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

If you have any digital marketing experience, you’ll know affiliate marketing can be one of those fabled ‘paved with gold’ tales.

Everybody seems to know somebody who’s made a fortune doing it.

Or they’ve got insider tips on racking up website hits and becoming the new darling of Google search rankings.

Today, we’re asking if there’s any truth to claims affiliate marketing can be used to make money fast.

We’ll take a realistic look at the skills required to do it and investigate whether there are any ‘hacks’ to supercharge results.

Ultimately, we want to find out how efficient affiliate marketing is as a money making strategy.

The question people ask most often is, how long does it take to make money with affiliate marketing?

Well, it’s a complex question and one which requires a convoluted answer (sorry).

Your ability to earn money fast with affiliate marketing depends on a variety of factors such as your understanding of how it works, the amount of time you can dedicate to it and the type of access you have to online influencers.

If you’re used to making profitable content and driving traffic, you might already have superb connections.

Essentially, your ability to make money fast may depend on how much work you need to do to form profitable connections.

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

While anybody can start from scratch and build new relationships with influencers, you’re going to make a profit faster if you have an existing pool of brands you can partner with.

Here are some of the crucial factors that will determine how long it may take you to make money fast with affiliate marketing.

The Importance of Setting Realistic Expectations

What I do know is the quickest way to lose money online is with impatience.

The internet is a pretty strange place.

You can blow up overnight and make a million in a week or it can take a long time and a lot of steady, careful work to earn a reasonable living.

There’s a middle ground here which affiliate marketing can fill if you can turn persistence and consistency to your advantage.

The truth is it takes three to four months before a new affiliate marketer sees a.

It can be three or four years before they make enough cash to live on the income.

It’s possible to do so and there are plenty of people out there who manage to but the majority who try get tired of waiting and lose interest.

When they see affiliate marketing is similar to running a small business, they realize they don’t have the necessary commitment.

There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s just not the right way to make money.

Affiliate marketing doesn’t promise overnight success.

There’s a reason ‘get rich’ schemes are eyed with such suspicion; most of the time, they’re only smoke and mirrors.

If you want to get rich, the best way is with hard work. 

Affiliate marketing can be a legitimate business venture provided enough time and care goes into its development.

So, now you know.

It takes work and it won’t be quick.

You’re the type of person who can see the future value of putting this work in or you’re not.

Both are fine but it’s probably best to try different opportunities if you don’t have time to sink into this project.

Here are some of the key principles that you should follow for achieving success with affiliate marketing at an early stage.

Related: How Fast Can You Make Money With Affiliate Marketing?

1. Be Ready And Willing To Learn Every Day

If your web development knowledge is scant, I recommend doing some serious research before you make any significant decisions.

Let’s discuss some of the skills you need to know first and make affiliate marketing work for your wallet.

There are various web-based skills you need to know first.

For instance, you definitely need to be able to create websites.

You’ll also need a thorough knowledge of SEO (search engine optimization) to make sure these websites rank on search pages and reach the right audiences.

Again, it can take time to learn all of these skills.

SEO is a particularly dense topic with strategies that change annually to keep up with Google’s algorithms.

It’s not a question of learning about SEO to know the facts for good.

They’re constantly changing; success online in any capacity depends on the ability to stay well abreast of shifting optimization requirements.

The more you know about Google’s wish list, the easier it is to model your business on it.

It means learning never really finishes.

Also, don’t forget SEO is about finding ways to rank better by providing superior content to internet users than your rivals.

When you’re giving people valuable content, your chance of generating money from it increases.

2. Treat Affiliate Marketing As a Business, Not As a Hobby

The people who make a lot of money from affiliate marketing are those who can run the show like a business.

Fundamentally, it’s no different particularly at a time when things like cosmetics tutorials on YouTube are making thousands.

The meaning of the word 'business' has changed, and you can benefit from this.

With that in mind, we’re going to talk about some key principles of affiliate marketing and making sure your content is always profitable.

When the people visiting your websites are happy with their experiences, they’re more likely they are to take actions that lead to successful sales.

It’s why the value of the content should be a priority across every level of your marketing strategy.

It’s the best way to make money, I promise.

Related: How To Be a Successful Affiliate Marketer - Step by Step

3. Understand Your Audience Better

The first step to mastering affiliate marketing programs is to know exactly who you’re talking to.

Specifically, what type of people are engaging with your digital content?

Until you understand this, you can’t know what they want and, hence, what to give them.

One of the fastest ways to turn visitors off is to present them with irrelevant content.

If you manage a sports website, don’t feature affiliate ads for kitchen utensils or shampoo.

They may promise the big bucks; particularly if you’re making these connections with big brand influencers, but they won’t translate into profits if your users don’t interact with them.

In the long run, irrelevant content causes damage to brands because it drives visitors away.

Google also demotes websites in the rankings if they persistently attract visitors but consistently fail to convert them.

It’s going back to what we were saying about affiliate marketing is a long game.

Getting the key details right from the beginning creates prolonged and dependable success as opposed to short term spikes in views.

Take time to study the most frequent visitors to your sites.

  • Where are they from?
  • Are they male or female?
  • Do they have money or are they in a lower income bracket?
  • Are they likely to have kids or be in school?

Then, the next question to ask is which of these details matters.

Does the fact that most of your visitors are female mean anything? 

Of course, it does; now you know to pick your affiliate marketing ads according to female interests and preferences.

Repeat the process for geographic location, age, income, family size – does it tell you anything about the type of content your audience wants to see?

