When thinking about starting your own affiliate marketing program, you might find yourself asking various questions to gauge whether or not it’s worthwhile for you.

It can seem daunting if you’re brand new to the concept of affiliate marketing – you might even have preconceived notions based on what you’ve seen around the marketplace, as there’s certainly no shortage of spam and lackluster affiliate marketing examples out there.

In this post, we look at 5 misconceptions about running an affiliate program. Let’s get to it.

1. It’s too much work

It’s true that there are multiple components that need to be configured in order to create a functioning affiliate marketing program, but overall it’s not something overly complicated. If you have enough knowledge and technical capability to run your own business in the first place, you can probably figure out how to set up and operate your own affiliate program.

Essentially, a basic affiliate marketing program is based on four key components:

  1. A target audience / niche. Who are you’re marketing your products to? You’ll need to research and decide who is interested in the products you have to sell, what they’re willing to pay, what kind of marketing they respond to, etc.
  2. Affiliates. Who are the people who will promote your products? You’ll need to find quality affiliates that are the right match for your program.
  3. Affiliate creatives. What materials will your affiliates use to promote your products? You’ll need to make them yourself, or hire someone who can.
  4. An affiliate marketing platform. What infrastructure will you use to set up and manage your affiliate program? You’ll need enough technical expertise to use affiliate marketing software, and you’ll likely have to pay a yearly fee to license the software. Or, you’ll use an affiliate network and pay for things like commission fees, service fees, and/or network fees – and in this case, you may be restricted to working exclusively with affiliates on that network.

Beyond these basic components, other responsibilities include things like empowering your affiliates to be their best, getting dormant affiliates promoting again, configuring integrations with other eCommerce and productivity tools you use, and managing seasonal sales and affiliate marketing campaigns.

It might sound like a lot, but it is totally doable!

2. It’s passive and easy

While some people may think running an affiliate marketing program is too complicated, others have the opposite notion. The truth? Neither is true.

We’ve established that yes, you too can start your own affiliate program. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require a dedicated ongoing investment. Simply put, you get out of affiliate marketing what you put into it; it’s not passive, per se, and it’s not necessarily easy.

Because affiliate marketing thrives on good relationships between publishers and affiliates, there’s a degree of effort required to keep things running smoothly. Getting to know your affiliates and what works for them, creating materials for them to use, adjusting your methods to accommodate changes in the marketplace, and maintaining a promotion plan for your affiliate program all require some time and commitment.

The bottom line? It’s not something that you set up once and then forget about.

3. The more affiliates, the better

Extra money is extra money, right? Actually, there’s more nuance to it than that.

It’s important to remember that your affiliates function as your marketing team – or an extension of it. They’re the people out in there representing your brand (essentially you), and you want to make sure you have the right people on board.

More affiliates might sound great in terms of sheer numbers, but over the long-term, one of the best investments you can make in your program is finding the people who have access to your target audience, present themselves in a way that is compatible with your brand style and company values, and are committed to their niche.

Of course, more affiliates can be a good thing – as long as you’ve got the right team!

4. It’s only for bigger businesses

The idea that you should only start an affiliate program if you run a large-scale business fails to account for the flexible nature of affiliate marketing. Whether you run a small or large-scale operation, incorporating affiliate marketing can be worthwhile – as long as the efforts required don’t outweigh the benefits.

If you are just starting out with your business, you haven’t refined your niche, and you have limited products to work with, then sure, it might not be the right time to recruit affiliates. But, if you’ve done your target market research, and you’ve validated a minimum viable product (MVP), then it really doesn’t matter how many products you have to start, as long as you have new promotions as time goes on.

Arguably, in terms of overall impact, smaller businesses can actually benefit more from the increased exposure to their target audiences. So, suffice it to say that business size is not a big issue.

5. Traffic is money

Affiliate marketing is more than just finding people that drive traffic to your site; you actually have to convert your site visitors into customers. Focusing on boosting inbound traffic, then, isn’t very helpful without landing pages that convert, for example.

Increasing traffic to your site is important, but ultimately you want quality traffic – or traffic coming from sources that make sense for your niche, and traffic that actually results in sales!

If you want to read more about affiliate conversions, check out our post about it over here.

Ready to start your new affiliate program?

If you think you’re ready to add affiliate marketing to your business, we’ve got additional posts you can refer to:

Is there something we should add to this post? Do you have some insights to share based on your own experience running an affiliate program? Be sure to leave us a comment below!

Mandy Jones

About the author: Mandy Jones is a content writer at Sandhills Development and founder of Looplicious. Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, she's a world traveler and animal lover with a passion for creativity and maker culture. When she’s not writing blog posts for Easy Digital Downloads, Restrict Content Pro, and AffiliateWP, she can be found hanging out with other people’s dogs, or writing, recording, and performing music.

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