky someone posts a comment pointing out your little mistake and you can correct it quickly.

Actually, don’t hesitate to mention your source(s) when you make a statement that could be controversial. That way people who have a doubt can verify and see that others, not just you, agree on that point.

Note that in that regard, making false claims in advertising (if you were to use that method to bring more viewers to your Niche Website) can cost you as buyers can sue you in court for such. For your Niche Website, you probably can get away with the This is My Opinion claim, but not in advertising.

Mistake #7: Paying No Attention to Security

When you get started, it is very easy to get overwhelmed by the staggering number of things you have to do to get your website going. So adding Security on top of that… maybe I’ll take care of that later.

Well… I strongly suggest that you install the All in One WP Security plugin and consider having a backup solution. Some hosting services, such as BlueHost (for which I’m an affiliate, btw) offer a backup solution integrated into your plan. So that’s easy. If you don’t use Bluehost (you probably should, they’re great for that sort of service!) then install a plugin and do backups periodically.

For more information about security, I wrote this page Keeping Some Level of Security in Mind, which I think you will find useful.

The big problem if you skip on this step? You could lose all your work. That’s nothing something you want to happen to you. Having to start from scratch is not much fun, especially if you were making good money with your now gone Niche Website. Having a backup will allow you to restore everything in a day or two and get back on track quickly.

Mistake #8: Just Talking About One Product

When you do a review, if you only talk about one single product, it will sound biased. Possibly even very biased. Obviously, if that’s the only product you ever tested and you absolutely love it, it may make sense. Still… by comparing, giving arguments for why you think your product is better than this or that other product (and you can have links for all of them) will push your visitors to better accept your position.

However, the real reason for giving your audience a choice is to see which products work best. If it is not the main product you made a review for, it may be time for a new review with that other product as the main one on that new page or at least move the link further up on the page because many people do not finish reading a page, but they are likely to follow an early on link. After all, a good salesman will want to sell what sells best and not just obscure items that nearly no one wants. (That’s the difference between Harry Potter and my wife’s romance books.)

Mistake #9: Marking Your Websites as Under Construction

This actually applies to any website. If your site needs functionality and it’s not ready, don’t make it public. Period.

If your website is already public and an Affiliate Website using a system such as WordPress can be public from day one, then never put anything in the website that would make it look like it’s under construction. There are several reasons for this.

First  of all, your visitors are not likely to come back if it says under construction. After all, clicking any link may send them to the wrong place.

Second, I’ve seen some people who think they will remember to remove the Under Construction signs. Not only this is dangerous as in point one, but you’re more likely to miss some of your Under Construction entries and thus still tell people that you’re not finished with your website when it is perfectly good as it stands.

Third, you are going to be working on your website until it’s finished in such a small time frame that by the time you are done you still did not get that many visitors. So the fact that it wasn’t 100% finished for your first 100 or  so visitors is really not a big deal. Your pages are likely to continue to grow as well. Especially if you have a website where you talk about something that you like to talk about.

Just trust me on that one. Don’t get the idea that having a “Under Construction” sign on your site will help in one way or another. In most cases, it’s detrimental. So don’t do it. I say that because we still see a ton of such icons/pictures in search engines and to me it looks like new such signs are being created daily.

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