Affiliate marketing has the beauty of having an easy entry level and if all goes well it can have rewards in terms of finance and/or lifestyle. However newbies to the industry often see the shining lights of super affiliate-dom, flashing pound signs and roads paved with gold without ever seeing just who they’re really going to be up against.

The below are just some things worth considering or being aware of…

1. Voucher Code Sites
No matter what you promote in affiliate marketing it’s inevitable that someone will be top in google for “what it is you’re promoting” plus “voucher code”. This means that it’s possible (or quite likely depending on what you’re doing) that you will lose sales to other sites if you’re not including those codes.

2. Cashback Sites
Anyone in affiliate marketing who says cashback sites won’t effect you needs to be hung up on a clothes peg by their pants and battered with large wet sponges. If you are promoting something – someone somewhere will try and find it with a cashback offer. This is especially true with high ticket items like car insurance!

3. Google
Google will either love you or loathe you – and even if it does love you, it will occasionally remind you who’s in charge by doing annoying things like allowing gambling PPC back into the mix. The best suggestion here is accept unrequited love… you may well want to love Google more than it wants to love you.

4. Big Brands
The good thing about affiliate marketing is that you’re now competing against big brands. The downside is that those big brands, who once ignored affiliate marketing and stuff like cashback and vouchers, are now saddling up and getting more involved as they realise there’s money to be made. They’re also improving their own SEO and perhaps even considering their own PPC campaigns. 2009 could be the year of big brand affiliates!

5. Brand Name Bidders
Some affiliates regard brand name PPC bidders as a serious problem in affiliate marketing. They could be the difference between your sale or your cookie being over written.

6. Rogue Affiliates
One thing you’ll find in affiliate marketing is that rules for you doesn’t always necessarily equate to rules for everyone else. The only thing you can hope for here is that the networks and merchants keep an eye out on dodgy stuff and take swift action.

7. Email & Data Marketing
How many times have you been signed up for a site when you’ve never visited it? I’m concerned how often this happens and where the data is being picked up from. I’d love to know how much monitoring is done on spam email marketing and specifically forced lead generation?

8. Cookie Ordering
Another concern which I’d like to understand more about is cookie ordering. For example if a marketing campaign on say Big Portal sets a cookie for Merchant X via an agency and then the same user clicks to Merchant X via an affiliate network cookie – is there ever a time when the affiliate cookie doesn’t win? Are their cookie ordering rules affiliates (or even networks) don’t know about?

On top of the above there’s other affiliates to think about, established behemoth sites like moneysavingexpert, as well as the advertising power of big internet brands like moneysupermarket… and there’s bound to be other things that I’ve overlooked.

Still excited about affiliate marketing?

The answer should be “yes” because despite all the above (and let’s face it – how much more fun would it be if it was easy… ok don’t answer that) there’s still opportunity for people to get on board and do well. There’s no doubt that it is tougher for the “bedroom affiliate” and it does help things if you have a few quid to spend to get yourself established.

However, the key, as many people will tell you, is finding a niche or having an idea out of left field. Combine that with good content creation, a service that people actually want, and a bit of luck then you’ll be on your way. Just keep an eye open for the things above as they may well be effecting just how much commission you earn.