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Debunking Five Myths About Affiliate Marketing



Head at Travelpayouts, the largest affiliate marketing network focused on the travel market.

Affiliate marketing is based on a structure of referral, in which partners point consumers to a specific product or service of different brands that they receive commission for if purchased. It can be a lucrative strategy for both brands and affiliate marketers, and when applied effectively, it can be extremely beneficial. Despite this, some entrepreneurs are still hesitant to get into this process out of fears of the unknown or misconceptions they’ve heard.

I’ve been in the affiliate marketing industry for over 10 years now. Before my current role at Travelpayouts, an affiliate network focused on the travel industry, I’ve participated in the launch of other successful affiliate programs. In this piece, I’m going to break down the top five myths I’ve heard about partner marketing.

1. There are poor options for target audience.

I’ve found there is a lot of potential in terms of market reach and variety when it comes to affiliate marketing. More than 2 billion people purchased goods online in 2020. The affiliate marketing space is potent with opportunity for brands of all kinds and has no shortage of options in terms of audiences to choose from.

So, contrary to popular belief, by choosing to focus on affiliate marketing, marketers actually stand to access an extremely diverse audience. This means that those looking to leverage it as a business tool have a great capacity to get specific in what and who they target, with affiliate programs worldwide operating in a multitude of languages and regions.

2. It’s technically difficult.

Because of how fruitful affiliate marketing has proven to be for entrepreneurs, there are now a range of solutions offered to make it as accessible as possible to anyone looking to reap its benefits. (Disclosure: My company offers one of these solutions.)

The more traditional way of going about the process, creating an in-house affiliate program, is what’s often perceived to be the only way to take advantage of all affiliate marketing has to offer. For those who choose to build their approach from scratch in this way, it can be a challenging, yet feasible process. Pay special attention to your investment, resources and development.

Alternatively, there are also ready-made resources and platforms that exist to simplify the process of affiliate marketing. My company and many others offer affiliate network solutions, and SaaS solutions are also popular. These tools allow you to launch an affiliate program in a short amount of time with minimal code intervention.

3. It’s dangerous for your reputation.

There is room for fraud in the world of affiliate marketing, with some illegitimate affiliates looking to exploit the system for their own gain. When done correctly, however, affiliate marketing can be a very safe process that benefits both the brands and the affiliates.

The most important element of safety in this type of partnership is choosing your affiliates wisely. Make sure to vet all affiliates before they are allowed to promote your products or services. If you are working with a partner or platform, check that they have strict fraud detection measures in place, as this will help to further safeguard your business against any illegitimate activity.

To avoid suspicious activity, pay attention to whether your affiliate partners have automated processes for fraud security. Check out if they already have reputable and trusted partners—that likely means that they’ve gone through some due diligence already.

4. It’s not profitable.

One of the most common misconceptions I’ve heard about affiliate marketing is that it’s not profitable. In my experience, this could not be further from the truth, as when done correctly, affiliate marketing can be lucrative for both the merchant and the affiliate.

I think this misconception likely stems from a lack of understanding about how affiliate marketing works. The affiliate promotes the merchant’s products or services in exchange for commissions on sales, and the merchant rewards the affiliates for their efforts with commissions on those sales. Wirecutter, a shopping recommendations site that was acquired by The New York Times, was making more than $20 million on affiliate marketing just a year before the pandemic hit.

5. It’s temporary.

While some people may think that affiliate marketing has to be a temporary endeavor, it’s a great way to create a long-term marketing strategy. When done correctly, affiliate marketing can be a powerful tool for building brand awareness and generating leads and sales. It’s also expected to only get more prolific, with the industry growth over the years showing a promising trend.

Affiliate marketing does not have to be a one-time process, but rather, it can be an ongoing marketing effort. In order to be successful with affiliate marketing, work to establish relationships with quality affiliates and keep them engaged with your program. You also need to continuously create new content and offers that will appeal to your affiliates and encourage them to promote your products or services. I’ve found that partners will usually work with brands for years, with all bona fide parties of affiliate marketing being interested in long-term relationships.

Affiliate marketing can be a great way to promote your products or services and generate more sales. When done correctly, it can be a safe, profitable and long-term marketing strategy that benefits both the merchant and the affiliate.


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