4 Disadvantages Affiliate Marketing Newcomers Need to Know About

4 Disadvantages Affiliate Marketing Newcomers Need to Know About

Hello there again to all my sea changing friends. Today I want to take you to the dark side of affiliate marketing with 4 disadvantages affiliate marketing newcomers need to know about. The reason for this is quite simple – I am trying to “steer you into the skid” in regards to some of the information and realities that are out there in this big wide world we call the internet. Why? Well I have been doing quite a lot of research lately in an attempt to find good online money making methods that may assist you in funding that sea change and all I seem to be finding is scam site after scam site.

And as I start to look through these sites I am finding that they are so good at outlining the disadvantages that I will list below only to throw some get-rich-quick gimmick at you that they say can get you around these quickly so you can start making $1000s per day from the very first day – once you sign up and pay them some money of course. Those of you who have been reading some of my posts will know that I have always said that building a successful online business take time and work – the trouble is, if we are trying this and coming across these issues that we will discuss below, then the scammers of the online world may seem just that little more attractive.

So, sit back, take a load off and let’s have a frank discussion about these disadvantages and see if there are some things we can do to alleviate them in an effective and scam free manner…

1. Success takes time

I have said it before and I will say it again. the establishment of a successful – and by successful I mean making enough money for it to make a difference in your life – online affiliate marketing business can take years to achieve. I have included this as a disadvantage however in reality it is not really any different to most bricks and mortar startups. And like those businesses, you need discipline and hard consistent work as you work through the pitfalls of website development, SEO and everything else that goes with it.

Disadvantages Affiliate Marketing - time

The scam sites are on to this disadvantage also and will attempt to sway you with promises of making money immediately without the need to do the hard work I mentioned above. The thing here is that if these programs were so successful, do you think people like me would be telling you to avoid them? No way!!! We would be riding that train all the way to money town…

So whilst it is technically a disadvantage, it is a reality in any business.

How to combat the time factor

The trick to beating this is consistency and with some work there are some things that you can do to move things along a little faster. These include:

  1. Put more hours in – the more your produce, the faster things will move along – see Tip below.
  2. Get training – if you are unsure of how to do things, or want to make sure you are on the right track and not wasting time then always be seeking extra training and tuition – in the short term obviously it will take you away from step 1 above, but it will pay off in the long run. Oh, and for those of you without spare cash to throw around, plenty of this training is totally free.
  3. Outsource – if you can afford it, outsourcing is a great way to get things really moving. Stick to what you are good at and outsource the things that hold you up or take the most of your time.

Tip – We all know that life gets in the way, especially if you are also trying to hold down a full time job and run a family at the same time. On the busy days try and do just one thing on your site – no matter how small. You will be amazed at how much you can progress by doing at least one thing on your site every day.

2. No control over affiliate programs

This is a definite disadvantage of affiliate marketing in that you really have no control over what the vendor/program managers can do. It is frustrating as all you are trying to do is help them sell more product, however from their side of the fence there are considerations they need to consider such as:

  • Their own cash flow
  • High and under performing products
  • Brand protection
  • Company logistics such as customer service and shipping

Below are some of the things that affiliate programs of vendors can throw at us:

  • Not paying commissions – This is obviously the biggest disadvantage as that is what we are here for after all. However, affiliate program managers can at times simply not pay the commissions to their marketers as promised. There are a number of reasons for this with the main ones being cash flow issues, a change of company ownership or simply going out of business. Regardless, this can be a major issue for us especially for newer sites where sales are still slow.
  • Discontinue product lines – Oh the annoyance. You take the time to write a nice long post providing all the solutions in the world and then the product that you recommend to solve the conundrum of the reader is taken “off the shelf”. Unfortunately you will need to find new products. I run a broken link checker on my site at least once a week to see if any product links fail – which can be a sign of a discontinued product. This process can also assist you in finding when vendors change their product links too – they don’t do this very often, but it does happen
  • Raise/drop prices – Prices differences can have a huge effect on your ability to make sales – especially of you have made a recommendation based on the low price of a product or the value in paying more for another. Not usually as big an issue as when the product is discontinued but something to keep an eye on just the same.
  • Changes to commission structure – Changes to commission structures (rates, tiers etc.) can really drive an affiliate marketer to question why they are doing it. These changes, often made for the same reasons as when the vendor simply doesn’t pay can also affect the worth of a product to a website – especially if it is one of the main programs that it uses. Most companies will send information when commission structures are changing but not always. Diarise to check this at least monthly.
Disadvantages Affiliate Marketing - stripe

