According to Forrester Consulting study, there is a 10.1% increase in affiliate marketing spending in the United States each year, meaning that by 2020, that number will reach $6.8 billion.

By Tatiana Buyanova

Affiliate marketing is still effective for companies because they only pay for results, instead of display or social ad spend that gets measured by clicks and impressions.

With affiliate marketing, a merchant points someone in the right direction to a product or service and if purchased, they make a percentage of that sale. When done correctly (and honestly), everyone wins.

However, historically, affiliate marketing has been associated with the porn and gambling industries. The prejudice around affiliate marketing give it a bad reputation. Let’s look at six common myths about affiliate marketing and why preconceived notions about the field are incorrect.

1. Affiliate marketing equals easy money

On the surface, affiliate marketing can seem like a way to make a quick buck. While it is a somewhat straightforward way to make some additional income, it will require knowledge, hustling, and dedication to transition from a couple extra bucks a month to a full-time job. 

Research and knowledge can help set your marketing site apart from the competition, and learning what your viewers like will help you become successful with affiliate marketing.

Depending on your market, completed sales or offers can provide you with flat rates for conversations or a percentage of the sale. Take, for example, the Shopify Affiliate Program which pays out great percentages for marketers – up to 200% of the referral’s subscription fee.

That’s not to say there isn’t big money in affiliate marketing. Just take a look at this list of hugely successful affiliate marketers, many of which are multi-millionaires. 

2. Affiliate marketing is for losers/non-entrepreneurs

This simply couldn’t be farther from the truth. While affiliate marketing may not be the “sexiest” field, it can provide a great way to earn additional income, while still creating something that you are proud of. There was a whole thread on Quora dedicated to whether affiliate marketers are entrepreneurs. 

At the end of the day, affiliate marketing isn’t going anywhere. 81% of brands use affiliate marketing programs, with an estimated $6.8 being allocated to affiliate marketing spend.

This type of marketing is definitely not for “losers” or people that don’t have the entrepreneurial spirit. You have sites like The Points Guy, ran by Brian Kelley, which required dedication, hard work and the entrepreneurial spirit to get it to the level it is today. The Points Guy found a niche, travel information and how to fly for free using a wide-range of credit cards, and combined that with affiliate programs that matched the theme.

Becoming a master of affiliate marketing means you can basically sell anything and you can use the knowledge (and money) gained to move onto something you feel even more passionate about. 

3. All affiliate marketing networks are created equal

For those not in the field, it might seem like all affiliate marketing networks are the same, but once you dive into it, you’ll see that it couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Some networks focus on providing the largest range of programs possible, and while that might be desirable for some, many times finding a niche and accompanying network that specializes in that same field is desirable. That way, you know the network you partner with is knowledgeable in the field. 

You have the obvious retail ones, like Amazon, which gives merchants a percent of sales when pointed to the e-commerce giant, but maybe you’d like to focus on something like traveling and exploration and not just pointing people to products. You could join by either connecting to separate programs that, Airbnb and others provide, or join via a search engine like Travelpayouts which provides a large range of affiliate programs to fit the specific field.

4. Affiliate marketing can tarnish a brand’s image

When reading about affiliate marketing, do you get a bad taste in your mouth? While you aren’t the only one it’s important to remember that affiliate marketing has changed quite a bit since it was first introduced way back in 1989.

Affiliate marketing is no longer just spamming people’s email addresses with offers and pop-up ads on websites, it’s providing useful tools and information to someone and bolstering your income with affiliate payouts.

5. Customers don’t like affiliates 

Much like the section above, a customer’s perception of affiliate marketing is changing as more merchants get away from sometimes deceptive practices in exchange for transparency and helpful information and services.

Customers like to see reviews and opinions on products, and while certain affiliate networks have gotten a bad rap, these problems are becoming less and less prevalent in sources that make money through affiliate sales.

6. Affiliate programs are just spam and porn

Starting to notice a theme? Many of our issues with affiliate marketing stem from the early days of the internet and the monetization of websites. 

These days, almost every industry embraces affiliate marketing. From financial services and travel, to cosmetics and telecom, affiliate networks are here to stay. Even publishers like Conde Nast, Gawker Media, and Vox Media are directing people to Amazon to increase their revenue through affiliate links.

NerdWallet is another great example of an affiliate program that is not spam in any way. It combines both useful financial information with affiliate programs that benefit both the website and customer. 

In conclusion

It’s easy to see why some people might still look at an affiliate program as a scam, but it just simply isn’t true. Gone are the days of spam and email blasts, with knowledge and information taking its place.

Will it make you a millionaire overnight? Most likely no, but don’t let the above myths stop you from researching it in greater depth, whether you are a company looking to spend marketing money wisely or a merchant looking to make more money.

Tatiana Buyanova is the head of Business Development & Partner Relations at Travelpayouts. Tatiana helps such advertisers as, Viator, and 200K affiliates across the globe in reaching 8-figure revenue. Being a part of the travel industry, she is passionate about globetrotting; however, closing travel deals is even more fascinating. Before joining Travelpayouts’ team, Tatiana had been helping Appness to grow by cold call advertisers-hunting. She is experienced in sales, marketing and business development, as well as in-depth knowledge of performance marketing from different perspectives.

Affiliate stock photo by Photon photo/Shutterstock