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Over the years, we’ve provided tutorials and guidelines on how to perform affiliate marketing.
That being said, you may wonder how long it takes until you start to receive decent revenue from affiliate marketing.
In this post, we will discuss how long it takes, on average, for an affiliate marketing business to become successful so it starts to bring in revenue.
We’ll take a look at some statistics from affiliate websites as well as some stories from established affiliate marketers.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a business agreement according to which an affiliate marketer markets the product or service for a brand. If the marketer manages to successfully refer a customer into making a purchase from the brand, the marketer receives a commission on the purchase.
It’s a win-win situation for everyone when it comes to affiliate marketing because the marketer gets the commission, the brand gets the sale and the consumer gets the product.
Affiliate marketing has become extremely popular over the past few years.
A major reason for this is the fact that it has a reputation for being very easy to set up and having little start-up costs. Many people feel that they can take a few days to set up a mediocre affiliate site and that’ll be enough.
The problem is that many people don’t realize how much work goes into creating an affiliate website that is actually effective at converting customers. Not only that but many people don’t realize how long it takes for such a website to become discoverable.
We can’t tell you the number of times we’ve heard stories of affiliate marketers that gave up on their projects because they felt they weren’t bringing in visitors. Many of them stop nurturing and marketing their websites too early.
They’re not patient and tend to go in with the wrong mindset; That wrong mindset being that “affiliate marketing can bring you great revenue and success overnight”.
The truth is that that’s not the case at all. You have to work on your affiliate website for a long time typically before it actually starts to generate revenue.
This is why we always recommend new entrepreneurs create affiliate websites related to niches that they are genuinely interested in. This is because affiliate marketing takes a long time to be effective.
During all that time, if you were to work on a niche that you weren’t genuinely interested in, it would be a miserable time for you and you may even get burnt out. On the other hand, if it’s something you genuinely want to learn more about, it’ll be an easier time.
How Fast Can You Make Money From an Affiliate Marketing Business?
On average, most affiliate websites out there that are well-made and follow the best SEO practices take about six months before they earn their first dollar.
Also keep in mind that there’s a huge difference between generating a sizable, reliable income and just a few dollars. In order to get to that point, it’ll take you even longer.
As a new affiliate marketers, people run into the issue of scaling up their business. They have no idea how and they get the false impression that those few dollars are all there is to make within this business.
So, they abandon it.
It’s sad to see because many affiliate marketers often abandon their projects right at the edge of their big break. We’ve come across this numerous times during site audits where we observe that an affiliate site would’ve been successful if it had kept running.
Let’s talk about why this happens and how you can avoid it happening to you.
How Long Does it Take to Reach 4 Figures, on Average, From an Affiliate Site?
We mentioned above how many people tend to leave their affiliate marketing efforts right when they’re on the edge of success.
By far, the most common reason for this is the wrong mindset and extremely unrealistic expectations. Indeed, many people in the affiliate business wrongfully believe that affiliate marketing is a “get rich quick” scheme even though it’s the farthest thing from it.
We feel that a big reason why new marketers think this way is because there have been many “success stories” publicized in the past by established affiliate marketers. These stories often have things to say such as “How I Made X amount of money in X days”.
These success stories do much to serve the person that told them and definitely turn them into a viral sensation in many cases. However, they do a disservice to the less experienced individuals who are trying to start their affiliate marketing journey.
We feel that success stories like this definitely have the tendency to instill the wrong values in newer affiliate marketers. Many of them simply don’t realize the amount of time and effort that affiliate marketing requires.
As a result, they quit too soon because they (wrongfully) believe that success would’ve been here by now.
The truth of the matter is that in all likelihood, you won’t see anything close to 4 figures during your first six months working on your affiliate website.
It’s important to understand that when you start affiliate marketing, your website will have little to no traffic at all.
Then, in the first 6 months, you may make a few sales and earn your first few bucks from the website.
The first 12 to 18 months is typically around the period where your website can hope to generate its first $1000 in total revenue. So, if you totaled all the revenue that the website generated up till now, it would only just reach $1000.
After 18 months, you’ll start to see the affiliate website regularly making money online. This can be thought of as the stage where the website “matures” and becomes an integral part of the niche space that it’s relevant.
This is the stage where it starts to regularly generate 4 figures reliably.
Please note that the durations we have provided above are subject to change because every affiliate site is different. Some take longer while others have a stroke of luck and start to find customers much earlier and quicker.
The estimates we have provided above typically to an average niche affiliate website that is well-made and follows good affiliate marketing practices.
The interesting thing here is that the growth of an affiliate website in its first 12 months is often irregular, unpredictable, and sporadic. That’s why the revenue you generate from this period is typically erratic and unpredictable as well.
You start to see revenue rolling in because certain factors come together around the 6-month to 12-month period.
These factors are:
- The website’s age
- The age of the posts on the website
- The total amount of posts on the website
There are many other factors that play a role in this as well but these three are the major players that play a bigger role in revenue rolling in through your affiliate site.
