How Fast Can You Make Money with Affiliate Marketing?

How Fast Can You Make Money with Affiliate Marketing?

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There are countless ways to make money online. But for most beginners, affiliate marketing seems to be one of the most lucrative ways to start creating a consistent, reliable income. 


For most aspiring affiliates, the biggest question on their mind is, “How long will it take to start making money with affiliate marketing?”


The answer to that question is: It depends. 


The majority of well-made affiliate sites see their first affiliate income within the first six months,  but while some affiliates make money from day one, others go months and even a year or two before they make their first sale. 


It all depends on a variety of factors that we’ll dive into below. 


If you're looking to create a new income stream or generate passive income, read on to discover what affiliate marketing is, how it works, and how fast you can start making money with it.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is an arrangement in which a retailer pays a commission to an outside company or individual who generates traffic or sales by promoting the retailer’s products or services. 


This means that as an affiliate marketer, you can earn money each time your recommendation of a product or service results in a sale.


In fact, when done right, affiliate marketing can even be a fantastic source of passive income.


You don’t have to create your own product and customer service is out of your hands, for the most part, which means reducing a lot of variable expenses that come from creating a new widget or hiring customer services representatives. 


The image below shows a simplified version of how affiliate marketing works:

3 parts of affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of several monetization methods that you can use on a website, social media, email, and various other digital channels.


Here are the different ways to make money from affiliate marketing:


  • Blogging
  • Social media
  • Microsites
  • Digital billboards
  • Email newsletters
  • Video marketing
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • Forums/Groups
  • Google Ads

…and anywhere else you’re allowed to share links.


Whichever way you choose, affiliate marketing works in pretty much the same way whereby a publisher (that's you) partners with an advertiser/merchant to promote their products or services to their audience. 


When customers buy from the advertiser, the affiliate gets paid a commission for their efforts. Payouts are made once the minimum payment threshold is reached.


With this business model, everyone wins! 


  • The customer gets a quality product;
  • The merchant makes a sale that they may not have made otherwise; and 
  • You get paid for recommending a product that enhances your reader's life.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Affiliate marketing works in a very simple way. First, you need to find an affiliate network or program that you are interested in. Affiliate networks include sites like Amazon, ClickBank, Commission Junction, etc. 


There are a few important factors you should consider before making a choice, such as the types of products or services on offer, commissions, and payment methods (PayPal, check, bank transfer, etc.) 


As an affiliate, you have the option of working with individual companies or networks where there are multiple affiliate programs to choose from. You can find and connect individuals as well who will help you with your campaign.  


A great example of this is Amazon's affiliate program, Amazon Associates, which helps content creators and publishers monetize the traffic with millions of different products. 


The image below shows how simple it is to get started as an Amazon affiliate:

Amazon's affiliate marketing program


If Amazon doesn’t fit your particular needs, conduct a quick search to find affiliate networks or companies in your niche. 


Once you’ve found an appealing network or program, sign up as an affiliate, and after you’ve been approved, you can start creating content around the products or services you want to promote. 


Add the custom affiliate links provided by the program throughout your content, and these will keep track of any users who make a purchase through your link so you can be paid your commission. 


Although you can use any affiliate network you want, many beginners find it easier to use Amazon when starting out as affiliates. 


There are many reasons for this: 


  • First, it's extremely easy to sign up as an Amazon affiliate. Within minutes you can start using your affiliate link to promote their products on your website, email, or social media.


  • Amazon Associates works for any niche thanks to the platform's huge and diverse catalog of products divided into categories to make selection easier. 


  • Also, Amazon is a well-known, established retailer that is trusted by many users, which means you'll experience higher conversion rates. 


  • Finally, there's no friction to buying on Amazon and customers receive their products quickly.

Examples of Successful Amazon Affiliate Websites

Statistics from different sources online show that affiliate marketers earn amounts from one end of the income spectrum to the other. 


According to PayScale, the average annual income for affiliate marketers is $52,750, with the bottom 10% earning $39,000, and the top 10% earning upwards of $73,000.


According to Glassdoor, affiliate earnings are even higher, at $89,169/year, with incomes ranging from $42,000 to $83,000.


ZipRecruiter’s forecast for potential affiliate earnings is the highest, with estimates at $154,000/year average income, ranging between $11,000 and $401,500 per year.

Average affiliate marketing salary


My own research shows that Amazon affiliates make on average between $100 and $20,000 per month selling products from this retailer. 


Of course, there are some who make nothing at all, and others who make six figures from Amazon and other passive income affiliate programs. 


To calculate how much you could make as an affiliate, you have to take the following variables into account: 


  1. How much traffic your site can expect
  2. Your traffic sources (Google search, Paid Ads, social media, etc.)
  3. How many visitors will click on your affiliate links
  4. How many of those people will actually make a purchase
  5. How much each customer will spend on average
  6. What the commission rate is for the product


On Amazon, commission rates differ according to the type of product category. 


Here are a few examples of successful Amazon affiliates to give you a better idea of what the typical monthly income for affiliate marketers is.

Example #1: ($20,000+ per month)

affiliate marketing website


According to a case study from NicheHacks, this website (which is known as the internet’s mall), makes an estimated $20,000+ per month from Amazon. 


This is not surprising when you consider how effectively the website puts together the coolest tech, gadgets, gifts, and oddities from Amazon that people love to buy and then presents them in a fun and engaging way on the website. 


When visitors click on any of these products, the affiliate link takes them to the Amazon store and if they make a purchase, the site receives a commission.

Example #2: Income School ($147k in 12 months).

example of affiliate marketing website


This blog owner has been blogging full-time for the past five years and has amassed a network of blogs that earned almost $150,000 from Amazon in the past year. 


