Disclosure: My site is reader-supported. I may get commissions when you click through the affiliate links (that are great products I use and stand by) on my articles.
With all the bad press and noise, it’s easy to think that the affiliate marketing business is not worth it. But I’ve been in space for three years, and my experience has been rosy.
The only challenge is the occasional Google update that scares all business owners and marketers alike.
So if you’re reading this and wondering: is affiliate marketing worth it?
Well then, the answer depends on whether you’re ready to invest into it and become a successful affiliate marketer.
According to Rakuten Advertising, more than 80% of advertisers ran affiliate marketing programs.
And based on the affiliate industry’s past steady growth, A. Guttmann predicted the affiliate marketing spend in the US would reach 8.2 billion in 2022.
The affiliate marketing industry is not shrinking.
So even if you already have a business or a job, it’s still worth it as a second revenue stream besides your primary source of living. The beauty is that, it will also eventually become a passive income stream or you can look into leveraging affiliate marketing to grow your own products/servivces.
Ready to join the lucrative affiliate marketing industry?
Keep reading to learn how it works and how you can make the most of it.
Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting other people’s products in exchange for a small commission for the sale. It’s a business model where businesses pay their affiliate partners per purchase or click, and it’s all done through an affiliate link.
For instance, if you were in the home decor niche and promoted homeware products, you can sign up to be an Amazon affiliate marketer, and direct your audience to buy appliances on Amazon through an affiliate link. In exchange, Amazon rewards you with a commission for qualified affiliate sales.
There are three types of affiliate programs on the internet:
Unattached affiliate marketing is the regular Pay Per Click (PPC) affiliate marketing campaign where you don’t have a presence or authority in the product or space you’re promoting.
Without a connection with the audience, the only thing you can do is place affiliate links on social media ads like Facebook ads or Google ads hoping that someone will buy the product.
Related Affiliate Marketing is a form of affiliate marketing where you establish a presence in the online space through a blog, podcast, videos, or social media. But you haven’t used the affiliate product you promote.
Placing affiliate links on your website to products related to your niche is an excellent way to earn extra income. The biggest risk with such affiliate campaigns is that if you promote the wrong product that’s not fit for your audience, you’ll lose their trust.
Involved affiliate marketing is where you’ve used an affiliate product or service, you believe in it, and you recommend it to your audience. The involvement and experience with the product make this type of affiliate marketing so attractive.
But there’s a lot of responsibility to uphold when making recommendations.
You’ll need to build trust, influence, and authenticity on the internet. Picture it as a way to build relationships with your audience.
Feel free to use the affiliate marketing that resonates with you. Or start with the related affiliate marketing then graduate to involved affiliate marketing.
Making affiliate marketing work for you is simple, but not easy. How fast you can make your first $1000 with affiliate marketing varies depending on your niche, time investment, and content strategy.
For example, if you promote furniture and decor, you could join Wayfair’s affiliate program that gives affiliates a 7% commission rate. While they have a vast range of products, their average order size is $300. So we’re talking $21.
To make $1000 a month through their affiliate program, you’d need to convert at least 47 customers! Not to mention that their cookie duration is only 7 days. Meaning that once your lead clicks on your referral link, they have to convert within 7 days.
Compare that to promoting an SEO software like SEO PowerSuite where you get 33% commission not just for the first sale, but for subscription renewals too. Their cheapest subscription is $569 per year. So that’s about $196 commission per sale. Meaning that to make $1,000 in a month, you only need to convert about 6 customers. Plus their cookie duration is 120 days!
Clearly, promoting software would get you to your $1,000 affiliate commission faster. And when you include the recurring annual or monthly commissions, physical products don’t even come close.
What’s more, your audience also determines how much you’ll make in affiliate sales. For example, if your content is targeted to students, you’re better off promoting student loan programs than decor items. But if your content attracts company decision-makers (e.g., marketing directors), you can promote high-value software.
Nonetheless, affiliate marketing success requires commitment because it takes time to pick up.
Just take a look at the following affiliate marketers:
Tom Dupuis, a successful affiliate marketer, makes $150,000 each year promoting website themes, plugins, hosting, etc. His strategy was to use a high-paying affiliate program (Cloudways) in his niche (WordPress speed optimization). And though it took him many months blogging to get there, he makes his money with 3,000 monthly views to his blog.
Spencer Haws, is another affiliate marketer who earns most of his money through affiliate marketing projects. He earned his first $26 over one year after launching his affiliate site. You can read more about his activities when you visit Niche Pursuits.
Besides these two, there are other successful affiliate marketers like Pat Flynn who used to make $1000,0000 per year. You can read about his affiliate marketing work here.
