A comprehensive guide on the do’s and don’ts of affiliate marketing for beginners

A comprehensive guide on the do's and don'ts of affiliate marketing for beginners - go big with affiliate marketing

Are you in the research face of getting started with affiliate marketing? Do you want to know the do’s and don’ts of affiliate marketing? Then, I don’t want you to miss this post!

Why? Because you are going to learn extensively about the do’s and don’ts of affiliate marketing, when you flop as an affiliate marketer, and How to not get into the immediate success trap as a beginner.

So, buckle up! We’re gonna get started. Are you ready?

The do’s of affiliate marketing:

Let’s start with the do’s of affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is a great strategy to create passive income stream as a beginner blogger. But here’s the thing. When you do it authentically, it may turn into your fulltime income.

Keep these do’s in mind when you are getting started with affiliate marketing.

Do like the product/service you are promoting:

This is crucial. Promote products that you use, love, and trust.

Do your research. Don’t promote a product based on your assumptions. It’s the worst thing you can do to lose the trust of your audience.

Also, you don’t want to be getting gut-wrenching messages from your followers stating that the product/service is of poor quality, and they had a bad experience with the thing you’ve recommended.

How do you avoid that? Spend time researching the product/service. Look through the reviews and check its reputation. Ask other bloggers for their opinion about it and see if they recommend wholeheartedly.

Do promote products that are relevant to your audience:

It’s true. You have to promote products that are relevant to your audience.

But as a beginner affiliate marketer, you may be tempted to promote products that pay a higher commission, yet they are irrelevant to your audience’s needs. Please don’t do that!

If you follow this route, your reputation will be significantly tarnished. Over time, your audience will find out that you are only in it for the money.

So, ask these questions whenever you choose a product to promote to your audience.

  • Is it going to provide value for my audience?
  • Is it a worthy investment?
  • Is it going to solve my audience’s problems?
  • Can I recommend this to my friends and family without having to convince them?

The final question is for your inner self. If you can answer this with an authentic yes, you can be sure that you are in the right path.

You can use the first three questions for validating purposes, and the last question to confirm your decision.

Do track your progress and results:

In the beginning, you don’t have anything to track. Your progress and growth will be slow. Affiliate marketing isn’t a do it once and forget about it kind of business.

You need to track your progress and results even if its small, to determine where you are in your business. When you track your results, you’ll find out what’s working and what isn’t. this will aid you to adjust your approach to achieve significant success.

Read more: 8 important metrics you need to track as a beginner affiliate marketer.

Do create quality content that directly speaks to your audience:

What’s the one thing that the majority of successful affiliate marketers have in common? Yes, you are right! they all create quality content that directly speaks to their audience.

They also have a steady traffic of people (loyal fan base) who visit their site regularly. The reason for this is those affiliate marketers continue to create quality and compelling content that there audience can’t have enough of.

Can you see the value of creating quality content? It is always good to produce highly valuable and engaging content for your visitors, no matter which medium you use.

This will actually indicate these things to your audience.

  • They’ll start trusting you as a reliable source for accurate information.
  • If you continue to do it, then after some time, your followers will consider buying from you, whether through an affiliate link or your own products.
  • The level of trust increased with your audience will let you promote products easily.

Pro tip: if you want to succeed in affiliate marketing as a content creator, especially when you promote products related to your audience, explain its benefits first.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about the features. Of course you need to, but what most people does is to only talk about the features and totally forget about its benefits.

Usually, your audience have a second chance to see the features of a product when they land on a merchant’s page. But you have only one chance to make a good impression with them. Although it’s very limited, you can still use that one chance to your advantage.

So, from here on, whatever form of content you create to promote a product, explain the benefits in detail and provide its features as a list.

Your audience will surely love you for that!

I learnt this pro tip from pat Flynn of smart passive income. So, THANK YOU SO MUCH PAT!

