Sooner or later, most affiliate marketers ask this question…
“How long does it take to start making money with affiliate marketing?”
Maybe you are trying to decide whether you should initiate your first affiliate website or not.
Or maybe you’ve been trying to make some money as an affiliate marketer for a while now but without any luck and you just need to know for how much longer you’ll have to stick with it to finally start reaping what you’ve sown and become yourself one of those success stories that you are constantly reading about.
I wish that I could give you a specific number of months, I really do…
Unfortunately, that would be like trying to squeeze blood out of a stone.
If I had a gun on my head and had to choose a timeframe, to ensure that I don’t set your expectations neither too low nor too high, I’d say that it takes 8-12 months, more or less, for your affiliate marketing business to start bringing in revenue, provided of course, that you devote a substantial chunk of your time and energy into developing it and not just launching it and letting it sit there inactive and empty.
The real truth is that the factors in play are so many that it would be nearly impossible for anyone to accurately predict how an affiliate business is going to behave in terms of earnings.
Before we take a look at those factors one by one, let me first set something straight…
Affiliate Marketing is NOT a Way to Earn Money Fast and Effortlessly!
It is inevitable that people will often try to convince you otherwise…
They will claim that they have found “the secret formula” to making thousands of dollars by the end of the month, even if today is the 29th. Of course, this “secret formula” will be in the form of a course, ebook, or something else of this kind that you’ll have to pay for. If you are gullible or desperate enough you might end up purchasing. However, soon you’ll realize that they were feeding you a load of bull… ahem, lies and you’ll grow to regret your decision.
Nope, no way! They weren’t making such claims to get their hands on your money… No sir!
Always remember that what sounds too good to be true, probably is.
Never believe the words of those who promise extraordinary results in short amounts of time because they are most probably just after your money and couldn’t care less about you.
Truth is that affiliate marketing is absolutely NOT a make-money-tomorrow-without-much-effort scheme. End of story!
Yes, there are some small chances that your affiliate marketing business will start bringing in money within just a few weeks or maybe a couple of months. It might take longer than a year. Nobody can tell for sure.
One thing is certain though…
99% of those who get into affiliate marketing with an attitude of making some quick bucks fast, without doing much, end up quitting after failing to meet their ridiculous expectations.
Don’t be one of those people.
Affiliate Marketing is REAL Business
Running an affiliate website is not that different from running a regular offline business such as a restaurant.
You wouldn’t expect a newly founded restaurant to start making a profit by the end of the month without making much effort right?
So, why would your affiliate marketing business be any different? Just because it is online?
I don’t think so, pal!
Affiliate marketers are businessmen/entrepreneurs.
If you want your affiliate website to start earning money for you, then you have to start treating it like a real business.
You need to put in time and effort. Be persistent. Work hard. Work smart. Don’t be afraid to experiment; trial and error is an integral part of success. Keep an open mind. Go for the extra mile… After all, this is YOUR business you are not just an employee. Have faith in the process as well as in yourself. And above all, have patience until you start seeing results.
There’s no other way around.
Forget about making money fast and effortlessly. There is no such business. And even if it were, it would be highly unstable, fragile, and unreliable.
Affiliate Marketing is not a Sprint
Affiliate marketing is a marathon.
Instead of looking at it as a quick fix, consider it a long-term investment.
The work that you put in today will most probably not pay off instantly but it is going to pay off big eventually.
With affiliate marketing, you don’t exchange your time for money anymore. You don’t work for $10 per hour. Instead, you invest your time and energy in creating something just once but that will keep paying you over and over again for the years to come.
This is called passive income and it is THE bomb!
Passive income means getting paid after the work is done without you being actively involved with it anymore. Some people call this “making money when you sleep”.
Passive income is the same kind of income that enables writers and actors to become rich and successful. They create something once (a book, a movie, a music album, etc) which keeps bringing them revenue for many years after its release.
For example, the cast of F.R.I.E.N.D.S is still earning $20 million per year each in royalties from the show, which by the way has ended since 2004. They are literally being paid for doing nothing for more than 14 years and they are going to keep getting paid probably until the children of their children are long gone.
If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you’ll work until you die. – Warren Buffett
To reach that point though, you’ll need to invest tons of time and energy upfront possibly without immediately getting anything in return.
That’s one of the main reasons that most people end up giving up on affiliate marketing. They have been used to exchanging their time for money. They don’t know what investing your time and energy means. Working for 2 hours now for the possibility to make some money in 6 months seems odd. They will always choose $20 dollars right now over $5 per week for 20 weeks. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush… Better a small fish than an empty dish… Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow…
Plus they don’t really have faith neither in the process nor in themselves.
