Affiliate Marketing Disadvantages – What People Don’t Talk About

Since 2005 I’ve been earning a full-time income from affiliate marketing. So it wouldn’t be hard to talk about all the advantages of being an affiliate marketer. So why am I about to talk about affiliate marketing disadvantages?

I’m doing it because no matter what type of technique you decide to adopt for making money online no technique is perfect and all sunshine and roses. Every technique comes with its pros and cons.

I’ve also noticed (maybe it’s just me) that you can find a ton of posts talking about all the pros of affiliate marketing and not enough posts talking about the cons of affiliate marketing.

And because of that, it can fill would-be affiliate marketers with unrealistic expectations when it comes to affiliate marketing.

So, I want to highlight some of the cons of affiliate marketing and be totally transparent and upfront.

I’m not going to tell you what you want to hear. I’m going to tell you what you need to hear.

I’m also going to list the advantages of affiliate marketing. This way you can better understand what to expect when it comes to affiliate marketing.

And it will put you in a better position to decide if affiliate marketing is the right path for you.

As with any method for making money online, there are pros and cons. You have to evaluate these pros and cons and decide if what you’re considering as your revenue model best suits your personality.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

I know this may seem goofy asking what affiliate marketing is? But to serve you properly I’m going to assume you don’t know (even if you do).

In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is performance-based marketing. So, as an affiliate, you are an independent marketer of products and or services of companies.

And you earn money (a fixed affiliate commission) when a sale is made through your affiliate link.

So, for example, I use Thrive Suite for building landing pages and other elements used on this and other websites I have.

And I’m also an affiliate for Thrive Suite. So anytime someone clicks on my affiliate link and purchases Thrive Suite I make a commission.

Ok, onto the darker side of affiliate marketing people don’t like to talk about.

Affiliate Marketing Disadvantages

You Don’t Control The Affiliate Program

When it comes to any affiliate program you have no choice but to accept the rules and the conditions of the program.

And that includes the company branding, customer service, commissions, marketing, management, and everything else related to said company.

All the things that make a company function are in the hands of others. You have zero control.

Let’s take Amazon for example. Over the years Amazon has reduced the percentages when it comes to affiliate commissions. And by doing has reduced what affiliates earn from each sale.

One example of this is in April 2020 Amazon reduced its commissions on furniture and home improvement products from 8% down to 3%. But that was not the only change in commissions.

Amazon reduced commissions on all its product categories. With some categories going down to 1%.

So, if you are an Amazon affiliate guess what? There’s not a dame thing you can do about those changes.

The reality is you only have 2 options:

Stay with the program and sell more products to make up for the loss in the percentage you earn from each sale.


Stop being an Amazon associate and find another program.

The other variable you have no control over is affiliate programs that can be discontinued at any time. And in some cases with no warning.

You Don’t Really Work For Yourself

As much as every affiliate would like to think that they work for themselves. The reality is you do have a boss.

Sure, it’s not in the traditional sense. But the companies you represent are the people you work for.

Yes, they don’t have control over you as a traditional boss does. But don’t be fooled, you are working for someone else.

Your Income Is Not Guaranteed

Just because someone clicks through your affiliate link does not mean they will buy.

Sure, you can do everything you can to send people to your affiliate offer who are deep into a customer’s purchase lifecycle. The Action phase.

But even then there is no guarantee you’ll make a commission. And because of that, your income is not predictable.

However, it can be a little more predictable if you are promoting offers that provide a recurring monthly commission. But even then your income will fluctuate.

It’s not like a salary where you know you’re getting X amount of money every 2 weeks.

You Have No Customer Base

Once a referral has purchased the product or service you’re promoting. They are never going to purchase through you again.

They will simply go directly to the company itself and purchase from them. Welcome to affiliate marketing.

You’re on this treadmill of constantly having to send new leads over and over to the vendors you’re affiliated with.

This is unless you’re capturing the lead’s email address first before sending them to the vendor to build your email list.

It Can Be A Lonely Journey

I’ve heard it time and time again how affiliate marketing can be a lonely way of making money online.

Well, I think that can be said about many other online marketing methods, not just affiliate marketing.

But with that said there is a lot of truth to that. Affiliate marketing can be a very solitary venture.

The vast majority of affiliate marketers are doing this on their own. Sure they may be part of a community where they have access to training and live chat support.

But building your affiliate marketing business, the actual nuts and bolts of the business for most is a one-man/woman operation. And that can be hard for a lot of people.

Working in this type of environment is not for everyone. You can get depressed, feel overwhelmed, have self-doubt, and even feel stagnant.

But there are ways of minimizing all of this. Don’t close yourself off to family and friends. Share with them what you plan on doing.

Sure you will have your naysayers but you’ll also have cheerleaders. So surround yourself with the cheerleaders and ignore the naysayers.

Find a workspace away from home. I bet you’re just a stone’s throw away from a coffee shop that’s set up to accommodate remote workers.

Yes, you may be building a business on your own, but that does not mean you hide away in some dark room all day long.

Affiliate Marketing Is A Slow Process

Despite what you may have read online about how quickly you can make money with affiliate marketing.

In some cases, people are saying you can make money in a matter of a few months and even days. That’s far from the truth and more often than not is being told by scam artists.

Affiliate marketing is a long-term play and takes time. So, you must be prepared to work for a long time making no money.

Typically, a site should start seeing some level of revenue within 6 to 8 months and then grow from there. And what level of income will that be? No one can predict that.

It could be $1, it could be $100, who knows. And even then there is no guarantee.

Huge Learning Curve

Embarking on building a successful affiliate marketing business is not just a matter of promoting products. No, no it’s much more than that.