Do place your affiliate links strategically:

As an affiliate marketer, you need to place your affiliate links strategically in your content. this may sound as an obvious tip, but consider this.

How many times you’ve visited a blog post that specifically talks about a product and portrays a clear picture of what it feels to have it with you? May be you come across such posts frequently. But some of them lack in one area.

Can you guess that? Yes. You are right, not placing affiliate links strategically!

Let’s consider an example.

You read a review post for a skincare product. Sure, the name of the product is mentioned throughout the article, but the product name isn’t hyperlinked with an affiliate link. instead, you have to scroll all the way up/down to find a clickable link. By not placing affiliate links strategically, do you think what is this blogger losing? The answer is, of course affiliate commission!

The sad truth is beginner affiliate marketers are gonna be the most affected. So, what’s the solution for this?

You have to always make it easy for your readers to navigate to a product  via your affiliate link. There are some benefits attached to it.

  1. You’ll be able to refer more people to a brand, and you can potentially earn more commission.
  2. Your readers will thank you for recommending a good product.

Pro tip: use relevant keywords throughout your content and hyperlink it with your affiliate link. This will give you a higher chance of your potential customer clicking through, and hopefully, purchasing the product.

Do be patient, please:

If you are getting started with affiliate marketing, you won’t find instant success. Affiliate commissions aren’t going to come thundering in and you won’t become an overnight internet sensation.

It would take at least six months before you see some valuable traction towards your site. In the beginning, you need to learn various aspects of affiliate marketing, test out different promotion methods for your content and affiliate links to find what’s working and what isn’t, to identify the right places to promote your content and your affiliate links, and so on.

These are invariably going to take time. You need to conduct a lot of tests as a beginner affiliate marketer. There is so much work involved in the early stages.

I am sharing this not to scare you, but to prepare you for greater success in the future. When you give your 100 % in the beginning, you’ll surely reap rewards later!

Do be honest with your readers:

When you promote a product or a service, be honest with your readers. They know that no product/service  is perfect. Raving about it and saying only the positive things makes your readers question your recommendation.

They may think that you are trying to give an ingenuine account of a product/service and you are more concerned about making a sale and pocketing the affiliate commission, rather than giving your honest opinion and the exact information needed to decide on whether or not they want to make a purchase.

Ask this question before you recommend anything to your readers. Can you able to provide honest information about a product or a service? If the answer is no, don’t recommend.

Instead of giving a glowing account of a particular product, talk about it as if you talk to a closest member in your family. How do you explain the product? What do you like and don’t like about it? how do you feel when using it? what are the benefits? What can be improved? When did you use it? who do you think it’s good for?

If you do it this way, it won’t sound like a promotion. At the end of the day, you shouldn’t promote anything that you don’t like, or doesn’t feel good to you. You express your honest opinion about a product and leave the purchasing decision to your readers.

Do know your market when choosing an affiliate program:

This is critical. If you don’t know or if you don’t find your market, you’ll be at a complete loss when it comes time to apply for affiliate programs/networks.

Understanding your audience is key in choosing the right affiliate program that benefits both you and your readers. Choosing the right niche will help you to determine what market you are going to serve as an affiliate marketer.

If you know your market and understand your audience’s problems, then you’ll be able to easily figure out what is and what isn’t a good fit. When you choose affiliate programs that are not suited to your audience, you won’t experience a high amount of sales.

Why? Because those products/services doesn’t resonate with your audience’s wants and needs, and they ultimately won’t show much interest in buying an irrelevant product. What’s more worse is that they will stop coming back to your site due to the fact that your recommendations are poorly suited to their needs.

So, what you can do to avoid this? As a beginner affiliate marketer, select two or three market focused programs/networks and grow from there. The more you hone in on your ideal reader’s needs and wants, the better chances of you getting that much desired affiliate commission.

Do understand the basics of affiliate marketing:

Don’t get into affiliate marketing without understanding its basics.

Ask these questions before stepping into the landscape of affiliate marketing.

