Why Most People Fail at Affiliate Marketing


For the past 5 years I’ve been a full-time online marketer. In late 2008 I quit my last 9-5 job and fired all of my freelance clients so that I could dedicate myself to making money online – and I never looked back.

Success in this field has given me the opportunity to be my own boss, work whenever I want and focus on things I enjoy like making music and experiment with Intermittent Fasting.

The people in my life have reacted to this in two ways:

  1. They don’t understand what I do and want me to explain it
  2. They want me to immediately teach them how to do it

I would say the majority of people fall into category #2. They see that I’m doing this and they think they should be able to do it to. The general thought is “if Malan can do it, I can too, right?”


Out of the 10 or so people that I have tried to teach the majority lasted less than 14 days and none of them quit their day jobs.

While there is always the possibility that my teaching just sucks, I believe it’s something else.

The Fear of Losing Money

The scenario goes like this:

  • Person A wants to learn affiliate marketing and has $1000 to invest into it
  • I give Person A an offer, traffic source, ads and instructions
  • Person A loses $250 in the first week
  • Person A quits

I would bet that this scenario happens with about 99.9% of the people that give affiliate marketing a try. The problem isn’t that they’re doing anything wrong, they just don’t know what success looks like.

What Success Looks Like

Let’s take a look at a campaign from June. As you can see the first two weeks were rough. But here’s the key – during Week 2, I lost less money than I did in Week 1.

This is a success.

This is the breakthrough in thinking that has to happen in order to make this work.


(Above): What a successful campaign looks like

When put in the above scenario the majority of people will think “it’s been losing for two weeks straight, I quit!” and move on to the next thing.

The person that’s going to make it work will look at the first two weeks and see a slight improvement and go even HARDER knowing it’s turning around.

And sure, there are plenty of campaigns that I will abandon. If I’ve spent enough money and collected enough data and all signs point to Loser, I’ll pull the plug.

But never before I know I’ve tried everything.

In Conclusion:

The common trait among most successful affiliate marketers is the ability to sustain losses in the beginning and turn it around. If you’re risk adverse you should stick with a 9-5 and a steady paycheck.

But if you’re a little nuts and have a few dollars to lose and the guts to hang in there until it turns around it’s an exceptional way to make a living.

P.S. If you want me to teach you – no problem. My retainer is $1,000,000 per month with a minimum 12 month contract. Contact me anytime.

  • barman

    Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      wise choice. the newsletter is much cheaper than the retainer

      • Henry

        Love the humor!

  • drngo

    My thoughts on the topic can be found here:


    This happens with ANY skill. If you want to get good at something, you have to go through the dip. The issue is the pain point of losing money hurts because of the opportunity cost.

    If you want to get good at chess, you play a lot of chess. Losing chess games isn’t too painful compared to losing money.

    The only way to get over it is to realize that it’s part of the process and necessary to develop the skill

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      funny thing is – people say “yeah but you have money to lose and i don’t”.

      The fact is that in the beginning I’d lost 40% of every dime I had on a campaign. I did a gut check and said out loud, by myself, into the air “F*ck it, let’s lose it all” and drove ahead.

      And the rest is history.

      • Petre Veluda

        Because “It will be OK” in the end! 🙂

  • Kang

    Referred here by drngo – awesome blog man.

    P.S. I love your logo!

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      thanks Kang – logo is simple, but works. 😉

  • Andrea Costa

    Your blog is awesome

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      thanks Andrea

  • Jonatas

    I’ve been reading this blog 2-3 times a day. Very good, Malan. 🙂

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      welcome Jonatas

  • Petre Veluda

    …or they try campaign after campaign, never passing the first few days to one week of testing and because campaigns that simply work from day one are very rare, so is the success.

  • matthew davis

    I have been going through your Blog archive and soaking in all the information you are dishing out. Thanks for taking the time to drop knowledge on us

  • Willy Enrione

    Nice share as alwas Malan!

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      thanks WIlly

  • Zornitza

    OK, I’m totally new to this whole world but I quit my job and I’m ready to make this work! Going to the AW in Berlin next week as well. This is super scary 🙂

  • astr0

    So True. Online poker is great at improving “loosing money” skills. You know your’e ahead in ~60% of times, you have to call this all-in. You’re behind, but was making it look strong – consider 3betting. Also helps with getting used to roller-coaster. Loosing/winning 4 stacks in a minute on 6 tables 6max happens quite often. Some experience and your’e treating money like numbers. It has lower entry barriers though and allows to start cheap and increase money you risk over time as you advance skills.

    I feel like there more you put the more you get here and 500-1500$/month is a bare minimum to go serious about it.
    Malan, are you serious that it takes 12+ months to master with such a great mentor? That hurt my motivation a little.

  • Michael

    Wow, you put idea’s into perspective and made me really think about how to move forward with my own journey.

    Great post 🙂

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      get on it

  • derick

    valuable info thanks

  • Derick Palacios

    valuable info thanks malan

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      hell yeah

  • Zane Brandes

    This is so true, I struggle with this too but I am working on it. Gotta risk it to get the biscuit right?

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras