Whether you’re already in the affiliate marketing business or you’re thinking about jumping in, you’ve probably wondered: “How much do affiliate marketers make?”
Well, here’s some good news: the affiliate marketing industry is growing steadily, which makes affiliate marketing a great way to make a living! Statista reports that in the US alone, spending on affiliate marketing is expected to rise to over $8.2 billion by the year 2022.
This means that there is a massive opportunity for affiliate marketers to grow and earn in this space.
When most people think of affiliate marketing, they think of Amazon. But affiliate marketing goes way beyond that one retailer.
In fact, almost all companies have affiliate programs of some kind.
For instance, depending on your chosen niche, there are many great affiliate marketing programs you can choose from, including:
- E-commerce Affiliate Programs (CJ Affiliate, ShareASale, Amazon Associate, etc.)
- Web Hosting Affiliate Programs (SiteGround, WPengine, Liquid Web, etc.)
- Dating Affiliate Programs (eHarmony, Cupid Media, Match.com, etc.)
- Educational Affiliate Programs (Teachable, Coursera, Skillshare, Udemy, etc.)
- Online Marketing Tools Programs (GanttPro, PromoRepublic, etc.)
- Gaming Affiliate Programs (Alienware, Razer, Logitech, etc.)
- …and many more!
All you need to do is register with one or more affiliate networks and use your affiliate links to refer people to various products that they are searching for right now and you’ll be able to start earning a living from affiliate marketing.
However, the question remains: How much can you make as an affiliate marketer?
We know that internet gurus and super affiliates say you can make millions, but what do regular affiliates make?
Here is what one study revealed:
As you can see, there are affiliate marketers in income brackets that range from one end of the spectrum to the other. But, for the most part, affiliate marketing seems to be quite profitable.
Why Is Affiliate Marketing So Profitable?
Many gurus online tell aspiring affiliate marketers that they can get rich quickly with this type of marketing.
Although that has happened with some people, it’s more of an exception than the rule.
When done right affiliate marketing can be extremely lucrative for website owners. With the right strategy, lots of hustle, and perseverance, you can make a very good living in time.
(But it won’t happen overnight, no matter how many bloggers and gurus say that it can.)
One of the reasons why affiliate marketing is so profitable is that there are lucrative affiliate programs in almost every niche. There’s no shortage of products and services that you can promote and earn commissions on the sales.
Also, it’s very easy to get started in affiliate marketing, as there are very few costs associated with this business model.
Here are some benefits of using the affiliate marketing business model:
- Low Overhead Costs: The majority of affiliate programs you’ll find today are free to join. The only costs associated with this type of marketing are related to your marketing and referral methods.
- No Physical Products: There is no need to create your own product or service since you have so many existing ones to choose from. Also, you don’t have to ship or stock products.
- Supplemental Income: With affiliate marketing, you get passive income potential depending on your methods of marketing your affiliate products.
- Flexibility: Affiliate marketing allows you to work anytime from anywhere as long as you have a computer and Internet access.
All you need to do to join the ranks of countless other profitable affiliate marketers is to treat your affiliate website like any other business.
You must build a strong brand and have a commanding online presence. You need to have a professionally designed website, complete with the eye-catching logo and tagline, and you also need to create strong social media profiles for your business.
If you value longevity, it’s important that you be seen as a professional and an expert in your niche. Legitimacy is the main key to building trust with your visitors which will lead to an increase in affiliate sales.
Here are a few of the factors that make a significant difference in whether or not an affiliate site is profitable:
- Create Content that Converts: You must create unique content that offers great value to your readers and caters to user intent.
- Focus on Great SEO: Affiliate sites often depend on organic search traffic. Focusing on great SEO practices will ensure long-term success for your site.
- Differentiate Yourself: Successful affiliate sites find a way to differentiate themselves from the countless other affiliate websites using things like layouts, web design, and various branding elements.
- Choose Evergreen Niches: Smart affiliate marketers choose evergreen niches that will provide them with a steady income over the long haul.
- Have Diversified Income: Affiliate marketing offers a way to add a different income stream to your website, thereby helping you make even more money.
How Fast Can You Make Money With Affiliate Marketing?
One of the biggest questions asked by those considering affiliate marketing is how long before they start making a steady income.
Affiliate marketing can start quickly or it can take time. It all depends on a variety of factors that we’ll discuss below.
The biggest factor is that you will need traffic in order to be accepted to most affiliate programs. So your success basically depends on the level of traffic you’re currently getting to your website.
Getting to the point where you’re generating enough traffic to start earning consistently as an affiliate can take anywhere from six months to several years.
Your overall success will also depend on these factors:
- The affiliate niche you choose
- The quality of content you create
- Your understanding of search intent
- Your search optimization tactics
- The traffic generation methods you’re using
- And the types of products you promote
And let’s not forget about the use of email marketing and social media marketing!
Having said that, it’s important to note that with consistent effort in all the different aspects of affiliate marketing, you can rest assured that your strategy will eventually bring you your desired income.
Getting back to the question of how fast you can earn money in affiliate marketing…
It’s important to understand that affiliates in different earning brackets use different strategies for traffic generation and lead conversion.
Affiliate marketing has 5 earning brackets (profit, not revenue):
1. Affiliate Apprentice – Typically loses money
There isn’t much to say about this type of affiliate, except that if you find yourself in this group, then it’s time to reevaluate your entire strategy so you can start making some real money with affiliate marketing.
