For me, one of the most requested questions I see on sites such as Quora, Facebook or even my inbox these days is 'how much money can you make from affiliate marketing" or "how long does it take to be successful with affiliate marketing". They are important questions, and one that I feel the affiliate marketing industry (or the make money online industry is fairly shady about, and people rarely want to talk about it.
Because a lot of marketers go into the 'make money online' niche, and they want to live the life that lots of adverts promote and sell, how many times have you seen a Lamborghini within an advert for a course or new MLM or scheme?
One of the reasons I started this blog was to try and help people shift through the sludge of poorly made courses, awful themes or tools and platforms that did nothing. Though it gets depressing after a while, so I try to focus on the decent stuff these days.
So today we are going to dive into this question and look at the different possibilities and points when it comes to how much you can make from Affiliate Marketing.
Disclaimer before I carry on this article.
1. It's worth keeping in mind that a large proportion of marketers, entrepreneurs and side gig hustlers, don't make much more than $100 per year, maybe rising to around $500 or $1,000 per year, if they keep at it.
Honestly, it can be for a variety of reasons, they pick a niche or they try and market products they know very little about, or they jump between marketing style or traffic style, without ever trying to master or learn it properly. Marketing, especially affiliate marketing is also a numbers game.
Large marketers get their content seen by thousands, if not millions, and constantly tweak every part of their efforts
2. There are a lot of variables in play, from traffic quality, landing page conversions, product conversions, product costs, commission %'s and traffic volume.
A nice converting article, with a high commission product, with a 5% conversion rate on say 100 visitors, could provide your website with $5,000 per month with that article alone.
So always try to understand your numbers, and what your goal is.
3. Alot of marketers, or newbies get side-tracked. For me, when I first started, I tried doing paid ads, I spent thousands trying to make it work for me, and I rarely managed to do so, propping up a lot of my efforts with my salary or SEO efforts from my more successful ventures with blogs.
Does that mean ads or paid for traffic doesn't work? No, I simply sucked at doing it and didn't spend as much time trying to learn the ins and outs of it as I did writing articles and enjoying SEO.
Right, back on with the article.
So how much can you actually make from affiliate marketing?
The answer depends, on what you define as 'how much', and if you are talking about profit, or merely income, another thing people don't like to talk about.
It can also depend on if you look at a yearly average, or if you simply want to know in any given day, month or hour how much someone has made.
So, I decided to try and break this article down into different phases, because it is stupidly difficult to try and do this accurately, or in a way that will make people happy, or be able to understand.
Keeping in the back of your mind the above disclaimer, and how much the following can depend so drastically.
Traffic Method (SEO)
I also try and focus on the areas that I know, blogging, and SEO. Taking examples from my own experience, and how long these things take to manifest.
I will also look at a few other case studies, to determine how much they have made, are still making and roughly how long it took to get them there. It will be worth keeping in mind, these people are the ones who do extremely well and really do put their balls to the walls when it comes to running this business.
Just Getting Started - Your First 12 Months (SEO)
When most bloggers, or website writers, get started, they have a figure of $5,000 or $10,000 etc per month inside of their head. They will write content, that millions will see and it will earn them thousands.
Unfortunately, that is not the case. The first 3 or 6 months (and up to 12 months) of a bloggers journey, will usually net you around $10 - $100 per month.
This will depend on a number of factors
- Types of products you are talking about or promoting (obviously a higher price or commission will gain you a higher monthly income)
- Industry or niche you focus on (I started with DropShipping around it's peak, talking about products and platforms people had only just started to talk about - Providing $50 - $500 commissions)
- Difficulty of the keywords, or what other websites are talking about or ranking
- Past Domain Authority or even your experience with SEO.
The first few months, a blogger will be researching topics, writing content and building up what is known as domain authority (That thing that helps determine how much Google thinks you know about a topic).
Within the 3 - 12 months, the majority of your articles, or content will not rank, and will not be seen.
I was lucky (I told you luck is involved in this), I wrote about products that around 10 - 100 people a month wanted to know about, which is small fry for the big guys. I managed to write a review article, within around 8 weeks of writing it, I managed to get a sale.
So, a realistic earning potential within the first year, if no luck is involved, and you are fresh, would be around $500 - $1,000 or roughly $50 - $100 per month if we averaged it out. If you do focus on higher commission products, you could expect that number to be higher.
The Ball Is Rolling - 12 - 24 Months (SEO)
By this point, a blogger should have a number of articles ranking, roughly 50 - 100 articles should have been written, and 5 - 10 should be ranking (again, more if you have low hanging fruit available)
Consistent months start to appear within this time frame, whereby your ranking pages can start to make make weekly, possibly daily commissions.
An Amazon affiliate site, from experience should be at the consistent 1 - 5 sales per week, or per day with the right keywords and products (depending on the traffic). Though with their recent nerfing of the sales commissions, this has reduced monthly earnings.
One of my own Amazon sites after 13 months (But only a few articles) now generates consistent £70 / $120 per month. This is down from a similar site that was at the £500 / $650 per month commission mark after 12 months (Thanks Amazon...).
This number is achieved by selling 1 item every 2 days from 5 ranking pages, with a 10% conversion rate and around 6% commission (Again, thanks Amazon).
As time moves on within this period, the number of articles ranking and money pages appearing will increase.
Note: This Amazon site has not had as much work as it should have had put into it, and realistically, should be earning 2 - 5x the amount it currently does. But this provides a realistic baseline.
A much higher amount can be achieved, if you hit the right niche, focus on it and do the work. NicheSiteProject documented their own Amazon Affiliate sites growth in 2 years, and grew theirs to $100k commissions. Though they did have the beauty of double the commission rates!
Moving on from my own lack of focus...
