Ahhh yes… affiliate marketing. The EASY path to riches and residual income. All you have to do is follow a simple step-by-step system, which of course you have to purchase from someone, and you can retire on the beach forever.
REALITY CHECK: Most websites about affiliate marketing want your money. How do they get your money? They tell you all the things you want to hear. They say things like, “watch over my shoulder as I build a $10,000 affiliate marketing business!” Some of these so-called “experts” claim they have a special system, proprietary software, or special traffic getting methods that made them rich, and now they want to pass it on to you. How wonderful of them, right?
Many of you have probably already purchased a “training program” on affiliate marketing. Don’t feel bad if you’ve been suckered in by some of these get-rich-quick e-books, courses, or systems. Heck, I can’t tell you how many training courses and WSO’s I’ve purchased from the Warrior Forum. Some of them really do teach some useful information, but none of them have lived up to their claims and made me rich, that’s for sure.
The unfortunate truth is that most people out there teaching others how to succeed online just want to make some money off of you. Once they start to see some profits, they start bending the truth a bit until eventually, they are outright lying. They get greedy and they are no longer interested in actually helping people. They just want to sell you stuff so they can make more money. The result? They tell you whatever you want to hear in order to sell you whatever they are selling, including get-rich-quick claims.
So… How Many Hours Does It REALLY Take To Succeed Online?
The quick answer to this question is the much dreaded “it depends” answer. What does it depend on? Well, it depends on how quickly you are able to learn things that pertains to operating a website and marketing company. It also depends on how well you researched before you started your affiliate marketing business and how well you implement it.
I’m also going to be totally honest here. There’s a lot of luck involved, too. Some people just happen to find the rich niche at the right time and start making a ton of money very quickly. For others, even though they did all the right research and planning, it might just be a bad niche for one reason or another.
With that said, since there is no real answer to this, let me give you a bit of perspective on how many hours I’ve worked throughout my affiliate marketing career. It has fluctuated wildly, but I hope this gives you a good long-term view of how many hours I’ve put into my affiliate marketing business.
The Early Days: Finding Affiliate Marketing By Accident
Back in 2006 I got my first office job after I graduated from college. Of course, along with so many others, I was laid off in 2008. They were actually doing me a favor by laying me off since I absolutely hated my job. I hated it so much that I decided to do something totally different with my life. I became a truck driver.
What does this have to do with me finding out about affiliate marketing? Well, I began blogging on a website called TruckingTruth.com which is a website teaching people how to become truck drivers. I was blogging for free, simply because I wanted to and I thought it would be a big help to others if I kept a “journal” of sorts. From my first day of CDL training until the day I quit my job to work on my online business full time – it’s all there. You can read all my blog entries here.
While writing for that blog, I came to realize that the owner was a former truck driver earning a full-time living with his site. That is how I began to learn about Google Adsense, affiliate marketing, SEO, and how to develop a website. I decided it was time to start a website of my own.
So, while driving full-time for a long-haul trucking company and armed with nothing but a laptop and wireless internet card, I began my very first website, Drive-Safely.net.
Working On My Business Part-Time
As a full time OTR (over-the-road) truck driver, I was usually working about 70hrs per week. I would work 3 to 6 weeks on (sometimes more), then take 3 to 4 days off before I went back on the road to do it all over again. Needless to say, this didn’t leave me a whole lot of time to work on my business.
I would usually find time to work while my truck was being loaded or unloaded, while I was waiting for my next dispatch, or for an hour or two after I was done driving for the day. Basically, whenever I had any free time, I was working on my site. I’d say I was initially working between 10 and 20 hours per week on the site depending on how busy I was with driving.
After approximately 12 months of doing this, my site was finally making enough money that I could quit truck driving and get a part-time job instead. That would leave me much more time to work on my business. That part-time job ended up with me working as a freelancer for TruckingTruth.com. I worked as a freelancer for about 1 year and then began focusing all my time and effort on my own business.
