Affiliate marketers have to consider whether a particular product or company is worth their time to promote. Some companies only pay a one percent commission, while others pay 75 percent commission. And you can get paid as little as a few cents and as much as a few hundred or thousand dollars depending on the type of item sold. As the affiliate marketer, you also have to determine how much time you need to spend in order to make a sale. Affiliate marketing is not a set it and forget it kind of method, as some people claim it to be - it takes active work to make a sale. If you have to spend one hour in order to make $0.38, then it may not be worth it for you. But if you spend only 20 minutes and you get paid $50, then that's probably worth it.
first off, show visitors that you have a great site by getting a better theme! You did not get a penalty because of affiliate content, nor have I ever heard of, however, I have heard of sites in the past getting penalty for having do follow links to affiliate programs such as amazon, remember, google does not like you giving credit to a site in exchange for receiving paid compensation, so ask yourself, are your external links nofollow? this may also include any buttons/graphics that link to affiliate sites that do not have a no follow attribute, not going to go to much into this, so I am going to assume your content is ok, if it is, then you need to check your link portfolio; maybe you have too many low quality links and/or you may have over-optimized anchor/text in your link building efforts; bad links, over optimization are common link issues that could cause your site to get a penalty, as it is not about what you are writing about, if all else fails, then hire seo consultant for an entire site autdit, they will go through your site tooth and nail, and see why you have lost your rankings. good luck.
There are two ways to approach affiliate marketing: You can offer an affiliate program to others or you can sign up to be another business's affiliate. As the business driving an affiliate program, you'll pay your affiliates a commission fee for every lead or sale they drive to your website. Your main goal should be to find affiliates who'll reach untapped markets. For example, a company with an e-zine may make a good affiliate because its subscribers are hungry for resources. So introducing your offer through a "trusted" company can grab the attention of prospects you might not have otherwise reached.