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Is Affiliate Marketing Worth it? Honest Answer From a Skeptical Affiliate (2021)

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If you are wondering if affiliate marketing is worth it, you have probably been searching for ways to make money online and came across it as a model that sparked your interest. But, it is scary to try something new that’s outside of the established path so you want to make sure we’ll be rewarded after making the leap.

My personal response when somebody asks me if affiliate marketing is worth it is a loud YES. But I might be a bit biased since I am now a full-time affiliate, was able to leave my corporate job, make 5 times more, have full control of my time and life, and, most importantly, don’t worry about money anymore.

However, I know that what’s “worth it” for me is not “worth it” for everyone else. Despite what you might have heard around, affiliate marketing— like any other business— has both its benefits and challenges and only you can balance them and come to your own conclusion.

I also know that the question “Is affiliate marketing worth it” actually means:
– How much money can I make and how fast?
– Will I be able to quit my soul-sucking job?
– Is it gonna be hard?

So, based on my experience I’ll share why and under what conditions is affiliate marketing worth it so you can decide whether it is for you or not.

I’ll also share some of the most common mistakes beginners make that stops them from succeeding with affiliate marketing and what to do instead.

Is Affiliate Marketing ‘worth it’?

Affiliate Marketing is worthy if…

1. You are determined to get freedom from the rat race

Like with any other business, your mindset and your ‘why’ will be a huge component of your motivation, work ethic, and ability to overcome challenges.

If you are frustrated with your current career or job to the point where you are convinced you need to find a way out, then being able to replace your income will make affiliate marketing ‘worth it’.

There is nothing more worthy than leaving a situation that was draining you and keeping you unhappy while creating a new life for yourself.

2. You are in it for the long run

If you are looking to make some quick money, then affiliate marketing won’t be ‘worthy’ for you. While you save a lot of time by promoting a product that already exists, it is still a business that requires some time to start producing results.

If you need some money fast, you’ll be better offering some service as a freelance or flipping some stuff on Craiglist.

If you are starting from scratch with affiliate marketing you’ll need to learn some basic skills and set up your business before you start getting results which will take a couple of months of focused and consistent work.

3. You want more out of life than what a regular job can offer?

Some people are completely ok with working a regular job, going back home at the end of the day, and repeating the same routine every day for 40 years. Some people have jobs they truly enjoy and find professional fulfillment there.

However, if you are reading this article, there is a great chance that you are not one of them. If you have been wondering how to leave your job and live a different life for a while, that desire will never go away.

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and want to create something for yourself, no job will ever pay you enough to satisfy it.

While money and freedom are someone of the first reasons why people want to start an online business, there is a greater sense of accomplishment that comes from taking control of your life and creating a living you are proud of with nothing but work and determination.

4. You are self-motivated

The most common reason why most new affiliates fail is simply that they quit too soon. The first few months as an affiliate can be the most challenging since you will need to put in the work and trust the process without an immediate reward.

People who are self-motivated and work well for delayed gratification are able to see the big picture and can stick to the plan knowing that the results will come later.

But some people don’t have this vision nor the capacity to work without an immediate reward so they struggle to find the motivation necessary to build any type of business.

The graphic below illustrates this perfectly showing the 5 Stages one goes through from encountering a new opportunity to actually succeeding with it.

The ‘trick’ is that 99% of people who start won’t make it through the “Valley of Despair” so they’ll never find success.

It goes something like this:

Stage 1: Uninformed Optimism

Wow, Affiliate Marketing looks like the perfect online business model.  I just need to promote other people’s products and make commissions. Let’s do this.

Stage 2: Informed Pessimism

Oh no!  I have to make a landing page and create content. 

Stage 3:  Valley of Despair

I don’t think I can do this. I’m going to quit!

️ At this point, most people quit out and start searching for another shiny object which actually takes them back to Stage 1.

 However, 1% of people have the motivation necessary to push through and make it to Stage 4…

Stage 4: Informed Optimism

Ok, this is going to be hard.  But others are making it work.  And I know that eventually, the results will be worth it.

Stage 5: Success

I did it!!!  I made my first dollar online…and I can repeat the success.

To go through the “valley of despair”, you need to be self-motivated and train yourself to expect delayed gratification. Once you do, it’ll all be worth it.


5. You value freedom and independence

If you want to be in control of your own time and be able to work at any time and from anywhere, then creating an affiliate marketing business that allows you to do that will make the time and effort worth it.

