Why You’re Not Making Money from your Affiliate Links

Woman shopping laptop credit card

As a follow-up to my last post on how to start affiliate marketing, I want to mention some reasons why you might not be making any money if you've already started adding affiliate links to your blog instead of addressing those questions in the comments…

Your readers don't buy

Your readers may be more inclined to look, instead of buy. If you're getting a lot of clicks on your links, but few or no purchases, this is likely the case. You will also want to experiment with different types of links (images, text, widgets) to see if one out-performs another, and keep track of when your readers buy/click. But your readers may primarily be of a younger demographic without much disposable income, or are more frugal with their money. Maybe they read your blog for inspiration, or “just for the pictures” and don't click on links.

If you've been using affiliate links for quite some time (at least 6 months – preferably a year) and you're not making sales, but getting a lot of clicks, then you should definitely consider moving to a pay-per-click model like ShopSense. That way, you'll get paid whenever your links are clicked, not only when you convert a sale.

You use too many links

Or you don't use the right mix of text & image links. With RewardStyle (and ShopSense) for example, you can use a combination of text links then image links in your post so you don't overload it with too many text links. If your reader's trying to read your post but is constantly interrupted with links, it can be overkill – break them up a bit, put them in one place, or use a widget and/or image links as well.

You're not linking to the EXACT items you wear

If you're a personal style blogger and post outfit pictures, your goal should be to link directly to as many items in your outfit as possible. Think how frustrated your readers will get if they really love something you're wearing but they can't buy it! If you frustrate your readers too often by not showing them where to buy things, then they'll stop clicking your links or visiting your blog altogether.

If the item is absolutely no where to be found, then link to one similar item, that's around the same price as what you're wearing, but no more than one.

You haven't been doing it long enough

Patience is a virtue! It takes a long time to build up enough trust and authority for your readers to start clicking on links. Don't give up until you've had your affiliate links up for at least six months, AND you've been tracking them, analyzing which ones get clicked on most, and tweaking what you link to based on that information. If after that time (I'd REALLY recommend doing it for a year) you're not making any sales, then a pay-per-click, or straight advertising model may work better for you.

You don't convert

With so many blogs out there, all using affiliate links, your readers may go somewhere else, click on another blogger's link and immediately buy, which means you lose out on the sale. In other words, you're not converting your readers to buyers instantly. If, by some small chance, your readers don't click on any other affiliate links besides yours, and they purchase something within 30 days (or however long that retailers cookies last) of clicking on your link, you WILL get credit for it, but the best way to insure you make money via affiliate linking is you convert your readers as soon as possible.

There are a million reasons why your readers may not be converting immediately after clicking on one of your links, but the most obvious one is that they're just not ready to buy. There's not a lot you can do about that, but you can post consistently, make your blog a resource to keep readers coming back to your blog frequently enough that yours is the last link they click when they ARE ready to buy. Also, give them an incentive to go buy now with a coupon code, referral code, or sale item.

Your readers don't trust you

Unfortunately, this can be a big reason why you may not be converting readers into buyers, especially if you've been doing this a while. Your readers may not see you as a shopping resource, either; they may read your blog for other reasons. Which is great, but not if you're hoping to make an income from affiliate linking.

It takes time to build up trust enough for your readers to click on your links and buy what you're featuring. Don't forget that. But for some reason or another, they may not trust you anyway, or any bloggers for that matter. Some blog readers know enough to clear cookies frequently so they don't give a blogger credit for sales.

Remember, though, if you want to monetize your blog, affiliate marketing isn't the only way to do it. In most cases, you have to have a lot of traffic to make money via affiliate links (I don't – but I've been doing it for 10 years, and only after 5 did I start making MOST of my income via affiliate links), and be primarily a personal style/outfit blogger. Which doesn't mean others can't do it also, but there may be other ways that make more sense for you. Try them all!

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23 Responses

  1. Elise Xavier

    Another hurdle that may be preventing you from making money from affiliate links is that readers don’t trust the affiliate sites that you’re linking to. That’s why I usually find myself sticking to the Amazon Affiliate program, if I can help it. Everybody knows Amazon, so it’s typically seen as highly trustworthy.

