Is Affiliate Marketing Dead in 2021?

As last year’s turbulence comes to an end, affiliate marketers everywhere are looking toward 2021 with hopeful anticipation. But a lot of those marketers are going to be in for a rough awakening. Today I’m going to talk about why affiliate marketing is going to be dead for most people in the next year or two and how your business can thrive well into the future, with a significant competitive advantage over everyone else.

Affiliate marketing is one of those industries where newbies come in because they think there’s a lot of money to be made, which there is, but we’re constantly of the rip and run mindset. In other words, we’re constantly looking at what others are doing so that we can copy it and do it ourselves.

Affiliate Managers

It’s only getting worse and worse every single year. We have affiliate managers out there who are constantly getting information from affiliates and, they’re sharing that information with other affiliates so they can make more money.

Remember, most affiliate managers are also people that run traffic themselves! So that is one opposing factor.

Ad Platforms

We have ad platforms out there who are constantly trying to get us to spend more money. So, when they see a successful campaign and they have relationships with other affiliates, they’re going to tell those other affiliates the best placements. They’re going to say, “Hey, this is really working well over here.”

Spy Tools

We have multiple spy tools out there for affiliates to find what other people are doing every single day. So, you can spy constantly, and find out what other people are doing. There’s a constant rip and run effect.


We have offer-owners who own the actual offers who are looking to scale their campaigns. They might see you having a lot of success in pitching their products. They’re going to be looking at what you’re doing and they’re going to see what your pages are. They’re going to see what your traffic sources are and they’re going to probably think about doing it themselves.


We have Facebook now sharing everyone’s ads. You can see everything that’s happening and what their landing pages are.

So how is an affiliate marketer to survive if everybody can already see what you are doing? That is what we’re going to talk about today. I want to talk about MOAT. That is your competitive advantage as an affiliate marketer. But how can you get MOAT in your business if you’re just the affiliate and you don’t own the actual products? Let’s talk about exact ways you can do this to make sure that your business survives into the future.

Lazy affiliates will not do Content Marketing

Content Marketing

So one of the most common ways affiliates create something that most people do not want to copy is by creating a brand or content marketing. Content marketing is the first approach that many affiliates go into because it is very time-consuming and it takes a ton of work, but it pays off.

That is why I have this blog about a topic that I very much enjoy. It’s also why I create YouTube videos because nobody is going to want to copy two years’ worth of videos to make $5000/month.

That is essentially what I’m making right now from my YouTube channel. If you’re interested in seeing how I make that money, I’ve done a video about that. How much money you make as a YouTuber.

So if you want to strive towards consistent monthly income, then content marketing is the way to go. You create a ton of great content. You become an expert in whatever field that you want to choose. Everybody has something that they’re good at. Maybe you’re a gamer, and you play games all the time and you want to write about games and reviews on games. That is a great way to create a brand, a website and something that nobody will ever copy.

Create Your Own Product

Number two is to create your own little product. And I say “little” product because I’m not talking about creating this big, huge operation of having support staff and getting stuff shipped from another country. I’m talking about a small little digital product that you can sell for a very small price so that you can create your own funnels.

A lot of people do not want to go that route. They just want to rip a page, send traffic to the page and hopefully convert. Those are the lazy affiliates. Yes, it makes money now, but it’s just constantly getting harder and harder.

If you have your own little product that you charge a small amount for upfront through PayPal or Stripe, you can get customers into your funnel. This might be an e-book for $2.00-5.00. Now you have a list of customers and now you can start targeting them with other affiliate offers or you can start retargeting them on ad platforms. Most people aren’t going to go that extra step and that’s where you have more competitive advantage.

Appear like you are the product owner

Appear Like YOU are the Product Owner

Number three is more of an advanced topic, which is to appear like you’re the actual product owner. This happens when you have a lot of traffic for an existing offer and you now have the power to go to these offer-owners. Those are the people who own the offers on the networks. If you’re working with the network and say, “Look, I would like to put this offer on my own domain because now that gives me the ability to have an exclusive offer”. That means nobody else can copy this because it’s going to be mine, but it’s still the back end is owned by the actual offer owner.

Work Directly with Offer-Owners

That leads us to the next one, which is be direct as possible, meaning go to networks that work directly with advertisers not brokering three or four other networks. You can tell this usually by the payouts on an offer. If you go search on and look for the payouts of the offers, the highest payout usually means that they’re the most direct with the actual offer owners.

Now, if you’re a high traffic affiliate and you already have a ton of experience, many times you can go direct with the offer-owners. I created a video on my YouTube channel where I talk about the risks of working direct versus working with a network. So, make sure you check out that video.