Do you have a clear introduction to affiliate marketing? Do you know your market? Do you have a defined niche? Do you know what works and what doesn’t work? Do you know what are the things you need to become a successful affiliate marketer? Do you have the right mindset? What’s your situation when starting out in affiliate marketing?

When you answer these questions honestly, you’ll have a much better beginning in affiliate marketing than most bloggers.

Do accept that you are a beginner:

I am going to dedicate this section specially towards having the right mindset as a beginner affiliate marketer. I truly believe that when you have the right mindset with the practical wisdom, you’ll reach success soon.

There is no silver bullet to becoming successful in affiliate marketing. In the early days, work hard and learn things as you go along. You have to remember this one thing.

Every successful site, brand, and person started at 0. They have achieved prominence only due to their hard work. Have strategies in place for everything you do related to affiliate marketing.

You’ll make mistakes, and that’s ok. Even experienced affiliate marketers make mistakes. Accept, own up to your mistakes, and move on. You’ll definitely succeed!

Don’ts of affiliate marketing:

Now, let’s understand the don’ts of affiliate marketing.

So many bloggers begin their blogging journey with affiliate marketing. They will give it a try for some time, and they lose the spark to continue to do the necessary work because they didn’t see immediate results.

What they failed to notice is that they may have been doing one of these things, which will surely give poor results from the very beginning.

So, read these don’ts carefully and please never repeat them!

Don’t overdo banner ads and pop-ups:

I hate it. when I am trying to read a post and the advertisements keep interfering, limiting my ability to scroll past it. Nothing more frustrating to your regular site visitors than a bunch of ads popping up suddenly when they are trying to read your posts.

So, keep your banner ads and pop-ups to a minimum, otherwise your visitors will feel irritated and start reading your competitor’s site instead of yours.

Don’t be a spammy affiliate marketer:

Do you want to get a steady flow of traffic returning to your site? Then don’t be a spammy affiliate marketer! And don’t post spammy content in your site.

I know what you are thinking, I’ll never be a spammy affiliate marketer, and I’ll keep my site clean! But you need to understand that there are several types of content that are considered spammy apart from make money fast kind of writing.

Any content that isn’t related to your audience or your audience didn’t expect from you can all be considered unwanted/spammy. Write relevant content that relates to your audience.

If you are a gardening blogger, then promote content that is relevant to your niche like review of garden hose, lawn mowers and so on. The moment you start talking about an irrelevant topic such as the latest tech device, that’s the precise moment your audience begin to see you as spam.

When a site is spammy, it usually gets a lot of traffic with poor conversion rates. In that situation, nobody wins.

Don’t become salesy:

Nobody likes to visit a site that tries to sell a product/service to its visitors all the time. Would you trust such a site, absolutely not! Then, how do you promote a product without sounding salesy to your visitors?

It’s actually easier than you think!

Write content that is educational in nature. Informing your audience the value of using this product, who is this good for, and the benefits of purchasing your recommended item. This will more likely to result in a sale. Simply stating that it is the best and everyone need to use it won’t work. The more value you provide, the better chances of you getting a returning customer!

Don’t violate the affiliate terms of service:

This is a fatal mistake that you should not do, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned affiliate marketer. Whenever you sign up for an affiliate program, you need to agree to the affiliate terms of service.

This will give you a clear guidelines on what you can and can’t do when promoting a product/service from that company. You should make sure that you follow all of their instructions carefully, and refer to them any time if you are unsure of anything.

If you knowingly or unknowingly violate the TOS of an affiliate program, first, you will get a warning email from your affiliate manager, stating your mistakes. If you don’t correct them, you’ll face any one of the following.

  • Your affiliate commissions will be reversed. Or,
  • You’ll be removed from their affiliate program entirely.

Hence, complying with the terms of service is really, really important.