  2. Anastasia

    Thanks for this post! Actually I didn’t know about that you get the commission only if your links was the last one before purchase….And I would agree that linking to the things you wear is important – according to the statistic the direct links to the same things I wear get clicked several times more than other links on the blog.


  3. Rhodes

    Very useful post.It’s really worth reading. Most of the people will face this problem. It can really help them.

  4. Jen

    I need to update my links of specific things I use instead of stores I like/100% stand behind. Thank you for the tips!

  5. Arielle Berze

    This is a great post – I use shopsense a lot, but even with a pay per click model, I don’t get too many clicks a day – usually only a couple. One thing I did notice is that things I can link to directly definitely get more links, which is unfortunate as a lot of my clothes tend to be old. Statement pieces also get a lot more clicks than me, as no one really cares where my jeans are from, or tees, etc.

  6. Nena

    Is it possible to use multiple affiliate programs in 1 affiliate link? I mean if you click on an affiliate link it opens the shopsense link but redirects to the rewardstyle link so it opens 2 affiliate links by clicking one 1 item on the blog.



  7. Hanna @ Soulfulceramics.com

    I just set up an affiliate program on my website for potential interested affiliates. As we all know, nothing is easy, especially to make others open their wallets. I guess I will have to support my affiliates with generous compensation so they can get encouraged to promote more of my products. Thanks for the great tips.

  8. Mammypi

    Thanks for the tips. Very helpful. I am a newbie and looking forward to learning from veterans like you.

  9. Abby

    I wish there were more local affiliate companies but it is still a merging market in SA. My first couple months using them I made a fair amount of money but now most brands use it as a way to get affordable advertising i.e Banners etc and only pay for sales not leads or clicks.

  10. Louise

    I’ve implemented three affiliate marketing sites into my website.
    Our blokes like to look, but not buy.
    Styleshop as you’ve mentioned advertises itself as earning dollars when your readers ‘shop’….yet you mention that this is the best affiliate marketers to use if you just want to revert to pay per click.
    Could you advise of another company apart from google adsense that ‘pays per click’. and not on convert.
    Many thanks!

  11. AJ Wears Clothes

    A tip that’s worked for me when linking “Similar” items is to tell the readers what store they’re linking to. Similar from Charlotte Russe and Similar from Saks 5th Ave are two completely different things! It helps establish the trust.

  12. Emma

    I think this is a bit too harsh on new bloggers – people just need to realise what the genuine chances are of someone having money to spend on exactly what you are wearing when you happen to post about it. xx


  13. Emily Chavous

    Great tips. I try my best to offer affiliate links in various forms for aesthetic & interest reasons. Seems most of my sales have come from specific items linked within an outfit post. I also include similar look widgets in each outfit post, with pieces that compliment my look – so far these widgets have been unsuccessful, though I like their aesthetic appeal within my blog design so I continue to use them. Perhaps in six months they’ll begin drawing buyers.

  14. LJ

    Great tips. I struggle with linking to exact pieces sometimes since I love recycling my wardrobe and wearing older pieces. Definitely something I struggle with. Thanks for this post!


  15. Jacqueline Jax

    Enjoyed this article. I’ve been doing really well with poshmark. They have easy linking and also have a very supportive community themselves. Come see all the ways I’ve linked up affiliates and my own listings in my blog to make it a business.

  16. Tiffany Jacobs

    You point some really nice tips overthere, thanks for this awesome article.

  17. Kristi Stepteau

    This article was very helpful. I am still fairly new to blogging, and figuring all of the nuances of affiliate marketing out, so this article was exactly what I needed.

    Many thanks!

    Kristi From Lulu With Grace

  18. London Girls

    Nice tips. I have difficulties with linking to certain pieces sometimes since I really enjoy recycling my wardrobe and wearing older cloths. Definitely something I struggle with. Thanks for this post!

  19. Mike F

    A very insightful post. I have just set up my affiliate blog. My domain is barely two months old. I am getting on average 50 clicks per day. No sales still. Patience is a virtue though, so I’ll keep on grinding.

    Thanks so much for this post