So, okay… I made pretty clear that affiliate marketing is not the path to fast and easy money, but
How Long Does It Really Take To Start Making Money In Affiliate Marketing?
As I mentioned earlier, there are some factors which determine how long it could take to start earning money from your affiliate marketing business.
Some of those factors are
- The niche you choose
- Whether you have previous experience or not
- The training you follow
- Products you recommend
- The quality of your work
- Time you devote
- Your marketing methods
Let’s take a quick look at each one of them.
1 • Your Niche
The niche that you choose to build your affiliate business around plays a huge role in how long it will take to start seeing any earnings through it.
On one hand, if you go too broad with your niche, the competition will be fierce. The chances of your brand new affiliate marketing website outranking tons of highly authoritative websites which have been around much longer are slim to none. It might not be impossible but it will certainly take immense amounts of time and effort. Until that time, your website won’t show up in the first couple of pages of the SERPs, and this means no traffic and no traffic = no money.
An example of a too-broad niche is “Shoes”.
If you search Google for the term “shoes” you will see websites such as Zappos, Nike, 6pm, Macy’s, Amazon, etc ranking on the first page of its search results. Puma’s website is on page 4 and Vans’ website is on page 7.
Hell will freeze before your website ranks somewhere within the first 10 pages of the search results for the term “Shoes”.
So try to narrow down your niche.
Be careful not to overdo it though.
If you go too narrow, you might have little to no competition at all, but at the same time, you run the risk of having little to no audience interested in your articles as well.
Being passionate about your niche could definitely speed up the whole process of earning money.
If you are passionate about the overall subject of your website you’ll be much more motivated and driven to work on your business, you’ll be able to produce higher quality content more consistently and to understand your audience’s needs and how to fulfill them much better.
Not being interested in your niche at all could absolutely impede your results as well as dramatically increase your chances of losing interest and quitting.
Starting a niche site around a subject you are passionate about has a major advantage – you won’t get bored and quit – Alistair Gill
NicheHacks asked more than 50 experienced bloggers in various niches, about the best method of choosing a niche for your blog. 90% of them replied that the secret to creating a successful niche website is to pick a niche that you are interested, passionate, and optimally already knowledgeable about.
2 • Previous Experience
Having some previous experience with affiliate marketing or another relevant field such as
- Web design and management
- Digital/social media marketing
will inevitably allow you to achieve results much faster than those who don’t have any.
I’ve heard about people making their first affiliate marketing sale in less than a month after getting started. But they have been working in sales or marketing departments for years.
There was another guy which made his first sale one day after setting his affiliate business up. But he had been running blogs for at least 5 years. He just didn’t know that monetizing a blog was possible and when he did, BOOM! He made his first sale immediately.
Don’t get me wrong… Affiliate marketing is for everyone… Even those who have no previous experience whatsoever can end up earning a lot of money through it. I’ve been a member of a community for some years now and I’ve seen people ranging from the ages of 15 to 70+ creating successful affiliate businesses all the time.
In fact, the majority of successful affiliate marketers had no previous experience neither with affiliate marketing nor with any other relevant field.
However, if you go into affiliate marketing having absolutely no clue, you’ll have to go through a learning curve and a lot of trial and error until you find out what works for your business and as you can understand this sets you back from seeing results at least a few months.
So, it might take longer for someone who is absolutely clueless about affiliate marketing to start making money with it.
That’s not something to worry about though. It just means that you’ll have to stick with it and be patient for a little longer.
3 • The Training You Follow
The quality of your affiliate marketing education can make a massive difference in the amount of time it takes for your business to start driving in money.
If you are still relying on free resources such as blogs, Youtube, forums, etc, I hate to be the one breaking it to you but you are screwed.
I am not just saying that because free information might be inaccurate and have you running in circles but also because even many of those who are following a dedicated, structured, high-quality training, end up failing big time, so, as you can understand, the chances of making it without one are very slim.
Investing some money in the right affiliate marketing education could save you years of struggling without seeing any results, especially if you are among those who had never even heard the term affiliate marketing before getting started.
Ideally, join a community of already successful people so you can leverage their experience, learn from their mistakes, and follow their well-trodden path to success. This way you could drastically shorten your learning curve and speed up results.
A great place to get started is Wealthy Affiliate.
Wealthy affiliate is an affiliate marketing training platform with a large, extremely active community of very successful entrepreneurs and you can join it for FREE.
If you would like to find out more about it, make sure that you take a look at my Wealthy Affiliate review right here.
4 • Products You Recommend
Another important factor that determines how fast you can start making money with affiliate marketing is the very products that you are promoting on your website.
