Is Affiliate Marketing Hard?

We’ve all read the sales pages claiming that all we affiliate marketers have to do is churn out some sort of online content each day and we’ll get rich. Plus, we can do it in our pajamas for just a few hours a day, leaving us endless free time to enjoy life.

Heck, those pages say it’s so easy a two-year-old can do it, don’t they?

So, with that in mind, why do so many claim that affiliate marketing is hard? What makes it so difficult?


If we take the over-hyped sales pages out of the equation and bring this back to reality, most of us know that starting any new business requires much more than just showing up for a few hours and doing a couple tasks to be successful.

On the other hand, when we work for someone else to help build their business, many times just showing up is enough to get that weekly check.

Adopting The Business-Owner Mindset

There isn’t a risk when you work for someone else. Well, wait, there is one risk — the risk of losing that job. But, the overall success of that business is not on the shoulders of the employees, is it?

With affiliate marketing, our bank balance depends on the results of our actions each day. Just showing up is not enough — it is all on our shoulders.

I talk a lot about mindset. Not really from a “think it and you will achieve it” mindset, but more from an employee-mindset vs. a business-owner mindset.

So many of us are raised to get a good job and enjoy the security from someone else deciding what we’re worth each week via the number on our paycheck.

That feels safe and easy in a way, doesn’t it? Show up, get paid. Do well, get a raise.

Overcoming The Employee Mentality We Were Brought Up To Expect

But, how many of us were raised to get out there, start a business, and be 100% accountable for the bottom line?

I can tell you that I sure wasn’t raised that way. The idea of doing something so risky… so crazy… was not even a consideration.

That is why I personally found affiliate marketing to be difficult – the mindset shift. Getting things straight in my mind was very challenging for me, especially when I first started out.

Well-meaning friends and family would ask things like, “You’ve been doing this online thing for a weeks now, so why can’t you pay your bills with it yet?”


When you are stuck in employee-mindset mode, those types of questions are horrible and defeating… and it’s hard to handle that. Those questions lead to feelings of (dare I say it)  failure and are very de-motivational. In fact, I know plenty of people who have quit affiliate marketing because they were not living up to the expectations of those around them who spoke from an employee-mindset.

Once I started reading and learning from those that lived outside the employee-mindset, things got tremendously easier for me. Sure, the learning curve is challenging and the changes online fly at me each day at an amazing rate, but that is not the hard part.

The hard part, for me, was learning to change my mindset to accept that this is what it’s like to be a business owner. That change in mindset was freeing… empowering even… and things suddenly became much easier.

What do you find to be the most difficult thing about affiliate marketing? What changes did you make to overcome it? Share in the comments below.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Affiliate Marketing | Affiliate Marketing Column | Channel: Content Marketing


About The Author: aka "PotPieGirl" is most known as an affiliate marketer who went from zero to six-figures a year starting with all free methods (like she teaches at


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  • Alek Sander Solomonyuk

    Great article, Jen! I have been doing affiliate marketing since 2007 and I still find it difficult to put in enough effort and time. Sometimes I am motivated, sometimes I’m not.
    I think the motivation to be consistent matters a lot. If you get fed up of writing articles, do some research. Make a new video. Create a new website. Guest-blog on Marketingland ;)

  • Discover Auctions

    Hi Jennifer,
    You have definitely hit on the points that usually make someone quit shortly after they get started.

    The hardest point when starting out is getting friends and family to believe in what you are doing. To overcome this issue, try doing your work when they aren’t around in your space. It is like the saying “out of sight, out of mind”.

    Getting traffic to your site is an incredible obstacle. Especially when your coach tells you to start with friends and family. At this point go back and re-read the previous paragraph. When friends and family think you have lost your mind doing affiliate marketing, these are the last people you are going to start out with on your list of potential clients/customers.

    Lastly, anyone that tells you that you will be an overnight success is the last program you want to consider signing up for. It takes a long time to be found and a lot of hard work. As you stated Jennifer, you must have the mindset for it and believe in what you are doing. You have to be ready for the “long haul” or don’t even bother starting.

  • Harsh Bawa

    “There isn’t a risk when you work for someone else. Well, wait, there is one risk — the risk of losing that job”. This line sums it all.

    We cannot be certain if we will surely earn money as opposed to a traditional 9 to 5 job which comes with atleast a guaranteed pay package.

    Most people lack the motivation and courage to try and become self entrepreneur and of course, there are various factors associated with it.
    Apart from this, there are thousands of affiliate programs all over the world and it is very difficult to understand which product to promote unless you really know about keyword research.

    The change in mindset that you were referring to is something which doesn’t happen overnight but with willpower and dedication, one can change that mindset and free himself from the negative mindset.

  • Alex Cheriyan

    I fully agree with you Alek. Maintaining that passion is difficult and It should be more of a hobby that a money-making-quest.

    Let me share my experience here you. T

    I created a website. Nowadays this is not tough nor expensive. I went to hostgator and signed up for their hosting (someone gave me a coupon code HGSAVE25TO50.. so saved a bit there).

    Then I signed up with clickbanks,amazon and flipkart affiliate programs and started promoting their products. Believe me initial 1 to 2 months I got no commission. I thought this is crap. Suddenly I noticed slight improvement and small (SMAAAAAAALL) amounts flowing in. Now I have a steady earning. Wont say I can buy a villa with that.. But I am getting a decent income and this is my part time job now :) I have 14 websites now with reasonable traffic and I earn more than I earn with my regular job. For me this was more of a passion than a job. I still enjoy doing it.

    An enlightened affiliate :)

  • Alex Cheriyan

    Yeah forgot to add one more thing. Adsense was a pathetic disappointment for me during the first 17 months after which it started paying off. So wait a little ( I know for u it is 6 years now… may be a little more). Let the traffic accrue, that is when you gain from it


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