Once you start getting results, it is easy to repeat the process and increase your income month after month but the best part is being able to schedule your days as you wish, spend time with your loved ones, take a month-long trip, or whatever it is that your regular job.

Ultimately, as your business grows, you can hire people to offload the work from yourself and have more free time to devote to other passions or even invest in other businesses.

6. You enjoy learning new skills

When you get started with your affiliate marketing journey you’ll need to learn a few skills like creating a landing page, writing compelling copy, or editing images and videos.

A big part of your time as a beginner will be spent learning so if you enjoy figuring out stuff and thrive on learning new skills, you’ll make the most of this stage.

More importantly, the skills you’ll learn with affiliate marketing are also the foundation of digital marketing and online business so you’ll be able to apply them to any other venture or coach someone else in the future.

7. You have a clear “why”

Finding success with affiliate makretin is 80% mindset and 20% work. If you have a clear reason why you are determined to make this work for you, you have already won.

Whether you hate your job, you want to be wealthy, provide a better life for your loved ones, you want to be free to travel the world, spend more time with your family, or have time to pursue other dreams… If you have a clear “why’, you are more likely to stay focused and consistent so you can get results.

If you reading this article, you probably have a strong reason that motivates you to build a different life for yourself so all it takes is that you recognize it and commit to making it happen.

8. You are passionate about the idea of passive income

If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleepyou will work until you die.

Warren Buffett 

If you have ever dreamed about making money while you sleep or while on vacation, then affiliate marketing is one of the easiest ways to build your passive income without much investment.

Rich people are able to make passive income by putting their money into assets that generate more money. But if you are like me and don’t have a trust fund to your name, you can still create passive income by setting up a system that sells for you.

With affiliate marketing, you don’t need to take care of inventory, shipping, logistics, or customers. So, all you need to do is create content that generates organic traffic and send potential customers to a sales funnel that does the selling for you.

If you are thinking this sounds like a lot of work, it might be, but once it is done, you can simply put in a few hours a day to create more content and keep getting commissions on autopilot.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, I recommend checking this challenge for beginners. They’ll show you step by step how to set up your affiliate marketing selling machine and make the type of results that are worth your time and effort.


9. You are willing to invest to live the life you want

Whether it is time or money, you need to invest some type of currency into a business for it to generate returns.

Affiliate Marketing is one of the cheapest businesses you can start because you don’t need to invest in inventory or create your own product which is saving you more than 90% of start-up capital.

However, if you are willing to invest in some basic tools like a landing page and an email autoresponder, you will speed up your results and increase your profits.

When it comes to learning the skills to get started, you can find all the information you need online for free online but you will need to put the time to research and figure things out on your own.

You can also choose to invest in your education and get trained by someone who has already found success and can show you exactly what to do.

Whatever you decide to do, if you invest time or money into learning the skills you need to succeed, you will see results and live the life you want which will make any investment more than worth it.

Did you say yes to the majority of these points? then you probably have what it takes to be successful with Affiliate Marketing and make the leap worth it.

As you can see, it all comes down to your mindset and your work ethic. If you stay focus and consistent, you will get results and those will be the best answer you’ll ever get!


Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing

Another way of figuring out if Affiliate Marketing is worth it or not for you is by understanding its pros and cons so you can make an informed decision.

Affiliate Marketing Pros

1. Billion-dollar Business

According to the affiliate marketing industry report, the revenue for affiliate marketing reached $6.4 billion in turnover in 2019 and is projected to expand to $6.8 billion by the end of 2020. That’s a 52% growth since 2015 and it shows no signs of stopping.

Getting started with affiliate marketing now means you get a share of a booming industry and the only regret you’ll probably get is not having started before. (At least that was mine).

2. Low Investment Needed

Affiliate Marketing is one of the cheapest businesses you can start. I will detail what costs you’d need to consider later in the article but it is no more than a couple of hundred dollars at most.

3. You Get A Head Start

in a similar way, getting started with affiliate marketing is faster than with other businesses since someone has already spent the time creating and validating the product. This can save you 3 to 10 months when compared to sourcing or creating your own product.

4. Borrow reputation

Since you’ll be promoting products from existing brands, it is smart to choose those who are already known and valued in the market. Companies like Amazon, Booking.com, Bodybuilding have affiliate programs and a reputation that no customer will ever question.