Affiliate marketing is ideal for bloggers, influencers, and anyone who needs to build and grow their digital channel like YouTube. There’s no limit to how much you can make. All you need is the right marketing strategy and high-paying affiliate partnerships with great brands.
So let’s explore how you can make money with affiliate marketing.
Here’s my affiliate marketing process:
A niche is a segment of a large market. The market can be pets, money, relationships, health, etc. For instance, if you start a blog in the pet market, your niche can be dog training, cat training, writing about dog breeds, fish care, cat care, e.t.c.
That niche will become your area of specialization, and your audience will know you for that. Here is an excellent illustration from Hubspot:
You’ll use the blog to write about the niche you choose in step one. Launching a blog today is easy. We have lots of tutorials in the affiliate marketing industry that can help you do that. The best part is, it will cost you less than $100 per year to get started.
Here’s a breakdown of my blog’s total cost for the whole year:
After launching your affiliate marketing blog, you’ll learn how to create content, choose affiliate offers, generate traffic, place affiliate links, and make more money.
Youtube is also a great marketing channel for affiliate products too but has a higher barrier to entry as you’ll need to put yourself in front of a camera.
But if you don’t find that daunting, becoming an affiliate marketer with Youtube is a very lucrative option.
Now before you go and sign up for all the affiliate marketing programs out there, you need to ask yourself one question: Is the article.video that you plan on putting affiliate links getting any traffic?
Thing is, joining affiliate programs take time. Most programs are gated and need manual approval which may take up to five business days.
It doesn’t make sense for you to start joining all these programs and putting your links in articles that aren’t even getting any eyeballs.
So it circles back to having a well-defined and intentional content strategy in place that is intended to rank and get you traffic.
Only then will your affiliate effort prove fruitful. Otherwise, you’re better off spending that time fixing your content strategy, building links to help with ranking, or writing more optimized content.
Remember, affiliate marketing is a long game. But a worthwhile one.
If on the other hand, you’re getting eyeballs on your content – awesome work! You’re ready to sign up.
It’s likely that the types of affiliate programs (and also your earnings) will fall into 1 of 2 buckets:
These are high-paying affiliate programs. They’re mostly software affiliate programs that also have recurring commissions when a buyer renews their subscription.
For example, Convertkit pays affiliates $700 per month when they send 80 customers. And 30% recurring commissions for 24 months for each referral.
They also have private jet affiliate programs that pay affiliates $1000 per sale. These affiliate programs tend to be more competitive for new affiliates. A new affiliate partner might have better luck with low-paying affiliate programs.
But to generate income in these competitive spaces, you need a solid strategy.
A solid strategy involves creating high-quality content, investing in social media influencers, running email marketing campaigns, growing your target audience, and using other marketing channels.
These affiliate programs pay lower commissions but have mass appeal. They’re mostly physical products. For instance, Amazon affiliate programs pay up to 10% in commission.
Here are other affiliate programs and their commission:
5% to 7% commission
4% to 7% commission
3% on electronic, 7% to 9% for everything
up to 6% commission
0.5% to 1% commission
One way to find out about an affiliate program is to do a Google Search. For instance, if you are in the pet niches, you can type these search strings to know affiliate programs that exist:
And one last thing – you can choose to join affiliate programs individually (per company) or join affiliate platforms like ShareASale, Awin and Clickbanks that are a affiliate partner with many companies and brands.
If you don’t take affiliate marketing like any other business, you’ll get few results. And it won’t motivate you to see the actual results in the long run.
Affiliate marketing is a business that requires your commitment to building trust, influence, loyalty, and authenticity. If you use it to promote products that don’t fulfil customers’ needs, you will lose the customers with time.
You also won’t be an overnight success with affiliate marketing. Any affiliate marketer will tell you that it takes time to succeed in this industry. You’ll learn different skills like content marketing skills, SEO, email marketing skills, etc. The more you learn about affiliate marketing, the more money you make.
Accept affiliate marketing like any other business model that requires you to develop skills and grow.
Yes, affiliate marketing is worth it. You can make money with affiliate marketing, but how much you make will depend on the niche, affiliate program and the amount of time you invest into your affiliate marketing business.
The beauty is that you don’t have to create your products or services. You promote other people’s products as you learn the ropes.
The potential for passive income with affiliate marketing is as high as $1,000,000 per year. You can add it to your current business as a second income stream.
But successful affiliate marketing takes time. Any affiliate marketer in the affiliate marketing industry will tell you that.
So instead of asking whether it’s worth it, what you should really ask yourself is: are you willing to put in the effort to start affiliate marketing and make it a success?
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