Is Affiliate Marketing Worth It?

Is Affiliate Marketing Worth It?

When it comes to making money online affiliate marketing is one of the most popular choices. But although making a website and getting affiliate referrals sounds easy, it actually takes a lot of work to get traffic and convince people to click through and buy a product from your recommendation.

So the question is, is affiliate marketing worth it? And the answer is it depends. It depends on what type of work you like to do and if the tasks involved in creating an affiliate website are interesting or at least doable for you.

Many people hear the stories of folks who make a full-time income from an affiliate site and get excited. They jump in full force to find their niche, buy their hosting, and set up their first website. But then it comes time to do the real work and get some good, quality, targeted traffic to the site.

This is where the first level of quitters will fall off. They wanted something quick and easy. Just put up a site with a few pages of recommendations and watch the commissions come rolling in. But after their site is set up with a basic WordPress theme and a title they find themselves saying what now?

And for the ones that do get past that and start with the next step they find that success doesn’t come as quickly as they thought. Those online success stories made it seem so easy but after months of hard work and seeing very limited results many new affiliate marketers will decide that this affiliate marketing thing must be a scam and they’ll drop out.

They stop building on their website as much and eventually quit completely. Sometimes it may be that these people were doing something wrong or sometimes these people may have stopped just short. We’ve all heard the story of the gold miner who stopped a few feet short of gold right?

It takes time to build a high quality affiliate website with lots of great content that ranks high in Google. For the first several months, maybe even a year, you’ll have to work hard for little result. But once Google starts to recognize and trust your website as a truly helpful resource in your niche you’ll actually start to see results.

The successful affiliate marketers know that when they start a new site they have to put in the work up front and trust the process of building authoritative content to get traffic and eventually commissions. But once you do the benefits of running your own site and working from anywhere in the world will definitely make affiliate marketing worth it.

What Does It Take To Start An Affiliate Marketing Website?

My affiliate marketing training course teaches a simple formula for creating a money making affiliate marketing website.

Is Affiliate Marketing Worth It

The simple definition of an affiliate marketing website is a site where you put links to products on other websites and if someone clicks your link and buys the product, you get a percent of the sale. Sounds easy right?

But the trick is to get enough traffic that will create enough click throughs to your affiliate offers and lead to enough sales for you to make a good amount of money. There are a few ways to do this.

You can use pay per click (PPC) marketing, which is paying for ads on places like Google, Facebook, Pinterest, or others. This can be the easiest and most lucrative way to make money in affiliate marketing. The problem is you have to know how to do it, and if you don’t it can be very expensive.

Most of us don’t have enough money to waste trying to figure out how to master PPC so the next option is social media marketing. If you have a big following on social media, you can recommend products to your followers and get lots of commissions. But again, most of us don’t have huge followings and don’t know how to build one.

So the next way is to use content marketing, which is usually done through blogging. Content marketing means writing lots of helpful, authoritative content on a subject that you are knowledgeable about, or have at least researched, and this content ranks in the Google search results which leads to you getting lots of organic, free traffic.

When you know how to find the keywords that are searched in Google the most and write a quality, targeted article for that keyword, you will rank on the first page when the term is searched and people will find your site. Once there they will see your recommendations and possibly click through and buy, which can lead to lots of affiliate sales and a decent income for you.

Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing

These are the major pros and cons of affiliate marketing:


  • It’s a great way to make passive income. While you’re off working at your full-time job, your affiliate links and blog posts will be working in the background. With the right combination of SEO and engaging, honest writing, you could be looking at a passive income cash cow.
  • Turn your passion into a business. You can literally take something that you are passionate about and explore it in many ways through your blog, solving problems, and recommending solutions for others. Make money while exploring and writing about your passion in life.
  • You don’t need marketing experience. You don’t need any marketing experience to become an affiliate, though a bit of SEO knowledge and writing chops never hurt.
  • You can do it in your free time. With only a bit of time + money investment up front (setting up a website, getting set up with affiliate programs, and creating content with your affiliate links) you can start making money.


  • It’s hard work. If you don’t want to work hard then this is a major con. Getting traffic to your website and getting sales of affiliate products can take a lot of work. You will have to learn to set up a website, write lots of content, and promote on social media. If this is not interesting to you then you may have a hard time in affiliate marketing.
  • You have zero control over the offers, products, or services. You don’t have to mess with products (creating, distributing, selling) but at the same time, you don’t have any control over what you’re promoting, either.
  • It can be competitive. Affiliate marketing is relatively simple, so there will be plenty of other affiliates out there competing for clicks and leads – some of them with years of experience behind them.
  • There are scams. Affiliate marketers need to be wary of scams and fraudulent affiliate programs.

Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

  • Are you willing to work for it? As if you’re building a real and legitimate BUSINESS? Affiliate marketing isn’t a simple path to easy money. If you actually want to make serious money from affiliate marketing, you have to treat it as a business. You have to learn how to build a website, how to market that site, and have a business plan to follow. You’ll have to devote yourself every day to your goals. If you aren’t willing to put in the effort, you’ll never get the rewards, which often come MONTHS or YEARS after starting. Most small businesses don’t earn a dime for 3 years. Affiliate marketing doesn’t quite take that long, but 1 to 2 years is not a stretch. Are you willing to put in that much time and effort for the rewards at the end?
  • Can you learn about online marketing? Hardly anyone is an online marketing expert. Even those that get a degree in marketing really don’t know what affiliate marketing is, how to grow a blog, a social media following, a YouTube channel, etc. You must learn how to teach yourself many marketing skills independently, and the learning never stops. As soon as you learn one thing, you’ll need to learn another.
  • Do you give up easily? You’ll have to be motivated in order to find true success, and you’ll need the patience of a monk. It’s too common to see affiliate marketers give up within a week or a month because they feel that they’re not getting the results they want. Affiliate marketing is a LONG-TERM strategy. In order to truly succeed, you either need to learn how to grind it out for a while, or you need to learn how to enjoy the process. If you would blog and write for free, you are ironically the most likely person to succeed and make money with affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing does really work – but only if you’re the kind of person willing to make it work for you. Be honest with yourself and you’ll be able to determine if it’s a good fit for you. Your personality has more influence on your success or failure than anything else.

Tips To Help You Make Affiliate Marketing Work For You

As you can see, the answer to the question of “Does affiliate marketing really work?” is twofold – yes, it works, but only for those willing to put forth time, effort, and energy. If you want it to work for you, you’ll have to treat it seriously and like a job instead of some internet get-rich-quick scam.

Let me give you a personal example – When I was first really trying to make money online, I spent every moment I could growing my online business. At the time, I was working very long hours, but that didn’t stop me. If I had to work during my lunch hour, I would do it. If I had to stay up late at night to write an article, I would do it. If I had any downtime at all I was working on growing my online business. It took me 6 months before I earned my first $7 commission and another 6 months before I was earning enough to quit my job, and honestly, I found success much sooner than most people. Even now, most of my sites take about 2 years to earn any real significant income.

There are a few tips worth remembering that can help ensure that affiliate marketing will work for you. Here are some things that could make it easier to reach your goals with it:

  • Set up a strong, easy to navigate website. This will be the hub for your affiliate marketing efforts and should be designed to be professional and informative. The platform found at Wealthy Affiliate makes it easy to create a great site you can use.
  • Choose products you are excited about and interested in. This way you stay motivated to talk about them and market them. It’s very tough to sell products and services you don’t really believe in, so find a niche that you have some degree of passion for and only promote products and services you would buy yourself.
  • Seek help when you need it. Another reason I like Wealthy Affiliate is the community they have. Whether you use the community there or find other online forums for community support, I highly recommend having a support network.
  • Don’t give up. The simple fact is that it will take time to reach your goals. If you want to truly succeed at affiliate marketing, you must get BEYOND the point where everyone else gives up. You haven’t really failed until you’ve given up.

Can I Make Money With Affiliate Marketing

The short answer is yes, many people without any prior technical knowledge have started a website on a topic they are interested in and turned it into a profitable site. Sometimes it’s just a few hundred or a few thousand, or some really good marketers make tens of thousands a month.

Whether or not you’ll be able to do it depends mostly on how bad you want to do it and how much you want to do the things required to build a successful site, mainly writing.

If sitting down and regularly writing 1,000 plus words on a topic that you’re interested in is not something you’d like to do then it’s going to be hard to create an affiliate site.

If building a brand and promoting it on social media or researching and solving industry problems to create more content is not something you want to do then affiliate marketing may not be for you.

And as mentioned before, it will take a while before you get traffic and start making money. In the beginning you’ll have to write and write and write and you may be wondering if anybody is even reading it. And if nobody’s even reading it then why am I spending so much time writing? This is the part where you feel like this whole thing’s a waste of time and you want to quit.