Working On My Business Full-Time
When I say I was working on my business full-time, I mean that as an understatement. I was putting in all-nighters and spending nearly ever moment on my business. I’d say about 80hrs per week is what I was working. This continued for about 18 months or so.
By far, this period of time was the most important part of my business. I learned more during this period than any other period in my business. I made a ton of mistakes, lost some money, made a few really bad decisions, but in the end I learned from those mistakes and still came out ahead financially. Not only did I improve my existing sites, but I began expanding further and acquiring sites that were abandoned by their current owners. Growth became explosive.
Outsourcing Most Business Tasks
I knew that working 80hrs per week forever was not sustainable. I was already starting to get burned out, so a change had to be made. I decided to do something drastic. I would pay myself a low salary and in exchange, pay others to work for me and outsource as much as I possibly could. This turned out the be one of the best decisions I ever made.
When I began outsourcing work to others, my business began to grow at a very rapid pace (exponentially). I did have to give up a huge portion of my own income in order to hire freelancers, but in exchange, I was much less stressed and got to just focus on what I enjoyed doing (whatever that might be at the time). I paid others to develop sites for me, transfer or redesign existing sites, handle my social media accounts, write high-quality articles, etc.
So what did I do at this point? I began to work fewer hours. Instead of 80hr weeks, I was putting in 40hr weeks. I felt better, I was healthier, my business was growing faster than ever, and I was working less.
The Dream Is Here
Every week, my blogs and websites are updated almost daily with awesome content. I have writers ranging from general freelancers to highly specialized writers such as a veterinarian that writes for some of my pet related websites. I also moved all my sites over to WordPress which is leaps and bounds better than what I was using just a couple years ago.
In short – I’m living a dream life right now. If I wake up in the morning and I don’t feel like working that day, I don’t. I could literally walk away from my business for 6 months and everything would run as if I was still here. I travel when I want, work from where I want, and on average I probably work around 30hrs per week at this point. Funny thing is, I don’t have to, but I WANT to. That’s really the secret to success. If you like what you do, it isn’t really work at all.
To Sum This All Up…
So, to sum up how many hours per week I’ve worked on my affiliate marketing business, here’s the real answer:
- 2008 – 2010: About 5hrs per week writing for free on a blog I didn’t own (I consider this as part of my “training time”)
- 2010 – 2011: About 10 – 20hrs per week while working a full-time job
- 2011 – 2012: About 30hrs per week on my own business and about 40hrs per week as a freelancer
- 2012 – 2014: About 80hrs per week working full-time on my own business.
- 2014 – 2015: A gradual drop down to about 30hrs per week and what I consider to be the sweet spot.
I really like where I’m at right now. Sure, I take a huge hit in personal income due to the amount of work I outsource, but in return, my business is growing exponentially and I really don’t have to mess with the tasks I don’t enjoy. I also find that 30hrs per week is a good work week for me. Anything more than that and work starts to become less enjoyable, but anything less and I start to get bored with myself.
Some Final Thoughts
As I said early on in this article, the amount of hours you’ll have to work as an affiliate marketer really just depends. Nobody can speculate about what your exact situation will be. Your business will be just as unique as mine or any other business owner – we all have our different strengths, weaknesses, and degrees of luck. All I can really do is show you how my affiliate marketing career has looked. For me, my hours have fluctuated from as low as 10 hours per week to as many as 80 (with some isolated weeks where I know I worked more than that).
I think the only real advice I can give you is to know your limits. If you’re not having fun, take a break. The internet will be here tomorrow (and if it’s not, you’ve probably got other things to worry about!). If you find you’re just not enjoying what you’re doing, don’t force yourself to work. Maybe affiliate marketing just isn’t for you? There IS a good career path out there for you that you can enjoy. I would recommend affiliate marketing to just about anyone, but if you don’t have a passion for the affiliate marketing lifestyle, you’ll either never succeed or you will succeed and you’ll still be miserable.
Do what you love and push your limits, but always remember to enjoy the journey. Otherwise, why is it even worth it?