Affiliate marketing enables enterprising creators and influencers to diversify their income streams. It also allows them to tap into opportunities to earn “passive income”. Why the quotation marks? This is because while it may come across as a laidback activity—after all, you only need to promote products or services on your preferred platform—affiliate marketing does require you to lay the groundwork.
As an affiliate marketer, you need to conduct research on which products or services are relevant and valuable to your audience. You also need to determine who your visitors are, where they’re coming from, and their needs or pain points. You’ll also have to work hard to build your audience base and keep them engaged, as well as put in the work to improve your promotional platforms, such as your blog or YouTube channel, and content. When done right, affiliate marketing can be potentially lucrative, with some of the top affiliates earning as much as $74,000 annually (as of December 2022), according to PayScale.
Affiliate Marketing and the Creator Economy
Affiliate marketing is also one way for creators and brands to participate in the creator economy, where individual and independent creators can create content and monetize their influence, thus creating a new economy. In affiliate marketing, content creators produce content, promote the products through unique affiliate links, and earn income for every purchase made.
It’s projected that the creator economy will continue to grow over the years. In 2022 alone, there were approximately 200 million creators, 139 million of which are considered semi-pro creators with 1,000-10,000 followers, who are contributing to the creator economy’s growth. Previously, the number of creators was estimated to be at 50 million.
Furthermore, the market size is estimated at $104.2 billion and shows significant growth—more than double—compared to figures in 2019.
What does this growth mean for affiliate marketers?
Aside from the huge opportunity for growth and generating more income through affiliate marketing and sponsorship deals, affiliate marketers are now becoming an integral component of marketing.
Want to dive deeper into affiliate marketing and learn just how much affiliates can potentially earn? Is affiliate marketing still worth it in 2023?
Affiliate Marketing: Types and Categories
Affiliate marketers come in all shapes and sizes. One of the most common types of affiliate marketers are content publishers. These include influencers and bloggers who regularly create content and use their platforms to promote their affiliate links. One of the reasons why we see a lot of content publishers becoming affiliate marketers is because of the low barrier to entry. Nowadays, almost anyone can set up their own blog or create a social media profile that they can eventually use to generate income. Furthermore, there are little to no upfront costs. For instance, running a blog can be done in a budget-friendly way, while creating a social media profile is practically free.
Additionally, there are three affiliate marketing categories, as outlined by Linktree:
This involves affiliate marketers who advertise products or services outside of their niche. Because they aren’t familiar with certain niches, it can be difficult for them to promote the goods or services under that niche.
In this category, affiliate marketers are leveraging their influence and authority in a certain niche to promote a relevant or niche-related product or service. However, they do so without putting in a lot of legwork.
In involved affiliate marketing, affiliate marketers dive in deep. The affiliates under this category tend to promote a product they know and love or something they’ve had previous experience with. Aside from communicating their expertise in or experience with the product, they’re actually excited about what they’re promoting, and thus, their effort tends to go beyond just the typical promotion or posting of their referral links.
How Much Money Can an Affiliate Earn?
Affiliate marketing isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. As mentioned earlier, affiliates need to put in a considerable amount of time and effort before they can start seeing results. Many creators start out with a lot of enthusiasm. However, they can become disillusioned once they see that they’re not earning as much as they think they would from affiliate marketing.
The thing is, you’re not alone.
According to a 2022 Linktree report, 59% of beginner creators, or those who have been in the game for less than a year, haven’t monetized yet.
Now, when it comes to exactly how much affiliate marketers can potentially earn, there’s no single right answer to this question. Affiliates can earn anywhere from a couple of dollars to six figures monthly. Pat Flynn, famous for his success as an affiliate marketer, has managed to earn more than $3 million in affiliate income alone.
Authority Hacker’s Niall Roche has his own take on affiliate income categories. According to him, affiliate income categories can be classified into four:
- Beginner – $0 to $1,000 per month
- Intermediate – $1,000 to $10,000 monthly
- Advanced – $10,000 to $100,000 per month
- Super affiliate – over $100,000 monthly
Roche also further elaborates that the majority of affiliates, that is 80%, fall between the beginner and advanced categories and earn anywhere between $0 to $80,000 annually. 15% can earn upwards of $80,001 to $1 million, while only 1% of affiliate marketers are raking in six- to seven-figures monthly.
In a survey conducted by the Influencer Marketing Hub, they found that 3.78% of survey respondents managed to earn more than $150,000 annually in affiliate income. This is followed by 7.94% who made $100,000 to $150,000. Unsurprisingly, the majority of respondents (57.55%) were able to generate less than $10,000 of income from affiliate marketing.
So, how long will it take before you can start reaping the rewards? According to Roche, you need approximately two years before you can start earning what is considered to be “job-replacement” income from doing affiliate marketing.
To give you a better idea of just how much an affiliate marketer can potentially make, let’s use Twitch as an example. Twitch is a live streaming service that lets creators and their audience interact with each other and build a unique community. It has its own Twitch Partner Program, which is essentially a program for content creators or streamers that allows them to become affiliates and tap into monetization opportunities.
When you become a Twitch Partner, you’ll be able to receive priority support and access exclusive promotional opportunities, as well as earn revenue from channel subscriptions, emotes, which let creators reward their subscribers and cheerers, Bits, which can be purchased by viewers to Cheer a channel and show their support, and Ads.
Expert streamers can make anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 monthly, provided that they play 40 hours a week. In general, average streamers can earn around $250 in ad revenue for every 100 subscribers. Alternatively, they can earn $3.50 for 1,000 views. Note that before you can start monetizing your presence on Twitch, you need to have around 500 regular viewers.