2. Low-Level Affiliate: Brings in up to $300 a day
This type of marketer typically focuses on small pockets of profits on the Internet. They ignore the economies of scale while favoring high-margin campaigns on very small traffic sources that are typically volatile, such as Facebook Ads.
3. Intermediate Affiliate: Makes between $300 to $3,000 a day
Intermediate affiliate marketers focus on high-volume traffic sources that have smaller margins but offer higher volume. They can be found in niches like adult dating where the high level of competition on larger traffic sources diminishes the size of the pie for everyone. Smart affiliates in the intermediate category focus on mobile marketing.
4. High-Level Affiliate: Usually earns above $3,000 a day
High-level affiliates focus on hugely scalable sources of traffic and mass-market media buys. They often trade convenience (e.g. self-serve traffic sources) for direct buyers that have better margins. This marketing strategy involves greater risk and more capital is required.
5. The Super Affiliate: Doesn’t consider anything less than $10,000 a day to be a good day.
Super affiliates are the ones that focus solely on marketing campaigns that are statistically proven to hold huge potential that will bring them to their million-dollar salaries.
As an affiliate marketer, it’s important to align your earning expectations with the actual work that you will have to deliver in order to get the desired income.
For instance, if you are happy making an additional $100 a day, then there’s no need for you to look into mass-market media buys or highly scalable traffic sources.
But, if your income streams include plenty of zeros, then you need to commit the time and energy to carrying out the right campaigns which are likely to open up that type of earning potential.
Affiliate Marketers Who Have Found Success
It’s always nice to hear about how others are doing well. Not only is it inspiring for us, but it also means we can look at their strategies and techniques to learn from their experiences. This includes what they did right, and all the things they got wrong
Here are five inspiring examples of individuals who are doing extremely well with affiliate marketing. We’ll look at what they do and how much they have made in their respective niches.
1. Pat Flynn
Pat Flynn created affiliate websites on becoming a security guard, passing the Leed exam, and growing a successful food truck business. And although he claims he is not an expert, he managed to earn over $3 million in the last six years from these sites. He’s transitioned to creating digital courses and selling them to his large following, but his start was primarily in affiliate marketing.
2. Tom Dupuis
Tom creates tutorials about WordPress, and over the last two years, his income has gone from $20,000 to $150,000. He makes most of his affiliate income from recommending SiteGround as a way to optimize website speed.
3. Doug Cunnington
Doug writes about affiliate marketing, productivity, and SEO. He is a course creator and affiliate marketer. He has made over $70,000 from just one niche website mainly focused on the Amazon Affiliate model.
4. Chris Guthrie
Chris from UpFuel spent much of his time years ago hosting webinars, but recently sold one of his Amazon affiliate sites for an impressive six-figure sum. He writes on a variety of topics, offering tips and strategies for building and growing an online business.
5. Darren Rowse
Darren has made over $550,000 from his site focusing mainly on Amazon products. He has become one of the most well-known figures in affiliate marketing and his success story provides every aspiring affiliate marketer with motivation.
These marketers have inspiring stories, right?
But, in reality, many of them spent months and even years with little to no earnings from their affiliate sites.
They didn’t become successful overnight.
While their stories show us that it’s possible to get to that level if you put in the work, a lot of people lose hope and give up before the results start showing.
Which brings us to a very important question…
Is Affiliate Marketing Worth it?
The simple answer to this question is that affiliate marketing may not be worth the effort for everyone.
Sure, anyone can blog and make money with affiliate marketing, but it’s never easy getting to the point where you’re making a full-time income.
Although the basic skills required to get started are easy to master, it takes a lot of effort and requires continuous learning in order to succeed as an affiliate marketer.
You need to be able to:
- Choose a product category that you’ll focus on
- Do deep research into your target audience
- Build a professional-looking website or blog
- Understand search intent
- Create A LOT of content
- Promote your content and your affiliate product(s) continuously
- Keep up with the latest digital marketing trends
As you can see, there’s a lot you have to do before you can start receiving commission checks from your affiliate networks.
That’s why affiliate marketing isn’t worth the effort for everyone.
However, if you are committed and willing to put in the effort, you’ll find that affiliate marketing will be an extremely profitable business in a lot of different ways.
- You’ll get to be your own boss and determine the type of products you market, as well as how you market them.
- You’ll work from anywhere and on your own schedule. No more adhering to rigid schedules.
- With the right type of promotional strategy, affiliate marketing allows you to make money even while you sleep.
Basically, you’ll have time, money, and location freedom – which is something that most people dream of.
This alone is worth the effort for a lot of aspiring marketers, and if you have the right knowledge, flexibility, and the willingness to learn, you’ll find that affiliate marketing can be your ticket to success online.
How Much Do Affiliate Marketers Make Summary
As you ponder the potential for making money as an affiliate marketer, keep in mind that everyone has an earning threshold – that is, a figure representing their point of diminishing returns. However, many people fail to recognize this.
For instance, if your specific life situation dictates that $300 a day is the peak of financial motivation, you might be able to drive yourself to achieve this goal, but you’ll find that your motivation begins to slip if you try to go any further.
That is the point of diminishing returns or your comfort zone.
At this point, procrastination sets in, together with crippling fears of success or failure. That’s why a lot of affiliate marketers struggle when it comes to taking their business to the next level.
So, are you willing to do the things necessary to deliver the income that you want? Let us know in the comments below!
Ron Stefanski is an online entrepreneur and marketing professor at National Louis University who has a passion for helping people create and market their own online business. You can learn more from him by visiting OneHourProfessor.com.
You can also connect with him on YouTube or Linkedin.