Confessions of An Affiliate Flop

confessions of an affiliate flop

Hi, my name is Caroline and I am an affiliate flop.

It feels so good to write that out and let it be known that I have failed in 99% of the affiliate programs that I have signed up for on my personal site and I was even rejected by Amazon. Yep. I’ll talk more about that in a minute.

Some of you may be asking the question that I know I asked myself at first, “What is an affiliate program?”

An affiliate program is an agreement between you & the product owner that pays you a commission when people buy that product having found that product on your blog.

If you are an avid blog reader, I’m sure you have seen your favorite bloggers mention at the bottom of their post with a little * or within quotes stating “this post contains affiliate links, thank you for supporting _____”.  My curiosity took over and I started reading all I could about affiliate programs. At this point {and still today} selling ads on my blog wasn’t an option because, well, I’m nowhere close to offering that on my blog, but signing up for an affiliate program where I could earn a few $ here and there seemed like such a great idea.

After some research, I decided to give it a try. I found some affiliate programs that I was interested in and signed up. From digital photography e-books to iPhone e-books to camera bags to clothing to Amazon. In the past 3 years, I’ve tried at least 10.

Only one of those turned into being a tiny bit successful.

I even failed at being an Amazon Associate. I was so excited earlier this year when becoming an Amazon Associate finally became available in Illinois. I immediately signed up & added widgets to my sidebar highlighting some of my favorite products & books on Amazon. I even added some affiliate links in a few of my posts. Did you know there’s a 90 day trial period with Amazon Associates? If you do not generate a referral in 90 days, your account will be rejected. The email actually says “We are writing to notify you that your Associates Program application has been rejected.” Rejected.

I thought I was following all the right “rules”.

So, why am I here to share my affiliate flop & rejection? To encourage you – especially those of you that are like me and do not have a large audience of readers.

I want to encourage you that it is ok to try a few different affiliate programs until you find one that works for you & fits your blog. I also want to encourage you that it is ok to flop.

Lessons You Can Learn from an Affiliate Flop:

1. Research. My go to resources on this topic: Amy Lynn Andrews & Darren Rowse. {Click their names & the links will take you to their series on affiliate opportunities. Really, the possibilities are endless for you & they have done a ton of research for you on how to get started}.

2. Do not sign up for an affiliate marketing campaign for personal reasons. If I’m 100% honest, I was looking out for personal gain. “If someone clicks on my affiliate link & makes a purchase maybe I’ll have enough money to get ______.” My focus should have been their incredible product, not my personal gain.

3. Do not be discouraged if it flops. Send me an email & we’ll share our flop stories & if you get rejected by Amazon then we’ll be instant friends.

4. Know your audience. Find out what your readers are interested in hearing you talk about. This is another reason my affiliate programs flopped. I loved the products & assumed my readers would love them as well.  But, it was all about me {see #2 again}.

5. Find a mentor. I value the opinion of those who have cleared the trail of ahead of me in the blogging community. I asked a few of them to share with me their thoughts on affiliate programs:

Commit to a strategy and see it through. My best performing affiliate posts are gift list posts with all affiliate links and best wardrobe pieces for particular stores. But, with both of those I have to make sure they are well promoted. I spend lots of time making the post beautiful, convincing, and then finish it well by making sure there are enough eyeballs on it.
Hayley Morgan

I believe there’s value in just hearing about a site, clicking over, seeing a ware used in a creative way. They say you have to see something 7 or 8 times before it resonates… So for me, affiliates can feel like free advertising.
Myquillyn Smith

Last week, Denise encouraged us, “The great thing about blogging is the fact that there isn’t one correct way to do things.”  The same applies to affiliate programs. Figure out what works best for you & your blog audience and go from there.

What about you, have you had success with affiliate programs? If so, would you care to share with us a few of your tips? Or are you an affiliate flop like me that could use a little encouragement?

  • Denedriane Dean

    Thank you Caroline for your candidness and this valuable information!

    • caroline teselle

      you’re welcome! {and p.s. your name is lovely!}

      • Denedriane Dean

        Why, thank you 😀

  • Martha Brady

    thanks caroline. i’m glad to hear i’m not the only one who hasn’t succeeded at this “easy” way to add income. for some reason, my readers don’t click…anything! they don’t buy from my links either! obviously i did something wrong somewhere! just don’t know what.

    it still doesn’t help me figure out a way to supplement my retirement income. i’ll just keep writing, learn how to do it better and figure out something!

    • caroline teselle

      just keep writing…that’s the key. have you done a reader survey? one of the questions could be about what products they may be interested in hearing you talk about?

  • Melanie @ Carmel Moments

    Great insight Caroline! I have had a little success in some areas but not in others. What a learning process for sure!
    Thanks for sharing!

    • caroline teselle

      it really is a learning process! glad we have a platform here at Allume to encourage each other.

  • Beth

    Hey Caroline. I too, was rejected by Amazon so it’s good to know I’m not alone. I admire your courage in telling your story. I was so embarrassed when it happened to me – it almost felt like a slap in the face! After that, I decided worrying and fretting over becoming a successful affiliate blogger was a detraction and a distraction – it wasn’t the purpose for what God had called me to begin my blog in the first place. Now, if I recommend a product, I include NO affiliate links and I am sure to let my small audience know I am not being compensated in any way but simply sharing a product I love with them. As (if) my blog grows, I may try the affiliate thing again, but for now, I have much more peace with this approach. Thank you again for sharing your experience.

    • caroline teselle

      amazon rejects unite! {fist bump!} :) i think your process is great and I have basically done the same as you, recommend the product because I love it.