For example, if you promote a product that the only people who are aware of its existence, are you and its creator, then chances are that your readers won’t bother purchasing it.
Would you purchase a car or a fridge which no person in the solar system has bought, manufactured by some unknown company?
Maybe, if you’re weird. But probably not!
On the other hand, if a product is extremely popular and in extremely high demand, it is going to attract the attention of a lot of affiliate marketers and this means more people competing for the first pages of the search results and fewer chances for you to make any sales.
Recommending low-quality products is also a very bad choice on your part. Besides risking to lose your credibility, a crappy product is likely to have tons of negative reviews online already so no one will want to purchase it anyway and even if some poor bastard does purchase it, if you are the one who recommended it to him, he will hate your guts forever.
Lastly, to maximize the chances of making money, make sure to never recommend random products which are irrelevant to your niche and have nothing to do with your audience. Always go for products relevant to the overall subject of your website which could benefit your readers in some way.
Note: If you are still struggling to get traffic to your website, then the products you promote matter little.
Set your priorities straight. First focus on getting enough traffic and then you can start worrying about what products you should recommend to them.
5 • Consistency
It goes without saying that the more consistent you are with your business, the greater and faster results you are going to see.
Think about it this way:
If you are publishing just 1 article per week, it’s going to take 50 weeks to have 50 articles published on your blog but if you are publishing 5 articles per week it’s going to take only 10 weeks to reach the exact same amount of posts.
This means progressing 5x faster.
The more articles you have out there, the higher the chances of someone coming across one of them, visiting your website, and purchasing the products you promote.
Moreover, Google tends to favor and rank websites which publish fresh content frequently, better.
However, quantity is not all that matters.
6 • The Quality of Your Work
The quality of your work is one of the most important factors not just to start making money but also to ensure the long-term success of your online business.
Right above I mentioned that the more articles you publish, the more your chances of someone finding one of them and coming to your website. However, this is not applicable if the quality of your articles is very low.
Google won’t rank low-quality articles high enough in the SERPs in order to keep them away from people. Google doesn’t want to send traffic to low-quality articles because this way they risk losing their credibility. And if people don’t come, money won’t come either.
An article is considered low quality if it provides little or no value to the reader.
Articles which are
- Too short
- Full of affiliate links, banners, ads
- Not helpful and informative
- Containing irrelevant information
- Way too salesy
- Linking to crappy products
are all considered low-quality.
Even if someone manages to somehow get through and land on a low-quality article of yours, chances are that they will immediately leave without of course taking any of your recommendations.
Chances are that they will never want to come back either.
And if you think that they will not remember your website, believe me, that they will!
So, having low-quality articles on your website not just slows down your progress but actually costs you money!
7 • Time You Devote
Well, it goes without saying that if you work just 1 hour per day on your business, it will take much longer to start making money through it than devoting let’s say 4 hours a day.
However, if 1 hour per day is all you can devote to your business then, by all means, do it. If it’s less, that’s still okay. Slow progress is still progress and it’s definitely much better than no progress.
It doesn’t matter how slowly you are moving forward, as long as you never stop. – Confucius
To speed things up, you could borrow time to work on your business from meaningless activities like watching TV, scrolling up and down your Facebook wall, taking a bath, etc. 😛
8 • Charisma
Some people just have a knack for affiliate marketing.
Their content is naturally helpful, engaging, and informative and the moment someone reads their words they get hooked and want more. They are better at recognizing their readers’ needs and know exactly when the time is right to recommend a product in order for someone to purchase it.
Unfortunately, I am not one of them :P.
But you could be! You can’t know that unless you get started.
I’ve spoken to many people who didn’t believe that they will ever make it in affiliate marketing and yet they managed to build a full-time income through it in less than a year.
If you aren’t charismatic it doesn’t even remotely mean that you should quit. It just means that it might take some more time and effort on your part to reach your goals.
Just so you know, the majority of successful affiliate marketers started exactly like you and me. Having no clue!
9 • Marketing Methods
In order to start earning money with affiliate marketing, people must start coming to your website. In order for people to start coming to your website, they have to find it somewhere.
For many affiliate marketers, this “somewhere” is Google…
They publish a post, targeting a specific keyword, and when a person searches Google for this specific keyword or a relevant one, your article might show up in the results.
However, besides taking a lot of time, cultivating a substantial amount of search engine traffic is hard as hell mostly because you need to keep producing high-quality, targeted content, NON-stop.
Also, it usually takes about 6 months for Google to rank the articles of a brand new website in a niche which has little competition so no matter what you do, you’ll have to wait at least 6 months before traffic from Google starts landing on your articles anyway.
