Can Affiliate Marketing Make You Money? (Like, Filthy Rich?)

Last Updated on October 24, 2020 by Zac Phua

“Does Affiliate Marketing Really Work? Am I Wasting My Time Doing All These Hassle Tasks?”

Working full-time as an internet solopreneur, affiliate marketing is a massive part of my online business. Frankly, I have this skepticism when I first ventured into the world of affiliate marketing.

Just so you know, there are just too many uncertainties in the internet marketing world. So it’s unsurprising if you have that same frustration when you aren’t getting the results you expected after putting in so much effort. And now, you’re completely burned out.

If that’s your case, this article is for you.

I will be giving you my best advice and breaking down all the mistakes I learned along the journey that hold me back from succeeding, so you can avoid them.

But before we move into that, let get started with some fundamental knowledge first – What On Earth Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Disclaimer: This article includes my affiliate links, which may provide a small commission to me if you purchase through those links (at no extra cost to you!). I recommend them to you because they’re companies that I’ve found helpful and trustworthy. You can read my full affiliate disclaimer here.

What Is Affiliate Marketing And How Does It Works?

Just in case you’re a newcomer who doesn’t know anything about affiliate marketing, here’s the definition of this business model:

Affiliate marketing is a business model that you get rewarded for a commission by promoting other people’s products or services.

If that sounds vague, maybe the graphic below graphic could give you a deeper insight:

How Affiliate Marketing Works

(Source: Wealthy Affiliate)

You build a website and publish killer content that providing values to your readers while monetizing it by naturally incorporate your affiliate links in the text. 

When your readers click on the link and eventually buy your recommended offer on the vendor’s site, you will get paid for a commission. That’s it – no need to over-complicate this process.

Can Affiliate Marketing Make You Money? 

Take a look at some of these affiliate marketing statistics:

  • Affiliate marketing spending in the U.S. alone is expected to reach $8.2 billion by 2022 (over 3 times more than what it was 10 years ago).
  • 81% of advertisers and 84% of publishers use affiliate marketing. 
  • Google Trend shows the search interest in affiliate marketing has skyrocketed 200% since 2015.
  • 85% of online shoppers tend to research on Google before making a purchase. This illustrates the vast untapped potential in creating informative product reviews to generate massive affiliate sales.
  • Affiliate marketing sites earned nearly 40% share of publisher commissions in the U.S alone.
  • 35% of affiliates make at least $20K in annual revenue from their marketing efforts.


These stars are worth mentioning, not just to show you how significant is the income potential of affiliate marketing could be, but they somehow answered your question indirectly.

Can you really make money with affiliate marketing? You betcha!

If the stats aren’t enough, here are some success stories proving to you that affiliate marketing really works, and every one of them is someone like you who starts as a beginner:

  • Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income is a well-known affiliate marketer who makes 6 figures a month with affiliate marketing.
  • Jason Stone (a.k.a Millionaire Mentor) is an Instagram influencer with millions of followers and makes 7 million in affiliate commission in 2017 alone.
  • Jon Morrow makes 6 figures a month from his blog (, and I bet affiliate marketing takes a considerable division in his income.
  • Dylan Rieger – a good friend of mine in Wealthy Affiliate, makes over 6 figures per year from just a single affiliate site.

Now, the real question is not “can affiliate marketing makes you money?” or stuff like that because you might already know the answer is “100% YES” subconsciously. You’re just unsure if you can make it works for you.

It’s not your fault since every newcomer (including myself years ago) will encounter the same self-doubts somewhere at the beginning. Especially if you’ve put in months of effort but only get to see a little return. It’s just so discouraging.

If you want to thrive like the super affiliates I mentioned earlier, the real questions you should comprehend are these:

  • How long does it gonna take you to make money with affiliate marketing? and;
  • Why affiliate marketing doesn’t work for most people, and how you can avoid those money-murdering mistakes?

How Long Does It Take To Make Money With Affiliate Marketing?

This is a tough question to answer, as there’s no definite answer at all. 

Your success highly depends on your affiliate site’s SEO performance, which could be influenced by 200+ Google’s ranking factors.

However, according to Jim from Income School, he claimed that:

“The common number that I saw from a brand new website was that it will take 35 weeks (about 8 months) for the articles to reach the point that they’re bringing in 90% of traffic that they ever will.” –  Jim Harmer.

Certainly, you can only take Jim’s claim as a referenceThe result is not typical, and your experience will vary based upon your ability to create quality content and the market forces beyond our control.

With that said, it could take you from 8 months to 2 years to start seeing decent commissions pouring into your account on autopilot, only if you’re able to publish quality content CONSISTENTLY. 

6 Reasons Why Most Affiliate Marketers Fail (Fatal Mistakes To Avoid)

(1) Get Into Affiliate Marketing With Unrealistic Expectation

Let me be brutally honest with you. Affiliate marketing is Hard. As. Hell.

There’re literally hundreds of millions of people striving after the top spot of the search engine rankings. Can you imagine how fierce the competition is?

Especially when you don’t have prior experience in the digital marketing space, it will take you a really long time to make a penny with affiliate marketing.

That’s why many people quit affiliate marketing early because they think it’s the easiest way to make money (like the push-button get rich overnight thing) and unwilling to spend the time learning through the process.