But if you enjoy the subect and you work hard to create good content that gets ranked on search and share on social media you can make money. Once your site gains traction and Google starts to trust you as an authority in your niche you will see more and more traffic and engagement and the sales will come.

That’s really all there is to it. Work hard and stick to it. Anybody with an interest can create a site and monetize it. Check out some of these affiliate marketing success stories.

Affiliate Marketing Is Worth It, But How Do I Learn

I spent years trying to figure out affiliate marketing. And if you’re like me and you’ve spent a lot of time researching already as well, you probably know that there are a lot of people out there promising you lots of money with little effort. All you have to do is pay them hundreds or thousands of dollars up front for their training.

Learn Affiliate Marketing

But affiliate marketing is definitely not a get rich quick scheme. It’s a real business and it takes a lot of time and effort to build a website to the point of making any money at all. Technically all you need is web hosting and a domain name and you can get started, but really you need to know how to find keywords to write about, how to write your articles, how to set up your website, and many other tricks of the trade.

The best place to get hosting, domains, and step-by-step training is Wealthy Affiliate. When I found WA I was suspicious because of all the previous promises that I had seen from programs promising to teach you how to make money online. But plus number one is you can get into Wealthy Affiliate for free. Not a money back guarantee or a trial that you have to remember to cancel or they’ll charge you. It’s just a free membership.

Sign up without any credit card information, just a name and email, and you are in. You can interact with other members, start the training, and even create a website hosted on their platform for FREE. So I figured I’ll log in and check it out, but I still had my guard up waiting for the big catch where the free training turned out to not really be worth a damn or I had to pay a thousand dollars before I could really get started.

But suprisingly I was actually able to do the whole first module of 10 lessons and create my first site without paying anything. And the training was actually good. They walk you through each step with videos that show you exactly how to get up and running.

I also was able to read blog posts from other members about their business, including some who were already making money after taking the WA training. They have a live training every week and I was able to attend one and it was a really helpful webinar on doing keyword research.

They gave so much great content for free that I was honestly starting to think about upgrading to a premium membership. It was discounted for the first month as well so I decided to go ahead and go premium so I could continue on in the training and keep my website going. It was a monthly plan so if it went downhill from there I could cancel any time and wouldn’t be out much money at all.

From there I didn’t look back. The training is really good and I was making progress so I kept my membership and built a successful affiliate site. If you want to learn affiliate marketing I can honestly say I haven’t found anything better than Wealthy Affiliate. Again, if you don’t believe me, create a free account and check out the blogs of some of the members on the site who have made money after completing the training.

How To Get Started With Affiliate Marketing

Neil Patel is an expert affiliate marketer who has a lot of helpful information on Here is an excerpt from one of his articles explaining the process of getting started with affiliate marketing.

4 steps to becoming an online affiliate marketer

Similarly to becoming a merchant, there are also 4 steps that you can take to start your journey as an affiliate marketer.

First, you need to start reviewing products in your niche. That can be done on a YouTube channel, on a blog or even just using live streams on Periscope.

Second, you have to collect emails, so that you can connect with your audience at any time you want and don’t have to hope for them to see your content.

Third, you can use joint venture webinars to make a lot of sales in a short period of time, while simultaneously growing your email list and creating new content.

Finally, once your affiliate marketing business starts making money, you can scale your growth with pay per click advertising.

Step 1: Review products in your niche

It’s easier to get started as an affiliate because you’re skipping the ‘have an idea’ and ‘creating an idea’ parts of becoming a merchant.

You already use and like plenty of products, so all that you have to do get started is to publicly talk about them.

Start by looking at the partners in step 4 for becoming a merchant, because that’s what you’re trying to start in this step.

Any product works.


Take a look at this guy, who reviews Hot Wheels tracks and cars:


Over 300,000 subscribers for Hot Wheels? I’m sure whatever your niche is, it’s less specific.

Continue reading Neil’s article here …

This is a perfect example of what I was talking about with turning a passion into a business. This guy really likes Hot Wheels and knows a lot about them so he started reviewing them. In this case he uses YouTube but as Neil points out you can also use a blog for this.

If you’re interested in using YouTube as well Wealthy Affiliate has a great webinar on this as well.

