Beginner Guides / Monetization

Yes, Affiliate Marketing Can Make You Rich (and Here’s How)

If you have a website, you're probably using it to make extra money. But can affiliate marketing make you rich? Yes, now let's unpack that.

Candice Elliott May 6, 2022
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Whether you’re already a blogger who wants to monetize your site, someone looking to create a source of passive income, or someone who wants to start an online business, affiliate marketing can be just the thing you’re looking for. A lot of people are aware that you can make money from affiliate commissions. But can affiliate marketing make you rich?

Affiliate marketing is a relatively new concept, but it might be a little older than you imagined.

While the first ‘real’ affiliate program didn’t come out until 1994, it was in 1989 that William J. Tobin, founder of PC Flowers and Gifts, took his marketing efforts to the internet and used Prodigy’s network to start marketing his business.

Amazon wasn’t the first affiliate marketing program, that distinction goes to CDNow, but it was an early adopter.

The program began in 1996 and is a big part of why the affiliate marketing industry has grown into what it is today. Google AdWords was launched in October 2000.

The industry now has specific government regulations, conferences, and conventions and is expected to be worth $6.8 billion in 2020.

There are dozens of affiliate programs, and more than 80% of brands use affiliate marketing as part of their internet marketing programs. They’re a great way to reach customers.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is making money by promoting other company’s products or services on your website. When you send merchants qualifying leads, traffic, or sales through your affiliate link, you earn a commission.

You can see the appeal for companies. They don’t have to spend time or money marketing their products and services because the partners that participate in their affiliate networks do that for them.

And this arrangement appeals to the affiliate because they can earn passive income by marketing products and services without creating an e-commerce webpage of their own to sell them, fulfill orders, or deal with customer issues like returns and refunds.

How Affiliate Marketing Works

The affiliate (that’s you) joins an affiliate program like Amazon Associates, ClickBank, ShareASale, eBay Partner Network. It looks through the available products and services that they think would appeal to and be useful for their audience.

flow chart of publisher to customer to link to seller

The affiliate then promotes the product or service by blogging about it, often in the form of a review (read our product review template to steal), sharing information about it on their social media platforms, or talking about it on their podcast.

Sometimes all three. When a reader or listener clicks on the affiliate link and makes a purchase, the affiliate earns a commission. The sales are tracked through affiliate IDs unique to the affiliate.

Can Affiliate Marketing Make You Rich?

Sounds pretty easy, right? There must be more to becoming a successful affiliate marketer than that.

You’re right; while affiliate marketing is simple, it’s not always easy to be successful at it, and it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme.

But you can make money without spending a lot of time and plenty of people do. Including some so-called super affiliates who make six figures and more. There is a wide range of income for an affiliate marketing business:

Intermediate affiliates can earn from $300 up to $3,000 per day. High-level affiliates can earn $3,000 a day and super affiliates can earn $10,000 a day and more.

Pros of Affiliate Marketing

If you’re thinking of creating an affiliate business, these are some excellent reasons to do so:

  • Low overhead: It’s free to create a website on WordPress, you can use an inexpensive hosting service like Bluehost, and most affiliate programs are free to join
  • Hands-off: You don’t have to create a product, provide a service, stock, or ship anything, or do any customer service
  • Flexibility: As long as you have an internet connection, you can work from anywhere and anytime you want
  • Passive income: Affiliate marketing is an excellent form of passive income. Once you create the blog, social media post, or podcast episode promoting something, your work is done. As long as people continue to click-through your links and make purchases, that content you created will continue to make money

Cons of Affiliate Marketing

Just like any business, there are some downsides:

  • Success can be slow: While you can join most affiliate marketing programs without having to have a certain amount of traffic, traffic is what you need to make money. And it takes time and skill to drive it to your site
  • Competition: There are thousands of sites doing it, maybe millions. And many affiliates market the same products, so the field is competitive. Depending on the topic you cover, (which will determine what things you promote) may already be heavily saturated and hard for you to break into successfully
  • Unethical companies: Some companies operate dishonestly and will not credit you with a referral that is rightfully yours or fail to pay out your affiliate commissions. That’s why it’s essential to do your research before joining an affiliate program
  • No control: If a company whose product or service you promote somehow angers a customer that came from your site, fails to send the product, sends a faulty product, or provides poor customer service, for example, that customer may blame you for suggesting a “bad” product or company
  • Partial data: Your unique affiliate ID will show how many sales were made through your links. But you won’t have any customer data, which is a lost opportunity as you could target customers for additional sales.