5. Lots of ways to do it

If you have been researching affiliate marketing for while now, you have probably noticed that there are multiple methods and platforms you can use. From using social media or Youtube to creating a blog or doing paid advertisements, there are many possibilities that you can choose from depending on your own preferences and strengths.

Additionally, once you have mastered one platform, you can diversify to another one and easily increase your revenue.

Recommended: Affiliate Marketing Without a Website

6. Passive Income

Since you don’t need to worry about inventory, shipping, or dealing with customers or logistics, you can build passive income relatively easily by choosing a platform that created organic traffic like Youtube or Google.

7. You can focus on what matters

As an affiliate, your main focus should be on sending traffic to the affiliate offers you are promoting. Whether you decide to do this by creating content or by running ads, you can put all your attention into that task. This is a huge advantage as a beginner entrepreneur since you have fewer things to learn and to worry about.

8. Independence

With a business as affiliate marketing, you are free to create your own schedule and choose the working environment that works best for you. I don’t know about you but the chance of working from the Caribbean, an Italian village, or the comfort of my own home is enough incentive for me.

If you have kids or family members that need caretaking, you’ll also be able to be near them and take a break to run an errand or take a day in the middle of the week when you need it without having to worry about losing your job or getting your boss mad.

9. Flexibility

Another benefit of this business model is that don’t need to stick to one affiliate marketing program. You can Select a few various products from your niche and see which one converts better

After a while, you can drop the ones that are not working for you and keep those that are bringing you the most return

By keeping your offers diversified, you minimize the risks and maximize the opportunity to make a better income.

In addition to this, you can choose and focus on those products that pay the highest amount of commission. The more popular products you chose the wider marketplace you can have.

10. No limit on how much you can make

With a regular job that pays on an hourly basis, you will always be limited to how much you can make because you have a limited number of hours/day.

On the other side, with a business as affiliate marketing, your profits are not restricted by how much time you spend on your computer. Of course, at the beginning, your results will be a reflection of your commitment but once your business is running, you can scale it by promoting more products, using more platforms, reinvesting your profits in paid ads, etc.

Affiliate Marketing Cons

1. You Don’t Control All The Elements

While this is a benefit for the most part, there can also be some cons involved with not having full control of the affiliate programs. For example, you won’t be able to change the sales pages if you think there is an opportunity for improvement or you might unknowingly promote an offer that offers bad customer service to your leads.

However, this can be solved by doing a throughout research of the programs you promote and making sure the product, marketing materials, and customer service are high quality and something you’d be happy to buy yourself.

2. High Competition

Wherever there is money to be made, there’ll be competition and it can happen that when an affiliate program is performing really well, lots of affiliates will want to jump on the wagon.

While some people might see this as a disadvantage, the competition also helps the products get more popular and eventually make your job easier since people are more likely to buy an offer they have already heard about a few times than something they didn’t know existed.

If you are entering into a niche with high competition and doing the same as everyone else, you might have a hard time getting a piece of the market but if you use a unique selling angle, you can attract a different audience and get your cut easily.

3. It requires work and consistency

I have said it before but Affiliate Marketing is not a get-rich-quick thing. This can be a disadvantage if someone is looking for some easy money but the fact that it requires work, actually filters out a lot of the people that are not willing to do it and leaves more money for those who are.

While there are some exceptions of affiliates that have been able to earn a lot of money in a short period of time, not everyone will have the same experience. However, if you are willing to put in the time and work, you’ll see results.

How to succeed with Affiliate Marketing and make it ‘worth it’?

One of the reasons people wonder if Affiliate Marketing is ‘worth it’ is because they are still unsure of how it works, how to be successful with it, and if the effort will create the results they hope for.

So, in this section, I am going to give you some of the most important tips you should keep in mind to succeed with your affiliate marketing journey.

1. The ‘fast’ way vs. the right way

A lot of people that ‘fail’ at affiliate marketing do it because they try to do it the fast way. This means using shortcuts and spammy tactics like commenting on other creators’ content promoting their affiliate offers, spamming Facebook groups, sending unsolicited DMs, or buying email lists. (ps: never trust someone who tells you to do this).

If you want to get good and long-term results, make sure to avoid this type of practice and instead take some time to build an audience that will be happy to buy the products you recommend not just today but two years from now.

2. Choosing the right products is key

if there is one important element that can determine the success of your affiliate business, is the products you choose to promote.