If you aren’t willing to put in the effort to master the craft, those who are more experienced and work full-time as an affiliate marketer will eat you alive.

(2) Invested In Crappy Affiliate Marketing Training

Ever since the booming of online learning in recent years, instead of marketing their courses with the right messages, heaps of internet gurus tend to make a big promise and “selling you the dream” that guaranteed success on autopilot, even if you’ve no experience.

This is kind of related to the previous point.

Think about it.

How will you make significant returns if you’re a complete novice who doesn’t have ZERO experience in affiliate marketing? It’s like a newborn baby can walk right after birth. These courses are setting an unrealistic expectation that doesn’t make any sense at all.

Of course, if you are lucky enough to invest in an incredible course that taught you the nitty-gritty of affiliate marketing, you can reduce the learning curve. 

But still, you can’t expect to get fast and easy results. Otherwise, you’re most likely end up feeling discouraged.

Related article: 10 Best Free Affiliate Marketing Training (Not Fluff, But Good Stuff)

(3) Focus On Getting Sales, Not Establishing Brand

A world-famous serial entrepreneur, Gary Vaynerchuk, once said:

"When You Build A Brand, Sales Become Easy" - Gary Vaynerchuk

Having a personal brand is powerful. It’s how your readers recognize you, trust you, listen to your advices, and suggestions to buy the product that could benefit them.

But sadly, I noticed that most novice affiliate marketers just don’t get the mentality of building a trusty personal brand. 

They rather spamming their affiliate links all over the place to hard-selling the affiliate products and not taking the time to produce useful content that actually providing value to their readers. No wonder they FAIL miserably.

(4) Being A Generalist

Certainly, some people might think that being generic and promoting more products could increase their income. 

They might be inspired by general affiliate sites like Wirecutter and (it’s a weird name, I know) that make millions from the Amazon affiliate program. 

But what they don’t realize is that such general sites are usually run by people who have a deep pocket and a team of SEO writers.

Even if you have huge startup capital, running a general site is still not an ideal approach as it’s way more competitive than a niche site. 

At the same time, being a generalist often weakens your business as you don’t have a unique selling point that makes you stand out from the crowd.

Being specific in your niche and talking about the things you have hands-on experiences is a more practical way of bringing you success by attracting the targeted audiences you’ve been called to serve.

(5) Promote The Wrong Products

The affiliate product/program you promote will determine how high your income potential could be. 

Take the Amazon affiliate program as an example. It’s a great jump-off point for beginners but not suitable for long-term growth because its commission rates are way too low (averaging a meager 4% only). 

As a result, you will need to build a lot of traffic to promote the low-priced items on Amazon to achieve the same results you get with high-ticket products, which could take you forever!

However, you can overcome this by finding another trustworthy alternative (Clickbank, ShareASale, Awin, etc.) that offers more lucrative commissions.

Pro Tips: 

  • A digital product often has a higher commission rate (up to 80%) than a physical item.
  • Promoting affiliate programs with recurring commissions is a great way to build a passive income stream, as you continue to get paid as long as your referrals subscribed to the program.

(6) Keep Looking For Easier Ways To Do Affiliate Marketing

What do I mean by this is that people who are often looking for the easiest and quickest way to make affiliate commission will ask questions like these:

“Can I do affiliate marketing without a website?”

“How to promote affiliate products without a website?”

I’ve seen such questions all the time in numerous forums. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s impossible to start affiliate marketing without a website. 

In fact, I do have written an article that lists all the possible ways to promote affiliate products, and many of them don’t require you to have a website.

But the harsh truth is that you won’t get too far in affiliate marketing.


Pretend that you aren’t willing to build a website (or open a YouTube Channel). How are you going to build a reputation and get people to buy your recommended affiliate offers?

By spamming your links all over the internet and then hope & pray someone will buy through your links? The answer is clearly a big “Heck No”.

Your website is like a home base of all your content. It’s where you get people’s eyeballs and gain their trust by serving them with amazing content.

With all these in mind, doing affiliate marketing without a website is something I absolutely don’t recommend. 

If you have such thought in your head, I implore you to put your ego aside. Take your time to learn how to build a website with WordPress, and start producing valuable content!

Rest assured, build a profit-ready website is easy with today’s technology. You can use a service like SiteRubix (where I hosted all my site) to get your website up and running in just a few simple clicks.

Related Article: My Favourite Online Business Tools & Resources (Included My Annual Expenditures)


Affiliate marketing is a lucrative business model with an extremely low entry barrier. Everyone can start affiliate marketing with minimal startup costs. 

If you check out all the tools and resources that I used for my business, it only costs me around $3~$5 dollars per day to run a 5-figure affiliate marketing business.

It’s possible to make a lot of money with affiliate marketing, but that will take you about 8 months to 2 years for your business to start getting decent traction.

The next thing you should do is start learning by doing. You can check out a list of best free affiliate marketing training here, which could help you succeed much faster by preventing you from unnecessary trials and errors.

Thank you for taking your precious time to read this post. If you have any questions about affiliate marketing, feel free to drop a comment below, and I’d happy to help you out.

Leave a Comment