So, how long does it take to make money with affiliate marketing? This is where I’m supposed to tell you about my “secret system” that shows you a “proven method” to make thousands of dollars this month working from home doing nothing. Of course, to learn about my “proven method” I am supposed to sell you some overpriced e-book or training course that reveals all.
…Except, I’m not going to do that. I have no e-book to sell and I have no reason to be yet another get-rich-quick “guru” promising big bucks from little effort.
I’m also going to give you a direct answer. While it’s true that “it depends”, I’m going to assume that you’re intelligent enough to actually know that. It depends on your niche, how many hours you put in per week, how serious you REALLY are about succeeding, and how fast (or slow) of a learner you are. Heck, even luck plays a role.
But you already know all of this. You just want a general answer. Can you start making money this week? This month? This year? With affiliate marketing, how long does it take?
Here’s the direct answer and you might not like it. Affiliate marketing takes about 12 months to start seeing success.
I can hear you now… “A YEAR?! You mean, I have to put in time, money, and effort for a YEAR before I see any success?”
Yeah, pretty much.
Instead of just telling you that it will take a year to succeed with affiliate marketing, let me give a more detailed explanation. Not only will this help you understand why it takes so long, but it MIGHT just help you to start seeing success sooner by avoiding some of the common mistakes made by new affiliate marketers.
Understanding How Affiliate Marketing Has Changed In The Past 10 Years
If it was 2006, here’s how someone would succeed with affiliate marketing…
First, they would create a 1 to 10 page website. An affiliate marketer would just create a bunch of landing pages, then fill them up with affiliate ads. Quality wasn’t a factor. Why? Because the biggest search engine in the world, Google, was super easy to manipulate.
All an affiliate marketer would have to do is go to a “link building service” and pay for thousands upon thousands of text links containing the keywords they wanted to rank for in Google and voila, they were making money in mere days or weeks. Sometimes a very substantial amount, too. Eventually, Google would catch on and remove the site from their index, at which point, the affiliate would just create another website and repeat the process. These were called “churn and burn” affiliate sites.
Well, those days are over. It’s true, some people still use black hat SEO methods and manage to rank websites by tricking Google. However, every month Google is getting better and better about weeding these poor quality sites out of their search results, especially after the Panda and Penguin algorithm change releases a few years ago, which continue to be updated. Trying to trick Google is not only become more difficult than it is worth, but it’s simply a poor long-term strategy for your affiliate business.
In other words, it’s true that there once was a time that affiliate marketing was pretty easy and you could start making money quickly. Those days are over and thank goodness for that. We don’t need any more spammy websites than already exist.
Affiliate Marketing Must Be Treated As A BUSINESS
If you’ve read even a small number of articles on this site, you’ll notice that I bring this up in almost every article I write about affiliate marketing. There seems to be this overall assumption that affiliate marketing is somehow different from every other business. People don’t plan ahead – they just jump in and expect to make money online without performing any market research, without putting in many hours of work, and by simply following some e-book or get-rich-quick “training program” they found online.
Pretend for a moment that instead of getting started with affiliate marketing, you were starting a pet store. Would you just purchase the closest retail building to your home and start selling whatever pet supplies you could get your hands on? If so, you would probably fail.
Instead, you would research the perfect location within a wide radius. You would check out who your competition is and decide if it’s really worth competing with them. You would find out exactly what your potential customers want and then find the best places to source those specific items. And you most certainly wouldn’t expect to start making money in 3 weeks.
Most small businesses take 3 to 5 years before they ever see their first dime in profit!
Yet, when people start an affiliate marketing business, there is normally almost no research done. People just decide on a topic at random, build a WordPress site, and start writing articles. Just like failing to plan for any other business, failing to plan out your affiliate marketing business will also have disastrous consequences. Fortunately, affiliate marketing does not require much start-up capital at all, so you won’t lose out on thousands upon thousands of dollars like other small business owners would, but you do lose out on all that time you spent trying to build your affiliate site and inevitably become disgruntled that “affiliate marketing doesn’t work anymore.” Dream shattered.
On the positive side, it doesn’t have to take 3 to 5 years to succeed with an affiliate marketing business. As I stated above, you should expect to work for about 1 full year before you start seeing some decent revenue. If you want to push that closer to the 6 month mark, you MUST do proper research.
Fortunately, there are a lot of places that can help even the newest individuals perform proper research, find a great niche, and build an SEO friendly website that search engines will love. Here is one such place that I HIGHLY recommend. You can also try this service which I have personally used in the past.
I used to have my own training program, but my true passion is writing articles like this, so I usually direct people to sign up for a free account here. They do have some services that they charge for, but they also have more than 100 videos showing how to set up your affiliate marketing business and those videos are totally free. Instead of learning everything you need to know from 100 different sources, it’s much better to get a step-by-step approach from one great source.
Website Traffic Takes Time
Even if you have the best affiliate marketing business plan set up in a profitable niche and spend 40hrs per week on the site, it is still going to take you a MINIMUM of about 6 months to really start seeing good traffic from search engines such as Google. Obtaining organic search engine traffic is the #1 strategy for most affiliate marketers because the traffic is free and converts like crazy.
Unlike in the old days (before 2010), a new website is placed in what is called the Google Sandbox for at least 6 months (nobody really knows the exact amount of time except Google). This helps to avoid the “churn and burn” websites I was talking about earlier. Basically, even if your site is awesome, Google will not rank you as high in the search results, simply because you’re new. You have to prove yourself first.
How do you prove yourself? Good question! In time, Google will begin sending you a little bit of traffic. They will then measure how much time people are spending on your site, how many pages they look at, and other indications on whether your site is high quality or not. If it’s deemed high quality, they will continue to keep sending more and more traffic over time.
The lesson here? Even if you do everything right, in addition to the search engines keeping you in the sandbox, creating a quality site that people love takes time. There really isn’t anyway around that.
The Wait Is SO Worth It!
Now, if you do all the research and put in all the effort and all the time and wait for the traffic to start coming in, you’re setting yourself up for the most awesome way to be paid, ever. All your hard work begins to pay off residually. Meaning, you already did the work, and now you reap the rewards every single day for years. I am still making money off of articles I wrote many years ago. While those are making me money, I write more articles. My income has grown exponentially because of this.
The great thing is, most people DO NOT make it that far. This is the biggest barrier to entry for affiliate marketing. People just don’t have the patience or the confidence to work really hard on something for a year in the hopes that MAYBE it will make them some money. That’s one big reason why I recommend checking out the free videos on this site and going through them ALL. Yes, there are lots of them (over 100), but it gives you a perfect “overhead view” of how to set up your business and what to expect. It will not only give you the knowledge you need, but the confidence to hang in there during the first year when you’re not making any money.
I know this isn’t the most motivating article in the world, but I don’t like to sugar coat things or give people false hopes and promises. Yes, it REALLY is possible to make money with affiliate marketing and work from wherever you want, whenever you want. I’m doing that right now as I travel the United States in my camper working from wherever the wheels stop that day. It’s a dream life that I wish more people could experience.
If you truly want the freedom that comes with being an online business owner, hang in there. The initial push is definitely difficult, but once that money snowball finally starts, there is simply no better way to make a living.