But to Neil’s point, reviewing products in your niche can be a great way to get traffic to your site. And once they’re there you can recommend your favorite products and collect commissions.

Affiliate Review Sites That Make Money

Just in case you doubted the power of great reviews I’ve found some of the top review sites on the internet that make money with affiliate marketing.

Thankfully there are dozens of examples of sites doing affiliate marketing the right way (and making a LOT of money as a result…as in millions even).

Here I’ll share some of those examples and analyze the reasons why they’re so successful so you can emulate them.

One thing to keep in mind, don’t be intimidated by the scale of some of these sites or their traffic numbers and income. Most of them started out small and grew to where they are now over time.

You start small, with big goals in mind, and grow step by step just like most of the sites on this list did. Very few, if any, sites on this list started out as super-affiliates.

1. This Is Why I’m Broke

Key Stats

Estimated Monthly Traffic – 4.9M

Total Backlinks – 121K

Approx. Monthly Revenue – $70,000

Domain Authority – 57

Facebook Fans – 317K

Twitter Followers – 10.7K

If you’re looking for the most bizarre, unusual, and useless products that nobody should buy, TIWIB is the site for you.

The strangest thing about this site is that it lists products that normal people don’t buy but they still make thousands of dollars in commissions from Amazon.

The reason?

Their witty product descriptions, extremely unique product selection, and an easy to explore design that can suck you in and keep you scrolling down for hours.

Plus, even though people don’t usually buy what they offer they do click on their affiliate links and whenever that happens the affiliate “cookie” is set and they get a commission for anything else purchased after that.

Amazon are masters at making anyone who lands on their site buy stuff even if you didn’t intend to go shopping, so TIWIB capitalises on that.

They have several popular product categories on their site especially Gifts for Men, Gifts for Women and Gifts Under $20. Overall, however, the products they choose to promote are pretty expensive but interesting.

(RELATED: Want to learn how to make income with affiliate marketing? Then check out Wealthy Affiliate)

How Do They Make Money makes all of its money from different affiliate programs and partnerships, Amazon Associates being the biggest contributor.

Dominant Content Type

They don’t publish detailed buyer guides or blog posts, but their short product descriptions are so well written that they capture the readers’ attention and make them take action.

Things They Can Improve

  • Build an email list
  • Start a blog or publish more content to increase their organic search traffic

Lessons You Can Learn

More than 50% of their traffic comes from direct sources which means they have a strong brand and people visit them because they trust their reviews.

That’s the power of branding. It reduces your dependency on outside sources and makes you more independent.

2. NerdWallet

Key Stats

Estimated Monthly Traffic – 11.4M

Total Backlinks – 26.4K

Approx. Monthly Revenue $800K

Domain Authority – 83

Facebook Fans – 108K

Twitter Followers – 53K

NerdWallet started as a simple credit card comparison blog but has now grown into one of the biggest personal finance sites on the web serving over 11 million visitors per month.

It publishes exceptional content, both in terms of its usefulness and user experience, and helps its readers choose the best credit cards, insurance programs and investment opportunities.

But it’s still an affiliate site.

It makes all of its money through partnerships with different financial services companies. Most of its content can be categorized as reviews and comparisons.

How Do They Make Money

  • Affiliate partnerships with different financial services

Dominant Content Type

  • Reviews
  • Comparisons
  • Blog posts on personal finance tips

Most Popular Content

Lessons You Can Learn

NerdWallet didn’t start with a huge investment or a lot of content. It started as a pretty simple comparison site but kept improving with time and evolved into one of the best affiliate sites on the web.

This is exactly what you need to do.

Get into affiliate marketing with a long-term vision. Don’t think of it as a way of making a quick buck.

You can earn millions if you’re willing to invest time and effort in building a high-quality affiliate site.

3. MoneySavingExpert

Key Stats

Estimated Monthly Traffic – 8M

Total Backlinks – 990K

Approx. Monthly Revenue – $1.5M

Domain Authority – 77

Facebook Fans – 82K

Twitter Followers – 262K

I’m including it in this list because its another perfect example of how you can grow a small affiliate site into a major publication.

MSE started as a one-man project by Martin Lewis. He eventually grew it into the biggest personal finance site in the UK and one of the biggest in the world.

It not only publishes reviews, comparisons and general blog articles but also offers a range of free but highly sophisticated finance tools.

As a result, he managed to sell the site for 87m pounds but kept his position as editor-in-chief (leading a team of 80+ journalists) to maintain content standards.