Don’t expect immediate success:

Sadly, beginner affiliate marketers are quick to fall prey to this. They see another blogger killing it in affiliate marketing, and they want that amount of success.

There is no wrong in wanting success. But when you expect it quickly, that’s where problems start to come in.

You’ll do it for one or two months and when you don’t see results, you lose motivation. Or, you start promoting irrelevant products. This is a serious problem.

I think I am mentioning this third or fourth time in this blog. Affiliate marketing isn’t a get rich quick scheme. You have to put in a lot of hard work in the beginning to see real results.

You won’t make hundreds of thousands of dollars before getting the trust of your audience. Your dream affiliate marketers have put in a truckload of work to get to this level. It’ll take a minimum of six months before you see any money rolling into your bank account.

You are not going to lose anything when you give your 110 percent, especially in the beginning stages. In fact, it’s going to do you more good than harm. Please understand that your efforts and income won’t match up at first.

Having a realistic expectation will aid you to stick with affiliate marketing for a long time. If you choose to expect too much, you may get disappointed pretty quickly.

Don’t give your audience only popular product/services in your niche:

There are certain products/services you won’t be able to escape without mentioning it in some niches. But, whenever you get a chance, share products that aren’t talked about much.

Firstly, your audience will see you as an affiliate marketer with more knowledge in the niche. Secondly, you’ll have to deal with less competition.

Anyone can go to Google, pick out a few popular items related to a niche, and start promoting. In this scenario, if you are sharing an unique product that fewer people talk about, then surely you’ll standout in your niche.

When people come online to discover a lesser-known product, you’ll have more chances to rank higher, as you are the only one with detailed information for that product.

Don’t try to be unique with your content, be unique:

Rehashed content is easy to find on the internet. In that case, why do you want to add yours to the mix?

Well, here’s the answer. It is easy to put together a blog post rather than writing one!

Then, listen this truth. Your put together blog post won’t see any growth.

If you want to get the approval of your site visitors, you should have a unique content that sets you apart from the rest of your competitors. Do extensive research and provide value to your readers. Don’t pretend to be unique with your content, be unique and standout.

Don’t rely only on search engine traffic:

Search engine traffic is going to be really low for the first year of starting your site. Google will start ranking your site only after six months. Sure it’ll index your site but there is a vast difference between indexing and ranking.

If you are serious about affiliate marketing, then have a content marketing strategy with you. Search engine traffic is good, yet it isn’t going to take off overnight.

Promote your blog in various social media channels and create consistent content. Search engine traffic will gradually increase.

When you flop as a beginner affiliate marketer:

You can absolutely succeed in affiliate marketing. There is no doubt.

Read the list below. Self analyze and if you get rid of these, you don’t have to worry about flopping in affiliate marketing.

  • Not caring about your audience.
  • Not providing value to your readers.
  • Not knowing the products you promote.
  • Underestimating the power of relationship between you and your audience.
  • Only looking for affiliate commission without providing any help/value.
  • Facing too much competition as a beginner.
  • Not focusing on a specific niche.
  • Choosing a poor quality product.
  • Not testing and tweaking your strategy.
  • Not knowing to market your content.
  • Not persisting with the initial days.
  • And finally, not having enough patience.

How to not fall into the immediate success trap as a beginner affiliate marketer:

You may have heard this stat. More than 95 percent of nubie affiliate marketers fail to do affiliate marketing with success. Can you guess the reason why it specifically happens to beginners?

Because beginners are misled to believing that affiliate marketing is easy, and you can make hundreds in a short amount of time. So, where do they get this belief from?

Actually, this belief starts to take shape when they learn about affiliate marketing for the first time. A beginner affiliate marketer reads a bunch of articles on how to get started in affiliate marketing and with the initial excitement, forms an unrealistic expectation that it is possible to make easy money.

When reality hits, their hopes come crashing down, and they lose motivation.

Having a realistic expectation of affiliate marketing will save you from falling prey to this silly trap. Affiliate marketing is a real, solid business that you need to conduct authentically. Otherwise, failing is inevitable.