If the niche is more competitive and if your competition is comprised of well-established, authoritative websites it might take even longer.
Using another method of bringing traffic to your website such as
- social media
- paying for traffic
- helping people on forums and quora
- guest posting
- building backlinks
could absolutely speed results up at first.
However, the problem with such methods is that they are active. What that means is that if stop employing them your traffic will drop.
SEO is completely passive. Once your articles start ranking for certain keywords, people who search for those keywords will keep visiting your website without you doing anything more than a little maintenance once in a while.
How Long Did it Take For Me To Start Earning Money as an Affiliate Marketer?
My first affiliate marketing sale took place 8 months after getting started and came from another website of mine. It was somewhere around $50. I was so ecstatic that I almost cried. One month later, I ditched the website which brought this revenue in.
At the time that I am writing this article, I’ve been an affiliate marketer for a little more than 2 years and I am still making almost no money through affiliate marketing.
My first sale was probably just a spike because a second one has never taken place until now, a year later.
However, I made tons of mistakes that I believe held me back at least one year. I didn’t apply everything I learned from my training, I wasn’t using keywords (huge mistake) and I focused too much on growing a Facebook following. Most importantly I was not consistent at all… I was working on my business for 2 months and then I was taking 15 days off. Then I resumed for 1 month and took 2 months off again.
Compared to some affiliate marketers that I know who have managed to build a full-time income through affiliate marketing in a year more or less, my progress is way too slow.
On the other hand, I’ve also heard about people who have been trying to earn money with affiliate marketing for 5 years without any luck (I hope that I won’t end up being one of those people :P)
According to Nat from RagsToNiches, as counter-intuitive as it may sound, you need to stop worrying about making money in the beginning.
Getting the first few sales is not really the hard part. The hard part is being able to scale it up so you can start making some decent money per month because to reach that point you need a lot of traffic and getting that traffic cannot happen unless you’ve put in the time and effort to create something of great substance.
So, rather than thinking about how you can make money and how long it is going to take, just focus on producing extremely valuable content for your readers. If you provide your readers with the information and the help that they need the most, money will sooner or later start coming in naturally.
If you asked me, the wisest thing you could do is keep working on your business as consistently as possible for 12 months without expecting to make any money during that time.
Is Affiliate Marketing Worth the Trouble?
For me, my time is my most precious possession so I would never waste it into something which I believe is not worth the trouble.
Maybe I’ve yet to find success with affiliate marketing but I’ve seen people succeeding big with it right before my eyes.
In fact, some of those who started their affiliate marketing endeavors back in 2016 just like me, have completely turned their life around.
They are now earning a full-time income through their affiliate marketing business, they are working on their own terms, from wherever and whenever they want, they don’t have to answer to anyone but themselves and their potential is only limited by their own efforts. They have become the boss of themselves.
If they can do it, I can do it as well. That’s my motto.
Maybe I am late, and I am definitely the one to blame, but at the end of the day what matters the most to me is the end goal and not how long it takes to reach it.
Even if it took 5 years for me to start making money with affiliate marketing, I’d still be grateful that I had the guts to get started and the faith and strength to keep going even during the toughest times.
And I am telling you this from the standpoint of a person who is currently not making any serious money through affiliate marketing more than 2 years after he got started.
But I’ll never give up. In fact, I’ve sworn that I’ll leave my last breath on my keyboard before I give up.
That’s mostly because I’ve recognized that not earning money with affiliate marketing would be much more painful for me than sticking through the process until I actually start earning some.
If you asked me, affiliate marketing is absolutely worth the trouble.
Affiliate marketing is not a golden ticket to fast and effortless riches.
To start making money with it definitely takes time. The amount of time that it takes is determined by some factors such as dedication, quality of work, the niche you choose, and your training among others.
Setting your expectations too high increases your chances of quitting. So, just work your ass off and expect nothing for at least a year.
Focus on producing content valuable to your readers. Show them that you understand them and provide them with solutions to their problems. This is the only way to gain their trust. If your readers don’t trust you, they are unlikely to take your recommendations and this means no money for you.
Keep your eyes on the prize.
So what if it takes 5 years to start making money with affiliate marketing? Would this make it less worthwhile?
I don’t think so.
If you haven’t started your affiliate marketing business yet, make sure to get started today. The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll start making money with it.
How long did it take for your affiliate marketing business to start earning money? Haven’t you made any yet? For how long have you been trying?
Let us all know in the comments below.
If you have any questions or need any further help or guidance from me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop me a PM on my Wealthy Affiliate Profile.
I will be thrilled to help you out.