Further Reading:

What You Need to Become an Affiliate Marketer

The list is short. When we told you the bar to entry was low, we weren’t kidding.

A Niche

There are two ways to approach a blog; as a way to share a subject you’re passionate about or strictly as a money-making endeavor.

If you choose the first route, you want to find a smaller niche within your broader topic. A more specific area will be less saturated, and you’ll have less competition.

Try to choose a niche that has a decent amount of affiliate products and services relevant to it, so you have a path to monetizing your site.

If you’re just in it for the money, you will want to pick a niche that has relevant products that are necessary and expensive. Photography is a good example; all of the accouterments are pretty pricey.

photography review site example

Items like the ones found in the above review website, CameraLabs, carry thousand dollar price tags. You need fewer conversions when you’re promoting camera equipment than when promoting books.

A Website

Creating a website is easy; you choose a hosting provider, choose a name, and build your site on WordPress.

How To Make Money With Affiliate Marketing

Okay, all of the above was the back story. Now we can move onto the main event, making money.

Choose the Best Affiliate Programs

You can run out and join every affiliate program under the sun, but it’s not a good use of your time. You have to manage your affiliates, and while Lasso simplifies the process, the more you have, the more you have to manage.

You want to join affiliate programs that offer products and services relevant to your audience and have high commissions and conversions.

Choose the Right Affiliate Products

The products and services you promote to your audience should be relevant to your topic and believe in yourself.

Additionally, they should be items that are helpful to your audience, are from reputable companies, and pay a good commission.

If you promote irrelevant products from shady companies to your audience, you might make some money at first but it won’t last. Your audience won’t trust you or your recommendations.

Takeaway: It takes the same amount of time to promote a product and manage the affiliate link for it that pays you $10 per sale as it takes to promote and manage a product that pays you $100 per sale.

Create High-Quality Content

I know that it’s easier said than done, but creating useful, helpful, entertaining content that readers can find via SEO and promotion from yourself, your readers, and other content creators is the answer to making money with affiliate marketing.

There are tons of resources to help you with keyword research, content optimization, audience engagement, and promotion.

Rather than spending tons of time on things like choosing a clever name for your blog or finding the perfect WordPress theme, spend your time on these things instead.

Use the Best Tools

While affiliate marketing is considered a passive income source, there is still work involved. And as with most jobs, there are affiliate marketing tools.

Affiliate management tools are not created equal. Some are good at one thing while Lasso helps with multiple aspects of it.

Here’s an example of a product display box below👇

Read this case study about how it tripled Matt’s affiliate income.

Our Pick
Lasso: The All-In-One WordPress Plugin for Affiliate Marketing
14-Day Free Trial

A WordPress plugin that lets you add, manage, and display your affiliate links from any program, including Amazon. Increase conversions. Find new affiliate link opportunities. Earn more revenue! Less than 5 minutes to set up.

Learn More Affiliate Program

For more details on what Lasso can do for your website, head here.

Be Patient

You probably won’t start making money with your affiliate links right away. It takes time to create good content and for readers to find you. But if you’re good and consistent, you can start making money in pretty short order.

Some of you are familiar with Lasso’s founders, Matt, and Andrew, from their work on the personal finance podcast and blog, Listen Money Matters.

Listen Money Matters makes $400,000 a year, and it took under five years to achieve.

In the big picture, five years is not very much time at all, whether we’re talking about years of your life or years spent working on a business.

Affiliate Marketing Can Make You Rich

Affiliate marketing can make you rich, and frankly, it’s an easy path to getting rich when you compare it to something like becoming a doctor or lawyer, which means years spent in school, long hours, and possibly six figures in student loan debt.

You don’t need a college education to become a blogger who makes affiliate income, and you can get started for the cost of creating a blog and hosting a few hundred dollars a year.

And even full-time bloggers don’t spend all that much time working:

35% of professional bloggers spend more than 20 hours a week working on their blogs, and just 3% reported working more than 60 hours per week.

And remember, you can spend those hours working at any time from anywhere. If you’re a late riser, you can sleep in and work into the wee hours. And you can do it sitting beside your pool or drinking out of a coconut on the beach. Doctors and lawyers can’t do that.

Recommended Reading

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