The blogs are in many different niches, including photography, boating, knife reviews, campers, tool review, etc., and all the products they promote can be found on Amazon.

Example #3: Side Hustle Nation ($10-15,000/month).

Example of affiliate marketing blog


This site is eight years in the making, and now makes an income of between 10 and $15,000 each month from the Amazon Associates program. 


Most of its earnings come from touting Amazon products in blog posts and podcasts, and including affiliate links in blog posts and other content online. 


When the website’s audience buys the products through the Amazon affiliate link, the site earns commissions on the sales.

How Affiliate Marketing Works For Me

In 2014, I started my web business, which mostly consisted of creating websites and experimenting with different monetization methods. Since my earliest days, I’ve tracked my income reports to bring transparency into the industry and show everyone exactly how much I make, how much I spend, and the overall trends.


It wasn’t until 2017 that I began seeing any revenue from affiliate marketing. Before then, display ads, the sale of digital assets, and content creation were my primary means of income. And as you can see, even when I started bringing in affiliate income, it wasn’t all that much:

Ron Stefanski income report

Yep, just $1.08.


But jump ahead a few years to April 2022:

table of affiliates revenue

In this month, I earned $13,582 from affiliate marketing across 6 websites that I own. However, 

Over 92% of those earnings came from my main site which I’ve personally branded the “One Hour Professor.” 


The other 5 sites didn’t really bring in that much affiliate income. The lowest brought in only $7 while the highest after OHP only brought in $378. 


The reason for this is that while those other 5 sites all passively generate afiliate income, I actively work on OHP and run it like a business with a team I’ve built from the ground up. 


And that’s the key: affiliate marketing can become a great source of passive income but to really make money doing it, you have to treat it like a business because it is a business. 


It’s also worth noting that affiliate marketing is just one revenue channel that I use as part of my business. If you take a look below, you’ll notice that my total earning in April 2022 was $35,514:

Ron Stefanski income report 2022


This means affiliate marketing constituted of about 38% of my total earnings while  display ads, business consulting services, sales of branded content on online course platforms, and YouTube together constitute the majority of my earnings.


My advice is to always experiment with different monetization methods on all of the sites you own. While you may think affiliate marketing is the most lucrative, the particular target audience may be more likely to click on display ads and might even find affiliate links off-putting or too “salesy.”


By experimenting with different on-site monetization methods and off-site revenue channels, you’ll be able to find the best way to make the most money with your particular suite of digital assets, brand, and target audiences. 


For example, while I create all of own online courses, I have considered experimenting with PLR courses, which means I would buy the course instead of creating my own and then have life-time rights to it. 


So far, I haven’t found any that would make it worth the initial investment, but by thinking this way, you’re sure to always discover new ways to make money with a web business from affiliate marketing to display to selling third-party digital assets you’ve purchased the rights to. 

At the end of the day, there’s a way for just about everyone to make at least a little extra money online.

Bottom Line: How Fast Can You Make Money with Affiliate Marketing?

As a rule of thumb, affiliates can expect to start earning consistent commissions within 6 - 12 months - depending, of course, on the variables discussed earlier. 


Take a look at how long it took these affiliates to make their first sale:

1. Lauren Wittry from Becoming

  • Blog Start Date: September 2016
  • First Sale: Same month
  • Amount: $13.50 
  • Affiliate Network: ShareaSale

2. Sireesha Narumanchi from

  • Blog Start Date: March 2021
  • First Sale: June 2021
  • Amount: $300
  • Affiliate Network: Amazon

3. Divine Mwimba from

  • Blog Start Date: November 2017
  • First Sale: December 2017
  • Amount: $86
  • Affiliate Network: Clickbank

4. Debbie Gartner from

  • Blog Start Date: 2011
  • First Sale: January 2016 (4.5 years later!)
  • Amount: $100 
  • Affiliate Network: Amazon

As you can see, different affiliates make money at different rates. 

Affiliate Marketing Challenges and How to Overcome Them

By now, you’ve seen that there are many other benefits to affiliate marketing: 


  • Affiliate marketing has a low barrier to entry - it’s easy and free to start.
  • It’s a business model you can scale easily. 
  • It provides passive income potential which means more freedom for you.
  • It’s a rapidly growing industry with ever-expanding opportunities.


The best thing about affiliate marketing is that it can help you create a source of passive income. If you've ever read Tim Ferriss’ The Four-Hour Workweek, then you know about the dream of making money while you sleep - affiliate marketing can help you make that dream a reality. 


But, it also comes with a set of challenges that you need to be aware of before you decide whether or not affiliate marketing is the right business model for you. 


Here are some of the more prominent challenges affiliates face: 


  • Making a full-time income can take time.
  • You need a lot of traffic to make a substantial income.
  • You have no control over the product/service you’re recommending to your audience, which means the customer experience is out of your hands. 
  • There’s high competition in the most profitable affiliate marketing niches.
  • Your monthly income isn’t fixed, and commissions can get slashed at any time.
  • There’s a risk of link hi-jacking where unscrupulous people may steal your commissions. 


So, how do you overcome these challenges?


By providing a seamless user experience. Although conversion is your ultimate goal, you need to ensure that you create your site using a website builder best designed to offer a stunning end-user experience with full SEO functionality and social sharing tools to ensure you’re able to reach the largest audience on the most popular digital platforms.


There you have it. A (not-so-clear-cut) answer to the question of how fast you can make money with affiliate marketing. I hope by now you have a firm understanding of what it takes to make your first sale or earn a full-time living as an affiliate.

About author

Ron Stefanski
Blogger | One Hour Professor
blogger Ron Stefanski

Ron Stefanski is a website entrepreneur and marketing professor who has a passion for helping people create and market their own online business.  You can learn more from him by visiting