Please note that an affiliate website that does not make any money within its first 6 to 12 months is completely normal. This can happen to affiliate sites sometimes even if their creators did everything correctly.
If you reach a standstill with your affiliate site where you don’t see any affiliate income but the website is still young, this is the worst time to quit; And yet, that’s what most affiliate marketers do after they get fed up with the results they see.
In our opinion, you should stick with an affiliate site for at least 18 months before you can pass a judgment on whether it was a failed project or if it’s worth continuing.
What to Do When Your Affiliate Website Brings in Its First Revenue?
It’s exciting to see your affiliate website bring in revenue for the first time even if it is just a few dollars. It’s a confirmation that the website can indeed make money and you can definitely gain sizable revenue from it as long as you continue to scale it up.
But how do you scale it up?
Well, the most obvious way to do so is to keep populating your website with more high-quality content that provides value to your readers. Do not be that affiliate marketer that creates content for their site once and then never touches it again.
Remember that you need to keep your website relevant and trendy. To do this, you have to write about the latest trends and fads in the industry to maintain your credibility. This will show people that your brand has the expertise and know-how to keep up with the latest trends.
Thus, they’ll be a lot more trustworthy of your product reviews and other promotional content that you may have on your affiliate website; The type of content which contains affiliate links and which stands to make you money.
Other than that, when you keep creating and publishing high-quality content to your affiliate website. It does a few things for you. Some of the benefits of continuously posting content on a regular basis include:
- An increase in traffic is directed to your website.
- People who visit your website will have a lot more content to go through. Hence, they may find several articles related to topics they’re interested in or want more information about.
- An increase in authority in the eyes of search engines.
Remember how we talked about how your website becomes more discoverable as it gets older and if it has a high number of posts. Hence, the more posts you have related to your specific niche, the higher the chances you’ll rank higher on search engines.
At this stage, increasing your traffic is really all you should be working on. This is because you know your website can generate revenue. You just need to get that revenue to a point where it becomes a decent source of affiliate income.
Believe us when we say that there’s no secret trick to generating loads of traffic on your affiliate website.
There’s no “obscure SEO practice” or “link-building exercise” that you can conduct which could instantly “double your traffic” or anything like that. Hence, don’t fall for such videos and articles on the internet that promise these types of things.
Compared to all these techniques, the thing that has the highest chance to provide you with a decent income is to continue flooding your website with high-quality content.
We recommend that you add content to your affiliate website in batches.
For example, you should ideally spend 1 – 2 months working on the content plan. The content plan should be a complete schedule of what will get posted to your affiliate website over the course of the next 6 months.
Then, in the next 6 months, you should continue to create and publish content onto the website according to the schedule in the content plan.
Once this batch is complete, you can take some time to conduct marketing efforts and link-building exercises for all the new content.
Then, you can create the next content plan and continue from there.
It’s an incremental process that you can perform indefinitely in order to scale your website up gradually.
If you do this on a regular basis and continue with it long enough, your website will become an authoritative entity within that particular niche.
During the stage when you are creating content by following the content plan for an affiliate site, you should follow the 80/20 rule.
In this context, the 80/20 rule refers to the time you devote to content creation along with the time you devote to marketing efforts and other techniques to generate traffic.
While it’s true that marketing is necessary for the success of your affiliate site, it’s not what you should focus on at this stage. Not entirely, anyway.
Instead, you should devote 80% of your time to content creation and the remaining 80% to marketing efforts, SEO implementation, link-building, etc.
Why is Content That Important?
Content is extremely important because it does not really matter what marketing tools you have or extensive your marketing efforts are if your content is mediocre.
When you create an affiliate website, all of your marketing efforts are directed toward it. You promote your affiliate site by saying things like “Go to my website to read about the latest trends and products relevant to [your niche]”.
With marketing like that, people expect your content to be expertly-written and for you to be extremely knowledgeable about the topic at hand. Instead, if they are greeted with a rushed mess of uninformed content with unfocused information, they won’t be very happy.
Most people won’t stay on your website for very long and they’ll most likely never return again.
Hence, you have to put in the time to ensure that your affiliate business is backed up by great content that delivers genuine value to your readers.
We mentioned earlier how content in affiliate marketing works to:
- Direct more traffic to your website
- Tends to keep people on your website for longer since they have more content that might interest them
- Builds your website’s authority when it comes to search engines
For most affiliate marketers, the first year of a niche site or niche sites should always be dominated by content creation. Everything else should come second.
Not only does your content need to be engaging but it also needs to be concise and digestible.
For example, when affiliate marketers create social media messaging for their posts, they use link shorteners to shorten the link to their landing page.
This ensures it does not take up a large chunk of the post and is not distracting.
You can use link shorteners such as Pixelfy to shorten the link(s) to your landing page as well. Although, be careful not to shorten affiliate links as most affiliate programs out there don’t allow you to do so.