Hide Everything

This next one is going to probably step on a few toes, but if you plan to work directly with advertisers hide everything from your affiliate managers. Let’s just remember that many affiliate managers are people who either ran traffic before and didn’t succeed, and now they’re looking for a job as an affiliate manager or they’re experienced media buyers and they just want the security of having a job but at the same time, at night or at home, they are running campaigns themselves.

Let’s just be real here. Affiliate managers are looking at what you are doing. If you can hide your referrers, if you can tell them as little as possible about your traffic sources in your ads, then do that. Do not share everything about your campaigns because people are out there watching constantly, and if they have relationships with other affiliates, they may share that information.

If you start scaling well and one of their friends is having troubles this week and not making much money, you run the risk of the affiliate manager sharing your exact methods with him. So, make sure that you’re hiding as much as possible from your networks.

This might not be the case if you have a really strong relationship with your affiliate manager or the offer-owners, but just use common sense and make sure you understand how the information is made available to others.

Create your network

Establish Relationships with Networks

Next, you’re going to want to establish relationships with the traffic sources. A lot of traffic sources have ad reps. For example, I’m running traffic on MDIG and they have an ad rep that shared with me some great placements that work well for diet because that’s the niche for this campaign.

I asked the rep, “Hey, where are people running diet?”.  They gave me a list of IDs that I put into my campaign. I set up my ads for my landing page. Now, of course, other people can probably do the same thing. I don’t have much MOAT there just because they gave me that information

I need to also establish some other things in my campaign to make it hard for people to copy, but it’s one extra step that a lot of people aren’t taking. Talk to your ad reps and ask for these placements. It gives you a quick competitive advantage over other people so you can build campaigns faster that are more likely to convert.


Next is DMCA. This is one of the services I use on a couple of my campaigns. It’s going to help protect you from people stealing your pages. They will automatically tell you if somebody has ripped your landing pages. You put the code on your website, and DMCA scours the Internet and makes sure that nobody has copied your content.

If you find something that somebody ripped, you can actually approach DMCA and they will contact the other party and tell them to take it down. Now, this isn’t 100% perfect, but it works to slow down the idiots who are lazy, scared and not really understanding what’s going on. They’re going to take down their website most times. Thankfully I haven’t had to use this a lot, but it’s been very effective when I did have the need.

Collect Leads Before Sending to Offer

A lot of people aren’t going to collect a lead first before they send traffic to an affiliate offer. This is a big step and it takes a lot of work to set up a squeeze page as part of a funnel that then sends people to an affiliate offer. Most people just want to rip the landing page and start running traffic. They don’t want to go set up a website. They don’t want to set up a free offer for people to give them their email address and then receive a link in the back end.

This is an advanced tactic that most people aren’t going to do, and it also helps you build a list and have something that you can actually sell to later on. So that is why I do list building. That is why we train on list building inside; a lot of our training involves setting up campaigns and funnels that most people aren’t going to because they’re just too damn lazy.

In fact, we created a little bit of code that we use where we can start sending people to our landing pages, and once they’ve converted on the CPA offers that we’re running, we can actually start collecting leads at the same time. So there are some really clever ways you can create that little competitive advantage on your campaigns that other people are just too lazy to do.

Optimize Your Affiliate Campaigns

Optimize Your Campaigns

The last one is understanding how optimization works, how to optimize your campaign so that you are constantly winning when it comes to competing against other affiliate marketers or other marketers.

You should be constantly split-testing your landing pages. Once you find a landing page that works, that one becomes your control page. Set that at whatever percentage, maybe 75 to 80 percent and constantly split-test at 20% a new landing page variation.

Most people going out and ripping and running don’t even understand that they’re ripping pages that have already been tested and burned out for months or even years. They think that they’re getting a great landing page, but really the affiliates are probably already five landing pages beyond that and testing and tweaking and constantly making changes.

So that is why most people recommend if you’re going to be spying and trying to find campaigns and ripping and running, always make changes to the pages. Bring your own brain to the table, change the headlines, change the images, test your own stuff and constantly be testing ads, creatives, placements, landing pages. That is going to give you a competitive advantage over the people that really think there’s a magical autopilot affiliate system out there that just does not exist.

Final Thoughts

2020 was a challenging year for everyone, and many of those challenges are going to carry over into 2021. With more people entering affiliate marketing and diluting the pool of potential sales, it’s imperative to set yourself apart from the lazy affiliates who are only looking for the quick sale.

If you follow the steps that I have outlined for you, you take guide your business to great success and prove that affiliate marketing is NOT dead in 2021, at least not for the smart affiliates like you.

What’s your biggest challenge for your business in 2021? What new tactics are you going to try this year? Leave a comment below, and join the conversation.

Joey Babineau

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