As an affiliate marketer, you’re going to have to learn many things to get your business up and running and then have it grow to the income you have set for yourself.

And if you’re like most people that jump into affiliate marketing this learning curve can slow the whole process down.

Here are just some of the things you’ll need to learn as an affiliate marketer:

  • Picking your niche (the most important step)
  • Planning your website
  • Setting up your website
  • Finding good affiliate programs
  • Webhosting
  • Using WordPress
  • Understanding SEO (search engine optimization) and ongoing maintenance
  • Writing the right type of content (review, listicle, comparison, verses)

And this is not everything when it comes to building a successful affiliate marketing business, there is plenty more.

But if you’re following the correct steps and getting the right guidance and support, success with affiliate marketing is much easier.

Advantages Of Affiliate Marketing

Now as with any online business it’s not all bad. In fact, in my opinion, and the opinion of many more people the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to affiliate marketing.

So, let’s have a look at the pros of affiliate marketing.

Unlimited Earning Potential

When it comes to what you can earn as an affiliate, the skies the limit. There is no ceiling. There are some affiliates earning 6 figures per month.

Sure, that’s not the norm, but nothing is stopping you from doing the same.

The ONLY limit when it comes to the success of your business is you.

Very Low Investment

To become an affiliate for a company costs nothing, reputable affiliate programs are free to join.

And as for getting your business up and running, you can easily get started for less than $75.00. Your 2 main startup costs will be purchasing a domain name and then hosting for your domain.

A domain name will cost you on average $15 and that’s for a year. You will need to renew your domain name each year.

And as for hosting, there are companies such as HostGator who offer first-time buyers deals for the first year. You can buy plans for 1 year for less than $50.00.

And many times included with the hosting you get a free domain for the first year.

Take advantage of that kind of offer and you can get up and running for less than $50.00.

Everything else you need to get your business running is free. Such as WordPress, that’s free. This is the platform your site is built on. And you have 1000,s of free WordPress themes to choose from.

WordPress themes are the framework that the design of your site is built around.

Of course, there are a lot of additional tools and resources you can spend money on if you want to. But when you’re first starting out those things can come later.

You Don’t Need Any Experience

Affiliate marketing is a learn-as-you-go business. You don’t need to be a marketing expert to become an affiliate marketer.

When I first started I had zero experience and yes I made plenty of mistakes along the way. Heck, I still do. But I learned from every mistake.

But I have to say what helped me the most and helped me from continuing to make mistakes is having a mentor. It was my mentor Corey that helped speed up my learning curve and my income.

If you want to avoid the most common mistakes new affiliate marketers make, get yourself a mentor.

Affiliate Flexibility

An affiliate marketing business is a very nimble and flexible business and this works in your favor big time.

So, what do I mean?

Maybe the vendor has canceled their affiliate program, or maybe they have changed the terms of service and you don’t agree with the change. Or maybe you found a superior product that sells better.

No matter what the circumstances, as an affiliate, you’re in control of what program you choose to promote.

And because of that, you can switch affiliate programs in the blink of an eye. And not skip a beat when it comes to your business.

You Don’t Have To Deal With Any Customers

You will never have to deal with any customer service issues.

When someone purchases a product from any company you’re promoting. If the customer has any issues of any kind they contact the company, not you.

You Don’t Need To Carry Any Inventory Or Ship Anything

Being an affiliate marketer is a total hands off business when it comes to the products.

As an affiliate all you do is promote the products and cash your commission check, that’s it!

Work Anywhere In The World

As long as you have an internet connection you can build your business from anywhere in the world.

Passive Income

With affiliate marketing, you have the opportunity to earn money 24/7.

How would you like to wake up in the morning turn on your computer and discover you made money while you were sleeping?

Your hard work is paying off.

This is known as passive income. But don’t mistake passive income with not having to work at building your business. Passive income comes from hard work.

There is no better feeling than waking up each day and having money in your affiliate account(s).

Flexible Working Schedule

This is a work-from-home business and because of that, you decide your working framework.

Take me for example I get up at 7:00 am, have breakfast, and work on my business in the mornings, usually until 11:30 am. Now the rest of the day is my own.

Now of course not every day is like that. Some days I work the full day, and other days I only have a few tasks to get done and I’m done earlier.

Also because I make my schedule everything is flexible. A friend what’s to meet for lunch, sure no problem. Have errors to run, then go do them.

Maybe something unexpected comes up, no problem, because of your schedule you can attend to it.

You Can Build Your Business In Your Spare Time

Like a lot of people, I started my affiliate marketing business while I still was working for someone else.

And that’s one of the great advantages of affiliate marketing. You don’t have to quit your job to build your business.

So you don’t have to put any undue pressure on yourself because you’re living expenses are still being covered by your job’s income while building your business.

You can build your business in your spare time. That’s what I did. I would work on my business for a few hours in the evening and more so over the weekend.

And over time my business started taking shape and eventually my affiliate business was making more than I was making at my day job. And that’s when I quit my day job and did affiliate marketing full-time. And I’ve been doing it since 2005.

Wrapping Things Up

Well, that brings us to the end of the Pros and Cons of affiliate marketing. I hope my article has helped you have a better understanding of affiliate marketing both good and bad.

And has given you the information you need to evaluate this business model so you can determine if affiliate marketing is going to be your path to building an online business.

Notably, there are more advantages than disadvantages to this business model.

Now I did mention this, but it’s worth mentioning again. If you want to hit the ground running and put yourself light years ahead of other people venturing into affiliate marketing.

Be sure to get the proper training and get a mentor.

If you have any comments or questions leave them below and I’ll reply ASAP.

I believe in you

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