Thank you for reading this detailed guide on the do’s and don’ts of affiliate marketing for beginners till the end. I hope this post is useful to you.

Are there any do’s and don’ts you’d like to add to this list?

What are your thoughts? Share them in the comments.

If you like the post, share it with your network!

Related posts

An introduction to ethical affiliate marketing for beginners

10 things you can achieve when you become a successful affiliate marketer

8 important metrics you need to track as a beginner affiliate marketer


About Hari:

Hari loves writing about affiliate marketing, email marketing, and blogging for beginners. When he is not writing, you can find him actively watching tennis, or searching for the next recipe that’ll fulfill his heart.


62 thoughts on “A comprehensive guide on the do’s and don’ts of affiliate marketing for beginners”

  1. I love the tip about being honest with your readers. It’s so important to the integrity of your site and as a reader, i know that i always appreciate it.

    1. hey Abby,
      thanks for your comment.
      glad you’ve found this post helpful!
      yes, being honest is the bedrock of any blogger’s success.
      all the very best in your blogging journey!

  2. wow, great tips to go by. I am pretty new to affiliate marketing so this helps a lot. I only promote what I truly believe in, I think that is most important 🙂 Thank you for sharing.

    1. hey Tammy,
      thanks for your comment.
      glad you’ve found this post helpful!
      so happy that you are taking this approach towards affiliate marketing.
      promoting relevant products to your audience’s needs is key to your success as an affiliate marketer.
      all the very best in your journey!

    1. hello Single Mom Chapters,
      thank you so much for your comment.
      glad you’ve found this post helpful!
      thank you very much for your support!

  3. Super useful post! I always, always only promote things that I love and use… gotta stick to your values !

    1. hey Louise,
      so happy to see you here.
      thank you so much for your comment.
      glad you’ve found this post useful!
      yes, it is critical that you promote products that you use, trust, and love.
      glad you’ve chosen that way!
      this will surely increase the trust of your audience.

  4. I found your tips super helpful! There’s a lot that I’m just learning about blogging and it can be very intimidating in the face of bloggers who have been around a long time. I really appreciate the way you break these points down, too. Thanks for sharing!

    1. hey STEPH SIMPSON,
      thanks for your comment.
      glad you’ve learned valuable lessons from this post!
      all the very best for your blogging journey!

    1. hey JEANNIE,
      thank you so much for your comment.
      glad you’ve found value in this post!
      all the very best for your blogging journey!

  5. I’m very struggling with affiliate marketing and find your tips and advice useful. Thank you so much for your help

    1. hey Natalija,
      thanks for your comment.
      persivierence is key in affiliate marketing.
      don’t lose hope!
      all the very best!

  6. Great tips on affiliate marketing. There are quite alot of things to consider to be able you make the affiliate commission. Thank you for sharing this great resource.

  7. I always love reading your article s as they are always packed with loads of information, especially for beginner blogger s like me

  8. As a newbie affiliate marketer, I find this post very helpful! ☺️ Indeed, people often post about their affiliate orograms trying hard to make a sell of it but I agree that the strategy should be to give a more informational approach, you think about the people who will read your post and not about your commission. Glad I read this, I’m planning to make a blog post about my affiliate programs and I find this very handy. Great post! 😊

  9. The dos and don’t you list here seem like common knowledge to me. I think a website owner should think of themselves as a consumer or reader, not just as someone who is looking to make a sale at any turn. Good tips!

    1. hey NKEM,
      thank you so much for your comment.
      this is a site for beginner affiliate marketers and I should speak there language to tell them the reality behind affiliate marketing, even if it is a common thing.
      so many beginners start affiliate marketing with unrealistic hopes and they use methods that are plane wrong to promote their affiliate offers.
      this post gives them a clear roadmap of what they should and shouldn’t do when getting started in affiliate marketing.
      “I think a website owner should think of themselves as a consumer or reader, not just as someone who is looking to make a sale at any turn.”
      a valuable point for beginners!