4. Build Trusting Relationships

While it’s true these decisions aren’t always straightforward, you should try not to promote products for their profit potential alone.

When you start picking affiliate ads primarily for their monetary value and not their value for your visitors, you’ll start struggling to make money ironically.

Wherever possible, invest your time and website real estate on products you truly believe are useful.

If they come with a satisfying profit potential too, that’s wonderful.

Grab these opportunities and hold on to them.

Internet users vocally battle against ads and what they see as over intrusions into non-commercial spaces.

They talk about it a lot and make plenty of noise.

Yet, we know from the fact affiliate marketing works that they do tolerate online ads.

In fact, most website visitors have no problems with ads unless they are over-aggressive or offensive with their messages, overly numerous or clearly irrelevant.

The lesson here is clear.

Pick your content carefully and in a way that shows respect for those you’re targeting, and they’ll respond in kind. 

Happy website visitors make happy customers or, at the very least, repeat visitors and word of mouth promoters.

Related: 22 Advantages and Disadvantages of Affiliate Marketing You Didn't Know

5. Create Content You Know How To Sell

It’s no good writing a promotional blog about crime novels if you’ve never read one.

Your inexperience will be evident.

It might even damage the trust of your audience who want to believe you are passionate about your content.

The most convincing affiliate ads are developed in a way that sets them apart.

Whether readers know they’re engaging with promotional content or not, it shouldn’t feel that way.

Take this example.

You’re hosting an affiliate ad for a crime novel.

You could write a short review with a CTA at the end to say you recommend it.

Or you could use your personal enthusiasm for crime novels – we said to pick products you know, remember – to write a compilation list of the best crime novels of the noughties.

Include a section referencing your target book and it barely feels like an ad at all.

It’s just interesting content you’ve developed from a personal interest or passion.

Integrate your ad links.

Make them feel like they belong there.

It’ll take extra time and care, but it’ll strengthen relationships with your users.

6. Be Transparent With Your Audience

When SEO and affiliate marketing were in their infancy, standard practice was to deflect attention away from the real nature of ads.

In a way, this is still true.

All of this talk of value and providing worth to the user experience is, arguably, the same tactic.

It’s an attempt to lessen those feelings of imbalance that can occur when users find out you are benefiting from product recommendations.

On the other hand, there are differences between providing value and concealing intent.

The latter isn’t intrinsically unethical.

Everybody knows consumers are more likely to buy products when they think the impulse is entirely their idea.

The whole marketing industry is built on persuasion, after all.

It’s okay to be subtle and embed your referrals in less overtly promotional content.

However, it’s worth noting just how much our internet habits have changed since the early days of affiliate marketing.

It’s actually very hard to subtle these days.

Often, visitors do appreciate attempts to make ads look less obvious and aggressive (for all of the reasons outlined above), but they’re rarely fooled.

Most internet users can spot an affiliate ad from twenty miles away.

So, depending on the nature of your website content and target audience, you might want to consider a more open approach.

It’s not suitable for everybody but, in some cases, being completely transparent about affiliate strategies can be advantageous.

Certainly, in the early days of a website or online project, people are more understanding about the need for a content creator to make money.

When you’re just starting out and you’ve got a small but intensely loyal following, there are times you may earn their respect by being honest.

Tell them upfront you’re being paid to promote a particular product but only because you value it.

Be honest about the benefits of affiliate marketing for your website and user experiences.

It’s going to enable you to create more content, add new features, to give them more.

Frame it like a partnership and you might just find your target audience is happy to help you make a profit.

Related: 10 Common Affiliate Marketing Mistakes To Avoid As a Beginner

7. Don’t Stick With a Bad Affiliate Program

Don’t be afraid to ditch affiliate programs that aren’t working for you.

If they’re not providing value for one party, they’re probably not benefiting the other either.

See out any agreements you made and look for something different.

In the early days, it’s going to take you a little time to settle.

You might try several different affiliate programs and run into problems with all of them.

It’s okay to make changes and to walk away from affiliate programs that aren’t helping you meet the objectives we’ve talked about.

If you’re going to do this though, I strongly recommend you implement systematic ad testing.

The only reason change has to be a negative is if you’re not learning from it.

Use systematic ad testing to evaluate the efficiency and competency of different affiliate programs according to your goals.

Focus on conversions, audience responses and sales; compare the numbers between all the programs you’ve used.

You may end up returning to a previously rejected program because it proved the most successful for you in hindsight.

Here’s a useful tip.

Instead of only focusing on profits when your content or ads aren’t performing as well as hoped and you need extra cash, plan ahead and open negotiations with affiliate vendors during high points.

They’re much more likely to reward partners who are helping their own wallets stay fat.

Don’t wait to sell yourself until it becomes a need.


We’re going to return to our favorite word to wrap this investigation up and this should have given you enough idea about how long does it take to make money with affiliate marketing?

Patience is truly a virtue for affiliate marketers.

If you can resist the urge to aggressively target your audience (and it is tempting sometimes), you have a chance to gain their trust. It does take longer to make money.

However, the long term benefits are worth the effort.

The most successful affiliate marketers are those who see themselves as value providers.

They make money because they are offering value in much the same way as any profitable business does.

Take their example; care for your users and they’ll believe you when you say a product is worth their time.

Leave a comment below if you are still not able to figure out why affiliate marketing is not working for you.

I'd be more than happy to help you with any queries you might have. 🙂

About the author 

Hardik Raval

Hardik is passionate about helping people launch their own online business. He loves to talk about online business ideas, affiliate marketing tools, tips and other sources of residual income available on the internet.

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