Is this you?

You got into affiliate marketing because of the glamorous stories you’ve been hearing all around.

Like the one of that guy who has quit his job and spends most of his time traveling the world.

Or that lady who bought a vacation house in the Caribbean.

Or all those people who can lounge comfortably at home all day, and forget what it’s like to wake up to a blaring alarm clock, slug through backbreaking traffic, and listen meekly while a glowering boss enumerates a long list of faults and failures.

Affiliate marketing, you think, is your ticket out of a life you hate.

Except it’s not looking so great right now.

Maybe you’ve already picked a niche. You’ve already built a site. You’ve written (or paid for) quality content. You’ve signed up for affiliate programs and promoted your links like crazy.

But nothing is happening.

You check your account every day. Zero dollars. Zero again the next day. Zero a week later. Zero a month from that.

What’s going on?

Are you doing things wrong? Is affiliate marketing success a thing of the past? Should you just give up?

My answer: NO.

You’re doing just fine. In fact, you’re doing excellent.

The question you probably forgot to ask, though, is this:

How long does affiliate marketing take?

Because the truth is, this question is the most important.

Know the answer to it, and you’ll have the confidence, energy, and stamina to keep going, even when the odds seem to be against you.

So, ready to get your question answered?

Let’s go!

Why Affiliate Marketing Is No Longer a Get-Rich-Quick Scheme

If you’re like too many people today, you probably think affiliate marketing is a path to fast, easy money.

I mean, what could be difficult about building a site and blogging about affiliate products?

And 10 years ago, you’d probably be right.

Back then, Google was still a newbie at its game. Its goal was already “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” but it was super easy to manipulate.

That’s why black hat SEO techniques sprouted up everywhere.

Here’s how an affiliate marketer could earn a ton of money in weeks or even days back then:

  • He would build a quick site with 1 to 10 pages.
  • He would pack it with low-quality affiliate ads.
  • He would pay a “link building service” for thousands of text links containing the keywords he wanted to rank for.
  • In less than a month, he could be earning substantial income (the epitome of overnight riches).

Of course, Google already was on the lookout for trashy sites like these back in the day.

But it hadn’t yet become an expert in quickly finding and weeding them out.

Which meant you could get away with almost anything.

All you needed to do was abandon the old site that got flagged by Google, then go ahead and create a quick brand-new one.

You repeated the process over and over again, making truckloads of money in the process.

I know, it sounds exciting. Escaping Google’s accusing eye must have felt like being a highwayman perpetually escaping the law’s grasping fingers.

But it’s not like that anymore.

Things have changed.

Google has gotten smarter.

Updates like Panda and Penguin were released, and suddenly low-quality content like this stopped working:

How Long Does Affiliate Marketing Take? Panda and Penguin

Source: pinbackbuttonguide.wordpress.com

With it, other shady tactics that got a website to the top of the SERPs started to fall flat. These included:

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Unnatural links
  • Duplicate content
  • Over-optimization
  • Backlinks from unknown or low-quality sites

Google had grown up with a vengeance.

Which meant, if you wanted a high-ranking site, you had to earn it. 

And it’s only gotten more rigorous with time.

These days, Google makes thousands of changes to its algorithms each year. A major update is released almost every year.

There’s no doubt that making it to the top of the SERPs is getting tougher and tougher.

So should you simply quit, hopeless of ever being able to snag a top spot, gain traffic, and make money with affiliate marketing?

Of course not.

Because although affiliate marketing is tougher than it’s ever been…

…I’m here to say it’s so much more worth it.

Here’s why:

Affiliate Marketing Today Is Like Building a Relationship

According to Google, the purpose of a webpage is to help users.

affiliate marketing tools

Source: SEMRush

If you create one to harm and deceiver users, or make money with no attempt to help users…

…your site will receive a low rating.

This is how affiliate marketing has changed throughout the years.

Today, in order to rank and gain traffic, you need to create a website your audience will love. You need to write valuable content that’ll improve their lives. You need to build a solid relationship of trust with them.

Only then can you expect to make decent money from your affiliate marketing efforts.

Is it worth it?

Of course.

The truth is, affiliate marketing 10 years ago was like building a quick, lightweight business. Your aim was to manipulate the search engines to rank you higher. Then, you promoted your products without knowing your audience or if these products would help them.

Today, it’s much better than that. You create a site you can be proud of. You write content that truly makes a difference, solving problems and making your readers happy. You promote products you know your audience will love.

But how long does affiliate marketing take today? 

With this business model, is it still possible to quit your job, live the life of your dreams, and make a ton of money?

The answer: YES.

But you need to be patient, prepare yourself for the long haul, and carefully plan your business.

Affiliate Marketing Is a Marathon (Not a Sprint)

Here’s a challenge for you.

Walk up to any successful entrepreneur and ask if starting up their business was a sprint.

You’d probably get a shocked stare.

Because the truth is, starting a business takes time. You need to research the market. Check out your competitors. Find out who your consumers are, what they’re like, and how you can improve their lives.

Then, you have to strategize. Build your plans and blueprints. It won’t be a surprise if it takes three to five years before you start earning a profit.

