Affiliate Marketing – Does It Work?

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Most people who are interested in making money online or earning a passive online income approach affiliate marketing with caution. Is affiliate marketing legit? Is it a pyramid scheme? Is it MLM? Does affiliate marketing work or is it just a scam that will do one thing: leave your pockets empty?

I had the same questions before I chose to focus on affiliate marketing as my primary method to earn a passive income online. Yes, there are a lot of scams and MLM systems that would like to look like a legit affiliate marketing system.

But I soon found out that affiliate marketing is absolutely legit, and is much more common than I had thought. In fact, affiliate marketing is becoming more and more common as people spend more time online, they have smartphones etc. Phrases like ‘influencer’ or ‘youtube celebrities’ were unheard of even 5 years ago. Marketing strategies have changed dramatically, and affiliate marketing is a bigger opportunity (in my opinion) to earn money online than ever.

So yes, it does work.

If it is done right.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

The idea of affiliate marketing is very simple. The vendor (or merchant) shares their revenue with the publisher (affiliate marketer) in return for paying customers. In other words the affiliate marketer brings in business for a share of the profit. It is as simple as that.

How does affiliate marketing work
I have nicked this image from Wealthy Affiliate. WA is one of the most popular online communities and training provider for affiliate marketers of all levels, from beginners to experienced online entrepreneurs.

Many beginners fear that there are so many – successful – affiliate marketers out there, that a newbie could in no way compete with them and become successful themselves. This could not be further from the truth, but I completely understand. I thought the same the first time around I quit affiliate marketing and pursued other online business opportunities.

Affiliate Marketing Is Everywhere

You know, I have never realised before, how common affiliate marketing is. But as soon as I understood  – really understood – the concept above, I started noticing that affiliate marketing is everywhere.

“Most people aren’t aware that 15% of total digital media advertising revenue is attributed to affiliate marketing,”

Source: BusinessInsider

Have you ever switched a power supplier? Have you ever switched your internet provider? Do you have a car? How did you find the cheapest insurance? Have you heard of Groupon?

All these sites are doing what any other affiliate marketer would do: they help customers find the cheapest / fastest / biggest / whatever they look for, and then earn a percentage of the revenue of the company they have recommended.

Affiliate Marketing Works in Every Industry

Affiliate marketing works in almost any industry from insurance providers to mortgage advisors, letting agents recommending end-of-tenancy cleaners, car service & MOT comparison sites. It works brilliantly with product reviews too, or even if you just have a blog and you tell a story about something that you genuinely liked.

“81% of marketers and 84% of publishers leverage the power of affiliate marketing.”

Source: WebMarketSupport

You won’t be surprised to hear that most people who have an online presence, monetise their YouTube Channel, Podcast, Web-blog by recommending products for a sum of money. Whether this ad is placed by Google (AdSense), another Advertising agency, it is a product placement or an affiliate link, it does not really matter, the basic idea is the same.

More and more major retailers recognise the potential in affiliate marketing, use it alongside other marketing strategies, and are happy to share their profit with marketers worldwide.

Source: Statista

Affiliate Marketing Is Great for Beginners

Affiliate marketing is ideal for beginners: you don’t need to be a YouTube influencer or have 100k followers on Instagram.

You can start affiliate marketing with almost zero investment by setting up a website or a youtube channel etc. You don’t even need to physically buy the stock that you promote.

Your biggest investment is the learning curve, everything else is peanuts;

  • You need a small amount of money for training (but you can start it for free)
  • A small amount of money for hosting your website (but you can have one for free)
  • and a domain name for your website (starting from a price of a coffee for a year).

It needs your commitment though, and takes time to learn how to optimise your website for search engines, and how to create content by targeting specific search phrases (keywords). With time, your content will rank on Google, people who search the keywords will find your website and you will be able to leverage the organic search traffic sent to your website by Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. for free.

Related post: How Much Does It Cost To Start Affiliate Marketing?

Depending on the topic of your website (called niche), the products or services you are affiliated for and the work you put in to build up your affiliate marketing business, you can earn anything from a few dimes to thousands of dollars a month.

Why People Say That Affiliate Marketing Does Not Work?

Although affiliate marketing is simple, it is not easy to do it right, and it is not easy to do it long enough to see the results. A lot of people start affiliate marketing on the wrong foot and think they can get rich quick. When the results don’t come, they quit, and of course they have every right to say that affiliate marketing did not work for them.

I was one of them, many years ago. The difficult thing to understand that affiliate marketing requires a different mindset.

In your day-job you go to work, work for the man from 9 to 5, go home and at the end of the month you get your salary. In affiliate marketing you work your a*** off, planting the seeds that will grow. After months, if not years of consistent work those little seeds will grow and fruit.

There are two ways you can fail with affiliate marketing.

  1. You don’t wait long enough to see the results
  2. You don’t follow a proven method that WILL produce the results OVER TIME.

It is really difficult to flick that switch, to be patient enough, consistent enough and faithful enough to wait for the results. It is much easier to quit and blame ‘someone else’, ie. that affiliate marketing does not work. Well, the problem is not with affiliate marketing. You have seen the statistics, the marketing model is absolutely legit.

Will Affiliate Marketing Work in 2020 and Beyond?

If you are still reading, then you probably understand by now that if anything, affiliate marketing will only grow.

  • Internet penetration is bigger than ever, and will only increase.
  • YouTube is the greatest opportunity in the last decade to get your message out there, and it only has started spreading its wings.
  • With new technology on the way (such as 5G), the age of superfast internet and video streaming is literally on the doorstep (which is an understatement, it has kicked in the door already).

There has never been a better time to start affiliate marketing.

The trend is going upwards and there is no sign that it will change direction any time soon.

Popularity of the search term ‘affiliate marketing’ in the past five years worldwide. Source: Google Trends

When you are ready to begin your journey, I recommend you to start with Wealthy Affiliate. You can join for free, learn how to start affiliate marketing for free, create your first websites (yes, for free) and there is simply no better place to get help from other affiliate marketers thanks to its vivid and helpful community.

Related post: Where can you learn affiliate marketing for free?

Related post: How to Create a Website for Affiliate Marketing