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Can Affiliate Marketing Be a Career? The Real Answer


Yes, you can have a full-time career in affiliate marketing. There are plenty of affiliate marketers who managed to quit their jobs to focus on earning through passive income.

So it's not a question of can you be a successful affiliate marketer — because you can.

The real question is: Should you be in the affiliate marketing business?

In today's post, we're going to talk about what affiliate marketing is, its pros and cons, and tips on how you can turn it into a successful online business. We'll also talk about some of the best affiliate marketers in the industry.

The goal of this post is to help you decide if affiliate marketing is the right career path for you.

With that said, let's go right into it.

Affiliate Marketing In a Nutshell

Affiliate marketing is an advertising model where you, as an affiliate, earn a commission for every successful transaction that you bring to the advertiser's business. These transactions are tracked using special links that the advertiser provides the affiliate.

If your follower clicks an affiliate link on your site, social media, or any other source, the follower's actions are tracked and recorded by the advertiser. And if it results in a sale, the advertiser gives you money. That's affiliate marketing in a nutshell.

Pros of Affiliate Marketing

Let's start with some of the reasons why affiliate marketing is a good idea.

Little to No Cost

Affiliate marketing is comparable to running a business — only you don't need to invest money. Remember: You only need to insert affiliate links in posts. If you already have a website, that means you only need to publish an article with the affiliate link in it to get started.

Even those without a website can just share the affiliate link through social media or even YouTube.

As long as you have somewhere you can insert an affiliate link and people can access it, you can run a successful affiliate marketing business. What more can you ask for, right?

Easy to Manage

Running an affiliate marketing campaign isn't as labor-intensive as you might think. Once your affiliate link goes live, you can continue making money off of it indefinitely. Your sole focus at that point will be to drive traffic to pages where your affiliate links are.

That's the reason why affiliate marketers can afford to take time off and go places while running their businesses. As an affiliate marketer, your job is pretty much done once your affiliate link goes live. Even if you end up publishing a ton of affiliate links, you shouldn't have to worry about them too much.

Minimal Risks

Affiliate marketers are making money without having to deal with all the headaches that the advertisers have to face. They'll take care of order fulfillment and shipping. And if anything goes wrong, they'll be the ones that'll have to answer to the customers — not you.

That's what we mean by there's very little risk to affiliate marketing. You don't have to deal with all the stress that business owners have to take. Just promote their products and leave a link for users to click. Let them deal with everything else. You've done your job by that point.

Cons of Affiliate Marketing

So what are the downsides of affiliate marketing? Let's take a closer look.

Financial Security

While there is money in affiliate marketing, it's never guaranteed. There are plenty of factors at play that can impact your ability to earn. Do you have the right affiliate marketing strategy? Are you attracting the right audience? How much traffic are you getting? How much authority do you have in your niche? Are you in the right niche in the first place?

These are just some of the questions that you'll need to ask yourself before becoming a full-time affiliate marketer. You want to have everything in place before you give it everything you've got.

Affiliate Program Requirements

The truth is that affiliate marketing programs and platforms have different requirements that prospective marketers will have to meet before they could join. This is especially true for bigger brands.

One of the biggest requirements for affiliate marketers that want to work with advertisers is having a big enough audience. That means you'll have to prove that the traffic you're getting will be enough to drive referral sales. That can be a deterrent for aspiring affiliate marketers.

However, it should be noted that there are some affiliate programs that you can work with immediately even if you don't have a huge following yet.

Little to No Control

With affiliate marketing, you're leaving yourself in the hands of the affiliate networks. You have to abide by their terms and conditions. And you're also dependent on their commission rates.

You have no control over your competitors either. Should you find yourself competing with other affiliate marketers in the same space, you'll have to figure out how to generate more sales than them. This can be a problem if your niche becomes too saturated. You and other affiliate marketers will have to compete against each other since you have the same target audience.

Successful Affiliate Marketers

Can affiliate marketing be a career?

There are plenty of marketers that went on to have successful online businesses using affiliate marketing.

And if you want to have a solid foundation for your affiliate marketing career, you don't have to look far for inspiration. Just look at the examples set by these affiliate marketing experts.

Pat Flynn

Pat Flynn is a talented man. He's an author, a keynote speaker, and a serial entrepreneur. He's also the man behind Smart Passive Income, a resource site for online businesses. There you'll find affiliate marketing strategies and training materials.

What's great about Pat is that he's transparent when it comes to his affiliate marketing journey. While he hasn't published lately, there was a time when he posts his affiliate marketing income reports monthly.

In Pat's December 2017 report (the latest entry as of this writing), he noted that he was able to earn $105,619.13 from affiliate marketing alone.