How to combat affiliate program changes

Unfortunately you do need to accept that you really have no control over this – the trick is to just make sure that you are constantly checking and updating as often as possible – there are however some things that you can do to reduce the inconvenience here. These include:

  1. Diversify your programs – i.e. don’t put all of your affiliate eggs in the one basket. Set yourself up with a number of programs and monitor them closely. That way if one drops, you can substitute a similar product from another program quickly and easily
  2. Stick to the bigger programs – If your site is relatively new then the bigger programs (Amazon, CJ Affiliate, ShareASale etc.) will give you more certainty around the payment of commissions. They commission rates are generally a little lower however they will generally pay up and if not, notify you in advance of any of their vendors who are a little shakey. They are also good if a product goes off the market as their size means that others will be easier to find.
  3. Check often – It is much easier to fix a few posts than a lot so check your affiliate products and programs often to stay ahead of any changes that might be in the wind.
  4. Take advantage of cheaper prices – promote them as ‘sales’ on your website or to your email list.

Tip – As I said earlier, one good way to check any changes to products is to run a broken link checker on your website. That way, any product links that have changed due to removal or change will show as broken allowing you to identify and replace way faster than you would if you simply trawled through your posts manually checking each link.

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3. There is a LOT of competition

Another disadvantage that the get-rich-quickers like to target is the fact that in some niches and affiliate programs can be subject to a lot of competition. This is mainly because there are almost no financial barriers to setting up an affiliate marketing website – you really only need to find somewhere to host your site and the rest you can generally find for free. This is obviously an advantage to those with little cash reserves looking to start a new business however it is also a disadvantage with so many newcomers to the market.

Now, as you start to look through what competition you have, you may start to get disheartened which is again where the scammers will zoom in telling you how they can beat the competition to get you immediate traffic and sales. Again, they are usually inaccurate in their promises and generally do this by stealing the work of others. Luckily for us, there are some things we can do to beat the competition in a more ethical manner…

Disadvantages Affiliate Marketing - marathon

How to beat your competition

Did you know that over 90% percent of websites that are created under an affiliate marketing banner are likely to be abandoned within the first 3 months of operation. This means that by simply sticking with it as we discussed earlier you will be ahead of the game immediately. Other things you can do include:

  1. Be clear on your niche – Take the time to be really clear on your niche and how you plan to stand out from the crowd. Think about how you can differentiate yourself from others which can be done via different products, an area of expertise and value adds to the post etc.
  2. Always be solving problems – most people undertake searches online so that they can solve a problem. If your competition are focused on sales and not actually solving a problem (which is why most scam sites are short-lived), then you will gain a greater following if you are doing so.
  3. Work with your keywords – ensure that you are using the best possible keywords within your posts to give yourself a greater chance to attracting visitors via their online searches.

Tip – You can actually learn a lot from your competition as well. Look into their sites and see what they are writing about, who they are targeting and what sort of products they are promoting. If they are successful, why not take a leaf out their book for the basics and then work out where they are falling short and fill that gap as well!

4. Affiliate marketing has a bad reputation

You can blame the scammers for this one! Affiliate marketing has a bit of a reputation out there as being a place for the greedy and unethical and unfortunately the behaviours of some within this industry do little to alleviate that problem. Many will promote anything and everything to make an affiliate dollar. Even worse is that when the next new product that can “make you $10000 within 2 seconds of signing up” is released, they also promote huge prizes and bonuses to the affiliate marketers who make the most referrals. This pushes many do so without any care in the world that the product they are promoting is a rip-off or simply just does not work.

On the other side of the fence, one of the most common methods of purchase online is via affiliate marketing websites. Even the biggest corporations in the world include affiliate links of some type ( usually advertising links) on their sites as a means of generating a little extra monetisation to them. Below are some ways that we can separate ourselves from the sharks…

Disadvantages Affiliate Marketing - bad apple

How to avoid the bad rap

We have essentially covered the requirements here in our previous three disadvantages but the main one – as always – is to ensure that you are solving problems.

You need to write your posts and solve a problem for the reader even if they don’t purchase from you !

They should be able to get the solution they need from you without the need to click on any affiliate link – that is the way you build trust and increase popularity which leads directly to higher traffic and more sales down the track.

Tip – One of the best ways to show that your site is on the up and up is to be present within it. Interact with your readers as much as possible and show them that you are a real person. Respond to comments, be active on social media and maybe shoot a few videos (which will also help with SEO). Let your readers see that there is a real person behind the site who is doing everything they can to solve their problems


So there you have it… 4 disadvantages of affiliate marketing. There are ways to combat them for sure and at the end of the day, if you are ethical in your writings, provide good solid value and real solutions to real problems then you will go a long way to being successful – as long as you stick at it.