MSE primarily targets people in the UK and has a hugely credible brand image because of its policy of only promoting or reviewing products that are genuinely useful to its audience.

If you look at it today, MSE appears to be an affiliate empire but it’s just another reminder of what you can achieve as an affiliate marketer if you focus on providing value.

How Do They Make Money

  • Affiliate partnerships with financial institutions

Dominant Content Type

  • Product reviews
  • Comparisons
  • Tools

Most Popular Content

Lessons You Can Learn

  • Provide value and the best deal to your visitors first even if it means sacrificing an affiliate commission on the first sale as it will mean they’ll become a loyal fan of your site and come back time and time again.
  • Finding way to incorporate free tools into your website that people will use and find useful that lead to an affiliate sale is a smart move, just like MSE have done with the finance calculators and loan and credit card comparison tools.

(RELATED: Want to learn how to make income with affiliate marketing? Then check out Wealthy Affiliate)

4. Skyscanner

Key Stats

Estimated Monthly – 11M

TrafficTotal Backlinks – 3.87M

Approx. Monthly Revenue – $2M

Domain Authority – 82

Facebook Fans – 86K

Twitter Followers -167K

Skyscanner is another success story for bedroom affiliate marketers.

You can call it the Google of travel deals and flight prices. But it wasn’t always this big.

Founded by 3 university graduates in 2001, Skyscanner was just an affiliate site helping its users find the cheapest flights around the globe.

Their sole focus was to provide value to their users and help them save money.

They kept on doing it for years (making a LOT of money) until they were acquired by Ctrip, the largest travel company in China, for $1.9 Billion.

Most of their traffic comes from Google thanks to their prolific blog content that has dozens of detailed travel guides and tourism focused articles.

Skyscanner makes money through commissions from airlines and hotel partners

But despite such huge success, their core focus hasn’t changed.

How Do They Make Money

  • Commissions from airlines, hotels, and travel partners.

Dominant Content Type

  • Travel guides

Most Popular Content

Lessons You Can Learn

Identify the biggest problem of your audience and then solve it more effectively than any of your competitors. If you do that consistently, the money will follow.

This is exactly what Skyscanner has done so successfully.

They always show the BEST deal to the customer even if Skyscanner has no affiliate deal with the airline or company as this creates trust and makes the customer come back time and time again knowing they’ll always find a good deal.

5. The Wire Cutter

Key Stats

Estimated Monthly Traffic – 4.5M
Total Backlinks – 481K
Approx. Monthly Revenue – $30M

Domain Authority – 75

Facebook Fans – 13.5K

Twitter Followers – 75.2K

The Wire Cutter is a content heavy site that helps consumers find the best products in a variety of categories.

Despite being one of the most popular review sites on the web, The Wire Cutter publishes only a handful of reviews every month.

The reason?

They test every product before reviewing it. Plus, almost every review they publish is a mammoth post of thousands of words.

Take this post as an example

As a result, people trust their reviews and prefer buying through them.

Just look at the level of engagement on their posts

The quality of their reviews and their huge audience ultimately resulted in their acquisition by The New York Times for more than $30M.

How Do They Make Money

  • Commissions from Amazon Associates, Best Buy etc.

Dominant Content Type

  • Product review
  • Comparison posts

(RELATED: Want to learn how to make income with affiliate marketing? Then check out Wealthy Affiliate)

Most Popular Content

Things They Can Improve

  • Should build their email list more aggressively in my opinion

Lessons You Can Learn

The biggest takeaway for me is the amount of work TheWireCutter put into each piece of content they publish. They don’t just copy/paste product reviews to generate search engine traffic.

They spend hours testing every product and write genuinely useful reviews that cover all the pros and cons of the product.

Over the years, this has made them a highly trustworthy source of product reviews with a loyal and dedicated audience.

If you’re planning to start a review site, TheWireCutter is the perfect example to follow.


In conclusion if you think you’ll enjoy writing tons of content and reviewing products in a profitable niche, then affiliate marketing is definitely worth it. With some time and a lot of effort you can create a website that gets tons of targeted traffic and send them through to your affiliate products to buy and you will earn good commissions.

There are many people making a full-time income from affiliate marketing. You just have to look at the details mentioned in this article of what’s involved and decide if this is something you are interested in working at. If you can put in the hard work to build a successful affiliate site then you will love being an affiliate marketer.