1. Money
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Affiliate Programs - Do Affiliate Marketing Programs Really Work?

Can You Make Money with an Affiliate Program?


lose-up of a mans hands counting cash over a laptop
Medioimages/Photodisc/Getty Images

Anonny Moose asks:

I've read some of your articles on About.com and you seem to know your stuff. I have a question though; I want to start a web business to supplement my regular job income. I'm not looking for a get rich quick scheme, or to make $50,000 a month online (thought if it happened I certainly wouldn't mind! :) ). I've seen the claims about affiliate marketing making x bazillions per month, etc. What I'm trying to find out is; do any of these affiliate programs really work?

I want something that I can work on in the evenings while I still have my 9to5. An Internet biz seems like the perfect fit for my circumstances; I just don't want to waste time and money on a load of crap. I don't have a physical product to sell so I guess the whole affiliate thing is what I need to focus on unless you have another suggestion.

If you've read this far I thank you very much! I'm just looking for an objective opinion from someone who doesn't have a stake in trying to sell me something. Any advice or tips would be very much appreciated!!

The Realities of Affiliate Programs

We've all seen the claims of affiliate marketing programs - make hundreds of thousands of dollars a month while doing absolutely nothing. Sure, there have been a few big-time affiliate marketers who have made lots of money by using one or more affiliate programs ads on their websites. When visitors click through to the affiliate sponsor and make a purchase (convert), the home business affiliate marketer makes money. How easy is that? No product inventory to stock or ship, no customers to service. Making money with an affiliate program must be a piece of cake, right?

Wrong. For every affiliate marketing success out there, literally thousands have failed to make any money with an affiliate program.

Success Tips for Affiliate Programs

There are a few things you can do to improve your chances for making money with an affiliate marketing program:

  • Get lots (and lots, and lots) of traffic visiting the websites you use for your affiliate programs.
  • Associate only with good affiliate marketing programs that offer products or services or information that your website visitors will actually want to purchase.
  • Look for affiliate programs that pay high commission rates on time and who keep their customers happy, not just their affiliate marketers, by providing actual value.
  • Would you buy the product or service the affiliate program is offering? If not, why would you expect your site visitors to click through? If you are linking out to affiliate marketing scam artist, eventually the word will get out and you'll lose credibility. People won't want to come back to your site and they may not click through to your other affiliate programs that may very well be legitimately offering value.
  • You need to provide content on your home business website that is related to what your affiliate programs are offering. For example, if you write about figure skating, it's not likely your visitors will be looking to buy a book on motorcycles or a new set of saddlebags.
  • Ideally, your affiliate program links should blend in with your content - not deceptively, but so that they don't disrupt the flow of your web pages. In general, text affiliate marketing program links seem to convert better than image links. Most affiliate marketing programs don't require you use the exact text they provide in the code. (Unfortunately, some of these links are pretty terrible and most seem to want to use "click here" for the text that creates the link.)
  • Consider inserting rel="nofollow" into your affiliate program links so that you do not drain off the ranking power of your website to the affiliate program.
  • If you also use ads on your website, such as Google AdSense for making money, be advised that having both affiliate program links and AdSense links on the same page may result in poor performance of both. I've seen actual cases where AdSense revenues fell after adding affiliate marketing program links.
  • If you can afford to experiment a bit, try setting up ads in Google AdWords for your affiliate marketing program (make sure your affiliate program allows you to use their product names, etc. and allows you to advertise as part of your affiliate program). If it costs you 50 cents per click for your AdWords ad and it takes an average of 40 such clicks to make a sale in your affiliate marketing program, your cost of that sale is $20. If your commission is $40 per sale, it would be well worth it to advertise. One successful affiliate marketer told me that pay per click advertising with Google AdWords was how he was able to make money - more than both of his parents combined - with an affiliate program.

Plunging into Affiliate Programs

If you decide to go ahead with one or more affiliate programs, read up and get what tips you can, ideally from those who have been successful with the same affiliate program. There is a wealth of information available on the Web on how to make money with affiliate programs. Does that mean you should spring $50 for a get-rich-quick affiliate marketing programs book or kit? No. Look for reliable sources. Check out different affiliate marketing programs and try out different ways to get traffic to your website and visitors to click through to your affiliates. Test different methods on different pages and go with what works.

Affiliate Marketing Programs Summary

It takes time, knowledge and considerable effort to succeed with affiliate programs, but there's no reason you couldn't make money with an online affiliate marketing home business. Just don't believe the outrageous claims and don't plan on quitting your day job right away.

An affiliate marketing business is like any other business you might want to start. It takes planning, time and some money as well as a lot of hard work and determination.

Overall, you chances for making money with an affiliate program are probably no better and no worse than any other type of Internet home based business.

I'd love to hear from those who have been successful in making money with affiliate marketing programs as I'd like to offer my readers more tips on being successful with affiliate programs in future articles.

  1. About.com
  2. Money
  3. Home Business
  4. Online Home Business
  5. Affiliate Marketing
  6. Do Affiliate Marketing Programs Really Work?

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.