Today, affiliate marketing is like that. It’s a full-blown business that you need to start and nurture with care, empathy, and persistence.

But don’t worry.

It’s WAY easier than starting a traditional business.

For one thing, you don’t need to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in office space, merchandise, and hiring staff.

For another, it won’t take you three years to start earning from affiliate marketing.

How long will it take?

Well, if you’re a superstar and really, really good at what you do…I’d say six months.

If you’re good (but not a superstar), I’d say a year or two.

Now, remember that this also depends on your niche.

Pick a highly saturated niche like health or digital products, and it could take you longer to make money (but you can expect much more profits).

Pick a niche with less competition, and you’ll start earning earlier in the game.

Remember, starting a business is not a sprint. It’s a marathon.

affiliate marketing is not a sprint

Source: unsplash.com

Affiliate marketing is the same.

If you want to succeed, you need to be ready to wait. You need a strategy to plan your way to your goals. You need time to work on your content, or money to hire someone to do it for you.

But don’t worry.

In a bit, I’ll show you it’s all worth it and what you can expect after you’ve pushed through, stuck with it, and succeeded.

First, though, I’ll explain a little about why it’ll take time for your first sale to drop in.

Website Traffic Takes Time (And How that Affects Your Affiliate Marketing Earning)

Think of Google as a jilted lover.

In the past, she was innocent, trusting, and simple. She let anyone come into her life and treated them with kindness and favor.

But things didn’t turn out well.

She was tricked, manipulated, and abused.

As time went by, she learned. She became doubtful. She built up her walls so she’d never again experience the pain of her past.

Now, let’s say you come along and start to sweet-talk her.

Do you think she’d trust you in a day? Two?

Of course not. 

It’ll take you months to build her trust, friendship, and love.

The exact same thing is true when you publish your brand-new site.

Google regards you with a careful, suspicious eye. It waits until you’ve been around for a while (six months or more) before letting its guard down and sending you a little traffic.

Then, it waits.

What happens when the traffic arrives at your site?

Do they bail immediately? How long do they spend on your pages? Are they clicking through to other pages on the site?

These SEO KPIs (key performance indicators) help Google determine whether your site is a good, useful one or not.

Google also checks how many quality backlinks you’ve received, what your content looks like, and more.

Trust me, it’s a complicated and detailed process.

But once it figures out that your site is a winner and people love it, things change rapidly.

Google sends you more and more traffic. You earn a higher domain rank. Your content ranks well on the SERPs.

When that happens, you’ll quickly build a large audience of adoring fans who can’t wait to buy the products you’re promoting.

This is when the fun really begins.

Is the Profit from Affiliate Marketing Worth the Wait?

Ok, now to the essential part.

So far, you know that affiliate marketing isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme.

It’s not making money with your eyes closed.

Nope!

Instead, it’s hard work that takes time, patience, and persistence.

So is it worth it? 

Should you stick through all the low moments, frustration, and hopelessness?

My verdict: YES.

The truth is, affiliate marketing really is like any business.

If you plan it well and carefully from the start, you’ll never regret the venture. (Plus, it’s a much smaller investment with much smaller risk than a traditional business.)

I could go on and on with encouraging words, but I’ll leave you with my own example.

I started affiliate marketing back in 2011. It took me about a year to start making decent profits. In a little while more, I was able to quit my trucking job.

Today, I travel the country in my camper. I go anywhere I want, and have enough (and more) to retire on if I want to. I earn roughly $40,000 a month with my sites, which provides me with the lifestyle of my dreams.

Here’s me in my roadtrip to the Badlands last May:

affiliate marketing profit worth the wait

I want the same for you.

So if you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, and confused because you haven’t earned a single dollar and you’re three weeks into your affiliate marketing efforts…

…I say, stop worrying.

Sit back.

Prepare for the ride.

I promise, it’ll be worth it.

How Long Does Affiliate Marketing Take? (The Real Answer)

So here you are at the beginning.

Maybe you already have a website. You’ve already picked a niche. You’ve already researched the right keywords.

Maybe you even already have content on your site. You have an email list and a few loyal followers.

But you still haven’t earned a cent from all your efforts.

You’re scratching your head wondering, “How long does affiliate marketing take?”

The truth is, there’s no one answer to this question.

The real answer is: it depends.

It depends on how awesome you can make your site. It depends on whether you’ve picked a saturated, high-profit niche or a smaller, easier one. It depends on your SEO abilities.

My advice to you: stop counting the months.

Instead, focus on improving your audience’s experience. Make your content stand out. Promote products that truly help people.

Before you know it, you’ll wake up one morning to see the first sale trickle in.

And then the next.

And the next.

Warning: once the money snowball gets rolling, it’ll get bigger and bigger from there.

Image credits:

All screenshots taken by the author, September 2021.  

Summary
Affiliate Marketing: How Long Does It Take?
Article Name
Affiliate Marketing: How Long Does It Take?
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With Affiliate Marketing, how long does it take to actually make enough money to live off of? You might not like this answer, but this is the truth.
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