  10. I really love this post. I think you made some points! Points I never even consider so thanks for furthering my perspective

  11. This is such a great guide. This year I changed direction completely with affiliate linking and a new blog. I feel so much more comfortable promoting products I love and use everyday that make a world of difference in my life. Found some great tips here and will put them to use. Thanks so much for all these awesome details!

    1. hey JENN SUMMERS,
      thank you so much for your comment.
      glad you found value in this post!
      promoting products you use and love is key towards success in affiliate marketing journey.
      all the very best for your new blog!

    1. hey MARI CORSO,
      thank you so much for your comment.
      glad you’ve found value in this post!
      all the very best for your affiliate marketing journey!

  12. Great tips. I would also add to make sure that all affiliate links are marked as nofollow so you do not get penalized by Google.

  13. Hey Hari thanks for writing up a great post. I’m getting started with affiliate marketing and I especially liked your point about not falling into the immediate success trap of affiliate marketing. Looking forward to more great content from you.
    Life Success Factors | https://www.lifesuccessfactors.com

    1. hey CRAIG,
      thank you so much for your comment.
      glad you found value in this post!
      it is a key point that every beginner affiliate marketer should consider.
      we all need to know that immediate success won’t happen in any field, let alone affiliate marketing.
      all the very best for your affiliate marketing journey!

    1. hey MINT,
      thank you so much for your comment.
      glad that you’ve found value in this post.
      all the very best for beginning your affiliate marketing journey!

  14. I’m going to be saving this for when I decide to start affiliate marketing. A little scared to start as of now because I’m fairly new to this!

    1. As someone who is just getting into affiliate marketing, this is so helpful! I think many people focus on the “donts” of affiliate marketing, I appreciative you diving into the “dos” as well!

      1. hey MELISA,
        thank you so much for your comment.
        so happy that you’ve found value in this post!
        focusing only on the don’ts will leave your visitors hanging.
        they will understand what they shouldn’t do, but may receive contradictory advice on what they have to do to be successful in affiliate marketing.
        I am so happy that I’ve got such observing readers on this blog!

  15. \These are great tips! I have a nice platform, but have actually avoided doing many sponsored posts because of many of the “don’t” stated in your article. I’ve found that the opportunities that rreeaalllyy align with my mission and vision are few and far between so I keep it quite selective.

    Nathalia | NathaliaFit – Fitness & Wellness Blog

    1. hey NATHALIA BASSO,
      thanks for your comment.
      happy that you’ve found value in this post!
      I really honored to get you as my reader.
      you should be careful with the sponsored posts and as your blog grows, you’ll get a lot of requests. As you’ve said, you need to be selective and choose the ones that aline with your mission and vision.
      this will help you to firmly keep your audience’s trust with you.
      I’ve visited your site and it is simple and organised.
      all the very best for your blogging journey!

  16. You make several good points in this post! I’m exploring affiliate options right now, so this was really timely. Thanks for this.

  17. This is so helpful! I see so many ads on youtube like “Make $90,000 your first month in affiliate marketing!” And of course I know better, but most don’t. It’s possible, but it definitely takes time and serious dedication. Love these tips though, thank you for sharing!

      thanks for your comment.
      there are soooooo many scams out their that promise the world when it comes to affiliate marketing.
      sure you can make $90000 and beyond, but to say that you can make this amount in the first month is insane.
      do your extensive research before signing up to any program that’s related to affiliate marketing.
      in my opinion, don’t trust Youtube ads based on affiliate marketing!
      I may get some stick, but bring it on!

  18. I really enjoy this article about the dos and don’ts of affiliate marketing. I will definitely be saving this to help me out with it. I like the part about being patient and honest with the readers and promoting something that you actually stand behind, use, and support. Thank you so much for sharing this. xxx

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