Then, when the first year passes, you can ease off of content creation and try to lean more into marketing in order to maintain and/or scale up your sales.
Let’s look at the benefits of content creation in more detail:
You’ll Get More Search Traffic
It’s fairly obvious at this point, even to laymen, that the more content you put on your website, the more likely it is that you will drive higher traffic to it.
It’s fairly simple when you think about it: people use keywords to search for information related to a certain niche. You identify these keywords and proceed to organically use them within your content.
As you continue to write content, eventually, you’ll publish an article that ranks highly on a search engine for a certain keyword.
For example, let’s assume that, on average, 10 posts of yours typically have 1 post that ranks for a high-frequency keyword. Along with that, you have 3 posts that rank for medium-frequency keywords and 3 posts for low-frequency keywords. The last 3 posts don’t rank for anything at all.
Bear in mind, again, that this is on average.
So, if your website had 100 posts, that would mean that 10 of the posts would bring in high traffic. 30 would bring in a medium amount and the other 30 would bring in a little bit.
On the other hand, if you had 1000 posts, then 100 posts would bring in high traffic. 300 would bring a medium amount and 300 just a little bit.
As you can probably tell, a website with 1000 posts would definitely bring in a lot more traffic compared to a website with 100 posts.
With this example, we hope it’s easier for you to tell why more content can often result in much higher traffic and more visitors to your website.
Since it’s an affiliate website, more visitors will mean that more people will click on your affiliate link(s). Hence, you’ll see a steady increase in the affiliate sales you make.
With more content, you’ll also get the opportunity to have different affiliate products that a wide variety of people could be interested in. Hence, you can increase your options in terms of the affiliate programs and links you have present on your site.
It Will Keep People on Your Affiliate Site Longer
This may not seem like that big of a benefit but it’s extremely important because this is a factor that many search engines use to measure your site’s authority.
That’s right, the amount of time for which a visitor stays on your website affects how well you rank on search engines.
Hence, you must make an effort within your content to ensure that visitors don’t just open your website and then close it within 10 seconds. You have to work to make sure that you can grip your readers and keep them on your website for as long as possible.
This is one of the reasons why we always recommend that affiliate marketers should write content that is easily scannable. This is because people on the internet don’t typically want to sit and read through large blocks of text.
If they want information about a product and they see big paragraphs of text, they most likely will not want to put in the effort to read through it. Instead, they’ll go to the next website on the search engine results page and eventually find one that is properly formatted.
Similar to how well-formatted content keeps people on a website for longer, the more content you have will do the same too.
This is because it’s very likely that a visitor to your website is interested in the niche that it’s about. Hence, they may have other curiosities and questions related to the niche.
If you work to add as much content as possible, there’s a high chance you may have a blog post or a tutorial post where you address questions that the reader may be looking for.
Hence, after they are done with a single article, they may find another one on your website that they’re interested in. Naturally, this will keep them on the website for longer. Who knows? They may even click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.
Not only that but of course, your website’s authority will increase in the eyes of search engines when visitors stay on it for a longer time.
It’ll also increase in the eyes of the readers because the more different sub-topics you cover within your niche, the higher your authority and credibility will seem. It’ll make you seem like an expert and an authority on the matter.
As a result, if your readers run into any other problems related to the niche in the future, they may turn to your website again in search of solutions. If you’ve written a lot of content, there’s a chance you may have already addressed those future problems as well.
It’s Great to Build Authority For Search Engines
As briefly mentioned above, readers aren’t the only ones that will consider you an authority if you have a lot of content on your affiliate marketing website, search engines will too.
When Google analyzes a keyword to check whether you have a blog post related to it, it doesn’t take only one blog post into consideration. Instead, it indexes your entire affiliate marketing site to see what other related keywords you may have in other posts.
It takes those relevant keywords in other posts into account as well.
For example, let’s say somebody asks a question about Amazon’s policies on Google.
You’ll most likely get Amazon’s own official page as the first search result and a bunch of other websites underneath.
The second website that you’ll have in the search results will most likely not only have Amazon-related content in the featured post, but they’ll also have it throughout their website.
The presence of Amazon-related content and relevant content throughout the affiliate marketing website confirms to Google that the website is an authority on the subject.
In this way, other articles present on your website can help one specific article reach the first page of search engine results.
This is a great reason why people often go after low-frequency keywords even though it doesn’t seem like they’ll generate much traffic from it.
While it’s true that not a lot of traffic will be generated from it, they still do a lot to build the authority of the website in the way you’ve seen from the example above.
Wrapping Things Up…
Affiliate marketing requires a lot of patience and a lot of hard work. If you’re asking the question “how fast can you make money with affiliate marketing?”, the answer is “not very fast. At least, in the beginning”.
It will take at least 1 to 2 years of hard work for your website to reliably start making money online. It’s up to you to stick with it and scale it in a way so that it can be a valuable asset to your business.
For more questions related to affiliate marketing, please reach out to us in the comments section below.