Can You Really Make Money with Affiliate Marketing?

The Truth About Affiliate Marketing

Online business Affiliate Marketing
Yes, affiliate marketing is a viable home business. Medioimages/Photodisc/Getty Images

Can you make money with affliate marketing? The short answer is yes, affiliate programs can earn a extra money and even a full-time income from home. The long answer is a little more complicated. Like any home income venture, success comes not so much from what you choose to do to make money, but whether or not you do what needs to be done correctly and consistently.

Affiliate marketing is an ideal home business because it doesn't require much money to get started, and you don't have produce, stock or ship product inventory, or deliver a service.

You're essentially paid for referring new clients and customers to other businesses.

The Reality of Affiliate Marketing

The problem with affiliate marketing, like many other home business options, are the so-called gurus and get-rich-quick programs that suggest affiliate marketing can be done fast and with little effort. Odds are you've read claims of affiliate marketing programs that say you can make hundreds of thousands of dollars a month doing almost nothing ("Three clicks to rich!"). Or, they suggest you can set up your affiliate site, and then forget it, except to check your bank deposits.

The reality in affiliate marketing is much the same reality in other work-at-home ventures; there are a few who are filthy rich, a good number who are successful enough to meet their goals, and a ton who aren't making anything. So, the question isn't really whether or not affiliate marketing is a viable income option (it is), but whether or not you can make affiliate marketing work for you.

Only you can decide that. But to help, here are some tips.

How to Become a Successful Affiliate Marketer

Affiliate marketing isn't hard, but it does require knowledge, planning, and consistent effort to make any significant income. Here are some things you can do to insure your venture into affiliate marketing is successful.

  • Start right by learning about affiliate marketing and the steps required to be a success. 
  • Choose only quality affiliate products and services. In fact, consider buying them yourself so you can attest to their quality. You'll be judged by the product/services you promote, so don't just focus on the income, but also on the quality.
  • Research the programs so you understand how and when you're paid, and other important money issues you need to know to ensure the program is a good fit.
  • Choose affiliate items that match your niche or the content on your home business website or blog. For example, if you write about figure skating, affiliate links to motorcycles or a new set of saddlebags won't do well.
  • Mix and match affiliate ads so you don't overwhelm your visitors. In-content affiliate links usually have the best click through rates over image links. 
  • Always disclose your affiliate relationship. Most visitors will probably understand that graphic ads will lead to your getting paid, but if you write a review or use an in-text link as a recommendation, you want your readers to know that may lead to compensation as well. This ensures you retain transparency and trust with your readers, but also, it's required by the FTC's endorsement rules.
  • Market, market, market. Don't rely on SEO or social media alone to drive people to your website or blog to take advantage of your affiliate recommendations. Understand who your target market is, where you can find it, and how you can entice it to your site.
  • Start an email list. The most successful affiliate marketers use email in their affiliate marketing. Don't put this off. Email marketing can increase your affiliate profits significantly.
  • Monitor the success of your affiliate programs, particularly if you have several programs and/or are also using other ad types, such as Google AdSense for making money. Sometimes having too many ads dilutes the site or distracts readers, resulting in lower performance.

Before jumping into starting an affiliate marketing business, learn all that's involved in making it a success.

More importantly, if you decide to pursue an affiliate marketing business, or want to add affiliate marketing to an existing business, understand that it's not fast, automatic, nor without effort. Like all home businesses, ​you need a plan and daily involvement to make money with an online affiliate marketing.

Overall, your chances for making money with an affiliate program are probably no better and no worse than any other type of Internet home based business.Your success depends on how well you execute your affiliate business plan.

Updated Dec. 2017 Leslie Truex