I hope this has been helpful and as usual, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, need some advice or have any experiences to share.

Do you want further assistance with any of the above or need help to build your own affiliate marketing website?

Are you looking for a comprehensive training platform that can give you step by step training, 24/7 support, tools to ethically develop and host your very own website, ongoing assistance with SEO and social media and access to some of the best affiliate marketing minds on the planet, then click on the following link to read more about Wealthy Affiliate.

Until next time

Have fun


Note: If you make a purchase from this page, there is a very good chance that I make a commission from it – these commissions do not increase your sale price.

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Hey there, my name is Paul and I am the owner and founder of Make That Sea Change.  I spent 30 years in a cubicle working the 9 to 5 grind and just wanted to live at the beach.  I was lucky enough to achieve that with the help of my wife and our new Pilates studio.

Then I decided to help fund my new sea change with some affiliate marketing.  I joined Wealthy Affiliate, and as they say, the rest is history.

Let me know how I can help you fund your sea change today!

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11 thoughts on “4 Disadvantages Affiliate Marketing Newcomers Need to Know About”

  1. I really enjoyed your article as a newbie I am still trying to figure out affiliate marketing. I was not aware of the broken link extension so I have just downloaded that. I will definitely be following you and would like some more tips. Thanks so much.I am with max bounty I think I  need to sign up share a sale and the other one it seems most are more successful there.

  2. Hi Paul,

    You couldn’t have said it better!

    There is a lot of focus and rush on making money straight away when people think of affiliate marketing!

    However, as you’ve have outlined is does take time and consistency to build your own successful online business. 

    Rome wasn’t built in a day as the saying goes.

    When getting into affiliate marketing people need to understand that there are hurdles and learning curves but with persistence they will eventually get there…it just take time!

    Each point you have laid out is completely valid and ‘the real life of affiliate marketing’. 

    Great post, thank you!

  3. Thanks so much for this beautiful article on the disadvantages of affiliate marketing. I’ve never seen anybody write such a piece on affiliate marketing and I’m glad I got to know about the disadvantages of affiliate marketing so I know what I’m getting myself into. Learning that it takes time a lot has helped to prepare my mentality not to expect huge success in the first 2years and to keep my work ethics at high grade. I am grateful for this post. Thanks

  4. Hi Paul,

    Love the site content getting into the nuts and bolts, no bars hold!!

    I also checked a few affiliated sites before coming across WA and found the only thing that really interested the others was the money, they wanted payment up front without letting you know what you were actually buying.

    At least with the Wealthy Affiliate they gave me an in site before parting with any $$$, I am working through the program they have offered and its giving me an edge at a fraction of the price of other affiliated programs I looked into!!

    and reading your site has given me more informed advantages, and hopefully the disadvantages that i will avoid for now.

    Again thanks for the info


    • Hey Jan, yes there are so many affiliates out there who will just promote anything without any real problem solving or value.  I guess though people still buy them so they still promote them ( i suspect that many of their sales are from people like me who buy them to review but anyway).

      Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for stopping by


  5. Hello Watson,

    That’s a very informative post- especially for affiliate marketing beginners ike me. 

    I like your caution that it takes time for real success to happen in a real business world. Of course, there are those one off occurrences where things are different but that’s rare. I realized from your post that I’ve not been maximizing on time. I usually struggle with doing videos, HTML ads, etc and yet outsourcing would be an easier option. I think it is high time I capitalized on my strengths and for me to be able to grow consistently. 

    You have mentioned a broken link checker- I never knew such tools exist but now I’ll ensure to be utilizing this.


    Boniface- AndroidBix

  6. Thanks for this Disadvantages Affiliate Marketing post. This is really eye opening article which helps newcomer like me to be more aware of some important things in the online marketing,from selecting right niche,keywords and products to check out own competition and product links and prices as well. what a shame for affiliates in the case of writing quality product review post and get published it with the hope that getting some little commission,but in reality there would not be the actual product in the marketplace.The looser here obviously would be the affiliate marketer who had done a great job to provide honest review to the customers a long the way.
    You’ve mentioned to the most important thing about out-dated products and what the link checker does for marketer to be aware of broken links. In my opinion this is a really crucial stuff and it’s really great strategy for affiliate marketer to being able to avoid offering unavailable products to the online buyers. On top of all these aspects, the idea of trying to solve the problem for internet users and not just try to push them to purchase something is the most important manner and attitude in the Online Marketing.

    Best Wishes


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