Pat has other sources of income — some of which are loosely tied to or offshoots of his affiliate marketing hustle.

His blogs are worth a read since that's where he details his strategies for digital marketing. Most of his gains come from optimizing his platforms for site traffic and testing strategies from other online marketers like Brian Dean.

Spencer Haws

Spencer Haws is the founder of Niche Pursuits, a blog site dedicated to discussions about niche business ideas — which happens to include affiliate marketing.

He too isn't shy about sharing his experiences and income. Spencer's July 2019 income report, for instance, shows that his OwnTheYard site earned a total of $1,392.11 — which isn't bad for a site that was only 11 months old at the time.

$692.16 of that month's earnings came from Amazon Associates.

He notes in that report that Google is his largest source of traffic. That's why targeting the right keywords is very important in affiliate marketing. Spencer was also quick to stress the importance of publishing content consistently.

Matthew Woodward

Matthew Woodward is an expert when it comes to all things SEO — with link building as his bread and butter. However, he also knows a thing or two about affiliate marketing.

Unfortunately, Matthew put an end to his monthly income reports as he felt that it has already served its purpose and that he'd rather shift his attention to other projects. However, his last income report in December 2017 paints a clear picture of just how much someone can earn with affiliate marketing.

His key to success is content. He was able to publish content that went on to drive traffic to his site. His tutorial on how to make money on Fiverr generated thousands of page views.

He's also getting referral traffic from social media as well. We think this stresses the importance of diversifying your traffic sources. You don't have to rely on search engine traffic alone as it is possible to gain a new audience by promoting posts on social media platforms.

Doug Cunnington

Doug Cunnington is the affiliate marketer behind Niche Site Project, a resource site for online marketers.

He has been in the affiliate marketing space since 2015 — the year he's been laid off from work. So if you're in a similar position, know that someone has done it before and came out the other end doing just fine. It is possible to make affiliate marketing a full-time job.

By the looks of it, Doug is earning through commissions from Amazon Associates. According to him, he's been making a full-time income of $70,000 for years.

In 2017, one of his niche sites managed to pull $70,000.

His secret? Great keywords. He uses the Keyword Golden Ratio strategy which uses data to find the right keywords to use in his posts.

He also managed to sell an affiliate site he co-owned with a partner for $235,000 which is impressive considering that it only had 120 posts. So yes, there's more than one way to earn money through affiliate marketing.

Adam Enfroy

Adam Enfroy might be last on our list but he's definitely one of the biggest affiliate marketers today. That becomes evident as soon as you read his blog income reports. His most recent income report shows that he earned $281,776 in one month. That's insane.

Most of his earnings came from affiliate commissions and course sales.


Adam credits his success to his blog's laser-sharp focus on affiliate revenue during the first 2 and a half years of his journey.

Overall, he brought in $80,950 from 63 different affiliate programs. That's a 55.6% increase compared to the same time the year before.

Tips on Finding Affiliate Marketing Success

What can you do to improve your chances of succeeding in the world of affiliate marketing?

Here are a few tips we'd like to share.

  • Familiarize Yourself With SEO — You might have noticed that all of the affiliate marketing experts featured earlier had one thing in common. They all implemented sound SEO strategies. Outranking your competition in the search results is key to driving more traffic to your site.
  • Find the Right Affiliate Program — Not all affiliate programs are the same. Some offer better commissions. Others offer products that are easier to sell. Find the right affiliate program for you and your audience.
  • Have Some Credibility — It's easier to promote products if you have credibility in your space. So do everything in your power to be an authority figure in your niche. There are different ways to do this such as consistently publishing articles related to your niche. Working with influencers in your space might also help.
  • Start Small — There are tools that can make it easier for you to succeed in affiliate marketing. But you might want to start small. Use free versions of programs and applications that you think you might need. Remember: You'll need to balance the amount of money you put into your business with your earnings.
  • Be Less Aggressive — Some marketers make the mistake of being too aggressive in their approach. That means blasting their leads with emails or using their social media platforms to promote products non-stop. This is a sure-fire way to turn off what little following you might have.
  • Invest in a Professional Website — Looks is everything. If your website looks amateurish, it'll take a lot more convincing for people to trust whatever it is you have to say. If possible, work with a professional website designer to make sure your site looks sleek and modern.
  • Publish Consistently — Not only will this help bring people back to your site, but it also improves your chances of ranking on Google. So try to publish as many articles as you can on your site and make sure that you do so consistently.


There you have it. That is what affiliate marketing is all about.

So you think it's right for you?

The nice thing about affiliate marketing is that you can try it for free. So you're not really risking anything by trying it out. We'd suggest that you give it a go just to see if you'd be comfortable making a living through commissions.

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