I reviewed another site of mine for it's full 12 - 24 months period, rather than it's starting time frame to get a decent idea, and because I can try and report on it's full year.
Within that time frame, from what I can gather (now that the site is gone), 4 separate programs where ranking (4 in the beginning, it rose to 8, but dropped back down when the programs closed) with roughly 15 pages total appearing in the Top 10 page on search engines.
Trying to average these out from past data, is a pain, but I will give it a try.
Each program sold roughly 5 - 10 products per month, with 1 of them only managing 4 per month (but it was recurring). They had higher average commission rates of $10 - $450. I averaged it around to $150 per sale, because that makes life easier. Though this could vary wildly, see below for an example of 1 programs different tiers.
This meant from my experience with 4 programs ranking, each providing me with a average of 7 sales per month (again to make my life easier), I was managing to achieve again, as an average $4,200 per month.
But, within this time frame, sales where sporadic, with some good months, some bad months, picking up towards the end of the 24 month mark, as more articles ranked.
24 Months Onwards (SEO)
So, for this I have had to look at a variety of people, as 24 months is usually seen as the breaking point for websites. For me, I actually abandoned my site for a year, giving only around 10 articles across the whole site, while I did other projects and got shiny object syndrome. So my site grew slowly, hitting a peak of $7,391 in a single month.
I then kneecapped myself and re-branded.
What a fun journey we all embark on.
Some sites, such as MakingSenseOfCents, actually provide income reports. Which provide some pretty decent breakdowns of sites as they grow and evolve and essentially get more stuff on them.
Michelle started her site back in 2012, growing to around $6,000 per month by 2013, but then exploded that into $11,000 per month by the end of that year. So within the first 2 years, grew the site from $600 roughly a month, to ending on $11,927.
If we use the amazingly detailed reports, we can also see that she kept that $11,000 average per month across the whole of 2014. Now, of course I would not say this is typical of a blog, I would say that Michelle has worked extremely hard to get there.
But, it does show, what can be possible.
Another example I would look at is a guy called Chris Fong. A ClickFunnels dream car winner, who from what I can gather now averages, $20,000 per month from his website, utilising bonuses and software packages to help boost his earnings.
With his first post way back in 2013, his site and traffic exploded about 4 years after. Chris now ranks highly for some of the most lucrative search terms, such as ClickFunnels Review, Legendary Marketer Reviews and more, he also regularly details his Legendary Marketer commission breakdown each month, February alone was $2,000+ in commissions and has earned $25k+ with just them, not taking into account the 100+ payments from ClickFunnels or some of the other platforms he ranks well for.
Now both of those sites are Authority Sites, that do focus on higher commission products, for those who focus on Amazon, or physical products and niche sites, the outlook can still be great.
Someone I love to follow is the MoneyLab owner Matt Giovanisci, mainly because he creates niche sites, a bit like me, but makes them look epic, rather than boring. He is well known for his SwimUniversity site, with around 40% of the income coming from Amazon, bringing in a hefty $162k (Or around $70k from Amazon alone, roughly $6k per month).
The Future (SEO)
Where could a young affiliate be in say 5 or 10 years time?
If you take Matt's website SwimUniversity, he carries on growing it. He earns roughly $400k per year from that site and the brand he built around it. Though he has turned away from Amazon due to Amazon 'messing with his business'. Or nuking their commission structure.
Or, if you have a browse through sites such as EmpireFlippers and you can find a variety of affiliate websites for sale, bringing in $10 - $100k per month, most of them use Affiliate Marketing alone.
These websites have reached a point whereby they have a team of writers, a whole company behind them, keeping them going and moving them forward.
Conclusion - How Much Money Can You Make From Affiliate Marketing?
This article took me a lot longer than I realised to write it, I got the original idea in the middle of 2020 to write this, around the same time I decided to take a small hammer to both my affiliate kneecaps.
But, life got in the way, as it usually does. I had multiple affiliate niche sites on my hands, more than anyone should try and handle, this website (my own brand I guess) and other projects that had been neglected.
I thought it was important though, as many marketers and bloggers get drawn into this world with quick riches and big fancy cars, and it's not always the case.
Plus, people usually declare blogging or SEO as the worst style of marketing... Haters.
But, the truth is that you can grow a website to a few $$$'s in your first year or maybe $$$$'s, but you need to be consistent and focus your efforts. They can of course grow and flourish without nourishment, but that takes longer.
The beauty is that you can sometimes start a project, get the initial ball rolling and then ignore it for 12 months and it can potentially still be a useful website when you come back (see my own version of that above).
I also felt that I wanted to look at the future, and give myself the inspiration to grow back to the $4 - $7k months or even map out my journey towards the $10 - $20k months, and researching and writing this helped a lot with that.
Other Breakdowns & The Future Of This Article?
I rarely come back and update articles, or at least put a note on an article to say that I will come back to finish it, but that is my plan. There are so many ways to make money with affiliate marketing, and a huge number of traffic methods.
From paid for advertisement that the likes of Spencer Mecham found his fortune with, or Solo Ads that James Farcett achieved his $70k in 6 months with (He actually breaks it down in his own course), to completely Organic Traffic such as Facebook networking used by the likes of Josh Cousins or even Jacob Carris (As shown in the hugely popular SAA).
I want to come back and add to this article, and dive in the first 6, 12 and 24 months of these areas, and see what is possible, and realistic.
Hopefully it won't take me 5 months. Well, 8 to be fair.
I started this blog around 2017, after realising that I wanted to let people know about all the different ways someone could make money online. From DropShipping, Affiliate Marketing, Network Marketing and more.
This blog has now grown to review and explain a variety of different tools and platforms, in the bid to help you.
This blog contains affiliate links, and I will get a commission for purchases made through these links. It doesn’t change anything for you and will on occasion save you money! Enjoy, James.