For example, beginners love to promote Amazon products because of their reputation and how common it is for people to buy from them on a daily basis so they assume it is easier. However, Amazon also has some of the lowest commissions in the market (1%-5% depending on the category) so you’d need a lot of sales to make a significant income.

In comparison, there are products considered mid-ticket or high-ticket which pay anything from 100 to multiple thousands per commission so you only need a few sales a month to make a full-time income.

In a similar way, choosing the right offer also means making sure it has a good conversion rate and marketing strategies in place to make sure the traffic you send them results in sales and therefore, commissions.

Recommended: 20+ Best Affiliate Programs For Beginners (That Aren’t Amazon’s)


3. Build your email list

I know that the idea of building an email list as you are just getting started with affiliate marketing and managing other steps can be overwhelming but your email list is key to creating a sustainable long-term business.

You see, when you start building your audience you can do it through a social media platform, Youtube, or even a blog but all those methods can be affected by bans or algorithm changes that can reduce or shut down all your traffic.

This is not something you should be scared of because most times those issues are solved promptly. But the point is that an email list is the only way to create an audience that can be taken away from you and that you can reach whenever you want and for free.


How much can you make with Affiliate Marketing?

While there is no limit for how much you can make with affiliate marketing, the answer varies depending on factors like the niche you choose, how long you’ve been doing it, and the strategies you use, among others.

Some inspiring examples to show you what is possible:

  • Spencer Mecham made 7-figures in my first 3 years as an affiliate marketer.
  • David Sharpe has made more than 250 millions and now teaches others how to do it.
  • Pat Flynn grew his affiliate business from $8000 to $100.000 per month

These examples are definitely inspiring they don’t show the whole picture of the average affiliates of those who are at the beginning of their journey and are not yet making a headline-worthy income.

Recently STM forum conducted a poll where they asked about affiliates’ annual income. And you can see the results in the chart below:

Affiliate Marketer’s Income Chart (Source: SMT Forum)

Broadly speaking, this chart must give you a vision that income in affiliate marketing can vary a lot. You can see there are plenty of bloggers and affiliate marketers out there who earn less than $20.000 ($1.600 per month). But then there are also those who make tons of money.

This chart can you an idea of how affiliate marketing income can vary a lot from person to person. It is almost like asking “How much can you make from a business”…The answer will depend on many factors and the results would be as variable as these ones.

Ultimately, how much you get to make will depend only on yourself and— I can’t emphasize this enough— how consistent you are. Having been in the affiliate marketing space for a while now, I can tell you how many beginners quit before making their first commission.

Trying to figure it all on your own can be overwhelming and make you lose perspective. If you are serious about making affiliate marketing work for you, I recommend following someone with a proven method that can speed up your results and guarantee your success.


How much does it cost to start affiliate marketing?

While you can technically get started with zero dollars, I recommend you have at least a budget of $400-$500 to pay for basic tools like a landing page builder and an email autoresponder.

This will allow you to set up your business properly and not worry about making ends meet for your first 4-5 months. This way you can focus on mastering the skills that will be the foundation of your success.

Here is an outline of the costs this will cover:

  • Landing page builder like Clickfunnels or Kartra ($97 – $99/ month) 14-day free trial
  • Email autoresponder (I like ActiveCampaign above all other options – it cost $9/month for up to 500 contacts) Free trial.
  • Education*: while you can learn from free resources like Youtube and blogs, it might take you longer and you turn the risk of failing and giving up. I recommend choosing someone who is doing affiliate marketing in a way that you’d like to do and check if they have a course available.

    If you want to get the best value for your money, I personally recommend this 15-day challenge for beginners. It is only $7 and has amazing training taught by a 9 figure affiliate marketer.

Veredict: Is Affiliate Marketing ‘worth it?

In my opinion, yes, affiliate marketing is one of the lowest risk and lowest investment businesses you can start and the potential is limitless.

In other businesses where you have to invest in buying or creating your own products if those products don’t sell, you have lost your money.

In comparison, With affiliate marketing, if you don’t see success with your first product, you are still one step forwards because you now have an audience and a better understanding so it’s just a matter of time and persistence to see results.

There were a lot of times in my journey where I was skeptical and others where I wanted to quit but now I am so grateful that I didn’t. I get to live the life that I choose every day, I replaced my corporate income after 6 months, I never worry about money anymore and my profits continue to grow month after month.

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