Aside from these monetization options, you can make money on Twitch from affiliate marketing. You can join the platform’s Affiliate Program and earn revenue from three main sources: your subscribers, ads, and Bits. Another benefit of becoming a Twitch Affiliate is that you get access to advertising revenue share, which can help increase your overall income.
The platform lends itself well to affiliate marketing because you can either mention your affiliate link in the chat or add your affiliate links to your Twitch profile. Before you get into affiliate marketing on Twitch, make sure that you’ve already signed up for the affiliate program of your choice. Affiliates can also earn a 50% commission for each successful Prime subscription purchase, which costs $4.99 monthly. This is a recurring revenue as long as the account remains active.
However, even if you start earning money, some affiliate programs or networks have minimum payment thresholds in place. This means that even if you’re already generating income, you need to reach a certain amount before you can start receiving payouts. Amazon Associates, for example, has a threshold of $100.
Becoming a successful affiliate marketer who earns a livable income does take some time. While this can discourage some and prevent them from exploring affiliate marketing further, it pays to be patient and persistent. You need to put time and effort into building your audience, keeping them engaged, and giving them a reason to come back.
Is Affiliate Marketing Still Worth It In the Future?
The short answer is yes. In affiliate marketing, you can have the opportunity to make good money, provided that you choose the right niche and affiliate programs to join.
However, you do need to understand that affiliate marketing will only be worth it if you’re willing to invest your time and resources into building an audience. And while it may seem like a relatively low-risk venture, there is still some level of risk involved, as there’s practically no guarantee that all your efforts will pay off.
Moreover, affiliate marketing will prove to be worth your time and effort once you’re able to build an audience, keep them engaged, and promote goods or services that are relevant or of value to them. Keeping your audience engaged is vital because if they’re disengaged, how else will they take interest in what you’re promoting and click on your affiliate links to make a purchase?
Also, while it may be tempting to choose a product or program that offers the highest commission, it always helps to keep your audience in mind. Find out what they’re interested in and look for products that can help address their pain points or add more value to their lives. Another way to look at this is to find products in your particular niche that have a high demand.
Alternatively, you can look for goods or services that you’re genuinely enthusiastic about or have deep knowledge of. Aside from having in-depth knowledge about the product you’re promoting, it allows you the opportunity to showcase your passion for that particular product.
How to Get Started as an Affiliate Marketer
Affiliate marketers make money through commissions. They promote a business’s products or services on their preferred platforms via unique affiliate links. Once a visitor clicks on that link and makes a purchase, the affiliate marketer earns a commission.
Becoming an affiliate is relatively easy and has little to no barriers to entry.
If you don’t already have a niche, it’s important that you choose one before getting started. If you’re having some difficulty in finding a niche that works for you, you can take cues from the things or topics you’re passionate about or are good at.
Once you’ve determined what your niche is going to be, you can start identifying the products you want to promote. Here, you have several options. You can go with a product that you already know or a product that you love using. You can also find products or services to promote from affiliate programs or networks. You also need to decide where you’re going to promote your affiliate products. If you have an existing website, you can use that but you can also consider creating a new channel dedicated to the particular niche you’re going to be promoting.
You will then need to do research and find the right affiliate program or network for you. You need to apply and wait for your application to be approved before you can start promoting affiliate products on your promotional channels. Once you’re approved as an affiliate, you can get access to affiliate links that you can promote on your website or social media accounts. Some affiliate programs also offer creative assets, like banners and videos, that you can use to complement your campaign. A lot of them also offer personalized support, complete with a dedicated manager, to help equip you for growth.
Next, you need to work on creating high-quality, engaging, and relevant content. Even if you’re promoting something that you’re passionate about, if you don’t have the right content to go with it, then it’s highly likely that people won’t get to see or learn about the product you’re promoting. However, the work doesn’t stop with creating content. You also have to promote your content by building backlinks or optimizing it for SEO so that it appears higher on SERPs. There are many ways to promote affiliate links on your website. You can create a resources page, write product reviews, create how-to guides, or craft bonus content like checklists or video demos featuring the affiliate product. Don’t forget to review and comply with the FTC requirements. As an affiliate, you need to be transparent, and one way to do so is to disclose any affiliate arrangements.
Best Practices to Earn More as an Affiliate
Below are just some of the best practices you can follow to help you maximize your potential as an affiliate marketer:
1. Choose your affiliate programs carefully.
Different affiliate programs and networks offer a variety of commission rates and perks. Moreover, not every affiliate program will be the right choice for your niche and your audience. Thus, you need to do your research to find high-quality programs that are relevant to you, your niche, and your audience. When choosing a program, take a look at what they’re offering and check to see the quality of their products or services. This is vital because if you’re promoting low-quality goods, this can damage your reputation and credibility. Moreover, find a program or affiliate network that offers favorable terms. For example, some programs will let you negotiate your commission rates with them, while some offer lifetime or recurring payouts.
2. Focus on niche content creation.
Creating niche content, especially if it matches with your audience’s interests, can help you stand out from the crowd. Also, by choosing a niche that’s relevant to you and your audience, it’ll be easier for you to create and curate content. Find a brand that works within the same niche or industry as you. This helps narrow down your choices when it comes to the product or service that you’ll be promoting.
3. Leverage the support that your affiliate program offers
Many affiliate programs give affiliates access to a dedicated affiliate manager. These managers can help you manage, monitor, and grow your campaigns, allowing you to maximize your potential to earn. Moreover, they can help you make sure that you’re complying with legal guidelines.
4. Continue to develop and nurture your community.
Affiliate marketing doesn’t end once you’ve published your affiliate links. You need to continue developing and nurturing your relationship with your community. you want to create a genuine connection between you and the people who share the same interests as you. Thus, you can leverage the power and reach of community-based platforms like Twitch and Discord to grow your community.